Andy Propst Talks About Cy Coleman on Broadway Radio

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Library Journal called Andy Propst’s new biography of Cy Coleman, You Fascinate Me So, “a fascinating look at an influential man whose showbiz career spanned more than 50 years…Highly recommended for theater buffs, fans of music history, or those looking for an intriguing study of a memorable man.”  Listen to Andy talk about Coleman and his book with James Marino, Peter Filichia, and Michael Portantiere at broadwayradio.com!

Seven Tips to Getting Sponsors for Your Band

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musicianprovides tips for getting sponsors for your band in his latest article from Hypebot!

Sponsorships are a mutually-beneficial relationship wherein two (or more) product-based companies market their products via the support and approval of the other. Are you networking with companies that could help you build your career?

Artists can develop relationships with local sellers and national manufacturers and get Live show promotion, Free merchandise, and Credibility in the eyes of the public, as well as in the eyes of club bookers who might be interested in having that artist perform.

Companies, on the other hand, can form relationships with artists and get Exposure to selective target markets, Public awareness and sales, and Coolness by associating themselves with hip and “in” music.

What follows are seven tips that can lead to arranging your very own sponsorships.

1. Make a detailed list of the local businesses and national corporations you wish to target. Log on to each company’s website for specific information including the businesses’s name, owner, brand manager, event coordinator, address, phone number, store hours, website URL, submission policies, and more.

2. Be prepared to show various companies how they can benefit by sponsoring you: show that you’re creating buzz in your community, that you’re reaching their target demographic fan, and that you have the right personality that matches and aligns with their brand.

3. Create a press kit (physical and electronic) that is specifically designed with sponsors in mind. Show pictures of you promoting the product, and include biographical information. Check out companies like Sonicbids to help create your electronic press kit if needed.

4. Remember to express absolute excitement in promoting a company’s products. Emphasize your work ethic and commitment to following through on the deal. Many bands flake out on hanging banners at shows, placing logos on posters, mentioning the company’s name in record liner notes, and keeping sponsors up-to-date with career news. Some bands even attempt to sell or pawn products that were given to them. These are all big mistakes. Paris Hilton has been sued more than once for not honoring her sponsorship agreements. But, that’s no surprise!

Click here to read the rest of the article!

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Andy Propst Interview with TheaterMania!

You Fascinate Me So author Andy Propst recently sat down with Zachary Stewart of TheaterMania for an interview during which they talk about his new book and his book’s subject, Cy Coleman!

00122483You Fascinate Me So: Andy Propst Biography of Cy Coleman Examines Multitalented Artist

Broadway composer Cy Coleman had a remarkably varied career. Before age 10 he was already a concert pianist. He eventually moved into the nightclub world and then onto Broadway where he penned musicals like Little Me and Sweet Charity, the show about a dancer-for-hire that features the unforgettable number “Big Spender.” His operetta tribute, On the Twentieth Century, is presently receiving its first Broadway revival at the American Airlines Theatre. Throughout his life, Coleman never stopped experimenting with musical and theatrical form.

Author Andy Propst charts it all in his expansive new biography of Coleman, You Fascinate Me So. Propst (who was a staff writer and critic for TheaterMania from 2009-2013) spoke to us about Coleman’s work, his fraught relationship with Carolyn Leigh, and his eclectic style.

TheaterMania: You write in the book that you saw your first musical, Sweet Charity, at the age of nine. Whose idea was it to take a nine-year-old to that?

Andy Propst: A woman by the name of Susan Miller. She was a teacher of acting at University of Illinois who had gone to college with my mother in Pennsylvania. She became my Auntie Mame. Susan was always introducing me to theater that might have been a little progressive for a preteen, but it did inspire a love of theater in me that exists to this day.

By the time Coleman was nine he had already played Carnegie Hall. How did he get such an early start?

His mother, Ida, was a landlord. She owned a couple of buildings in the Bronx. At the height of the Depression, one of the tenants left and took all their belongings except one thing they couldn’t get out of the apartment: an upright piano. Ida brought it into the house and Cy (who was known as Seymour Kaufman at that point) started playing by ear. He began taking lessons at the age of four and just before he was seven his teacher had gotten him to the point where he was winning citywide competitions and playing at The Town Hall.

Later he worked as a jazz pianist in clubs all over the city. How did that influence his work as a composer?

Musically he was a sponge. All of the music he heard and played was fused into him. He had a love of Rossini, which led him to the grandiose style we hear in On the Twentieth Century. When he was starting out in clubs he was doing covers of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Cole Porter. All of that became a part of his musical DNA.

Click here to read the rest of the interview!

Salon.com Interview with Susan Masino

Susan Masino, author of AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘N’ Roll Band, recently sat down for an awesome interview with Jamie Blaine!

SIMPLE IS BEST: THE SECRET OF

AC/DC’S SUCCESS — A CONVERSATION WITH BIOGRAPHER SUSAN MASINO

AC/DC biographer Susan Masino, also a longtime band friend, is perhaps the only writer to enjoy the honor of an actual shout-out in one of the band’s early tunes. (See below.) If that doesn’t give a biographer cred, nothing does.

Masino’s Let There Be Rock: The Story of AC/DC is the band’s definitive biography, but there’s always more to tell with AC/DC. Her stellar, brand new AC/DC FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the World’s True Rock ‘N’ Roll Band is jam-packed with even more stories, behind-the-scenes hi-jinx, and tasty bits from the band’s long way to the top. We caught up with Masino to get her take on the secret of AC/DC’s forty-years-and-counting success.

The Weeklings: Dirty Deeds is my favorite AC/DC record. What’s yours?

Susan Masino: Mine is Powerage for several reasons, aside from how brilliant all the songs are. I was in constant contact with Barry Taylor (roadie for the band), while they were in the studio. I actually mailed them copies of the interview I did with them prior December (1977), when they played in Milwaukee, WI. My friend Barry kept bringing up the fact that he “helped” Bon with some of the lyrics. I thought that was nice, but it wasn’t until much later that I realized Bon used my name in the song, “Down Payment Blues.”

The Weeklings: Whoa! You’re Suzy baby?

Susan Masino: Well, I’d like to think I was one of them. I’m sure Bon knew other Suzys, but he also liked to tease Barry about his affection toward me. If he was referring to me, that is the most awesome thing an AC/DC fan can achieve, along with making it onto the Jumbo Tron when they played Milwaukee in 2010.

The Weeklings: You go back with the band over thirty years. Give us a quick primer to your history with AC/DC.

Susan Masino: I was lucky enough to meet AC/DC on the first leg of their first U.S. It was August 16, 1977, and I was writing for a local paper here in Madison, WI. I was sent to the club to help out the promoter, and fell in love with the band. I became friends with Barry and he wrote and called me every week for the next three years. He left the band in 1980, right before Bon’s death, and I stayed in touch with the band over the past 38 years, seeing them on tour and writing two books about them.

The Weeklings: Some lumped AC/DC in as punk when they first began and you mention that Bon might have been influential to the early punk movement.

Susan Masino: I know during their first tour of the UK, the Sex Pistols were on their way up and the band claimed that once they (the Pistols) saw AC/DC, they started dressing like Bon with the cut off denim jackets. AC/DC hated being called a punk band, and didn’t care for the music themselves at all.

The Weeklings: Is there any band that AC/DC didn’t blow off the stage?

Susan Masino: Absolutely not! To be fair, when they were opening for bands like Aerosmith, UFO, and Cheap Trick, I chose to stay backstage after the band was done playing. Once you saw AC/DC live, you were good.

Read the rest of the interview here!

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Happy birthday, Peter Capaldi!

Today is Peter Capaldi’s 57th birthday! In honor of the latest Doctor’s birthday, Doctor Who FAQ author Dave Thompson has written a birthday post, detailing his thoughts on Capaldi’s portrayal of the famous television character.

PETER CAPALDI’S BIRTHDAY       

by Dave Thompson

The odds were always stacked against the Twelfth Doctor.

For a start, was he the Twelfth Doctor? Even before John Hurt’s “War Doctor” came along to throw out the numbering once and for all, the very fact that the tenth had been doubled was already throwing the chronology a bit.

Add to this the fact that Peter Capaldi’s reign not only followed that of the bafflingly popular Matt Smith’s, but also the show’s own (frankly untoppable) fiftieth birthday celebrations; add to that, the continued sense that show runner Steven Moffat has now switched his default setting to Unnecessarily Convoluted Storytelling mode; and add to that, the mold-breaking emergence of the first Doctor in a decade who isn’t simply older than the show, he’s also older than any of his predecessors (William Hartnell was 55 when he debuted the role; Capaldi was 56) . . . that’s a lot of baggage to carry.

As he commences filming on his second season, however, Capaldi has already conquered the most important task of all. He has convinced us that he is the Doctor, and not just within the realms of his personal, vociferous, fan club (the fate of at least two, and possible four of his predecessors).

A performance that is uniquely his own has also, and utterly without contradiction, been described as an amalgam of every Doctor who came first; First’s irascibility; Second’s humor; Third’s occasional resemblance to the magician who performed at your best friend’s fifth birthday party; Four’s uniquely alien outlook; Five’s . . . well, we’re still waiting for five to show up. But Six’s irascibility, Seven’s sense of mystery; Eight’s . . . okay, eight is still absent as well. But Eccleston’s toughness, Tennant’s charm and Smith’s flapping silliness can all be extracted from Capaldi’s DNA; and he has required all those qualities, too.

It is redundant to suggest that Moffat’s career as a writer is locked in irreversible decline, particularly where Doctor Who is concerned. But the truth is . . . true. The first three stories that he wrote for the series, The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances two-parter, The Girl In The Fireplace and Blink are routinely, and rightly, regarded as not simply the best tales told since the show returned in 2005, but among the best in its entire fifty year lifespan.

Subsequent creations could not maintain that quality, and often seemed set on upending it altogether; while the man who cast such razor-sharp eyes across simple human relationships via earlier creations Joking Apart, Coupling (both, tellingly, nominally sitcoms) and Jekyll is also responsible for foisting upon us some of the most cringe inducing romantic interests of the modern age: less Doctor Who, and more Who Cares?

That current companion Clara’s dalliance with “PE teacher” Danny Pink represents the most stultifying of them all was possibly the most heart-stoppingly dull of them all. Perhaps there are sound psychological reasons why the last ten year’s worth of Doctor’s companions have chosen to fall for the dullest blade in the knife box, but at least Mickey (Rose’s put-upon paramour) and Rory (Amy Pond’s pet rock) came good in the end, while even Donna’s ill-fated fiancé at least had the cojones to be working for the opposition all along.

The watery Pink, on the other hand, existed solely to provide the Doctor with an opportunity to indulge in further Mickey/Ricky mix-ups, this time by insisting that the math teacher taught PE; to push Clara into a series of emotional crises that were the least believable element of the entire series (and in a run that included the Moon being revealed as an egg; the legend of Robin Hood as an alien-induced hallucination; and trees as global fire-fighters, that’s quite an achievement); and to die, which we will get to in a moment.

Even more damagingly, not once were we offered any indication as to why Clara should care so much for the man. His persona is seen from just two perspectives – the Doctor’s scorn and disdain (which, unlike Ten’s constant mockery of Mickey, was not feigned), and his own tiresome PTSD induced sense of self-pity. Not once are we given even a hint as to why Clara should care any more for this bullying, over-possessive lunk than a fish would for a bicycle. Only once the season finale passed by did we understand why Pink was even part of the story to begin with.

It was so they could remake that whole Ianto/Cyber-girlfriend storyline from an old episode of Torchwood, of course. That, and the now inevitable insistence upon imbibing finales with a tissue box full of wearying lachrymosity. As if the death of Osgood, UNIT’s inhaler-wielding, scarf-toting hardcore queen of nerdish delight, was not shattering enough for the average viewer. As if the return of the Master, in the form of a fresh Mistress of Uber-camp Madness, was not breathtaking enough for the most trigger-happy channel-surfer. As if… as if we cared.

Capaldi triumphed over all of these things; and so did Clara, at least when she wasn’t being shoehorned into awkward clinches (and, via the Christmas special, even more awkward flashbacks) with the Pink thing. 

Indeed, no matter how high Capaldi soared as the season progressed, Clara soared likewise. Unquestionably, her sheer force of character convinced us that, at last, the Doctor had unearthed a force of nature capable of equalling even Rose (or Jo Grant, for any older viewers still watching). And capable, too, of delivering lines with such beguiling intensity that an entire generation is destined to melt every time they hear the words “run, you clever boy . . .” Or see a soufflé.

As an overall series, it wasn’t the best. At least three episodes (Into the Dalek, Kill the Moon, In the Forest of the Night) rank among the weakest deployed since the show returned, and it may or may not be coincidental that two of those were at least partially stymied by the frankly absurd science that underpinned them. Yes, we know it’s all make-believe, but if you’re setting a story on what claims to be the Earth that the rest of us live on, then make sure that basic physics don’t undermine the whole thing.

Of the others, Flatline, Time Heist and Mummy on the Orient Express were bold enough to withstand multiple rewatchings; Deep Breath was rewarding upon subsequent viewings; Robot of Sherwood was this year’s Dinosaurs on a Spaceship; The Caretaker was a glorious romp; Listen was a frankly terrifying notion that writer Moffat then castrated by trying too hard; and then it was time for the season finale.

Dark Water/Death In Heaven was the two-parter in which we finally learned the reason why past stories had been interrupted by Mary Poppins, before Poppins herself became . . . Well, cynics could point out that Missy is less a reincarnation of the Master than she is a pantomime revision of Moriarty, and there is truth to that. But she is also (like Moriarty) one of Moffat’s all-time classic villains; frighteningly insane, incalculably evil, and absolutely unmissable. The moment when she sweeps herself so elegantly backwards and calls out for “Doctor Chang” . . . if you didn’t have a Demented Nanny fixation before that, you do now.

And Capaldi? Capaldi matched her every step of the way, to emerge as strong a Doctor as he ought to be, and as likable a Doctor as he clearly doesn’t care to be. And, even better, unlike his last three regenerations, the man can’t even flirt properly.

Although you know that on the playground the following day, once the cries of ”exterminate” and “delete” had been exhausted, more than one juvenile would-be Lothario zoomed in on the girl of his dreams and declared “you look nice. Have you washed?”

Happy birthday, Peter Capaldi. And happy birthday, Doctor. May there be many, many more.

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The History of Canadian Rock ‘N’ Roll

Backbeat Books recently published The History of Canadian Rock ‘N’ Roll by Bob Mersereau. The book presents a streamlined, informative trip through the country’s rich history and depth of talent, from the 1950s to today, covering such topics as: Toronto’s club scene, the folk rock and psychedelic rock of the 1960s, Canadian artists who hit major stardom in the United States, the challenges and reform of the Canadian broadcasting system, the huge hits of the 1970s, Canadian artists’ presence all over the pop charts in the 1990s, and Canada’s indie-rock renaissance of the 2000s.

Check out the Foreword of this new Backbeat Books release, written by Neil Peart!

Foreword

A Life in Canadian Rock

It must have been the summer of 1964, so I was going on twelve. A group of four or five families from our neighborhood was living in a ragtag cluster of tents at Morgan’s Point, on the Ontario shore of Lake Erie. We were all camping there together for a few weeks that summer, while our dads commuted to St. Catharines for work. It was a boyhood ambience of sunburns, mosquito bites, campfires, a warm, shallow lake with a threatened undertow, playing coureurs de bois in the woods, and a first kiss under the sumacs.

One evening some of us kids were gathered outside the dance pavilion. We were too young to go in, and couldn’t have paid anyway (to have a quarter of your own was a big deal then), but stood nearby to listen. Who can now imagine such a remote time, pre-everything, when a man could remember the first time he ever heard rock music?

(And if that makes me “old,” I’m comfortable with it—proud of it. If a youngster tells me he was born in any later decade, my only response is sympathy: “You missed so much.”)

According to the posters, they were called The Morticians. They were pictured in long-tailed suits and top hats, and the battered hearse they and their gear traveled in was parked outside. My first impression of live rock music was that it was loud—surprise. They probably had a bunch of fifty-watt amps, but I’d only ever heard Dad’s hi-fi, the car radio’s single speaker, and the little transistor pressed up to my ear at night. The guitars were brash, jangly and warmly, voices echoey and unintelligible, something low was rumbling the walls, and I couldn’t understand why the drums sounded so metallic—not knowing what cymbals were. But the drumming sure galvanized my attention.

So did the noise . . . 

It was the time of the British Invasion, and soon there were rock bands everywhere—in every dance hall, and in every second garage. In those years I often spent school holidays with my Blackwell grandparents in Georgetown, Ontario. By an accident of familial timing, my uncle Richard was just a year older than me, so more like a cousin. He played drums in a band called The Outcasts, emulating the “blue-eyed soul” trend that was everything in nearby Toronto.

Even as I took up playing drums myself (well, practice pad and magazines on the bed for the first year), the musical education that was being delivered to me in little old St. Catharines was, in retrospect, astounding.

It is probably safe to say, from this twenty-first-century vantage point, that there was no better decade in which to be a kid than the ’50s, and no better decade to be a teenager—especially an inspiring musician—than the ’60s. Discuss . . . 

(If you missed it, see above sympathy.)

It was not radio or television or even word of mouth that introduced me to the music I came to love—it was cover bands. While I very much appreciated the R&B that influenced the “Toronto sound,” and played it in some of my earliest bands (still identifiable in my playing today), the first music that really electrified me was the “second wave” of the British Invasion. That was when rock ‘n’ roll became rock, I guess—edgy, aggressive-sounding bands like The Who, The Kinks, and The Hollies. I did not hear that kind of music on Top-40 radio, not then, but I heard it played by Graeme and the Wafers. They were a mod-style band from the Prairies who took up residence in the Niagara Peninsula one summer—and rocked my world.

The bands I saw at high schools, the roller rink, and the Castle (“A Knight Club for Teenagers”) included local heroes like The Modbeats, The Evil, The Ragged Edges, The Veltones (still remember their mournful single on CHOW radio from their hometown of Welland, “Just Another Face in the Crowd”), and dozens more, plus so many truly excellent bands from Toronto.

A few records trickled out from there, too, and we all liked the singles and albums by Mandala and The Ugly Ducklings. (One of my earliest conversations with bandmate Alex was about that album Somewhere Outside—including “Gaslight,” a single that ought to have been a huge hit everywhere—and Alex laughed when I played the staggered drum figure that opened “Just in Case You Wonder.”)

And the drummers! Anyone trying to lay down funky beats for those blue-eyed-soul bands simply had to have more chops that a surf-rock drummer. So they were all at least good, and some were masters whose playing still echoes in this eternal youngster’s inner transistor. Whitney Glan with Mandala, Skip Prokop with Lighthouse, Graham Lear with George Olliver’s Natural Gas, Danny Taylor with Nucleus, Dave Cairns with Leigh Ashford, and many more—all playing in my hometown on a weekly basis. Every drummer did a solo—it was simply expected—so even just standing in the audience, no young drummer ever had it so good.

Further afield, it was an adolescent thrill to see The Guess Who at a county fair in Caledonia, then again at the psychedelic youth pavilion called “Time Being” (1967, of course, the Summer of Love—still not fifteen, I was a little young for all that, but sure wanted to be part of it!) at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto. The next time I saw The Guess Who was at a pop festival at Brock University in 1969, with Mashmakhan (Jerry Mercer another great drummer) and a number of local bands—including my first band with a handful of original songs, J.R. Flood. In front of ten thousand people, I played a drum solo in Santana’s “Soul Sacrifice,” just as Michael Shrieve had done at Woodstock, and it received a life-affirming reaction.

My head didn’t swell, but my ambition did. . . . 

In later years I would be privileged to become part of the history of Canadian rock, achieving unimagined success and accolades with my bandmates (“the Guys at Work”) Alex and Geddy.

Even that road was illuminated by touring with other Canadian bands—crossing paths early on with The Stampeders, April Wine, the great Downchild Blues Band, as we all struggled as opening acts and playing rock clubs around the U.S.

This book spotlights the pivotal role played by Ronnie Hawkins in early Canadian rock, and he had his part in Rush’s history, too. Our Moving Pictures album was written in the summer of 1980 at his farm near Peterborough—the same farm that hosted John and Yoko a decade earlier.

When Rush started to headline, we were able to bring other Canadian bands, like Max Webster and FM, on our U.S. tours. We even brought Max on a European tour—but even then they never caught on in the way we, as fans, expected they would. That “divide” remains a mystery—why so many great bands, from the ’60s and up through the ’70s and ’80s, failed to make that connection with American (or European) audiences. (That is to say, even when they had the opportunity.)

The Tragically Hip are another puzzling example. As a longtime fan of theirs, singing their praises, I sometimes describe them to unaware Americans as “the Canadian Pearl Jam.” In some aspects, notably lyrics and arguably songwriting in general, The Hip are the superior in that comparison—but again, by and large, Americans didn’t “get” them. I don’t get that.

Seeing them play at the House of Blues in West Hollywood one time in the early 200s, I had rarely seen an audience more engaged with a band’s songs. But alas, there weren’t as many in that audience as there might have been. . . .

The rest of the story can be left to the book you are about to commence reading. It is enough to say that the history Bob has researched so lovingly, and woven so deftly into an entertaining story, reflects a vitality, a creativity, and a power that is profoundly worth celebrating. It begins at a time when the only native rock was . . . the Canadian Shield and the Rocky Mountains. . . . 

Neil Peart, 2015

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Fashion Times Interview with Natasha Scharf

Natasha Scharf, author of The Art of Gothic, recently sat down for an awesome interview with Fashion Times. Read the rest of the interview here!

Fashion Times: What inspired you to write this book?

Natasha Scharf: “The reason why I started to write ‘The Art of Goth’ is partly because there had never been a book done like this before and partly because there’s such a huge amount of creativity associated with goth that I just thought there needed to be a book like this. The book is actually primarily about music and then there’s the fashion element alongside it. Obviously fashion is a big part of goth, so that’s why it was represented.

Fashion Times: Describe the goth aesthetic. 

Natasha Scharf: “The goth aesthetic is what I refer to as a dark aesthetic. The goth movement comes originally from the punk movement which was running in the 1970s. So goth as a movement started organically toward the end of the 1970s and early 1980s. In that sense, it was very much stylized by a darker side of music with literary influences and cinematic influences as well. It was playing a lot on the kind of gothic literature and darker themes in general. From that, you started to get an idea of themes emerging. What started off as a darker style of post-punk then became what’s referred to as goth and people started to see a look emerge. The people who were following goth music were dressing in a certain way and they had particular influences. They were perhaps a little more educated that the punks that were around at the time. They’re more interested in literary things, cinematic things and art as well.”

Fashion Times: How did you become an expert on all things goth? 

Natasha Scharf: “I started to get interested in goth pretty much when it first started. There was something about goth that to me was really exciting. It tapped into something that I was fascinated by. It screamed me. There was something mysterious and very hypnotic. I was listening primarily to the music and dressing in a certain way and when I became a journalist in the 1990s, because I was so interested in goth, I just became a goth journalist. That became my specialist area. I did more research, interviewed loads of bands and have been doing so pretty much ever since. It’s become part of my personality.”

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