Saturday, July 30, 2016

California Musicians Fill Santa Monica’s McCabe’s Guitars (Sunday, 7/31) Raising Money for Double Lung Transplant for Owen Shelly (Stepson of Classic Rock Legend Chad Stuart)

July 28, 2016 marked the 63rd day that Owen Shelly, of Wood River Valley, Idaho, had been in ICU, in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, awaiting this day—one in which he’d receive a double lung transplant to save his life. All of his life, Owen had been fighting pulmonary hypertension, specifically a disease called “Pulmonary Capillary Hemangiomatosis (PCH), which had already claimed the life of his younger brother, Tyler, as well as his grandmother. In addition, doctors have diagnosed Owen with heart failure, so the lung transplant is meant as the hopeful solution to resolve both conditions.

Prior to being sidelined him from his career in April this year, Owen had worked at Idaho’s State Department of Health and Welfare, as a service coordinator for the infant/toddler program, according to his biography listed on a donation web site established by his friends at New Covenant Church, in Twin Falls, Idaho, where he, his wife Lindsey, live with their three young children: Tiler (6), Lionel (4), and Lucy (2).

A goal of $100,000 was set as what was considered as the minimum reasonable funds required for Owen’s family to relocate for one year while trying to provide a normal life for a family with three young children. As the donation web site notes, there are so many things that insurance doesn’t cover, including “relocation expenses, insurance premiums, transplant aftercare, and medications.”

Does that goal for a fund-raiser seem daunting? It certainly is, for all of us as we try to imagine how in the world we could ever try and raise that money while undergoing healthcare challenges. Enter the angels, bringing music as their gift to help Owen’s fund grow.

Owen is the stepson of Chad Stuart, of classic rock music icons Chad & Jeremy, known for songs such as “A Summer Song,” “Yesterday’s Gone,” “Willow Weep for Me,” and “Distant Shores”—the soundtrack of the 60s for so many of us among the Baby Boomers. Because of the respect that the duo has garnered through the years, many people responded to the call when Stuart’s friend, Keith Putney.

Putney produces concert tours and has everyone’s contact info on his phone at the touch of a button. One of the first calls made was to Espie and Bob Riskin, owners of McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica. Anyone who loves guitars has been to this store more times than they’re willing to admit, so people know the way there for certain. (Want to know more about McCabe’s? Check out this month’s Acoustic Guitar Magazine and catch up).

One of the most special things about a community of talented, caring professional musicians is that whenever they are called on to share their time and talents for an important cause, they don’t hesitate before saying “Count me in!” Sunday, July 31, marks the date for a very special fund-raiser in Santa Monica, CA. So, as found on Chad & Jeremy’s Facebook page, what happens starting at 8:00 p.m. at McCabe’s is a giant collective of talent, music, and love coming together to help.

Just some of the artists who are donating their time to help raise money for Owen Shelly and his family to accomplish the coming year of healing and thriving include: Coco Dolenz, Rosemary Butler, John Wicks and the Records, Billy J. Kramer, John Claude Gummoe of the Cascades, and Andrew Sandoval, plus Terry Sylvester, with more music from other talents you’ll know and love.

Let’s start with magic vocals of Coco Dolenz and Rosemary Butler.

Coco is currently a featured guest on tour with The Monkees’ Tour crossing the United States and into Australia and New Zealand before year’s end. Yes, she’s related to Micky, his sister in fact, but she has her own identity thank you very much. Coco is a tremendous vocalist whose range is powerful and handles multiple genres with ease. Further creative artist, an intellectual with a tremendous sense of humor, and an ordained minister with a long history of helping people.
Rosemary Butler is a greatly respected touring and recording vocalist, who has sung for Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Warren Zevon, Neil Young, Bonnie Raitt, and Jackson Browne to name a few artists.

John Wicks and The Records will be bringing their talents to the McCabe’s scene. Keith Putney keeps them busy on tour and they have an active recording career as well. You may know The Records for “Starry Eyes” or “Teenarama” and they opened for The Cars, Robert Palmer, Elvis Costello and more.

These performers with great hearts have much in common. For example, Rosemary and John were both part of the California Saga fundraiser at the El Rey Theatre in June; and both Rosemary and Coco will be headlining their own shows at the hottest club in Westlake Village, Bogie’s, next month (Coco on Aug. 7, Rosemary on Aug 27).

Billy J. Kramer is celebrating 50 years as a performer. He’s best known for “Do You Want to Know a Secret,” “I’ll Keep You Satisfied,” “From a Window,” and “I Call Your Name.” The Liverpool native shared a manager, Brian Epstein, with The Beatles and they also shared many successful tours together.

Jean Claude Gummoe (left) wrote the ultra-popular “Rhythm of the Rain,” a major hit with his group The Cascades and it is said that it was the “third-largest selling record in the world in 1963.”

Terry Sylvester (below) is best known as a member of The Hollies and he continues to tour actively in both the United States and England, bringing his guitar and witty banter to audiences.

And that’s not all. More performers are coming in support of Owen Shelly in respect for his brave fight against pulmonary hypertension.

If you’re going: McCabe’s Guitar Shop 3101 Pico Blvd. Santa Monica, CA 90405 http://www.mccabes.com/

Tickets: $30 each available here

Parking tips for patrons here

Whether or not you can attend Sunday’s concert in person, please consider making a gift in any amount to support this husband, father, and social worker who just wants to get back to full strength and return to helping children and parents at the Idaho State Department of Health and Welfare. Donate here and help them make their goal of $100,000 as quickly as possible. Thanks again to McCabe’s Guitar Shop for hosting this very special evening and to all the performers and producer Keith Putney for bringing everyone together. Start the music off with your gift and begin your week on a very special note.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Steve Ellis, former College Station actor, lands spot in two Honda Summer Clearance commercials

Former College Station resident, Steve Ellis (far right), is included in two national Honda TV Commerical features for Honda Fit and Honda CR-V models, sings Go-Go's song, "Head over Heels."(Photo credit: Screen grab from YouTube)

This morning checking the Facebook News Feed, there's an "oh, by the way" mention of a new commercial spot for Steve Ellis, as though these things happen everyday. de rigeur for a Monday. Except it's not. I've written about Honda commercials before, because their ad agency is brilliant at using beloved music (often 30+ years old) to evoke great music memories to promote feelings of love for a car. You associate the music you love with the Honda they love, and presto, it's a match made in Heaven, right? It worked well enough in a series of holiday-timed Happy Honda Days spots with the music and face of Michael Bolton. Often with national television commercials, they can be gateways for more opportunities in an acting career that many just dream about.

Many in College Station and Bryan know Steve Ellis--mostly by voice, whether it was from Candy 95 where he did guest stints on the radio whenever he was back in town. Or, if you're in the younger crowd, you'll know Ellis' voice--live from the DJ booth in the many Northgate clubs where he has a standing invitation to guest, whenever he's back. But today, there's two national commercials that include Steve singing "Head over Heels" (a favorite Go-Go's song) amidst stardust and a dream sequence as Honda lovers focus on their 2016 Honda Fit and 2016 Honda CR-V in the Honda Summer Clearance Event. And yet, a very modest Steve Ellis said 'nothing' to anyone, about this national commercial debut as recently as two weeks ago, when he was back in Bryan-College Station to join family and friends.

When Steve Ellis decided to pursue acting as his primary career goal, before he set off for Los Angeles, he took the important first step of seeking the wisdom and counsel of Nikki Pederson, talent agency owner and queen of honest opinions. He went through Nikki's program and then, with her blessing, relocated to Southern California, with opportunities to participate in further workshops run by trusted coaches. Steve also had solid access to multiple talent agents, several of whom were interested, and some who led Steve to auditioning opportunities. Ellis did stand-up comedy (that he wrote) in the usual LA clubs, mostly just to entertain others, as he studied the more serious aspects of script writing. He kept night-owl hours, while honing his craft in workshops but he never gave up. He's already had his first writer's showcase in California as well. That's another secret to success: diversity. Be everything they need to the business, for the business, to help further your opportunities.

It's fun to turn on the TV and see young people whom you've had the privilege of watching since they were 5 years old grow up to be actors on national TV. But, the reality of making it in the California entertainment industry is that no matter how talented you are, breaks don't always come your way. It's the difference between sticking with it and working even harder, even when breaks are flowing others' way, it seems. It's the not giving up part that takes the journey from endless to endlessly joyful (e.g., dessert with friends, right).

That's the part of the journey that most don't see--the day after day that you get dressed, appear early and prepared, with head shots and resumes in hand, and wait for hours for a five-minute window to show what you've got to a group of people who scrutinize people all day long. They don't know the exhilaration of a callback, only to have that hope dashed after a second (or third) table reading and then find out that you have to "wait some more." Work hard, show up, and stay up...focusing on the positive is another key ingredient that determines whether or not you can actually make it. And, respect the talents of others who are working beside you to catch breaks for their dreams to come true as well.

Seven happy actors are featured in this group photo from "Honda Summer Clearance Days" commercials--any one of them could be the next big commercial find (Flo from Progressive, Mayhem from Allstate, Jake from State Farm, J.K. Simmons from "We are Farmers" to "Whiplash"), so stay tuned. Click here to watch the video (Screen grab from YouTube)

What's unique about Steve, to those of us who know him well, is that he acts, he can sing, his oratory and flexibility with voices is singularly special. Plus, he's got a natural sense of humor that makes him a pleasure to be around. He's a Southern gentleman to boot, but with encouragement, he can shift on a dime--going from Optimus Prime to a Hanna-Barbera or Disney character--even channeling Rick Ross if he has to. So, you never know what roles will call him toward one path or the other. He has wisely used his spare time working at his craft, and he's been reading for several commercial spots that require his multiple voice talents, competing with professional voice artists who have been at their craft for over 40 years.

He's about to crack through that market very soon, many believe. He can do any voice, from Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen), to movie trailers, magically nailing "In a World..." by the late Don LaFontaine. So a simple conversation will often have you in stitches when he effortlessly shifts between voices. He's equally talented behind the microphone as in front of a camera, which should serve him well in days to come.

Congratulations to Steve Ellis and the other actors and singers featured in this commercial. It's time to celebrate, Happy Honda Days to all this summer. Watch Steve's (and Honda's) second commercial below.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Van Wilks Birthday bash 2016 highlights perfect Austin night at Threadgill's

A perfect Blue Moon night in the heart of the Live Music Capitol of the World set the stage for the Van Wilks birthday bash at Threadgill's World Headquarters on May 21. With a clear view of Mars, Van celebrated another trip around the sun, Austin blues style, making it all one grand party night. Taking the stage, Wilks commanded the crowd’s instant attention, doing so with southern charm and major skills.

As the audience stood and swayed, or remained in place and kept time nodding their heads up and down, others held hands with their soulmates and remembered the first times they’d loved live music Austin-style. Still other longtime Van fans danced (and danced) like no one was watching, but it was all good as everyone has their own way of appreciating the live concert experience.

Others just smiled back at those next to them, drinking in every moment of the music, in genteel revelry among friends. The diverse crowd had one thing in common above all else—they acknowledged that “their Van” was as grand as always, perhaps better than ever, not just another of his nights to shine. It was, after all, his birthday and for most, it wasn’t their first Birthday Bash to attend either.

Wilks doesn’t have to be billed as Austin’s Favorite Guitarist, because everyone already knows he is, for both electric and acoustic guitars. Whether his distinction by the Austin Chronicle as a member of their Texas Music Hall of Fame, or being voted for yet another new title, Van Wilks is straightforward all about the music. It’s his job and he sets the world on fire every time he goes to work. He keeps his hat on his head and his mind on the music, another aspect of his demeanor as admirable as his sheer talent.

In the photo above here, see how many of these multitalented musicians, poets, legends and kings of Texas this 'n' that you can name. True Texans can name 'em all. True music lovers can name them all. If you score about 75% of them, then you really love your music. If less than 75%, you really need to get out more and here more live music. Austin is calling you. Can't you just hear the whistle of the train a-blowin'?

What’s especially cool is that live music fans, old and new, find Van’s guitar playing as eloquent as the way he tells stories in his songs, complete with a perfect voice for a storyteller. It didn’t matter last night whether you could name every song from his rich nine-CD catalog (and sing along) or whether it was a first time for some to hear Van playing live, birthday enthusiasts fully appreciated the essence of what it meant to be schooled in the blues.

It’s most fitting that Van was on the cover of April’s “Buddy Magazine”; a few guests found a spare copy or two in Threadgill’s newspaper display for patrons. Legends flow in and among the bands and gigs and players that were (and are) part of Van's rich history to date. Accolades don't overwhelm him as he cares only about the music. Wilks and has held the title of “Best Blues-Rock Band” four consecutive years in Austin, as noted by the Austin Chronicle Music Poll, it’s always about playing with the best musicians who love the genre as much as he does, including Charlie Fountain on drums and Dave Ray on bass. Together they’re just perfect. Pictured below is the lovely Lisa North, music and PR specialist, who keeps folks in the know about many fine Austin-based artists.

Wilks opened with “Strange Girl” from his ninth and best, latest CD, “21st Century Blues,” a must-have album, if you don’t have it already. “Golddigger” was another crowd favorite that kept the fans at total attention. At the end of the song, Van said, “You know it’s my birthday, you don’t have to be quiet here,” and then the crowd let out an appreciative roar into the Austin night.

Phone videos were launched, selfies to prove that people had actually been there were flying, and the crowd flowed gently around between old friends, new friends, and the generously placed bar areas. The perfect Austin evening weather was another present to Van, as earlier in the day, central and east Texas had high winds, hail, and ridiculously wild weather mid-afternoon. But it was clear 21st century skies, full moon, and Travis County’s finest music backyard in time for the party. Standards, originals, covers and more of the best music played on to a crowd that was filled with people who really didn't want it to end.

Speaking of the CD “21st Century Blues,” you can catch San Antonio native and Grammy winner/songwriter Christopher Cross and Austin treasure Malford Milligan as guests on the track, “She Makes Me Crazy,” (written by Cross). Another distinctive track on “21st Century Blues” is “Drive By Lover,” co-written by Van and Billy F. Gibbons, member of a little Texas band called ZZ Top. Yes, it’s the same Mr. Gibbons who so respects Van Wilks that, years ago, he gifted with a custom guitar with Van’s name logo engraved in the guitar neck. Try and follow that gift! You can’t.

Typical of a man who is at the top of his game, Van also generously embraced newer talent to Austin's scene, The Cuckoos, who opened for their good friend's birthday. First listen to the hauntingly good vocalist, true that you could think Jim Morrison was alive and well in Kenneth Frost. The Brothers North excelled also on original music, highlighted by funky bassist Devin North and scary-good guitarist Dave North, and rounded out with a solid Aaron Primeaux on drums.

The Cuckoos are catching fire quickly in Austin’s live music scene and with good reason. Their original music also shows great promise, and their version of “When Doves Cry” did Prince proud last night as well. Frost introduced the song succinctly with, “Y’all get ready for this!” Solid crowd favorites, start paying attention now so you can say later that “you knew them when.” They’re in the recording studio now.

As a special guest, Tommy Shannon came on stage celebrate Van's birthday with bass so smokin' hot that --together with Van's guitar genius made for, well, Double Trouble on “Keep Your Bird In the Cage and Your Monkey on a Chain,” another Wilks’ live favorite. Tommy and Van go way back, to say the least. Last night Van talked of a time that they played together in an early band. Van said, “Tommy and I toured all over the place, even in some silly places like ice skating rinks or hockey arenas, pretty fun days, and then he joined another band….”

Shannon may have played with Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and Rick Derringer, for example, but when he played last night with Van, you felt like you were back in high school. Their music made you feel young again, possibly like the first time you heard these songs. These days you can catch The Tommy Shannon Blues Band most Wednesdays at Antone’s Night Club.

Van has been playing popular acoustic sets pre-show at Austin’s One World Theatre, so just don’t forget about his skills as an acoustic player, too. In the next month you’ll find him in downtown Houston, downtown Shiner, back in Austin, and on the boardwalk at Kemah. Check his web site for gig info. Treat yourself to a copy of 21st Century Blues and if you order from his web site, he’ll autograph before his team sends them out.

When Van has a birthday, we all get to celebrate. Mark your calendars for next year because if you miss it, you really will get the blues.

Crowds will show up anytime Van is there but the b-day bash was special. Amateur video captured fun of those who danced "like no one was watching" among hundreds just happy to be part of the groove. Happy birthday Van, & thanks for the music.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fans of ‘The Good Wife’ Get Exciting News: Spinoff Announced for CBS All Access

Viewers only thought they said "Farewell forever" to certain characters from "The Good Wife." A spinoff series is slated with Christine Baranski and Cush Jumbo for Spring 2017 for CBS All Access channel. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Just ten days after CBS Sunday night prime time fans said goodbye to Alicia and Peter Florrick, and all of their friends and slightly wacky family members, most television viewers might have thought that was the last word on the characters created by the inventive minds of Robert and Michelle King. But it wasn’t. Too many great stories to tell and too talented an ensemble cast to really let that be the last word on the subject. On May 18, Michael Ausiello of TV Line reported that CBS announced the Spring 2017 launch of an official “Good Wife” spinoff.

So far the unnamed show will star Christine Baranski (Diane Lockhart) and Cush Jumbo (Lucca Quinn). Set to launch in Spring 2017, the timeframe for the show picks up one year after the “last slap” Diane applied to Alicia. However, don’t look for it on prime time quite yet. You’ll be able to watch it on CBS All Access, which is the most brilliant strategic move the network can use to get viewers to pay $5.99 per month for more content. Surely, the show will build viewership for a while and then make the move back to prime time on Sunday nights.

The talented and versatile Christine Baranski portrayed the self-assured and creative Diane Lockhart so well that her return will be welcome on whatever frequency CBS chooses to launch the show. Fans will be left to guess what happened in the year following the parent series’ finale but that should make for great follow-up stories for the next year.

Cush Jumbo played attorney Lucca Quinn and easily assumed the role of Alicia’s first true best friend that she’d had in, conceivably, the entire life of the show. Working in the trenches of intake with Alicia, Lucca offered wise counsel, thorough research, and true caring for the well-being of her friend. Last October, Chris Harnick of “E News” went so far as to name Ms. Jumbo “the fan who became its breakout star.”

There was a major talent team in place for all seven seasons of “The Good Wife,” and “series creators Michelle and Robert King” chose Phil Alden Robinson to be the series’ first named Executive Producer. It will be fun to speculate if viewers will see others from the law firm formerly known as Lockhart et al. (too many variations of the partner names to list) will appear, whether as guests or regular characters, but it’s probably a safe bet that they will.

Nice to see there’s new life breathed into the “Good Wife” and it’s even better that CBS didn’t make viewers wait more than 10 days before issuing encouraging news. One more thing the network did was the brilliant move to give faithful viewers the opportunity to watch a successful launch of Michael Weatherly’s new show, “Bull,” based on the real-life jury selection practice of now-famous psychologist and motivational expert, Dr. Phil McGraw.

The network cradled “Bull” in the rocking chair between “NCIS” and “NCIS: New Orleans,” really showing Weatherly, and his fans, all the love (thank you Les Moonves, but watch how they'll change his time slot after 6 weeks and I predict it will be to Thursday nights to see how it 'really' does wihtout the Bellisario-McGill-Glasberg-Harmon-born cushion). Now, it’s a safe bet that once the show is on a safe trajectory, they’ll move it to another night, much as they do with “The Big Bang Theory” as the eternal power lead-in, but not at first. That’s really sort of brilliant, don’t you think? Network programming strategy is not for beginners. Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Seven years is a long time in TV life. Still, "The Good Wife" is gone too soon. (Jeff Neumann, Courtesy of CBS, used with permission.)

If you’ve been one of the millions who, for seven seasons now, have followed along the story of Alicia Florrick, mother, attorney and “good wife,” then on May 8, you could finally close the covers on the virtual book you were reading, put it on the table next to your chair, and perhaps replenish your wine glass. Her story was completely wrapped up, sort of, into a grand finale. You knew what she’d been through and you saw where she was headed.

Or, you could have thrown the empty wine glass straight into the fireplace, smashing it into shards and shreds representative of the completed puzzle that no longer had any missing pieces. With this ending of “The Good Wife,” CBS has just had sledgehammer taken and a gaping hole knocked into the anchor wall of their Sunday night programming.

The devastating emptiness on Sunday night wasn’t a shock; it was programmatic and anticipated. And, so it began as it ended, “The Good Wife”—tonight, it all came to a close with a slap, one that brought tears as a growth cycle in life came ‘round to complete itself. The first slap that brought the show to life was when Alicia slapped Peter, right after having stood by his side when he was convicted the first time.

And a lot of things happened in the past seven seasons. The growth of law firms, the growth of attorneys’ careers, and life, love, death, and law all were bent, broken, twisted, faded, and rediscovered all flowed and ebbed for 165 episodes.

Immediately after the end of tonight’s finale, a quick trip over to the CBS show web site provided a great video from Michelle and Robert King, who offered their insider perspective on tonight’s finale. “We started with this feeling that it should begin with a slap and end with a slap.”

And it did, reflecting “the transition of the character of accountability and power attained” by Alicia Florrick over seven years of this show. Juliana Margulies is the only actress who could have brought Alicia to life properly. Similarly, Christine Baranski is a brilliant character actress who is concurrently portraying Dr. Leonard Hofstadter’s mother, on another CBS show, “The Big Bang Theory,” but that’s just a measure of her versatility. She can do anything. You could say similar things about each of the major character actors who ensured the storytelling would truly come to life. Matt Czuchry was able to remind you there was character life in Cary Agos with far greater depth than Logan Huntzberger, a character he is reprising after much fan demand over at the long-awaited "Gilmore Girls" reboot.

But, back to Alicia. “The victim becomes the victimizer,” offered the Kings. Alicia starts out as the insecure, undetected victim of her husband’s larger-than-life scandal. Privacy dies, peace of mind flies out the window, and her husband is off to jail. She gets to go to try and find a job. She does, and she finds Will Gardner.

Then the middle happened. So, final question posed and answered: “What is the next stage for Alicia’s life?” The Kings offered that Alicia was definitely not going back to support Peter; she was searching for Jason as she was strolling up (and back down) the hallway, encouraged by the virtual memory of Will Gardner to go on and move forward for the sake of her happiness.

The Kings explained, “If Peter had gone to prison, Alicia would have been tied to him forever, and to save her daughter…Alicia would be considered collateral damage staying with Peter, and so, too, would Grace be considered the same (Zach's character was brushed off in a weird way last week, out of sight, out of mind). So, Alicia’s decision came down to saving Grace, literally. Diane Lockhart had to be the collateral damage this time. Curt McVey (Gary Cole) was key to the prosecution and the defense, but the information that came out on the witness stand destroyed the relationship between Curt and Diane, and then between Diane and Alicia, irreparably. Alicia didn’t hold the knife, but she was the one who instructed Lucca to cross-examine him and essentially destroy his credibility. Hence, the genesis of the final slap.

Who does Alicia end up with? They said, "It’s clear she is going after Jason. We wanted it to be a little ambiguous. Three things in her life, Peter (weighted down with concerns, she's the good girl who likes to take care of others), Jason (representing weightlessness, giving her property on Mars. Not a person to take things seriously), and Will Gardner (we were fortunate to get Josh Charles back). He’s fantasy, the love that got away." That's their story and it's appears to this writer that they'd written the end of the story just about as quickly as they'd dreamed up the beginning, likely over a bottle of wine, since at least one bottle would make an appearance per episode.

The Kings offered that lessons Alicia learned included: “…Zealously represent your client, despite what the truth is…As Alicia has changed, she’s gained great strength, great confidence, done wonderful things for her clients and her family.” One curious observation: where were Jackie Florrick (Mary Beth Peil) and Veronica Loy (Stockard Channing) in the courtroom audience? Two of the most versatile character actresses in the show portfolio were missing; oh well, it was just a one-hour finale, but still you'd think they'd be there with lines or furrowed brows. They'd shown up before, for far less good reason.

The master storytellers offered sincere and repeated thanks to the fans and then they thanked CBS, in the same sentence, "because they both allowed us to tell a complicated story."

As the final cameras position themselves for the very end of the very end, Alicia Florrick finds herself walking down a kitchen hallway toward her future. Josh Charles’s character, Will Gardner, reappearing tonight was poignant, relevant, and not the least bit cloying. It was, in fact, quite sweet and fit right into what Robert King described as the trinity of people in Alicia’s life. It was actually a triune-pronged fire of decisions she had to walk through between Peter, Will, and Jason in her growth phase, was it not?

As Michelle said, “We hope that you can feel for that ending, that ending that is emotional and still embraces what Alicia’s future will be. I hope you have had even half as much fun as we’ve had.” We have.

And now what’s ahead for next year? Tea Leoni’s “Madam Secretary” may have to be retitled, “Madam Vice President,” and Sherlock Holmes will have to deal with the dull, deceptive relatives. Aw, who cares? “The Good Wife” is over, and the new brainchild from the Kings, “Brain Dead,” certainly doesn’t promise to fill that "Good Wife" gap. It's new, it's supposed to be a "comic thriller." That notwithstanding, we’ll give it the old CBS try, just for good measure.

Thanks to Robert and Michelle King for great writing, colorful characters, sassy dialogue and thanks to Mark Saks for casting, which was literally superb. Every character was brought to life by a brilliant contingent of actors. And how about our running series of “interesting” judges? “In my opinion,” they were the most fun of every episode. That, and the number of times Louis Canning (Michael J. Fox) and Colin Sweeney (Dylan Baker) were the characters you loved to detest added another layer of incredulity weaving in and out of the focused and directed law firm with the ever-changing name.

It’s been a solid run for all 156 episodes, and the creators were the ones to pull the plug rather than the network, so there’s that. We’ll all just be sitting here waiting for 1,000 days until you write us a reunion episode, and then we’ll call it even. Sound fair? The series had, at one time, at least nine executive producers: co-creators Michelle and Robert King, Ridley Scott and the late Tony Scott (2009–2012), David W. Zuker, Brooke Kennedy and Ted Humphrey, along with Leonard Dick, Keith Eisner, for over 100 episodes each.

Even actor Julianna Margulies became a producer in 2011, and was credited for 98 episodes. Yet, there are 20 more people who served as producers in some abbreviated, but relevant capacity. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Hundreds of people worked to make these seven seasons happen. Then, there’s the sterling group of actors who took characters on paper and brought them to life, as only they could. Many will be forever tagged with their character’s name when someone recognizes them in public, for a while anyway.

So, whether you’re refilling your wine glass or sweeping up glass shards from the fireplace, the end is the end is the end. Go to "The Good Wife" web site on CBS.com and hear from the Kings for yourself. You'll be glad you did. To borrow a line from Edward R. Murrow, “Good night, and good luck, ‘Good Wife’ and thanks so much, Robert and Michelle King.” It’s been a grand ride.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Rediscovering the Talents and Gifts of Inspirational Musician Gigi Worth

For a long time now, too long in fact, vocalist and musician Gigi Worth has been content to reside on the other side of the spotlight, but no longer. It’s most fitting for her to be seen and known by more than just the vast community of Grammy-winning multiplatinum recording artists and concert headliners who call on her to tour with them or sing on their records.

Now, you already actually know Gigi, at least her voice, very well in fact. Even if you don’t get to many live concerts, you’ll instantly recognize the standout style of the charming brunette, who graces numerous videos on YouTube as a featured backing vocalist, master percussionist or guitarist.

You might have seen her on tour with Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, or years ago when she stepped forward on tour to sing a duet with Christopher Cross on “Open Up My Window.” Gigi is also featured singing with him on Cross’ 1995 CD, “Window.”

Or you’ve possibly watched Gigi playing killer percussion while singing. Yes, drummers can sing and drum at the same time, well many of them at least. Or, sometimes Gigi just brings her own (anonymous) guitar brilliance to support Christopher Cross’ angelic “Words of Wisdom” as in this video.

Ever watch Don Johnson in “Nash Bridges”? From 1996–2000, Gigi was the one singing the theme song at the show’s opening. Remember the Val Kilmer movie, “At First Sight”? The exceptional vocal on the movie theme, “Love is Where You Are” is indeed all Gigi. Others have covered the song, but the best version belongs to Gigi, unquestionably.

The soundtrack from “Mr. Holland’s Opus” also belongs to Gigi. She’s a prolific studio singer who’s been requested by so many heralded artists to sing on their records as she makes those vocals “hers.” That’s a producer’s dream to find a talent who can do that.

You know Worth’s voice even if you can’t see her, because it is “her” voice that undergirds many signature premier television and radio commercial jingles for national accounts like Toyota, IBM, and Ford, but it doesn’t even phase her. What’s more you’ll never hear her discuss it. She may speak of “working on a project” but that’s it, according to friends who know her well.

How many singers would just love being “the voice of a brand” and then be so excited to tell everyone they knew? Not Gigi. That’s part of her professionalism, though. As a working professional singer and musician, she’d almost be content to be on the sidelines just doing her job, but she really belongs out front in the spotlight, for a change, and from the looks of things, she’s on her way. Once you meet her and hear her sing, unplugged, she’s absolutely unforgettable—a gentle dichotomy of bold reticence. And just call her Gigi. That’s really all you need to identify her.

One of the most beautiful songs from Gigi Worth's solo CD, "Skylark" is "Embraceable You." Her exquisite vocals lift the song to a new level of beauty.

Gigi’s debut solo CD, “Skylark” is quite the masterpiece and revisits the most beautiful standards ever recorded by the generation that preceded her. Songs like ‘Tenderly,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” “Embraceable You,” and “Moonlight in Vermont” belong to the generation of her mother, the exquisite singer and musician Gisele MacKenzie. In fact, Gigi actually recorded the album as a tribute to her mother, who appeared on television, radio, and in commercials for products in Canada and the United States.

A standout, must-hear track of all the beautiful ones, is “Stranger in Paradise,” on which Sony BMG gave their permission to use her mother’s version so that Gigi could add her harmonies on the song. The result is simply phenomenal, almost bringing tears to your eyes except that it’s so uplifting to hear the familial voices resplendent in crossing over time and space.

Gigi’s unique vocal skills remind you that one minute she can be singing “Cry Me a River,” and the next minute she can strum her guitar exactly like Joni does and sing Mitchell’s “Just Like This Train” to perfection. Her go-to bassist Steven Lawrence is on this CD and did the musical arrangement on “Embraceable You” and “Let’s Make a Go of It” (coauthored by Gigi, Catherine Beck and Steven Lawrence).

The CD, “Skylark,” has a special and poignant story behind it, and how it came to be released some ten years ago. There’s a beautiful story from 2011 shared by Susan Frances in “Jazz Review,” wherein Gigi relates how the earliest works in recording the album with her Executive Producer, arranger and keyboardist, Bobby Zee, were literally destroyed in a fire that burned his home and recording studio.

Imagine the feelings of devastation that followed. And yet, both Zee and Gigi agreed they, like the phoenix, would rise from the proverbial ashes and start over. The end result is outstanding and an important must-have for your collection. It’s available from CD Baby, but suggest you get the CD rather than the download as you will want to read the liner notes for the stories behind the songs, plus have the chance to see Gigi’s beloved horse, Miss Easy Street.

The opportunity to meet Gigi Worth came, thanks to her good friend and fellow musician, Kiki Ebsen, who invited this journalist for a behind-the-scenes look at their collaborative band, Trouble Child. Rehearsals were in progress, and the set list was taking shape for the band’s debut at Kiki’s peace.harmony concert at the Healing Equine Ranch earlier this year.

Gigi Worth sings "Free Man in Paris" in debut of Trouble Child, Joni Mitchell tribute concert.

It was a cool but sunny afternoon when the longstanding friends arrived simultaneously at the California home of fellow singer-songwriter and music professional, Guy Thomas. As Gigi unlocked the passenger door, a beautiful whippet named Tippy exited gracefully. “Tippy Whippetsworth” was there as I was, to hear the trio rehearse.

Multitalented musician Gigi Worth and her beloved Tippy Whippetsworth, who has an all-access pass and a great view of the stage.

Worth opened up her case, took out her guitar and then placed her coat inside to line the case. Tippy waited patiently while Mom did that and then curled right up in the case and Gigi covered her up. Rehearsal could begin. Thomas’ dogs Woofie and Sadie (whom Gigi insists on calling ‘Cabbagehead’ for fun) took their places and work began. Guy and Gigi have been playing music as a duo in many venues across Los Angeles recently and they work so well together.

Gigi and Kiki are longtime friends who have also worked together as the beautiful, talented bookends framing the stage with Grammy-winner Christopher Cross for several international tours. Check out some of their tour work as they perform “Alibi.”

Now, in previous rehearsals Kiki and Gigi had already carefully reviewed and considered Joni’s abundant catalog to choose 22 songs from which they would create their musical mosaic. So, this work session would determine which songs to which Guy would be bringing his brilliant guitar solos or adding in a third voice on harmonies. He loves Joni Mitchell’s songs possibly even more than Gigi or Kiki, though that’s a pretty high bar to meet.

Let’s just say that each is equivalently versed in every nuance of Mitchell’s collective body of work. The masters working on the masterworks is basically what was observed by this writer (and Tippy, Sadie, and Woofie). The quality was exceptional and the search for perfection was inspirational that afternoon.

The three-octave range that Joni had as she originally composed so many of these songs was met effortlessly by Worth and Ebsen. Give them a song, any song; they have it down. Gigi can sing brilliantly and richly in the highest parts of Joni’s songs, or she can shift right into alto parts and blend wherever it is called for, and she makes it all look easy. Gigi also has a grand time playing all the songs she knows by virtually any artist.

Yet, despite a disarming, genuine smile, Gigi is one of the most highly demanding artists you’d ever hope to meet. Yet, it’s only of herself that she demands it, that perfection she seeks to deliver, and she’s hard on herself at times because she won’t settle when she’s called upon to sing Joni’s songs. It’s touching to see how one amazing iconic talent, Joni, has inspired such devotion and discipline for these amazing professionals to “bring it” to do her music such justice.

Kiki and Gigi cofounded this band to honor and perform the music of Joni Mitchell, whom they revere and respect as iconic, influential, trendsetting and unique, the exact same properties many agree they each have as individual artists. When you put the two singers together, musical magic and harmonies emerged that even Mitchell herself would undoubtedly approve.

The concert was already sold out, but online viewing was going to be provided courtesy of the exciting new collaborative, Alert the Globe, who was filming the event for later broadcast and for some exciting simulcasting. The actual concert day and events preceding the concert are described in related articles regarding Kiki Ebsen's peace.harmony concert series at The Healing Equine Ranch.

After the gift of being able to watch Gigi Worth rehearse and later perform in concert later in the week it must be said that she still does not see what all the fuss is about. To her, it’s just what she does. And she loves what she does. Yet, when the audiences and her music colleagues shared their praise and regard for her gifts, she seemed not to understand why they were making such a big fuss over her vocal talents.

It’s likely because, and they all had this in common, they view their voices as their gifts and instruments, they take care of them, and when they are called upon to use their talents to entertain, they are entirely focused on the work, the music, the perfection in delivering the right notes, and they forget to take the time to hear the accolades.

Fortunately, the Alert the Globe network was on hand, thanks to Gary Bergeson, Southern California radio personality at KSBR Radio (he is also affiliated with Alert the Globe), the premiere Trouble Child concert was filmed for a future broadcast and some video clips are sure to emerge. It will be then, and only then, when she hears herself sing that Gigi Worth will finally understand what all the fuss is about.

Speaking of making a fuss, it can be a challenge for Gigi, having a famous, superbly talented mother (who was a television star, host of her own shows, plus a gifted violinist and concert-caliber pianist to boot). Just ask her good friend Kiki Ebsen, who also is finally being seen as the individual talent she has long been, separate and apart from her father (who was a television star, motion picture actor, vaudeville dancer, music composer and artist) and mother (who was a gifted theatre producer and exquisite writer).

Bassist Steven Lawrence had that in common also, as his parents were well known California studio and television singers for several television programs in the 1960s. And Gisele used to favor Steve with the praise by introducing him as “the talented one.” Gigi jokes about it all the time as Lawrence is like her second brother and he does look out for his little sister, whom he fondly calls “My Geege.” Steven lost his sister, Jules, whom he called “the joy of my life,” to ovarian cancer far too soon, so it would appear that into that void in his heart, he was gifted with another soul to whom he could be brother (and allowed to pick on her just like any annoying brother is capable of doing). Life is full of grand gifts and surprises in times of the most tragic events. A special spirit is everywhere it is needed, it seems.

It’s not about whose daughter or son you are (anymore) that defines the second-generation progeny first and best. Forget their last names or the body of work of their parents. Instead, focus on the voices and faces in front of you and just know they all had great examples by which to develop a professional work ethic. That’s their big secret advantage: they show up prepared and work.

You can call her Gigi MacKenzie if you want to order the CD, “Skylark” or you can call her Gigi Worth, when she’s touring on stage with the Grammy winners like Michael McDonald or Kenny Loggins most recently. But really, this down-to-earth talent with the ethereal voice and tremendous sense of rhythm is best known by only one name.

She’s the unforgettable artist with a voice that heals by creating harmony in a time and place for audiences in search of reasons to forget their day, their past disappointments or failures, and in search of beautiful music by which their souls can simply be healed.

May her voice be heard, now and always, on records and in concerts, in the front of the stage this time, because she has such tremendous gifts to share, so much to offer music lovers. And, you can just call her Gigi.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Search No More for P.F. Sloan, for He is No Longer Among Us: Music Innovator Dead at 70,

Jimmy Webb brings out a special guest star, British singer Rumer, to duet on "P.F. Sloan" during his concert at MacArthur Park, Los Angeles, June 15, 2013.

Philip Sloan deserved status as a music icon for most of his life; yet, for so long, he was denied that status until one good friend, Stephen Feinberg, convinced him it was time to tell his story and finally set the record straight, for perpetuity. Philip Gary Schlein, known early as Phil, best known as P.F. Sloan, died on the evening of Nov. 15, after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. As a press release from publicist Sangeeta Haindl noted today, “The world has lost one of its great talents.”

In June 2014, Sloan and Feinberg published “What’s Exactly the Matter With Me: Memoirs of a Life in Music” (Jawbone Press). As soon as it was released, people who thought they knew P.F. Sloan very well by his music found instead that they had known nothing at all about the man or the indignities he’d suffered for years, how he paid the genuine price for his success when those who were jealous and more powerful wreaked their havoc onto his career. The memoirs, resplendent with perfect recall and genuine grace as they’re related, include his affiliations and influences on surfer music, such as Bruce & Terry (Johnston and Melcher, respectively), Terry Black, The Fantastic Baggys, and Jan & Dean, and across two generations of classic rock.

Music textbooks are filled with Phil’s songwriting and producing success for artists like Barry McGuire, The Grass Roots, The Turtles, Herman’s Hermits, Johnny Rivers, The Fifth Dimension, but the true stories of how the events actually occurred are mind-bending.

It’s beyond poignant that P.F. Sloan’s best-known composition, “Eve of Destruction,” which defined Barry McGuire as a musical artist, came back to life in the titles of newspaper and magazine articles published in the earliest hours after the tragic attack on Paris last weekend, by the radical attackers who seek to inspire fear with their actions.

Yet, the song’s words first resonated with a generation that was transforming its impression of war as a brave act to preserve freedom into a gathering of protest groups springing up across America as young minds were led to question authority as well as military service with the war in Vietnam.

A breakout song for those who would not follow the paths of their fathers, “Eve of Destruction” became the anthem of what society called “radicals” back then. Bob Dylan said of the song,” “There are no more escapes. If you want to find out anything that’s happening now, you have to listen to the music; I don’t mean the words. Though, 'Eve Of Destruction' will tell you something about it.”

All too poignantly, today the title of the song and its lyrics are the centerpiece of commentary from the opposite end of the political spectrum, as the lyrics and message of the song hit home for an entirely different mindset. Music is the message the sender emits into the universe and the receiver absorbs the message and embraces it at such point where it resonates and hits home with the one hearing it. p> For many years, Sloan’s frequent coauthor was Steve Barri and the Sloan-Barri hit factory was subsumed by Dunhill Records. Both yesterday and today, it seems that Lou Adler gets all of the credit for The Mamas and The Papas, when in fact the heavy lifting was essentially Phil Sloan’s— from songs to early guitar playing on the records, and creating their trademark sound in the Dunhill studios.

Mostly these days, Adler gets credit for the resurgence of the music of Carole King, and the multi-Grammys of “Tapestry,” and for his easy-to-spot beret atop his head while sitting next to Jack Nicholson at Los Angeles Laker games. Back in his earliest years, it is now clear that Lou was a suit with a primary penchant for spotting talent, hooking it to his line, reeling it in, and getting the very best part of the unsuspecting fish out, before casting the remains into the ocean deep, never (he thought) to be heard from again. Egos, power, and poor judgment perhaps explain Adler’s treatment of Sloan. But, worse yet was John Phillips’ (The Mamas and Papas) treatment of Phil, the classic dog biting the hand that fed him relationship. Of course John Phillips’ errors in judgment throughout his life as are long as the Apple iPhone Terms and Conditions agreement.

One story from the book: Phil was invited, together with Jimmy Webb, to the earliest planning meetings of the Monterey Pop Festival, and walking into a room he found cluster of egos and ended up being booted from playing guitar (with The Mamas and The Papas) and, further, threatened with a knife to his face by John Phillips from showing up at ‘his’ Monterey Pop Festival. From his memoirs, John Phillips said, “Do you think I called you here to my home to get your opinion on our festival?...I called you here to give you fair warning that I’ll have you killed if you show up in Monterey. Are we clear?”

Soon after telling John Phillips off, Phil checked around for Jimmy Webb, couldn’t find him, and gave up and drove down to Santa Monica. “It turns out that Jimmy Webb was looking for me, while I was looking for him. When he couldn’t find me, he etched the scene in his mind, and a couple of years later came the key lyrics to Phil’s namesake song, “I have been seeking P.F. Sloan but no one knows where he has gone…” Incidentally, it wasn’t like good people didn’t try to warn him about the Dunhill gang. After a meeting Bob Dylan said to Sloan privately, “I’ve been wanting to tell you something, Phil. Those guys at Dunhill are going to tear you up. You’re not safe there.’ Sloan replied, “I’ll watch myself.” “You better,” said Bob. Robert Zimmerman was right.

How Jay Lasker, Bobby Roberts and Lou Adler treated P.F. Sloan, as you read his words, is a story filled with greed, hatred, and rejection that is sickening to realize, particularly as the hit records of the Grass Roots on the radio were essentially created by Sloan, with the obligatory “together with Steve Barri” whistling in the wind. Despite being ripped off in more ways than one, royalties the biggest asset purloined, without care or regard for the genius to whom they belonged, Phil still created hits. He had that much talent.

Even before that, life at the peak of success was unsettling for Sloan, as he felt truly the outsider in the world of musicians he was helping to make famous. P.F. Sloan began life as simply as any unknown, but nevertheless was an inspired young man from Brooklyn who many considered a prodigy. In a scene at the St. James Club, “McGuire and I were seated at a booth with Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger. I thought to myself that I must be here by some Divine plan, but was this really what success looked and felt like?”

"(Barry) McGuire was having the time of his life. Everyone seemed dizzy with happiness. But what was the matter with me? I wasn’t getting it. I was trying to have a good time. I really was. I knew I was alive. I just didn’t feel like I knew how to survive in this reckless life style. All these people were older than me, and they were, after all, my role models. If this was what they did to celebrate life then I would need to learn to get with the program.”

Chaos, self-destructive behavior, and valiant efforts to fit in led to despair, poor health, and a propensity for bad luck in Sloan’s life for many years. The lowest point of all was when Dunhill’s Jay Lasker made him sign away all of his royalties, plus threatened his life. As Phil describes his final interaction with Lasker, the conversation was (from his memoir):

"I just had a nice chat with Steve” (Barri), he said. ‘Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to leave Los Angeles and never come back. You’re going to do this within twenty-four hours, or your parents or your sister or anyone else you care about may come to regret knowing a boy named P.F. Sloan.’ ‘I want to talk to Lou,’ I said. ’This has nothing to do with Lou, Sloan. This is about you and me….mostly you. I’ve had the papers drawn up. Before you leave the office, you’re going to sign it’….’We own your contracts for the next ten years so you can’t record anywhere else. We’re not firing you. We’re just telling you that you can’t work here or anywhere’….’All of the money that will come into Dunhill Records from P.F. Sloan will be split between the three partners. Oh…one more point, I’m pretty sure that I own the name P.F. Sloan and that we can have any writer we want to be P.F. Sloan.”

That was not to be even the worst time in Sloan's life; there was even more still to come. That is, however, why Phil vanished from the music scene, to protect his own life and those of his loved ones, out of sheer fear and terror. Lasker retired in 1987 and died of cancer at age 65, in 1989. His obituary in the New York Times is, appropriately, one of the shortest ever published.

Despite this despicable treatment, things truly turned around for P.F. Sloan. His memoirs reflect the final years of Phil’s life as one of religious experiences of grace, of complete and total forgiveness for all who sought his forgiveness and even for those who didn’t appreciate the fact that he had only love and compassion in his heart, down to even John Phillips and John Sebastian, both of whom asked him for forgiveness and he gave it to them.

The song written about him, “P.F. Sloan” was first recorded by author Jimmy Webb and later covered by The Association, Jennifer Warnes, and British Band Unicorn, as Wikipedia notes, as well as the British singer, Rumer. Poignantly, it was Rumer with whom Phil performed in concert in London in his first public appearances upon the publication of his biography.

Last time I saw P.F. Sloan He was summer burned and winter blown He turned the corner all alone But he continued singing Yeah now, listen to him singing…” Lyrics from “P.F. Sloan,” by Jimmy Webb, Canopy Music"

Also in 2014, Sloan released an album “My Beethoven” (Foothill Records) that contained nine new original songs that Phil shared are “beautiful and will stir your heart and soul.” In May 2014 the team of Sloan and Feinberg completed a musical play, “Louis! Louis! The Real Life and Times of Beethoven)”. More information on the play is found on the same website.

In classic rock, many talented people have attained accolades, awards, and acknowledgment befitting their status as relevant, important, or groundbreaking for their work. The spotlight has shined on many but has missed hitting many more, who are equally as deserving. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is a perfect example of one man’s preference prevailing over those of millions of fans who actually embrace and live in the beauty of the music that defined the 1960s and 1970s. In 2015, P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri were 2015 nominees for induction to the Songwriter's Hall of Fame.

If you’re not “in with the in-crowd,” you essentially exist in obscurity. That is, unless you have a friend like Steve Feinberg, whom you trust to lead you out of the darkness and back into the light. P.F. Sloan had to wait 45 years to find all those who’d been looking to find him, if only to say “Thank you for your music.”

After the success of his memoir, Sloan enjoyed a limited but incredibly popular personal appearance tour in venues he chose to be. People had a chance to thank him, and he was as gracious and loving and appreciative as a man who survived trekking over a vast desert greets a glass of cool water.

Phil’s collaborator and co-author, Stephen Feinberg, anchored him as together they told the public whatever had happened to Sloan. When the book was published in 2014, among the very first to reach out was Mike Somavilla, a rock music historian and San Francisco Bay area music promoter, who immediately called his good friend, Harold Adler, with the concept of creating Sloan's first major U.S. public appearance with a concert and book signing at Adler's Art House Gallery & Cultural Center in Berkeley.

Mike contacted Phil and said, “Just read your book; you have to come to Berkeley and meet a few people. And please bring your guitar.” And, that was all it took for Mike Somavilla to get Phil Sloan and his co-author Steve Feinberg to come see Mike, and a sold-out crowd at Berkeley’s favorite in-spot for music you can enjoy, in a peaceful atmosphere free from distractions.”

Poignantly one man named Adler provided the perfect spot for Somavilla to make sure that the “wrongs were righted” and who passionately wanted Phil to tell his story, thus righting the wrongs done by another man named Adler. Feinberg’s first-call photographer and good friend, Joaquin Montalvan, took the historic photos shared here. It was sit-on-the-floor night at the Art House as all the chairs were taken in the blink of an eye in July, 2014, the month after the book was published.

From that point, Feinberg accompanied Phil to several memorable book signings, one of which was also groundbreaking. In October, 2014, in the Community Room of the South Pasadena Library, two previously unannounced musicians joined Phil for an evening of music and memories. Among the crowd were John York of the Byrds, Donna Loren, Steve Kalinich, and Jared Cargman, an original Fantastic Baggys band member.

They made more Grass Roots history that night, when Warren Entner and Creed Bratton joined Phil in singing songs that Phil had either co-written or produced for the Grass Roots. A band in name only at first, created after Sloan/Barri crafted, recorded and produced hits under this assumed name, with no real band, just incredibly gifted studio musicians on the songs.

Before the great Diesel bookstore closed in Malibu, one of their final public events was a book signing featuring Phil and Creed Bratton that drew another standing-room-only event. In that audience were more colleagues from the same music era, including Steve Kalinich, Danny Rutherford and his wife Marilyn Wilson Rutherford (The Honeys, and mother to Carnie and Wendy Wilson by father, Brian).

At these concert/book signings, Feinberg said, “During the show I noticed several people in the audience weeping, as was the clerk at the bookstore, both on Sunset Strip as well as at the Art House & Cultural Gallery. The trigger of nostalgia can be very, very strong, though the clerk was too young to remember the songs.” The list of songs that do not define, but do comprise the music of P.F. Sloan is lengthy, those being the hits he wrote and produced for others.

In 2009 journalist Mike Ryan interviewed Phil, asking him, "In the last 40 years, how has music changed, say, for yourself? Sloan replied, "I wish there was something positive to say in that regard. I am generally an upbeat, positive soul. I mean that what we're witnessing is basically the implosion and destruction of the music business as it was known, not that it was a positive entity, but it was an entity that we were used to. Just for people that aren’t that involved in the business aspect of it, there was distribution of how to get the music into your store and you’d buy it and you’d listen to it. That doesn’t exist anymore, at least in most places; there aren't any stores anymore."

I think the main point, which I’d like to give Bob Lefsetz credit for, is that there is no culture of music anymore. There was a time, and I’m paraphrasing what he said, and I really agree with it. There was a time when we were involved in a culture of music. It was important to hear this new album by Pink Floyd. It was important to hear certain bands. They became your North Star. That doesn’t exist anymore."

Sloan continued, "You can’t go on a major television show and try and create a culture…Going on television shows and promoting your music is not selling music. Basically, I’ve witnessed the loss of the culture, the excitement, of someone who speaks from their heart, and soul and consciousness and raises yours. People would understand Elvis Presley or The Beatles or The Stones or Procol Harum or the Beach Boys….not just the 60s…there were 70s and 80s groups, Foreigner, etc., but the culture is gone, that’s all. It doesn’t exist." It's true enough, and those who were fortunate enough to be there at the time, or even today to learn from those times are the benefactors and guardians of the memories of those times, and curator of the culture for generations to come.

Sloan created songs that forever are remembered as performed by literally some of the most talented musicians of our time. Whether he is properly remembered as having the role in crafting the message to all who hear the music is unknown. One thing is for sure. The true talents among his colleagues in music never forgot him. Today on Twitter, songwriter and friend Jimmy Webb posted “prayers for the family of PF Sloan and for those who loved his music. A great loss.”

Sloan’s memoirs collectively shaped by Steve Feinberg describe one night in music memory:

The first group onstage was The Grass Roots, who began their set with ‘Mr. Jones’ and followed it with ‘Where Were You When I Needed You?’ and ‘Live for Today.’ Next came Herman’s Hermits, who did, among others ‘A Must to Avoid,’ ‘Hold On,’ and ‘All The Things That I Do for You, Baby.’ The Kingsmen did ‘Louie, Louie’ followed by ‘That’s Cool, That’s Trash.’ Paul Revere & The Raiders did a set, as did The Buckinghams. And then The Turtles took the stage. They started with ‘It Ain’t Me Babe’ and went through ‘Let Me Be,’ ‘You Baby,’ ‘Can I Get To Know You Better,’ and all their other great hits. When they got to ‘Is It Any Wonder,’ Howard Kaylan paused. He spoke quietly, taking the audience into his confidence, as if speaking to old friends. ‘I wonder where Phil Sloan is tonight.’”

This night, we wonder no more where Phil is. We know. His final words in his book should be the final ones here.

I had climbed the mountain, by His grace, after falling off it more times than I can count, and I got to watch the show from that unique and marvelous vantage point. May God bless us all with an unselfish heart and mind so that we may make each day better than the one before for each and every one of us. Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. May all beings in the world know peace and happiness. P.F. Sloan”

Amen, and amen, Philip. May love and light be yours on your journey forward. You and your work lives still on the minds and in the hearts of those you know, and even more you never met, but who love you all the same.

Article first published on examiner.com 11/17/15