Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Sing Along With Steve Contest.

In response to a fan's request for recordings of my songs with more harmonies, like we did at the Metropolitan Room gig, I suggested, on Facebook, that people make their own videos, singing along with the CD, and that I'd post them here.

The first one came almost instantly, from "Lynn McC" in England, singing along with "Rescue," and featuring all the rescue dogs which were saved by a group called Futures for Dogs. If you want to make a similar video, perhaps spotlighting your pets or other halves or whoever (or whatever) has rescued you, post it and I'll repost it here.

I also encourage you to use any of the songs from Tales from the Bonus Round or the Bonus Round Sessions CDs (because they're mostly piano and vocal, with lots of room for singing along).

Thursday, January 23, 2014

An angel dies

I am on the road in Olympia Washington right now. But I just got the news that Don Kirkpatrick, the first angel of The Last Session has died. Don was the first person to give us money to produce TLS and he made it possible for many of the fans to come to New York and to other places around the country for reunions and to see various productions. I will write more about Don later. But I wanted the readers of this blog to know that this is a sad day for us all. Don was a wonderful person and he will be greatly missed.

If you do a search on Don's name plus my name you will see that he was mentioned in many articles about the show. I was very proud when he was mentioned in the People magazine article they did for us during the run in NY.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Listen to the live concert.

I've uploaded the sound board mixes of the Metropolitan Room concert to my Google Drive. Go and see if you can hear them.

How did it go last night?

Steve Schalchlin and the Bonus Round (Boy) Band
Stephen Anthony Elkins, Bill Goffi and Jake Wesley Stewart.
Thanks to Stephen Elkins, Jake Stewart and Bill Goffi , last night I got to fulfill an all-time fantasy I've had since coming to New York. And that was to sing my songs with full harmonies coming from my own band to a packed -- and I do mean PACKED -- house (whew!) at the Metropolitan Room.

 And we even almost had a rehearsal this time! (Okay, it was an hour beforehand and all we did was jam on the harmonies, but still...).

People have been asking how it went. So, let me put it this way.

If I told you how good the night was, especially with Jim Brochu in top form, tearing down the house as the audience roared with laughter and then raised the roof singing along as the townpeople in River City ("Trouble" from the Music Man) it would sound like I was boasting.

 Last week, I was the beggar with his hand out, pleading PLEADING for people to buy tickets to my little show. (11 reservations as of last week). And today, I’m a braggart, as I remember a whole audience with their eyes beaming, crying and laughing and singing along with me.

People who I’ve met socially because of Jim’s recent theater successes said, “I didn’t know you were such a good songwriter!” Or “I didn’t know you could play the piano so well!” or “I didn’t know you could sing!”

They didn’t? Haven’t I been trumpeting myself for the past 17 years in the bonus round? Me, I thought it was the best show in New York City. A momentous and game changing night. As my friend, songwriter Dave Morrison said, this was my throwdown. The greatest night of live entertainment in history.

 No. I am not a reliable critic.

 Ask Rick Hinkson, who sees every show in New York. Ask Harvey Evans, a beloved legend of Broadway who should get a Tony just for being who he is, who beamed at me all night. Or Michele Mais, or Brian Dorais who brought his soon to be a star daughter, Danika-Margaret Dorais, or Andy Gale or Peter Napolitano. Or Danny Whitman from Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS or his husband, writer and director, Robert Bartley or the group the drove in from Boston just to be there.

 And my again gracious guest, who actually bought his own tickets, Dr. Bruce Dorsey, the man who created Crixivan, which rounded out the cocktail that saved all our lives, creating the path to the better drugs we have now -- who should have his statue in Greenwich Village Park.

 To all of us singing "Lazarus Come Out, “ celebrating our continual rebirth, as we endure things, get over them and move on. Ask my beloveds Bernard Furshpan and his wife, Joanne Camilleri-Furshpan, with their eyes full of tears.

 To sing "How Do You Fall Back In Love" with Jim, who I fall back in love with every single day, when I'm not hating him. They asked me if I would want to do it again.

 The answer is "Any day. Any time.”

 It was a celebration of life. When I do this, I actually get healthier. And last night, I felt a radiant joy on my grinning face because a crowd of joyfully radiant faces were grinning back me. This appreciation for life was multiplied exponentially in the hearts of every single person there.

 They weren't watching the show. They WERE the show. We were ALL the show.

And the guys sounded fantastic. (We’re thinking we may have to record a band version of the “Tales from the Bonus Round” album.)

 Sean Strub, whose memoirs were just published, told me it was time to write my book.

And the truth is I’m writing the book every single day. We all are. Didn't Elvis Costello put this in a song?

This is the book. Life is the book.

You can try to write it, but as every author will tell you, at some point, the characters take over and you just go along for the ride.

On the 25th, I will be back in Olympia, Washington, home of one the best unfolding tales from the bonus Round. Where I played John Lennon’s IMAGINE Piano. Where I’ll sleep on a bed in the home of artists and writers, Alec and Gabi Clayton, surrounded by art in their ramshackle hippie house with the cats, and I’m gonna feel so loved and snuggled.

And I’ll sing the song about their son, Bill Clayton, who committed suicide at age 17 after a gay bashing.

And we’ll raise money for PFLAG-Olympia and Pizza Klatch, a teen support group. And the Olympia Gay Men’s Chorus is gonna swoop in from the house, and the Righteous Mothers are going to sing with me. And I’ll get to be the folk singer I am.

 How did it go last night? Doesn’t matter. It went how it went. It was the best night of my life. It was the best show in New York City. You can quote me.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I saw Peter Napolitano the other day and he asked if I would provide feedback for something in which he's involved, which I had not seen. I said to him, "Please don't ask. I will tell you the truth." He said, "I've been through the BMI writing class. I know exactly the kind of feedback I want."

Then, today Seth Godin wrote about this very subject.

"Applause is great. We all need more of it.

"But if you want to improve, you should actively seek feedback. And that feedback, if it's more than just carping, will be constructive. It will clearly and generously lay out ways you can more effectively delight your customers and create a remarkable experience...".

That's good, but I still hate giving feedback to performers and artists -- even when I have a strong opinion, which I always have. It makes me feel vulnerable about my own work. Am I living up to the expectations that I make for others?

On the other hand, I love teaching. And how else can you teach but to give your opinion. Not easy.

For me, too, applause is great. But a hint on how it could be better is gold. Not that I'm looking for your opinion. Okay, yes I am.

This week I finalized the line-up for my Mass and wrote out the arrangement for a choral version of the "Antarctic Suite: Landscape."

I have struggled for five years to get this onto score because the rhythms are complex and I couldn't figure out how to notate the piano. (The right hand does two things at once). Also, I've been playing it and it's not a robotic rhythm. It has to kind of undulate and roll, with an element of improvisation on the part of the pianist. I never quite play it the same way twice.

This has been a dramatic week. The fire made us more aware of our limited time here on earth. It kind of kicked me in the pants. Suddenly, the solution to how to score out this music came to me and I spent the week writing and revising and writing and revising and changing it, measure by measure, and redoing it and changing it again. And I finally have it. Or I have as close to it as I can get before showing it to Mark Janas and Kalle Toivio at Christ Church Bay Ridge, where we will be performing it some day.

This is a long post, but I couldn't have gotten to this point, getting this piece scored, if I had not been in service to the music program at the church in a volunteer position. I am the volunteer tenor in the back row.

In a small choir, every volunteer is needed because, though there is a budget, it's small. And I'd rather a kid get paid. A student who really needs the money.

But, in return for my service, I have a choir!

Seriously, how many songwriters get their own choir? And all I'm doing is writing music for it. But because they can really SING and READ, they can learn a piece in a rehearsal or two. And why do I have this? Because I'm just the volunteer tenor in the back row.

People ask me how to make it in life and I just say, first, be of service to someone. Start there. Or to some thing. Make yourself useful in a situation that's near what it is you want to do. Place yourself in the place where you want to live your life. And then be really useful.

The more you give, the more you get.

It's such a great adventure to solve a problem, especially one five years in the making. One that's a consequence of service to a community.

 It's why I have hope in the planet. We have the capacity to solve the problems. And when we don't, we have the capacity to figure out why. Because, ultimately despair is boring. It's the kid who came from nothing, who refused to give up, that sparks the real fire in our hearts.

Don't give up. Make yourself necessary.

Thursday, January 09, 2014

An Explanation of How Fire Stairways Work.

There has been so much gossip and stories surrounding the fire in our building, where Daniel McClurg died, that I went looking for, and found, a good article about how these stairways work in fireproof buildings.

Firefighters used that stairwell for hoses because it was closer to the burning 20th-floor unit than a second stairwell. Because doors were opened for firefighters to access the stairwell, the attack stairwell filled with smoke that overcame the couple. McClung and his husband entered the stairwell on the 38th floor, but didn’t make it past the 31st floor.
Cohen remained at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill Cornell on Monday, FDNY chief of operations James Esposito said.
McClung (right) and his husband Michael Cohen (center) got married near Boston in 2013. Cohen remains in serious condition as a result of smoke inhalation.


McClung (right) and his husband Michael Cohen (center) got married near Boston in 2013. Cohen remains in serious condition as a result of smoke inhalation.

“I believe he is still in very serious condition in the hospital,” Esposito said.

Read more:

Sunday, January 05, 2014

Fire in our high rise this morning.

About 11am, we suddenly smelled smoke. Checked the kitchen. Nothing was on. Saw smoke seeming to come from the lighting fixtures. Opened the door to the apartment and the hallway was filled was smoke. The instructions on the door said to STAY INSIDE APARTMENT in case of fire. (Two bodies were found in the stairwell, including a dead dog, which was left in our hallways for a moment.)

I grabbed my camera to take videos of our plight. Here is the first one, looking down the ten floors to the fire below. Our balcony was alternately smoky and then clear, depending on the direction of the wind.

It was very frightening to know we had no place to go, no exit from the building. The smoke was acrid, so we breathed through wet towels and waited it out.

Soon, the black smoke turned white and we knew the worst was over.

Jim and I are both fine but we still can't go downstairs. Luckily, we have plenty of food.

Will update soon.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Went Out Briefly, New Year's Eve.

With Steve Ross outside The Players Club.
I'm not quite up to par, yet, but I felt good enough to go out and sit down for a nice dinner. As it happened, Jim was scheduled to sing at "founder's night" at the Players, with cabaret legend Steve Ross as his accompanist. The 125th anniversary year of the club founded by (among others) Mark Twain and Edwin Booth, the premiere Shakespearean actor of his day.

As part of the historical they asked him to perform, from his new show, Character Man, a song called "The Late, Late Show," which was originally from a Broadway musical called Do Re Mi, music by Jule Styne, book and lyrics by Comden and Green. In the show, he intersperses the verses with the true story of how, as a young actor, he sat before the Board asking for membership. A Board filled with all of his personal heroes of the stage and screen.

Gloria Jubilus - Christmas 2013

For the new year, can I brag on "my" choir as they sang and played the Gloria Jubilus from the Mass I've been composing. Mark Janas conducting the Christ Church Bay Ridge sanctuary choir. Kalle Toivio, organist.

Happy New Year

We celebrated New Years at The Players Club. I took this shot of founder Edwin Booth illuminated by the Christmas tree.