CHICAGO CHRISTMAS — Chicago’s 37th album, is their fourth holiday collection and it’s just one terrific package. For me, a devout-Burt Bacharach fan, the band’s rendition of his (and, Hal David’s) “What The World Needs Now Is Love” is just sublime. With (Skinny Boy) Robert Lamm handling the vocals (as well as the arrangement) it’s just a sensational rendition and, truth be told, just the right kind of sentiment we need right now.
Produced by the band’s Lee Loughnane, it’s certainly not the cutting-edge Chicago of the James Guercio days, but, is an enjoyable as ever. The lead-off track, “(Because) It’s Christmastime” immediately sets the tone for the whole album … and, its a great track.
We also loved “All Over The World” which stands on its own as a terrific single choice. The tone in this song is vintage-Chicago and probably why I immediately gravitated towards it.
James Panko’s “I’m Your Santa Claus” and “Merry Christmas, I Love You” immediately convey the season’s joys as well.
Touring with Rick Springfield next year (an inspired coupling!) and being in this year’s Thanksgiving Day Parade … Chicago never disappoints.
SPENCER GOLD — I’ve been around for quite a while (some may even say too long!) and have had the opportunity to write about some terrific personalities, and some not so terrific personalities, but, on a rain-drenched Monday morning in New York, I spent a few hours in the morning, and a bit more at night, with actor J. Robert Spencer (Jersey Boys; TONY-nominated in Next to Normal) and I must say, that he is without a doubt, not only a star-on-the-rise, but one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the good fortune to be around. His determination, his observational skills, his commitment to the art, just knocked me out. A real true breath of fresh air.
I met him Monday AM, with his pr-man David Salidor, at a taping of the Zach Martin podcast (Big Fat American), and for the next hour, listened to his story; his thoughts about family and his commitment to the arts. Heartfelt stories for sure, but with a terrific sense of humor about it. The two also talked about the writing, recording and release last week of his Christmas single, “Waiting On Christmas.” That track has been greeted with a terrific response and, IMO, is on its way to becoming a new holiday must-have.
After a few hours drying out, we all re-grouped at the Big Apple Circus tent at Lincoln Center, for this year’s Broadway For All Cabaret At The Circus holiday benefit. With the rain just plummeting down outside, Bobby did a sound-check with the kids who would join him on the chorus, for the world premiere of the song.
Hosted by Tony Shalhoub (Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), the show featured terrific performances by Krysta Rodriguez (Hercules); Megan McGinnis (Les Miserables); Amber Iman did a stirring version of John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Heidi Rodewald and Slew. Just an amazing selection of artists.
There are several projects in the wings for Spencer. He told me a few of them and they all sounded terrific. One of the good guys for sure. Terrifically impressed. Watch his star rise.
We also saw our old friend Pete Sanders at the event; handling PR-for the event. Also seen there: Spencer’s PR-man David Salidor and manager Nyle Brenner; Broadway For All’s Osh Ghanimag and Noah Harouche; and, Jenny Lynn, Spencer’s wife. A great time was had by all.
MILLER’S GROOVE — Robert Miller’s Project Grand Slam played NYC’s The Groove – which was totally re-furbished in four days according to the club’s manager Julien, Sunday night and it was one of their best shows ever. Miller’s aggregation played all their signature tunes, but also previewed several new numbers for their next album: which is set for early next year. The new track “I’m Falling Off Of The World” is an instant PGS-classic. Also, their take on The Beatles’ “I Wanna Be Your Girl” (which Ringo sang) is sensational.
Guitarist Tristan Clark and vocalist Marilyn Castillo both really shined this night, as did Miller on bass. Just a sensational show.
Miller’s PGS is re-imagining jazz-fusion and it was interesting watching the crowd grow and grow and really champion the band. It was an early show this Sunday, but by the time they finished, the house was packed.
Miller’s upcoming show at My Father’s Place (February 2-21-20) in Roslyn, Long Island, will be terrific. There’s a serious number of jazz-fans out there and they’ll love the performance.
SHORT TAKES — Celebrity-author Mark Bego visited with Micky Dolenz on one of the final dates of his It Was 50 Years Ago tour, at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix last week. Bego’s Rocketman (Pegasus), on Elton John is out next month … Here’s an interesting new tour going out in the New Year: The Guess Who; Firefall; The Babys and Ronn Moss from Player. Say what you will, but these multiple-headline acts do work very well. But, I wonder how many, if any, of the original members are included. Industry pundits say you need only one original member to make a go of it … Monday’s Golden Globes nominations were sure interesting. For the first time in the TV category, network TV was essentially ignored. Its seems to be now all about, and only about, what you can stream.The Movie noms were more on point. Kudos to Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. Those actors, in their respective roles, really deserve the attention. Rocketman was a surprise too. If you recall, the out-of-order sequences really bothered me. But, the subject matter and songs were well played. Marriage Story on Netflix, I do not understand at all. That movie did bother me, and, Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin can do no wrong … Remember when Micky Dolenz sat in with The Roots on the Jimmy Fallon Show? NBC-mate Seth Meyers’ band often features a guest-drummer. J. Robert Spencer started playing drums because of Micky Dolenz and shortly could be the guest drummer on Meyers. Amazing, right? …
And, finally, for a terrific holiday gift and awesome read, check out Wendy Stuart Kaplans’s She’s The Last Model Standing. Written by Stuart and David Wallace, it is a veritable treasure trove of fabulous intel. Stuarts says: “This holiday season it doesn’t mater if you’ve been naughty or nice cause I’ve been both!.” Available on Amazon. Terrific read.
NAMES IN THE NEWS — Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Justin Packard; William Schill; Alan Kaplan; Andrew Saffir; Noah Harouche; Michelle Grant; Jane Blunkell; Jodi Ritzen; Alicia Spiegal; Anthony Pomes; Rudy Shur; and CHIP!
Park Terrace Hotel, Hotel Chocolat and Ofreh
We miss the fireworks at the Bryant Park Christmas Tree lighting ceremony but we did watch Ofreh sing Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). Click here to hear her husband Andy Karl singing “Sleigh Bells”.
Bryant Park Tree Lighting and Andy Karl
Tonights tree lighting was hosted by Broadway performer Mauricio Martínez and Tony Award nominee and Grammy Award winner Jenn Colella, the Tree Lighting event featured live skating performances from Olympic skaters Mariah Bell, Karen Chen, Ryan Bradley, and World Champion skating pair Alexa Knierim and Brandon Fraizer, as well as Ice Theatre of New York, Figure Skating in Harlem, and The Skyliners.
t where Andy Karl and his wife Orfeh. Here is Andy singing “Sleigh Bells”.
Tomorrow look for the performances from Jenn Colella and Mauricio Martínez.
The Immersive Art of Chagall
There is an immersive exhibition devoted to the prolific and unclassifiable painter, Marc Chagall (1887–1985) at the Hall des Lumières, 49 Chambers Street. This unique digital exhibition presents his entire oeuvre, revealing a work rooted in its times, at the crossroads of the artistic and cultural novelties of his century and in constant renewal.
Paris and New York, are the emblematic capitals of modern art and represents two crucial stages in the artist’s long career. Paris was his chosen city, and thanks to the avant-garde movements of the 1910s, it provided the young Russian painter with a pool of experimental work, which he enriched with his own cultural references. New York was primarily a place of exile during the 1940s, and yet it gave the artist’s creativity fresh impetus. After the war, several exhibitions and major commissions reinforced the links between Paris and New York and brought Chagall back to the United States, up until the 1970s.
During this immersive exhibition, all the themes and images present in the artist’s repertoire are projected onto the walls of the Hall des Lumières, like intertwined cut-out images. They are complemented by short extracts of classical music, klezmer, and jazz, which were also part of Chagall’s cultural universe. His fantastic bestiary, his marvellous characters from circuses, fables, and the opera, as well as biblical episodes and references to Russian culture, poetically evoke the artist’s rich life experiences, which naturally resonates with the collective experiences of his people and generation.
Hall des Lumières, mission is to inspire visitors to enjoy art beyond the frame with their exhibitions and unique programming. With the help of advanced visual mapping technology and audio equipment, Hall des Lumières continues to provide dynamic art experiences with a mission to make art and culture more accessible to all.
Reverse Manhattanhenge Brings Magic To Manhattan
Manhattanhenge happens at sunset, a Reverse Manhattanhenge happens during sunrise. It happens twice a year when the rising sun perfectly aligns with NYC’s grid. This year Reverse Manhattanhenge takes place on Wednesday, November 29th. The best time to watch this spectacular view is at 6:59am. The next one will occurJanuary 11th at 7:20am.
The best place to catch this phenomena is at the major streets such as 14th, 23rd, 34th, 42nd and 57th Street
The Glorious Corner
A CHER STEAL — This year’s 97th edition of the Macy’s Day Parade was a rather underwhelming one, save for Chicago – inexplicably singing “Your My Inspiration” – and the always, indefatigable Cher, singing a track “DJ Play a Christmas Song” off her new holiday-themed album. The first few bars will terribly auto-tuned, but that seemed to disappear and Cher’s vocals rang full and bold.
She was, typically, a pro. Mixing effortlessly and emotionally with the dancers in a terrific set. Some pundits reported the clip was shot days earlier, but she was live and, just sensational. I wish more of today’s performers possessed her vigor and skills. That’s why most of the current acts, here today, will be gone tomorrow.
As we went to press, we learned that this parade was Macy’s most-watched edition ever! Congrats.
HALL VS. OATES — Some terrible news appeared in Wednesday’s media that Daryl Hall had taken out a TRO against partner-John Oates. I’ve loved what these two have done for decades and I loved Hall’s solo albums; especially the one he did with Robert Fripp in 1977 Sacred Songs. His record company at the time (RCA) hated it so much, they held up its release for three years.
I also well remember them in the 80’s when it seemed you could’t turn on a radio without hearing their music. 29 of their 33 singles were major chart hits on Billboard. But I do go back to them even in the 70’s, with their terrific “She’s Gone” which basically launched them. And, my favorite album of their War Babies, produced by Todd Rundgren. Quick note: That album sounds as good and relevant as it did when it came out in 1974.
The problem seems to arise from Oates wanting to sell his portion of certain songs to Primary Wave Artists – which ironically owns several of their songs already. It’s a small point, but that seems to be the issue. In all actuality, it’s another case of a classic-rocker selling his music.
In Oates’ book several years ago (Change of Seasons: A Memoir), he hardly mentioned Hall and regrettably that animus has apparently reared its angry head. They’re Philly boys, I’m from Philly and it’s just an awful coda to what was one of music’s major success stories. Sad all around.
SHORT TAKES — Terrific article in this week’s Closer on Micky Dolenz. Check it out here: https://www.closerweekly.com/posts/micky-dolenz-on-telling-stories-on-stage-and-in-his-book/
btw: Dolenz tapes KTLA’s Countdown To 2024 this week in LA …
I first met Phil Quartararo in the lobby of the old Mondrian Hotel in LA with John Sykes and we struck up a friendship that lasted until he passed last week. He was at Virgin for a time and worked with the artists there including The Spice Girls and Paul Abdul. In these fast-changing-times in the music business, he remained somewhat behind the scenes of late, but admitted he missed working with the artists. Phil was a guy you never ever heard a bad word about. Huge loss. Here’s Billboard’s take on Phil:
… As you’ve not doubt read, there is trouble in the Marvel-comic kingdom. The latest Captain Marvel movie (The Marvels) didn’t perform nearly as well as everyone hoped for and their newest star, Jonathan Majors as Kang, is tied up in several court matters.
So, we hear that Kang is out and Doctor Doom is in. Stay tuned …
And Forbes’ James M. Clash has released Amplified; culled from his terrific interviews with the icons of rock ‘n roll; including Grace Slick; Art Garfunkel; Ginger Baker; Micky Dolenz; and Roger Daltry. Here’s the Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CNJZYW2J?ref_=cm_sw_r_apan_dp_WKCSH7AC0ZTK18RZF4ED&language=en-US NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Leeds; Kate Hyman; Bono; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Peter Abraham; Bobby Bank; Dina Pitenis; Frank DiLella; Donnie Kehr; Steve Leber; Don Wardell; Anne Adams; Billy Smith; John Boulos; Kimberly Cornell; Sam Rubin; Nexstar; and ZIGGY!
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