Showing posts from 2008


This blog will be on break until January 10th.

Thank you for reading, responding and watching my videos. If you're new to the blog, be sure to check out my youtube site. You'll find lots of things to watch.

If you're interesting in New World Waking, go here and watch the playlist of all the videos of the rehearsals and events leading up to the performance, which happened on Dec. 1st.

Happy holidays to you.

"Holy Dirt" with Piper Laurie & SFGMC

This is the centerpiece song in "New World Waking!" with special guest, Piper Laurie, reading some special text. San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus in rehearsal on Dec. 1, 2008.

"William's Song" in rehearsal.

Look! I finally figured out how to render and then upload something in wide screen! Now I wish I could go back and replace all my videos to make them look like this.

I also found Blogger Busters and learned how to widen this column by altering the java code so that it would fit. I feel so geeky this week.

Musings, Plans for the Future.

I think I've finally come down from Dec. 1st. The hard cold reality of having a big event, such as we had at Davies Symphony Hall (I love saying that), is that when it's over, it's really over. No matter how long it might linger in the mind, it all went too fast. Kathleen had barely raised her baton before it was over. Did they applaud? I don't even remember.

Happily, I knew this going in. I was prepared for it, emotionally. That's why I celebrated all the days leading up to it -- the anticipation is so energizing and uplifting. But now, the letdown. I can't go back and recreate what happened that night. It's in the past.

Still, there is much to look forward to.

For people in San Francisco who might have missed it, the Chorus is going to be performing an abridged version of "New World Waking" for the annual "Home for the Holidays" concert on Dec. 24. If you're in town, be sure to go.

Also, that night, if things go according to schedule, …

Thursday Night at Kulak's Vlog Pt. 2

A surprise! A man wants to propose during the show tonight. And Paul tells us more about the creation of Kulak's Woodshed.

The Big Moon

We had overcast skies, but my friend Doug Watt took this picture. Last night the moon was epic close to the earth. As a SF lover, stuff like this always feels spooky and wonderful. And they say the tides were an inch higher. Imagine how spooky it was back at the dawn of civilization when the moon was the teevee.

Thursday Night at Kulak's Vlog Pt. 1

Best Attendance Ever.

One of my brothers oversees a large department in a government office in a Southern state. He sent me a note regarding yesterday's "Call In Gay" Day, where some online activists had sought for gay people to "Call in gay" and take the day off, donating the time to charity. The idea was to show visibility so that they could become personalized to friends and co-workers.

"Went to my management staff and asked who called in sick today. I figured it would be a good way of knowing, for sure, who's gay."

[He was joking, btw.]

"We were at 100%. Probably first time ever. Guess no one wanted to be suspected."
That kinda tells you everything you need to know. It would be one thing if everyone had ignored the call and caused barely a ripple. It's quite another when everyone takes it as a cue to show up. I wonder how many straight people who otherwise might have had to call in sick, due to a cold or the flu or something, came to work anyway out of f…

Jason & Jason & Rachel.

This is one of my adopted sons, Jason. He and his partner, whose name is also Jason just celebrated their 10th anniversary. They got married in their backyard. And Jim and I performed the ceremony under a tent with all their friends. (Jim got a minister license off the Internet. I played piano and sang. And no, we haven't started up a gay marriage business and yes, we did it because they asked us to and they are part of our family and we love them).

And it wasn't legal.

The cops didn't rush in, but there is a time in our nation's history when that would have happened.

There is a time in our nation's history when that little gathering of friends -- if it had happened at all, and it wouldn't have -- would have been raided by cops and the people hauled off to jail.

I want you to look at these renegade civilization killers:

They recently this year, they quietly celebrated their 10th.

That "time" that I mentioned when the cops would have raided us? It was during…

Three More Portraits.

I've been looking over the pictures taken down at Davies Symphony Hall. I've never really sat for this kind of session, where we just went all over the place and posed and got all artsy with a photographer with really good lenses.

It's also a very important part of being taken seriously as a professional. When someone asks you for one, whether for press or a program, it's not a good idea to start tossing snapshots at them that you took yourself out on the front porch.

Anyway, I've finally had to chance to just sit and look at these. I think most of them would work as an 8 x 10. They all have different character. This one makes me look innocent.

This one's slightly rakish, maybe.

Colleen, the photographer liked this one:

Sing Along to "My Thanksgiving Prayer"!

Sing along to this rehearsal video of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus performing "My Thanksgiving Prayer" with the Community Women's Orchestra -- as part of New World Waking! Songs on the Road to Peace, Inspired by John Lennon's Piano. Lyrics by Peter J. Carman. Music by Steve Schalchlin. Arranged, orchestrated and conducted by Dr. Kathleen C. McGuire.

Homeless In L.A.: Chuck

Prologue with Orchestra.

If you want to get a feeling for how beautiful the orchestrations were for New World Waking, check out the rehearsal video I did for the "Prologue," which I've documented from the first rehearsal we heard Dan O'Leary doing it for the chorus. This is taken with my camcorder.

More Pics From San Francisco.

So, what's a country boy like me doing in a place like this? SELLING IT OUT! (Okay, maybe it was the chorus that sold it out, but I can dream, can't I?

The New World Waking Playlist

I've set up a YouTube New World Waking playlist. Meaning that if you click on the video below, it will play all the videos related to New World Waking. This is my first time to fool around with playists, and I finally figured out how to put them in the order I want them..
I haven't fooled around with playists yet at YouTube, but now that I've discovered them, I'm going to be doing a lot more. I love having a new toy. Try it out and tell me if it works.

I Own This Joint. Tonight, Anyway.

So, there's a happy face.

SF Bay Times calls New World Waking "powerful."

In the first post concert review, the Bay Area Times describes the experience of New World Waking.

Bringing Down the House
By Sister Dana Van Iquity
Published: December 4, 2008

On December 1, World AIDS Day, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC) presented their pearl anniversary concert featuring Jennifer Holliday, Piper Laurie and Kim Kuzma. The Community Women’s Orchestra provided the music, along with pianist Thaddeus Pinkston. Each chorister wore his red sequined ribbon along with strings of pearls in commemoration of World AIDS Day and of their XXX year of singing. Mayor Gavin Newsom had pronounced SFGMC WEEK (not the usual Day that he typically proclaims, but the whole week). The chorus was under the skilled baton of Dr. Kathleen McGuire, SFGMC artistic director. That night they recorded the concert to be available as a CD in a month. If you missed the live show, at least you can enjoy the music; and if you were there, you no doubt will want to purchase the CD, which I will be …

Video Blog: Driving to San Francisco

"You sound angry online, but with your music connected..."

I have a friend named Chris. He and his wife, Claudine, have become like family to Jim and me. She wore a fabulous red dress and called me her vampire lover. (Okay, now I get Twilight. It's the straight version of "Will and Grace".)

Chris went with a few of us over to Martuni's after the event. Kim Kuzma was there. Oh, my god. Kim Kuzma. What a voice on this woman. It was my first time to meet her or hear her. Just wow. We talked about doing something together for the Upright Cabaret here in Los Angeles.

Oh, I forgot to mention. Big Voice is coming to Indio Center for the Performing Arts near Palm Springs. Mid-January.

I don't have details yet. It's the same place where Jim did Zero.

Anyway, we're standing out in front of Martuni's. The whole night felt electric. Claudine looked fabulous. And he said, "You know, you actually have very angry lyrics and online you sometimes sound angry. But the music is so opposite to that, that it comes out making me …

Joe.My.God. reports on New World Waking.

My friend, Joe Jervis, who writes one of the top gay oriented blogs, was the inspiration for one of songs in New World Waking. It's called "Dead Inside." His most recent blog post contains his own report of the night. He took this great picture of me outside the venue.

It was thrilling for me that he flew out from New York and was able to be in the show. He took a wonderful picture of Jim and me.

He says:
But like many in the audience, I lost it during the two songs dedicated to two mothers, Gabi Clayton and Carolyn Wagner, whose sons were the victims of anti-gay violence. Together they founded Families Against Hate and were in the audience and recognized from the stage, to many tears. Here's Steve's backstage video of the women meeting the chorus members. There's a few laughs in the clip, but you should get a hanky.
What Joe doesn't know is that Carolyn has been struggling with a lot of health problems. She is battling cancer and, for a very long time has b…

AIDS Food Pantry in Dallas Needs Help.

This is something I just received. Since I lived in Dallas, and came out in Dallas, I wanted to post this for readers who might want to help them out.
Resource Center of Dallas' (RCD) AIDS Food Pantry is being forced to move from their location after almost 25 years. Many of their clients do not even have the money to take the bus to get their groceries now, so their fear is where the pantry will move to. Even with an end of January extension given, RCD says donations are coming in slower than expected and the initial $25,000 moving budget is expected to increase. The current 20 year old refrigeration equipment will not be able to make the move to a new location, according to an assessment from a refrigeration expert, forcing the pantry to buy a replacement. And once the moving expenses are met, additional money will be needed to buy food for the Center's clients during this time of year. From November through January, the Center traditionally sees an overall 30% increase in f…

More Photos at Bev's Blog.

We had a sold out house at Davies Symphony Hall.

Bev blogged her night at New World Waking. More photos there. And I have new video coming soon. If you don't know who Gabi and Carolyn (pictured at her blog) are, just wait.

Just. Wait.

My new portrait.

I posted a photo by my friend, Colleen Mullins, who is a very noted photographer. She also took this portrait. I'll be posting more photos soon.

"So, how did it go?"

Photo by Colleen Mullins.
From the stage of Davies Symphony Hall.

I've had so many emails from people asking me how it went last night.

I'll try to find words, but now I know why people take drugs. The adrenalin coursing through my body last night had me floating about six feet above the floor and I couldn't feel anything the whole night.

I was literally numb. I sat there listening to the music, but not hearing it. It was scary and frightening. I tried to relax, but then I'd look down and see that I was pitched forward in my seat, tense and knotted up.

It was happening on that massive stage with that huge chorus and the 50 piece orchestra, but I was listening to the audience. Let me tell you what I did NOT hear. I did not hear throat clearing. I did not hear coughing.

This is a very good sign.

What I did see were tear-streaked faces. And intense faces, actually listening. I looked up and behind me at this magnificent room and saw the seats packed to the ceiling. Before the sh…

Moscone/Milk Memorial 2008

A friend sent me this saying, "You're writing the soundtrack for our lives."

The opening song on this video is "My Thanksgiving Prayer." It's the memorial on the steps of City Hall followed by a march to Castro Street. This past Friday.

Who Can Sleep?

I was awake at 4 am. And 5 am. And 6 am.

At 7 am, I had to take our car across the street to the Ford dealership because we got here with a leak (after having just had it serviced). When the guy behind the counter asked me why I was here, I just blurted out (no doubt sounding like a crazy man), "THEY'RE SINGING AND PLAYING MY MUSIC AT DAVIES SYMPHONY HALL TONIGHT!!

The handsome guy behind the counter got a big smile on his face and told me he played French Horn and that he was very happy for me.

Yesterday morning, after walking around the City Hall plaza, I wandered over to MCC SF for the morning worship service. Got there early during the choir rehearsal. Kathleen was there singing. My friend, Stephanie, was musical directing.

I was buzzing from my walkabout and barely able to sit.

And then they started singing "Seasons of Love" from RENT.

"Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes" -- "How do you measure a year in the life?" And tears jus…

The Enormity Of It All.

Today, I walked around the Civic Center plaza in San Francisco.

It was early in the morning. The streets were almost deserted.

I stood in front of the magnificent city hall and looked across the street. There was the opera house, a gorgeous monument with Greek (or Roman?) pillars. Next to it is another building just like it.

I felt like I was in Greece or Rome. These remarkable institutions just standing there in the sunlight, a testament to the high arts.

Next to them was this beautiful modern building with a large panoramic glass front.

Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall.

And I was totally overwhelmed to realize that my music would be performed in this building where the usual repertoire is Beethoven, Bach, Ravel, Gershwin, Handel, and all the greatest composers this world has given to us.

I thought back to my high school days in Buna, Texas, a town which consisted of a drug store, a broken down movie theater where the rats would run over your feet, where the only traffic light was a blinking …

My hometown newspaper did an article on me.

This is so Janis Joplin/The Rose. My east Texas hometown newspaper, the Buna Beacon, did a front page article on me in celebration of New World Waking.

by Juliee Beaver.

It has been almost 40 years since lyricist and composer Steve Schalchlin
graduated from Buna High School in 1971. A lot has changed since then,
but much has remained the same.

Roden Theatre closed its doors and the old elementary school has been torn
down, but the infamous Polka Dot House still stands.

Born in Arkansas, Steve Schalchlin, his brothers and parents moved here in
1968. Mother Carolyn worked as a nurse at the Buna Medical Center and his
father, Bro. Neil, pastored at Northside Missionary Baptist for 14 years.

His brother, David, enjoyed playing basketball while Steve worked at the local
Buna newspaper,East Texas News.In addition to taking photos and writing
stories for the paper, he also had a cartoon called"Leafy."

Steve's early musical development was in the church when his piano lessons
began at the age…

One More Day.

We drove to San Francisco only to discover that our car was spouting a huge leak of something. Probably oil.

Find a mechanic open on Saturday night on a holiday weekend? The AAA people said to just forget it and wait till Monday.

Meanwhile, I can't sleep. All I can think of is the 20 minutes they've given me before the show on the stage of Davies Hall, to describe how New World Waking was born.


I'm also glad I don't have to perform the thing. All I have to do is just let go and let Kathleen, the chorus and the orchestra do all the work.


It's the fantasy dream of a lifetime.

Get Devin's CD (with Steve songs!).

I posted about this before, but there's a terrific write-up about Devin Richard's wonderful new CD (with two Steve songs on it!) at BroadwayWorld.

Now go get it!

Seriously. I don't want to have to hurt you.



SF Chronicle on SFGMC and New World Waking.

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles the Chorus about Monday's concert:

Like the subject of any great tragedy, Harvey Milk needed his chorus. He got it on Nov. 27, 1978, the day he was assassinated along with George Moscone, when 100 singers joined an impromptu memorial on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall and sang "Thou, Lord, Our Refuge." IMAGESView Larger Images Just months before the slayings, the singers had organized as the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus - the country's first choir to openly identify as homosexual. On Friday evening, the chorus returned to the City Hall steps, joining a vigil memorializing the assassinations, and commemorating its first public appearance.On Monday, a more joyous note will be struck. The chorus is celebrating its 30th anniversary at Davies Symphony Hall in a show with full orchestra and a roster of guest stars."A lot of things were happening in 1978," says Teddy Witherington, the chorus' executive directo…

Harvey Milk Remembrance to Feature "My Thanksgiving Prayer"

Today, in San Francisco, there will be a memorial to Harvey Milk, and the SF Gay Men's Chorus is going to sing one of my songs, "My Thanksgiving Prayer." Nothing could make me feel more proud and humbled all at the same time.

For those who don't really know who Harvey Milk is, go to Jim Burroway's superb recounting of the moments leading to his assassination posted at Box Turtle Bulletin. And if you are anywhere near where the movie MILK is being shown, go see it as soon as you can. It's the best film I've seen all year.

As he recounts,
Thirty years ago today, on November 27, 1978, tens of thousands of stunned mourners gathered in the Castro for an impromptu candlelight march to City Hall. The sea of candles stretched ten city blocks long. At the steps of city hall, Joan Baez led the crowd in singing “Amazing Grace” and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus sang a hymn by Felix Mendelssohn.What Jim didn't mention is that this was the first public appearance…

Slumdog Millionaire: A Great Adventure/Romance.

If you're looking for great movies to see over the holiday weekend, please do not miss SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, which, alongside MILK, stands heads and shoulders above anything I've seen all year long.

The sheer scale and scope of Slumdog is staggering, especially for a smaller budget indie film which almost didn't get released until it started winning audience favorite awards at the film festivals -- and has now debuted to universally great praise. If it's not nominated for and Oscar for Best Movie, it not be because it doesn't deserve it.

The story, which takes place in India, but which is spoken mostly in English, is about a boy from the slums of India who is one question away from winning the top award on India's "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." At the beginning of the movie, he gets arrested by the police and tortured to confess that somehow he's cheated the system.

But, see, as we learn about the boy and his life (through an ingenious plot device I…

My Thanksgiving Prayer

In this time of my thanksgiving as my song begins to rise.
Listen to the prayer within me. Look into my grateful eyes.

May I humbly stand before you, as I reach out with my hand.
May the music bring a healing to this cold and troubled land.

As I face the burnished off'rings to the gods of pow'r and fear,
Make of me a living off'ring. Let me be your servant here.

Give us grace to face the struggle which the world yet holds in store.
Walk beside us ever loving; grant us peace for evermore.

"My Thanksgiving Prayer"
Lyrics by Rev. Peter J. Carman
Music by Steve Schalchlin

"Steve, Can We Sing Songs From 'New World Waking'?"

Q: Can I sing songs from "New World Waking" and do I need an orchestra and 200 voice chorus in order to do so? A: Yes, you can sing these songs. They were written so that people could sing them. No, you don't need a chorus and orchestra. The songs are very simple and can be sung solo or by smaller groups, and they sound just fine with only a piano or guitar accompaniment.
Q: How do I get copies? A: The SF Gay Men's Chorus intends to have the live recording ready by Christmas, believe it or not. They will make a recording that night, and then mix it, master it and package it in time for the holidays. How's THAT for instant gratification? Q: But what about sheet music? Where do I get that? A: After we have the recording and Kathleen has finalized all the score, we will submit it for publishing so that it can be available to high schools, universities, church choirs and civic choruses. If we don't find a publisher interested, then I'll hit the Xerox machine and m…

Wait. "Broadway Gospel Musical King?"

You know, sometimes you read things about yourself and you just go, HUH? But, hey, as they say, the only thing worse than being talked about in show business is not being talked about. The San Francisco Guardian did a blurb about our concert on their events page and this is what they said:
San Francisco Gay Men's ChorusRemember AIDS? That insidious disease may have been pushed off the homepage of late, but it's certainly still raging. Dec. 1 is World AIDS Day — and the super-talented, penguin-suited songbirds of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, on that seminal organization's 30th birthday, have a whole lot of dazzling gospel going on to remind us of that fact. Joining the chorus to clap her hands and say "Yeah!" will be the gayest dreamgirl of them all, Jennifer Holliday, and she is telling you to just try not getting inspirational tingles as she and the singers perform Broadway gospel musical king Steve Schalchlin's specially commissioned, John Lennon-…

Bay Area Reporter on "'New World Waking!"

Just posted: A terrific article by Richard Dodds in the Bay Area Reporter on New World Waking! When we did the interview I wasn't sure I was making any sense at all. It was my first time to discuss the piece and I felt completely inarticulate. But, happily, Richard managed to make sense of my ramblings and actually made me sound like I knew what the hell I was talking about.

Go to the website, but just in case it doesn't stay on the website forever, I'm copying it here.

Music as an alternative to violence'New World Waking' premieres in a
World AIDS Day concert Published 11/27/2008 by Richard Dodds
Steven Schalchlin sitting at John Lennon's piano, with a picture of Bill Clayton, who inspired one of the songs in New World Waking. Photo: Caroline True

Somehow, it was the cigarette burns on the piano that made it real for him. Steve Schalchlin was sitting at the piano at which John Lennon had written "Imagine," but the context – a suburban front-yard in…