Birth of the Blues
With the Asheville Jazz Orchestra
Recorded LIVE in North Carolina at White Horse/Black Mountain
PREMIERE: “Sequestered Saloon Singer”
EVEN DURING A PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN, THE MUSIC NEVER ENDS!
Here I am, folks, obediently sequestered in an “undisclosed location” – and sharing a seldom-heard torch song treasure from the golden pens of Johnny Mercer and Jimmy Van Heusen. It was recorded twice by Frank Sinatra, but was relegated to the B-side of two different singles. The Song is “Empty Tables” and the accompanist is the talented Stuart Seale.
I hope you enjoy it.
The Great American Songbook
Swing Tunes & Saloon Songs
NOTICE: THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS. CHECK BACK FOR RESCHEDULED DATE.
I’M SO EXCITED to announce my new concert show with the swingin’ Shout Section Big Band – “The Great American Songbook – Swing Tunes & Saloon Songs.” Premiering Sunday, March 15th at Good Men Club – a terrific, intimate jazz show room in the Chicagoland suburbs. I hope you can join us.
SAVE THE DATE: SUNDAY, MARCH 15th.Get your tickets early please – because seating is limited and I’d sure love to see your friendly face in the audience! http://www.goodmenclubjazz.com Phone 224.475-1747.
SWINGIN’ SOME GOOD NEWS
YUP, CAN’T HELP IT – THE GOOD NEWS JUST STARTS SWINGIN’ when Brett Dean’s Shout Section Big Band and I invade Chicago’s WGN-TV studios to perform LIVE during the Midday News!
Turn up the sound, click the picture and enjoy!
In Hollywood back in 1978, getting your name in TV Guide was an early indication that you had “arrived.”
That was then. It was my very first network television role and on a top-ten rated show! And, whaddya know… suddenly, POW! There I was – in TV Guide! Okay, maybe I wasn’t quite ready to start writing an Emmy* acceptance speech yet, but I did feel like I was finally in the ‘big leagues” – even if I was still only a bat boy on the team.
Now, exactly forty-one years later, through wistful eyes, it all seems rather naive, amusing – and, in some ways, sad. Penny Marshall is gone. So is her brother, legendary comedy producer Garry Marshall – and Jack Somack, who starred in the classic 1969 “Spicy meatball” Alka Seltzer commercial. My buddy Phil Foster, too – along with so many others.
I look at who we beat the pants off of in the ratings that week, and I see TV icon Merv Griffin and one of my boyhood idols, Jack Paar, along with the hilarious Dody Goodman and brilliant Hans Conried. Also, TV perennial Dr. Joyce Brothers, comic Stu Gilliam and the insanely funny Pat McCormick, who later became one of my dear pals. At 6’7″, he was often (and aptly) referred to as “The World’s Tallest Leprechaun.”
I miss them. They’re all gone now – and so is the authoritative importance of TV Guide – along with that entire innocent and wonderfully funny world of network TV comedy which we all inhabited – so at home in that combination stage, playground and madhouse.
But forty-one years ago today, at the age of 28, I was starting to feel like I had finally “arrived” – on a cloud of enthusiasm and blissfully unaware of the ultimately tenuous nature of it all – and of us.
12 December 2019
*The term “Emmy” is a registered trademark of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, (NATAS).
Swingin’ on LIVE TV!
Tune in or DVR so you don’t miss the Shout Section Big Band and I invading Chicago’s WGN-TV Midday News! We’ll swing hard, show no mercy and take no prisoners!
Dec 22nd: Wayne’s back at FitzGeralds!
CLICK ON THE PIC FOR A SHORT VIDEO FROM THIS PERFORMANCE!
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MADE
As a very young boy, JFK and the 1960 Presidential campaign represented my initial awareness of politics – a civics awakening.
Like most others my age, on November 22, 1963, I was in school, (in Mr. Leonetti’s Biology Class), when the P.A. system suddenly and quite unexpectedly blared loud static and then a voice, rudely interrupting our puzzled teacher mid-sentence. Of course, we all laughed.
But there was no school announcement. Just a radio newscast.
We initially thought it was a prank – until we listened to the words. Those horrifying words.
It wasn’t long before the entire school was dismissed and we all started wandering home, with tears flowing and a suddenly unsettling empty place inside each of us which I don’t believe has ever been refilled – even to this day.
How does a young American boy grieve and demonstrate honor and respect for a fallen President?
After the usual ways, I used my meager young lad piggy-bank money, saved from my weekend job, to purchase this bronze memorial medallion and this plate block of memorial US stamps in honor of our President.
They’ve been a personal treasure for over a half century.
I took them out to hold them for a moment today. There was an uneasy familiarity about them. It’s been a long time.
While I can’t say that they bring me any pleasure, I can say that they’re important to me because they represent my tiny bit of personal connectivity to that tragic moment in our history when I believe our nation’s innocence was lost – and those of us who remember it, feel like we were all right there together when it happened.
But I think they’re most important to me for a different reason: They also bring back just a glimmer of a poignant reminder of how truly magical and full of hope and promise the world felt to a young boy — on November Twenty-FIRST, 1963.
What a difference a day made.