Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Is This What Normal Life Was Like?


I spent yesterday practicing my E-min pentatonic scale on my guitar.

I was going to post something on Facebook in response to the political outrage of the day, but realized nothing I could think of was really all that different from what I was reading. And I realized it was what I was reading that was churning up a bunch of emotion that had nothing to do with my day to day life.

I went back to the day -- and it's in the diary somewhere -- right after I realized I was going to live again. Took about a month. But I was vacuuming the house and suddenly felt this huge weight descend on me. I began to worry about the national debt.

Absurd. I couldn't fix the national debt today. Why would I carry that burden?

And then I thought, "Is this was 'normal' life was like before I was dying? Did I really take on the stress of things over which I had no control?"

In that year before, and especially at the end, because I "knew" I was dying, I had let all the worries of the world go. Never had I felt the kind of peace in my soul than when I was on my death bed.

But in that moment with the vacuum, as the worries of the universe carefully descended back onto my body, I could actually feel the weight of it. The Before -- when I did not carry this weight -- was just moments away from me, but now in the past.

Was I less effective in my life when I did NOT carry the worries of the world? No. In fact, I wrote my best songs during that period, had my best ideas, was innovative on the Net.

A lesson: Taking on the cares of the entire world does not make you a more effective activist or leader or mother or father. It just means you've added stress to your life.

So today, I thought this:

I cannot fix the world between now and January 1.

So I am going to let it all go, at least here on Facebook, where I prefer to enjoy and check in on the lives of the people I love here on this planet.

While I'll always stay current by looking at the news, my stream here is going to be either silent or not political. And it's fine with me if few will really notice or care. How many friends/streams are we following? One less is not going to change anything.

And in my own newsfeed, I'm going to silence all the political posts so that I don't have to be bombarded by the constant flow of propaganda.

And that's all it is now, these days. Propaganda designed to incite.

I'm un-inciting myself.

I post this, here in the early morning hours before I retreat and practice, only because others might enjoy the idea of doing the same.

Silence and quiet.

That's what an audience listens to when you are doing a performance. That's when you know if they're engaged, is when/if you both share a moment of complete and utter silence. Silence is good, but shared silence is transcendent.

I repeat.

I cannot fix the world between now and January 1.

I am not missing anything by pulling out of the stream of consciousness of the mob's madness.

Breathe. Clear the mind.

There might be a new world waking.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Diary 12-7-15 Success!

Daily Bonus Round Diary 12-7-15 Success! The Urban Stages Winter Rhythms cabaret set was a great success.



Thursday, December 03, 2015

Performance This Sunday, Dec. 6

WINTER RHYTHMS: New and Noteworthy Today
TICKETS

Sunday, December 6, 2015 at 3:00PM

at Urban Stages
259 West 30th Street
New York, NY 10001

Between 7th and 8th, 1 block from MSG/Penn Station
Penn Station (1, 2, 3, A, C E, LIRR, NJ Transit, Amtrak)

Trezana Beverley (Tony Award Winner for For Colored Girls...), Jana Robbins (The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife, Footloose, Gypsy) and songwriter Steve Schalchlin (The Last Session, The Big Voice: God or Merman?) perform self-contained excerpts from their solo musicals. Ms. Beverley will be presenting a portion of her portrait of famed singer Mabel Mercer. Ms. Robbins will perform highlights from her critically acclaimed autobiographical show, I’m Still Here, and Mr. Schalchlin will offer The Best of The Bonus Round, featuring original material from his body of work.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Pics of New World Waking 2015 -- Union Temple of Brooklyn

New World Waking as a fundraiser for the temple!


Union Temple of Brooklyn.
Union Temple of Brooklyn.
Entering the historic sanctuary.
Stephen Wallem rehearsing.

Yes! Stephen Wallem is "Thor" on Nurse Jackie, Showtime series.
I saw him first when he was doing a stage show with co-star Edie Falco.
It was called "The Other Steve & Edie."
That is where I learned he had great singing chops.
Stephen Hanks produced the fund-raiser.
He has become a giant on the thriving cabaret scene in New York.
Julie Reyburn brings an earthy emotionalism when she sings.
Her kids are named Jude and Layla, if that tells you anything.
She's a star on the NY cabaret scene, also singing with the great Marquee Five.
(Forgive my photography. The lighting wasn't great.)
The whole company in their places. Julie Reyburn on mic.
Jim Brochu touchingly singing about Billy Tipton.
Cindy Marchionda and Lucia Spina.
"He's Coming Back."
Jacob Hoffman is amazing character man with leading man looks.
I use this word, specificity. He creates characters in front of your eyes.
And his voice is gorgeous, so I told him last night I was going to
write a musical for him just so I can listen to him sing all night.
"Franco Ate The Paperwork."
Julie Reyburn.
Cindy Marchionda is not only beautiful, but she sings with (again) specificity and emotion.
You can tell she is completely immersed in the song.
She's in my acting class and I'm in love with her.
Jeremy Abram has a deep, resonant voice and, like Jacob, great comic chops.
You can give him anything and he'll make it great.
He's from Slidell, Louisiana so I only call him "Slidell."
Marie Brea. I forgot to shoot her when she was singing the "Sanctus."
She has a trained operatic voice from heaven.
And now she's at Julliard, working really hard.
She and I are also in love. 
Here's Jeremy Abram again. He's glad he's not a zombie.
And yes, "Zombie Funk" went into New World Waking.
Don't ask.
Lucia Spina is a Broadway vet with a powerful set of pipes
and she finds Carolyn Wagner's huge, huge heart beneath a tough exterior in
"William's Song."
My Thanksgiving Prayer.
Julie, Lucia, Cindy.
There is a New World Waking.
Stephen Wallem, front.
Jacob Hoffman, Lucia Spina, Cindy Marchionda, Maria Brea, Jeremy Abram & Julie Reyburn.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Prove You Wrong (First draft)





This is the second song written for the "write and record an album in a month" challenge.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

I Will Fall (first draft)





I am unveiling the first draft of "I Will Fall," the first song I wrote on the guitar. I played other songs of mine on guitar, but this time I wrote the song on the guitar. It came -- if you want to know how songs are written -- when I was doing a self-imposed exercise to just get my fingers to play Dm and C (or, rather, the fingering positions for those chord, but up four frets).


And, the more I practiced, the more I started singing along, and before I knew it, I had a song. It's a first draft lyric, so I will no doubt be rewriting in the coming weeks, but I think it holds together really nicely.

But even more fun for me, playing the guitar gives me a new way to write music. The piano is great, but it has its limitations -- mostly in the rhythmic area. The guitar does things the piano can't do (and vice versa).

You'll also notice the mention of NaSoAlMo, which is the (Inter)National Solo Album Month challenge, which is the write AND record a new album this month. I love a deadline, so here I go. The first entry. 

Zombie Funk live with Guitar.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

University of Steve at NY Accomplishment Announcement.

It took months. Months of my vocal teacher Paul Kolecki intensely hitting me with a riding crop and yelling, "NO! NO! NO! NO!" (Movie fans picture Susan Alexander), but this past week, I think I finally found the "placement" I've been searching for. It's a combination of support from the diaphragm and a mental image.

(I did this because I can't stop learning new stuff, but also because I noticed, in my most recent concerts, I had no voice by the end of the show. I knew I was doing something wrong. Also, in choral singing, if the parts were high, I would lose those notes after a very short time.)

It started when I finally heard myself "Hmmmmm." The sound was in my nose or it was in my throat. And when he told me to put that focus into the front of my mouth, I couldn't figure it out. I would, frustrated, blow out air through my lips, making a Bronx cheer.

And then, suddenly, it kicked in. It was so easy! I felt like an idiot. But it's all in the head. It's like I needed a certain mental image to get there, and then I applied that placement to a note and, POW, this huge sound came out. Clear and amazing.

He gave me an aria which has mostly high notes, hovering around D, E and F -- and this morning, I sang this piece for an hour without losing one bit of vocal quality. I surprised myself, but Paul had said that once you "get it," you got it. After that, it's just doing it better and extending your power and range.

And yes, I'll record it and you can hear it. But first, let me learn this aria. It's "Il Padre Adorato" from Mozart's Idomeneo.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New World Waking poster and ticket info.

Announcing Stephen Wallem ("Thor" on Nurse Jackie) has now been added to the cast of our benefit performance of New World Waking, Saturday November 21, at Union Temple in Brooklyn, NY.

TICKETS HERE.


I fell in love with "Thor" on the TV show Nurse Jackie, but it was when Jim Brochu​ and I saw the actor, Stephen Wallem​ appear on stage with Edie Falco that I knew this performer, newly in from Chicago, was so multi-talented. He sings like an angel and, as in the show, has incredibly seasoned comic chops. Like all great clowns, he can make you laugh and cry at once.

But it was his voice that really carried me away. So, when I asked him if he'd take on the unnamed role of the "journeyer" in New World Waking, and he said yes, I couldn't contain my excitement. But I did. Until now. And, paired with some of my favorite theater, cabaret and opera performers, this is going to be a great night.

The full poster is below.


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Mass is now online.

After almost five years, we performed Missa Appassionata, the Bay Ridge Mass, which I composed with much guidance, and a little collaboration from, and with, Mark Janas.

It is on iTunes and Spotify, which means you can buy and own it or you can stream it. I am happy either way. I just want the music heard because much of it is different from anything I've ever written before, including some very sophisticated choral composing. (Yay, team!)

But these are interspersed with songs that will be more familiar to your ears.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/missa-appassionata/id1038988148

If you'd like to stream it, here is the Spotify link:


Monday, October 05, 2015

For my 62nd Birthday...





For my 62nd birthday, I gave myself the challenge of learning to play guitar and accompany myself in public. And I did it! With only five days practice. It helps to have a song with only one chord in it. And this next year will be the 20th anniversary of coming back to life and performing The Last Session workshop in Los Angeles at the Zephyr, still hooked up to an I.V.


I wasn't supposed to live past the age of 42.


So, what have I done since then? I've made a ton of friends from all over the world, invented blogging, written two off-Broadway musicals, composed a Mass, a song cycle, visited all seven continents, co-starred in a movie, made a few albums and found that healing comes from being a healer. Learning comes by being a teacher and loving comes by being a lover.


I got rescued by doctors, friends, family and loved ones.


In the world's big picture, I'm not rich, not famous. I didn't change the planet nor do I have my Tony, Oscar, Emmy or Grammy, but I have life still. Those things may or may not come, but I do know this, when I was on my "deathbed," I wouldn't have wanted those things around me. I already had what I needed: Jim Brochu and the people who love me -- and even better, people I really love.


In the end, that's all that matters and will ever matter. On that score, I'm the richest man alive. All the wealth in the world cannot buy you a true friend. And one true friend is worth more than all the wealth in the world, which means I have multiple worlds of wealth.


Happy birthday to me.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

New Birthday Video.

Today is my birthday. I'm 62 and so I present a new song and a new video to go along with it.


Saturday, October 03, 2015

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Zombie Funk



This is what happens when you join a group where you must write a song a week.

Your brain gets addled and you start writing anything that comes into your head.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Roger Rees. A very talented and kind man.

Roger Rees has died.

He visited Jim Brochu and me in our dressing room during the run of "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" Jim interviewed him about his run on Nicholas Nickleby, an 8 1/2-hour long Broadway play.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Times Square Sanctus



Soloist: Maria Fernanda Brea



This is the Sanctus I composed for the Missa Appassionata, which will be available soon for the purchase or streaming. Words: Traditional. Recording produced by Stephen Wilde. Executive Producer: Fr. Jeffrey Hamblin, M.D. Conductor: Mark Janas.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Hand is improving.

I have been resting my hand, which means no typing or playing the piano.

So, it's feeling better. I will see a specialist in a couple of weeks.

Thanks for all the kind notes and wishes.

Lots of good things to come. 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Update.

I apologize that I have not updated the blog. But I have some repetitive stress injury to my hand and so I can't really type all that much. However, you should know that I am still here and that I am making a lot of new music.

More news soon.

Friday, March 13, 2015

New World Waking, Boston Conservatory.

Joey Harrell, musical director of EarthStone Theater Company's production of
New World Waking.
I don't want to insult producer/director and performer Blake Zolfo by saying he reminds me of me. But he reminds me of me. In the sense that he seems to instinctively be living in the Bonus Round without ever having almost died of a disease.


Blake Zolfo and I with the poster. Artwork by Carolina Gaviola, conceived by Blake and Carolina.
Meaning, as a student at Boston Conservatory, he started his own theater company and put on a season of shows, grabbing whatever space was available, and just going of for it. In the case of New World Waking, they took over a rehearsal hall at the school. (One of the premises behind his founding EarthStone is that one doesn't need a theater to make theatre).


When he discovered my New World Waking School Challenge, he and musical director Joey Harrell were especially eager because the show is still, in a way, unformed -- or without form -- and thus, subject to being stretched and changed and reformed to whatever artistic vision they wanted.

As a teaching opportunity, it was perfect. As composer, I gave them permission to cast it any way they wished, including changing keys, changing genders of the singers, changing songs from solos to group songs or vice versa. And since the "characters" are more archetypes associated with the songs than fully fleshed out characters, they had my permission to absolutely do anything they wanted.

They couldn't do a lot in terms of production, plus they had a severely limited rehearsal period, but what a privilege it was to sit out front and see the songs re-imagined in new ways. (Here in New York, I had to cast myself in the show because, also, of time limitations so I couldn't watch the show.)

But, from the beginning, I have envisioned this piece as a learning exercise that can be thrown into a season. The point of it is to do it quickly, down and dirty. So, for the students at Boston Conservatory, it was a chance to, essentially, create a new show from scratch. And there's no better or faster way to learn.

At the beginning of the night, Blake announced that, except for one, these were all underclassmen.

Bransen Gates sang "Brilliant Masquerade" and "War By Default."
He's a very "alive" performer on stage, totally present.

Isaiah Reynolds lent an expert hand to such diverse songs as
Franco Ate The Paperwork, Kelly & Sinatra, My Thanksgiving Prayer, and My Rising Up.
When I showed Jim his picture, he said, "This kid is gonna get a lot of work with that smiling face."

Gabi Carruba's harmonies were gorgeous on "He's Coming Back" and she totally raised the roof on "Lazarus Come Out."

Aaron Badilla has a warm,  melodic voice.
He also had the two most diverse songs, "Vacationing in Syria," which had the audience laughing out loud,
and "Holy Dirt," which benefitted from his quiet gravitas.

Lauren Kidwell was brought in to handle "Sanctus," which requires a more trained operatic voice.

Jackie Chylinski was celebrating because this would be her first college show.
She expertly handled "He's Coming Back," "I Enter This Battle Gravely" and "William's Song."
The endlessly adorable and warm Dani Apple fully embodied the pathos of
"Gabi's Song," "I Enter This Battle Gravely" and "He's Coming Back."


Seriously, how adorable is Isaiah Reynolds?






Adam Bokunewicz bravely stepped in at the last minute to handle the piano chores.
It was not easy, and he gracefully pulled it off. Great musician!

Joey Harrell, the musical director, stayed up almost all night and morning
rewriting the charts for Adam. Welcome to the glamorous world of show biz!

The entire company and creative team.
Adam Bedilla, Joey Harrell, Dani Apple, Blake Zolfo, Jackie Chylinski, Steve Schalchlin
Adam Bokunewicz, Isaiah Reynolds, Bransen Gates, Gabi Carruba, Lauren Kidwell.
Despite all the limitations, the show was great. People around me were both crying and laughing and greatly moved by the material and by the expert performances.

I composed New World Waking with the express goal of providing a work that would both be deeply meaningful and easy to produce -- but it takes a visionary to pull it off. A visionary like Blake Zolfo.

It doesn't matter how old you are or how inexperienced, what it takes to make it in this profession is courage to step out on your own and MAKE something happen.

New World Waking was a triumph because these young people made it happen. They didn't wait for others, they didn't wait for permission. They created their own show and they moved a lot of hearts with it. And that's what Living in the Bonus Round is truly all about.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Writing A Song A Week.

I've joined the Jack Hardy Songwriter Exchange, the rules of which are that we must write a song a week. So, just to prove that I can, I have been writing, almost exclusively, love songs -- and I will probably make those love songs my next album.

Why love songs? Because everyone keeps accusing me of writing only "issue" songs. So, I'm gonna prove myself! So far, I'm not doing so badly. We'll see how it goes.

I've been learning my new studio recording software -- Pro Logic X! -- so I'll start posting the demo recordings soon for your judgment.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Boston New World Waking moved to March 10.

New World Waking will perform on March 10 (one night only!) at 8pm in 132 Ipswich, Room 306.  Tickets are $5 and can be reserved by emailing Blake_Zolfo@bostonconservatory.edu.  A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project.

The show features a group of incredible singers from The Boston Conservatory, and the response from the performers to this material has been so encouraging as we continue to put this show together. It is also a unique opportunity for this group of pre-professionals to be able to work on a show with the composer being an active part of the process.  They have improvised many of the harmony lines and bring a fresh new look at this very pointed piece of theatre.

EarthStone Theatre Company's Cast for New World Waking

Gabi Carrubba*
Jackie Chylinski
Dani Apple
Bransen Gates
Aaron Badilla
Isaiah Reynolds

*Member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA), the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.
 
EarthStone Theatre Company is a brand new theatre company which operates in Boston, Massachusetts, bringing four shows annually to the Back Bay/Cambridge area.  The mission statement of EarthStone is four pronged: 
  • Breaking down the assumption that theatre can only happen in places designated as "theaters"
  • Breaking down preconceptions that specific shows need to be performed in a particular manner
  • Breaking down social barriers by using art as activism
  • Breaking down artistic barriers by connecting composers/playwrights with actors and vice versa.
     Our current season included a completely re-imagined Little Shop of Horrors, a workshop of a new musical called The Greatest Musical Ever, performances of Paul Downs Colaizzo's Really Reallywhich raised money for the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and the weekend of March we will be putting up a dynamic production of Shakespeare's Macbeth.  New World Waking fits into our mission statement because it sparks strong conversation about LGBT issues.  

The executive board of EarthStone is comprised of current students and alumni from The Boston Conservatory, which has about a 30% population that identifies as "other than straight". (The national average is around 14% for a college campus).  So we decided to include this powerful song cycle in our season, feeling that it would resonate within such a diverse community.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Lucia and I perform "William's Song" at the BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards


It was thrilling to receive the "Editor's Choice for Excellence in Songwriting" at the 2015 BroadwayWorld Cabaret Awards.

In the picture, taken by Russ Weatherford, you see Lucia Spina singing "William's Song."

I am very honored to receive this award and I thank the BroadwayWorld editors, especially Stephen Hanks. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Boston New World Waking logo

New World Waking will perform on March 10, 2015 (one night only!) at 8pm in 132 Ipswich, Room 306. Tickets are $5 and can be reserved by emailing Blake_Zolfo@bostonconservatory.edu. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Pics of Drama Class, Jacksonville TX.


The Jacksonville College Drama Department. Mary Lewish, teacher.

I was honored to speak to the students in this class. I basically just told them my story, and about how I found life and truth in musical theater. And I told them to quit acting. (That's always the first rule of acting is to stop acting).

Now, I ask you, how adorable are these faces? 


Yes. That's me lecturing, as if I had even a remote clue about what I was doing.

For Valentine's Day.

For Valentine's Day,

I am asking my girlfriend from college -- with whom I recently reconnected -- Brenda Bateman​, to be my Valentine.

I just called her "Hatley" and she was my best friend and the one who believed in me the most, among a lot of great close pals. But she is a very special person and I caused her and a lot of other people a great deal of pain.

She is responsible for my return home to Jacksonville after 40 years. It was both the best and worst time of my life because I had a secret I could never share. Not back then. And not there. In not being able to deal with it, or talk about it, I hurt everyone in my life -- especially when I left them, driving out of town and never looking back.



She married a wonderful man and had a great marriage until he recently passed away and she found me on Facebook. (And then hounded me to return. There is so much to tell, I don't know where to begin. I haven't even begun to examine my feelings).

We were driving through downtown Houston yesterday and I saw all these tall gleaming towers named after wealthy men. And I thought how nice if someone of wealth built towers and named them after people like Brenda, who is presently a youth pastor in a Chinese church near Dallas. A woman living a quiet but fierce life of love, creating healing through direct action and not taking "no" for an answer -- and believe me, I resisted.

Brenda, will you be my Valentine today?

(Jim​ won't mind one bit, and I hope you get to meet him one day. He's very much taken to calling everyone "darlin'," now that he's been in Texas for a month. You two will "darlin'" each other to death.)

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Singing at Jacksonville College.

I was, frankly, terrified to come back to Jacksonville College, remembering how much gay people were hated and denounced back in the 70s by conservative Christians. I didn't want to put them on the spot and I didn't want to have to defend myself. But, my classmates wanted me to come, so I went and was even invited to speak to the drama department and sing a concert for my old classmates.

And it was fantastic. We all wept together, sang together and many of them shared with me about their own gay relatives, proudly talking about how much they loved and accepted them. I even said that if anyone doesn't agree about homosexuality, that I was perfectly willing to accept them, however they are, whatever they believe, because I cannot ask for acceptance unless I'm willing to be accepting.

I feel a little silly, in retrospect, fearing this day that I would come "home."


How wonderful it is when people hearts are open and we all just accept each other for what and who we are.

Color me grateful and happy and filled with joy.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Presenting at Manhattan School of Music.


Mark Janas teaches a program for the vocal students at the prestigious Manhattan School of Music. It's a special class of students who do community outreach to both elementary schools, to teach them about opera; and to senior centers, singing a special cabaret show.

This entails showing them how to approach singing the American Songbook, which can be tricky and sometimes difficult for operatic singers. Many simply cannot make that transition. But when they can -- when they can "bring it down," so to speak, and sing conversationally, they then have that reserve of training to draw on when they need it. And this can be spectacular!

With Andy Gale as an acting/performing coach, these students are getting the best of the best. And my purpose there was to sing my own songs and, as Mark would put it, show them, in real life terms, how powerful music can be in the lives of those who hear it, when its sung as if life itself depended on it, which mine absolutely does.

I'm honored to be able to do this kind of outreach. I don't come from an operatic background, so a part of me always feels inadequate. Most of these singers can, technically, sing rings around me.

But, somehow, whatever I bring to the party, it seems to be enough. Mark gave me over an hour to work with them and all of us were drenched in tears by the time it was over.

Now, they'll work on their own shows. I'm excited to see what develops.

Monday, January 19, 2015

New World Waking in Boston.

Last week, I offered to let any group perform New World Waking, and the challenge has been accepted by the EarthStone Theater Company, which is run by some students at Boston Conservatory.

So, today, in honor of MLK Day, I want to present this number from the recent New York staging.

Borrowing from my Mass, I brought in the Sanctus, sung here by Maria Fernanda Brea, a student at Manhattan School of Music, the opera program. I promise she will some day be on the stage at the Met.

But, you'll see that the narrator begins the moment with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King -- about how violence only breeds more violence -- pairing that quote with "Holy Dirt," about how some religions care more about their ideology than they do the people they say their deity or prophet loves.

It's like a contest to see who can kill them most people to defend the honor of some holy object or person -- and whoever kills the most, wins.


In class yesterday...

In class yesterday, one of my new songs got ripped to shreds. Well, not really. They loved the melody and concept, but felt they were mismatched -- and that the "story" in the song was unclear. I hated hearing that, of course.

 Except, today, I love having heard it. Because now I know how to approach a rewrite.

Being a songwriter is such a pain. When an idea is new, it's THE GREATEST IDEA ON EARTH, and then you start singing it and the fresh new car starts getting dings and bumps and scratches. Or, they were there but you just didn't see them because NEW IS ALWAYS GREAT!

But, how valuable to have informed, honest reactions. You cannot grow without it. You have to suck it up and look at what you've got and then fix it. And fix it again.

That's a metaphor for life, btw.

It never gets easy. It only becomes familiar. But if your life is easy, you're either dead or you've lost the meaning of life.

OTOH, the two other songs got a splendid reaction. I still think there's work to do, but at least I feel I can see the runway and can land pretty smoothly.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

You can perform New World Waking.

If you're a student or non-profit group looking for an hour-long piece for a fundraiser or a social action meeting, I am allowing, for a limited time, a free license to perform it. All the material is online, fully downloadable for no charge.

Write me at steveshack@gmail.com

Monday, January 05, 2015

Announcing an honor.

Today, it was announced that I have been honored with the first Broadway World Special Editor's Award for Excellence in Songwriting by the editors of BroadwayWorld,com. Here is their description:

In a field with many deserving candidates, this year's first ever BWW New York Cabaret Award for "Excellence in Songwriting" goes to Steve Schalchlin, a New York-based composer and lyricist who has been on quite a cabaret roll the past two years. Although his two biggest recent projects, the CD and subsequent show, Tales From the Bonus Round, and his song cycle, New World Waking, were years in development, Schalchlin performed both in New York over the past couple of seasons. Bonus Round-which featured Schalchlin at the piano as lead singer--was performed as a cabaret show at the Metropolitan Room in October 2013 (and received a BWW Award nomination for "Best CD Release," and one of the songs garnered a nomination for "Best Original Song for a Cabaret Show"), while New World Waking received a standing ovation when performed at the Urban Stages Winter Rhythms Festival last month. "What makes Steve stand out above the rest for his recent body of work is that he not only writes both music and lyrics, but also performs his songs," says BWW New York Cabaret Editor Stephen Hanks. "But even more impressive is that his songs in Bonus Round compellingly chronicled his battle with the life-threatening AIDS disease, while New World Waking offered important messages about how our planet needs to finally overcome violence, war, racism, and prejudice-and how it might be possible through the power of music. Schalchlin's lyrically powerful and pleasingly melodic songs couldn't be timelier."
I have to thank, of course, Stephen Hanks, who has been a most ardent supporter of many of the best performers on the vibrant and growing cabaret scene in New York. For years, he has attended hundreds and hundreds of cabaret shows, essentially documenting this era in the world of New York Cabaret -- a scene that is always in flux.

With the death of so many live band clubs, many musicians and songwriter who, in earlier times would have been playing in blues clubs or folk clubs or rock clubs are finding themselves welcomed on cabaret stages.

Sure, traditionally, cabaret envelopes the Great American Songbook from earlier in the 20th century, so a certain amount of performing, acting and singing skills are required. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for a many more genres of music -- especially new material with personal, intimate moments, which is what cabaret is really all about.



Friday, January 02, 2015

Looking Back and Racing Forward.

This has been one of the best years of our lives.

For me, creatively, it's been a revelation even to myself beginning with the performance of my Mass, Missa Appassionata, back in the Spring. With a choir of world class voices singing my music, led my Mark Janas and directed by Andy Gale, I'm still not over the powerful way these singers embraced the piece and made it soar. (A recording is on the way!)

Then, we got into our new apartment -- after 11 years on the waiting list! -- and we finally have a home to call our own. It's hard being a poor actor/writer in New York City. We spend so much of our time working on our art, doing things for free, and hoping for attention, it almost sometimes feels like we're doing it for ourselves.

Maybe this year, the rest of the world will find us.

But it was the performance of New World Waking that really felt like a triumphant conclusion to an eventful year. Thanks to the fact that this new place we're living in, which is filled with singers and actors and musicians, I am able to access a rehearsal studio during the earliest morning hours, which is when I like to work.

So, every day, faithfully, I am down at that piano working from 3 or 4am to 7 or 8, depending on whether anyone else has signed up for the 7am hour, and wow, what a difference it makes to have all that time alone to just write and play and sing.

I suppose the best thing I can say is that I'm grateful. Grateful and thankful and humbled and thrilled to still be alive and thriving when so many men of my generation died in the holocaust of AIDS.

All I can do is hope that I haven't wasted their legacy by wasting even a moment of time here in the bonus round. Not many people get the kind of privileges afforded me. And being alive is at the top of that list.

I apologize that I don't update this blog as often. I will commit myself to doing more this next year.

These past few years have really been years of study and work and transition. I never dreamed that I could be capable of the kind of work that has poured out of me. Who IS that guy?

What I do know is that as we get closer to my 20th year in the bonus round, I can see how much I person can accomplish when I'm surrounded by friends, and when I surrounds myself with people who are more talented, more accomplished and more driven than even I can imagine.

What next, you ask?

Everything.

Absolutely everything.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Happy New Year with New World Waking.



Also read the sensational review posted at Broadway World by critic/editor Stephen Hanks.


CABARET LIFE NYC: Steve Schalchlin's 'New World Waking' Is a Spiritual & Political Wake-Up Call for Non-Violent Social Action and a Case for the Healing Power of Music.

As culture writer and film critic A.O. Scott put it in the New York Times this past Thanksgiving weekend, "Ever since the financial crisis of 2008, I've been waiting for 'The Grapes of Wrath.' Or maybe 'A Raisin in the Sun,' or 'Death of a Salesman,' an Emile Zola novel or a Woody Guthrie ballad-- something that would sum up the injustices and worries of the times, and put a human face on the impersonal movements of history.  
The originals are all still around, available for revival and rediscovery and part of a robust artistic record of hard times past. But we are in the midst of hard times now, and it feels as if art is failing us."   
So into this void, at least in this little part of his and our world, steps a Steve Schalchlin, with an intelligent, compelling, and extremely tuneful commentary on some of the current ills of American society and the entire planet, and his idealistic but utterly conceivable notion of music being the conduit for non-violence and peaceful change. "

A Stunning Letter from Texas and Harvey.

My friend, Brenda Bateman , down in Texas wrote this after hours on a horse in the flood, freezing, saving animals and humans. This is an i...