Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Melba Moore personifies the term Broadway legend through her class and unparalleled career that has reaped a Tony Award, 4 Grammy nominations and a best new artist award in 1971. She continues to forge ahead with new music and a long awaited return to New York when she makes her debut at The Cafe Carlyle now through May 7. I spoke to the very gracious Melba prior to her opening night...

MICK: It's a thrill to have you coming back to New York again with "Forever Moore" at the Carlyle Hotel. What are your thoughts on this engagement?
MELBA: Momentous! It's such progress for me as I keep moving toward the goals I want to achieve in my career. I feel so ready and comfortable, excited and proud! I feel like I'm cute and pretty too!
MICK: What can your fans expect to hear?
MELBA: I'm going to do a combination of things that have become natural for me to do. I've discovered over these 40 plus years that I'm kind of a potpourri of things, not just one! Many times an artist will try to do a variety of things just for the sake of it but I am a variety! I will be doing songs from the great American songbook that everybody loves but my own personal rendition of them. Songs like "Blue Skys" by Irving Berlin. I will be doing songs from the Broadway shows that I starred in like "Hair" and "Purlie". I would love to have done "I Dreamed A Dream" from "Les Miserables" but I'm finding I don't have enough time in the show.
MICK: Have you finished your new album yet?
MELBA: No I have not. I have three songs so far. I debuted the title song which is called "Love Is". That is available on my website, I-Tunes and
MICK: I know your new album is on your new label A'Moore Entertainment which you share with your daughter Charli Huggins.
Is she a singer also?
MELBA: No, she likes the business aspect. She wants to do the executive part of it. It's our project together!
MICK: Please tell me about the Melba Moore Foundation For Children.
MELBA: I started that for abandoned and abused kids back in the 90's when there was a crack epidemic with moms who were high on drugs and infected with AIDS. They would go to hospitals and have babies and abandoning them there. That's how I got involved. I volunteered at hospitals to take care of some of the abandoned babies. I realized more had to be done. I started the foundation to help get placement for the children and get more people involved. I went on the board of Hale House to learn about the issues and how to deal with them. Mother Hale had be dealing with orphans and abandoned children for many years.
MICK: Who are your heroes?
MELBA: I'm Catholic so Mother Teresa is definitely one of my heroes! Another is my patron St. Francis. Also St. Anthony and St. Clare, all of whom came from wealthy families and gave their money to the church. If I get very, very wealthy I will do the same thing!
MICK: You've had many great accomplishments in your illustrious career. Is there something you would still like to accomplish?
MELBA: I want to finish what I started! To do much more Broadway theater and get much more involved in film and television.
MICK: Are there any new movies on the horizon? I know your latest film was "The Fighting Temptations".
MELBA: Yes, that was a few years ago. Right now I am sticking to live music and performances because it's a centerpiece for me that spawns on to other things. That will be my focus!
MICK: Are there any Broadway shows on the horizon?
MELBA: I feel that there will be. There have been some things offered to me that I really don't want to do. I have a couple ideas that I'd like to co-produce.
MICK: I also read that you are a born again Christian but you told me you are a Catholic also.
MELBA: That's not also, it's the same thing! There are so many denominations and thank God in America we have lots of varieties. But I like to say one thing here as a blooming expert in the field. Catholicism is not a denomination; it's the first church! All of the others spawned from it. They are denominations or offshoots from it. The Catholic Church is the church Jesus started. So if you are going to be born again, that's where you will be born again. I think it come from the direct imperious of outburst of the Holy Spirit on different sections of people. I have had that experience so I am born again in that sense!
MICK: Have ever experienced any miracles in your life?
MELBA: I'm sure I have. I think I am a miracle in a sense. I think that what I am now is so unusual for a person to have these kinds of chances to start again to build and flourish a career at this late stage. That will have to speak for itself. I am not the same person I was before and that's a miracle. But it's not something that happens over night. A miracle in progress!
MICK: Will you be doing any new Christian music?
MELBA: Absolutely! I have people submitting things to me now! As a matter of fact, one of the Clark sisters [the Clark Sisters are very famous Christian singers out of Detroit] is writing something for me. A few other people are creating some original Gospel music for me. Shirley Murdock is very well known in the Christian field. She was known in the secular field for a huge 1986 R&B hit "As We Lay". She's also an incredible song writer and producer along with her husband Dale DeGroat. They will be writing some things for me.

MICK: What are your long range plans?

MELBA: I don't have a long range plan except not to fall back into the ditch any more. It's so hard to get back up. I want to keep consistent, keep growing to be top quality at what I'm doing. Maybe one of the long range goals would be to get to the point where I have a consistent body of comedic theatrical work. I like humor and comedy and have a natural gift for that. I haven't had a chance to show it off except for "Purlie" on Broadway. I didn't know what I was doing and got a Tony Award for it! That gave me an idea that I should really make a focus out of that.

Melba Moore appears through May 7 at the Cafe Carlyle, 35 East 76 Street, Manhattan, NY (212-744-1600)


Wednesday, April 20, 2011


It's not often that a man has a dream that involves all of his passions and through hard work and determination, it becomes a reality. You might even call it magical. Rich Sirgiovanni is that man and he is on the verge of something quite incredible. His creation of a new cartoon called "The Grimps" is about to take the world by storm. I recently had the good fortune to speak to Rich about his fascinating life and his great new adventure.....

MICK: Are you originally from New York?
RICH: Yes, I was born and still live in Queens!
MICK: I see on your Facebook that you were very involved with music when you were younger.
RICH: I've been playing drums and singing since I was around 14 years old. Back in the late 70's, I played in Max's Kansas City, CBGB's, Great Gildersleeves, quite a few clubs on Long Island. I played in copy bands and original bands. Manhattan was the place to feature all the original music in those days.
MICK: How did you get into the advertising industry?
RICH: I graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 1979. I got into advertising because it was one of those careers where when you got out of school, you could hopefully find a regular job while you pursued other things and in my case, it was cartooning. I took plenty of advertising courses and went in that direction where I made a good living for many years. Having a music background allowed me to work in recording studios and write musical jingles.
MICK: I know that "Gotta Go To Mo's", the Modell's jingle, is probably your most famous jingle you created. Did you have any idea that it would be so big? Everybody knows that!
RICH: When we came up with that idea, it was something fresh for Modell's. A new direction. We knew there was something special about it. It was catchy to everyone who heard it when we broke the campaign. By no means did anyone think that people would still being using it now 15 years later! That was an exciting thing to work on!
MICK: Please tell me about "The Trolls".
RICH: "The Trolls" was the original name of my of my current project "The Grimps". Two months ago, I changed the name of the project because I found out that Dreamworks is coming out with a movie called "Good Luck Trolls". They did the story with the family of the person who created the Troll dolls in the 60's. The story line is about the Troll Dolls. My idea is completely different. I went through all of my proper copyrights and felt it would be too confusing. So I created a new word called "Grimps" which is a combination of gruesome and impish. So that is the new title of the project and the show!
MICK: I saw that for "The Grimps", you have some amazing people lined up for the voices of the characters.
RICH: Yes, for the voice overs, we already have committed Peter Noone from Herman's Hermits, Eric Burdon from the Animals, Todd Rundgren, Mickey Dolenz from the Monkees, Keith Emerson from ELP, etc... I've met with most of them and they are all committed to being part of the project. We are also in the works of talking to other hopefuls like Ringo Starr, Meatloaf, Debbie Harry, even Jack Black!
MICK: Are they going to do just the voices or will they do the music also?
RICH: At this point, they will doing just the voices of the characters. Part of the plan with the Grimps is that the show is going to present original rock and roll music. Kind of the same theory as The Monkees back in the 60's. We will create new original songs from a wide variety of songwriters and try to create a completely different sound. The basic sound of The Grimps will be that of an original rock and roll band. Part of the concept is something that is very cool and will tie in the generations is to have a lot of rock icons involved in the show. The children are the primary audience but this will also attract the parents and definitely the grand parents. The show is a subtle tribute to the history of rock and roll also. All of the characters that I've named come from different people from rock and roll. For instance, the four main Grimps are Winston (from John Lennon's middle name), Moony (from Keith Moon), Mac (obviously from Paul McCartney) and Emerson (from Keith Emerson). We have other characters that are also named after rock people. A knight and a dragon are secondary characters who were with the Grimps when they were cursed in the storyline are named Billy and Shears. The evil wizard is named Specter. The fan club for the Grimps is run by Cynthia, Patty and Maureen (named after the Beatles wives). I tried to take a lot of these subtleties and maybe just the people from our generation will know or appreciate it and it may go over the heads of the kids but it really doesn't matter. When my oldest son was five, the biggest thing in cartoons was the Teenage Mutant Turtles. All the kids knew Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael as turtles, not as Renaissance painters! I took that same kind of concept in developing my characters.
MICK: Is "The Grimps" going to be a TV show or a feature film?
RICH: We are hoping for TV. When we go out to California next month to start pitching the Grimps, we have some meetings scheduled with some motion picture companies. It would be fantastic if it could go in both directions. I have some very interesting people involved with this working with me.
MICK: So what stage are you in now? Are the cartoons still being talked about or have they actually been created already?
RICH: We are right at the stage where we can present this to the networks. A presentation video has been made. Pilot episodes have been written. The characters have been developed. We are just putting the finishing touches on it. Even the music aspect is pretty interesting. My musical producer is Ron Dante! Ron is working with me as the musical production supervisor. The theme song, which was just finished and recorded in Los Angeles last week, is titled "We're The Grimps". It was written by Ron Dante and Freddy Cannon (who had the hit 'Palisades Park"). It is a very cool, upbeat introduction of the show and the characters. Simple lyrics for the kids to remember and very bouncy! We are also developing a three song demo of the actual sound of the Grimps. My idea is to produce good original rock music that will be presented by this cartoon rock and roll band. Ron Dante is writing some of the initial songs with Andrew Gold, another legendary performer and songwriter.
At the same time we go to the networks, we will also be going to record companies to present the concept of this. We are really trying to develop a sound that is very upbeat, contemporary and unique; not Juvenal even though it is for a cartoon show. We are right at the point where we are ready to show the world what we've got!
MICK: Sounds like you have some heavy hitters with you!
RICH: I'm also working with another gentleman, who is representing me, by the name of Ron Alexenberg. He is the former president of CBS Records and worked under Clive Davis many years ago. Ron is responsible for signing Meatloaf, Boston, Michael Jackson's solo career, etc...the list is endless with the people he has worked with. He is very involved in this project, both on the music end and the television end. Everything seems to be falling into place nicely. The next step is to see if the guys in the suits out there like it!
MICK: When is this going to be presented to them?
RICH: Sometime in early May, June the latest.
MICK: Do you have any other projects that you would like to share with us?
RICH: No. This thing has absorbed most of my time right now. I've put all of my concentration in it. I'm the creator and the illustrator of it. Developing characters and working behind the scenes, especially with the music. It's what I've really been involved with for the past two years. I've kept all of my focus on that.
MICK: How is the advertising industry doing these days?
RICH: It's been slow and soft. I've always worked with small and medium sized businesses, not only on Long Island but in the tri-state area. The economy the last few years has slowed things down quite a bit. You have to knock on more doors than you ever did before. People are very cautious with there money which I can understand.
MICK: Are there any future plans for new musical ventures after this?
RICH: I still play drums and sing. I hope that as this is being developed I will be more involved on a level of music with the Grimps. Once we get it launched, I will be busier than I ever have been which will be a lot of fun. I will get to have my hands in everything I always loved. When I decided to create this idea, I wanted to combine my passions which are rock and roll, cartooning and writing. That's how I developed this idea which is about 4 kids with a little magic and mystery. The storyline goes back 500 years ago where these 4 characters were minstrels and they were very popular in those days. An evil wizard, who is jealous of their celebrity, puts a curse on them and turns them into these little grimps to be thrown into the Forest for eternity. One of their other friends, who was also transformed, is also a wizard. After 500 years, he comes along and figures out a spell to transform them back to humans. But there are two glitches to it. One is that they only go back to being humans from sunset to sunrise. The other is they are still small. The ongoing quest is he will always be looking how to make the reversal of the curse permanent. In the meantime, they can come back to being humans and since they were great musicians who have been hanging around for 500 years hidden from society, they come out and become a pop rock group called "The Grimps". It's the trials and tribulations of being a rock band and having the secret that they turn back into these ugly little monsters in the daytime, that dual life they have to live with. That storyline gave me the ability to combine music and have something cool for kids.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The 4th Annual Sound Success For ALS Benefit Show

On Sunday, April 10, 2011, I will be hosting the 4th Annual Sound Success For ALS Benefit Show at Ollie's Point in Amityville, NY. Proceeds from the admission price ($20 at the door) and the raffle items will be donated to the Stony Brook University Medical Center's Christopher Pendergast ALS Center of Excellence.

This year's show will feature five nationally known bands with many legendary performers. The show itself will be themed on George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh, which took place 40 years ago! Each band will play at least one Harrison song or something from one of the performers at that classic event. Among those appearing includes: Maura Kennedy whose debut solo CD "Parade of Echoes" was a big hit last year. She will be performing in honor of Eric Lowen, who has ALS,of the famed songwriting duo Lowen and Novarro.

Nelson Klondike will be making their debut at this event. The band features Lex Marchesi, former lead singer and guitarist of Fotomaker!

The Roast Beef Curtains, a great new band from Long Island. They are rapidly gaining a huge fan base and played the famed Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee last year! Now we have them with us this Sunday!

The Cryers are one of America's premier independent bands coming in from New Jersey. The are well known across the country and often back up many well known rockers including Joey Molland from Badfinger, Terry Sylvester from the Hollies, Billy J. Kramer, and many more. We are proud to have them come to our benefit!!

Shannon is recognized as the world's most famous Beatles artist. Her paintings are in many museums and establishments. Paul McCartney even owns some of Shannon's pieces. Shannon is also an accomplished musician who has written over 1000 songs. She is coming to the benefit with her all star band that includes drummer Steve Holley from Wings, Ian Lloyd from Stories ("Brother Louie" #1, 1973) , Pete Santora (Beatlemania), and a host of other world class musicians.

Special guest is Grammy winner/recording engineer Dennis Ferrante!

Other special guests will be stopping by. Among them are Miss Senior America Gail King and TV Host Donna Drake. Watch for some surprises!!!

Please come and support a great cause and enjoy some great music too!

If you would like to simply make a donation, please make checks payable to:

The Stony Brook Foundation.

You can mail them to me and I will hand them in with the proceeds from the show. Thank you very much and see you at the show!!

Mick Du Russel

214 Ave. A

Lake Ronkonkoma, NY 11779

Ollie's Point 140 Merrick Road, Amityville, NY 11701

Located on thee corner of Merrick Rd and Rte 110.

For more info, please call Mick at 631-335-8886