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 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.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Special ‘Our Name is Barbra’ Los Angeles Event Set to Benefit Project Angel Food

The opportunity to meet Los Angeles cabaret and special event producer Clifford Bell arrived two weeks ago. He was, as usual, in the thick middle of things up to all kinds of good and he was surrounded by eleven people whom he had gathered to donate their time and talents in behalf of Project Angel Food in Los Angeles, California. The occasion was the 17th Annual Gathering of Angels on April 9, a brunch celebrating all the volunteers for Project Angel Food, held at The American Legion Hollywood Post 43 in downtown Los Angeles.

So many people are aware of this exceptional organization and its mission, but for those who are new to its purpose, back in 1989, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, so many people wanted to help, but didn’t know what to do. Before fear was replaced with education, and prior to medicines, money for research, and various optimistic and progressive medical treatments were being developed, there was a sense of chaos and crisis among those affected by the disease and all who knew and loved them.

Marianne Williamson, a petite and powerful woman of action who possesses supreme motivational gifts and the ability to think clearly in any crisis, had “the” answer to the question on everyone’s minds: “What can we do to help?” Her answer: “Food. Everyone needs food. That’s what we can do,” as Clifford Bell explained that day.

Starting from the name Los Angeles Center for Living, Marianne, together with spiritual publisher and beacon for positivity, Louise Hay, and David Kessler held the initial fundraiser and generated $11,000 instantly, sufficient to launch lunch programs for drop-ins, and to begin the process of taking the food to the homebound. The following year they began their kitchen operating out of Crescent Heights Methodist Church.

Now, some 25 years later, Project Angel Food can be proud of having served its 10,000,000th meal to anyone who has a terminal illness, in addition to AIDS. Through the years, as the nonprofit’s name officially changed to Project Angel Food, virtually every Hollywood luminary (from Elizabeth Taylor to Barbra Streisand to David Geffen to Barry Diller, who gave lead gifts for a new kitchen in 1994), has been a part of philanthropic giving to this effort.

As just one example, actress Pauley Perrette of CBS’ number one prime time drama, “NCIS,” has been a prolific and supportive Board of Directors member, as she regularly posts on her Twitter account about the group and has encouraged donations to the organization on many talk shows where she is a guest.

The organization’s Board of Trustees includes founder, Marianne Williamson, Chantal Westerman, David Geffen, David Kessley, Edward L. Rada, Elizabeth Taylor (in memoriam), Judith Light, Loreen Arbus, Paris Barclay, Ron de Salvo, Ronald W. Burkle, Sandy Gallin, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Vicki Iovine.

Now, forget the celebrities. Forget the who’s who of philanthropy, and focus on the people who are the clients of this dynamic organization. That’s what everyone’s goal is who serves this organization in any capacity, whether volunteer or stellar performer at musical fundraisers that Clifford Bell directs. Sit for a moment and reflect about what it means for this group to have served 10,000,000 meals to those in need. Twenty-five years, 10,000,00 meals, or 400,000 meals per year, roughly 1,095 meals each day.

That’s why 17 years ago, the organization began honoring their volunteers as the true stars of the organization and its amazing achievements. The organization’s permanent administrative home is located at 922 Vine Street, thanks to lead gifts from Wallis Annenberg, Wells Fargo Foundation, Keck Foundation, MAC AIDS Fund, and the Ahmanson Foundation.

None of the major donors seek nor need attribution, but still it’s most important to know that as many people who are out in front of an organization being the workforce can only operate when funding is in place from supportive, visionary leaders, not all of whom may understand what it’s like to be sick or hungry but who do understand how to give from their hearts, generously.

This, then, brings us back to the heart of Clifford Bell, who was born a do-gooder from the very start but who prefers being the kingmaker behind the scenes. From San Diego to Los Angeles to parts in between Bell has a rich history as an entertainer, manager, and show producer. His own creation, “Cabarabia” is a relatively new moniker to some, but to those deeply seated in the LA Jazz world, it’s the intersection of cabaret and jazz, which Clifford contends is the perfect home to showcase established celebrity singers as well as introduce fresh new faces to audiences before anyone else does. And he does.

Take for example the “Gathering of Angels” thank-you to volunteers event for Project Angel Food held two weeks ago at the American Legion. Clifford made a few phone calls requesting some of his friends to join him downtown on a Saturday afternoon, and starting with Musical Director Steve Rawlins, he featured Kiki Ebsen, Keith Borden, Tiffany Bailey, Jane Kinsey, Steve Masterson, Alex Boling, Emma Weisbach, and Alex Mohajer, plus Tim Butterworth brought all the backline for the artists as his gift.

On hand from Project Angel Food were Robert Boller, Richard Ayoub, Interim Executive Director, and Joe Mannix, Board Member. The focus was on the volunteers who made the difference “six days a week, whether cooking or delivering meals, making bracelets, filling cookie containers, or helping with administrative work.” Master of Ceremonies was Mark Cirillo, who told a very moving story about performer Keith Borden.

Borden is host of his own show, “Soulful Sundays with Keith Borden & Friends,” but he is also a longtime volunteer driver and meal deliverer for Project Angel Food. It was not much before the volunteer recognition event that Borden had been called into the home, by family members, of one of his regular clients, who just wanted to spend a little extra time with Keith that day. The client was, when Keith entered, lying on the floor, all stretched out, rather than sitting upright in a chair. The man said, “Join me down here, please, Keith.” Borden did, and as they both lay there, side by side for thirty minutes, they exchanged some conversation about the usual things, but there was stillness and silence in between.

In those quiet moments, Keith saw what was missing from the client was the usual scarf he had around his neck each time he’d been there before. With the scarf removed, for the first time Borden saw a massive tumor growth on the side of the client’s neck, and knew instantly what that meant.

A servant’s heart and a loving spirit was what Keith Borden delivered to the client’s home that day. Meeting people where they live, looking them in the eyes, rather than at the tumor, seeing them as people of dignity, deserving respect, delivering hope, friendship, and brotherly love without condition or looking at a watch. The client just wanted thirty minutes. He got that time, with love, from Keith.

Later that week, Borden learned that his client had died, and of course he was moved in many ways. So on Saturday, April 9th, as he sang, “God Bless the Child,” it was amazing that Keith Borden could even get through the song but not only did he “get through the song” as you see in the video here, he gave it his all. That’s what volunteers for Project Angel Food do. Each meal costs $5 to make, including fresh ingredients, cooking, and delivery, per the organization’s web site. But Keith Borden’s gift was worth, clearly, priceless that day, when he showed up, as usual, a man who could be counted on to be there for his client.

After the performance, Borden was modest in accepting all the accolades being proffered that day. He said, “My family in our early years had benefited from some assistance and as a child it was my goal to work to help us get out of that and to help others who were in need and set an example that we could be those who help each other.” Borden succeeded on both fronts, and he sings like the angel he is, to the people he serves in entertainment and in Project Angel Food. You have a chance to hear him on Sunday night.

Those who live near Los Angeles have an opportunity to capture the joy and celebrate the endeavor by attending “Our Name is Barbra 2016,” an evening to benefit Project Angel Food, co-hosted by Scott Evan Davis and Clifford Bell. Last week on The Sheena Metal Experience, on LA Talk Radio, Sheena’s guests were Bell, joined by Jason Graae and Tiffany Bailey to discuss the evening and the reason for the event. Jason was Ms. Bailey’s earliest role model and mentor as a performer, and Bell has, at some level, guided both in his career as a producer and early spotter of talent. The entire evening will be songs by Barbra Streisand, performed by Scott Evan Davis, Catte Adams, Tiffany Bailey, Keith Borden, Joshua Lance Dixon, Julie Garnye, Jason Graae, Jane Kinsey, Steve Masterson, Dana Meller, Mark Arthur Miller, Alex Mohajer, MaryJo Mundy, Kyra Selman, Patricia Whiteman, David Zimmerson and more.

Special featured guest is the supremely talented Mary Wilson of the beloved group, The Supremes. Clifford Bell is directing the show, and he might even sing one number himself; he can and he should. Musical co-directors include Michael Colum, Marc Hugenberger on piano, with dynamic Tom Bowe on drums, and Al Garcia on bass for this superb musical backing.

“Our Name is Barbra” takes place at Rockwell’s on April 24 at 7 pm. And for the record, Wayne Elias, of Rockwell Table & Stage, is also on the Board of Directors of Project Angel Food. It all comes around full circle. For tickets, call the box office at (323) 669-1550 or visit Rockwell’s is located at 1714 N. Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027.

It’s Barbra’s birthday, so you should go. She’s personally been a sponsor of this marvelous endeavor. Now you have at least 20 reasons to go. Most of all, it’s for a grand cause, a benefit for Project Angel Food. Make a difference, just like Keith Borden does. Give generously.

Originally published April 23, 2016 on the former news site,

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.

Friday, January 8, 2016

‘Tuscany Unplugged’: Clifford Bell, Tiffany Bailey bring Cabarabia to San Diego

Clifford Bell is a man on a mission, and that mission is to show audiences how cabaret entertainment and jazz vocals go together so well. He has coined his own term for the blend, called “Cabarabia,” and to pronounce it correctly, think “Lawrence of Cabaret (Arabia),” and then it flows. In the world that is Cabaret, you find Bell. And on Sunday night, you will find Clifford Bell, Tiffany Bailey, Marsha Bartenetti, and Errolyn Healy in concert in “Tuscany Unplugged,” Sunday, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m., at Tuscany Italian Restaurant, in Carlsbad, California. Tim Moore is producing the evening with Justin Gray on piano, serving as music director. In a recent interview for, Bell shared more about the evening ahead. As a veteran producer of entertainment and music shows for California, Bell began his music journey in San Diego, before concentrating primarily on Los Angeles and New York venues, and all parts in between. In a recent conversation, Bell said he’s really looking forward to returning to his old college town, and he’s very excited that he’s sharing a stage with Tiffany Bailey, one of his newest friends and music.

Here's an example of one of Clifford Bell's Cabarabia evenings with Kiki Ebesn as guest, singing "You Don't Know What Love Is". Written by Don Raye (lyrics) and Gene de Paul (music) As featured in Kiki Ebsen's show, "To Dad, With Love: A Tribute to Buddy Ebsen")

Clifford’s credits include a host of quality entertainers he has either “directed, produced, or booked,” and of course it’s impressive. Many may remember Bell as a regular producer/director of shows at the famed Cinegrill at the Hollywood Roosevelt, Catalina Jazz Club, Café Carlyle, and The Oak Room at the Algonquin. Yet, one of his highest and best gifts is spotting extraordinary music talent in performers and finding showcases to introduce them to larger audiences.

And so it is with the lovely chanteuse, Tiffany Bailey. How the serendipitous world of jazz works, at least for Bell, is that one person is a catalyst and brings together complete strangers and in an evening of entertainment showcases, creates a group of new friends who share and bring out the best in each other by virtue of their association. How this evening began, then, was months ago, as Clifford joined forces with the acclaimed and respected singer and vocal workshop leader, Cathy Segal-Garcia, based in Los Angeles.

Bell said, “Cathy is so well respected for spotting singers with original styles, and she encourages them to continue to develop those styles as performance signatures.” Meeting Tiffany Bailey a few months back and hearing her sing, Bell knew immediately that this young lady had both stage presence, vocal chops, and a flair for performing that would take her far. The accompanying video here, of Bailey singing “Damn Your Eyes” shows the magic Bell heard during rehearsals.

Within the hearts and minds of many Los Angeles vocalists, there are many talented and philanthropic collectives, just one of which is a group of people who donate their time, usually monthly, to share their talents in a fund-raising event where the evening’s proceeds are dedicated to a particular nonprofit organization. So, when Bell met Tiffany through Cathy, he learned of Bailey’s devotion to the nonprofit, Autism Speaks. Instantly he decided that would be the beneficiary of their next event.

Thus was the genesis of a Thanksgiving 2015 benefit, “Giving Thanks 2015” at the trendy E Spot Lounge in Studio City, California, which Bell co-hosted with Cathy Segal-Garcia. Entertainers that evening included Tiffany Bailey; Gary Brumburgh; Chambers, Herbert & Ellis; Karen Benjamin, Alan Chapman and Molly Chapman; Mon David; Kiki Ebsen; Martha Taylor LaCroix; Mark Christian Miller; Dolores Scozzesi; and Gabriela Vahanian.

Bell also hosts a weekly podcast on the Global Voice Broadcasting Network. (Search Goole for Cabarabia and Gloval Voice Broadcasting Network) to watch Bell, Bailey, Segal-Garcia talk about the “Giving Thanks” event. From the outside looking in, the worlds of jazz and cabaret entertainment are both beloved and more often than not, rather separate audiences. Bell thinks that’s entirely wrong and insists they combine to form the perfect intersection when you bring together performers with backgrounds in each for a night of entertainment that lends itself to show flow.

Normally you can find the engaging raconteur and vocalist at the producer’s helm of engaging shows in Los Angeles, but this time, he’s agreed to be part of the talent lineup at Tim Moore’s “Tuscany Unplugged.” Tim was a regular viewer of Bell’s GVB podcast every week and Bell said, “Tim always had very interesting feedback and questions, and when he became a producing force down south with his creation of the San Diego Cabaret Awards, I have happily participated wherever I could, which I will do again this year on Monday, February 1, for the Third Annual Event.”

Bell is equally comfortable onstage as offstage, but it’s a rare treat to get to hear him sing. Bell has hosted showcase runs for well known actors who sing, or singers who are popular actor, Peter Gallagher, Katey Sagal. He's also featured his friend, composing talent Artie Butler, who wrote the music to Phyllis Molinary’s lyrics in “Here’s to Life,” but when Bell sings it, a very poignant performance results. (Ed. Note: Having heard him sing it in person, I was brought to tears by his poignant performance.)

Another featured performer for Sunday's lineup, Errolyn Healy is a 2014 San Diego Cabaret Performer of the Year nominee, who is said to bring a gentle effervescence, somewhat akin to Kristin Chenoweth, to the program. Bell said, “I’m really looking forward to hearing her sing.”

Then, there's the "tremendous Marsha Bartenetti, who is well known for smooth jazz, the Great American Songbook." And as an adult contemporary artist, she really delivers classic tunes with a powerful, precise style that will find you swaying along to in your chairs as she sings.

As jazz and cabaret enthusiasts are often heard to say, the evening is going to be “Epic!” Although some tickets are reasonably prices at the door for Sunday’s “Tuscany Unplugged.” For more information, you might want to act sooner and visit the Facebook event page for Jan. 10. All things considered, if Clifford Bell is in the zip code, it’s going to be a grand glimpse into the world that is Cabarabia.

And now, here is Clifford Bell's latest discovery and ingenue, Tiffany Bailey, singing "lights out" on her signature tune, "Damn Your Eyes" with Mark Massey, piano, Al Garcia, bass, Tom Bowe, drums, Dori Amarilio, guitar. She's effervescent and delightful, isn't she? A real dynamo and one to watch for the future.

Performed Live on Dec. 20, 2015 at The E Spot Lounge at Vitello's in Studio City, California. Thanks to award-winning videographer/editor/director, Marc Saltarelli, for his usual magnificent job of filming all the Cabarabia productions.

Dawn Lee Wakefield

Houston Music Examiner Story First published January 8, 2016 on

Memories of 2014: The love and legacy of Paul Revere

[Photo (left) from Paul Revere & the Raiders Facebook Page. Visit the page and like it while you're there!

Original story published on and reprinted in full below:

You’ll see two photos in the latest issue of “People Magazine,” posted online Jan. 14, 2015: Paul Revere and Samuel Adams, two American patriots whose time capsule was buried in 1795, being unearthed. That’s one. The other is a two-page photo spread, commemorating the life of musician and band leader, Paul Revere. In life as in death, the work we do, the people we know, and those who truly love us, individually and collectively, shape the impression that our life, and work, leaves behind after we are gone.

As the final weeks of 2014 arrived, and as the holidays set in, the loss of one of classic rock’s music icons began to be ever more real. Paul Revere loved Christmas, and he loved the advent of a new year ahead. That new year appearing had always meant packing for an annual January adventure aboard Concerts at Sea, his very own “Where the Action Is” cruise, with a ship-full of his family, friends, fellow musicians, and fans aboard for the fun.

October 4, 2014, marked Paul’s actual departure from this world after a lengthy and courageous battle with cancer. A very special memorial service was arranged for Oct. 13, at the holy, beautiful Cathedral of the Rockies, Boise First United Methodist Church. Because of Sydney Revere and the family’s lasting appreciation to the fans of Paul Revere and his Raiders, the funeral service was livestreamed on the Internet for simultaneous viewing. Boise FUMC’s Pastor Duane Anders opened the occasion, noting “It’s hard to capture anyone’s life in just a few words. Today we gather in love to remember, to mourn, laugh and hear music as we witness and testify to one of God’s children, Paul Revere.

The funeral proceedings featured Master of Ceremonies Tom Scott, and seven guest speakers who offered such distinct and beautiful memories of Paul that shared one common theme: Paul’s love for his fellow men and women, with the most special spot in his heart for the men and women who served in the United States Armed Forces. Named for a patriot, Paul lived as a patriot, never passing by an opportunity to thank active duty service personnel for their gift of time and service to the country. Revere also made it his personal mission in life to provide for, care and share with the veterans who endured acts of war, times of strife, and weeks of recuperation to return home and try to pick up the pieces of their lives and move on.

Tom Scott shared personal thanks for the outpouring of affection expressed to the family by so many residents of Idaho, noting “There will never be another like Paul Revere.” Tom recalled a January 1971 visit where Paul rode his chopper to radio station KFXD to bring test pressings of two songs, “Birds of a Feather” and “Indian Reservation,” thinking “Birds” had the best chance of being a hit. Scott played both songs and the listeners voted 3 to 1 for “Indian Reservation.” The song shot to Number 1 very quickly. Mike Allen and Revere visited radio stations all across the state to promote the song, and six months later, it was a million-selling single that ultimately became their best-known hit.

When the governor of your home state makes your funeral service his priority, then many strangers could easily be impressed and assume that it’s one celebrity showing up for another. And yet, it was a real friendship that Revere and former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne shared, that and mutual love and respect for their home state.

Brigadier General Allan Gayhart, Retired USAR, who was over the 116th Brigade combat team from the Idaho Army National Guard, spoke of Paul’s band as “America’s Band,” frequently embraced as America’s answer to the British invasion of the 1960s. Gen. Gayhart shared from the heart that Paul had a connection to veterans that could never be fully appreciated, as Paul always went the extra step of recognizing all those who served our nation.

This seasoned soldier shared “Paul was an early supporter of the Rolling Thunder event in Washington, DC. He started the Ride to the Wall Foundation, and donated proceeds from several CD sales to this cause. Veterans who attended a concert always received great respect. Paul would take the time to honor and recognize those who served, especially the Vietnam veterans, which meant so much to them.”

Gen. Gayhart recalled that one day he received a call from Gov. Kempthorne, asking him what Idaho could do for their reserve soldiers called up for deployment. Over 4,000 of Idaho’s soldiers were in Alexandria, Louisiana, awaiting deployment to Iraq that would come approximately a week later. The general’s suggestion was quick: Paul Revere. The story about how that happened would come from the speaker to follow.

Gen. Gayhart knew that most of these young service personnel would be men and women in their 20s, who didn’t grow up with the Baby Boomer devotion to and recognition of the music and hijinks of Paul Revere and his merry band of Raiders. He feared, for a millisecond, that the soldiers might be doing eye-rolls at the thought of the music of a lost generation. He recalled that he shouldn’t have worried.

Memories the general shared included his genuinely being moved as he saw the troops “amazed and truly entertained by the music and humor of the band.” They were dancing in the aisles and clapping hands, tapping feet, keeping rhythm flowing. “Our soldiers are now 4,000 of The Raiders’ greatest fans,” as they recall who was there for them as they were a “long way from home, surrounded by concern and apprehension of what was in store for their future. “They went into combat knowing there were those who loved and supported them,” as the general spoke through his own tears at the recollection. “Paul Revere was remembered as a truly great American and patriot.”

Next to speak was Brig. Gen. Bill Shawver, Retired USAF, who shared his personal memories of that same fall in 2004 when Paul, Sydney, and the Raiders came to focus their attention on the needs of the service personnel that day. Gen. Shawver was also aware of Paul’s devotion to the important Ride to the Wall Foundation for Vietnam vets. “The energy Paul displayed on stage would only be surpassed by what he did that week in Alexandria,” said Gen. Shawver.

Gen. Shawver was the logistician for the occasion of Operation Thanksgiving, as he shared personal recollections of the event. Joke by joke, song by song, there was complete immersion by the audience in what Paul and the band were doing. At the conclusion of the concert, Paul stayed to take photos with everyone who wanted to, and he even talked on the soldiers’ cell phones to their parents, the loved ones of those departing for combat, because they knew their parents would appreciate that so much. Paul was not fatigued; rather he was energized and matched these “youngsters” beat for beat.

Choking back the tears welling up, Gen. Shawver recounted how one young man had handed a set of dog tags to Paul, as he shared, “These belonged to my dad and I want to give them to you for being here with us.” Paul put those tags in his pocket and promised to take care of them, wishing the young man safety and a quick return. One man’s heart, one man’s soul, one man’s spirit reached across the divide of generations and made a permanent impression in the hearts of valiant warriors and new soldiers alike that occasion. That was who Paul Revere was, a man whose greatest deeds and works remained essentially buried in privacy until governors and generals paraded forth to share their memories with all who only thought they knew Paul well.

Paul and Sydney could have easily taken leave of the group at any point that day, but Gen. Shawver said, “They stayed with Gov. Kempthorne, standing for six hours, in conversation, serving meals in the true spirit of that Operation Thanksgiving weekend. The entire event came about as the result of a single phone call, placed by Kempthorne to Revere, who located him on his cell phone.

As the former Idaho governor, Dirk Kempthorne, took his turn at eulogizing Paul, he described with pride the initial phone call that started Operation Thanksgiving in the first place. The call went something like this:

Phone rings. Paul answers. “Hi, Gov. What’s up?” “I’m just taking a shot here, but is there any way you and the Raiders could come to Alexandria for the deployment of the 116th?” “Cool, absolutely, when is it? Wow. I’ll get right back to you.” Two hours later the governor related was walking across the parking lot at Boise State University as his phone rang. Paul was calling. “Gov, we’re all in. We’re all in.”

The deployment process took actually a full six days to accomplish, moving 4,300 troops is something the military trains regularly to do, but Paul Revere served his country as a civilian those same six days. Gov. Kempthorne said of Paul, “He would go through all the tents, sit on the bunks and talk to these soldiers, one on one. He went to chapel with us. This man invested every amount of the fiber of his spirit into the citizens who were wearing the uniform in a call to duty.” “When the last of the 116th brigade was deployed, there was a battalion still in Alexandria not attached to the 116th. They were there from the eastern United States, and there was no one there from their state to wish them Godspeed,” Kempthorne noted. “They were to deploy 24 hours later, and I’d already told the team to go home as we’d completed our mission. But Paul stayed that extra day, to be with those who had no one there, making sure at least he would be there.” From the podium, he spoke personally to Sydney, Paul’s daughter Jody, and his son Jamie: “That’s the man he was.”

As Gov. Kempthorne noted the presence of current Idaho governor Butch Otter at the funeral as well, you have to pause for a big moment and think about the dignity with which the state of Idaho viewed Paul, the regard in which he was held throughout his lifetime, and the way he could easily shape a state’s heritage by recognizing and respecting the soldiers from that state, in just that one show, but that was not the only time. There were several decades of work Paul did with the Ride to the Wall Foundation as well.

One by one, Paul’s life and times as a musician were noted by Keith Allison, Roger Hart, Larry Leasure and Phil Volk. Each shared musical stories of the touring band, of the height of the career. Each story was told with love; favorite Bible verses were shared, and memories filled the sanctuary.

Phil Volk said, “Next to my Mom and Elvis Presley, Paul Revere was my next biggest musical influence. He taught me how to write.” Fang was funny as he shared one special memory about how Paul was fearless. It was when the Raiders had flown down to the Dominican Republic on a C-130 cargo ship. There was a performance at one army base, where no one in the band felt like they were connecting with the audience. “A big, tall Green Beret came marching up to Paul, and sort of smiled as he stared at him. We were all sort of worried. We shouldn’t have. Paul grabbed a mike, walked the man up to the middle of the stage and said, ‘You know what your problem is? You have the wrong kind of hat.’ And with that, he took the Green Beret’s beret and put his own three-cornered hat on the soldier. Paul finished the show wearing the beret. We were so glad the soldier let Paul live that night.”

Then there was Paul, the everyman, comfortable around everyone. As the invited guest of Robert Redford, for the world premiere of the movie “Jeremiah Johnson,” Revere and Redford hung out together the whole night, two men who are iconic to those who don’t know them, and to those who do as well.

Volk brought the crowd to near tears of laughter as he described a St. Louis stopover during a 1960s concert tour sponsored by Columbia Records, promoting their latest album at the time. They’d arrived at the corporate promotion of Paul Revere riding a horse up the steps of the Plaza Hotel in St. Louis. Not only did Paul ride up the steps, he managed to stay in the saddle to get the horse through the front doors and right into the lobby and paused at the front desk to register. It all unfolded so fast, and then the fine steed decided to drain his bladder over the $50,000 Persian carpet. Fang remembered they sent Columbia the bill for the carpet cleaning. Those were the days of grandiose, outlandish “what’s next around the corner” minute-by-minute Raider-style fun.

Keith Allison brought the words of comfort from Keri Clark, widow of Dick Clark, on behalf of the family, and shared that with rare exception, Dick Clark did not really fraternize with the artists he hired and showcased on television programs. Paul Revere was the one exception, and they were good friends. Again, Paul was singled out as the one for whom people made extra time.”

Allison also shared memories sent to him from Freddy Weller to share that day. Weller described Paul as honest, a man of integrity and one who knew how to treat his fellow man, a true hero. Allison also brought the somber group to laughter as he shared stories of living in Boise, times with the band on the road and then another poignant moment about Sydney, the love of Paul’s life.

Keith related that one day out of the blue, Revere called him and said, “You have to come to Atlantic City! Syd’s starring in ‘Some Like it Hot!’ So Keith goes and Paul said, “I have to take some pictures of these great display boards because Syd’s on them!” So he did. And then they loaded into a rental car, and Keith drove as they went up and down the highway so Paul could take a photo of all of the Harrah’s billboards advertising the production. There were many! There was even one Harrah’s billboard high atop traffic in an isolated location on a deserted road. Paul said, “I have to get a shot of that!” So he climbed on top of the billboard (both men were in their 50s at the time, but remember, Paul was fearless!) and then Keith said, “I had to climb on top of the car to get that shot!” The mourners could not help but fall into laughter as they could imagine Paul’s love for Sydney as high as the highest billboard in New Jersey! Allison’s parting words were a perfect introduction for the photo montage: “Some people dream, some people live. We got to live our dreams. Sleep well my friend.”

Bill Medley followed and said, “Paul Revere was a soulmate, we worked together every chance we got.” That friendship and musical alliance took them from Las Vegas to Branson, and places in between. Medley also spoke of their last phone conversation together. Bill knew Paul had called to say goodbye. “He asked me to keep an eye on Syd and take care of her,” and I said, “Of course, we will all be there for Syd and care for her.”

Medley then moved to play piano while his daughter McKenna sang the words to a favorite hymn, “Precious Lord, take my hand, lead me home.” To close the service, Rev. Anders shared his reflection on the service that had just taken place in the Revere family church, and how he had introduced his own children to the music of the man whose memory was being honored that day. Those watching live stream, thanks to the consideration of Paul’s family, felt that they too had been a part of his tribute and memorial. But that’s not where the story ends.

When Paul was in his final days battling cancer, he rebranded the band as Paul Revere’s Raiders, because he wanted the music everyone loved to live on beyond his life. He asked each of his band members to keep it going, for his sake, and together they have. Their first concert of 2015 came in Las Vegas, in two nights at the South Point Casino.

On Saturday, Jan. 4, two friends came on stage, Las Vegas resident and The Buckinghams’ Nick Fortuna and Phil ‘Fang’ Volk. Together the band and Fang performed “Kicks,” complete with the trademark Raider dance moves. On Tuesday following the Vegas weekend, a Raiders fan sent Sirius-XM’s 60s on 6 morning man, Phlash Phelps, a picture of Nick, Darren Dowler, and Fang, and Phlash talked about the excitement of the weekend.

“For Fang, it was like riding the proverbial bike again—you just don’t forget.” Phlash shared communications he had with Raiders’ drummer Tom Scheckel: “Fang brought down the house, and both he and Nick were great to come up and join us for the encore as well, and in large part secured a standing ovation for us.” Phlash added his own thoughts how wonderful it was that the brilliant history of musicians who were part of the Raiders’ band at one time, and the colleagues who’d performed together in so many venues over the past 35 years together as The Buckinghams and The Raiders, have been doing the past months. On Sunday evening, on stage with the Raiders, singer Bill Medley told a couple of great “inside” stories, and sang “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling.”

Scheckel said that several band members had been contacted by so many celebrities who had lifetime friendships with Paul, each offering to do anything they could to share music and memories, should they ever be needed. Phlash also noted the magnanimous gesture of musician and band leader Paul Shaffer, who’d offered to come out to the first show the Raiders performed following Revere’s passing on Nov. 11, 2014. With Paul’s schedule on “The Late Show with David Letterman” and the concert date, the logistics didn’t work out to have that happen, but the offer was like gold, prized by each of Paul Revere’s Raiders.

If fans are thinking about Paul, particularly as the Where the Action Cruise is about to sail this coming weekend, visit the website for the Ride to the Wall Foundation; the board president is Larry Leasure, and Sydney Revere remains on the Foundation’s Board of Directors. Funds are dispersed to several approved veteran’s outreach programs.

Paul Revere would have been 77 years old on Jan. 7. His 76 years of life here were much like the Spirit of ’76, with patriotism, love of his fellow man, appreciation for great music and his ability to entertain and share his gifts–fairly, generously and consistently–the legacy he leaves behind. Paul Revere left all of his fans a special gift—his band, Paul Revere’s Raiders.

For every time they play, for every Raiders song, from all the early years and with some of the lesser known but beloved hits that they perform, they’re doing it for Paul with enthusiasm. The music lives on because the Raiders keep rocking. Darren Dowler, Ron Foos, Doug Heath, Danny Krause, Jamie Revere, and Tommy Scheckel are there to preserve the spirit Paul left here.

Together, they are band who continues to be, as one radio DJ aptly tagged them, “the keepers of the flame.”

[Editor's note: The band is still very active in performing, keeping Paul's spirit alive and the band's music going strong. You can catch their tour dates on their website:]