Meet Deke Sharon, the man behind the current a cappella revolution, vocal arranger for Broadway’s first a cappella musical, In Transit, coming this fall, and author of the new book, The Heart of Vocal Harmony. Deke spoke with Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered, about how he got involved with a cappella, how it’s changed, and his time with the actresses of the hit movie, Pitch Perfect! Listen to the interview below!
Most choirs spend their rehearsal time focusing on notes, rhythms, and precision. They rarely, if ever, discuss a song’s meaning and feeling, even though those elements are precisely what draws people to the music in the first place. Thousands of books have been written about choral technique, teaching people how to sing technically well. What sets The Heart of Vocal Harmony apart is its focus on honest unified expression and the process of delivering an emotionally compelling performance. It delves into an underdeveloped vocal topic – the heart of the music and the process involved with expressing it.
The Heart of Vocal Harmony is not just for a cappella groups – it is also for vocal harmony groups, ensembles, and choirs at all levels, with or without instruments. In addition to the process, the book features discussions with some of the biggest luminaries in vocal harmony: composers, arrangers, directors, singers, and groups – including Eric Whitacre, Pentatonix, the Manhattan Transfer, and more!
Authors of the book Pearl Jam FAQ, Thomas Edward Harkins and Bernard Corbett, spoke to the Lynn Saxberg of the Ottawa Citizen and gave 5 reasons why people still love Pearl Jam. Read below to see what they had to say!
1 Never the same show twice
Pearl Jam is renowned for marathon concerts that can last for almost three hours. Plus, the setlist is different every night, and you never know when they’re going to dig into an entire album, pull out a sweet cover by Neil Young or the Who, or welcome a surprise guest. Over the past couple of weeks, bombshells have included a song-by-song reading of Ten, a cover of the Doobie Brothers’ Takin It To The Streets and appearances by Sting and Cheap Trick. Without a new album to promote (the last outing was 2013’s Lightning Bolt), anything can happen.
2 It’s good to be a fan
The band members have always been grateful for their loyal fans, especially the diehards who travel to more than one show on each tour. Thanks to a lottery system, most of the best seats in each venue are made available to the fan club, a system that not only cuts out the scalpers, but also ensures that true fans are in the front rows, and keeps the ticket prices at a reasonable level. The fans are also often first to hear new music.
3 The Eddie factor
Few bands rock as hard and with as much soul as Pearl Jam. Guitarists Mike McCready and Stone Gossard, along with the rhythm section of Jeff Ament and Matt Cameron construct a musical base like no other, but it’s frontman Eddie Vedder who gives the band its edge with his distinctive, spine-tingling howl, often cathartic lyrics and unpredictable stage antics. At 51, he’s a lot more comfortable in the spotlight than he used to be, and the passion is evident in his performance, noted Corbett, who’s already seen a handful of shows on the current tour, bringing his lifetime total up to around 80 Pearl Jam concerts.
Read the full article by clicking here!
John Breglio, author of I Wanna Be a Producer, was once an entertainment lawyer before he became best known for his critically acclaimed revival of A Chorus Line and Dreamgirls. In this featured article below from Playbill, they take a look at John Breglio’s book and “making a career change if you’re willing to take a leap”. Read a snippet below to learn more.
John Breglio, one of the toughest and savviest theatrical attorneys on Broadway, decided to take down his shingle a decade ago to become, of all things, a Broadway producer.
A man who once sat behind the creators at the table on shows including A Chorus Line, Nine, Fences, Dreamgirls, The Elephant Man and Sunset Boulevard, to name just a few, now sits at the head of the table.
In life, he says, “You have to be willing to take that leap.” He must firmly believe that, as he is leaping once again into uncertain waters as a first-time author. His book, I Wanna Be A Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway… or Get Killed, is equal parts autobiography, textbook and showbiz tell-all.
Those who get bitten by the theatre bug generally remember the precise moment that its mandibles sank in. For Breglio, the moment came at age nine, when he was hypnotized by Gwen Verdon in her Tony-winning role as Lola in Damn Yankees, singing the erotically charged “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets.”
The electricity of that moment carried him through law school and into his entertainment law career. There are so many things that people speculate about in show business, like what really happened between Patti LuPone and Andrew Lloyd Webber during the fateful transfer of the musical Sunset Boulevard from London to Broadway. Or what exactly was the deal Michael Bennett struck to give members of the original cast of A Chorus Line a share of the profits. Breglio helped craft those deals, and is able to pull back the curtain on their mysteries, setting the record straight.
Read the entire article by clicking here.
In Transit, the new a cappella musical that counts Frozen Oscar winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez among its writers, will begin previews November 10 at Broadway’s Circle in the Square. Among its many talented writers and directors, vocal arrangements will be by Deke Sharon, who is best known for his work on Pitch Perfect and The Sing-Off and is also the author of The Heart of Vocal Harmony.
In Transit, the a cappella musical that played a critically acclaimed run Off-Broadway, will begin previews November 10 at Broadway’s Circle in the Square, prior to a December 11 opening night.
Casting and creative team have not been announced.
Circle in the Square is currently home to the Tony-winning musical Fun Home, which will end its run September 10.
Advance tickets for In Transit go on sale to American Express Card Members July 25 (10 AM/EST) through August 2 (9:59 AM EST). Audience Rewards members will have advance ticket access from August 2 (10 AM EST) through August 8 (9:59 AM EST).
Tickets will go on sale to the general public August 8 at 10 AM/EST at Telecharge.com. Tickets range from $89-$159.
With a book, music and lyrics by Academy Award winner Kristen Anderson-Lopez ( Frozen), James-Allen Ford, Russ Kaplan and Sara Wordsworth, vocal arrangements by Deke Sharon ( Pitch Perfect, The Sing-Off) and musical supervision by Rick Hip-Flores ( Rocky), In Transit will be directed and choreographed by three-time Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall ( Anything Goes, Nice Work If You Can Get It).
Learn more in PlayBill.com
The Art of Recording a Big Band is now available at Groove3! This inspiring and educational documentary, shot by Shevy Shovlin, is all about studio legend Al Schmitt. Watch the video trailer below for a look behind the documentary!
A highly anticipated documentary, The Art of Recording a Big Band is now available for streaming and download at Groove3.com. The Art of Recording a Big Band was filmed at the famed Capitol Studios in Hollywood, CA, over the course of a two-day master class by industry legend Al Schmitt and partner, Steve Genewick recording Chris Walden’s GRAMMY® Awards-nominated 18-piece jazz big band.
The film focuses on the recording methods of Schmitt, one of the most celebrated recording engineers, producers and mixers of all time, winning 22 GRAMMY® Awards, the most recent for Paul McCartney’s “Kisses on the Bottom” in 2012. Over the course of his career, Schmitt has recorded and mixed more than 150 gold and platinum albums. His credits include: Henry Mancini, Sam Cooke, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Sammy Davis, Jr., Natalie Cole, Thelonious Monk, Elvis Presley, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, and many more.
Shevy Shovlin, a well-known recording industry professional in his own right, makes his big screen directorial debut with this 90-minute educational documentary film. “This project is near and dear to my heart not only because I am a huge fan and good friend of Al’s, but because I was there to witness the magic that he brings to his recording sessions. Our hope is that the film will not only inspire and educate a new generation of the recording industry, but pay homage to a recording legend through the unique challenge of recording the exciting genre of Big Band.”
The educational and inspirational film includes interviews with Schmitt’s longtime recording partner Steve Genewick as well as Chris Walden, Dave Pensado, Ryan Hewitt, Kenny Wild, Paula Salvatore, and a cameo appearance by engineer and mixer Andrew Scheps. Longtime friend and collaborator, Quincy Jones provides a poignant opening statement about the importance of “the person who captures the sound”.
The film is now available for streaming (with the All Access Pass) and for download for $24.99 at Groove3.com
Author of Funny: The Book, David Misch, was interviewed on Ten Minute Interviews, a unique platform for authors, musicians and other creative individuals to speak about themselves, their lives and their work. David has lent his voice to sitcoms including Mork & Mindy, Police Squad! and Duckman, he has also released a new book titled A Beginners Guide to Corruption. Learn more about David in the interview below!
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I was born in a humble log cabin in 1946, then again in a split-level thatched roof cottage in 1950. Growing a remarkable twelve inches a day (though, unfortunately, entirely in my shins), I was recruited by both the Chicago Bulls and AAA Ceiling Repair before my fourth birthday, but opted instead for a career as a professional snitch.
After ratting out literally dozen of ne’er-do-wells to the FIB, I realized I should have been dealing with the FBI, not Fellas In Basements, a special-interest group devoted to the study of La-Z-Boy armchairs. I then retired to an underwater colony of scuba gear scavengers who, unable to find scuba gear, drowned. I will be missed.
Growing up, who were your biggest comedic and creative influences?
When, as a kid, I discovered James Thurber, I then quickly went through the renowned wits of my day (and earlier days) – S.J. Perelman, Robert Benchley, P.G. Wodehouse – while on TV I saw great comics like Jackie Gleason and Dick Van Dyke, and film comedies from the ’20s through the ’50s.
But my seminal experience came from the Marx Brothers on the big screen. In my 20s, I lived in Cambridge, Mass. It was the ’70s and someone had the idea of playing old movies in theaters (what we now call “art houses”). The Marxes were pretty much forgotten, but one night a theater had a double-bill of Duck Soup and A Night At The Opera and the sold-out audience laughed so loudly you could barely hear the dialogue. I was hooked, with the lifelong goal to make audiences emit that loud barking noise at regular intervals.
How did the opportunity to work on Mork & Mindy come about?
I moved from Boston to New York City, where I became a stand-up and was spotted by Woody Allen’s manager, who signed me as a writer (which says volumes about my skill as a stand-up). Soon I was on a plane to L.A. to write for what I thought would be a lame sitcom about a Martian. But my manager also handled Robin Williams who, he said, “is actually pretty good.”
Despite airing only six episodes, Police Squad! is one of the most revered TV series of all time. What was it like to work on that show, and did you realize at the time that you were creating something special?
In every interview with someone who worked on something great, they say “I had no idea.” I can now confirm that’s true. With the caveat that we all knew it was damn funny.
Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker (“ZAZ”) had just made the hit movie Airplane!, which I loved. When their next movie idea – a parody of cop shows – didn’t sell, they decided to do it as a TV series.
Although I’d had a great time on Mork, most of the writers were older; ZAZ and the rest of the Police Squad! staff were my age and more my sensibility, so it was tremendous fun.
One thing I learned was sticking up for what you believe. The former dramatic leading man Leslie Nielsen was a supporting player in Airplane!, one of the first times he’d done comedy. The guys wanted him for Police Squad! but the network called to say no, he was too old.
The guys said “Okay, we understand,” hung up the phone, left the office, got in their cars, and drove off the studio lot. “We’re millionaires,” they said. “We don’t care.” A few hours later, Leslie Nielsen was our lead.
Another favorite memory from that show was landing at LAX in jacket and business shoes, getting picked up by a limo and driven to the beach in Santa Monica, where I was told I’d be judging a bikini contest with ZAZ. I remember walking across the hot sand, shedding my ludicrous outfit, thinking, “This is gonna be fun.” It was.
What was your role on The Muppets Take Manhattan?
The movie had been written and was going into production in a few weeks when they decided they needed someone to write for the constantly-changing list of celebrities who were going to do cameos in the movie. As I started doing that, director Frank Oz started making other changes too and before I knew it, I was rewriting the movie.
I was on set during shooting; one day in Central Park, I watched as Frank as Miss Piggy and Jim Henson as Kermit acted and improvised (with lots of obscenities) while a crowd gathered and stared not at the two six-foot-plus men, but at the two pieces of felt at the end of their arms.
Click here to read to the entire interview.
Bob Carlin, author of Banjo: An Illustrated History, spoke with Jason Verlinde of The Fretboard Jorunal! The Fretboard Journal magazine hosts a weekly podcast that features interviews with legendary guitarists, luthiers, and much more. On the podcast they spoke about Bob’s book, the history of the banjo, and how writing this book came to be. Listen to the podcast below to learn more!
The banjo is emblematic of American country music, and it is at the core of other important musical movements, including jazz and ragtime. The instrument has been adopted by many cultures and has been ingrained into many musical traditions, from Mento music in the Caribbean and dance music in Ireland. Virtuosos such as Béla Fleck have played Bach, African music, and Christmas tunes on the five-string banjo, and the instrument has had a resurgence in pop music with such acts a Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers.
In Banjo: An Illustrated History (June 2016, Backbeat Books, $35), author, broadcaster, and acclaimed banjoist Bob Carlin offers the first comprehensive, illustrated history of the banjo in its many forms. He traces the story of the instrument from its roots in West Africa to its birth in the Americas, through its coming of age in the Industrial Revolution and beyond.
Banjo: An Illustrated History profiles the most important players and spotlights key luthiers and manufacturers and features 100 “milestone instruments” with in-depth coverage, including model details and beautiful photos. It offers historical context surrounding the banjo through the ages, from its place in Victorian parlors and speakeasies through its role in the folk boom of the 1950s and 1960s to its place in the hands of songwriter John Hartford and comedian Steve Martin.
Folk, jazz, bluegrass, country, and rock – the banjo has played an important part in all of these genres. Lavishly illustrated, and thoughtfully written Banjo: An Illustrated History is a must-have for lovers of fretted instruments, aficionados of roots music, and music history buffs.
Sylvia Massy, author of Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques, is featured in a new video that is now available on Lynda.com. Click play on the video below to watch a preview and check out the full video in the link below!
Recording Unhinged: Creative and Unconventional Music Recording Techniques dares you to “unlearn” safe record-making, to get out from behind the windshield, stick your head out the sunroof, and put the pedal to the metal!
“There have been countless how-to books on sound recording, but this isn’t one of them. Sylvia Massy has a unique perspective on what makes musicians tick and how great recordings are created. This book is a brilliantly assembled insight into their world and is a cracking good read,” says Alan Parsons.
Recording Unhinged, Sylvia Massy and her cohort of celebrity music industry producers, engineers, and recording stars discard fixed notions about how music should be recorded. They explore techniques that fall outside the norm, yielding emotionally powerful, incredibly personal, gut-wrenching, and even scary recordings. With commentary by Hans Zimmer, Al Schmitt, Bruce Swedien, Jack Joseph Puig, Dave Pensado, Tchad Blake, Bob Clearmountain, Linda Perry, Michael Franti, Michael Beinhorn, Bob Ezrin, Geoff Emerick, and many others, this book includes the stories, tips, and advice that you won’t find in any other instructional manual.
“Working with Sylvia on Undertow was an absolute pleasure. Whether recording the destruction of a piano with sledgehammers and shotguns, or dialing in killer drum sounds with the greatest mic choices, her approach was always fresh, fun, and never preconceived. This book will assuredly inspire some wacky recording sessions!”, praises Danny Carey (drummer from TOOL).
Recording Unhinged is also unique in its inclusion of exercises, diagrams, jokes, photos, and other images all related to more adventurous recording techniques. Throughout the book (and on the cover) are many full-colored illustrations – created by a musical genius – Massy herself!
John Breglio, author of I Wanna Be a Producer, was on The Daily, a radio show featured on Talk Radio Europe. He spoke with Allan Tee about his book and his background in being an entertainment lawyer. Listen to the full interview by clicking on the link below!
What does a producer actually do? How does one travel from that great idea for a show to a smash hit opening night on Broadway? In I Wanna Be a Producer: How to Make a Killing on Broadway…or Get Killed (April 2016, Applause Books, $29.99), John Breglio – a Broadway veteran with more than 40 years experience – shares an exceptional road map for the hows and wherefores, the dos and don’ts of producing a Broadway play. In this highly informative book, Breglio offers practical concepts for the aspiring producer and entertains with great personal anecdotes from his illustrious career as a leading theatrical lawyer and producer.
Breglio recounts not only his first-hand knowledge of the crucial legal and business issues faced by a producer, but also his experiences behind-the-scenes with literally hundreds of producers, playwrights, composers, and directors, including such theatre luminaries as Michael Bennett, Joe Papp, Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Patti Lupone, August Wilson, and Mel Brooks.
Says Breglio, “Ultimately, my goal is to give the business of producing the respect it deserves. It is a profession that requires numerous skills, both business and creative. It demands relentless fortitude and optimism, and it should never be assumed casually without recognizing the enormity of the task.”
Working or aspiring producers, investors, directors, actors, designers, teachers — as well as those who are simply curious about the backstage reality of the theater — will relish John Breglio’s sage advice and irresistible storytelling. They’ll also treasure the included DVD of Every Little Step, a documentary of the auditions for the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line.
I Wanna Be a Producer is indispensable reading for theater professionals and fans of all levels – from high school drama clubs to college theater programs, from community theater groups and summer stock to The Great White Way.
Arthur Laurents, a writer, director, and also an author of Original Story By, Mainly On Directing, and The Rest Of The Story, was featured in The Wow Report on WorldofWonder.net. He is best known for directing three revivals of Gypsy, but in his trio of memoirs we learn much more about the Tony Award winning director. Read about Arthur Laurents and his works in the article below!
July 14, 1917– Arthur Laurents, as the story goes: late for his place on a panel discussion, Laurents burst onto the stage draped in mink and announced: “Behold, a living legend!” Stephen Sondheim, also on the panel, looked up and said: “Wrong on both counts”.
I just ate up his trio of memoirs Original Story By (2000), Mainly On Directing (2009), and The Rest Of The Story (2012), each chock full of yummy, dishy theatre and Hollywood stories. Laurents is important to me in many ways. I admire the way he boldly lived his life. I love his work, most especially because he wrote the book for my favorite musical Gypsy (1959), which I find to be a perfect piece of theatre. Musical Theatre fanatics will go on forever discussing the subject of who was the greatest Mama Rose in this landmark musical. This casting quandary can be a playful parlor game or a bitter argument for Musical Theatre types. Jerome Robbins directed the original production, but Laurents directed three revivals of Gypsy including my favorite version starring my good close personal friend Angela Lansbury in 1974, but there was also Tyne Daly in 1989 and Patti Lupone’s 2007 Tony Award winning turn.
In 2010, at 92 years old, Laurents directed a revival of West Side Story, a theatre classic for which he wrote the original lean, strong book. In this production, it was Laurents’s conceit to have the Sharks and their girls, who are from Puerto Rico, speak and sing in Spanish. The cast would all be young and if not Puerto Rican, at least Hispanic. Laurents explained that the idea came from his partner of 52 years, Tom Hatcher (Laurents and actor Farley Granger had been lovers in the late 1940s), who admired a production of the musical in South America. It was also Hatcher who urged Laurents to revive Gypsy with Patti LuPone, so that the controversial Sam Mendes directed 2003 production starring Bernadette Peters would not be the last Gypsy in Laurents’s lifetime.
Laurents won four Tony Awards and was nominated for six Academy Awards, winning for his screenplay for The Turning Point (1977).
His life encompassed great swaths of 20th century cultural history and the famous figures within it. His theatre career had barely started when Laurents was drafted into the Army in 1941. He spent the war years writing training films and radio propaganda shows under the command of Private George Cukor. He had also come to terms with his gayness and soon lost count of the sexual experiences he experienced while in the Army. In Original Story By he writes openly of his lifetime of gay encounters, referring to his partners as “those unremembered hundreds.”
As a gay man living as openly as possible during some of this country’s most dangerous times, Laurents was a role model of discretion, but he was living the way he wanted, despite public opinion and cruelty against gay people everywhere.
Read the article in its entirety here.