Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Birth of "Dough-Re-Gami"....

Had a lovely evening playing w/ the Quintet at the Chatterbox this past Saturday night. When the fabled Chatterbox tip bucket came back at the end of the first set, I looked down......and there these were looking up at me: two cute, perfect little pointy-toed boots folded out of dollar bills. (Given the season - and the color - elf boots perhaps?). Anyway, they were - and are - rather astonishingly crafted, standing fully upright on their own, very sturdy - and the oddest thing to ever show up in the fabled Chatterbox tip bucket, which is truly saying something. The lovely woman who made them explained at one point in her life she had been a waitress in a truck stop and one of her customers showed her the boot/dollar trick. I wish I would have gotten her name, because I think she's on to something here. Not only do I want to order a few pairs as gifts, but I think there's a coffee table book in the offing. How many other things can you fold out of a dollar bill? There must be hundreds out there! (PS: "Dough-Re-Gami" is copyright 2011, yours truly...)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

New video of "The Man With The Golden Tune".

A few years back, I helped talented songwriter Peter Weisz by performing and producing some of his vast song catalog, including a moving tribute to lengendary Chicago folk music legend Steve Goodman. Titled "The Man With The Golden Tune", the recording was featured on a companion CD that accompanied Clay Eals recent biography of Steve, "Steve Goodman: Facing The Music", and now Peter has put together a video of the song featuring some great archival footage and pics of Steve. Enjoy!


Saturday, October 29, 2011

Final performances of "Spring Awakening": tonight and Sunday, October 30th!

Two more chances to see the extended run of "Spring Awakening": tonight at 6PM, and tomorrow at 5PM. It's been a great run, we are all sad to see it go - and a heartfelt thanks to the Phoenix for assembling such an inspiring team and producing such an important show. A joy to go to work for sure, these last couple of months.....

Saturday, September 24, 2011

"Spring Awakening" is open at the Phoenix thru Oct. 23rd.

It's opening weekend, so this will be brief: our production of the musical "Spring Awakening" is now open at the Phoenix Theatre, where it will run thru October 23rd. Directed by Bryan Fonseca, with musical direction by myself and Kevin D. Smith, it's a fabulous show (2007 Tony for best musical) and is a modern rock adaptation (by Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik) of a controversial 1890's German play about teen sexual/social angst (by Frank Wedekind.) Got all that? All you really need to know is it rocks: the mostly young twenty-something cast is really good, as is the set (Bernie Killian) and the lighting (Laura Glover). And I need seven guitars to pull off all the guitar parts - a "guitarsenal" (copyright 2010 Scott Sanders) to be sure....The reviewers who saw it opening night seem to agree: "Electric" wrote Jay Harvey in the Indianapolis Star, and Alison Carter's headline on Indymojo cracked me up: "Raw, dirty and wonderful." Hope you can make it to the show. Thursdays at 7PM, fri/Sat at 8PM and Sundays at 2PM....

Friday, August 26, 2011

Also: "Prine: A Tribute Concert" is running NOW at the Carmel Community Playhouse in Clay Terrace!

"Prine: A Tribute Concert" (the theatrical concert experience formerly known as "Pure Prine") returns to the Indianapolis area this week and next, as a fundraising event for the Carmel Community Players (a vibrant, volunteer-run company that's been producing quality theater since 1993.)

The original all-singing and playing cast is here: Tim Grimm, Jan Lucas-Grimm, Bobbi Lancaster, Michael Shelton, Jenni Gregory and your's truly. Six people sitting around playing and singing 32 Prine classics, in a unique, storytelling manner, conceived and directed by Phoenix Theatre Artistic Director Bryan Fonseca.

The show, first produced as "Pure Prine" in May 2010 at the Phoenix, is in it's 5th production, including stints in Madison, IN and this January in Chicago, IL. Mary Houlihan, in the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote:

"Fonseca lets the songs unfold organically in a simple, barroom setting. There is no storyline, no real dialog. Yet, hints of a story about relationships come through thanks to Prine's story songs, and the subtle interactions of the performers, all of whom are actors as well as fine musicians and singers..."

Lou Harry, in the Indianapolis Business Journal, called the show: "...a remarkable achievement....Prine's songs are seamlessly adapted for the stage..."

And Hope Baugh, in Indy Theater Habit, said: "I loved it - it was unlike any show I've ever seen."

Me a midst the groovy Grimm's....
Performances are at the CCP's Carmel Community Playhouse (14299 Clay Terrace Blvd., Carmel, IN.), their spacious, modern facility located in the Clay Terrace shopping area (a block south of the fabulous Kona Grill.) This weekend, Friday 8,26, and Saturday 8.27 at 8PM and Sunday 8.28 at 2:30PM, next week Thursday 9.1 and Saturday 9.3 (no Friday show) at 8PM and finishing up Sunday 9.4 at 2:30PM. Tickets are available at the CCP website by clicking here!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Late night acoustic set this Saturday night at the new "1001" in Broad Ripple!

Hello, people! Just back from what turned out to be an epic road trip West. Good to be back in beautiful Sobro -  but the best news of the return is I'm going to do a late night acoustic set - 11PM to 2AM - at the new 1001 restaurant/bar in Broad Ripple. Right across from the liquor store - out on the groovy patio. (I will, of course, be playing whatever you call out from my epic 200-song The List)....1001 was just featured today in the Indy Star weekend section (click here for story) and it looks like it's going to be an awesome new place for a sophisticated night out....More later and see you soon......(Here's a North Dakota lonesome highway snapshot:....)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

"Indianapolis Star" feature heralds last "Zoomerville" weekend.....

("Zoomerville" cast Michael Shelton, Trevor Fanning, Phebe Taylor, Scot Greenwell, Mikayla Reed and Jolene Moffat. Photo by Frank Espich/The Indianapolis Star)

Woke up to a lovely interview/photo feature by Amanda Kingsbury and Frank Espich in the Star this morning regarding our last weekend of "The Zippers Of Zoomerville" (Shows tonight at 7PM, Friday 5.27 and Sat 5.28 at 8PM. Call the Phoenix Theatre at 317.635.PLAY or click for tix!) It's been a good run, something like this is always an adventure with an always different itinerary and I'd be remiss if I didn't thank: 1) The Phoenix for rolling the dice and giving the show another shot, 2) Jack O'Hara for a brilliant show that I - and many others - do indeed love and 3) the very talented cast and crew who have once again turned an evolving work-in-progress into something real that gets a boatload of laughs.

So it's onward and upward. My "Year of Theatah" continues this month, helping Bob Harbin with musical direction for his Bobdirex production of the Disney teen musical "Camp Rock", which opens July1st for nine performances at the Athenaeum Theatre. Attended my first rehearsal a few days ago, and he has assembled an fabulous cast culled from the choral cream of various area high schools. (Not surprising, in that he was a Fox Television casting executive for many years.) More on this - and a summer return to actually going out and playing some music (!?!?) - later.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

"Get Your Motors Running!": The "Zippers Of Zoomerville" returns to the Phoenix Theatre April 28 - May 28, 2011!

Get Your Motors Running! The wacky "Gilbert and Sullivan Meets The Indy 500" musical I helped the uber-talented Jack O'Hara finish and debut in 2009, "The Zippers Of Zoomerville", is back for a retooled May run at the Phoenix Theatre here in Indianapolis! I urge you all to attend, as many times as possible, with as many friends and relatives as possible, as the show really is a blast. I'm a bit of a junior creative partner on this one, so allow me to triumphantly sing the show's praises:

+ Jack's script (he wrote the book and lyrics, he and I collaborated on the music) is incredibly funny, sly, dense, flippant, witty, chock full of allusion and illusion, a wry send-up of light opera, pop culture, open wheel racing and all things ridiculously "May in Indianapolis". But, umm, it's set in the mythical town of Zoomerville and centers on the wacky goings-on surrounding the fictional (yet oddly annual) "Zoomvee 499" auto race, and all the oft-silly pomp and pageantry surrounding said race.

+ The 6-person cast is an amazingly talented group of actors and singers. Four cast members return from the original production: Scot Greenwell as rookie driver/bumpkin saviour John Hoosier Lordy Boy, Jr......Phebe Taylor as reluctant "499 Queen" Happenstance Throttlehotter.........Michael Shelton (my fellow "Prine" cast member) as surly veteran champion driver Rusty Nubbins........and Mikayla Reed as scheming, everpresent Queen runner-up Veneera Glossover. The two new cast members - godsends both - are Jolene Moffatt as track matriarch Speedlove Throttlehotter and Trevor Fanning as the greedy real estate developer who wants to turn the Zoomvee track into condos, Buck Upshotz. It's a really fast-paced production, tons of costume changes, running around - and they are all really funny and wonderful performers.

+ Once again, Bryan Fonseca's the producer, Jack once again directs, and I return once again as musical director and accompanist.

I do hope you can make it - and please tell every person that you've ever known about it! The shows are Thursdays at 7PM, Fridays/Saturdays at 8PM and Sundays at 2PM, April 28 - May 28. Click here to get to the Phoenix website for tickets!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Different Beat Radio, Episode #8:Our Second Year, Nearing 2000 Downloads, A Growing International Audience and..... "Welcome To The Family/Riding With The King"!

Different Beat Radio, (new music from the wilds of  Indiana, hosted by singer/songwriter/producer Tim Brickley) is back with Episode #8: “Welcome To The Family/Riding With The King”.  Singer/songwriter/brother Pat Brickley is onboard for a wide-ranging interview and to spin various selected tracks he’s written and recorded through the years,

Patrick "King" Brickley and King, Jr.
 including the power pop coed anthem “Tri Delt Girls”, the lovely yet ill-fated movie song miss “Henry Poole Is Here", Elvis and Nat “King” Cole tributes and more. What kind of “more”, you ask? Well, a rare live cut (“Sweet Mary Kay”, an early David Rheins/TB song)  from Tim’s mid-80’s band Today’s Icons - warming up Culture Club, no less!?!, and
Today's Icons, in front of a giant Culture Club banner (1984)
 “World” written by and featuring Tim’s other (and first, we might add) singer/songwriter brother Chuck
Chuck Brickley, laying it down in mock turtleneck. (1966)
and some archival audio advertising arcana from Tom Gulley, Rene Longoria and TB. (Approx 36 mins., 2011)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Solo acoustic tonight at the Monkey's Tale, 10PM....

Turns out I'm working tonight, a solo gig at the Monkey's Tale (10PM, 925 E, Westfield Blvd. 46220) getting warmed up, I suppose, for the hell of a summer the band is going to have out on the deck this year. Tonight will be interesting - on many levels, I'm sure - but mostly for the fact it's going to be the first time I'm really going to get to experiment onstage with an incredible new piece of equipment I've just gotten hold of. It's the most amazingly musical pieces of visionary audio technology I've experienced in a long, long time. If you are familiar with my recording arrangement and production style, you know that harmony/group vocal arrangements - often overdubbed by myself - are a big part of it. And as such, really hard to pull off live. No more, with this little box of black magic. That's all I'm going to say for now. You have to hear it to believe it. And I hope you will......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

No show tonight in Anderson - but an interesting musical weekend ahead!

   Hey, folks: due to the incoming winter weather, Tim at Greek's Pizzeria in Anderson has asked we postpone tonight's show. I told him to send me 4 large Greek's Specials via courier and we'd be cool. (Hardy-har-har.) With the glorious coming of upcoming glorious spring, we are going to get on a bit more regular schedule (music-wise) up there, so stay tuned.
   In other weekend music news, I'm solo acoustic at the fabulous Fishers location of fabulous Chateau Thomas Winery this Friday night, 2,25, performing whatever you call off my 200-song (and growing) The List.
   The next night, Saturday 2.26, I'm going to be performing with the incredibly fun and talented Karen Irwin up at George's (in the Avalon Crossing shopping plaza, approx 71st and Binford) at 8PM. I had worked with Karen in the past at the Phoenix in a few shows she was acting in, but a few weeks ago got my first chance to play some music with her, and it was a blast. She's a great, cool, soulful singer who sings a wide mix of songs - from standards to Janis to Rickie Lee to Corinne Rae Bailey. And she's a wacky, up-front performer who has no problem going over and sitting next to drunk semi-hecklers at the bar in her prom dress with her wireless mic, winning them over. Should be blast - and hope to see you soon......TB

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Chicago Sun-Times and The Chicagoist love "Prine: A Tribute Concert", which is heading (sliding) into it's final Chicago weekend....

It's Thursday, and I'm still in Indianapolis, my second day of beating through our currently never-ending landscape of solid ice, trying (unsuccessfully, repeatedly) not to fall down. Our brothers and sisters in Chicago are digging out from their 3rd worst snowstorm in history - and it takes a whopper of historic proportions to slow them down. But the show must - I'm assuming, at this point - go on.

So, here we go, about to launch into our fourth and final weekend of "Prine: A Tribute Concert" at the Viaduct Theater in Chicago (this Friday 2.4 at 7:30PM, Saturday 2.5 at 5PM and 7PM, and Sunday 2.6 at 3PM.) It's been an amazing experience for me: reconnecting with Chicago and with Chicago friends, making new friends, and participating in the continuing evolution of this show.

Two new, can't-believe-they-like it-as-much-as-we-do reviews to share. The first is a full review by Mary Houlihan in the Chicago Sun-Times:

by Mary Houlihan (mhoulihan@suntimes.com) / Jan. 21, 2011, 4:21PM

Failed jukebox musicals are many. “Ring of Fire” (Johnny Cash), “Lennon” (John Lennon) and “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (Bob Dylan) all debuted on Broadway with much fanfare and quickly disappeared. But Indianapolis-based Phoenix Theatre has come up with a winning formula in the music-drenched show “Prine: A Tribute Concert,” running at the Viaduct Theater through Feb. 6.

Here, director Bryan Fonseca gets it right by keeping it simple.

It doesn’t hurt that he has great music to work with and six talented performers to present it. Each obviously loves a song made complex by stunning wordplay and simple chords, all of which Prine does throughout his vast songbook.

The two-hour show, which debuted earlier last year at Phoenix where Fonseca is producing director, is presented locally by Here Today Enterprises, in association with Phoenix and Prop Thtr. The performers are Tim Brickley, Tim Grimm, Bobbie Lancaster, Jan Lucas-Grimm, Megon McDonough and Michael Shelton.

Of course, the show should easily find an audience here since Chicago fans call the Nashville-based Prine their own. He grew up in Maywood and was a central figure in the Chicago folk movement, performing at clubs like the Earl of Old Town and the Quiet Knight along with pals such as Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, Fred Holstein and Jim Post. But those days were decades ago and much of the music has fallen by the wayside.

What “Prine: A Tribute Concert” does is prove just how lasting the songs are, allowing the audience to really absorb Prine’s lyrics and the messages behind them.

The songs — more than 30 are performed — have a country-folk charm. They can be silly and whimsical (“It’s a Big Old Goofy World”) or realistically heartbreaking (“Speed of the Sound of Loneliness”).

Fonseca lets the songs unfold organically in a simple barroom setting. There is no dialogue, no real storyline. Yet hints of a story about relationships come through thanks to Prine’s story songs and the subtle interactions of the performers, all of whom are actors as well as fine musicians and singers.

Lancaster’s sassy twang is perfect on “They Oughta Name a Drink After You” and heartbreaking on “Bruised Orange.” McDonough smoothly beautiful vocals shown on “Sam Stone” and “Angel from Montgomery.” Scattered among the solo performances were nicely calibrated duets, including the Grimms’ crowd-pleasing take on Prine’s silly rant “In Spite of Ourselves.”

What gives the show cred is the fact that the singers never try to imitate Prine but rather to interpret the songs in their own individual way, drawing out the humor, pain, truth and beauty of each. In the end, Prine’s lyrically rich songbook is the true star of this performance piece."

The second is in the outstanding arts and entertainment website "The Chicagoist", by Michele Lenni. (If you have time, follow the well-researched links in her article, very nicely done!)

by Michele Lenni / January 28, 2011, 2PM

One of the most forgotten musical treasures of the grand history of music in Chicago has to be John Prine. Born and raised here in the city limits, he is probably one of the most prolific and discerning lyricists of his or any generation. Prine began his musical journey at 14 when he learned the guitar from his brother David Prine and ended up being lauded by the likes of Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson to name a few. After serving a term in Vietnam in the mid '60s he returned to Maywood Illinois to take a job as a postman. In his spare time he attended open mic nights at Fifth Peg on Armitage Avenue, where eventually he brought his compositions to the stage. He was then reviewed by Roger Ebert and eventually rose to fame as a central figure in Chicago Folk Revival, which also included such singer-songwriters as Steve Goodman, Bonnie Koloc, Jim Post and Fred Holstein.

Years later, after much critical success, he has recieved a Grammy, a Lifetime Achievement Award for songwriting by the UK's BBC Radio 2 and was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. It is no surprise to us that his hometown is choosing to honor his ability and achievement this weekend with a Tribute concert at Roscoe Village's Viaduct Theater.

Prine: A Tribute Concert, directed by Bryan Fonseca, is a stellar line-up of 30-plus Prine compositions, and a prestigious cast including Chicago-based singer-songwriter Megon McDonough. The Sun Times recently heralded the virtues of this production:

"...Fonseca lets the songs unfold organically in a simple barroom setting. There is no dialogue, no real storyline. Yet hints of a story about relationships come through thanks to Prine’s story songs and the subtle interactions of the performers, all of whom are actors as well as fine musicians and singers."

In the dark and velvety theater musical director Tim Brickley is setting Prine's pennings center-stage with no narration what-so-ever. Minimal lighting, staging and an ever-so-subtle multi-generational ensemble characterazation. The shining star of these performances is truly Prine's poetic and complex songs, which really, we wouldn't have it any other way.

Prine: A Tribute Concert, Viaduct Theater, 3111 N Western Ave, Through 2/6: Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Sundays at 3 p.m., $20-$25, All Ages"

Also this week:  I just wrote some music and created sound design for the next Phoenix show, "Goldie, Max and Milk" which opens tonight. Bryan Fonseca directs. It's a new play, an edgy, darkly-comic piece concerning a brand-new mother, who has just broken up with her girlfriend (whose pot-dealing brother is the bio dad) and who is now working with a devoutly Jewish lactation consultant. Got it? In short, the sort of play the Phoenix was founded upon, lo those many years ago! It's set in current-day Brooklyn, the cast and crew have really risen to the new play challenge and I'm happy with how the music turned out, which I'll post soon somewhere so you can hear it. Better yet - go see the play if you're not coming to Chicago! (It runs through 2.27.)

And then it's back to work here for the rest of February, upcoming shows at The Fountain Square Theatre Swing Night (2.11) and The Chatterbox (2.20) with the Quintet, solo acoustic shows at Greek's in Anderson (2.24) and Chateau Thomas in Fishers (2.25), plus an upcoming triumphant return of the rock band to the always-festive YATS Fat Tuesday fling in March.....

Hang in there, kids. Predicted temps above freezing this weekend......

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Prine: A Tribute Concert" opens to raves in the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Sun-Times, Metromix Chicago and on WGN Radio!

Here's the latest on our current roadshow adventure:
 "Prine: A Tribute Concert" opened this past weekend 
at the Viaduct Theater in Chicago, the first reviews 
are in, and the Good People With Broad Shoulders 
seem to be digging it!

Dan Jakes writes in The Chicago Reader:

"Soulful and gimmick-free, this spirited show breathes
 new life into 32 songs by folk legend John Prine. Set
 against a simple red curtain, with some beer bottles
 and tables onstage for atmosphere, this is a
 no-narration concert. Director Bryan Fonseca allows
 Prine's songs to speak for themselves by backing them
 with only minimal staging and subtle ensemble
 characterization. His efforts highlight the music's
 inherent theatricality and heighten the full-bodied
 arrangements by music director Tim Brickley. The
 cast is vocally and generationally diverse, shedding
 new light on classics like the cheeky reefer anthem
 "Illegal Smile" and the heartbreaking Vietnam vet
 ballad "Sam Stone." Whether you know the words
 or not, an hour in, you may feel like singing along.."

In the Chicago Sun-Times theater listings, staff writer
Mary Houlihan gives us a coveted "highly recommended"
after the production's listing/summation.  A portend
of a review to come? Hmmm.....

In the Chicago Metromix, reader/reviewer/
audience member"TL5Emeritus" writes on January 
16, 2011 at 10:50 PM:

"My sweetie and I attended the Sunday matinee
performance of this tribute to John Prine. We were
touched by the great music and we found new
appreciation for his song-writing artistry.
The performers were excellent musicians and
brought John's music to life with subtle vignettes
worked into their performances. It was our first
visit to the Viaduct and we both love the cozy/casual 
ambience of the place. We both heartily endorse 
the show and the venue."

And our intrepid co-producer, the inspiring Scott 
Vehill of Chicago's Prop Thtr (yes, that's how they
 spell it!?!?) has appeared the last two Sundays on
 "The Sunday Paper's With Rich Kogan" on 
WGN Radio AM-720. The first appearance, on
 Jan 9, is a great introduction to Scott, The Prop,
 and "Prine: A Tribute Concert". Kogan's a fabulous 
radio personality and I could listen to Scott talk all day......

This past Sunday's segment was primarily on the "Fringe 
Fest"-like RHINOFEST theatre festival currently running 
at both stages at the Prop - but it has a great beginning 
bit about the "Prine" opening weekend:

We'll keep you posted on further developments. In the meantime 
click here to get tickets to the show! Showtimes are 7PM on 
Fridays, 5PM and 7:30PM on Saturdays (note: no shows on 
Sat. Jan. 29, though) and Sundays at 3PM....