Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Alan Thornton (sd) Thu 9 Nov 00 08:06
so if bush takes FLA couldn't we just let him be president of Florida and let Gore govern the majority of the country that voted to elect him?
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Thu 9 Nov 00 12:04
President of Florida? That would be punishing him, wouldn't it? And make it a Two-Bush state, to boot. Question for either Alan, or both: If we put aside the satire for a moment, do you have other ambitions musically? Have you played in bands in other genres, and how did you like that? What would be your ideal musical gig? Oh, and kafclown's question is still out there - how about local topics, for local audiences?
Alan Thornton (sd) Thu 9 Nov 00 13:26
Oh yeah, sorry. We do a percentage of local material but it's mostly stuff that would work in other places and does when we explain that we're singing about our local Rapid Transit problems or trying to keep the Chattahoochee River clean. I think that the trick here is not to refer to local folks that are not well known nationally. We have a pro Jimmy Carter song and an anti John Rocker song for example. As far as other music goes, it is my second language. I've been playing music in public for about 30 years but that has been mostly on people's living room floors and in musical theater. I learned to play guitar to trick people into listening to me sing the songs that I wanted them to hear. I've often thought of working with a large men's vocal group, and not just because I'm a large man myself but because of my love of that sound. I though about starting the Atlanta Straight Men's Choir but none of those jerks could sing!
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Thu 9 Nov 00 16:45
I've been out of pocket all day with a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for holding down the fort, Alan T. Let me take the questions in reverse order (let's just call it the Palm Beach process). I took classical voice lessons for a number of years while I was in Washington, DC, but stopped when they couldn't find a voice classification for me. Seriously, doing Southern Discomfort is really my ideal gig. I get to write material (some of which makes people laugh), I get to sing some of it, but mostly I get to have some terrific performers present it. So we make music with original material and get laughs. For me, it doesn't get any better than that (except when we get paid for doing it). Dear Rosamond, hope you've found a laugh or two in our dialogue here. If that doesn't work, wait until they hold another vote in Florida. Hi Kafclown, thanks for your questions. As to material, to be honest, I try to never listen to the Capitol Steps. Not that they're not funny, but I don't want to be unduly influenced. If we do come up with similar ideas, I'd like it to be pure coincidence. Besides, I try not to let the tail wag the dog. I just try to come up with original song ideas and see how they work out in performance. If we have a song similar to someone else, so be it. However, my experience has been that my personal thinking is just quirky enough to enable me to avoid duplicating someone else. Of course, I try to stay away from the real obvious stuff. But as far as I've been able to tell, our material is pretty unique.
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Thu 9 Nov 00 16:47
PS-As to subjects, I try to stick to fairly broad material so we can appeal to national audiences. And even when we do local stuff, we try to couch it in a way that will enable non-Atlantans and non-Georgians to somehow relate to it. Alan T. made a good point about this. Thanks!
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 9 Nov 00 17:48
Mike and I went to Savannah this year - do you have any Savannah songs?
Alan Thornton (sd) Fri 10 Nov 00 03:37
hmmmmmmm, we've played Savannah, during a flood in fact. we've used Johnny Mercer tunes. that is about as close as in can get, linda. Note that the stuff from Jim Williams' home is being auctioned off this week.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 10 Nov 00 15:15
No kidding! Anything online we can look at?
Alan Thornton (sd) Fri 10 Nov 00 17:57
hmmmm don't know if you mean mercer tunes or williams' stuff: when in doubt: We wrote a Hillary song to the tune of Moon River that went something like: White Water How it makes me smile I've been vacuuming files all day Now Web Hubble's In big Trouble And he could get lifey if wifey has her say... something like that. all ancient history now of course. There are tons of Mercer lyrics by the way at: http://lemonadelounge.com/jmtunes.html seems the auction was last month but here is a link to the story from the Savannah Morning News: http://www.savannahmorningnews.com/smn/stories/070700/LOCmercer.shtml it notes that the Mercer house was for sale at the time of the article, too.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 10 Nov 00 20:16
Not to drift tooooooooo much, but the Mercer house was for sale when we were there in May, with rumors flying thickly that John Cougar Mellankamp had bought it. I later saw confirmation of this in the San Francisco Chronicle. So maybe it fell through. Anyway, thanks for the Johnny Mercer-ized lyrics!
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Sat 11 Nov 00 08:52
I know from performing (acting, in my case) that there are those wonderful nights where everything comes together - exhilarating, fulfilling, wonderful. Then there are those nightmare shows where saying "Hi, my name is ....." is way too much of a challenge. Any road stories to share?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Sat 11 Nov 00 20:45
Angie, of course there are plenty of ups and downs in this sort of endeavor, and you can't always tell which is going to be which until you actually get under way. And while I'd like to think that most of our shows are well done and enjoyed by the audience, sometimes there are extraneous circumstances beyond our control. For instance, we recently did a coporate gig where they asked for a good 45 minutes worth of material and were paying us pretty well. Well, they had an awards segment of their evening's festivities (after which we were to go on) that was supposed to last 10 minutes but went on for 45. We went on at about 9:35 and they came back stage and told me we had to be done by 10 because someone was coming to dismantle our stage. So on the fly I had to do a wholesale cutting of songs to fit the time requirements. Our performance that evening was o.k. under the circumstances, but our goal for the evening became as much about getting done on tiem as it was about doing our best performance and entertaining our audience. That, as they say, is show biz.
whatsamatterU (dwaite) Sun 12 Nov 00 11:24
how far do you travel to do corp gigs? Is it mainly in Atlanta? Woudl you care to discuss your fees, not for me, but incase anyone is listening that might be intersted in hiring y'all?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Sun 12 Nov 00 15:26
Dave, thanks for the inquiry. We will travel as far to corporate gigs as clients are willing to transport us. I belive our material and our show could play most anywhere in the country. Our fee for an out of town gig is $4,000 plus expenses (in this case, expenses means travel and lodging. We generally handle our own food.) Our cast size can run anywhere from about 7 to 9 people plus our piano player. Our performing needs are pretty minimal....an in-tune piano, a sound system with 3 or 4 microphones on stands, a stage or riser where we can be seen and just basic lighting. We don't use any special effects in terms of lighting. Hope that helps. Thanks for the interest.
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Sun 12 Nov 00 21:45
Speaking of the cast of characters - how about a brief introduction to each? What instruments do they play? What do they each bring to the group? How many people have spent at least some time with SD since its inception?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Mon 13 Nov 00 10:54
Angie,since our inception, we've had about 27 different people who, at one time or another, have been in an SD show. Current cast: Alan Thornton, our director, plays the only musical instrument other than a piano that is in our show. He plays guitar, and a mean one at that. He is also our key impersonator (Bob Dylan, Satchmo Armstrong) and a very funny guy. Outstanding director. Terri Thornton, Alan's wife, has a lovely soprano voice and terrific stage presence. She's also very creative and has written some great songs for us. Frank Steele, our accompanist, is a longtime choral director and voice and piano teacher. Very talented and great to work with. Understands and is effective at teaching the principles behind good sound production. Leslie Truman, that rare combination of being extremely funny (creates great characters) and possessing a tremendous voice that can be both beautiful and bombastic. Nancy Riggs is a fulltime Thespian, a very good singer and actor with terrific stage presence who adds a lot to our show. Michelle Schroeder was meant for musical comedy. Fine singing voice, very funny personality who's an excellent communicator on stage. Jay Rollins (a real life attorney) is a fine singer who can also act and does an excellent job with the different roles and characters we assign to him. Randy Roberson is a valuable member of our group in that he not only sings and performs quite well (he does the George Bush song on our latest CD), he is an extremely talented pianist who fills in when Frank's unavailable. His keen understanding of music is also a big help in us putting together some of our song creations. Jeffrey Bigger is one funny guy. Very outgoing and uninhibited, he sings well and can easily command the stage all by himself. These are all terrific people to work with, dedicated to their craft and to the overall team effort. SD is fortunate to have them.
Alan Thornton (sd) Mon 13 Nov 00 11:40
I'd like to add to the above the Alan Friedman not only writes very funny material but is one heck of a performer himself. ...and that a direct box for the guitar is a lovely addition to the requirements above. ...no blue m&ms etc. etc. We're particularly interested in finding SF and NY gigs if anyone has a space to fill.
Gail Williams (gail) Mon 13 Nov 00 13:20
Have your singers and impressionists and all been brimming with ideas about the current vote paralysis? Are folks partisan offstage, even if you have a mixture of commentary about both major parties?
Alan Friedman (brooklynite) Mon 13 Nov 00 13:54
Gail, actually we don't get into too many political discussions (probably because we're all of a similar political persuasion and because we spend most rehearsal time working on our songs). As long as the material is funny and audiences enjoy our show and we're not one-sided, everyone in the group seems pretty happy with what we're doing. I find if we take the political stuff too seriously, then it becomes hard to come up with material that's funny.
Alan Thornton (sd) Mon 13 Nov 00 14:21
We haven't met since the voting business started. Rehersal in a few hours, though. Normally someone will say something like the conversation that is going on in the 'help Southern Discomfort write a song' topic and we might riff on it for a minute and decide who is going to see what they can do with it. That is about as close to a collaboration as we get at rehersal. Normally we email things back and forth for a little tweeking. The court and the massive gridlock that are coming for either person and the congress seem ripe for discussion to me. I should mention that a few of our cast members sing in the Church choir where Frank Steele directs and in other choirs around town. I've heard them in church, though and they are nowhere near as funny.
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Mon 13 Nov 00 16:07
Wow, Alan, if it wouldn't violate any confidentiality, it would be fun to hear how the meeting progresses tonite. What ideas are tossed out, which survive and why, spontaneous lines that we could be the first to hear. Keep us posted!
Alan Thornton (sd) Tue 14 Nov 00 01:12
Well, it turns out that there are some songs in the works. Hope to be able to let you know how they are coming pretty soon. The rehersal tonight was for the Coca Cola Company project and there was a client rep sitting in so w e pretty much concentrated on the last few songs for them. Back to the studio on the 27th to finish that up. Meanwhile, the NPR Weekend Radio show that features us had been archived at the home station in Cleveland. Available on the web as either MP3 or streaming audio at: http://www.wclv.com/archive/archive-wrc.html choose program wrc0045. Our segment starts about 13 minutes into the program. Thanks to Robert Conrad and WCLV!
Angie Coiro (angie-aaron) Thu 16 Nov 00 11:01
It's interesting to watch as the public tolerance for the Florida Follies drops into resentment and anger - not necessarily at the wait itself, but at the way it's being handled by the participants and the media. I find myself wondering whether that's something SD has to watch for - the topic that's oh-so-amusing at first, that is in danger of transforming itself into something no one is willing to laugh at much. Any experience along that line? The reverse could present an interesting situation as well - while it's going on, there's nothing amusing about a serial killer or natural disaster, but with time and distance humor reasserts itself. I remember when I was a kid, John Wayne Gacy jokes were a cool way to assert that you could be tasteless and tough, even while the country watched the bodies being dug up. But now, a punchline around, say, Jack the Ripper wouldn't raise too many hackles. Any thoughts? Any times you've had to debate those fine lines yourself?
Alan Thornton (sd) Thu 16 Nov 00 14:14
very good point. it is something we deal with all the time. the local NPR station lead this morning's newscast with the teaser that their report would be 'election coverage free'. reminds me of the disco era when radio stations would feature beegee-less weekends. that is one reason that we like to go into the studio and record songs to upload to the website right away. the lag time for producing a cd is too long for many of our songs.
whatsamatterU (dwaite) Thu 16 Nov 00 17:07
Interesting on the upload for current events... These downloads are all free and they allow you to get your mname out. Any comments on your group and the napster fiasco's.... or should we take that to another topic in this conference already opened up for that purpose.
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