Showing posts from October, 2008

SFGMC Rehearsing "New World Waking!"

Here is a sample of what I experienced hearing the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus singing New World Waking! for the first time. Tell me what you think.

I'm Singing THIS SUNDAY at MCC in the Valley.

For those of you in the L.A. area, I've just been asked to sing for the Sunday morning service, Nov. 2, at MCC in the Valley. It's part of their All Saints Day celebration. They'll be running a video of people they've lost. So, I'll be singing "Save Me A Seat" as the video plays.

The First New World Waking Rehearsal.

Last night -- and I'll have video or pics later -- was one of the most transcendent and beautiful nights of my entire life.

I got to hear the full SFGMC sing my songs from New World Waking! and, as I wrote in a note to Kathleen, it was a magnificent experience.

First, she had me talk about the genesis of the work, beginning with playing John Lennon's piano, then about Gabi's Song and how Gabi turned tragedy into triumph and activism on behalf of school children. Then we would alternate. I would talk about the origins of each song and the chorus would sing it.

The first thing that made me happy was that every. song. worked. Each one was rich and beautiful. The chorus poured their hearts and souls into every number.

But it was "My Thanksgiving Prayer" that really DID it did it. And it should. Thanks to Kathleen's sensitive and complex arrangement -- a tour de force of both simplicity and complexity all at the same time -- what I told her in a note was the she took …

AIDS Treatment Should Start Sooner: Wash Post

Study: AIDS Treatment Should Start SoonerDelaying treatment until a patient's immune system is damaged nearly doubles risk of dying in next few years compared to patients whose treatment begins earlier.

Tonight's the Night.

Tonight I hear the full chorus in rehearsal. They may as well bring a mop because I'm gonna be totally lost in a puddle of tears.

On Saturday I attended callback auditions for the solos. During "Gabi's Song," they had all the people there, about a dozen or so, sing the back-up harmonies -- again, my first time to hear them. And I had tears streaming down my face.

I tried to explain it to Jim later. I said to him, "It's one thing to do your own demo or recording of a song. No matter how much you try to distance yourself from the song, it's still just, in your mind, dumb ol' you."

But when a chorus of people are standing in front of you singing what you only theorized -- and when it sounds so much greater than even you imagined in your head -- then it means something else entirely is going on.

Or to put it more succinctly, I leaned over to Kathleen and said, "Wow. This sounds like a real SONG!"

I'll have more soon. All I know is that if t…

Just Bein' Steve.

It seems I have a reputation for being a little, oh what's the word... dizzy. No. Spacey. Maybe. Forgetful? Distracted? An idiot?

I was so careful to count out all my pills and put them in the little tray, to make sure I had everything set for my trip here to San Francisco. Jimmy even asked me if I had them all ready.

Then, I checked my wallet. Present. Keys. Present. Laptop. Socks, pants, shirts, underwear. Phone recharger. Check. Check. Check. Everything good to go. Perfect.

Saw on the news that there was a fire right on the highway to LAX. Bad sign. Getting to LAX from the Valley is difficult. The subway won't get you there because the Taxi drivers union protested. So, you take three trains and then change to a bus. Stupid and time consuming. But, there is a new bus from the Valley that only costs 4 bucks.

So Jim drove me to the bus after I made sure I had everything. Traffic was a nightmare. The airport was its usual nightmare of long lines.

I checked on the board for my 12 noo…

And I'm Off to San Francisco!

I'm going to San Francisco this weekend to see "In The Mood," a concert by the SFGMC Ensembles who are doing a show with the Seattle Men's Chorus ensemble called "Captain Smarypants," led by the witty and energetic Eric Lane Barnes -- in my next life can I please have his talent?. And then attend a rehearsal of the full chorus on Monday.

And yes, I'm very excited. In fact, as I'm writing this I have to go pee.

I'll update you from SF.

Nobody Leaves New York

Another entry recorded live -- yes, live! in one take! -- in the studio. From the "Songs You Should Be Singing" session. Sheet music is available for all you folks who just absolutely NEED to sing this song -- and I think you DO need to sing this song. Lyrics by Amy Lynn Shapiro and music by Steve Schalchlin.

The song is written from the female perspective (or gay man's perspective, pick one).

Devin Sings Steve!

If you're in New York on Nov. 10th, make reservations to catch my best buddy Devin Richards at his CD release show at the Metropolitan Room. And not just cuz Devin can sing. And boy can he sing!

But also because his CD features not one, but TWO, songs by yours truly. He sings "I Want To Make Music," from The Big Voice: God or Merman? and "Lovers In Disguise" a Latin-influenced comic number with lyrics by Amy Lynn Shapiro, who also wrote the lyrics to the song I posted yesterday, "I Don't Want To Know Your Name."

Devin's "take" on "Lovers in Disguise" is hilarious. He dons sun sunglasses and makes it all great fun.

Devin is also a tough guy, by the way. In the gaming world, he plays the role of Dwayne Forge in Lethal Action Weapon Speed Shooter Gangsta III -- no, wait. Grand Theft Auto IV.

But his amazing baritone/bass voice also has a very sweet side, and he sings from the heart. The video below is a kind of a bootleg-looking v…

Video - I Don't Want To Know Your Name.

And the hits just keep on coming!

Marge Champion & Donald Saddler Interviewed by Jim Brochu.

This is a video we made back when we were doing The Big Voice in New York. Jim was pitching a possible interview show (also called "Watching From The Wings" -- same as his book in progress) and this was our homemade pilot.

How Jim Brochu Met Joan Crawford.

One of the best things about being with Jim Brochu is that he has led a most interesting life and he knows how to tell a story. He grew up around adults in his little hometown of Brooklyn, and his father, a widow who had a "Mad Men" association with liquor, worked on Wall Street.

Pete was handsome. All the ladies wanted Pete, but Pete was a confirmed bachelor, social alcoholic, in the Old Word sense with a kid in military school. And the two of them would go palling around together taking vacations on cruise ships. Jim could see New York harbor on the roof of their apartment building. He loved ships, especially the Titanic lore. Pete scoring with the ladies.

Pete at the Captain's Table.

This was ticker tape departure era cruising. Big parties with celebrities!

In this newest installment of his autobiography, Watching From the Wings -- chapter one is Marlene Dietrich -- he describes the moment she arrived. (Scroll down on the page).

Dad told me Joan Crawford was one of the gr…

Jennifer Holliday added to "New World Waking"

I've been holding onto some news. I found out about the possibility of it last week, and then it was confirmed two days go but I couldn't tell anyone until this morning.

Jennifer Holliday -- yes, the REAL Effie from "Dreamgirls," the original Broadway cast -- has been confirmed as a guest soloist for New World Waking!

Holding onto this incredibly exciting information was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life aside from writing the thing. Yes. JENNIFER HOLLIDAY!

Now. Come to San Francisco. Get your tickets immediately. She's going to tear the roof off the place. And if you don't know what "My Rising Up" is, just go here and listen to the choir's rehearsal from back in the Spring.

December 1st. Davies Symphony Hall. San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus 30th Annivesary concert. Need I say more?

And she's going to sing the big finale number, "My Rising Up."

Chest Congestion & Musings on Music.

I'm coughing up green gunk again today and my ears feel stopped up a little. But I actually feel better than yesterday. My nose isn't very stopped up. But that could be the lingering effects of the antihistamines.

I'll take my temperature.


Okay, I don't have a fever. But I do, apparently, have the body of a 55 year old Alaskan.

No wonder I can't take the tropics.

So, on November 18 I am singing a half hour show as the special guest of open mic night at an Italian restaurant in Woodland Hills.

How great is that? But I'm not sure what songs to play, or what to say in between.

How do you define yourself in a half hour?

11 years ago, when I left the music industry, I also left L.A.

At first, I was too sick to be anywhere. Then, later on, out of sheer luck or will power or opportunity or whatever I got caught up in Le Worlde Theatricale.

Don't get me wrong. I love the theatre world. I really do. But I think I know more theatre people in New York than I do in L.A. In…

McCain Supporters Fight Off Anti-Muslim Man.

I am an Obama supporter, but I thought it would be only fair to show this video of McCain supporters fighting off an anti-Muslim man at a McCain rally. Good for them. It shows that there are reasonable and respectful people on both sides of this campaign. Scenes like this make very proud to be an American.

Mr. Blackwell died.

Mark Evanier says it best on his blog:

Mr. Blackwell, who was known for issuing his annual "Worst Dressed List" and for nothing else, has passed away at the age of 86. Born Richard Sylvan Selzer, he had a brief acting career before turning to fashion design. In 1960, he came up with the idea of his list and it proved to be a great publicity-getter...which, of course, was the whole point of it. We had a few encounters with him back when TLS won the GLAAD Media Award where he prounounced us "fashion perfect."

Obviously, he didn't look at my worn out shoes.

What Colin Powell Said About Muslim Americans.

General Colin Powell this morning endorsed Barack Obama, but that's not what got to me when I heard him. I confess that I watched with tears streaming down my face when he said this:

I'm also troubled by, not what Senator McCain says, but what members of the party say. And it is permitted to be said such things as, "Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim."

Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He's always been a Christian.

But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?

Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America.

I feel strongly about this particular point because of a …

I have a gig on Nov. 18!

I have a solo gig on November 18!

Today, I met with my friend, singer/songwriter Paul Zollo who is hosting night of music at a place called Cafe Bellissimo in Woodland Hills on Tuesday, Nov. 18. The show starts at 7:30pm and I'll be doing about a half hour. I attended the open mic there a couple of months ago and it's a really nice place. And the food is good!

Café Bellissimo
22458 Ventura Blvd. (1 block west of Shoup)
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Directions: from Hollywood/Downtown LA... take the 101 north/west. Pass the 405. About 10 miles past the 405, exit at Shoup (which is one exit past Topanga Canyon Blvd). Come down ramp which dumps you out onto westbound Ventura Blvd. Café Bellissimo is on the left one block past the light at Shoup.

There's never a cover charge at Cafe Bellissimo, but a $10 minimum on food or drink is requested, to support the establishment and keep the Showcase running. The food at Cafe Bellissimo is truly outstanding and they offer …

Bev's Lousy Friend.

Reluctant Soldier - Live at Kulak's Woodshed

This is the song I sang down at Kulak's a few weeks ago before I got the flu. It's from New World Waking! (where it will be sung as a trio) and it was written in response to the "football game fever" I witnessed as the US went into war both in Afghanistan and Iraq. Where war is treated like a spectator sport or a media event that needs theme music and cheerleaders.

New World Waking! update.

As December 1st approaches, I'm getting more and more excited about the plans that the SF Gay Men's Chorus has for this 30th Anniversary concert. And that it happens just a few days after the anniversary of the martyred Harvey Milk makes it all that much more of an honor for me. I take none of this for granted.

First of all, I'm going to be flying up to San Francisco at the end of October to attend a rehearsal. It will be my first time to hear these songs with the full chorus. What they want me to do is to talk about where each of the songs comes from. (If I were in the chorus, I'd be all, "Shut that idiot up and let us sing!")

Second of all, and not least, legendary actress Piper Laurie is going to be a special guest that night. She doesn't sing, but she wants to be a part of the 30th anniversary -- and she's always been very supportive of my music. So, happy, happy!

That weekend, I'm also going to attending the Ensembles Concert called "In The…

Creating Community, a musical tribute to Kulak's Woodshed

I've written a lot about Kulak's Woodshed, which is here in my neighborhood of Valley Village (North Hollywood), California. It's a place that has no cover charge, and it has featured, and still continues to feature some of the most amazing talent in the world, all of which is broadcast live over the Net.

That it exists at all is a miracle of will performed by Paul Kulak, who says he got his inspiration from, believe it or not, my own work at National Academy of Songwriters many years ago, where I, along with Blythe Newlon Brown, Paul Zollo and Dan Kirkpatrick, produced a songwriter showcase at the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood.

Paul has filled this little music space with video cameras and he mans a group of volunteers who run the cameras and sound equipment. It's truly a community effort that wouldn't exist if people didn't give their time and talent and money to make it happen because, aside from the overhead costs, there are business people in the ne…

The Big Voice goes to Allentown, PA!

Does this photo look familiar?

How about this one?

My friend, Dean Hiatt (L), a survivor of ex-gay programs, has created a theater company in his MCC church in Allentown, Pennsylvania. And they've decided to do "The Big Voice" as their first production. Jim and I feel so honored! Dean is playing Jim and that's Jim Lamb playing Steve. They're raising the money for the production on eBay and getting local vendors to donate lights and sets and costumes for the company. Here is the email he sent out a little while ago:

Thanks to our webangel, Michelle, our website is up and running. We are still making changes and adding to it, but go take a look. Everything you need to know about the company and our upcoming season will be there. THE BIG VOICE: GOD OR MERMAN? We are just a afew weeks away from our opening of "The Big Voice: God or Merman?", and, believe me, things are heating up!! The performances are Friday, November 14th at…

It's My Daddy's Birthday!

Happy birthday, daddy!

I'm so lucky and thankful that both my parents are alive. They're really the coolest people on the planet, even though they are rock-ribbed Republican Baptists, the type that get ridiculed mercilessly in some places as being either stupid or out of touch or ignorant.

But my folks are anything but that. They are kind, smart and generous to a fault, and if they're ignorant about anything, we have a saying in the South. Ignorance can be fixed. Stupid can't.

Generally, since they know I'm a progressive Democrat, we avoid discussing politics, especially in this heated climate where everyone seems to desperate to be putting Hate on whoever they're running against, especially if they're behind (hint, hint).

What I know about my folks is that if anyone needs them, they'll be there instantly. Recently, when the hurricane blew through, my daddy, who is in late 70s, was driving back and forth every night from this damaged senior center to a town…

Fires and Friends.

A very close friend of mine, Ernie, had a terrible fire in his home and I've been talking to him a lot. He and his partner, Chris, are emotionally devastated. It happened this past Sunday and the enormity of what it all means is just beginning to sink in.

It was an electrical fire that was caused by a short circuit in the wiring of a surge protector connected to his computer. It got tangled and twisted in some way and caught fire under a big oak table. Then it swept through the whole top floor -- den, living room, bathroom, kitchen and dining room.

He had just left the apartment, too. Around 9:15 Sunday morning.

At 9:45, he was sitting on Sunset Blvd. having breakfast with another friend of ours, Danny (who's an indie filmmaker), watching the fire engines roll right past.

Scary. Horrible. But, ruled the Fire Marshal, an accident.

Ernie and Chris are modest people who do not seek the spotlight (though Ernie gave me permission to talk about them here). They're not in the show biz…

Bug's Gone. This One Lives.

"It wasn't the green tea."

That's Dr. Richard talking.

"That's about coagulation. This is about your red blood cell count. And I'm happy to report it's all normal. Congratulations. No bleeding today. Come back in a month."

Yay! My blood is back to normal. And I'm over the flu.

A lot of things are happening right now with New World Waking! I will update soon.

Happy Birthday to me!

Since I've been down with this flu, or whatever it is, I've not done anything except be a very good patient. Lying in bed or on the couch, sleeping as much as possible and letting my body heal.

That's why you haven't heard anything from me. Healing is boring, but it's necessary. It's been a long time since I was really "sick," in the sense of not being able to get out and do things.

I feel like a lion trapped in a cage, but with Jimmy waiting on me, bringing me lots of water, and feeding me, and me resisting the urge to bite him on the hand -- I absolutely HATE being a patient -- I'm slowly healing.

I've felt badly because I haven't been able to volunteer down at Kulak's and I haven't been able to work on music or do anything. Not that I haven't wanted to. But I know I cannot do anything until I get well.

It's crappy having a compromised immune system because when these things finally hit, they hit hard and they last a long tim…

But Ya Aren't, Blanche. Ya Aren't.

From Deadline Hollywood:
She's Got Bette Davis Eyes But No CiggyThis email is making the rounds from the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts And Sciences to Hollywood's name talent criticizing the U.S. Post Office for this stamp issued September 18th. I've X'ed out the names:From: "XXX"
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2008 11:23:26 -0700
Subject: Re: Postal censorship Have you seen the new Bette Davis postage stamp? It's a photo from ALL ABOUT EVE, and after staring at it for a while I realized there was something wrong. She has a gloved hand raised beneath her chin in a very awkward pose. They removed a cigarette from her fingers! Censorship from our Uncle Sam. Didn't they think anyone would notice? Film historians should revolt!