Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pure Jazz Radio

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 "". 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 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
"New York Tonight" 8pm to 11pm EST M-F
(Rebroadcast 12m to 3am est 7 nights a week)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Goodbye Soupy

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?
: 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!
: 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!

: 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!

: 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?
: Very close!

MICK: Are there any other musicians in your family?
: 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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Eyewitness News' Lauren Glassberg!

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 [2008]. 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 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.

: 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'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!