Saturday, December 19, 2009
OK, here's a little holiday cheer that's been cracking me up all month. Here's a track I just produced for the Phoenix Theatre "A Very Phoenix Xmas 4", which wraps up it's very successful run this weekend.
My pal and colleague Bryan Fonseca at the Phoenix has an unnatural, overpowering love of holiday music. (Betcha didn't know that, did ya?) Anyway, he found this fabulous song, "How Do You Spell Channukkahh?", by Adam Gardner from the Boston rock group Guster. It was released a few years ago on an album of Hanukkah (sp?) songs by a sidegroup of Gardner's called The Lee Vee's. Anyway, Bryan came up with a faux-"American Idol" holiday skit for the Xmas show, and asked me to produce a handful of tracks.
Anyway, the Lee Vee's version has a very edgy, almost "Armed Forces"-era Elvis C. vibe, but Bryan wanted the song to be sung live by some of the cast as a 60's-esque folk group - "Jesus, Joe and Mary" - so it was off to Folk-Rock Land for me. It's a really, really funny and witty song, and I haven't been able to get the cast in to sing on it yet, so I decided to sing it myself.
Happy Holidays to all!
Friday, August 21, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
Friday, June 26, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
The background: This is the 3rd year I've been involved with this awesomely cool event organized by the awesomely vision-fueled Matt Stokes and Janet Gilray. An independent, grass-rootsly organized big ol' rock and art show featuring teen bands and visual artists. And this year, it's at Broad Ripple Park (site for many a teen rock and roll scene or two for my pals Lon and Jon Ohnder) this Saturday, June 13th, from 11AM to 7PM. The bands and art are always fabulous, and it's sure feels good to help provide a forum for some kids to rock out. Plus, there's going to be a whompin' PA this year, courtesy some appreciated volunteers from always-great sounding Klipsch, coordinated by, with thanks again to, Michael Colter. The BH's play a short set, as the token "Elder" rockers. (I think that's the new genre name for our band, by the way. As in ascribing the values of the golden Rock Elders. And - at least in our case - being old as hell.)
Friday, May 15, 2009
It's nice to be appreciated, isn't it? I still remember years ago, Mr. Harvey reviewed a Big Band performance of ours at the Indy Jazz Fest, and he praised the "spirited, quirky resuscitation's" of some famous Nelson Riddle/Sinatra arrangements. I thought the same thing then, as I did this morning - someone gets it! (Especially in his praise of the "hard-working" cast. Watching them work their craft - and seeing the characters grow with each each performance - has been one of the real treats of this experience.)
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
In that same pre-show, get-your-head-together chat w/ Bryan, he told me another saying, which I'm going to mangle here, that he attributed to the wonderful Gayle Steigerwald. Concerning the long, exhausting, eventful, elating yet often-contentious rehearsal process (check my memoirs out in a few years for all the salacious, tendentious details) she once told Bryan something along the lines of: That was the play we all thought we were in. Once it opens, it becomes the play we're all really in.
And so, we're really in it now - every Wednesday thru Saturday night until June 6. (Weds./Thrs. @ 7PM, Fri./Sat. @ 8PM - call 317.635.PLAY or go to http://www.phoenixtheatre.org/ for tix.)
The early reviews have been incredibly heartening. I'm tempted to pull quotes, but will demur and let you read them in their unexpurgated glory:
"Zippy Zoomerville Launched", Lou Harry, Indianapolis Business Journal, his "A+E" column: http://ae.ibj.com/blogshell.asp?p=466
"Theatre Review: 'The Zippers Of Zoomerville' at the Phoenix", Hope Baugh, Indy Theatre Habit: http://www.indytheatrehabit.com/2009/05/11/theatre-review-the-zippers-of-zoomerville-at-the-phoenix/#more-986 , and
"Photo Flash: The Zippers Of Zoomerville at Phoenix Theatre", BroadwayWorld.com: http://www.broadwayworld.com/article/Photo_Flash_THE_ZIPPERS_OF_ZOOMERVILLE_At_Phoenix_Theatre_20090507
The shows have been a blast so far. The incredible skill, talent, heart and soul of the cast has been a wonder to behold. It's truly a really fun night of entertainment - and I'm not just saying that to put asses in the seats. (Although I probably would, if it were a dog. But it's not. It's a good time. Come put your ass in a seat. Really.)
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
It's not every day you get to wrap your arm around one of your life's true inspirations. Well, this is a lousy cel phone photo of a pretty great moment for me. It's me and Todd Rundgren, taken last Wednesday at DePauw University, at his Ubben Lecture Series appearance, which was wonderfully moderated by true Todd-o-phile (and DePauw Director of Media Relations) Ken Owen. (If you are not familiar with the work and career of Rundgren, one of the greatest singer/songwriter/producers in rock history, see Ken's fabulous wrap-up of their talk, which you can find here: http://www.depauw.edu/news/index.asp?id=23334 .)
Anyway, briefly, I got Todd's landmark Something/Anything? album when I was 14 or 15, and it truly altered my life's course. By then, I was in love with the Beatles and Elton John, but this, my god, Todd produced the album, wrote all the songs, played all the instruments and sang all the multi-layered vocal parts (on three of the album's four sides), did all the arrangements, and even coordinated the artwork. One person can do all that?, I thought.
I had been playing around with various instruments at the time (guitar, the piano my mom and dad so graciously/amazingly bought for me and put in their bedroom because that was the only place it would fit, my brother Pat's drums) but this sealed the deal. I wanted to do this - especially after getting a look at the iconic photo that took up the inside of the gatefold sleeve: Todd, standing on a chair, his back to the camera in what I always thought was a Hollywood motel room. His arms are raised in a twin "V for Victory" sign, and what looks like golden dawn daylight is breaking in thru the shut blinds and under the door. The room is filled with the music /recording stuff - a baby grand, a then-exotic synthesiser, an 8-track reel to reel tape recorder, guitars, empty takeout containers, scraps of lyrics and sheet music everywhere. (Check out the photo at Todd's site: http://www.tr-i.com/)
Hey, that's what I want to do!, I thought. And, improbably, in my own way, I did. And I got to tell Todd that, which was pretty cool. Meet the Todd Rundgren of his zipcode, dude. (I also did get to ask him - during the talk - about his early manager, the infamous folk/rock godfather Albert Grossman, and whether he's consider letting me produce his next album - which got a laugh from the crowd becauses he's never, in 30 years, let anyone else produce him. I drift off to sleep now telling myself "Well, he didn't exactly say 'no'....")
After all the time, toiling away on my own, it was a joy to hear it sung by others. And the best part was - I had gone out and made sure I had some good beer (current obsession: Red Seal Ale, from North Coast Brewing of Fort Bragg, CA. My brother Chuck, high-end beer procurer for the stars in Mill Valley, turned me on to it) and wine. When I offered them all a drink, they all looked so surprised, it cracked me up.
"Oh, yeah - you're all all professionals." I said. "Me - I've crafted a career where not only is drinking on the job is tolerated, it's often exhorted. Please feel free..." So we had a few drinks and a marvelous time for the next few hours.
That was then. No Red Seal flowing now here at rehearsals at the theatre. All business, folks. There's alot to get to in just a little over two and a half weeks. These multi-talented actor/singers are amazing. SO much to learn. The script - and the songs - are very syntax-dense, and the whole show is very fast-paced, with lots of character and costume changes - along with all the songs, of course. More later - back to the ol' piano.....
Friday, April 3, 2009
On February 25th of this year, my longtime friend and collaborator Bryan Fonseca asked me to attend a read-through of a new play he was producing at the Phoenix Theatre here in Indianapolis. I said sure, always interested in a chance to work w/ Bryan. Through all the dozens of projects we've worked on through the years, he has always inspired some of my best work.
Well, that's where I've been. I've been co-writing a musical, "The Zippers Of Zoomerville", which opens May 7th at the Phoenix.
"Zippers" is the brainchild of the awesomely-talented Jack O'Hara, who many will know from one or more of his many lives: writer, actor, director, (m)ad-man, leader of legendary '70's comedy troupe The Nebulous Players, late night movie host (whose replacement was a funny young weatherman named Letterman.) With it's genesis in various Nebulous skits poking gentle - but serious - fun at a particularly Hoosier May auto-obsession, "Zippers" is a fast-paced and very witty Gilbert & Sullivan-esque 'mockeretta'. Jack's written the book, the lyrics, has a really good basic musical idea for each number, so I'm co-composing the music with him.
Man, it's bloody hard work.
It's a six person cast, with (at latest count) around 25 musical numbers, which includes a couple of reprises, and the whole final "The Race" suite, which may be split into numerous segments. It's going to be a fun show, and the cast is fabulous: the top-shelf Chuck Goad (the ever-present "Scrooge" at IRT, ), Phebe Taylor (I worked with her last year on "End Days", she is splendid), Angela Plank (ditto for "Love/Person" this January), Mikayla Reed, (who I don't know but sings like an angel), Scot Greenwell (who had the "bumpkin rookie driver wunderkind" character John Hoosier Lordyboy, Jr. nailed from the first read-thru), and multi-talented Michael Shelton, who I was very pleased to have interpret mine and David Rheins' song "That Time Of The Year" in the just-passed holiday show "On Thin Ice: A Very Phoenix Xmas 3."
I have finally reached a place with a little breathing room - all the pieces are now written, and I'm going back and detailing them, getting ready to print them all out, and record a full-length demo CD of the complete show so everyone can drive around and practice in their cars, or while cleaning house, etc. I'll keep you posted on what is going to be - I'm sure - a wild and wacky finish to the open...
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Hope all is well. I found my beloved, stolen Takamine PT-007S guitar for sale on E-Bay Sunday night. It's been a whirlwind of activity, charges and counter-charges, heated e-mails, glimmers of hope, the fleeting despair of seeing numerous photos of it being displayed like a hostage in some stranger's crappy apartment. Let's hope Detective V. @ IMPD can sort this all out. I knew I'd see that guitar again. Even if I don't get it back, I knew I'd see it again.......
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Klipsch, who make some of the best speakers and high-end home theatre sound equipment around, is, understandably, a company full of music lovers. And J.J. asked me to come play a lunch a few eeks ago, and it went so well it's going to be a steady Wednesday lunch gig. Although "JJ's Cafe" is in the lobby of the Klipsch building, and it's mostly for Klipsch employees, it's open to the public as well. (It's a little tough to find, best be Mapquest-ing it.) Great food at a great price - and one holy-be-jesus giant Klipsch sound system in the corner! Music starts at noon, and continues until the last table leaves.....
Friday, February 13, 2009
"PLAINFIELD, IN., FEBRUARY 11, 2009….Chateau Thomas Slender, the only sugar-free wine in the world, will be one of the items included in the celebrity Oscar Gift Baskets at the 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremonies this year.
A sugar free wine for the celebrities was sought out and Slender
( www.chateauthomas.com/slender ) was found online. After contacting and speaking with winemaker, Dr. Charles Thomas, owner of Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield, IN, he was invited to Los Angeles to participate in the two-day gift giving event held in a sound stage on the back lot at Universal Studios. Dr. Thomas will serve Slender White, Slender Blush and Slender Red at the events on Friday, February 20th and Saturday, February 21st and then provide a bottle of Slender of choice to each celebrity as they visit the booth.
In the past, “official” Oscar gift baskets have included prestigious and pricy gifts ranging from a $32,000 package at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas to a gift certificate from Morton’s steakhouse. Last year’s estimate of gifts totaled $100,000. Dr. Thomas acknowledges he feels honored to be invited to the 81st Annual Academy Awards, the biggest movie event of the year.
Slender is made from California vinifera grapes and has the flavor and normal
alcohol content of the other fine wines he produces. These wines have been pleasantly sweetened and contain the new natural sweetener, Erythritol, which has zero calories, a zero glycemic index, zero carbs, and has demonstrable antioxidant activity.
Chateau Thomas Winery celebrated its 25th Anniversary in January. Dr. Charles Thomas established the winery in 1984 and in 2007 released the only sugar-free wine.
Complimentary tastings of Slender and other Chateau Thomas award-winning wines are held daily at Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield and at the Chateau Thomas Wine Bar in Nashville. For more information about Slender and Chateau Thomas Winery, log onto
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Thursday, February 5, 2009
I have been an alternative energy nut since I was a teenager. From an early age, I was convinced that wise and lovely Mother Earth could provide us with all the clean, renewable energy we would need - when we finally got smart enough to figure it out. It was a sad day for me when one of Ronald Reagan's first official acts as President was to tear down the experimental solar panels Jimmy Carter had installed on the roof of the White House.
So here's the fabulous local news item of the day: our metropolitan neighbor to the north, Kokomo, IN, has just opened the state's first city owned and operated biodiesel plant. Spearheaded by their new, progressive mayor Greg Goodnight, this isn't just any ol' biodeisel plant. Like Willie Nelson's "BioWillie" venture, this is cleaner-burning biodeisel that's made by chemically recyling used frying/cooking oil - at this point is donated by 12-area restaurants - into diesel fuel.
So instead of clogging up the city's sewers, old doughnut and french fry oil is being converted into a cleaner-burning fuel that will COMPLETLY RUN THE CITY'S DIESEL TRANSPORTATION FLEET! (You knew you could do that, right? You can damn near pour Crisco into a diesel engine and it will run. Albeit a bit less-than-perfectly, you have to refine it and add some anti-freeze component to get it to be really usable, which apparently is what this plant does.)
According to today's article by Scott Smith in the Kokomo Tribune (link to full story below), the city put up $60,000 to get the venture up and running and it's part of a larger city plan to greenly reinvigorate the local economy. Called "K-Fuel", the resulting product burns cleaner than regular diesel, is less stressful on engines, and can be produced for - get this - 80 cents a gallon, which will save them approx. $25K this year in transporation costs.
Rock on, Greg Goodnight and Kokomo! This is how we are going to create the new, green economy, people - by actually digging in and making it happen. Small-scale, local, brilliant. At some point, I want to go tour the facility, and I'll keep you posted. Wouldn't you much rather want to smell doughnuts coming out of a bus exhaust? (I know my brother's housemate Jay sure would...)
Read the full story on the Kokomo Tribune site here: http://www.ktonline.com/local/local_story_035233125.html
And get more info on Kokomo's Green Energy plan here: