Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The First Available Downloads Coming Soon.

I have spent the greater part of most every day of this past month doing one single thing: making sheet music. Arranging my songs.

Because, very soon, these songs will be available for licensed download. Even in this day where music is passed around freely, regardless of copyright -- I found the Samuel French score for The Last Session at some online trading post -- I'm not going to let that prevent me from putting my things out there.

Last night, Jim and I were invited to a palatial private home for a beautiful meal with very classy people. They had a piano there, freshly tuned, and all the chairs from the living room circled around it for a little concert.

Since we've been friends with these people for several years, I had sung for them once before, but it was an unplanned event. (I jumped on the piano after dinner and just took it over, not giving them any choice in the matter. Jackie Gleason's widow was one of the guests, in fact).

Maybe it's counter-cultural to be coming into one's own at the age of 57, but I can't go backward and become a child prodigy. No, this is it. This is the age when I get a record deal.

In a way, it's better than if I'd gotten famous in my youth. Life on the road for those many years, bar after bar, hotel after hotel, casino after casino, then theater after theater, has seasoned me. Say what you will, I do know how to sell a song. I've paid for that in drugs, sweat and tears.

This piano has been played by some of the greats, from the classical world to the opera world to the theater world. These friends have entertained legends in this living room. Serious musical legends. In fact, a highly respected, award-winning Broadway producer was sitting there listening to me, with tears rolling down his face.

This little country church pianist felt right at home. Dues, man. It's about having paid dues.

I sang "Prologue from New World Waking" into "My Rising Up." Then, "Lazarus Come Out" followed by "Holy Dirt," which I describe as my anti-hymn. Then "Rescue" -- at dinner, several of the women were talking about their support for animal shelters -- ending with "How Do You Fall Back in Love" (Jim didn't sing since he's on vocal rest with his 7 show a week schedule) and, finally, "Going It Alone."

So, people have been asking what songs are coming first. Here is my list. This is what I've completed so far. I'll be adding more and more songs as the months progress. Along with the sheet music itself, I'm going to provide mp3s of all the arrangements made from the sheet music program. They will sound a bit cheesy, but will accurately play the notes so that slow readers or non-readers can learn them, too.

Eventually, I'll go into the studio and make a fully produced record. But, really, these are for you, dear reader, to sing.

We will begin with a brand new song which I co-composed with Mark Janas. I don't have a good recording of the song, yet, but we've sung it both at church at at the Salon to terrific response. In fact, people have been coming up to me asking for copies of the lyrics. Those will also be posted on the Watchfire site.

EVERY DAY A NEW AMENLyrics by Steve SchalchlinMusic by Steve Schalchlin & Mark Janas
c 2011 by See No Evil Music / Lil Shack O Tunes (ASCAP) & Mark Janas Music (BMI)

A guy meets a Catholic girl in a karaoke bar and re-discovers the power of singing “Amen.” Sounds crazy, but this touching and humorous folk-gospel story song is actually quite moving. Solo -- or solo with SATB choir. Guitar chords included. The choral arrangement is sophisticated while being totally accessible to any level of church or civic community group.

HIGH: D4 to F5 solo or with choral
LOW: B4 to D5 solo or with choral

MED: C4 to D#5 solo or with choral

Lyrics by Steve Schalchlin
Music by Steve Schalchlin & Avril Roy-Smith

c2009 See No Evil Music/Lil Shack O Tunes (ASCAP)

A mother misses her deployed soldier son and examines the items he left behind, looking for hope that he’ll return. A true story-song drawn from real life. Guitar chords included. A TTBB arrangement is available.

HIGH: F3 to E4
LOW: Bb3 to Bb4

Lyrics by Peter J. Carman
Music by Steve Schalchlin

c 2006 See No Evil Music / Lil Shack O Tunes (ASCAP)

Written from the perspective of Lazarus, raised from the dead by Jesus, this song is also a thank you to caregivers and friends who refuse to let friends in distress, whether through sickness or depression, slip away. Guitar chords included. Powerful, driving ballad.

HIGH: F#3 to F4, optional Ab4. Solo and male trio (TTB)
MED: C# to C4, optional Eb4. Solo and female trio (SSA)  
BARITONE with male chorus (TTBB)


Lyrics by Peter J. Carman
Music by Steve Schalchlin

c 2006 See No Evil Music / Lil Shack O Tunes (ASCAP)

A high energy inspiring gospel song about rebirth and renewal of spirit and faith, with harmony back-up. Guitar chords included.
HIGH: Eb3 to G#4
MED: C4 to Db5
LOW: Ab3 to D5


Lyrics by Peter J. Carman
Music by Steve Schalchlin

c 2006 See No Evil Music / Lil Shack O Tunes (ASCAP)

A deeply sincere prayer of thanksgiving, celebrating the power of music to create peace and healing. Arranged in various solo and choral configurations. Guitar chords included.


HIGH: A3 to G4
MED: F#3 to E4
LOW: E3 to D4 or E4 to D5


Lyrics by Schalchlin/Roy-Smith/Kuhns/Lebo
Music by Steve Schalchlin

c2009 by See No Evil Music/Lil Shack O Tunes (ASCAP)

Written for an animal rescue shelter, this expresses the truth that when we rescue another, we really rescue ourselves. Choral version available. The song is appropriate for all occasions. Guitar chords included.

HIGH: E4 to G5
MED: Bb3 to D4
LOW: A3 to C#4c 2011 by See No Evil Music / Lil Shack O Tunes (ASCAP) & Mark Janas Music (BMI)

Monday, February 21, 2011

A New Family.

When Jim works, he likes things to be a certain way. All of it has to do with creating the atmosphere he needs to give the audience the whole show, with absolute concentration. Anything that disturbs that concentration is not desirable.

The pillars that create this atmosphere are the crew members. And the crew member that he interacts with the most, and through whom he lets all his wishes known, is the stage manager. The stage manager, for a performer, is the greatest person on earth. Or he can be the worst person on earth, but those you just try to stay away from.

Here at the Aventura, we have Jimmy Rodgers.

Danilo on sound.

Larry Tappel, producer.

Jim, in costume, with Jimmy.
He keeps Jim purring like a kitten.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Rehearsing New World Waking in Miami

As we walked down the hallways of the beautiful Coral Gables Congregational Church, Jimmy and I heard the choral strains of "Gabi's Song" coming from a room at the end of the hall and we both got chills. He said, "I hear your music."

It's still startling to me to hear someone I don't know playing and singing my songs. It's almost like seeing someone using my toothbrush. The songs are so personal and the notes so very, well, my OWN that it's almost embarrassing, like they're going through my underwear drawers.

But then, when I feel my eyes starting to well up, all of that fades away and I'm filled with intense joy. I have a feeling my face was beaming.

INSIGNIA is a select group of singers put together by the Anthony Cabrera based on their skill level, but also, he said, on their sound -- their ability to blend. And wow, blend they did! Even at this early stage of their rehearsal period, their sound was breathtaking.

I told them a few stories about the piece, but mostly I just listened and answered questions here and there. They were interested in how it came together, why I chose the songs I did, and what kinds of responses I've gotten in the past. But, really, I was just there to listen.

Hunky, handsome Anthony Cabrera, artistic director and conductor.

The performance will be at St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Coconut Grove on April 10th at 4pm.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Florida is sunny and warm.

We drove east until we hit a beach. Found a $5 parking lot and then this eatery, overlooking the beach.
Brazilian bbq steak for $8. In New York, it would have been 30.

He always looks like a star. And he eats every bite.

Looking south.

Nice things to see.

New York, at last!

That boy!

Graceful as a grouse.

Cold water. Warm sand.

Full moon over Miami.

The tradition continues!

From the wings of the massive stage at the Aventura Arts and Culture Center.

Posing  with friends in the expansive lobby overlooking the water.
(Jim is hugging Charlotte Rae's sister, Mimi.)

"Not since George C. Scott has an actor impersonated righteous outrage with the skill and intensity that Jim Brochu brings to Zero Mostel’s paint-blistering jeremiad against colleagues naming names during the 1950s in Zero Hour."

Wonderful new review of Zero Hour by Bill Hirschman in the indispensable blog, South Florida Theatre Review.

Bill is one of the first critics to really hone in on this great aspect of Zero Hour. Zero was a down-right  frightening human being. He could also be cruel. The story of Jim asking him for his autograph on the street corner in New York and Zero imperiously and loudly screaming, at the top of his lungs, with absolute sincerity, "YOU'RE NOT WORTHY!" is not a story unique to Jim.

I keep thinking we should start a blog with nothing but stories people have told us about Zero. Some people absolutely hated him.

This inner rage. Jim channels it like a wide-open spigot and it's completely believable. And the comparison to George C. Scott is apt. Jim has that edge, which is interesting because he has the reputation of being a comic actor from the baggy pants school of comedy.

But, when you think about it, all those old comedians could do "rage." Jackie Gleason? He had so many shades of rage, you watch those original Honeymooners, over and over, just to witness the variety. It can happen instantaneously, or over a long slow burn as his face turns bright red and his body puffs out, threatening to explode.

I remember our first table reading. There was a group of pre-teens and teens, inprov students, in the audience. I was taping it. At the end of act one, there's a door slam.

So, Jim gets up, screams, "This interview is over!" and exits, slamming a door.

There was a brief silent moment, and then we heard, in this tiny girl's voice, "He's scary."

Yeah. He is.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Zero Hour In Florida. We Love Our Crew.

Tonight is opening night for Zero Hour at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center.

Since it's a brand new facility, having opened in October, many people in the area are still in the process of discovering it.

But, man, is it beautiful. It sits right on the water, with a towering glass lobby. We even get a water view from the dressing rooms!

The stage is also wide, with tall fly space. And the chairs are also comfy, with lots of legroom.

I would love to sing a concert on this stage! Maybe we can plan something with the Miami Gay Men's Chorus. I'll be meeting them soon on this trip. Their group, Signature, will singing New World Waking in the Spring.

I'll have photos and video soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Curious Statistic.

“Apart from playing Steve Schalchlin’s music frequently on my Music Theatre radio show in Australia, Broadway at Bedtime, I find myself drawn to recommending his music for my vocal students for professional auditions in my position as Vocal Coach. A curious statistic is that every student, who has sung one of Steve’s songs in audition, has got the gig!”

Director, Music Director, Vocal Coach, Actor, Singer.
Host, Broadway at Bedtime
Green Room Awards Association Inc, Music Theatre Panel
That was the very surprising email I got in response to request I issued on Facebook. Because we're going to start selling my music online, Watchfire Music asked me to provide some quotes from singers, or other people involved in music who had ever used my songs. Because, honestly, I know you may not believe this, mom, but I'm not that well known. I gotta hawk this stuff!

I'm now the guy in the cyber alley opening by trench coat, sheet music stuffed in all the pockets.

When a distinguished musical director in Australia who's on the board of their theatrical awards says that everyone who auditions singing one of my songs gets the job, this is something I can use! Especially this:
A curious statistic is that every student, who has sung one of Steve’s songs in audition, has got the gig!
I have a sneaking suspicion Mr. Conyers' skill as a teacher probably had something to do with it. But, I've heard this from other actors, how they felt my songs were like a kind of secret weapon. Most people listening to auditions get tired of hearing the same, old songs, time after time.

Which means I'm still a cult figure! And I have secret weapons. In fact, dear reader, I have a lot of songs almost ready for download. And yes, I am going to be asking you to pay me. A worker is worthy of his hire, no?

Friday, February 04, 2011

Steve Gets Signed to a Record Label: Watchfire.

Something has been brewing for the past week that I don't want to announce because the papers weren't signed. But, if you look around this site, you will see that the "free music download" page has disappeared.

That's because my music has now been licensed for download by Watchfire Music, an "inspirational" record label. We signed the contract today.

It all happened so quickly and so easily, that I'm almost caught off-guard and am not exactly sure how to plot this new career twist, not that I've ever plotted my so-called career.

Paul Zollo and I were emailing/remembering. Back during my tenure at National Academy of Songwriters, I put my "songwriting career" on hold. Or, at least, that's what everyone told me I was doing. And even I thought that's I was doing, but really, I was learning how to have a career. I just wasn't writing that many songs, or singing out in the clubs.

Because my job was to help other songwriters get at least a foothold in the music scene in Los Angeles, I felt if they thought I was competing with them, it would make it more difficult to help them. So, instead, I focused on the business, leaning how it all works.

There was something invigorating about throwing myself into a job that I had absolutely no qualifications for: managing director. I had no law degree. I knew nothing about the music business. And I had never held a corporate job. My entire adult life had consisted of me being on the road.

It's how Jim and I met. I was singing and playing on a cruise ship -- another job I had absolutely no experience with, but somehow landed the gig even though I did not know any Broadway songs or jazz standards. But I learned on the job and made it my own. In L.A., at NAS, I did the same.

When we arrived in Los Angeles, way back then, the first thing I did was volunteer, for free, on the front desk answering phones. I was, what, in my 30s? A year later, I was managing director. Learned on the job and made it my own, even changing the music business a little bit by producing the Acoustic Underground shows.

So, I used the cruise ship gig as my college education in the American Songbook, a elegant little tome I had previously been mostly unaware of. Gershwin, Porter, Berlin, Sondheim -- I was great at Sondheim because I hadn't heard the songs before singing them. I just treated them like love songs, reading from cheat sheets. All R&B.

During my time at NAS -- which, I realize now, was a college education in business -- I watched the industry consolidate and artistically die because the music guys were all fired, or had their hands tied, and the accountants took over. The Big Five become Four. Or was it the Big Six became Five? Not that talented people couldn't be found and nurtured, but music guys don't merely look for "talent." They look for artists.

Talent comes and goes. Artistry sits angrily, like a rock in the stream, making you go around.

I'm not saying accountants are bad people. I realize that a good accountant can keep you from losing everything you own. But, I learned a long time ago that the bigger something is, the stupider it is. Record labels, all in their death throes now, died because they got too big, too comfortable and too stupid. The electronic age happened, and they got passed by.

From my observatory desk at NAS -- I had no actual power -- I watched the music business. I was the bartender at the party. I saw people take a year or more to negotiate a contract to have a contract. Modern contracts are so long and so complicated, and filled with so much detail, you go broke before you start. And you end up being owned -- and easily dropped.

A record goes up. It goes down. It's over.

It's one of the reasons I like Watchfire's business model. We're not exchanging money up front. Instead, the contract is, literally, two pages long and what they provide is infrastructure, marketing, and someone who believes in my music. And we'll just split the profits from the sales.

I am under contract as composer/artist. Meaning, our main product will be sheet music, available for download, with a license to make two copies. One for the singer and one for the pianist. The "genre" is "Inspirational," which may or may not contain spiritual elements, but they will be appropriate for church and synagogue, mosque or civic meeting.

Available, once I've finished all the arrangements, will be selections from New World Waking, The Big Voice and The Last Session -- as well as the new songs I've been writing. The sheet music will be in various versions -- for singers in high, medium and low keys, along with music tracks where people can hear what the songs are to sound like.

So, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I'm so excited to be working with Watchfire. And excited that my songs will now be available to a much wider audience.

And that's my big news of the day!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

I Love The Snow.

I love the snow. Yes, it's precarious trying to walk around, but I think it's amazing. I say bring it on. I'm enjoying actually going through a real winter. Here are a few snapshots I took on the streets of New York.

The snow piles are so deep, this bicycle is buried.

Just a couple of blocks from Times Square.

This snow really is as tall as that truck.

I'm all bundled up in Times Square.

Down in Greenwich Village, the smaller streets are overwhelmed by the snow storm.