Tuesday, February 6, 2007

A Little History—Part 2

How does a mid 50s guy with not a whole lot of hair (don't tell my wife—she's short and hasn't noticed yet), get his music to the public? I could play for $50 a night in bars. Nah! I could go on tour doing concerts but who is going to show up if they never heard of me. And radio? Even big stars from the 70s can't get played. The big record companies are only interested in a quick buck from artists that will be a clone of the last big hit. So what could I do that would bypass all these problems?

Theater! Do a one man show. That would get me back into performing, introduce the public to my music and we could even sell CDs at the show! We would even get a mailing list. Pigeonholes was a brilliant idea. Except for one thing. I hadn't performed for twenty years. And most of the time I was performing I was behind a piano or guitar. I'm no Robin Williams or Whoopi Goldberg. How am I going to keep an audience interested for and hour and a half? It's got to be more than just me playing and singing my songs.

Then this little gem of an idea grew wings. I've always loved art. I've always wanted to get into film or video. What if I took all the things I love to do and put it all into one show. Live performance that interacts with a screen showing my animation and video. The creative possibilities were limitless.

Only one thing—I never did animation or video either. But I'd love to learn. And with the state of technology these days, one man can do almost anything with a computer and the right software. So I bought the latest Mac, got thousands of dollars worth of software and a hundred pounds of manuals and started to write the show and learn my stuff.

It took one year to write the show and record the CD. Then another two years to do the video and animation. Sometimes I'd spend a whole week doing a short piece of animation only to realize it would have been better to do it in a different program. So I'd start over.

During this time, I had no idea if I'd be able to set it all up on a stage. I'm not familiar with projection technology or lighting problems. (How do we keep me well lit without washing out the screen?) Fortunately for me I met a guy named Brad Gardner who knew everything from video and audio to managing a theater. He's even a handy man and Sushi chef. With Brad doing the sound, lights and everything else, I was able to concentrate on performing.

Stu and Naomi (my wife and business manager) and I worked at getting people in to see the show. We needed to get as many theater folk in as possible. We'd be funding two showcases. The first was three nights in San Diego. I won't go through what it took to pull this off, but it was a great success for our purposes. The show worked!

Then it was on to seven performances at the Stella Adler Theater in Hollywood. Stu got his friend, actor-writer, Dominic Oliver to contact all his theater friends. Stu got a hold of all his friends from theater and the music biz, and once again, it came off wonderfully. My head got about three inches wider from all the comments I heard. "Genius!" "Brilliant!" "How can one guy do all that?!" And this was from people in show business. People who don't hand out compliments frivolously. Big shots, too. Fame and fortune, here we come!

I have never seen a reaction to anything I've done like the reaction this show got. Not just a great reaction, but wildly enthusiastic raves! We were all very disappointed that we didn't get an immediate place to perform. We're still looking to get a co-producer or theater to put it up but in the meantime we needed to regroup and find out what to do next. Waiting was never an option.

Meanwhile, I was spending LOTS of money and except for the CBS Evening News checks, there was no other income on the horizon. And Dan's ratings were not good. If they got rid of Dan, would they keep the theme? Or would they want to change everything and start fresh.

Looked like my easy ride was starting to wobble a bit.

(Continued in Part 3)

(Luckily we've got a DVD of the Stella Adler performance. It's available at Amazon.com)