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WATCH Steve's amazing perfomance at the World Domination Summit.
CELEBRATE WITH Jim & Steve at the Metropolitan Room in New York City, Jan. 15.
At 7pm,SING ALONG with Steve Schalchlin and the Bonus Round Band performing TALES FROM THE BONUS ROUND, featuring Bill Goffi and Stephen Elkins. Plus, Jim and Steve singing "How Do You Fall Back In Love?"
At 8, POWER SCHMOOZE. (Jim knows everyone in show biz. You don't know who might show up).
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
And that took me right back to the day I wrote "Connected," which was the snowball that created the avalanche called "The Last Session." (Big announcement coming soon. I promise.)
I remember that day so vividly, even as sick as I was because, after all the workshops and seminars I ran at National Academy of Songwriters, with "professionals" telling everyone to eliminate as much "personal detail" as possible, "so Whitney Houston can sing it," I said to myself, "I'm going to write a song that breaks every rule they've been laying down. I'll fill it with details that only my family and friends could possibly get.
IOW, I made a conscious effort to not write a hit song.
It became the biggest song of my career, except maybe for "Going It Alone," another song written purely and completely from the heart, with no regard for how anyone else might take it.
For years now, I've been giving this advice to young writers who approach me. Basically this: Don't write what you think other people might like. You'll be wrong every time. Instead, sit in a quiet room and ask yourself, "What would I most like to hear?" And then, write that.
It's tragic and sad what Whitney Houston did to herself. I don't know what demons haunted her, or what pain she was feeling that she could allow her life to fall so completely apart. Adele, who is a hilarious and witty woman, seems to have figured out how to get over things. Write about it and then purge it with the healing power of music.
Whitney Houston's death seemed more like the anticlimax of a play for which we already knew the ending. Even alive, she wasn't the Whitney her fans knew or recognized. I genuinely hope Adele is as real as she seems to be. I love that she is uninterested, in her shows, of doing anything but standing there and singing. That, for her, it's all about the music, and only the music.
I contrast that with Madonna's half-time show, where it wasn't about the music; it was about the spectacle. A body double could have been doing that routine and I bet we would have gotten the exact same show.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
So, it wasn't like I was feeling forlorn on this cold New York City night, as I stepped into the 2 train heading uptown to 96th, where you change to the 1, get off at 116th St., and walk four blocks north. Okay, maybe a little bit I was wishing Jimmy would be here to see and hear this, the Discover Opera! group from Manhattan School of Music singing a Valentine's Day cabaret.
And, BTW, it's ironic that on this night a heterosexual couple would be singing our personal love song from "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" because the press release was going out announcing Jim's participation in a benefit concert called "Broadway Backwards," where he'll be partnering with Harvey Evans, to sing a song made famous by women -- which is how "Broadway Backwards" works. Women sing men songs, or gay couples sing love duets from classic musicals.
Wouldn't a straight couple singing "How Do You Fall Back In Love?" qualify?
Well, it did for me this night.
A Valentine's Day concert where two young people would be singing a song I wrote for Jim. How much more romantic could life get?
And, btw, Brad Lassiter and Maren Clair Weinberger were INCREDIBLE this night. They sang magnificently. I should add that the rest of the cast were also spectacular. Mark Janas, the musical director, and Andy Gale, the director, really outdid themselves. Lucky, lucky kids to have such great professionals so early in their careers.
How do *I* get into Manhattan School of Music??
|Entrance to Columbia University, near the Manhattan School of Music.|
|A quick chicken gyro before the show.|
|Steve with Maren Clair Weinberger (who sang the "girl" part of "How Do You Fall?")|
|Steve with Brad Lassiter (who sang the "boy" part of "How Do You Fall?")|
|Steve with Matt Montana.|
|Steve with Rachael Hirsch.|
So far, I've been doing well. But, man, it feels like more and more chains are being put on me. I can't leave the house without insulin in my pocket, testing equipment, watches, etc.
But, every time I start to bitch and moan about it, I think back to a time when people did not have insulin. Or when insulin had to kept cold until usage. Or measured out in syringes.
Now, with these fabulous new pen devices, all one has to do is stick the insulin in your pocket, twist the end to measure the amount, and go for it.
So, I will not bitch about my new circumstances.
Friday, February 10, 2012
But, all my life I've been an inveterate learner. I always want to know more. I am always seeking a way to educate myself, especially if I can do it by trading out favors for mentoring.
So, I called Mark Janas and asked if I could just sit in again on his class. I knew they were putting together a cabaret show, to be performed this coming Monday, and I wanted to see how they were doing.
Well, when I walked into the room, wearing my new hat, of course, they all applauded spontaneously! I felt so honored!
Mark's curriculum, as I stated before, is to get them out of their comfort zone as opera singers and teach them to bring those skills to popular music, such as the American songbook in a special community outreach program.
He's brought in the great Andy Gale to direct and coach. Usually, opera singers have a great deal of trouble "down-shifting" into pop music. It's a completely different technique, to turn window-rattling power into the more conversational art form that cabaret and pop singing demands.
Well, unbeknownst to me, two of the singers, a male and female, Brad and Maren, decided to sing "How Do You Fall Back In Love." Somehow, through links that I thought were long dead, they got a copy of the song in a much lower key -- probably one I had thrown together for someone else -- and were already learning it.
Unfortunately, the piano part is all wrong because, down about a 3rd, the piano part needed to be re-voiced to make any sense. It was all too muddy. Mark, being the musician that he is, was figuring it out on the fly, but that motivated me to come home and see if I could re-voice this thing and get it into better shape. A tedious, time-consuming act. But one that needed to be done.
For one thing, the piano part that was on there was basically a directly transposed transcription of what I improvised six years ago, when I wasn't sure how to write out score. The part itself was already messy and inconsistent. Also, some of it was just plain wrong. For instance, I had copy/pasted some of one of the verses into the wrong measure, so everything was off by one measure about halfway through. If Mark didn't know the song, he'd have been totally lost.
So, I began rewriting yesterday afternoon. Fell asleep. Woke up early and kept at it, finally finishing about 10 AM.
I got on the subway and took the 2 train up to 96th, then the 1 local to the 120 block of Broadway, back to the school. Mark had already signed me in, so I raced up to the room 607, which was a much larger studio, with a Bechstein piano. They were already in the midst of rehearsal -- Andy doing the staging and directing.
|Andy Gale directing.|
Got there just in time to deliver the new arrangement, but not in time to hear it. Luckily, tonight, Friday, they are going to do a full rehearsal. (I would go again this morning, but I have a doctor's appt.).
For those in the NY area, I think the Monday night performance is open to the public. I don't have the details as I'm writing this. But please let me know if you'd like to come. I think it may even be free. You will not find a better collection of singers on a single stage (esp. at this price).
What I wanted to tell all the students in this class is that I've rarely seen the combination of extraordinary voices combined with a willingness to learn, and an openness to being molded, devoid of diva-ism, that I've seen in this group. I want to sit them down and say, "Hey, look around. This only happens a few times in one's lifetime. Mark it. Grab it. Remember it."
Thanks to Mark and Andy, who are coaching them to performances far beyond their years of experience. And, because they're put in those thousands of hours of learning how to sing, learning the mechanics of their vocal instruments, they'll be able to audition and get work immediately. I'm so thrilled to be a part of it.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
|Talk about a cast.|
Philip Seymour Hoffman is possibly the greatest living American actor.
Andrew Garfield, one of the hottest.
|This is a trimmed down version for Broadway. The original opera is 4 hours.|
They use most of the songs, but turn the recitatives into connecting dialogue.
It's worth it just to see Audra.
|And on the same street, this new production is opening.|
It's apparently a new musical using lots of Gershwin music.
|She works a lot.|
|Ricky Martin is the reason this is happening.|
Ricky Martin as Che Guevara? Gotta love Broadway.
|A musical version of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is here at the Palace.|
Coming soon: Ghost, the musical.
Back to the left, Phantom is still running, but the new color is blue.
Godspell just reopened with a Glee-like production.
|I believe they had a big successful run in London.|
|This is new.|
|Oh my lord. Look at THAT cast!|
|Another new musical adaptation of a movie.|
|Meanwhile, after Daniel Radcliffe's long, successful run,|
they put hot boy Darren Criss from GLEE into this.
The girls were stacked up for blocks.
Now, Nick Joans has settled in for a long run.
|This is where you get the discounted Broadway tickets.|