Archive for August, 2010
21 Aug

The Real Life: Don’t You Love Theatre People?, Pt. 2

Working at the theatre was one of the best experiences ever. But even great jobs have their down days. Probably one of the worst (or at least one of the most memorable) was when Andy took a summer break and we brought in an ice show. The cast of the show stayed the same for the run but every two weeks we got a new headliner for the show – popular World and Olympic champions.
One particular week in the run I was basically left “in charge” as the boss was out of town. So it was up to me to make sure all was well and running fine. The main part of my job was taking care of our celebs, which happened to be a recent Olympic champ. The day started very early attending to the skater who had to be driven to a real rink two hours away each day for practice, then brought back for a matinee and evening show. While the practice was going on I got a frantic call from a box office person at the theatre. Apparently they heard on the news that the skating show was failing and the theatre was on the verge of closing. If you know anything about the tourism business, a rumor like this can panic tour operators and kill business alike.
So I got into action and called out publicist trying to get damage control going. Oh, and performers are sensitive to these rumors as well so I was trying to work on the down-low. I was hours away from the theatre, the skater wanted to go to the mall and shop, and I’m quietly trying to get control over a bad situation. Then, of course, on the way back to Branson through all the hills I loose cell reception and I’m flying in the dark for the ride.
Then upon arriving back and after getting my charge settled in I’m greeted with the news that there is a water leak in the theatre. Not just a little drip on an aisle or a seat, but a constant drip on the stage – which is an ice rink. It had been dripping all night leaving a gaping hole in the ice at center stage where everyone skates. Patching would not help as the drip would just dig it out again. The skate captain is saying the show has to be cancelled because it was too dangerous to skate. For me that was not an option as it would be my head on the chopping block. So the thing to do was stop the leak and get the ice fixed. Did I mention this was two hours before the doors were to open for seating?
The leak was at the ceiling and we had to get the lift out as this was way up top. A stage hand road the lift up as far as we could extend it. He had a broom with him and he reached up to tap on the ceiling tile. As soon as he touched it, the tile exploded and a huge gush of water came flying down. It was like watching Angel Falls. In an instant the entire stage, first few rows of seats, and some of the employees were drenched. We were all in shock.
The good thing is that it was not a pipe or anything. It was collected water from a roof leak – a very large pool of it. Bad news was that everything was wet. We called the ice guy to get here and see if the ice could be saved for the show. Then we had everyone grab extension cords and hair dryers from the dressing rooms and began blow drying the seats. In the meantime, I was taking calls from the publicist and talking to news folks trying to iron out the rumor mess. It was crazy.
Somehow, we got the theatre back in order, the ice settled, and opened the doors to the auditorium barely a few minutes late. The news and papers did a nice report on the show and that PR nightmare came to an end. I finally made it to bed after the skater’s post-show massage appointment and passed out a frazzled mess. As they say in this business called show, the show must go on. And it did. And I aged about 5 years in a single day!
BTW – when I told the boss everything when he got back, he thought it was hysterical and said “welcome to my world!” Thanks…

14 Aug

Those ’60s Ladies: Jackie Trent

It all started with “Dusty in Memphis.” The soul of Dusty Springfield and the brilliant songs quickly made this album one of my all-time favorites. Then along came Petula Clark and her hits like “Dowtown.” Through Petula I discovered the songwriter Tony Hatch and his muse/co-writer Jackie Trent. Before I knew it I was hooked on ’60s pop songs sung by British ladies. There is something about these quick 2-3 minute pop gems and the vocalists that become pure ear candy to me. I often thought that the style of music I wrote would have fit perfectly in this era. I could have been a contender! Alas, the time has passed for these confectionary treats, but I’m still hooked.

Of course the queen of the genre is Dusty Springfield. The song choices are more mature than the other ladies and her sophisticated blue-eyed soul delivery puts her in a class all by herself. The princess would then have to be Petula Clark with her more pop-oriented hits and bubbly voice. However, I often like to focus on the lesser known ladies who may have had a hit or two in the UK but were not able to translate their minor successes into the big time.

Mentioned previously, Jackie Trent is one of my favorites. Working with Tony Hatch, they created a catalog of quality work that was highlighted by Jackie’s voice, which was a bit deeper and more powerful than most of her peers. Although she had some chart action, she could never fully capture the success of Petula, which is unfortunate. In addition to having a great voice, she was one of the few vocalists that wrote songs as well. Along with Hatch they were like the British equivalent of Burt Bacharach and Hal David supplying hits to other artists like Petula Clark. Jackie’s biggest solo hit was the sweeping UK #1 “Where Are You Now (My Love),” but my favorite is it’s follow-up “When Summertime Is Over,” a breezy ballad with a soaring chorus and harp glissandi all done in less than three minutes.

If you really want to get a taste of some excellent pop music from this era, I highly suggest you check out the work of Jackie Trent and Tony Hatch. They really set the standard for all those that followed.

I’ll focus on other lost ladies of the ’60s in the future.

Recommended recordings:

“Where Are You Now: The Pye Anthology” – Jackie Trent (especially disc 1)

“Call Me: The Songs of Tony Hatch” – Various Artists

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07 Aug

The Top 11: Solid Pop Songs of the Decade

I like to do a Top 11 list because I always feel bad for the one thing that just missed the Top 10.

Every now and then I begin to think that good pop music is either dead or in a coma. As an obsessive lover of ‘80s pop songs, I often have a hard time getting into the latest chart hits. A lot of them seem to sound the same and there are no distinguishable vocals either thanks to all the voice correction and effects in place. Sure there is an occasional piece of ear candy (I kinda enjoy Enrique Iglesias’ saccharine-laced “I Like It”), but good songs are few and far between these days. However, once in a while a song will come along that rejuvenates my faith in solid, well-written pop music. Here are 11 songs from the past 10 years that have kept my love of solid pop music alive.

  1. “Rocket” – Goldfrapp
  2. “Surround Sister” – The Soundtrack of our Lives
  3. “I Won’t Go Hollywood” – Bleu
  4. “Take Your Mama” – Scissor Sisters
  5. “Mockingbird” – Rob Thomas
  6. “Joey” – Sugarland
  7. “Drops of Jupiter” – Train
  8. “Music” – Madonna
  9. “Beautiful Day” – U2
  10. “Grace Kelly” – Mika
  11. “Aftermath” – Adam Lambert
Categories: Music, The Top 11 Tags: