BRIEF BLOG INTRO: I'm a man on a mission to convince you that music is a Super Power, and that life is worth living, no matter how many obstacles are placed in your way. And that you can accomplish great things if you just push ahead and don't let anyone tell you no.

I'm a singer/songwriter and actor from Texas who is "Living in the Bonus Round" in New York City-- having cheated death from AIDS. (In a game show, the Bonus Round is where time speeds up and the prizes are better.) Accepting my death changed me. Now, I'm consuming life as quickly and as fully as I can, while still taking time to breathe and appreciate every single day as an utter miracle.

In 2013, I turned 60 and I created a set of goals, all of which came true, including composing -- and performing in -- a Mass, recording a solo album (selling 10s of copies), headlining to a sold out house at a major night club in New York City (while getting great reviews). Now I'm out to redefine theater and cabaret. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve [SHACK-lin] and we're just getting started.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Only Kind of Music (with Jake)

Jake Wesley Stewart came over for lunch, so I did what I always do. Dragged him behind a mic and made him sing a vocal. This was yesterday. Here he is.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

High Water Road

My first demo recording with me playing the bass guitar!

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Christmas Cherry Red.

Each year, I have slowly added to my ability to create music from home. Last year, I picked up the guitar (acoustic) and have been learning it, while writing guitar songs. I've been making demos using it. This Christmas, I thought, now I want to play electric guitar.

But, as I listened back on my demo, though some aren't bad, there was always something missing.

A real, live bass.

I was playing a bass on the keyboard, a nice sample, as a matter of fact. But the rush of energy that you feel when you hear fingers gliding over the strings of a nice bass, it just can't be matched. So, though my heart wanted to be Keith Richard, I knew I had to first be Peter Tork.

So, I wandered into Sam Ash and told the guy in the bass department my plight, that I wanted a bass, but nothing fancy, nothing tricked out. And, lo and behold, rather than upselling me, he said, "Look, see that Yamaha there?"

"Yeah." (Most bass guitars want you to spend upward of $600 to $1000 or more.)

"$200 and it's solid, stays in tune, has both pick-ups. It will get the job done. Want to play it?"

I have never plugged in a guitar in a store before. Now everyone would hear me. "Yeah. How do I...?"

He brought me over to an amp -- they sell Hartke amps -- and that's when I found out that Larry Hartke, the inventor, was my salesman.

Not sure yet, I decided to go to Guitar Center where I met with a guy who, after I told him my economic plight, immediately tried to up-sell me with an impassioned speech about the need for a quality bass. I was sure he was right, but all I could think about was that solid little Yamaha.

I exited Guitar Center and went right back to Sam Ash, found Larry and said, "I want that bass."

He took me over to the display and asked what color I wanted, sunburst, black or cherry red.

Oh, please.

Cherry red!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Yes! I made today's birthday list. I wonder how many of you, if it was awhile since we communicated, checked here first to see if I'm still alive?

I post! Therefore I am!

All is well. Tests are generally good. HIV undetectable. Bit too much fat in the blood (side effects of the meds) and I'm staying rigidly faithful to my multiple pill regimen.

Mentally, I'm still keeping my "University of Steve at New York" paradigm for my daily existence, seeking out mentors, giving service in order to create and build community. Always learning more, reaching harder in this most amazing Bonus Round -- but also keeping a quiet "just do the work" zen approach.

GYM 101: I'm having a bit of a kidney issue when I run, so I've taken to stair-climbing in our building while listening to Hardcore History podcasts. Because of my frozen shoulder, which is much better, I can't lift weight. So I climb. Up to 45, down to 1 and back up again. I miss running the streets of New York. But it's getting colder and perhaps this is all for the best.

GUITAR 101: This year, I taught myself guitar off of YouTube and immediately began writing songs with it. All I've ever wanted to be was John Fogerty. And Neil Young. You should see me in the bedroom.

VOICE 101: I sing in the St. Clement's church choir and write music.

COMPOSITION 101: Wrote the score for the Space Pirate Puppy Musical which opens on Saturday, so it's frantic right now. I have two different rehearsals today. (And it's so fun and exciting!)

LOVE 101: I have Jim and without him, I wouldn't be enjoying any of it.

I'm 63 with the body of a 73 year old and the mind of a eager first year student. I remember a time when I just wanted to get to the millennium.

I hope your life is great and that you appreciate every waking moment. I hope you checked in on me because you remember me fondly. Or because you liked my songs. This year was the 20 anniversary of The Last Session in Los Angeles, where my co-star was Chip Esten! (heart throb)

This next year, 2017, is the 20th anniversary of the New York production of The Last Session. I don't know what we're going to do -- people are talking about an all-star revival. I know I'm going to be around singing them.

Thanks for any part you might have played in my life. You're the reason I'm alive. I hope to continue to earn my keep.

Steve Schalchlin
Living in the Bonus Round

Monday, September 26, 2016

"At One" with my instrument.

Yesterday was a personal landmark for me. It was my first time since learning guitar that I confidently played and sang a 20-minute set in front of strangers. I had previously sung one or two songs for mostly friends, but my concentration was always so focused on getting the guitar part right, remembering where my fingers were supposed to be, that my attention felt divided.

But yesterday, after much practice, I had total focus on the song, the lyrics and the performance. I wasn't demonstrating my songs, I was performing them. I was being an entertainer, confident and having a blast. The guitar felt as natural to me as when I play and sing at the piano.

The exhilarating feeling is one that cannot be described. It's powerful to have control of one's instrument, whether it's a piano, a guitar or even just your voice.

And yes, I know I'm too old to be a rock star to anyone but myself, but here in the Bonus Round, where time speeds up and the prizes are better, this was a lifelong dream fulfilled. I could see the audience perk up, sing along, laugh along and I was completely into the lyrics of the song -- meaning I wasn't thinking about the guitar at all during my set. It was just a natural extension of my body and my music.

As I said, all my life, I've wanted to experience this. It took me a full year of constant practice, but even when I dropped my pick, NO BIG DEAL -- I just grabbed it off the floor and kept on moving like it never happened. No nerves. No fright.

Just the pure experience of being at one with myself and my instruments (guitar and voice).

But that's what it takes: Hours and hours and hours of just staying at it, conquering the fretboard, figuring out where the strings are, understanding rhythm and then marrying them together so that they feel whole and natural.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

11 SEPT 2016. The STEVE Show! "No Safety"

On the anniversary of 9/11, a song about the same violence going on now in Syria, focusing on the small boy found in the rubble of Aleppo, Omran Daqneesh. "No Safety" written and performed by The Bonus Round Band featuring Steve Schalchlin.