RIP Patches. I was saddened to learn of his death on October 5. I would like to celebrate his life by telling whoever reads this blog about the first time I ever met him.
Patches was a local television personality in Philadelphia in the 50s when I was young, and when I was maybe 8 or 9 years of age, he did a show at the elementary school in Berwyn PA where I was a student. I vaguely remember this as a special event, probably held during the day, but I can't be sure of the time. What I do remember was that he was very friendly, looked just like he did on TV and was fun type of act for kids. I would love to know now how the school got him to perform for it.
We were all an auditorium full of lively kids. We were enjoying ourselves. I had an empty spearmint Chiclets box. In those days, you could blow on the empty box, and it would make an interesting kazoo-like noise. I must have made enough noise for Patches to notice, because he called me up on stage with him and announced that we would play a duet together, he singing with guitar and me blowing on my Chiclet box. I had no professionalism in those days and was instantly attacked by a fit of the giggles. He started up the song, which was "On Top of Old Smoky" and at the end of each line I was to blow on the box. Things went okay for 2 or 3 lines, and then the Chiclet box stopped making its noise. The box would get damp from your breath causing the noise to go away. I stopped and blushed and whispered to Patches "I can't go on. It's damp." He turned to the audience announcing loudly something like "this world-renowned musician has to stop playing, because 'it's damp.'" I left the stage to thunderous laughter and applause.
When I met Patches again many years later after I had grown up and become a club performer, I reminded him of this moment. He had the good grace to pretend to remember it, and we shared a laugh over it. Through the years that I performed at his club, he and Liz both were generous warmhearted hospitable bosses.
After 2 years of work, many many hours in the studio and the contributions of wonderfully talented people, "Pocket Mass and Other Faith Based Music" is now completed, duplicated and is available for sale on CD Baby on iTunes, Spotify and other download services. I'm very relieved that the project has been fully realized, and I think it turned out well. I hope you all agree, and I look forward to hearing what you think of it. You can click on the "Pocket Mass" page on this site to direct link to CD Baby in order to purchase the record from CD Baby.
I'm very pleased to report that the recording of Pocket Mass is chugging along. We have nearly completed all the movements, just needing one bass singer to do us a really awesome low F in one of the movements and the sopranos to complete their work, and handclaps for another movement. I got studio roughs of 5 of the movements today, and, as I hoped they would, they sound like a full chorus. Wayne, our engineer and patient technician will be fine-tuning pitch and phrasing in the next few weeks. I am working at home on the other recorded work that will complete the CD, since Pocket Mass is only about 16 minutes long. It's hard work, but I have been enjoying it and as an unintended benefit have learned loads about pitch and rhythm, not to mention digital audio editing during which you can sit so still and think so hard that your butt falls asleep.
I'm hoping to release the album in late June or midsummer barring any catastrophes. I have more work to do compiling a radio stations list for a pr mailing as well as completing artwork for the cover, not to mention cracking the whip on poor Jerry to get all of the score edits and corrections completed. We have invested tremendous sweat equity into this project, and I am hoping it's all worth it. So far, the music is saying it is.
I'm very gratified by the continuing and kind good wishes of people, some of whom I have not seen in 40 years. I should have made this website a lot sooner, I guess. Thanks to all of you! If I don't remember you specifically, please be kind to the elderly. It's been quite a long time. I still write and record but I stopped performing a long while back. Maybe someday I'll do it again if the spirit moves me. That has not happened quite yet.
I have discovered that I cannot post a reply on this page directly onto the site. I have to reply through the blog (you live and learn) in edit mode. Because of that, you'll see a couple of comments under other people's names that are actually by me.
We had a wonderful holiday season with houseguests, choral concerts and other joyful activities going on. Now, just in the second week of the year, my energy is being redirected towards finishing score edits (almost there) and coordinating singers for my Pocket Mass project. I hope I'm fortunate in my choice of timing and people. I think the mass will sound really super with a full chorus sound. I also hope to make a video using Dick Rosmini's 12-string guitar, which is up for sale. I want to get my licks in on it before I have to send it up to the broker.
I hope to post good news updates soon about preparations for the mass. In the meantime, best wishes to everyone for a Happy New Year filled with joy and prosperity!
People have been wonderful about responding to my Kickstarter project. I'm feeling more and more confident that we'll reach the goal, and I'll be able to take the project into the studio sometime in January. If you are interested in being a backer, go toIf you like what you see and hear, please join the gang, and help me out! I think it will be an awesome CD.
Just to let as many people know as possible, I've got a project on www.kickstarter.com. This is a site for artists, designers and other innovators to use for finance small projects that other financing resources would overlook because they are too small or too unusual. My project is a 17-minute mass I've written for chorus and light instrumentation. I'm hoping to raise enough money to record it with a real choral sound and actual players. Please click the link and check out my project! If you're interested, you are most welcome to become a backer! You can pledge as little as $1 up to whatever, and I can use all the help I can get on this. Thanks in advance if you decide to join me in this endeavor!
HERE IS THE LINK:http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/463571541/pocket-mass
Summer greetings to the world! I published a video of me playing "Pinky Rag" on YouTube. I've included the link to the YouTube video here on the videos page. I hope you like it.
They have a lot of neat stuff including a weird yellow thumbpick I really like. I've put a link to the store in the right sidebar here just under the RSS Feed link.
I just read a new witch-and-vampire book that I actually liked. It's called "A Discovery of Witches" and is by a USC history professor named Deborah Harkness. From what I've read of her life, she grew up outside of Philadelphia, as did I, but I don't think we have much else in common. She is younger than I and a much, much, much better novel writer than I could ever hope to be. I really did enjoy the fantasy world she has constructed that contains other humanoid creatures in it, far more powerful than us "clueless humans" as we're called in the book. She has included in her story a plethora of interesting factoids and human history subjects such as alchemy about which I don't know much. Since I've finished reading the novel, I've been doing some reading on Wikipedia about alchemy and it looks interesting, particularly the old book illustrations I've seen. Ms. Harkness has planned a trilogy, and since I especially love series books, I'm looking forward to the next installment.
The story starts with a romance between a witch and a vampire and grows from there. Several of her characters are very ancient vampires. They're living in the modern-day world -- reading newspapers, using computers, flying in helicopters and planes and enjoying other modern-day conveniences -- no doubt, there are microwaves in vampire kitchens, they've got new steam washers and power-saving gas dryers, and they're now getting into iPads, and of course, because they are ancient, they have what I have always wanted in this life -- vast, anonymous wealth, as well as profound knowledge about profound, ancient things. The vampire hero who has all of this, is also this incredibly nice guy. Oh, she tries to make him seem fierce and dangerous, but he's so good-looking (and smells so good), and he's so incredibly kind to his beloved that it's hard to feel that wonderful, nasty edge of danger you usually have with a vampire hero. I'm hoping that she expands his story in book 2 or 3 because she drops a lot of hints about his vampire past in book 1, but the chief theme is about the witch figuring out how to be a witch and all of the danger attached to her doing this and having a vampire lover. There's considerable detail that unfolds about the witch. The romantic stuff is highly satisfying, and I'm sure Ms. Harkness' coterie of worshipful fans will be deep indeed.
I don't have any issues with the shape and details of the fantasy, but I must say that questions came up for me . I wanted to know things like, what did these really old vampires think when telephones came along? Or telegraph? How about cars? A really old entity would have spent the bulk of his/her life making do with horse transport of one sort or another. Was getting their first car as exciting as I would imagine it to be? What was it like for them when they first went up in an airplane? Used a vacuum cleaner? Went to the movies?
What about tv? What about game shows? What about the book "Dracula?" They must have laughed themselves silly reading that one -- or seeing Bela Lugosi. Ms. Harkness' story talks about vampires' slower metabolisms. Does their hair only grow an inch every 10 years? What about their nails? Are there vampire barbers and hairdressers and dentists and doctors? Do they need vampire urologists and gynecologists (because they don't have children the traditional way)? These are all questions I've asked myself while in the shower or washing dishes or doing other mindless chores. I'll be very interested to see if any or all of them are answered in the course of volumes 2 and 3 of this trilogy. Which, by the way, is entitled "The All Souls Trilogy."
This is my retirement fund, guys, so I'm promoting it somewhat. CD Baby has a direct-link widget that I've installed so throngs of fans can access the albums and buy copies. My stuff is all download only. If I ever hit it big with any of these things, I might have hard copy CDs printed, but they are quickly becoming old-hat in the fast-and-furious digital-music world.