Saturday, December 12, 2009
It is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved Christmas movies of all time. "It's A Wonderful Life" was released in 1946 and it still continues to garner new fans year after year. I had the greatest pleasure to speak with Karolyn Grimes, who played ZuZu in the film, a few years back. She's as warm and friendly today as she was as a child in the classic film!
MICK: Where were you born?
KAROLYN: I was born in Hollywood on July 4th!
MICK: What did your parents do for a living?
KAROLYN: My mother was a housewife and my father was the manager of a Safeway Store.
MICK: I see that you only make 16 movies but you worked with some of the biggest names in Hollywood!
KAROLYN: Yes, it was incredible! Cary Grant was my favorite. Bing Crosby was great. He had a really good sense of humor and he liked to play practical jokes. Him and Jerry Colonna on our set, they were buddies, lots of fun together. He never forgot who I was, even years later down the road, he recognized me. John Wayne had a big heart, a man's man! He did it all right. He knew how to treat women but he liked to drink and smoke and play cards. He loved kids.
MICK: Had did you get the part of Zuzu in "It's a Wonderful Life"?
KAROLYN: A lot of people ask me if I believe in God and I say "if you were a little girl and you tried out for the part of Zuzu with probably 100 other kids and were told you got the part, you would certainly believe God had a part in this!"
MICK: How do you remember director Frank Capra?
KAROLYN: He was a unique person in a sense that he was very meticulous about details. he encouraged us as kids to bring out what he wanted to see. Getting on his knees and talking to us at eye level rather than talking down to us. It was a great thing and he got what he wanted. He was able to communicate with people really well. Another practical joker, a family man, a fair man. Very fun to work with.
MICK: What was Jimmy Stewart like?
KAROLYN: For one thing, he was extremely tall to me! He was 6'4" tall, very thin. Even when I became an adult, I was still amazed at how tall he was! He seemed immense! Throughout the film, I was with him, one on one, everywhere. I'd be on his back, in his arms. He was very tender and had a lot of patience if I would fluff a line. In later years, when I got to know him as an adult, I was very impressed with his integrity and his sense of values. The fact that he was a mega-legend, it never went to his head. He was just normal, ordinary George Bailey.
MICK: Did you keep in touch with him?
KAROLYN: Actually not. I got in touch with him in 1990. People had started looking for Zuzu and we spent a day together in New York. It was quite nice. We got to get to know each other and from then on, he referred people to me when they were looking for Zuzu.
MICK: After your film career ended, what did you do?
KAROLYN: I was orphaned at the age of 15. I was more or less shipped out of Hollywood to the mid west. I ended up in a very bad home situation. Because of that, I learned a lot. I had gone to Los Angeles High School and there were 900 kids in my school. Now I was in a town with very few people. I thought I died! After a year, the whole town knew I ended up with a family that was horrible. My teachers, the merchants, everybody rallied around me. I really learned about people outside of the Hollywood scene so I never wanted to go back. In order to get out of the situation that I was in, I needed an education. I went to college and became a medical technologist. Ended up getting married and raised 7 kids. In 1980, the media found me. Each year, "It's A Wonderful Life" was getting more exposure and I did too! In 1993, when my kids were grown, I went on a tour with the Target Company. That's when it all started. My husband died of cancer in 1994. From then on, I've been doing It's a Wonderful Life stuff forever! I love being able to touch people's lives. God gave me the ability to reach people. I celebrate Christmas with all kinds of people who feel they know me. They write me stories about how their lives have been affected by the movie. They write to me about angels. I believe there's something out there that people need at Christmas time. The movie has become a tradition in many people's homes. It goes from generation to generation. It's a real privilege to have been a part of this movie. Margaret O'Brien was a huge star back then and she doesn't have any movies on DVD and I have four! She doesn't really have a signature film and this is a signature film for me. God granted me a real blessing allowing me to be in "A Bishop's Wife", "Rio Grande", "Hans Christian Anderson"...how many classics can you be in! A little bit of divine guidance there for sure!
MICK: How long were you married?
KAROLYN: The first time was six years and my husband was killed deer hunting. The second time was 25 years.
MICK: You've also written a few books?
KAROLYN: I've actually only written a cook book "ZuZu Bailey's It's A Wonderful Life Cook Book" but there have been several books written about me. I've had a very unusual and interesting life with a lot of things that weren't wonderful.
MICK: Do you keep in touch with anyone from your films?
KAROLYN: Oh yes! The Bailey kids are pretty tight! We haven't got our wings yet! I talk to Jimmy Hawkins every week. I was very fortunate to be reconnected with Jimmy Stewart as well as Catherine Craig and Loretta Young. Around 1990, I was able to correspond and be with these people before it got too late.
MICK: Do you still get fan mail?
KAROLYN: I sure do! I get fan mail year round, I have a website. It's incredible! I got my first fan letter in 1980 and I nearly fell out of the chair! I had not even thought about those past days. My kids would sometimes take my picture to show and tell at school. I had put those days behind me. The media caught up with me so I did a few interviews. It's just taken off since then!
MICK: Tell me something about yourself that people would be amazed to know!
KAROLYN: I'm a pretty open person and I'm not shy so there's not much that people don't know about me. Maybe one thing is that I do believe in angels. I believe we all have a great angel with us. That's not quite amazing because, after all, I am Zuzu!
Today, Karolyn serves as the unofficial ambassador for 'It's A Wonderful Life", traveling the world and speaking at screenings, benefits, conventions and other venues. You can learn more about her on her website:
Thursday, November 19, 2009
With a soft and mesmerizing voice, Long Island's own Caroline Doctorow has established herself as leading force on the folk scene that continues to gain mementum with each new album. Her latest, "Another Country", covers the songs of 1960's folk icons Richard and Mimi Farina. This is her sixth album and a highly personal project as the Farina's were personal friends of Caroline's parents. Her father is famed writer E.L. Doctorow. I had the great pleasure to speak with Caroline about her new album and her life as singer/songwriter...
MICK: Your new release "Another Country" sounds fantastic! What made you decide to cover the songs of Richard and Mimi Farina?
CAROLINE: They were a big influence of mine, one of the first people I listened to while in high school along with a lot of other folk musicians. I also listened to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Grateful Dead but I've always been a folkie at heart!
Richard Frarina died in 1969 when he was 29 years old and Mimi died just several years back in 2001. After reading about her death, I revisited how they influenced me. It hit me like a ton of bricks how her music had affected me because I went on to become a folk singer also. It occurred to me they nobody had done a full album of their material even though a lot of people seem to love it. Richard Farina wrote "Pack Up Your Sorrows" which has been covered by a bunch of people including Johnny Cash and Judy Collins. He kind of fell through the cracks in a way so it became a passion for me to put this record out and hopefully reintroduce people who were also fans and get some new fans because his music was so good.
MICK: Did you know Mimi Farina?
CAROLINE: I met her when I was a kid at a party very briefly. I saw her perform several times after that after Richard had died.
I would not call that actually knowing her. I was introduced to her through my parents. My father [E.L. Doctorow] was a friend of Joan Baez and edited her first book. As a family, we were introduced to a lot of people in their circle and Mimi was one of them!
MICK: What was it like growing up in a household where famous writers, poets and folk singers often visited?
CAROLINE: It was fun! It was never dull, that's for sure! When I look back on that I wonder how my parents did it because I'm a parent now. There was always things happening and people coming through. A lot of emphasis on cultural things and the arts. I grew up in New Rochelle and it was close to Manhattan so we really got to take advantage of that. I must say that the community I grew up in was very arts orientated and intellectual to a huge degree. A lot of that was the Jewish community and their devotion to that by placing importance on education, language, words and spelling. It seemed that the parents were very encouraging to us. My friends were also musicians that I palled around with. It was a simpler time and a different time and maybe is was easier to be that way then.
MICK: Are you close with your dad?
CAROLINE: Yes I am! He's really a great person. Both of my parents are!
MICK: I see that John Sebastian and Eric Weissberg are among the guest musicians on "Another Country". How long have you known them?
CAROLINE: Eric Weissberg played on my very first album. I honestly can't remember how I met him but I've known him for years. I didn't actually know John Sebastian until he agreed to be involved in my project. Pete Kennedy, who produced the album, sort of set that up. We went up to Woodstock for the two tracks that Eric and John are on. Those two tracks were done a little differently 'Mainline Prosperity Blues" and "Hard-Lovin' Loser". They both live in Woodstock. There's a great music community there.
MICK: As a songwriter, what comes first..the words or the music?
CAROLINE: For me, it's thinking of a phrase that interests me or hearing a sentence that interests me and developing a concept of what the song is going to say. I think everybody has a different answer for this. I have to dig around and decide what the song is going to be about. then I work on the melody after I have some sort of form.
MICK: I read that Joan Baez actually taught you chords as a child. Do you still keep in touch with her?
CAROLINE: No. I'm not in touch with her. That was during the same time that her book was being worked on. She came out to Eastern Long Island one summer where I live now. I had already started learning guitar but she taught me some chords that i didn't know. That was the end for me! I said to myself "Okay, that's it! This is what I will be doing!". She was a superstar at that time!
MICK: Who do you like listening to?
CAROLINE: I constantly revisit the songwriters of the 1960's. Right now, I'm listening to Ian and Sylvia. There's also some friends of mine who are songwriters. One is a guy named James O'Malley who also lives on Long Island. I enjoy listening to him. I have friends that put out records and I like listening to them. I also host a folk radio show on WPKN FM called "Song Trails". It's broadcast the first Saturday of each month at 7:00PM. the station is located in Bridgeport, CT and it also has a sister station WPKM FM. In researching music for the show, it kind of stirs things up when you have to find things that interest you. There's also a band that some friends of mine are in called "The Harlem Parlor Music Club". It's sort of a music co-operative of a whole bunch of musicians who have different projects going on. They come together loosely to do this folk jam which is pretty cool.
MICK: It's been said that you are one of the foremost interpreters of Bob Dylan songs. Have you ever met him and do you plan on more interpretations of his music?
CAROLINE: I have never met him and yes, I can't imagine not doing more interpretations because he's like the marker at which you sort of see how you're doing! He continues to interest me especially in the way his songs don't age. He somehow puts them in a cultural setting that is hip and cool but doesn't become dated. Richard Farina is like that to me also. The language doesn't age or become corny or irrelevant. Richard Farina and Bob Dylan were friends. It's safe to say that Dylan was influenced by Richard Farina. Farina took this literary valid English/ Irish kind of language and he made it his own with some hip terminology. The songs are beautifully well crafted, highly intelligent pieces evoking a lot of imagery.
MICK: If you weren't a musician, what do you think you would be doing now?
CAROLINE: I like teaching so maybe I'd be a teacher!
MICK: What are your plans for 2010?
CAROLINE: I have another record that we will be releasing. It's a collection of songwriters from the 1960's, also some original songs to be included.
MICK: Do you have any other hobbies besides music?
CAROLINE: I have two daughters, one bull dog, one cat, two birds, two frogs and a husband so not much time for any other hobbies!
For more info on Caroline and her recording career:
You can see Caroline perform:
Saturday November 21st
Patchogue Folk Festival, 3pm
Patchogue Theater for the Performing Arts,
Saturday December 19th
Hard Luck Cafe
30 Washington Drive
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Have you ever looked at a painting and get filled with so much joy that you can't help but smile? Artist Mike Stanko creates works of art that do just that to you! His unique paintings quickly remind you of visual pop artist Andy Warhol and the warm Americana artwork of Norman Rockwell. Vibrant colors jump off the canvas but not shockingly as the simplicity of Stanko's subjects are familiar to us all. I spoke to Mike recently about his artwork, his lovely wife Karin and they're deep love for the Beatles!
MICK: Where did you grow up?
MIKE: I grew up and Valley Stream and that's where we still live. I'm the youngest of three and Karin [Mike's wife] is the youngest of four. Our parents still lived here and for some reason we never moved. My sisters moved to other towns in Suffolk County and Karin's sisters and brothers moved all over the area. We stayed here long enough and figured "why move now"! People say "how long have you lived there?" and I say 50 years! Valley Stream is great! Everything is 20 minutes away. We went to high school with Steve Buscemi.
MICK: Do you keep in contact with him?
MIKE: No, I keep in contact with his brothers Michael and Kenneth. Steven moved into the city many years ago. I was actually in his video, even though he cut me out of it, for his movie "Trees Lounge" which is about a local bar, an old man's bar. Not a great movie. Karin's cousin actually owned the bar and Steven used to hang out there. When he was filming the video for the film, I went over and he asked me if I wanted to be in the video. I had a walk on part. Then he cut me out! But he's cool.
His brothers come to my art shows occasionally. Michael is trying to be an actor. Kenneth comes when he's in town. Jim Breuer from "Saturday Night Live" is from Valley Stream too. So is Fred Armisen from "Saturday Night Live" now!
MICK: Do you work full time as an artist?
MIKE: No. When I got out of college, I wanted to find a wonderful job in this type of field or writing. I went to college for creative writing. I used to be in a band and I would write songs and poetry. My father had a Boar's Head route and he said
"You need money so until you find your job, why don't you work with me". So thirty years later, here I am! I paint a lot but not full time.
MICK: It's been written that your artwork is a cross between Andy Warhol and Norman Rockwell. How do you feel about this comparison and how did you develop your style?
MIKE: I developed my style by chance. When I first started painting seriously, I did this abstract painting and for some reason, it didn't pop for whatever reason. This was like twenty years ago. I got black ink and I outlined all of the separate colors to the best of my ability. Then everything just popped! From that point on, I outlined everything I do. Every single painting! Some people say "Do you think you'll never not outline?" and I say "I'm not sure". This is my style now! Every once in a while, I say to myself 'should I not outline". And the I quickly say " No!" I just do it and I like it! People come up to me and say "Please don't take this as an insult, I really love your work, but is your work a little bit like a coloring book or a paint by numbers?" I tell them yes, it really is!! Sometimes I'll just draw the image on the canvas and just paint that. As I'm painting, I add more detail which eventually will all get outlined. I could really make a coloring book of my paintings and somebody who paints could fill in the colors! But it wouldn't be a Stanko because it wouldn't be the colors I choose. My paintings are bright. I always liked bright paintings. I like being vibrant. I like alive! I'm not putting down any other artists dark works because there's a time and place for me in that area too. In my house, every wall is a different color but it all works! When we first painted the rooms, we told our families and they said "Oh my God!". But when they came over, they said "Wow, it really works!". It's done very tastefully! I have rock and roll memorabilia all over the place, a lot of art work. We have our Presidential room because Karin is very much into the Presidents.
MICK: How much time does it take for you to do a typical painting?
MIKE: It varies but it usually takes about a week or two. In the winter time I paint a lot more. I paint almost everyday whether it's half an hour or more. I really like the winter and I like the fall obviously for the colors. You just walk outside and you see yellow trees! We all grew up in a Yellow Submarine and walked through Pepperland! We are all influenced by everything that touched our life whether we are aware of it or not. Things that influence me are just things that I like. Whether consciously or subconsciously it comes out in my artwork..the colors,the happiness. I'm a happy type guy, very positive.
MICK: Do you work on more than one painting at a time?
MIKE: No I don't. A lot of times I will take a color and paint it where it has to go on the painting. I can't continue until the paint dries because I don't want to smear it or getting it all over my hands. So I will stop, check my email, etc.. I paint in acrylics only so it dries in minutes. I paint in a small room also but it works. If I had a bigger studio, I could have a couple paintings going at the same time. I don't know if that would work because I like to be totally focused. Most of my paintings are things I have a passion for. Something as simple in life as a grilled cheese sandwich! When I'm painting my grilled cheese sandwich, I'm really into the sandwich! Then I will paint a fantasy like an Autumn scene with a blue house type of thing. Even though it came out of my head, it's a place I might want to be! I couldn't paint something that I really didn't feel for. I really like Rockwell stuff. I love the down home feeling. Edward Hopper has that every day American life in his paintings. I love that stuff. A picture can say a thousand words. Wayne Thiebaud is another influence of mine. Very simple paintings of things like a cake sitting in a bakery or a gumball machine. It's beautiful! The colors he uses and the simplicity is fantastic. I'm also a fan of Tiffany glass. When you look at my work you can see the Tiffany stained glass influence. I'm not a religious person but I love going into churches to look at the glass. The colors and jewel tones are just beautiful!
MICK: I've also read that you actually met three of the four Beatles!
MIKE: Yes! In 1974, we were walking through Central Park with a bunch of friends. It was right around the time that John Lennon was being deported out of the United States. I'm a major, major Beatles fan as I said before. As we were walking, it was like "Oh my God, is that John Lennon walking towards us?" It was John and Harry Nilsson! Being a huge Beatles fan, I was in shock! I think it was March 12, 1974. John was going to speak at the March of Dimes Walkathon with Harry Nilsson. We stopped to talk to him. He was very personable. He wasn't get out of here, get away from me. I told him I couldn't believe they wanted to throw you out of the country! I asked him what could we do to help? He said get in touch with my lawyer Leon Wiles and discuss it with him. So I organized a committee to save John Lennon! It was a grass roots fan based committee to keep John in the country. I never knew it was this whole political thing whether is was Richard Nixon, john Mitchell or J. Edgar Hoover trying to get him out of the country. You can't throw John out of the country! It was all politically motivated. John was anti war and he was very vocal with the young people so they wanted him out. So I started this committee and through that I met John four other times. One day I got a phone call from his secretary saying John would like to give you some tee shirts to hand out to you and your helpers. We got a petition up, we put out bumper stickers with my own money. We were asking for donations through Rolling Stone Magazine and we got around 60,000 signatures! We were telling people to mail the White House on June 12, 1975. Flood the White House with support for John Lennon. They actually admitted to getting 30,000 letters that day! So John's secretary said "it's a really big box, can you come to the Dakota to pick it up?". So I go there figuring they'd be out on the curb and I go up to the little office there. The person there said "They're expecting you". Every step was another 'what?" I couldn't believe it! So we went into this elevator up to his apartment. The doors open up and you're right inside John's apartment. The first room you walk into is a huge living room or parlor. They had about 15 mannequins of Yoko Ono standing in a party atmosphere! It was so bizarre! Meanwhile, I'm like 19 years old and I'm trying to act very professional. It was unbelievable. Later on, John thanked me over at WNEW radio station when they won the court case.
Being a big Beatles fan, when Paul McCartney would be in New York City, we were like the local Apple Scruffs. We knew where he was staying and we'd wait outside for him.
I've lived a very pop life. I've always carried a camera so in my house, there's pictures of Karin and I on the Howard Stern Show, Bill Clinton, John John Kennedy, Muhammad Ali , Joe Namath. I think I attribute that growing up a Beatles fan. We grew up just waiting for the next Beatles record to come out! And that didn't suck!!
We met Ringo when he was playing at the Concord. That's a very strange place. When we went up there, it was Jewish singles weekend so there was a couple dozen of us Beatles fans and the rest Jewish singles trying to hook up! It was general admission so I was able to get us a front table! Ringo came over to our table and I shook his hand. Karin actually jumped up on the stage and handed him flowers! It was great!
George Harrison, who was one of my favorite Beatles, passed away before I could meet him. We always gave George his privacy. When he'd slip into town, it was hard to find him.
MICK: On your website, while browsing your photographs, that you visit the graves of many famous people.
MIKE: Yes. As I told you, Karin is a big Presidential person so we've been to like 17 Presidential birth places. Obviously, we have a lot to catch up on! LBJ had one of the nicest ones. He's buried under this big tree in Texas on his property. What really turned me on to this, and it's just like Wayne's World, we went to Mount Vernon which is George Washington's home. Him and Martha Washington are buried in crypts outside. It is gated and there's bars around the crypts but you can actually stick your hand in and touch the actual cement coffin. So I was standing outside of this thing and it just hit me..."Oh my God, George Washington is right in that box!" Not like its my grandfather or grandmother, it's freakin George Washington! I was like dumbfounded and Karin was getting such a kick out of this! So that probably started the whole thing. Then we went to London and they have this really famous, old cemetery which is very ornate and overgrown. If I was a rock band I would love to shoot my album cover there! Then we went to the one in Paris where Oscar Wilde is buried, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf..many many famous people. So I just get this fascination that "wow, they're right here!". People I've read about, loved and respected whether they're an author, a singer, whatever. I love it!!
To see more on Stanko: http://www.stankoart.com/
Stanko's next show: November 7th, 2009
7-10PM Running Through December 1st, 2009
Ripe Art Gallery
Greenlawn, New York
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
George Bernard Shaw once said “You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, 'Why not?'”
Veteran Long Island disc jockey Rich Keith had a dream about establishing a successful internet jazz radio station, the first of it's kind, and his dream has become a reality! After spending over 30 years on various stations throughout Long Island, Rich spends his time these days as the general manager and founder of "PureJazzRadio.com". His show "New York Tonight" is broadcast 8-11PM EST Monday through Friday bringing listeners worldwide the best jazz sounds ever recorded! Recently, I was privileged to sit in the studio with Rich and talk about his new adventure!
MICK: How did you get started in radio?
RICH: Years and years ago, I majored in radio and television at Suffolk Community College. I was the only guy who wanted to be in radio. Everybody else wanted to be in TV. I went the entire two years and forgot everything I learned about TV and decided to stay in radio. I was fortunate enough to actually get a job in radio while I was in college, a station out on the East end WRIV 1390AM. It's still around! Eventually, I moved on to some other stations in the area like WALK, another station in Patchogue WLIM 1580 AM. I was morning man there for a long time. Never really made a good living in radio so I managed to make money elsewhere. I always had my hand either part time or full time in radio. Most recently, I was at WSHR 91.9FM, Sachem High School radio station. Big FM station the school got back in the 60's. It covers most of long Island, the south coast of Connecticut, parts of NYC. I programed the jazz and standards there for a few years. I did a Friday night show and programed a Sunday Sinatra show. When the station's tower was hit by lightning and knocked off the air, we came up with the idea for an online radio station. I got some real good engineering help from a friend of mine at CBS and we were able to make it happen.
MICK: Very cool! A great idea for sure!
RICH: Yes! It's nice because we are not limited by listening area. Basically, the listening area is the entire world! I've worked at radio stations where if you had a real good throwing arm, you could probably throw a baseball from one side of the listening area to the other. It was always a big deal if someone from 15-20 miles away was calling. Here at Pure Jazz Radio, we get emails from all over the world!! Australia, Europe, all over! Last week we got an email from a guy in Hong Kong and they are 12 hours ahead of us. I'm here at 10PM in New York talking into a microphone in the studio here and there's some guy in Hong Kong listening at 10AM in the morning! It's absolutely amazing!
MICK: Is your programing worldwide as well?
RICH: Yes, we were able to make contacts from all over the world too! Programing comes in from all over the United States and elsewhere in the world. The Jazz Scene, which we do every day to announce jazz happenings, comes from contacts in England, Scotland, Australia. If we get the information well in advance, we post it on the website. It's worked out really well!
MICK: How many listeners do you think you have now?
RICH: Right now, we're reaching between 7000 to 8000 people. It's a nice start! We've only been around since January 2009 so ,it's not even a year yet. It took around 6 months before we worked out all of the technical problems. I have a dedicated fiber optic line for the station. The software package we use is excellent and makes this all possible. I don't have to be here 24/7 to make it happen. So that's basically where we are at right now. I do the live show between 8PM and 11PM Monday through Friday. We broadcast that a couple of times to different time zones. I rebroadcast it midnight till 3AM EST so the listeners on the west coast can hear it 9PM till midnight. We also rebroadcast the show the following day 3 till 6 because we're picking up our listeners in Europe. That's a neat thing covering the different time zones with a live show. We are getting shows programed from all over! Regular disc jockey shows from people who work at NPR stations in North Carolina, Santa Fe New Mexico, Orlando Florida, even a couple of programs coming in from England. We try to run them at times that are good for the people over there. It's really starting to take off for us as far as listener ship is concerned. We've just been approved to be a New York State non-profit corporation. Mainly because we want to keep the programing true to what we do. We are filing this month for the federal 501-c. At that point. all donations will be tax deductible.
MICK: How is funding coming along?
RICH: It's coming along slowly. We've had some listeners who have been very generous. We're about breaking even right now. We run it for "next to nothing" now but, with the plans we have in the future for enhanced studio space, a performance studio, promotion of live music and education, substantial funding will be required.
MICK: Do you pay royalties?
RICH: Yes we do. We take care of that. They are performers and they deserve to get paid! I know there are a lot of operations out there flying below the radar but our intention is to do everything the right way. You really don't want somebody coming at you somewhere down the line. The next step is once we get the 501-c we can go the corporate route and see whats out there. I'm going to need some help as that's not my strength. My strength is programing the radio station, doing live programs and attracting new programing. We'd like to expand into jazz education and funding for jazz festivals. It's important to me to keep the musicians working.
MICK: Will you be broadcasting any live performances?
RICH: Yes. Right now we have a moderate collection of music. Our intent down the line is to actually move into a bigger studio where we can have some live performances with live musicians in the studio. Right now, everything is on cd, tape, MP3. But it's our intention in the future to move into a larger operation with office space, performance space, a few studios. That's the direction we'd like to go depending on the amount of money we get to come in. That will determine how much time I'm able to spend doing this. I'd like to be able to dedicate myself full time to this. Right now, everybody is working basically gratis. I'd like to be able to help them out because some of them are spending money on production costs out of there own pockets.
MICK: You seem to be servicing a market that has disappeared from the radio!
RICH: Our thing here is to cater to an audience that is completely under served by commercial radio and more under served by public radio. Maybe a station like this would have a hard time surviving in one local market. Most of the radio stations these days are owned by big corporations. Everything now is corporately controlled. The stock holders are the boss, not the listeners. This station that I am programing is not for everybody. It's designed for a specific audience. Not a hard core jazz audience. I don't want to limit the appeal to that narrow of an audience where we play 13 minutes of Thelonious Monk cuts or "Love Supreme" by Coltrane. We are trying to broaden the scope a bit where we are playing jazz but we are also playing standards by Nat King Cole, Louis Armstrong, Michael Franks. Not to much smooth jazz. And very limited hard core jazz stuff. We'll play Nat Cole, then we'll play Miles Davis. We'll play Thelonious Monk, and then we'll throw in a Tony Bennett or a Sinatra. Basically keep it appealing to as large of an audience as we can but a very specific audience! The worldwide reach is what makes it work. A bunch of people here, a bunch of people there. There might not be a viable audience in London or a viable audience in New York but when you put them all together, we build up a nice listener audience. As a non-profit, hopefully we can get many more contributors so we can provide a service nobody else can offer.
MICK: You have the station set up really nice!
RICH: Yes, this automated system is phenomenal. I've probably loaded in about 5000 cuts so far and we get new stuff all the time. We have about 2500 Cd's and we're starting to transcribe some of the vinyl stuff that's not available on CD. The automated system that we use makes it possible for us to be on 24/7. I don't have to be hands on here all the time. It allows me to be on here 3 hours a night, 5 nights a week. Play 3 cuts, then talk. Play 3 more, then talk.
MICK: Do you record the shows?
RICH: Yes, I record every show. At the end of each night, I transfer it from the production computer onto the main computer. I have a backlog so far of about 150-200 shows so far of the "New York Tonight Show". If I need to take any time off, I can actually program it to play a prerecorded show at a specific time.
MICK: How do people from other parts of the world submit their programs to you?
RICH: They email them from all over! It's amazing! They email me the shows and I download them onto the production computer. We then program it to whenever it needs to be played. The new technology is amazing! It's like we lived in an analog world for a number of years and then something flicked a switch! It happened fast. It was analog and then bam..digital with combined tape machine! Even Scotch doesn't make tape anymore! For a guy like me to be able to edit on a computer screen is incredible as I had to once deal with razor blades. When you had to edit a three hour show and you'd be neck deep in little snippets of audio tape! And if you weren't good with the razor you'd be bleeding all over the place!
Today with the digital technology, you're not losing any quality at all. You can cut 200 Cd's from a program and still have the same quality throughout the process. No static at all!
MICK: I'm very impressed with this whole "Pure Jazz Radio" setup!
RICH: I am, too, everyday! There's something that surprises me and impresses me every day! We're going to give it our best shot. It really comes down to the music. It's unfortunate that if the music doesn't have somebody to promote it on a media basis, it will die. There's nobody on the radio doing it. I've made some very interesting proposals to radio stations that have either been rebuffed or ignored completely. There are radio stations out on Eastern Long Island and a couple in Central Long Island that are doing absolutely nothing. You may as well turn them off for the listener ship they have.
MICK: I feel something like this on an FM station would be dynamite.
RICH: Definitely! The NPR station out in South Hampton, everybody's crying that they're going off the air. It's my way of thinking that they were mismanaged. They were running a million dollar deficit and I think they were way over staffed. They had a pretty decent listener ship because they played jazz. It's kind of silly that somebody won't pick up the slack. There's a ready made audience! I'm running "Pure Jazz Radio" for practically nothing right now! I'm doing everything I can to get us known out there! I'd be more than happy to pick up those NPR listeners! It doesn't matter if they're in Montauk or Manitoba!
MICK: What type of advertising do you do?
RICH: We haven't done any yet! Actually, we have to work out, as a non-profit corporation, the actual format that we take. It's probably close to what they do on NPR or PBS. I ask listeners if they'd like to donate, we would really appreciate it. We are also getting people to show online through our website. A lot of people shop online anyway so they might as well do it through us!
They can get the same price or better. We get a couple of cents off the top. It kills two bids with one stone! As far as other fund raising goes, I'd much rather do it on a governmental or corporate level.
MICK: Will you sponsor any jazz concerts to raise money?
RICH: Absolutely! We can possibly partner up with some artists and have some sort of festival to benefit the station. Our main thing is to not just hang out here and play Cd's at the station. Jazz education is important to me. Getting some instruments into kids hands and teach them how to make the right sounds with them. We want to do all we can to keep musicians employed. Today it's terrible that every event you go to it's a DJ. You can go out and get five great musicians for the price of one DJ! That's important to me to make sure these people work. That's where we get new material from! I love the old stuff but I also love to play some of today's contemporary artists that play our stuff. So we are trying to tie it all together!
Join Rich Keith each night at www.purejazzradio.org
"New York Tonight" 8pm to 11pm EST M-F
(Rebroadcast 12m to 3am est 7 nights a week)
Friday, October 23, 2009
On Thursday, October 22nd, we lost a true legend of the entertainment business. Soupy Sales, the slapstick- pie throwing comic, was 83 years young when he passed away at a hospice in the Bronx. He had been in failing health for many years though he continued to make appearances at local memorabilia shows until earlier this year. His comedic genius brought him broad appeal to children and adults alike throughout the land. It is estimated that he tossed well over 20,000 pies during his long career. And his on air capers in front of his children's audience would sometimes get him in hot water, which in turn would only boost his popularity.
One event in particular is probably his most famous blunder. It was New Years Day in 1965. Soupy was almost done with his show at 7pm when the producer told him he had a minute to kill. Soupy walked up to the camera and said "Listen children, your mom and dad are probably tired from last night and they're laying down in their bedroom. Go in the room quietly and look in your mom's pocketbook and your dad"s wallet. Look for any green paper that has pictures of men with beards on them. Take those funny green papers, put them in an envelope and mail them to me at the TV station. Once I get your envelope, I will send you a postcard from Puerto Rico!" Soupy was suspended for two weeks!
I had the pleasure to meet Soupy a few years ago at my buddy Gary Lyons' "Gotham Super Collector's Show" in NYC. He was very happy to be meeting his fans and signing autographs throughout the day despite showing the effects from a stroke he suffered a few months earlier. The photograph above is myself with Soupy at the show. A trooper to the end.
Goodbye Soupy. I wonder of St.Peter gave you a pie in the face as you went through those pearly gates!
She's beautiful, extremely talented and married to one of rock and roll's greatest guitarist. Long Island native Candice Night is the lead singer, lyricist and multi-instrumentalist for husband Ritchie Blackmore's renaissance band "Blackmore's Night" since 1997. Her beautiful enchanting voice along with Ritchie's masterful guitar work take you back to the simpler times of kings, queens, knights and old medieval yore. "Secret Voyage" is the tenth and latest album from Blackmore's Night. It entered at #1 on the New Age Billboard Charts and stayed there for four weeks!
Blackmore's Night is currently in the midst of the American leg of their 2009 tour and will be appearing at the Fillmore Theater at Irving Plaza in NYC on 10/29/09.
I spoke to Candice recently about her life and her music...
MICK: You and Ritchie [Blackmore] just celebrated your first wedding anniversary. Congratulations!
CANDICE: Yes, twenty years together and our first year being married! A lot of mixed messages and kind of strange! It's funny because we were saying the only thing we haven't done together was get married so now we've crossed that off the list and we can move on to other things! It really is strange that being with somebody for two decades and we still have that newlywed type thing! It's very cool. Actually, the first anniversary he took me on the World Yacht where we had dinner on the boat and go around where Ellis Island is and see the city from the water. He did good!!
MICK: What type of music did you listen to when you were growing up?
CANDICE: Well, my parents had very different tastes in music than I did so I guess I was rebelling when I was a teenager. Around the house, they had a lot of stuff from musicals. My mom was a huge musical fan. My dad was really into big band sounds, Benny Goodman kind of stuff, Very good music for Sunday morning to cook eggs to and dance around the kitchen which my parents did every Sunday morning! A very musical family! So that was almost like comfort music to me because I grew up with it. I hit the teenage years and it was perfect because the 80's were my teen years with all those heavy metal hair bands. Right up my alley! I still enjoy that music. It's my nostalgia! Ritchie often comes in and shuts those cds off. Not his type of music! He kind of laughs at me when he walks out of the room!! What we do is such a departure from that. But it was fun to grow up with that music and still listen to it. I still have my Camaro, put the top down and crank up songs from the 80's!
MICK: How did you meet Ritchie?
CANDICE: We actually met when I was working for a radio station out here WBAB. I was working for them for about a year and a half when I was going to college. I loved music so much growing up and going through high school. My books were just covered with names of bands , lyrics, everything! Not mine but other people's lyrics that really inspired me and touched me. It was like nobody really understood me except the people writing these songs! So I thought what was I going to do for a living when I'm an adult one day and had to make a career choice. I figured it would be working for a radio station or a record company. Something around music. So I got a job at the radio station. One day, Deep Purple came to town and they called up WBAB and asked if they wanted to come out and play a charity soccer match. Sure enough, all the DJ's came and we played the game. It wasn't that much later that we discovered Ritchie had stacked his team with a bunch of ringers, like these European amazing players. The guys from over seas are incredible players. We kind of had a bunch of over weight DJs who pressed buttons and ate pizza real good but not so much about running around the field and scoring goals. They beat us mercilessly. I tried to be the sportswoman afterward and went over congratulate him on his win with about 100 other people looking for autographs. It was funny because you could see who was there and for what reason. Loads of girls wearing mini skirts and high heels sinking in the mud which was hilarious because we were on a muddy soccer field! There's me in my jeans and sneakers and a big winter coat because it was November. I just went over and congratulated him and asked for an autograph. The first picture I ever took with him was him signing for all these people and there's me with my face stuck in! As I was leaving to get back in my car, he actually sent three of his roadies to find out who I was and asked to meet me later at a local tavern. It's funny because when I first asked for the autograph, he was signing and he only looked up for a second and said in his English accent "You're a very beautiful girl" and I thought that was going to be my famous Ritchie Blackmore story. Later on i met him and we ended up talking for hours. we found we had the same interests, had lots in common, we were both fascinated by the paranormal, amazing things. We really connected on so many levels. He said when I walked into the tavern that night it was like seeing an old friend again. So it's been 20 years since that day and still going strong.
MICK: What made you and Ritchie go in a different direction musically after Rainbow?
CANDICE: It's funny with Ritchie's fans they are either completely die hard fans and they saw this coming for years or they are completely shocked that he did this. It was totally out there in left field stance in music. He started Deep Purple in 1968 So they were doing stuff like "The Book of Taliesyn" and a lot of the stuff eluded to Medieval things. He's been listening to that type of music from the late 60's early 70's and really getting into the music of that time period. Not just the lyric and visual of it or the historical accuracy. He started listening to things like David Munrow's Early Music Consort in 1971 which was of course the year I was born so I had nothing to do with it! It happened way before I was here! Then he started incorporating Medieval model scales into his songs. If you listen to "Smoke On The Water" for example, it's not just a riff that's written in singular notes. It's actually done in fourths and fifths which is Medieval model scales and it gives it that kind of dark and ominous sound. There's all these things he weaved into his music. And of course whenever he'd go into jam sessions, whether it was early Purple or with Rainbow later on, he's be jamming on "Greensleeves" or writing songs like "16th Century Greensleeves" or "The Temple of the King". Die hard Ritchie Blackmore fans saw the reflections of this kind of music that he was inspired by, being weaved into his music that he's been doing for decades now. When we started our stuff, which we never thought was actually going to be a project, it was when he started Rainbow. It was up in a farmhouse in Massachusetts where they were recording. There was like 6 feet of snow, really nothing around for miles and miles. The singer in the band at that point was a Scottish guy who had never seen this much snow in his entire life! He was a little shell shocked and having a hard time coming up with inspiration lyrically. I was doing some of the background tracks and Ritchie asked me if I could come up with any lyrics for some of the backing tracks. That's how I wound up co-writing four of the songs on the "Stranger In Us All" album. It was a really natural progression. While the rest of the guys were in there doing their backing tracks, Ritchie and I would be sitting in front of this big blazing fire just watching the snow come down. He'd have his acoustic guitar so we started writing songs mainly just for us just to pass the time and pure enjoyment!
MICK: I really like your new cd Secret Voyage". Did it take long to record?
CANDICE: Not really. We actually have this producer from Los Angeles and we fly him out to us probably twice a year. He will stay with us for about two months at a time in our house. It's taken us forever to get a studio in our home because Ritchie said he wanted to be the only musician not to have a studio in his home. It was more important for him to have a bar! He finished the bar and it's kind of old dungeony, stone walled with this medieval torture devise hanging on the wall. In a tiny room off to the side of the bar we have our studio recording equipment. We've done our last few cds here. When we go in, we usually have the skeletal arrangements, lyrics and music. We kind of flesh it out with the producer as far as the instrumentation is concerned, change anything that needs to be changed. We'll go on the road for a month and when we come back, we revisit the songs. We do that a couple times a year. It's a lot better than locking yourself in the studio and banging your heads when you get stuck! So we take a breather, go on the road, play some for the audience and see how they react to it, if it needs some energy injected in certain areas. Then take it back to the studio. I think this is the winning combination for us!
MICK: Besides vocals, you play a multitude of Medieval instruments as well! How did you learn to play them?
CANDICE: I play all the stuff nobody's ever heard of! It usually stops conversations dead in it's tracks! People say "Oh, you're a musician! What instruments do you play?" and I say "the shawm, the rauschpfeife"; they say terrific and run away!
Actually, that started because Ritchie had bought a pennywhistle when we were in Los Angeles in The Bodhi Tree, a new age book shop. He brought it home and it sat on the kitchen counter for about six months collecting dust. I said 'Look, are you going to play this thing or am I going to have to throw it out?" He picked it up and decided it was useless and was going to toss it. I said let me give it a shot. For some reason, it came so naturally. All the notes were exactly where I expected them to be! We started collecting some of the more difficult double reed woodwinds from around the world. Obscure music shops down these old cobblestone streets in Prague, the Czech Republic. You know you won't find these at the local guitar center here! We found a couple in New Hope, Pennsylvania! There's some great early music shops over in England as well so we continue to grow our collection larger! It definitely adds a new dimension into the music. The sounds are just so different and it feels right when you're taking music from the 12th, 13th or 14th Century. If it was played only on electric guitars or even acoustic, it really feels like it's missing a dimension. We are retaining the spirit of the melodies but we are adding new lyrics new arrangements and new instrumentation. When you add a shawm, a rauschpfeife, a hurdy gurdy, it feels like you're giving a nod to the spirit of what the song was originally intended to sound like.
MICK: You are working on a new album now?
CANDICE: Yes! We have about 5 songs already done and when we finish this leg of the United States tour, we will have the producer come back out. He usually comes in the winter so he probably thinks Long Island is like this year round! I tell him it's really nice in the spring, summer and fall and all he ever sees is winter! Either way it beats LA! He comes out and stays in our guest bedroom and then he goes downstairs and works in the dungeon area. There's no windows where he works! We go out, we play soccer once a week, we're doing our social stuff and when we come back, we yell down "Pat, is everything OK in there?"! He keeps busy!
MICK: When you're not touring or recording, what do you like to do?
CANDICE: We go ghost hunting! I don't like the word "hunting" but we do look for ghosts. We are big nature people, completely in awe of the beauty and simplicity and magic of nature. We walk through the woods every day; we feed all the animals that come into our yard..raccoons, opossums, deer, squirrels, all kinds of birds. We go owl prowling at midnight through the woods here. Ritchie has lanterns that we use with walking sticks and put our cloaks on, bring the binoculars. We have this little box that makes owl sounds and they actually answer them and come from all over! It's pretty amazing!
MICK: I know Blackmore's Night is playing Irving Plaza on Oct. 29th. You have two more dates after that on this American tour. When will you be back in the States?
CANDICE: It's funny because it's rare for us to play in the United States. Hopefully around the same time next year. We do so well over in Europe although the people here are amazing! You can't beat the fans here, especially the New York fans! We are playing home this week so half the people in the audience is family or friends of ours! It's a perfect time of year too! I know we usually request people to come dressed in Renascence garb but it's Halloween! Wear whatever you want! It's like an event, a costume party!
MICK: I've also noticed you are involved in many charitable causes, especially those dealing with animal rights. Do you always invite animal shelters to your shows?
CANDICE: Yes, especially in America we like to pay attention to local charities because there is so much attention given to the big charities like PETA and all those. The attention is not really being given to the local animal charities. These people are working so hard 24/7. They don't get the funding, they don't get the attention or publicity from the press. Whenever we come to town, it's important for us to invite an animal charity, usually a no kill shelter. They can set up a booth, hand out pamphlets or brochures to raise the awareness that they are out there. I'm hoping that if we set it up next to a merchandising booth, people will throw their extra change to the animal shelter. These people have to make it work year round so we try to bring attention whenever we are in their town. They are real angels! What they have to see, what they have to fix! I could never do that myself! It breaks my heart just thinking about it so knowing there are people out there doing something about it is truly amazing.
MICK: I will bet you are a vegetarian!
CANDICE: I'm a guilt-etarain! I eat meat and then I feel guilty! I don't eat a lot of meats though. I'm more of a pasta girl! And I love animals!
MICK: Who do you listen to today?
CANDICE: I listen sometimes to country stations! For me their lyric lines still make sense to me. I come from an era where music gave me this emotional roller coaster! It would make you melancholy, reflective, happy, joyous. It had all these dimensions to it! Today, I'm hearing a lot electronics, a lot synthesized drumming where everything is studio magic. Everything is fixed! You turn on the TV and everybody is choreographed and wearing mini mini skirts. I'm missing that music that really inspires me and makes me feel something besides being annoyed! A lot of the commercial stations are caught up in that. I'm interested in country because it still has that lyrical line that paints a picture in your head of a story! Not every country song though. When they start singing about a tractors and stuff I kind of turn it off!! There's some songs that actually make sense! As far as vocalists are concerned, I think Pink has probably the best voice out there. I wish she would do a rock album because I think has has an amazing voice to do it. If I really want a departure from that, I listen to something totally different like Sarah Brightman. Her voice is amazing. She has this incredible range. I was actually turned on to her from watching a PBS station. I've seen her a bunch of times in concert. She is unbelievable! The show she puts on is just amazing. When we went over on tour, she lives in Hamburg, Germany, and she came to our show! I heard she was going to be there and I said "I can't go out there! Sarah Brightman is out there! I can't sing in front of her, are you crazy!" I looked out from behind the curtain and could swear I saw her in one of the opera boxes. I said to Ritchie "I don't think I could do this!" He said "She's not here, that's not her. It just looks like her, She called and said she's not coming". That made me feel better but found out later he was completely lying to me! That was her sitting in the box! Afterward, she came backstage and she was the most lovely person, so warm and friendly. Completely down to earth! She loved the show. She told us how much she enjoyed the show. It was a huge honor that she came to our show!
MICK: Growing up, were you into medieval music or medieval times at all?
CANDICE: I never heard medieval or Renaissance music until I met Ritchie! He was my introduction to this music. I didn't know anything about it. It's almost like a comforting flashback. As children, one of your most safe and secure times is when your parents are tucking you in at night. Nothing in the world is going to hurt you. You don't think there are any bad things out there that can harm you. A really safe mode. My parents sitting on the edge of the bed reading bedtime stories. A lot of those stories are from Renaissance times like 'Cinderella" and others. I think the visual probably stayed with me from my parents reading faerie tales to me as I was falling asleep. Later on I started going to Renaissance fairs and thought that was amazing that you could just walk into this place and look through the gates at this vail of another time period. It's another world! There's such a huge underground following for renaissance fairs. There's at least one Renaissance fair in every state. The larger states have anywhere between 3 to 8 fairs each year. These fairs are only open about two months during the year, only on the weekend. They get between 200 to 500 thousand people! It's a huge amount of people who come to escape the pressures of today. Everything is so instant society and cyber world and one dimensional. There's so much anger and stress. You can go out in your backyard and look at the stars and the ambient lighting. But it's hard to see the stars anymore. Everywhere you go there's a bass drum going or a plane going over or somebody is blowing leaves! Noise everywhere! Even talking about ourselves. You could just pick up the phone and deal with whatever is on the phone. Then it was the phone and the fax. Now it's the phone, fax, pager, IM, Blackberry, Blue Tooth, IPhone!! Nobody can escape anymore. Nobody turns off! Most people feel uncomfortable when they do have to turn off. We are losing that intimacy, that purity, that spirituality of just standing outside and watching a sunset or walking through the woods and listen to crickets. Being amazed by a field of fire flies! These are just the simple pleasures that have me in awe all of the time! If I go outside and feel the breeze blowing through my hair, I feel completely cleansed! You don't have to go on a plane and look for it, it's right here! So many people are just programed to ignore it because we are in survival mode all of the time. People are just getting angrier and angrier and nobody's unplugging and getting away from the source of all that anger! There's something incredible that's so soulful and spiritual about sitting around a campfire with a bunch of friends with acoustic guitars and getting back to the old fashioned form of communication and just talking to each other! Not emailing or texting but pondering about where we are going, what the universe is about and where we've been, reincarnation and all these amazing dimensional things that are out there. It's so important to see things through a child's eyes!
MICK: Are you close to your family?
CANDICE: Very close!
MICK: Are there any other musicians in your family?
CANDICE: Not professional! Everybody in my family plays something. I was brought up playing piano, my dad and mom both play piano, my brother plays saxophone, my sister plays clarinet. I don't know how we didn't end up being the Partridge Family! We needed that old Volkswagon van thing going on! It was typical to go on road trips together and everybody singing together! Even when you turn teen aged and you start to think this is so lame, by the time you hit your twenties you think "wow, those were some great times!"
MICK: Are you religious?
CANDICE: I am more spiritual. We are not really into organized religion. There's so much bloodshed and all about the money. I'm really not into other people telling me what to think or believe. I'm fine just finding my own way and I think Ritchie's doing the same thing. We both strongly believe in God. We feel there is a strong God presence out there. I personally believe everybody is waiting for a miracle and they're thinking there's no signs being sent to me because there's no miracles. If you see the sunsets we get, there are miracles every day.
MICK: What advise would you give to an up and coming performer?
CANDICE: I often listen to Ritchie answer this question and he says "After you learn your first three chords, get a good lawyer!" I love that one! It really is important in this day and age when everybody's trying to rip you off. record companies, publishers, agents...I just want to play! I really think it's important not to follow trends and be true to yourself. There's so many people I see that are like carbon copies of what came before or they sound so similar to what other people are doing. That might be a quick fix for a lot of people because you get in on a trend or a fashion. But those trends and fashions change within five minutes. You can go back 15 years and the Spice Girls were taking over the world. They had Polaroid endorsements and they were in your face every five seconds! Then it was Brittany Spears, then Beyonce, now it's Rhianna. Everything changes really fast unless it's you and you're being true to yourself. Do what's right for you. It's going to be a longer road and a road that's less traveled but it's going to be your own road. When you look behind you, all these people will be on this journey with you following to see what you will do next!
Thank you Candice!
Be sure to catch "Blackmore's Night" this Thursday night at the Fillmore Theater at Irving Plaza in NYC. http://www.kayosproductions.com/cddvd.php?id=654
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
If there is a fun story to report on channel 7's Eyewitness News, chances are you will see the ever smiling, beautiful Lauren Glassberg doing her job! Lauren has been with WABC's Eyewitness News since March of 2000 often doing upbeat stories and restaurant revues as well as substitute co-anchoring when she is needed. I recently had the pleasure to chat with Lauren about her life and journalistic career!
MICK: Did you always want to be a journalist?
LAUREN: Yes, I did want to be a journalist. I wasn't so sure I wanted to be a TV journalist though!
MICK: In the beginning of your career, you covered the Whitewater scandal in Arkansas. What was it like covering a big National story like that right off the bat?
LAUREN: It was actually my second job which still meant I was pretty green! It meant a lot of preparation. It was the kind of story you really had to study to understand it. It is still convoluted even to this day! It was really exciting because we knew we were part of a very big story. We used to practice as a news room remembering all of the players names, what crimes they were charged with, knowing what the scenario was going into it. That was pretty heavy stuff!
MICK: Do you enjoy anchoring the news what you are asked to fill in?
LAUREN: Yes I do! I'm happy to do any job they ask me to do. The morning hours tend to be a little tough which I think everybody will admit to when they have to do a morning shift. I'm happy to keep my feet wet in doing that but I also enjoy reporting it because that's when you get to meet so many interesting people.
MICK: How do you get your ideas for the various stories that you do?
LAUREN: I cover stories that most people want covered so I get pitched a lot. Publicists write to me, viewers write to me about stories they think are interesting. So finding the stories actually comes a little bit easy!
MICK: What is your favorite restaurant?
LAUREN: I cover restaurants so that would be very unfair for me to say! But this is a good opportunity for me to say one of my favorite restaurants is Delicatessen [54 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012] because my brother owns it and it's a fun spot! It's in NoLita. It's a trendy, fun, affordable, cool, hip place on the corner of Prince and Lafayette.
MICK: What do you do on an off day?
LAUREN: I will usually go for a run; I work out. And I love to eat! That's something I like to do when I'm not working and covering food. It's a little more enjoyable when I'm not under the gun! My whole family lives in New York so there's a lot of family time as well.
MICK: Do you have any hobbies?
LAUREN: I like to cook! I think takes up most of my time besides working out. I would also like to start collecting art because I love looking at art! I like modern art, photography, paintings of all different sorts. I like to head to the galleries in Chelsea!
MICK: Are you married?
LAUREN: I'm not married.
MICK: What are your plans for your career in the future?
LAUREN: I'm actually doing exactly what I want to be do. I'm very content right now. Maybe one day I'm like to tell some stories that last more than a minute and thirty seconds because you get attached to your subjects. You want to spend a little more time with them!
MICK: Last year you had a small role on a TV soap opera [WABC's One Life To Live]. Are there any more plans to act?
LAUREN: I hope not! I have to say that I found acting extremely challenging even though I was only on for about 14 seconds! They were very hard and I don't think I was a natural! I have a total new found respect for acting!
MICK: Is there anyone famous that you would like to interview?
LAUREN: Sure I'd love to interview President Obama. But fame isn't necessary what makes it for a good interview. I can interview someone who is 95 years old who has great stories to tell with lots of personality. To me, if you can tell their story and tell it fairly and do them justice, that's a really rewarding experience.
MICK: What would you consider the highlight of your career so far?
LAUREN: I'm not sure there is one specific story that I would call a highlight. I think just making it back here to New York and being on the air at Channel 7 which is the station I grew up watching. This has been the highlight just coming home and being here for 10 years now! That's pretty rare, especially in the news business!
MICK: What was your most embarrassing moment on TV?
LAUREN: I had an embarrassing moment last Saturday when I was a little sleepy doing the news!! I once ate a bug live when I was on the air. That was in Arkansas. It was during a live broadcast when I swallowed a bug. The person I was interviewing made note of that on live TV. I wanted to ignore it but he wouldn't let me get away with it!
Read more about Lauren at:
Friday, October 2, 2009
After a long self imposed hiatus, the Queen of Heavy Metal is back! Lita Ford, the beatiful legendary guitarist who began with the all-female rock band The Runaways, returns with a fantastic hard driving album "Wicked Wonderland" which is being released today! Lita was gracious enough to chat with me from her home in the Caribbean...
MICK: Congratulations on the release of your new CD "Wicked Wonderland" ! Hard to believe it's been 14 years since your last album. Did this new CD take long to record?
LITA: Actually, it took about a year to record including the writing, the recording, everything. We got on a roll writing songs and it was never ending. We could have wrote two albums! We didn't use anything from the past, everything is brand new. We started writing in September of last year . I remember because it was around my birthday. We listened to our first track that we recorded in September so that's when it all came about. Before that, it's not like we accumulated songs over the last 15 years. We didn't. We didn't write anything in that time.
MICK: I love the CD, especially the song "Patriotic S.O.B.". What is your favorite track?
LITA: I love "Patriotic S.O.B."! That and "Crave". There's so many cool things on the album. "The Inside", "Indulge", "Sacred". These songs really take you somewhere. Jim [Gillette] worked hard on the production. Jim and Greg Hampton out in California. They worked hard as a team on the production. They did weird things producing it. He got his ideas from a lot of different people, exactly who I'm not sure. Just listening to different records to get ideas, backward stuff and little details on things that you don't normally hear. It's a straight ahead rock album! I think it all worked well. The artwork is very detailed as well. It's something you don't want to download. You don't want to lose any of the highs or lows or lose the artwork. It's something worth buying and having in your hands so you can see the pictures while you listen to the album.
MICK: You must be excited about the upcoming tour with Queensryche. How did this all come about?
LITA: This tour is going to be awesome. We've got 26 shows in 31 days [Oct 15th-Nov.14th]. That was just something that was offered to us through our booking agency. They also book Queensryche. Susan Tate, who manages Queensryche, had been talking to Jim about it. They are excited about it. We are excited about it. It just adds a whole different dimension to their show. Not to confuse audiences but we are actually on stage with Queensryche. It's sort of like Queensryche is my backing band! I don't want to confuse everybody to think we are playing at separate times. We are on stage together! Geoff Tate will probably help sing "Close My Eyes Forever". That should be cool!
MICK: I am very impressed on how "Wicked Wonderland is being promoted with advertisements on nearly 17000 movie screens nation wide, a 15 minute feature on Delta Airlines in-flight program and also featured in Delta's in-flight magazine "Sky". That's incredible promoting!!
LITA: It's Lita October! Lita-Tober! I don't see how you can miss it. There's also the X-Box game coming out "Brutal Legend". They are going to have some huge promotions for that. They contacted me through My Space. They needed somebody to play the Queen. So who else would they choose but the Queen of Heavy Metal! They asked me if I would play the queen and it was my honor to! You will be able to hear the voices of Jack Black, Lemmy [Kilmister], Ozzy, me. If you go online you can pull up brutallegend.com and you can see the trailers for the game. It's on the X-Box, X-Box 360. Everything except Wii I believe.
The trailers are bad to the bone. There are about 100 songs on the game! It is huge!
MICK: You and your family must also be very excited about being involved in the new comic book 'The Gillettes: Family Business"
LITA: Yes, we are very excited about that! How cool is that! The kids get to beat up zombies and I'm a super hero in it so it's a really wonderful book. We are so honored to be a part of that. These people had originally wrote the comic Amber for "The Amber Alert". They are a cool Dad and son team. The son is 14 years old and he worked with his father on this project. They are good people and the comic is amazing. I have my two boys in it and they're very happy about that.
MICK: After 1985's "Black" CD, you took time off to be with your family on an island in the Caribbean. I've read that you even grow your own food?
LITA: We do! There's an acre of land and we've planted all kinds of fruits and vegetables. We catch fresh fish which is amazing. The fish doesn't taste the same as the kind you buy in the grocery store. We have lobster at certain times of the year. We've been here for 9 years now.
MICK: Do you take your kids on tour with you?
LITA: Our kids go on tour with us. We don't leave them with nobody. They have one friend that they stay with. He's a 6'6" security guard. They hunt, they fish. Our security guard is like a kid. Whatever the kids want to do he's into it..let's go to the zoo, let's play with snakes, let's go fire a few rounds! They are really into whatever Chris [security guard] is into.
MICK: What are your long range plans?
LITA: We are going to do a remake of "Close My Eyes Forever" and a remake of "Kiss Me Deadly". I'm not sure who the other singers are going to be on it yet. That's something we are going to do in the future. We will do another tour next year for this album. We're going to work this album more. We're not done. The Queensryche tour is just the beginning. The icing on the cake.
MICK: What do you do in your leisure time?
LITA: Watch TV, go shopping. I really don't have much leisure time. Let Jim tell you;;
JIM GILLETTE: She hasn't had any leisure time in 15 years! The only time she gets a minute is if she's sick. She never sits down to rest, that's the truth!
MICK: Great job on the CD Jim!
JIM: We are really happy and proud of it! It was a labor of love! We had a couple of talks about it and had to be sure if we want to let people know what's up! It's our private lives, are we sure we want to open the book? We've been gone for the last 14 years! We disappeared..not quite off the planet but out of the country on an island in the middle of nowhere!
MICK: Are there any artists you would like to work with?
LITA: We are trying to figure that out now because if there is somebody we want to work with, we will use them on "Close My Eyes" and "Kiss Me Deadly". Right off the top of my head, I can't think of anybody I'd like to work with. We're not really into listening to modern music, we are just into our own thing.
MICK: Last question..tell me something that even your biggest fan would not know about you.
LITA: I'm going to let Jim answer this one...he knows me better than anyone!
JIM: She has delicious feet!!! Seriously, she's the most amazing mother I've ever seen in my life. I don't think her rock star image would lend itself into her being such an unbelievable mom. That's just where we are man. We are just being a family, raising the boys. She's their school teacher. The boys are home schooled. She wakes up and makes us bacon, eggs, toast, massive amounts...it's not cereal! Omelets, pancakes, eggs , bacon, sausage..a massive breakfast. Then she'll home school the boys. Then it's a massive lunch! Then the boys train for a few hours every day. Then it's dinner...lasagna, pasta, meatloaf, fish, vegetables..just huge portions. We get three massive meals every day! She's a damn school teacher! She hated school, barely made it through high school and now she's an awesome teacher! And her toes are delicious!!
You can catch Lita Ford, along with Queensryche, at the Capital One Bank Theater in Westbury on Sunday, Oct.25th!
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
He is perhaps best known for his 1978 hit single "What You Won't Do For Love" and his prolific career has spanned more than 30 years. I would like to call him the King of Cool. Bobby Caldwell's smooth renditions of original and popular music has made him a legend throughout the world and continues today. Not only has he written hits for himself but also for artists like Chicago, Boz Scaggs, Amy Grant and Peter Cetera, Neil Diamond and Al Jarreau. Next week, Bobby brings his Big Band to the world famous jazz club "Birdland" in NYC. I had the honor and pleasure to chat with Bobby yesterday about his life and music...
MICK: What was it like growing up in a show business family? [his parents were stars of an early television variety show]
BOBBY: It was really great. I was always surrounded by theater people, music people and great bands of the era, the great singers. It was really a lovely way to grow up!
MICK: In the beginning, you started out as a rock and roll artist. Did you think your career was going to head in that direction?
BOBBY: Yes I did! That was how everything was geared up at that point of time. I had the right experience, a lot of years before I came full circle.
MICK: How did you feel when your record label wanted to hide the fact that you were a white artist [his early albums only showed his silhouette on the covers}
BOBBY: At that point in time, I was just happy to be getting a product out there. I didn't think if there would be any kind of repercussions or things like that, and there weren't. For the most part, it happened like that because the label I was with basically a R&B disco record company. Their basic target was R&B. R&B didn't take to well at that time to white blue eyed soul artists.
MICK: When you write a song, what comes first...the lyrics or the music?
BOBBY: Definitely the music. I can't think of any instances off hand where the words came first.
MICK: When you wrote "What You Won't Do For Love", did you have any idea that it would become such a huge hit?
BOBBY: Oh no, I had no idea at all that it would have the history that it does. It's still mind boggling to this day!
MICK: I've read that over 100 artists have recorded versions of that song. Do you have a favorite version?
BOBBY: I really like the "Go West" version. That was my favorite.
MICK: Will we ever see your trademark fedora again?
BOBBY: I don't know! My daughters ask me the same question! I still have a lot of those hats. I can't really say. Possibly! We will see!
MICK: Do you still enjoy touring?
BOBBY: Yes, I love it. We stay out about 100 days a year. Not all together! I'm home a lot with my family here.
MICK: I know your popularity in Japan is phenomenal. How often do you go there?
BOBBY: I go once or twice a year. Getting ready to go back there in October again!
MICK: Do you speak Japanese:
BOBBY: A little bit! Enough to get by!
MICK: What are your future plans and projects?
BOBBY: I'm working on a new album right now. It probably won't be out until well after the new year. Focusing on touring. Just launched a bunch of brand new shows with a fantastic female singer Diane Shuur. We are touring exclusively in art theaters and casinos. I wouldn't call it a tour. It's part of a lot of things we are both doing. She does her own shows and I do mine. We have this customized show we do together. I'm about to do Birdland [in NYC Oct 6th-Oct. 10th] with the orchestra and I have some stuff coming up in Japan with the R&B band. We're just doing as much as we can!
MICK: Is there anyone in particular that you would like to work with?
BOBBY: Ah geez a lot of them are dead!! I've always wanted to work with Michael McDonald in any capacity...writing, singing, whatever.
MICK: I know you portrayed Frank Sinatra to rave revues in the Las Vegas revue "The Rat Pack Is Back". Do you have any plans for acting again?
BOBBY: No, not at the moment.
MICK: Have you ever met Sinatra?
BOBBY: No, unfortunately I did not. I saw him perform many times.
MICK: You have a horse farm in New Jersey. Have you always had a love for horses?
BOBBY: Yes, I'm very much into horses. It basicly belongs to my wife and my step daughter.
MICK: How long have you been married?
BOBBY: I've been married for five years now. She's the best thing that's ever happened to me!
MICK: What is a typical day for Bobby Caldwell like?
BOBBY: I guess it's like everybody else. I answer emails, fiddle around the house, try to write a song, work on the next project or the next upcoming show, water the lawn, go to the dry cleaners, pack my suitcase!!
MICK: Who do you enjoy listening to?
BOBBY: It depends. We get into different moods. Sometimes we listen to old Sinatra, Steely Dan, Earth Wind and Fire. We just pull something from the shelf and put it in!
MICK: Do you have any other hobbies besides music?
BOBBY: No, between the music and the traveling there isn't any.
MICK: Do you have any regrets?
BOBBY: I don't know. Check back with me in 25 years!!
MICK: Tell me something about yourself that even your biggest fan would not know about you?
BOBBY: I love to cook! A lot of people would not know that. After I left Miami, basically up to that point I did have a sport that I loved and that was deep sea fishing. I would be out every weekend doing that. But now I"m kind of land locked here in New Jersey. We get to that shore once or twice every summer, it's about two and a half hours away.
You can catch Bobby Caldwell and his Big Band at Birdland in New York City
Tuesday-Saturday, October 6-10 @ 8:30 & 11pm
Music Charges: $35, general seating; $45, premium seating
Read more about Bobby at: http://www.bobbycaldwell.com/
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
WE came to know and love her as "Sabrina the Teenage Witch". Today, Long Island's own Melissa Joan Hart is a beautiful woman who combines career with motherhood and being the wife of a well known musician. On Monday, September 21st on ABC TV at 8:00pm, Melissa begins her quest for a championship on the 9th edition of "Dancing With The Stars". I had a chance to speak with Melissa before she began one of her final rehearsals...
MICK: Congratulations on being chosen to compete in the 2009 edition of "Dancing With the Stars" How did this all come about?
MELISSA: They had asked me the first season to appear and I was not able to do it because of scheduling conflicts. A lot of the following seasons I was pregnant so I couldn't do it in any event. So the timing just finally worked out. It took 9 seasons but now I'm able to do it!
MICK: How long are the rehearsals each day?
MELISSA: Depends on how I'm feeling. My dance partner was feeling well yesterday and I was kind of sick last week. We've been taking it easy now that we've got the routine down, trying to polish it up. We're trying not to exhaust ourselves because once the show begins next week, it's going to be hard core. We do between 2-6 hours each day. We'll probably get 2-4 hours in today.
MICK: Are you nervous?
MELISSA: I'm getting really nervous. I got to do some of my dance for some friends last night so that made me feel a little better!
MICK: Are you happy with your dance partner?
MELISSA: Oh yeah. I've got the best! I got the two time winner (Mark Ballas) whom I think is the best choreographer. As a teacher he is so patient, giving and concerned. A lot of the other dancers were taught by his mother so he's not only got it in his blood, he's got the best teacher in his life. Hopefully, he'll be able to pull me through it!
MICK: You and your mom recently opened a candy store in Sherman Oaks, Ca. called "SweetHarts". How is that going?
MELISSA: It's going great! It's extremely adorable. A wonderful little place. Instantly, when you walk in, it makes you happy!
MICK: Do you plan to expand, open more stores?
MELISSA: We are opening another one in the next few months and hopefully more. Start branching out a bit.
MICK: Possibly a store on Long Island?
MELISSA: Yes, hopefully. I've got a lot of family on Long Island so I can put some of them in charge of it!
MICK: What are your plans for after "Dancing With the Stars"?
MELISSA: After this ends, I'm suppose to be doing a pilot. We'll see how that works out. Possibly to get started on a new TV show. That would be exciting and fun. That's what I really want to be doing. We just recently moved back here to the Northeast to Connecticut. Close enough to my family on Long Island, right over the Sound! I hope to get settled in my new town a little bit, spend some time with my two boys and my husband. This show has taken away of lot of my focus and time away from them. So as soon as I get back I can spend time being a mommy!!
MICK: Do you get back to Long Island a lot"
MELISSA: Yes, we do actually. We took the Bridgeport ferry over recently. Spent some time with my dad and went on his boat. He owns a marina in Sayville. We took his boat over to Fire Island a few weeks ago. I have a brother in Bayport and a sister in Lake Ronkonkoma and my little sister is in Brooklyn; cousins, aunts and uncles everywhere from Oyster Bay to Moriches, all over.
MICK: I've read that you collect Shirley Temple memorabilia. Have you ever met her?
MELISSA: I have! She invited me to her home. I went to her house in Northern California to meet and talk to her about the possibility of doing her life story. She never gave anyone the rights to her story before but she liked me and my mother and trusted us. We did that movie a few years ago, probably 7 years ago, for ABC as a Mother's Day special.
MICK: Do you have any hobbies?
MELISSA: Yes snow boarding. I love snow boarding. I play some golf here and there with my husband. Actually, we came out in June for the U.S. Open. That was exciting and fun but very muddy. It was miserable for the fans and I'm sure the players. I'm really looking forward to going to Belmont. I love watching the ponies run. I've never been to Belmont before so that should be fun.
MICK: Tell me something about yourself that your fans would be surprised to know about you.
MELISSA: A lot of people would assume that I am very goody two shoes but I tend to be more salty and sweet. I tend to have a pretty good sense of humor. I think it runs in my family that we have this sort of attitude where if something happens, we crack a joke even if it's inappropriate. So I do tend to be more inappropriate at times then people tend to think.
MICK: Are you superstitious at all?
MELISSA: I'm a little superstitious. I'm really afraid of flying. I'm terrified of flying even though I do it at like twice a week.
MICK: Are you religious?
MELISSA: Yes I am. I grew up Catholic, going to St. Lawrence in Sayville. I had my Communion and Confirmation there. When I met my husband, we became Presbyterian together.
MICK: Pick one word that would best describe you.
MICK: Which actors and actresses do you most admire?
MELISSA: I'm thinking Sandra Bullach and Harrison Ford
MICK: I know you are married to a well known musician [Mark Wilkerson]. Do you have any plans to do anything musically?
MELISSA: No, I don't sing very well. I'd love to do "Chicago" on Broadway but I'd have to take a lot of lessons for that!
MICK: How are your two boys doing?
MELISSA: They're doing great! Really good! Mason just started preschool in our new little town in CT; Brady is one and a half, he still won't talk but we're working on it. He loves charades but he won't talk!
MICK: What advise would you give to any up and coming actresses?
MELISSA: You've got to have a thick skin and you've got to take the good with the bad. It's a huge uphill struggle. It's not the kind of job where the better you get at it, you move up the ladder. You hit the top and then you hit the bottom all in the same year!
MICK: Ok Melissa, lots of luck on the show!
MELISSA: Thanks Mick. Tell all Long Islanders they have to vote for me!! And vote as many times as they can! I'm also on Twitter now. My name is: MELLYJHART. I've got to get my followers up! I have to beat Demi Moore!!
For more information on Melissa Joan Hart, please see:
And don't forget to watch Melissa on "Dancing With The Stars" beginning Monday, September 21st at 8:00pm on ABC!! And VOTE for her!!!!!