Archive for Music

Songbird

Yes, as you may have guessed I am adding my own thoughts on the music of one Whitney Houston.  Saturday evening, I received a text from my cousin asking me if I had heard of Whitney’s passing.  Right after reading the message, I checked out the hub of social activity and sure enough there were already 20 posts devoted to the diva.  Growing up in the 80s, I was lucky enough to have lived to see and hear the infectious music of two powerhouse phenomenons: both of them are gone.  However, they each left an indelible mark on the music world that still has yet to be surpassed.  In the 1980s, Ms. Houston shared a stat of having 7 number one singles in a row!   Not only was she a pop diva but frequently returned to her gospel roots with such notable entries as the soundtrack to her film The Preacher’s Wife.

The 1990s was also a high point for Whitney with the monstrous film and soundtrack to The Bodyguard which featured a cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” as well as performing what is arguably the finest performance of the National Anthem of any Super Bowl.  Who else can claim to have had their version played on radio stations across the country weeks after it was presented?

Say what you will about the tragic life outside the music.  I choose to leave that for the tabloid mongers.  Anyone who lived during the 80s-90s can name at least one Whitney Houston song.  Like it or lump it, her music is infectious whether it be a hit pop ditty that makes you want to get up and dance (With somebody who loves me) or a powerful torch song.  OH… and lest I forget, she served as the Executive Producer and Fairy Godmother on a multi-ethnic version of a televised version of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.

My favorite Houstons song is a duet with Jermaine Jackson that I do not believe was a major hit.  I only discovered it as part of a Greatest Hits compilation more than a few years ago.

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And her remarkable Anthem from 1991:

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She could have so over done this but chose to keep it straight and simple and is all the more powerful for it.  Thank you Whitney!

Date Set

Well… I finally set the date in which I will put on glorious display that which I have been concentrating on for sometime.  It is just less than 5 months away but it will be here before I know it.  Even with this leg of mine the last 7 months have not been slow… although I am sure others would disagree ;).  I checked the school calendar to see if there was a weekend when there was no school event going on so there would be no excuse for some to not attend 😉

[At my latest blood test on Monday, I was informed that the blood is right where it needs to be.  Not too thick, not too thin, but just right.  Just call me Goldilocks]

Why so long?  I had a feeling there was going to be a wait with not one but two shows in October, the Christmas show in December, the awards night in January, and any other events scheduled in between so February was the first month available.

In the meantime, I will dig through the books, find more material for future use, and focus on the program without making it stale.  I was reminded of some of the splendiferous music from West Side Story the other night courtesy of “Glee.”  Music, yes… choreography not so much.  Plus, I suppose I can look back at the foreign pieces I had glanced at a few months ago.  A small challenge.

I do see ads on television for Jersey Boys (the Frankie Valli and the 4 Seasons story… one of the few jukebox musicals I would like to see) set to play the Stranahan in February, too. Maybe it ISN’T that long away.

The Buzz, Buzz, Buzz of Those Irritating Bs

Good rehearsals and not so good rehearsals… all good just some better than others.  Yesterday was one of those “some better than others.” 😉 Only made it through two songs… the last 2 on my song list.  The first song was the one giving me all the headaches.  Probably concentrating to hard… relax! And the note I was having trouble with was a lot of bs … no really there were probably 10 of those little devils wrecking havoc, but they felt like a load of well… HEHEHE  However, I decided that instead of throwing the song out the window and not wanting anything more to do with it, I decided to go back for round number two.  Much improvement!

The second piece always had some problems for one big reason.  I had made a copy for myself and let K have the original.  Looking at both copies, I discovered that I had two pages in reverse order!  Fixed everything!  And not one flaw… THIS TIME! … “I AM my own worst critic”

I also purchased a copy of K’s new debut CD.  Kind of a folksy sound that I really like.  She wrote most (if not all of the 12 songs) herself and included her oldest son in one of my favorite pieces on the disc “1 Plus 1 Is Drew.”  Follow the link to the website to preview the effort and perhaps purchase the album digitally or a hard copy.

Who Knew In NWO?

Tonight, I joined Megs to partake in a concert performed by The Black Swamp Strings of which CC is a cellist.  I remember learning a month or so ago that the concert was this weekend but I was not sure of the date, thank heaven my friend invited me to come on my SATURDAY OFF!

The music was phenomenal!  It ranged from Bach’s Jesu. Joy of Man’s Desiring (one of the most beautiful pieces EVER written) to more contemporary fare such as  theme from Pirates of the Caribbean, Schindler’s List, and “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera.  Another favorite of mine… Brahm’s Hungarian Dance No. 5 was also presented.  I know that almost everyone has heard this piece somewhere.

I was particularly impressed with the age range of the musicians.  There were several who had just or were about to graduate high school who started with the group at age 14 back in its “garage days.” There were also the seasoned veterans.  I don’t know how long it takes to become even close to being proficient enough on a stringed instrument to perform with a group of this talent, but it seems like you would have to start at birth!

One of our neighboring audience members has a nephew who was a member of the group who is now a professional musician.  He will soon be heard on the scores of two of this summer’s sure-fire hits: Steven Spielberg’s Super 8 and Cars 2. He is also in the Santa Barbara Orchestra.  I guess it is possible to achieve a life-long dream no matter where you grow up.  The audience member told me to congratulate “my wife” on a great job!  Sorry, she only plays my wife on stage. 😀

THANKS MEGS…Had lots of fun!  And great job, wife 😉  Until next time.

Here is Brahm’s Hungarian Dance for those of you who think they have never hear it!

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Two Week Break

BOOOOO!  No break, please.  But I suppose my vocal coach and her family is entitled to some fun over the summer.  I can take this time to scour my books and find more and More and MORE! music to work on… no worries, I won’t kill myself just get some more songs that appeal to me.  Kathrine has offered to make some copies of Conductor pieces, but I still cannot find a copy of “Thuy’s Death/You Will Not Touch Him” a powerful, dramatic duet from Miss Saigon.

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I have already copied some music from a few Lloyd Webber shows, some of my favorite Alan Menken/Howard Ashman Disney character pieces, and a few more duets.  I have had a few people state an interest in singing a duet with me so I’m doing my best to find some.  I have a serious one to work on with another tangenteer… wherever she is.  YOOHOO!  Plus, I am still continuing my preparation for Hound of the Baskervilles.  Why does it seem to me that most guys grow a beard in the winter?  I’m one of the few who grow one in the summer in the 90+ degree, humid weather… ah, well such is the life of a performer.  You would have thought my time Fiddling on that Roof 8 years ago would have made me leary of growing another beard, but Oh, No… not me… whatever the role calls for, I will do!  Even before the audition 😉

Ooook… so two weeks off. 🙁 Still thinking a weekend gig would be fun with some friends joining me.  Come on tangenteers!

A Buckeye In Wolverine Land

On to another great post!  Thursday afternoon was my first voice lesson in about two and a half years.  I am pleased to say I am very ecstatic about the next coming months!  We began with a review (for me) about breathing, support, the diaphragm, the mask, and other technical terms that we quickly glossed over.  Then, we determined that I have an octave and a half range with the same above that in falsetto which totally surprised the both of us.  Then, it was time to get down to business… FUN TIMES!

I decided that “Younger Than Springtime” would be good to warm up on.  It would have been if the copy I had was complete.  We got to the last page an discovered that there is something missing.  So I dig and find the book with the song… only to discover that it was in a lower key!  But manageable… only slightly lower.  But I prefer the higher range.  I like to shoot for my POWer notes, but those would come later.

Next, I dug out “This is the Moment.”  Kathrine is unfamiliar with Jekyll and Hyde?!  Blasphemy!  Just don’t listen to the Hoff’s version.  Then, we went to “If I Can’t Love Her” from the stage version of Beauty and the Beast.  The big ballad which closes Act I.  The only suggestion she had for both pieces is to find the soft moments in both pieces.  They are both powerful songs but powerful is not always meant for volume..   Build up to the big moment!  Then you will have them eating out of your hand.  Sounds like homework.  But she said that with a slight polishing they are already prime for performance.  I wanted to do the Beast’s number previously; however, the gig I wanted to sing it for was limited to musicals of the past decade.  So, I sang “Under the Sea.”

It is a good thing I was introduced to Miss Saigon earlier in the week via youtube.  My new coach had me read (sight reading… YUCK!) two duets from the show with her.  Not the character driven pieces I had hoped for but those will come in time.  It has been advised that I check out both the Engineer and Thuy (although Vietnamese I am not but…).  Kathrine mentioned that we should sign up for one of the weekend gigs starting up again in the fall.  I am totally against that idea 😉  HAHAHAHA!  Just need to get some more cool character pieces in with the big dramatic ones.  Several I can think of easily…. maybe go dig an old fossil of 18 years ago.  Go in there and blow everyone’s minds.  Of course, provided that anyone would actually come and see me?!  I’m sure I could get at least 3 people there… and that is a crowd.

Who knows what the next few months will bring?  I just know that the next musical on a nearby stage is not my cup of tea.

I better stop with those two songs.  When I do perform, I don’t want to spoil it all for those three in the audience 😉  Two big, powerful ballads now for a few duets and at least three character pieces.

As I was pulling out my checkbook, my new coach sneered at the picture of the Script Ohio on my first check.  “Since it is money, I guess I can accept it.”  Oh, we’re going to get along REALLY well. At least she is not a BoSox fan… I hope.

Eric And The Beast On A Rag

I did get to sit in the audience of the City Band Wednesday night.  I wasn’t sure if it was going to be at the bandstand or at its alternate venue.  Before finding that out, I decided to locate the place of my Thursday afternoon voice lesson which was easier to locate than the directions given by my new coach.  I googled the address and it was a breeze to find.  Especially with the number written on the mailbox.  The house was buried by a wooded area but really easy to find.  All I had to do was turn off of U.S. 6 onto County Road 13 and it was .3 miles away.  Then, with plenty of time to spare, I went to Wal Mart and ran into some old friends and saw the truck belonging to another but was not able to find him.  I must have been on the wrong end of Electronics (or he could have been hiding). 😉

After discovering that the concert would be at the ice rink with five minutes to spare, I decided that given the choice, I would have rather directed Stars and Stripes this week as opposed to last (not complaining, just sayin’).  I just think this week’s concert had better music. Many songs I was already familiar with… “12th Street Rag” I had sung in choir and played sometime.  Of course, a different arrangement than I am accustomed to, but I would have enjoyed sitting in the low brass section playing “Selections from Phantom of the Opera” and the title tune from the animated classic turned hit Broadway show “Beauty and the Beast.”

Speaking of Phantom, my brother turned to me and stated that the high school at which he serves as the tech advisor will be performing the musical next year.  I did not believe him until I looked on line and discovered that the rights have just indeed become available from R&H productions for high school and amateur productions.  There had been “test” runs a few years ago overseen by Lord Lloyd Webber’s Really Useful Group company.  But how did the small school get the rights so quickly?  Hicksville had better “Got Talent” to pull this off.  I imagine that the rights are probably for a tailored production of the musical.

I asked Liz if they were going to come next week for the announced ice cream social “before and during the concert.”  I don’t think she realized where she will be next Wednesday because she didn’t know if they would be or not.  Probably not since they will be at Disney World.  Maybe they could borrow Aladdin’s magic carpet, Carpet. I’d rather be there when it is not so hot!

A fun concert moved to a different venue to be “safe rather than sorry.”

A New Coach

I have been pondering the possibility of finding a new vocal coach for the past year or so.  However, I have been very apprehensive about doing so.  While going to BGSU, I had a great mentor who was on the fast track to an operatic career.  He left as I was going into my second year at the school.  One of the people I should have remained in contact with over the years, but…

Than after leaving the fiiiine institution (I use that term sparingly), Emily helped me more than any one ever has.  You can go home again.  The reason I have found it so difficult to even consider the possibility of finding a new vocal coach is kind of unexplainable.  I was so hurt by the events surrounding my leaving school and the fact that she took me under her wing training my voice and helping me go BEYOND the pain I felt is unequivocal.  That above all is why I have a hard time trusting anyone with my voice.

After Miracles, my newest mentor and amazing friend seriously suggested that I search out a vocal coach.  In no way did I see this as a put down to my abilities but as a way to further develop my performance ability. I even told him that I had been thinking about the possibility.   Tom Hudson was my first meaty, dramatic, non-musical lead role.  How about tackling a meaty, dramatic, musical role? Not that the dream of continuing my phenomenal success as a character actor has not diminished.  I’m on a roll of one meaty, dramatic role.

Tuesday morning after a t-ball game, a candidate passed right by us.  C told me to go introduce myself.  I told him that I don’t know her, so HE ran over and introduced us.  I remembered seeing her in Working a few months ago so she definitely can sing and she gives lessons and she came very highly recommended.   Plus, it was nice to put a name to a face.   After 3 days of playing phone and email tag, we finally found a moment when I was around to discuss a schedule.

She asked what sort of music I would prefer beyond the obvious.  You have no idea the bag full of Broadway books I have!  Contemporary Christian (although not much contemporary is sung in a Catholic church 😀 ), some duets, some standards.  Just a bunch of stuff to increase my repetoire.

So… my choices were wither 8.30 AM on Fridays at her office (which I could have done but…) or 4:15 at her home with the kids being sitted which is nothing new to me.  In fact, my 6 and 5 year old nieces were hanging around while I was on the phone.  So Thursday at 4.15 it is!  I can’t wait! 😀

Fearless At the Jubilee

AHHHH, my moment had arrived!  What a great rush!  It was almost like being on a roller coaster.  Thank you Terry for the opportunity by donating the gig to the WCCT.  Back in January while waiting for my pal to come over the radio during the Blizzard Auction, I heard the item up for bid.  I thought it would be an extraordinary and priceless experience.  A female bidder and I went at it and I finally got it for $72,341.56. LOL 😀  If I had that much money, I am sorry to say that I would not be here.

Prior to the 8 o’clock start time, the director had a few words of encouragement and asked me for a bio.  I actually thought about giving him one last night, but his intro was just fine.  I had some family (biological and chosen) in the audience and apparently a sizable fan club as I heard a loud cheer come over the crowd as I was called to the podium.  After another helpful assist in starting the tempo, I was really ready to roll… no false start tonight.  I was maybe the tiniest bit nervous until I gave the down beat and the opening strain of The Stars and Stripes Forever began.  I was in control and I relished every moment of it.

After my conducting was done, Terry reclaimed the baton and told me that it was “Very Well Done!”  I knew it was.  It felt that good!  After the concert was over, I greeted my family, friends, band mates, well wishers and walked with Megan, Carol, and Brock to the Little Theatre.  I still had one mission to complete but I did not see him at the concert. I walked to C&Ls house after phoning them to see if it was all right to stop over for a few minutes.  After I got no response, I KNEW they had to be there somewhere.  After making a lap around the square, I decided to hang around with a few of the remaining band members.  Within moments, here comes Tay and Sam.  PERFECT!  Strangely enough, they were really close to the bandstand and had a great view of my moment in the spotlight!

Then I saw C, pushing Beebs and Dis in the stroller.  I was not leaving until I gave my mentor and friend his birthday present (an hour or three early but who knows what tomorrow will bring).  He admitted that he knew nothing about directing but said I looked good.  Any compliment is a good one!  Then we walked the grounds watching the little ones ride.  I went on the Rock and Roll Wheel with the fearless one.  Think a ferris wheel on which you are in a cage which flips around as the ferris wheel turns.  It was fun!

Then at 11, a cart driven by Jubilee workers came around and told a group of teenagers to disperse as it was closing time.  The adults with the four little ones were ignored.

Tired but not tired.  It was so much fun.  I wish my work schedule allowed me to be off Tuesday and Wednesday nights throughout the summer.  Thanks Terry, Polly, and the Bryan City Band for an unforgettable experience.  Another addition to me resume, too!

The Sun WILL Come OUT!

I have it on good authority that tomorrow will be a beautiful day.  I just don’t listen to the weatherman!  It wouldn’t rain on my parade!  I got to sit in with the Bryan City Band at rehearsal (the director found me a suitable tuba, thank you!) and conduct my piece.  He asked me before rehearsal began how I was going to start.  Holding the tuba, I held one hand up and started going one, two… down, up (down beat is one, up beat is two).  But how was I going to set the tempo for the band to follow?  Get it in your head, give a little suggestive beat to the ensemble and BRING IT!

A few of the selections were familiar.  Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger is a piece I remember ALL TOO WELL from high school and it was no easier tonight than 18 years ago.  There was medley of music from the 60s.  A lesser known (to me, anyway) J.P. Sousa march called Fairest of the Fair.  And a variety of others.

My moment had finally arrived.  As I made my way from the back of the band to the podium, I was given an impromptu introduction.  I took my place behind the conductor’s stand with the baton.  I gave the tempo, gave the down beat, and…. nothing.  I forgot to BRING IT!  Try again.  It worked!  It was such a thrill.  WHAT A RUSH!  You darn well bet ya that I will not fail to bring it tomorrow night.  Just keep the beat alive.

Well… let’s hope I get some friends, WCCT fans, BCB fans, AND FAMILY! there tomorrow night.  But, once again, it is Jubilee week on the square so come early and bring your chair/blanket to sit on!

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