Thursday, August 29, 2013

Health Update: The Exercise (surprise) Is Causing Miracles.

I've been exercising, each day, more and more. Yesterday, I did a very long run (for me), almost two miles. Then, later, went back and did another two miles. For real runners, this isn't much. But for me, it's a lot.

The strange thing is that I didn't need insulin for either lunch or dinner. My metabolism was at such a high level, it disposed of the sugars all by itself, I guess. And it didn't hurt that I am eating low carb meals, while supplementing with extra whey protein.

My blood tests reflected all this good news, too. The virus is still undetectable in my blood. My t-cell count is up over 500 (which is way below normal, but great for me).

Also, my A1c dipped below 6.0 to 5.9, which was great cause for celebration at Dr. Tony's.

So, the training continues under Cat Steinbeck's watchful eye.

Metropolitan Room Update. Brochu plus Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS

Jim Brochu, popular Broadway star and entertainer extraordinaire, has agreed to be my VERY SPECIAL GUEST STAR on October 27th at The Metropolitan Room.

I know you're asking how was I able to secure him. 

I can only say that he likes me. 

I had something else on my mind, too, in thinking about this show. 

Some time ago, I wrote a letter to Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS to let them know how much the services they fund were vital to me, and continue to be, not just for me, but for millions of people. They want to use it in a fundraising letter, so I asked if I could make my Metropolitan Room a fundraiser for them.

I want to express my gratitude any way I can because every single BC/EFA fundraiser leaves me in tears just as much as singing in front of the Quilt leaves me in tears. Because I don't just see a Quilt. 

Every patch contains hundreds of thousands of people's faces, not just those who passed, but their families and friends. I hear them breathing. All of them. I see their traces. I see the same thing when I look out at a crowd supporting BC/EFA. 

To not be forgotten is the most basic of human yearnings. I know it motivates me to keep on fighting and living. 

I'm also challenged every day to be worthy of all the help I received. To be thankful and grateful for this life, a gift that I did not earn. And no, this show isn't going to raise millions. What I will do is split 50/50 of what I earn.

I have a recording studio bill to pay off, after all. Then, there's rent. Food for the cat...

Service can come in all shapes and sizes.

This story is very touching because it's based on something real: a 73 year romance. But it's also the story of a songwriter who performed an act of love. An act of service to another.

After viewing this video, it occurred to me that I have at least a few songs on Tales from the Bonus Round that were written in just this manner, including the true story of the mother of a soldier she's just driven to the airport, and has come home to find all the games and toys he bought during the break scattered all over the floor.

Writing with, and for, other people is something I love doing. Back in L.A., at Kulak's Woodshed, Marc Platt and I ran a "drop-in" songwriter class. We'd get some young people, but the most interesting, to me, were the women, all over 40, who'd been singing or working around the periphery of the songwriting world, and hadn't really tried writing.

I wrote on the WDS board that this act of service to this man, donating their time and talent, is now creating a community of people who are deeply touched. And the community is now propelling this man on a great adventure of being able to share his love for this woman. And she is gorgeous in those old pics.

But let's also be fair to the musicians, Jacob Colgan and "Green Shoe Studios," we wouldn't have sat there listening to the old man's version of this song. It would not exist without them.

And I'm glad they had the smarts to make a good video about it. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

One WTC Photo of the Day.

Early morning pinks and blues reflect off the facets of One WTC. Aug. 26, 2013.

Bonus Close-up!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Album He Would Have Made #IfHeHadn'tDied.

I keep hearing that in my head every day. The Album he would have made if he hadn't died.

It's only an accident that I'm making an album. What I'm presenting is a collection of songs that I like singing at this moment in my life. Plus a few I hadn't done in a long time. For instance, I was kind of shocked to find out there was no recording of me singing Somebody's Friend. 

How I've sung it has evolved much over the years.

When I wrote it originally, with the "radio" audience in mind, we made a big demo that we thought would sound good with a reggae beat. I still love that recording. Ginger Freers nailed that vocal. But that didn't work for the show. It had to be more angry and raw than that. 

I could hear what I wanted in my head, but I couldn't reproduce it until I realized I was hearing a guitar lick. David Robyn helped me with that. 

Since I don't play guitar, what I ended up with was my piano imitation of a guitar lick, which has its own weird sort of authenticity. I have a special relationship with Somebody's Friend, the promise of false cures.

As I was riding the bus the other day, after having had a discussion about "rise from the grave" life experiences, I kept hearing the title phrase in my head: The album he would have made if he hadn't died.

I can't say that this is that album. I don't want to try to live up to that kind of pressure. The pieces I've been composing are more concert/choral/orchestral type. They need a lot more formality. My Mass, for instance, will be performed in the Spring. And I'd definitely want that to be a part of my musical legacy.

But that would make a great title for something. Or even a meme. 


However, going up to someone on the street and asking. "Hello, what would you have done if you hadn't died?" sounds more like a slasher pic. Ah, ye cynical world.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Back Into The Game.

Steve Schalchlin's soon to be released CD,
Tales from the Bonus Round.
Artwork by Peter Grundy.
Though I've kept my diary going, I've been staying mostly out of the spotlight, preferring to support Jim in Zero Hour and, now, Character Man.

Behind the scenes, though, I've been doing a lot: Writing, Studying, Practicing, etc.

I told a friend the other day that I have been attending the University of Steve in New York. Studying advanced musical composition with Mark Janas and studying acting and theater with Andy Gale.

I've sung around a bit. A song here or there. I've kept my chops up by singing in the Christ Church Bay Ridge Church choir.

But I haven't put on a formal, actual concert in a long time. The last time was in Olympia a couple of years ago. The last one in NY was a night with Amy Coleman.

Which means I have to sell tickets, for the first time in forever. Ugh. I hate asking my friends to buy tickets because, here in this city, everyone I know has THEIR own show, and I get invites almost every day, and nothing is cheap. There's usually a cover charge and a 2-drink minimums, which is okay if it's a special night. But to do it every night? Impossible.

So, that means I have to find people outside my little circle of performer/friends, though many may come if I ask them to sing with me, which I know I will do. (But then, if they're going to sing, I can't make them pay.)

And that's where all of us hit that wall. How do you find an audience? How does your audience find you?

I'll tell you a little secret, reader:

I'm not actually famous.

I know. Shocking. But true. I'll prove it: Walk out your door and go up to the first 20 people you meet and ask them if they've heard of me. I promise, you won't find one.

It's just you and me, here doing this.

I have two big events coming up. On September 21st, I am being honored as Musician Of The Year by Christ Church Bay Ridge on the occasion of their 160th birthday. Since it's a fundraiser, tickets are $160, though they said they'd work with people if they can't afford it.

Earlier that day, Jim and I will be singing at Fall Cabaret fundraiser at the Unity Center.

But the big show, for me, has now been set. I've made the commitment to the Metropolitan Room. I need to sell 100 tickets. That shouldn't be so hard, right? $20 plus two drinks.

There are so many tourists in this town on any given day, surely I can sell a few to them.

But who knows?

I have completed the recording of the new CD, live in the studio exactly as I promised. You can even hear the pedal when I let off the sound. You can hear my foot hitting the floor, keeping time. It's intentionally organic.

I did this in reaction to the fact that, with electronics, even the worst singers and players can be made to sound good. So, no pitch correction. No overdubs. With headphones, it will feel like you're inside that magnificent Yamaha piano.

It will sound exactly as if you're sitting in the room with me, jamming and singing on the songs like I do when it's just me alone, letting the sounds of the piano fill my body with its healing vibrations. With headphones, you'll be in heaven.

And that's it. That's me getting back into the game. Will it lead to more touring? I don't have the physical ability for a lot. But I'm scheduled to go back to Olympia in January, paired again with the Righteous Mothers -- one of the best concerts ever, when we did it several years ago.

If you want me to come to your own hometown, help me make it happen. Because, until and unless Tales from the Bonus Round sells or streams in the millions, there's only you and me. And I'd much rather sing for you. 

Live at the Metropolitan Room. Oct. 27. 4pm


When: Sunday 10/27/13 Show Time 4:00 PM (Doors open at 03:30 PM
$20.00 - $115.00
2 Beverage Min.


Celebrating a life in the bonus round, award-winning singer/songwriter Steve Schalchlin and friends will be playing and singing songs from his hit Off-Broadway musicals "The Last Session" and "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" and from his new album, "Tales from the Bonus Round."

Praised by such publications as The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Variety and Entertainment Weekly, GLAAD Media Award recipient Steve's emotionally charged songs have been sung on stages around the world, including a critically-acclaimed London production this past year.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Two Hours in John Kilgore's Studio.

There were three of us. Bill Goffi brought his guitar.

And we were joined by a friend of the Bonus Round who was 12 when we met back in 2001. He had called me last week, asking if I remembered him, and that he's in town now. Aspiring stand-up comic. I told him I think of him as family and that he should just show up to the session on Tuesday. For a man who is theoretically childless, I have a lot of children. (His story is below).

After weeks of rehearsing and preparing, but only to make sure the songs were really in my fingers and blood -- you really can get over-rehearsed, I played and sang through 13 songs. It was thrilling. It was exhilarating.

I slept the rest of the day and most of the next day, though I have kept up my training. Every day, without fail, I've done my roadwork, no matter how badly I would rather be sitting here writing a blog entry about it.

(After the session, the three of us were sitting in Blossom, a vegetarian fast food place. Jim unexpectedly walked by, saw us and snapped a photo.

Then, he came in.

Jim Brochu, Alex Thomas, Steve Schalchlin.
Alex Thomas and I met when he was 12. I was in Columbus, Ohio, singing a concert at a hospital. I remember a small stage. I remember many people were wearing lab coats and uniforms. And, as I was writing this, I remembered that it's all documented in the original Bonus Round diary: July 16, 2001

Sarah Glaser, a social worker there had organized the concert. She had come up to me, "I have a little friend who would like to introduce you. Dressed up as Linda Richmond." [The Mike Myers character from Saturday Night Live who loved Barbra Streisand.]

What? I'm gonna turn that down? I won't embarrass him by posting his Linda pics. But I think it's great that he had that kind of chutzpah, even back then.

Anyway, he called me last week and asked me if I remembered him. I told him to show up at the studio and we'd hang out a bit. 

And that's how the session went. I am very happy with the result. Next step is mastering. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Jim's Happy Birthday Lunch.

Jim and I have a group of friends we call the Soup Ladies because we meet at the Polish Tea Room, which is famous for its soups. Most of these "ladies," by the way, are accomplished professionals. Lawyers, producers, actors, etc. So don't let the label "ladies" throw you.

So, we thought it would be the perfect birthday event, since we didn't want to make the effort to plan something big since he just got in from Florida and is both tired and busy.

BTW, if you don't know what the Polish Tea Room is, you won't find it on a google maps because that's not the official name for it. But it's where many Broadway pros go because it's inexpensive compared to all the tourist spots in the Times Square area.

These are a few snaps I took of the party. At the end, though Jim had said, "NO PRESENTS," they pulled out a small bag and took out a wonderful gift that they had made.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Recording Date Set.

Next Tuesday, I will once again enter John Kilgore Studios, set myself behind his gorgeous Yamaha grand, and record my album, Tales From The Bonus Bound.

All in one hour. 

Keep your fingers crossed. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Random Thoughts and Jim Home.

It's always fun when Jim gets home from a long trip. We're so excited to see each other, we're like chattering monkeys. We'll put on a TV show and realize, halfway through, we haven't been listening to the show. We've been too busy talking to each other.

He really missed being home. But he does love the people in Florida, especially the musicians playing his show. He said they became a very tight combo together, singing and playing the songs from "Character Man," which has evolved now into a full 90-min. musical, albeit a personal one.

"Hi, there! Got my own personal musical here in this bag!"

I recently got a note from a most beloved young man I met on the long bonus round road. He was just a little kid when we met, but he had already developed a theatrical flair, introducing one of my concerts imitating the Mike Myers character from Saturday Night Live, Linda Richmond.

I mentioned before, it's one of the miracles of getting older. Suddenly, the children you used to know are young adults, filled with ambition, dreams, talent and energy. I have this same naive belief in myself, even at age 59, that I'm soon to conquer the world. And why not? What else should one do on a Tuesday?

Anyway, he asked me, now that he's moved to the City, what he should do. And I gave him the same answer I give every young person trying to get into show business. First, surround yourself with a community of people who are different from you, more talented than you, better looking than you, more driven than you, and make yourself useful to them even if it's just contributing your talent to the pool.

For instance, I've spoken a lot about contributing my voice as tenor to the small (but mighty) choir at Christ Church in Brooklyn that needs as many trained (or trainable) voices as they can get. In return, I'm getting a university level education in composition and performance, not to mention the fact that this is where Jim and I met Carl Conway Maguire who is responsible for us getting parts in the "Old Timers" movie.

It always seems to come back to adventure, service and community. Though, as I wrote recently elsewhere, start with the service, if you don't have a community in mind. Service leads to community, which then results in adventure. It has worked for me my entire life.

And what this has to do with Jim, I don't know.

But it's so nice to have him home.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Lizzy Days.

Jim comes home on Sunday. Just had my niece here visiting me. Elizabeth Maze, who is a very talented young woman. She and I have a special bond, as I feel I do with all my nieces and nephews. They know Uncle Steve loves them.

We walked down the Hudson River and found a garden with HUGE flowers. I pointed and yelled, "Alice In Wonderland!"

She fell in love the High Line, which is an elevated parkway that once had been a train track.

And she looks gorgeous in a field of bright yellow.

We also saw this unusual structure. The chairs are connected to the roof.

Lizzy is very funny and loves to pose. She did this...

...when she saw this:

Then, she ate a couple of oysters...

And this is the look of absolute bliss, where she couldn't explain how good it was:

And that's how I felt the whole trip. We really got to know each other and laugh at lot together. A great way to spend the days when Jim is gone.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Suddenly in Training.

A week or two ago, I started back running. Just a little every day. No more than 15 minutes, then 20. Then, this morning, after about a half hour of running, I did some free weights.

Then it suddenly him me, I'm in training.

I think I mentioned before that last year was a tough for me, physically. With kidney stones and other ailments, I had become more sedentary than I should be and I was getting a big belly, which is a side effect of these drugs, which becomes more prominent if you're not working out.

But coming up on my 60th birthday, I want to look and feel good. I plan to sing some concerts, which I honestly haven't done in several years.

Thanks to the unexpected nature of the World Domination Summit, I have a whole new audience and the aftershocks from that conference are only beginning to be seen, since they haven't posted my set yet on the site, but they are working hard, rolling them out, one by one, each presenter.

Lot's of things are going to be happening this next year. I want to be there for them!

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Live: The Secret of the Great Big Hall.

At a benefit for the Unity Center of Manhattan, I recently sang "The Secret of the Great Big Hall," a new song that will be featured on my upcoming album.

Friday, August 02, 2013

I Just Wanted To Be Superman.

When Darren Rowse spoke at #WDS2013, he spoke of having always wanted to be Superman and how he would be the greatest force for good, etc. A common child's dream. I had it, too. I prayed so hard to be Superboy. To save the world!

As an adult, I see two fantasies in there. The first one, to have super powers. At some point, you realize you're not going to be the Son of Krypton, no matter how hard you wish it or pray it. But the second one, that's the one that trips you up. To save the world. I suppose I grew up in a generation that really believed they could save the world. We knew just what was wrong with it, too.

Here is Darren Rowse's speech at the World Domination Summit. It's for anyone who was ever a dreamer.

Darren Rowse from Chris Guillebeau on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

World Domination Summit Pt. 6: Reactions.

After I got home from #WDS2013, just as it all seemed like some big dream, came these from one of the attendees of the Summit, Mike Rohde, who made one of these of every speaker and activity he went to. He took a few years off and gave me a cooler haircut.

So I immediately made his graphic the primary one on my some of my social media. And it totally changed my image. Hip and cool, that's how I be.

That was followed by many tweets and blog entries which you can find at #WDS2013 on Twitter.

And then came this blog entry and graphic from an artist and attendee named Peter Grundy, who was very praisy about my performance (thanks) but then said this:
I hope I can keep this story in my mind on days I think dont go to well and realise I should treat every day as a bonus round.
And that made it all worth it. Because if he got the message, then who knows how many others did, also? Not that I'm selling a message. It's nothing more than a change of mind, this living in the bonus round. It's a frame of reference.

But the blog wasn't enough. He also sent this incredible woodcut design.

Wasting no time, I asked him if I could use these images for the album I'm recording and he said yes.

So, a little spark lights a couple more sparks.

But, best of all, by donating my service -- though I considered it a privilege -- as performer to World Domination Summit, I realize I'm joining a community of artists and, together, we are now creating a new adventure for ourselves.

The audience really is my hero!