Friday, October 12, 2012


1. The Play's The Thing: It ran for three months on Broadway in 2010, after a much longer Off-Broadway run. It's like a live-action "Schoolhouse Rock" about our wild-ass 7th President - with rock and roll, lots of fake blood and F-bombs, and cute dancing girls.  I learn something new each show, but it's damn entertaining, above all. And it works on so many levels - I think it's an incredibly smart, funny and important work. As Tom Alvarez put it in his Examiner review:  "Ultimately, the show succeeds at showing us the parallels between the political process then and now, which relate to the cost of hubris and greed; the fickleness of the electorate, which reflects both the best and the worst of human nature; the need for educating oneself about the issues and exerting due diligence on a candidate; and finally, the critical importance of becoming involved in the public debate." But don't let all that stuff that scare you. It's funny as hell, it rocks, and like I said, there are cute dancing girls...

2. The Director: I'm a little biased because I get to work with him, but Bryan Fonseca is one of the greatest living American Theatre directors out there. His body of work - hundreds of challenging, provocative productions of new plays over 30 years, is unparalleled. He's just SO good at what he does - finding the heart of the story - and figuring out how to translate that to the cast and crew and, ultimately, you. Over the last few years, we've worked on a number of "new" (i.e. non-corny traditional musical theatre-type) musicals - and this one is one hell of a show. Marvel at how smoothly this complex puzzle is put together...

3. The Star: I really didn't know Eric Olson before this. I had enjoyed his performance in "Avenue Q", but damn, man - he showed up ready to rock on this from rehearsal one. This is an incredibly demanding role: you have to sing your ass off, move like a great rock and roll front man, and display a range of acting chops that run from absurdly comic to despairingly honest - and he brings it, people. If only to see somebody kick ass in a big role with "inexhaustible brio" (as Jay Harvey put it in the "Star" yesterday), come see this show. (PS: Turns out Eric and I are both major Who fans. Come watch us bond in a mid-westerly Daltery/Townsend fashion.)

4. Your Own Self-Interest: Tell the Box Office that I sent you when you get your tix (call 317.635-PLAY or visit and you will be entered into a contest to win a Phoenix season pass. And if you save your ticket stub, I will buy you a drink. Or play you a song.

5. The Choreography: It's so good, so fresh, so fun, so completely driven (in a very subtle) way by the narrative. Hats off (coon-skin caps off, actually) off to Dance Kaleidoscope's Mariel Greenlee!

6. The Set, The Lights, The Sound: Gordon Strain's two-level saloon set is awesome. Laura Glover's sublime lighting design is awesome. Nick Hargrove's all-over-the-place sound design is awesome. You may not be able to consciously take it all in at once while you're wrapped up in the story, but trust me, all three are bloody awesome.....

7. The Cast: Man, it's hard work. Man, it's alot of fun when you're around such wonderful, talented folks: Phillip Armstrong, Thomas Cardwell, Abigail Gillan, Scot Greenwell,  Andrea Heiden, Danny J. Kingston, Peter Scarbrough, Lincoln Slentz, Phebe Taylor, Arianne Villareal, Clair Wilcher and Rex Wolfley.

8. The Music: It's not corny. It rocks. The vocal direction (by Kevin Smith) is outstanding.

9. The Band: We're kicking it too: Dave Langfitt on bass, Matt Price on drums, and I sing and play acoustic and electric guitars and piano. (Note the piano - it's the 1908 Lauter concert upright that's normally at the studio, the very same piano my mom and dad bought me in a pawnshop when I was 14, so I could learn. The only place to put it in the house was in their bedroom. It was many years later when I realized how incredible that was of them. Which, of course, led

OK, sorry for the novel. Come see the show, you won't be disappointed. This week: Friday and Saturday at 8PM, Sunday at 2PM. Next week: Thursday at 7PM, Fri/Sat at 8PM and the finale Sunday at 2PM......

Thursday, May 10, 2012

If you liked "Pure Prine": Our new musical, "Forever Sung: A Celebration of Age in Song" opens May18th at the Phoenix Theatre in Indianapolis!

   Hello, hello. lovely Thursday night residency at the Hurricane Grill is on hiatus for awhile - due to the impending arrival of a big new project I've been working on for the past few months. Last year, Phoenix Theatre Artistic Director Bryan Fonseca and I were contacted by Sharon Baggett, who's on the faculty at the University of Indianapolis Center on Aging and Community. She had seen our "Pure Prine" production and wondered if we could whip together a little something similar for their 10th Anniversary Gala (which happens to be this next Thursday, May 17th), but this time with a focus on the many-faceted concept of age. And aging.


   Suddenly, I felt old. But then all the fabulous songs of the last 50 years in that vein started coming to me.      


   And I felt just kinda-old again.

   "When I'm Sixty Four", of course. But then: "Talking Old Soldiers" by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, and "Old And In The Way" by David Grisman and Jerry Garcia, and "Father and Son" by Cat Stevens (which I'd always wanted to hear sung by a "Mother and Daughter" instead.) And, of course, "End Of The Line" by the Traveling Wilburys.

And Bryan had many more ideas, as did Sharon. So we said yes, and have been working on it all year.

So,  it opens next weekend. Thursday night,  May 17th, with is the private gala for the Center. But then, Friday night, May 18th, it's open, baby, for a three-week run. I don't want to give too much away, but if you saw and loved "Pure Prine", this is your cup of tea, Lee. No dialog, same basic "theatrical concert" structure (which the Chicago Sun-Times called a "winning combination" in it's review of last winter's Chicago "Prine" run). Some similarities in the casting as well: I'm in it, as well as the amazing Tim Grimm and Jan Lucas Grimm. Joining us are longtime Phoenix stalwart Max Henschen, Ken Farrell (who just played the father in "August: Osage County"), Sherri Brown -Webster and Chicago-based singer/songwriter Heather Styka.

For more information and tickets, please visit the Phoenix Theatre site or give them a jingle at 317.635. PLAY.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The wild weekend so far....

The weekend so far: Thursday at the Hurricane, a young, single mom (with cute 6-year-old-daughter-with-crayon-menu-drawing in tow) came up to me as I was leaving and said something like "I was having probably one of the worst days in my life, but your songs, the sound of your voice, calmed me down and made me realize that this all will pass and things will get better..."

Forgive the little self-satisfied smile on my face the whole drive home.

And last night in Nashville, the room was full, people were listening, singing along, and having fun all night and I looked up and realized I had been playing 2.5 hours straight - and it's a 3-hr. gig!?! So, I just kept going and it was a blast. (Bruce Springsteen is a BABY - he's got a band with him.)

Met alot of great people - and was so tired when I got home that when I got up at 8am to go practice for tonight's Connor's Pub rock/drunk-fest, I realized I had left my guitar leaned up next to my front door on the porch. Outside. All night. Thank you, humanity (for not paying attention this morning.) I'm going to be optimistic and plan on the rest of the weekend going as swimmingly.

 And if it doesn't, that too shall pass.....

The wild weekend ahead....

Wild weekend coming up. Thursday - solo acoustic at the fab Hurricane Grill in Brownsburg, 6:30-8:30PM AND "Freud's Last Session" opens at the Phoenix. (I did the sound design - including some great "Tom Gulley as a 1930's BBC Announcer" voice-overs that are coming through an old console radio onstage, expertly wired by Phoenix tech guru Cody Grady). Friday night: solo at the Chateau Thomas Tasting Room on the strip in Nashville, IN, 7PM to 10PM, and Saint Patrick's Day: 6:30PM to 8:30PM back at the Hurricane (lots of Van Morrison and U2) and then playing keys/guitar under the tent outside at Connor's Pub with a really cool singer, Dale Speckman, and his band the Yeagy's (named in honor of famous Connor's owner "JY" Yeagy). 10:30PM-ish start, it will be a mess of drunken 20-somethings and oh-so fun, I bet..... 

Monday, February 20, 2012

Music from "August: Osage County" (at the Phoenix thru Mar. 11)

   Here's a medley of themes and cues written for (and currently in-use) for the Phoenix Theatre production of the Tracy Letts play, "August: Osage County". It was an honor to be inspired by the talented and committed cast and crew (headed by director Bryan Fonseca), and by this dark majesty of a play.        
   Composition/production touchstones included: Bryan's initial concept of desiring music along the lines of Ry Cooder's soundtrack to "Paris, Texas" (which led me to my first slide guitar playing in ages - with apologies to said Mr. Cooder), the stage note at the beginning of the play which indicates a Wurlitzer electric piano in the Weston family living room (the most darkly-atmospheric of all electric piano sounds, don't you think?) and my friend Pete Gable's haunting, single-stop accordion playing, which reminded us both of a wheezy pump organ in an abandoned Oklahoma church......

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Me, The Hurricane, Chateau Thomas. The Phoenix Theatre, The Chatterbox and YOU!

   Wild weekend ahead, folks. Last weekend was NOTHING! Tonight, solo acoustic at the Hurricane Grill and Wings in Brownsburg, 7PM start. (See posts below for details.) Saturday night, it's also solo acoustic at the annual Valentine's Day "Incurable Romantic" dinner in the Vineyard Room at Chateau Thomas Winery in Plainfield (7PM-9PM) and then off to the hallowed ancestral jazz grounds of the Chatterbox for the 10:30PM return of the Tim Brickley Quintet (Steven Weakley: guitar, Charles Bennett: trumpet, Richard Torres: sax, Robin Reuter: drums, TB: bass and vocals).
   If that's isn't enough, I'm also in the midst of writing music and creating sound design for the next production at the Phoenix, the Indiana premiere of savagely funny "August: Osage Country" by Tracy Letts, which won the Pulitzer and Tony for Best Play of 2008. It's an amazing cast (chock full of the best actors who have chosen to live and work here) and one of those emotionally to-the-bone type of plays that you will never forget. Go to the Phoenix site and get your tickets now...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Long Live Rock...

At my gig last night at The Hurricane, about 5 or 6 girls got up, from all over the restaurant, and started dancing. Even though it's just me, solo acoustic, man - they were all really rocking it. Then suddenly, one of the girls threw up a little bit on one of the other girls, which somewhat dampened the overall party vibe. Best part? They were all between three and seven years old...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Solo acoustic Wednesdays in February at the Hurricane Grill!

   Hey folks, first off - a heartfelt "thank-you" to everyone who voted for us in the "Big, Goofy Rolling Stone Super Bowl Bar-B-Q" or whatever that was. We received a respectable damn-near 400 votes and it was a great exercise in outreach and teamwork and I had a blast. Thanks again - and if you voted, make sure I have your address (e-mail me at and you'll get a special "I Voted" CD of Bleeding Hearts/Brickley-Rheins rarities and favorites!
   And now the real news of the day: starting tonight, I'm playing solo acoustic every Wednesday in February at the new Hurricane Grill and Wings in Brownsburg. A franchise that began at a single location in Fort Pierce, Florida in 1995, the Brownsburg location (251. W, Northfield Drive, 46112, by the way) is the first Indiana "Hurricane" and it's a great, fun, Florida/"island"-themed concept - with fab seafood and wings and over 35 different signature sauces. Family-friendly - which is a blast, I'm loving playing for kids these days - and with a cool little bar area.
   Our Hurricane is owned by fellow NCHS-alum Richard Sutton - who's a complete music nut like me, and he's really interested in bringing quality live music to his growing customer base. There's a great young Brownsburg singer-songwriter named Wendell Ray who's playing on Thursdays, and there are plans in the works for expanding music into some later night hours on the weekends.
   So come on out! I'll be playing originals and covers off the 200-song "The List" and music starts at 7PM....

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Vote For Us Is A Vote For Rock!

OK, we're in this big contest with (almost) every other band around here to be the one Indiana band chosen to open the big pre-Super Bowl "Rolling Stone Rock and Roll Tailgate Party" featuring The Roots and Jane's Addiction. We can't win, but it's been fun. But vote anyway - every day 'til Sunday January 29th - we are putting up some respectable numbers!!! Thank you all......