Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another New Year's Eve

Wanted to get some thoughts and good wishes out before Pete and I have our private New Year's celebration.

From the Day Late and a Dollar Short Files: anyone else think that "Keep Each Other Warm" would have fit right in at the Christmas shows in Palm Springs and Chicago? There's always next year.

Our household is grateful for a good year. Not because everything was perfect but because we could see the good in whatever happened.

No saying goodbye to the old year via "moon shine". The neighbors won't know what they're missing.

Barry (and everyone else at Stiletto) congrats on an incredible run at the Hilton and thanks especially for the shows I got to see. Break a leg at the new venue. Try to get some rest in between recording sessions and promotional appearances for the new CDs. (We're still going to get Fifteen Minutes, right? I mean the CD, not your PR guy's book! ;-) )

Just when I think that there won't be any more Barry fun for me, something works itself out. So we'll see if a trip to the new show at the Paris happens. It's a night that feels like anything is possible.

Pete and I are settling in with the bottle of Dom Perignon that he promised me after TNLF was born. (1999 - supposedly a good year according to the dude in the wine shop. Not that Dom is ever made in a bad year!)

I hope everyone stopping by tonight has a wonderful 2010 and feels as happy as our family does tonight.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Counting Blessings

My first few moments of relative peace in about 10 days started.... now!

All that happiness and preparation and scheduling and getting stuff done doesn't give you the time to reflect on what you have.

Fortunately, it didn't take more than a few moments to notice peace in the whirlwind.

During one of the rare days this month that was both warm and dry, I shooed the kids out of the house to burn off energy, even though my energy was long gone. Among the dormant shrubbery were a few azaleas and wild honeysuckle in bloom.

On a morning when I don't think I'll make it through the day with the kids cooped up and cold rain outside, an extended family of eastern bluebirds lines up at the bird feeder like a smorgasboard.

I had new music for my iPod. It had been quite a while since I explored anything new. I noticed that most of it came from acts who either worked with Barry or opened for him. Usually opening acts are something to endure but I became a fan of Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson, and Straight No Chaser because of those connections.

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo are coming to Georgia Tech in January. It's been forever since I've seen these guys live and now they're in my back yard. (I hope they do Pas de Quatre!)

Ditto Straight No Chaser. I missed their last visit to Center Stage Atlanta in November but April 2010 will be a different story.

Had a pre-holidays visit with MIL and SIL. This one was important. Pete lost his eldest sister soon after TNLF was born. Those relationships can't be the same anymore so we took some time to rebuild them from the ground up. That was a good week.

This year we were able to contribute to every charity request we came across. Not just bell-ringers for the Salvation Army either. The local police force collected toys and brought the entire community together to serve each other - haves and have-nots alike.

One I'll always remember: a team effort between our church and the county foster care services. The congregation was asked to sponsor foster children who otherwise wouldn't get any presents. Ours was an 8 year old boy, the eldest of three siblings, who only wanted a skateboard and a new coat. How can anyone NOT fulfill that kind of request?? I hope he liked them.

At home this was our first Christmas where TOLF was old enough to understand and participate in what was going on. She's still afraid of Santa Claus, although she wanted him to bring her presents. Even going so far as to make various crafts with paper and glitter and crayons as gifts. But in person, she much preferred the Coca-Cola Polar Bear and the Pink Pig. (You have to be near the ATL to understand that last one.)

The kids are finally in bed and Pete and I can finish leaving "Santa's" calling card: a pile of presents and a half-eaten gingerbread house. I got to write Santa's thank you note. TOLF really believed Santa was there. Her little sister was just bouncing because something exciting was going on. She's a baby, not an idiot, she knows how to have fun.

Finally - I don't have to do laundry this week! The greatest gift of all!

I hope everyone's Christmas/Hanukkah/New Year/whatever you're celebrating was as peaceful in your own way as was mine. I know that some other fans out there have times that are more stressful. I dish out some harsh criticism on this blog when somebody starts acting weird. I won't apologize for what I think of that. But at the same time if I see that someone's truly struggling, know that when I read your story you'll be in my thoughts and prayers, always.

Barry, I hope you got some serious R&R and that your time off was had without papparazzi or other public demands on your private time.

Back to the family. I'll come up for air again some time after January 1.

Happy New Year, everybody!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Stone Soup

This is what happens when you have a lot of people getting together and contributing some of what they have to a larger whole. This is why there is no such thing as a contribution that is "too small".
Congrats to everyone involved with Barry's shows at the McCallum. You did some great things there.


Palm Springs, CA (December 15, 2009)—Pop culture icon and music legend Barry Manilow, together with the Manilow Fund for Health and Hope, raised $464,750 in much needed funds from “A Gift of Love…,” the five-night holiday concert series that Manilow performed at the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, CA. The concert series, which ran December 4th, 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th, honored 25 local charities in Palm Springs, California, the singer’s hometown—each night benefiting five of the beneficiary charities. Manilow performed his hit songs in addition to special holiday songs featured on his new Christmas album, “In the Swing of Christmas,” released October 13th, 2009 and previous holiday releases, “Because It’s Christmas” and “A Christmas Gift of Love.”

“At this time of the year, I couldn’t be happier to give back to this community that I love so much,” states Manilow.

He recently performed his first ever solo concert at the Hollywood Bowl on October 24th, 2009–where, in association with the Manilow Music Project and the Grammy Foundation, he raised a donation of $100,000 in musical instruments for the LAUSD. An avid philanthropist, earlier this year Manilow donated $500,000 in musical instruments to schools in the Palm Springs/Coachella Valley area which with this latest charitable donation takes his efforts over one million.

The legendary entertainer is also currently recording his next album, “The Greatest Love Songs of All Time,” which will be released January 26th, 2010 in time for Valentine’s Day. He will next making music and magic at Paris Las Vegas with a new resident show. On March 5, 2010 Manilow will throw open the doors to the Paris Théâtre at Paris Las Vegas with a re-imagined stage show that will be both more intimate and more exciting than ever before.

With worldwide record sales exceeding 80 million, Barry Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio & Records); with no less than 25 consecutive top 40 hits to his credit between 1975 and 1983, on the Billboard Hot 100. Manilow has worked on over 40 albums over the course of his career as a singer, songwriter, arranger and producer.

“A Gift of Love..” Beneficiary Charities: The Palm Springs-based charities benefiting from Barry Manilow’s “A Gift of Love…” holiday concert include: ACT for MS – Palm Desert, Angel View Crippled Children’s Foundation, Animal Samaritans, Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS of the Desert), Boys & Girls Club of the Coachella Valley, Desert AIDS Project, Desert Arc, Desert Samaritans for the Elderly, Desert Paws, FIND Food Bank, Inc., Gilda’s Club Desert Cities California, Guide Dogs of the Desert, Healthy Family Foundation: The Ophelia Project, Joslyn Senior Center, Mourning Star Center, Olive Crest, One Heartland, Pegasus Riding Academy for the Handicapped, Shelter From The Storm, Stroke Recovery Center, Temple Isaiah Fund, The Living Desert, United Cerebral Palsy – Inland Empire, and Variety Club of the Desert. For information on which night the aforementioned charities were be honored, please visit

About The Manilow Fund for Health and Hope: The Manilow Fund for Health & Hope is a nonprofit organization that was created by Barry Manilow to support local, grassroots organizations that promote education, health and care. The fund donates to organizations that focus on cancer, AIDS, children’s issues, victims of abuse, the homeless and music education.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Barry on NBC Nightly News

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

He got his album promotion on NBC News as a news story.

Bragman gets a bonus for this one.

Update 12/11/2009:
Jay, there's a reason why your ratings are tanking. You couldn't shoehorn in a few minutes to actually TALK to Barry about his work?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Send in the Clowns

(Deadline is past and an acquaintance on Twitter advised me to treat myself to something special. So I am - I get to sit, let my mind wander, listen to my iPod and write!)

I hate award shows.

I didn't always hate them. For a while it was fun to see a once-in-a-lifetime showcase by those vying for the honors. But some time in the late '80s it became obvious that awards shows are less about artistic achievements and more about a mutual admiration society hosting its annual public circle jerk.

The best awards/specials performance is now and forever will be Michael Jackson's performance of "Billie Jean" at the Motown 25th Anniversary show in 1983. Every move, however slight, was smooth and perfect. Everything about his presence and performance underscored what he thought was important: the music. Right down to the last sequin on the socks. And that is what made Michael and all of his work so great: it was always about the music first. Everything around it, in the performance, staging, lighting, effects, etc was underscoring the music. There was no other agenda. Anybody remember the Michael Sembello song from Flashdance? There's a line that says "She has crossed into the danger zone/where the dancer becomes the dance". It was like that. He physically became part of the music. This Is It was an extended study in his approach to making this happen.

Not so much these days.

The tipping point for me was in the late '80s when I determined that award shows were a glorified fraud and it can be summed up in two words:

1) Milli
2) Vanilli

There is NO WAY in this time-space continuum that the entire industry, plus the Grammy Foundation itself, did not know that these two knobs were faking it. The only reason the Grammy award was pulled was because they were busted. The AMA awards stood and were never revoked. Hmmmmmm.......

So I lost interest. So did a lot of other people, because the ratings numbers circled the drain for years.

During this time, two things happened: first, MTV/Viacom decided to use the award show format as their sales pitch for new artists on video. Second, the "artists" (and I use that term more and more loosely these days) were less interested in music and more obsessed with just getting attention. Any attention. It didn't matter if it wasn't for music.

So instead of a showcase of the best performances and talent the best performers had to offer, you have a series of freak shows. That is what has given rise to Madonna, Kanye West, Britney Spears, and yes, AL (I'm using his initials here because you already know who I'm talking about and I don't want his nutjob fans who make the worst of Barry's fan base look sane camping out on my blog.)

Which brings us to the 2009 AMAs. You knew I was going there.

Per my usual, I didn't watch the show. I'm interested in music, not freak shows, and the AMAs had been the latter in my eyes for a long time. So when the non-news took up air time on the morning news programs, I rolled my eyes. Who cares? No matter how good a singer he was on American Idol, his focus is not music - otherwise his performance would have focused on that and not just grabbing attention any way he can.

I was relieved when Barry answered on the Joy Behar show (paraphrasing) "I was hoping he would perform a really good song. He missed an opportunity. I just want to hear some really good music, as for the rest of the stuff, I don't give a shit."

YES!! Thank God, someone else thought the same thing I did. I thought I was alone in the universe on that one.

Music is only truly moving when it is the only motivation; when the performance in all of its facets has one focus. Michael Jackson did this. Barry does this (I talked about it in my posts on the LV shows last year). Ditto Bette Midler. (Try and catch her performance on Johnny Carson back around 1973-ish on YouTube.) But there are just too few anymore who are willing to make that commitment. American Idol can be a launch pad for a serious career for some; for others it's a "Look Ma, I'm on TV!" idiotic moment. For most, it's a few days off of work.

There's a very fine line that separates the true diva from a douchebag. The true diva may be demanding of their staff and colleagues when creating a work of art, but they don't demand any more perfection of anyone else than they do of themselves. They always deliver the goods. And it's always about creating the art. The douchebag is the one who may not even be able to sing or perform, but they're making a spectacle of themselves just to get any attention for their own reasons. Even if they can perform their spectacle is all over the place and is disconnected from the music. At worst, they're a liar because they lure you in with the promise of a wonderful creation forged of talent and skill and creative genius, then switch to God-only-knows what's really on their minds. Even prostitutes are more honest than this.

I was about to give up on finding anything new and just keep over-analyzing the artists I've enjoyed my whole life. And not watch award shows. (Duh.)

Then I heard about these guys opening up for Barry at the Hollywood Bowl:

Straight No Chaser is all back-to-basics. They make music. They have fun. They're not idiots. Stiletto was smart enough to play the PBS card again and get their Christmas special on. So if you're losing hope in the music scene today - let this lift your spirits.
Maybe there will be more interest in serious musical creativity with that new acapella contest show on NBC. A girl can dream....

Greatest Love Songs Of All Time




Features Classic Favorites - “As Time Goes By,” “The Look of Love,” “You Made Me Love You,” “The Shadow of Your Smile,” “As Time Goes By,” “We’ve Only Just Begun,” and More!
(December 8, 2009) Grammy, Tony, and Emmy Award-winning recording artist Barry Manilow teams up once again with his longtime collaborator, Arista Records founder Clive Davis (now Chief Creative Officer, Sony Music Entertainment) to record a brand new studio album entitled THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME, set for release on January 26th.

On THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME, produced with Michael Lloyd (Somewhere in Time and Dirty Dancing), Manilow presents loving interpretations and arrangements of classic, nostalgic love songs for the Manilow and music fan alike. The album selections include jazz and American standards, as well as songs from the “Great White Way” and silver screen including: “As Time Goes By” (originally written by Herman Hupfeld for the Broadway musical Everybody’s Welcome and re-introduced in the film classic Casablanca), Irving Berlin’s ”How Deep Is The Ocean,” “You Made Me Love You” (written by James V. Monaco), George Gershwin’s “I’ve Got A Crush On You,” Fats Waller’s “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “The Shadow of Your Smile” (written by Johnny Mandel), “When You Were Sixteen” (written by James Thornton and revived and popularized by Al Jolsen in 1929), “The Theme From Love Story (Where Do I Begin)” (written by Francis Lai), “Nevertheless, I’m In Love With You” (written by Harry Ruby), Gershwin’s “Our Love is Here To Stay,” Johnny Mercer’s “Fools Rush In,” and “It Could Happen To You” (written by Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen).
The album also features great renditions of “The Look Of Love” (written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David), “We’ve Only Just Begun” (Written by the songwriting team of Roger Nichols and Paul Williams), and “The Twelfth of Never” (written by Jerry Livingston and Paul Francis Webster).

“The real joy in creating this album was taking these classic songs that everyone knows and using my chops as an arranger to deconstruct then recreate them to make them my own,” explained Manilow.

Comments Clive Davis: “Barry and I have a mission to bring to a new generation the great songs that are the soundtrack of our lives. This album does just that and Barry is sounding better than ever."

Clive Davis has been a perennial collaborator with Barry Manilow on virtually all his recordings, since they first worked together on “Mandy,” Manilow’s debut #1 single as the first artist signed to Arista by Davis in 1974, the first year of the label’s existence.

THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME will be released on January 26th, 2010 A special pre-order campaign at the website and at Amazon will ensure that fans will receive THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME in its very first week of release.
Be sure to tune in this week to see Barry Manilow perform a holiday favorite from his just-released CD IN THE SWING OF CHRISTMAS on The Jay Leno Show on December 10th.
IN THE SWING OF CHRISTMAS, out now, and THE GREATEST LOVE SONGS OF ALL TIME are Barry Manilow’s follow-up to the mega-bestselling series of “decades” albums that he masterminded with Arista founder and co-producer Clive Davis. The series began in January 2006 with The Greatest Songs Of The Fifties, which entered the Billboard 200 album chart at #1 (his first #1 album since Barry Manilow/Live in 1977), and was certified RIAA platinum. The Greatest Songs Of The Sixties (October 2006) entered at #2. When the RIAA platinum The Greatest Songs Of The Seventies entered at #4 (September 2007), Barry Manilow was distinguished as the only artist to chart three Top 5 debuts during 2006-2007. The most recent entry in the series, The Greatest Songs Of The Eighties was released November 2008. Beyond the sensational “decades” series, Arista is the home to Manilow’s biggest hits including “Mandy,” “It’s a Miracle,” “Could It Be Magic,” “I Write the Songs,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Copacabana (At the Copa),” “Somewhere In the Night,” “Ships,” “I Made It Through the Rain,” and many, many more.

With worldwide record sales exceeding 80 million, Barry Manilow is ranked as the top Adult Contemporary chart artist of all time, according to R&R (Radio & Records); with no less than 25 consecutive top 40 hits to his credit between 1975 and 1983, on the Billboard Hot 100. Manilow has worked on over 40 albums over the course of his career as a singer, songwriter, arranger and producer.

Complete Track Listing:
1. As Time Goes By
2. How Deep Is The Ocean?
3. You Made Me Love You
4. We've Only Just Begun
5. The Twelfth Of Never
6. I've Got A Crush On You
7. I Can't Give You Anything But Love
8. The Shadow Of Your Smile
9. When You Were Sweet Sixteen (1898)
10. The Look Of Love
11. Theme From Love Story (Where Do I Begin)
12. Nevertheless (I'm In Love With You)
13. Our Love is Here To Stay
14. Fools Rush In
15. It Could Happen To You
16. I Only Have Eyes for You

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Manilow Appearances Part Deux

"Cranberry Christmas" Decmeber 7 and 12 (ABC Family)
TOLF is already asking when this is going to be on.

The Jay Leno Show (NBC) December 10

Please, PLEASE, PLEEEEZE let this be a real interview and not just "letsfindamusiciantofillinthelast5minutesoverthecreditsafterwatchingthewholeshow"

If these aren't enough for you, there is also ManilowTV.
Those of you out there with any doubts at all as to how good the service is, check out this comment from Micks:

If this doesn't convince you to tune in, nothing will. (Way to go, Micks!)