Joseph Negri is a jazz guitarist and educator from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During his years as Musical Director at WTAE-TV, he appeared on the former children's television show Paul Shannon's Adventure Time and other locally-produced shows on the station. Pianist, and fellow Pennsylvanian, Johnny Costa appeared along with Joe on the 1954 TV Series, 67 Melody Lane, hosted by Ken Griffin. Johnny and Joe played two numbers, After You've Gone and Little Brown Jug. The latter being accompanied by Griffin at the organ. He also appeared as regular cast member, Handyman Negri, on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Currently he teaches jazz guitar as an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh, Duquesne University, and Carnegie Mellon University.
Joe began performing on radio at age three, playing the ukulele and singing. By age 15, he had been playing guitar for nearly 10 years. He joined the local musicians union and began playing his first professional engagements. In the 1940s, Joe toured nationally, and was featured, with the Shep Fields Orchestra for several years. His career was then sidetracked by two years in the Army. Upon returning home, he performed locally with his brother, pianist Bobby Negri, and decided to return to school. He enrolled at Carnegie Mellon University (formerly Carnegie Tech). At that time there was no curriculum for jazz guitar, so he chose composition as his major.
It was during this time he began his career in the then new medium of television, spending a few years with KDKA-TV, followed by 22 years as Musical Director for WTAE-TV. It was through his work in television that he met, and worked with Fred Rogers, who soon asked him to participate in a new show Rogers was putting together in association with WQED-TV, the local public broadcasting affiliate. As Handyman Negri, Joe was a resident of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood for nearly 40 years.
Today, Joe Negri is an active and vibrant part of the jazz scene, recording and performing locally and nationally, and is still active in music education. He was the subject of an in-depth profile in Vintage Guitar Magazine's September 2010 issue, written by music historian Rich Kienzle.