Ann Ruckert passed away on Saturday evening, Oct. 11, 2014, at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. The cause was complications from a stroke. She was 75.
Ann was born on March 12, 1939 in Queens. She studied music at Juilliard, New York University and London's Royal Academy of Music.
In the 1960s, Ann launched her career as a top jingle and studio singer. In the 1970s, while living in England, she worked as backup singer and sometime musician with the British rock bands T. Rex and the Strawbs. She also sang backup for Aretha Franklin and the punk band, the Plasmatics.
Ann served as music coordinator for the films Lovesick with Dudley Moore (1983), Housesitter with Steve Martin and Goldie Hawn (1992) and Boys on the Side with Whoopi Goldberg (1995). In 1999, Ann, along with Marvin Conan and songwriter Brian Muni, founded the 13 Stories record label.
Later, Ann’s career shifted to the role as educator and activist for the music industry. After joining NARAS in 1975, Ann helped spearhead Grammy in the Schools, a program that brings music professionals into high schools to teach and offer career advice. She was a longtime trustee of the Recording Academy, which presents the Grammy Awards.
For over twenty years she served on the board of Jazzmobile, an educational outreach program that brings jazz concerts into neighborhoods worldwide. In connection with the Songwriters Guild of America, Ann founded ProShop, a workshop that enabled fledgling songwriters to play their work for established professionals.
She worked actively for and was on the board of World Hunger Year; and in conjunction with the Jazz Foundation of America, she initiated a program to send musical instruments to New Orleans musicians whose homes were decimated by Katrina. In 1997, the Songwriters Guild of America gave her its Presidents Award for her longtime service to the Guild and its members.
The National Music Council honored Ann with its 2010 American Eagle Award for her contributions to music education. Fellow honorees that year included Suzanne Vega and Kenny Rogers. For the past dozen years, Ann led a monthly songwriters' circle at the Red Lion in Greenwich Village.
Ann was also a staunch patron of civil rights causes. She participated in the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March. Ann was a founding sponsor of the Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, and a patron of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Ann was married once, in 1959, to the jazz trumpeter Burt Collins. They were divorced in 1972. Ann is survived by three sisters: Susan Owens (of Orleans, MA), Jane McLean (of Atlanta, GA) and Martha Williams (of Orleans, MA). She has an adopted son, Jason Sanchez (of Kissimmee, FL).
A memorial is planned in the near future. Check this page for more information at a later date.
This week, the stage at the Red Lion was filled with ten great singer/songwriters — each one from a different world of music — and they all payed with each other. The hook was there is no rehearsal (and a lousy sound system), but it all worked out very well.
The place was packed, every table filled with standing room. The crowd was joyful. Chris Tedesco, Amanda Homi, Bruce Gordon, Jake Holmes, George Wurzbach, and his brother Karl, performed. Two Wurzbachs in one night is amazing.
Regi Ransdell stole the room. Dorie Zarbis performed “A Morphine Drip and a Box of Water Colors,” her most requested song. Our host for the evening was Kirsten Thein, with special guests from her band. Her bass player and sometimes co-writer, Eric Boyd, joined in. They will be at the Cutting Room on July 9, before going on a European tour. Wow, I miss the road.
Brian Muni, who now has a live radio show, was there, So was Safrah Levitan, my assistant, when she is not working for Joe D’Ambrosio. She was with some SUNY friends. I was hoping to find a place to slip her in, but the stars were not right.
I missed Steve Addabbo, and of course Skip Brevis. His band was imported to the near east (Kings and Queens) to play their great concerts, not to mention high M.D. gigs, with industry hooo hass, where he plays with Stevie Wonder. He is loved and we are so blessed when he can come to the Red Lion. Hopefully next month.
The Songwriters Guild of America, led by Rick Carnes, is our host and is holding our rights in Washington, D.C. SGA is there 24/7 for over six months of the year. They work hard for us. Songwriters are our best export, there is no TV without our songs, no theater, no radio.
We have the power, if only we could realize it and get involved. Come to the Red Lion, the last Monday of the month.. stay for the Blues Jam.
Our guest at the ProShop last week was Carlos Alomar, a self-taught guitarist, composer and arranger who has worked with many of the top musical artists of his generation.
His work spans from David Bowie, Duran Duran, John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger to James Brown, Chuck Berry and being the youngest member of the Apollo Theatre house band.
Unknown to its editors, Vanity Fair picked Carlos; his wife, singer Robin Clark; and his daughter, singer Lea-Lorién Karima Alomar, to its Top 100 Downtown List of inspired and relevant leaders in New York City. Though Lady Gaga led the list, it was discovered only after the picks were made that the Alomars were all from a single family — something that had never before happened at the magazine.
It was rich evening that went overtime. Carlos, who now teaches in the Sound Synthesis Research Center at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., covered a wide range of topics, ending by demonstrating how he has put an entire recording studio on his Apple iPad.
But since songwriting was the key topic of the night, he warmed to the topic fast.
“The acting of jamming — playing with other people — is such that you can reach much higher together than by yourself. This issue of being able to work with other people only has one criteria to it. That is you have to be able to listen. That's all,” he told the students.
“Without the ability to listen, you don't really know the needs nor can you give the want. So the issue of the want and the need are different. A person wants a certain song. We want to be able to create something. But then you also want to show how good you are, and you need to fill every hole. Those two things have to be compromised along the line.
“So you can listen and say, 'maybe it's best not to play.' There are some cards that Brian Eno has that are called strategy cards. They are a deck of cards that have sayings on them. You flip them over and it says 'ambiguity is the next best step.' Or it might say something totally obscure like 'you’ve just returned from the war.' It allows your brain in some very, very strange and esoteric way to disengage from your problem. Disengage from your block. And it allows you to in one quick tone to refresh your vision.”
Carlos said we all have something in our brain that inspires us. “You have to have a methodology,” he said. “A song is basically constructed in two different components. The first component is songwriting. Get the damn song out of your head...even if it’s only two chords. You don't have to complicate it. I don't care how you do it, but get the song out of your head. The second part is an arrangement. Will it be a fast song...or a slow song? Is it bossa nova, is it rap, is it Latin...what is it? You need an arrangement for the song. The song can stay the same, but it needs an arrangement, which can change.”
After that, he said, comes the production. At the production stage the band may complicate the song, but at the writing stage, it must remain simple.
“Why do you get the song out of your head? If you don't find a home for that little dingy or rhyme or that ‘little thing,’ it will haunt every damn song you ever write,” Carlos told the students. “It's horrible. You have to have writing as an exercise to get it out of your head. It is not going anywhere. You must know the synergy of the right side and the left side of the brain. You must know the similarity and the difference.
“When you have a problem, it is imperative that you speak. Continue to speak. The left side of the brain speaks, the right side of the brain listens. People often work out problems as they speak. Not speaking is analytical. Speaking and listening to yourself is intuitive. You've got to the learn the way that you learn and think. Not speaking is turning on the analytical brain. The function of analytical thinking is inactivity. There is a huge amount going on in your brain at the same time, and you're just trying to figure out the words to a song. As you go ping-pong, ping-pong, ping-pong, the analytical brain goes crazy. But you haven't thought about a thing.”
It was night of deep thinking about creativity and songwriting, from one of the great intellectuals in rock and roll.
The most amazing part of Carlos and his family is that if you are his friend, and I am so happy to say I am, they are all there for you. Several of our friends needed help, including Luther, and Carlos, Robin and Lea were there. That is a remarkable quality. Friends are really what makes life worth while and the Alomar family is the richest family I know.
In the 1960s, during the rise of rock and roll bands, vocalists practically “ate their mics,” holding microphones against their lips to get louder sound. Such old habits die hard.
Today, the best microphone pickup is a few inches off center from the mouth. The mic doesn’t cover the face, there are less popping “p’s” and the sound level is identical to the old style, said Michael Pettersen, a microphone engineering expert from Shure, who appeared at this week’s ProShop.
Michael showed the musicians the inside of a popular musician’s mic, the Shure SM-58, and told them how to use it. He also described the various types of microphones and advised the students to chose a microphone based on what sounds good with their own voice. That’s why, he said, there are so many types of microphones available.
Great vocalists who used their microphones correctly, he said, were Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald. Watch tapes of them and emulate their style.
It was on the subject of wireless microphones that Michael got rapt attention.
“Every country makes laws for the frequencies wireless microphones can use,” Michael said. “When you buy a wireless microphone for the United States, it is for use in the United States.”
Every country has it own set of legal frequencies for wireless microphones. “They shut down a Phil Collins show in Germany,” he said. “It’s so serious that if you buy a wireless microphone in this country and take it to Israel, you are on a military frequency. They don’t like that at all.”
The penalty depends on which country you go to, he said. “In England, it’s a 10,000 pound fine. They can confiscate your equipment and not give it back to you. And if they are really nasty, you could get six months in jail.
“The airwaves belong to the people. Since that’s the case, the governments of countries have the right to say what frequencies one can use there. The wireless thing is going to get worse and worse in the United States. Because everybody is carrying around a smartphone in their pocket these days, there is less and less spectrum for wireless microphones. The FCC is taking the spectrum away from television stations and wireless microphones and it’s being resold for use with cell phones.”
Michael said the environment in the United States “is really ugly right now” because of competing uses for spectrum.
“The FCC sees billions of dollars to make, not from Shure, but from Verizon and AT&T. So the spectrum will become smaller and smaller. What we as manufacturers have to do is become more efficient at how we use the frequencies we have.
“In the 1970s, where you might have been able to fit five wireless microphones on a slice of spectrum, we can now we can fit 40. It’s taking whatever they give us and figuring out how best to use it. Over the next five years, it will get pretty ugly as this conflict continues.”
Michael offered a final piece of advice for all musicians, especially those who use wireless microphones. “Even if you use wireless, always carry a cable and wired microphones. You never know what will happen with wireless. Interference can come from anywhere and you won’t be able to figure it out quickly enough. Always carry a wired backup mic set-up to every gig. That’s the best advice I can give you.”
Lisa Hershfield, operations manager for Chesky Records and HDtracks, said the early success of Neil Young’s Pono music system is good for the high-end digital music business.
Lisa appeared as guest at the ProShop this week. In addition to running operations at Chesky, she also oversees HDtracks, a sister business that specializes in selling high-quality lossless files of classic recordings.
HDtracks carefully remasters its offerings for higher audio quality and competes with companies like Apple’s iTunes, who distribute music in lower quality MPEG 3 and 4 formats.
Pono, she said, actually used some of HDtracks FLAC recordings for their successful Kickstarter campaign because it has not yet set-up its own facilities. Pono, whose files will also be FLAC-based, will be totally compatible with files purchased from HDtracks.
“Those musicians listening to Pono in Neil Young’s car were actually listening to recordings from us,” Lisa said.
Easter began as a small dinner for eight people at 2 p.m.. Somehow, it got bigger fast. We ended up having 20 people over and the eating went on until 8 p.m.
"Pepper" Swinson, Rex Reed and David Kibbe and I in deep discussion.
The day began with masses of food, including a whole turkey and a ham. I thought we had more than enough, but the holiday dinner ended with no leftovers. My friends can really eat!
Perhaps it’s because spring came to the city after a long, hard winter. Whatever, it was a fun day, exactly the way Easter should be.
The ProShop was recently addressed by a very special guest—Rick Carnes, president of the Songwriters Guild of America.
Rick talked to a packed meeting of my students about the “Fair Trade Music” initiative that’s being supported for the first time in music history by over 25,000 songwriters and composers from nearly 50 countries throughout Europe, Africa and North and South America.
Just as many of us buy only “Fair Trade” coffee because we care about the growers of the beans, this fair trade initiative champions a set of principles designed to ensure transparency, fair compensation and autonomy for music creators in an increasingly complex and non-transparent music business.
As he told us of the initiative, Rick’s customary charm and excitement came through. He got the rapt attention of everyone in the room. He’s not just an advocate, but a proven creative player in the music business that demands respect.
Rick has earned 40 platinum albums with songs recorded by artists Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Alabama, Steve Wariner, Pam Tillis and Dean Martin. His song, "I Can't Even Get the Blues No More" was Reba McEntire's first number one single, and "Long Neck Bottle" recorded by Garth Brooks, set a record on the Billboard charts by entering the charts at #10.
They also work as a co-writing team and have co-written three top ten recordings for Bluegrass icons, the Whites, as well as penning the jazz ballad, "Irresistible" which was recently featured in the Sony Pictures Classic movie "Saving Face," and the swing song, "I'm Hanging' Around," which was recorded by Dean Martin.
After serving as Vice President of the Songwriters Guild of America for 18 years, in 2003 Rick was elected President. In 2004 he was elected a Vice President of the National Music Council, and in 2005 he became Communications Chairman of the Music United Coalition.
Rick told us the the Fair Trade Music principles include fair compensation for music creators; transparent management of rights and revenues derived from musician’s works; recapture of the rights of music works in a time frame no greater than 35 years; organizations that advocate and educate musicians as to their rights; and freedom of speech for music creators without fear of censorship, retaliation or repression.
More than any other sector of the music community, Rick said, the songwriter and composer community has been hit the hardest by the catastrophic losses that have financially decimated the music industry since the beginning of the 21st Century.
Rick said the principles of Fair Trade Music provide a framework for ensuring that music creators can survive and flourish in the future, to the benefit of individual songwriters and composers, consumers and culture in general.
Rick also routinely engages his audience is discussions that provoke thought. This one was no different. He gave the students some practical advice about how to become a success in the music business. They listened...very carefully.
Rick with Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), an advocate of strong copyright protection for musicians. One reason is Hatch is a songwriter himself. Rick has written songs with him.
Student Comments about Rick Carnes Presentation
“Rick Carnes is a powerhouse. Aside from his phenomenal success in the music business, he has launched “Fair Trade Music.” A “Fair Trade” stamp on any recording signifies that the artist is being fairly compensated.”
“Fair Trade Music” is for recognizing and rewarding songwriters for their invaluable product—the song upon which the entire music business depends. Makes sense!”
“Digital piracy could be stopped easily by the ISPs, but there is no financial incentive to do so.”
“A Rick Carnes quote that stood out for me: ‘When you value your music at zero, you get zero returns.’”
“Can’t wait to get my Fair Trade T-shirt.”
Last Sunday we had a brunch. I wanted Jerry Dodgion to meet Jim Gavin. Jerry had worked with Peggy Lee often through the years and Jim has just about completed his new book on Lee.
Jerry is now 81, sharp as a tack and still actively playing sax and flute. He's also a wonderful storyteller and has some great ones to tell.
He started in the mid 1940s, playing with Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Benny Carter, Red Norvo and many others. He backed Billie Holiday and toured with Frank Sinatra.
In the 1950s, he played in the orchestra at the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas when Frank Sinatra was part owner. He backed all the major acts there, including the Rat Pack. He toured the world with Sinatra and appeared in the first Ocean’s 11 film with Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. He even played with Sammy Davis in "Golden Boy" on Broadway. He has had an extraordinary life.
Jim’s previous book on Lena Horne, "Stormy Weather,“ is a big success. Now Jim travels doing a show based on the book. He tours throughout the United States and performed it in Australia twice. He takes Mary Wells with him, who performs Horne's songs.
I am mindful that he first presented this idea at my house as part of a book signing and fund raiser for the Jazz Foundation of America (of which I was the co-founder).
Also at the brunch was Genie “Pepper” Swinson. At the book signing Pepper was the singer. I will never forget that afternoon, when she sang "It's Not Easy Being Green." Everyone was crying and we had to stop for minute to collect ourselves.
So many memories come flooding back as Cobi Narita was here lending her support. Her darling husband, Paul Ash, just passed so unexpectedly this last week. Music has brought us all together so many times and binds us for all time.
Frank Beacham was also here and always has so much to add. He remembers dates and details, while I am a broad strokes person. I need Jim and Frank in my life. They can document things in a clear way as I drift on the wings of a song, with colors surrounding my thoughts.
And thanks to Vernon Cummings, who is my "Sunday Helper." If I am in a fog, he is in another universe. He makes music with two turntables and a microphone. He was surprised to hear the word "beats" in reference to the Beat Generation. I guess he thought his generation had invented "beat."
Never dull around here. We are always learning from each other...words and ideas go around the table faster than the food. Many generations are present, and different kinds of music. The Sundays all pass so quickly, as do the years.
How do you get through a life, a long life, without noticing that it has been improved by music, and especially the music, love and examples set by Pete Seeger.
He was a friend and so loved Harry Chapin. Harry founded World Hunger Year (with Bill Ayres), now known as Why Hunger. I became a board member of Why (Steve Chapin made me do it) and my relationship with Pete Seeger became stronger, and he was my life's tutor.
Harry's song "All My Life's A Circle" is reality. I have found that when you love music, and make music your life, your family grows and love is all around and your life is full of joy.
I think about the film this year that came out about the music scene in the 60's, and it made all look so dark. I was there in the Village in the 60's and there was nothing dark about it.
We were happy, and happy to work for the basket, or not. Happy to play with each other and to do benefits, like Pete's Clearwater Festival.
We hung out in each other’s houses, and laughed a lot and wrote songs together. Sometimes we got credit and sometimes not. Pete Seeger and Dave Lambert gave me the courage to build my home. I learned how to use a hammer and a saw from them.
Pete cut the wood on his property for the wood fire that heated his home. I learned how to build a library and a kitchen. How can you even express all he love you feel for a man that transformed your life?
I have put on a lot of Pete's recordings today. I am sure that Why Hunger and the Chapin family will be putting something wonderful together to honor Pete Seeger. I will let you all know and see you there.
For now we send Peter Seeger on ahead of us to join his lovely wife, Toshi. Thank you Pete Seeger for a great run.
The concert was a raging success! The church was full and the choir was ready. We had four dozen helium balloons and lots of musical instruments for the children to play. They danced for joy. It was a perfect prelude to the holiday.
The choir was directed by Elizabeth Hunter. I am always amazed at people my age who complain about young people today. All of the choir and soloists were sheer perfection and beyond that. We sang in Spanish, French, Urdu, Swahili, German and Yiddish.
My favorite was a Quaker song, which Shayna Feuer sang. She is leaving me soon to go to South America for a few months. She will travel only with a backpack and a guitar.
The young people set up our neighborhood church and restored it after we finished. They brought their families upstairs for a glass of wine and some food. And then they cleaned up my home.
All of my young musicians bring me such joy. With their success as each one starts a major career, I feel that I am doing “the climb” all over again.
Joy abounds as we rush into the future. This year the holidays are all happening at once and so suddenly. Hanukkah, Thanksgiving and Christmas—all twelve days of it—and so much more. I began getting ready for Thanksgiving dinner a few days ago. I have to cook in easy stages as I am learning new skills while working from a wheel chair.
Twelve people to dinner on Thursday. Saturday, after class, the Christmas decorations go up. Thanks to the loving help of my students. We are all practicing for our holiday concert on December 21. It will be next door at 123 West 71 Street at two o'clock. It’s free and a sing-a-long...children are welcome. They will all be given an instrument to play.
The Red Lion was great on Monday. Our music director, Skip Brevis was brilliant, as was guitarist Bruce Gordon. They were joined by Jake Holmes, Amanda Homi, David Buskin and George Wurzbach, who has hinted that Modern Man is getting together again.
To everyone who missed Monday night, it’s not only terrific music but a great hang. Lots of great musicians in the audience, Barrot Zinn, Pat Timberg, my assistant Shayna Feuer, who handled the sound as our engineer on Monday and did a wonderful job.
Shayna Feuer on sound
I woke up this morning (a beginning of a blues). Morgan Ames is in one guest room and Ed Keane in another, and yes, it must be true, Hugh McCracken has gone on. We all gathered in his memory last night at Saint Peter's Church, the building was filled with people who loved Hughie.
The greatest musicians in the world were all assembled, they came from as far as Hawaii, and Rick Marotta was at Holly's side, the A-team singers, and great musicians were all there each with a Hugh story.
I met Holly and her brother, Norman Mershan, when they lived on Valley Heart Drive in Sherman Oaks, California, two doors down from my cousins, Gary and David Johns. I was working on the Grammy show and would grab the kids and take them to our rehearsals.
I met Hugh when he worked with King Curtis, and King Curtis lived next door to me and my husband, Burt Collins, in the two hundred block of West 71st Street. (I now live in the 100 block.)
When you are driven by music the world becomes smaller, and your friendships tighter and history deeper, we all agree that making music together is an intimate experience.
Rick Marotta, Gary Wright, David Spinozza, Morgan Ames, Allan Shwartzberg, Will Lee "Blackbird", Sandi Bachom, Mack Rebennack, Joe Caro, Liz Caro, Kimberly Hope and Mark Langanes, Jodi Capitaneli, Scott McCracken and Holly McCracken
Conductor: Bette Susman
Band: Zev Katz, David Spinozza, John Tropea, Allan Schwartzberg, RIck DiPofi
Singers: James Lewis, Frank Simms, Elaine Coswell, Kati Mac, Susan Collins, Murray Weinstock, NIck Holmes, Marie Gabrielle, Colleen Messina, Julie Eigenberg, Morgan Ames, Machan Taylor, Emily Bindiger, Angela and Rochelle Capelli, Russel Velasquez and Dora Maxine
Luigi is 88-years-old. On October 7th at the Apollo Theatre, he will receive a “Bessie,” a New York Dance and Performance award. The awards were established to "celebrate the unique creative voices of performing artists while providing the dance and performance community with an occasion to gather together in sorrow, in frustration, in anger, but ultimately in celebration."
Luigi has appeared in more than 40 films, including Singing in the Rain, An American in Paris, Annie Get Your Gun, The Band Wagon and White Christmas.
I stopped taking dance class after a car accident. He had been in one too, but he kept dancing and so I did too. I still feel welcome, he is teaching from a chair and I will take class from a wheelchair.
Now he has had a few strokes, and I am making my way back from a minor heart issue and a small stroke. Luigi wants me to come back to class. I know he is right, keep dancing, keep moving and keep laughing. The music will make it better. It’s funny how little pain you feel when music is coursing through your body and you are learning a new combination.
For over 50 years, Luigi has been “the teacher” for everyone who dances on or off-Broadway. His real name is Eugene Louis Faccuito—I had to look up his full name. We all just called him Luigi, a nickname he got from Gene Kelly. He is famous for his dancing and teaching famous dancers like Liza Minelli, but his studio at 68th and Broadway is full with “Chorus Line” folks. Everyone loves him and he will get you moving.
Albert Murray, drawing support from the Black Panthers and Nation of Islam, challenged assumptions about art and music in his essays, “Stomping the Blues” and “South to a Very Old Place.”
When we met, he lived at Lenox Terrace; I say to my students, I didn’t say a word until I was passed 40 years old, I just listened. Now gone, Duke Ellington, Romare Bearden, Marian McPartland, Cedar Walton, Ralph Ellison and so it goes the old guard is fading and we are hopeful that the new guard will pick up the torch for freedom.
50 Years Ago
“I have a dream,” I knew when I heard this these words I was in the presence of greatness; but the “ah ha!” moment came serially and periodically—over time.
I was there because the minister of Saint Paul’s church was going, my dad—Wallace Ruckert, director of development of UNCF—was going, I had friends who were going, and it was the right thing to do. Civil Rights were a long time coming.
The Quaker’s knew, they ran the Underground Railroad in Boston. Louisa May Alcott, famed writer, was for equal rights in men and woman. Her friends Emerson, Hawthorne and Thoreau all stood for the end of slavery. As you look at history thinking people, people who read, and love, jump in the deep end.
I knew the day I was born I was lucky. In less than an hour I arrived and left skid marks across the delivery room. I am reported to have screamed “TADA,” no crying, born into a “functional" family. We hold meetings in a phone booth now!
I got to sing at Rallies because I know the second verse of “Lift Every Voice,” if you study with me you MUST register to vote! My generation belonged to political clubs; it gave us some power to move things along. I will say although my young friends are “somewhat involved,” most have not picked up the torch I dropped.
Because of the work for Civil Rights, I got to be friends with James Baldwin and his whole family; he lived on my street, his brother David was a bartender at Mikell’s jazz club. I got to meet Albert Murray who died last week at 95, Bill Miles whose film “Men of Bronze,” was also on the march, got involved at the Schomberg Center; my life became rich and textured, my thinking became more relevant, and I got to meet many silent soldiers, and people who carried money, risking their own lives to get to folks living on the edge of disaster.
I hope young people will be energized and drawn to the march and history, and will carry the torch to a finish line for:
1) Equal rights for men and woman
2) Make a minimum wage a living wage
3) Voting Rights are in danger (Texas and North Carolina- Wake up!)
I have access to the whole wide world, and yet I pick my home town. Paris has no air-conditioning, UK is at it’s most beautiful in spring and fall, and I could go on and on. Every time I am in a town, I think, "I'm happy here, I should come here more often."
I have never been able to give up my home here, even when I have been away on the road for a very long time.
I especially love summer. There is The Philharmonic in Central Park each year. The 1812 Overture with fire works. The Metro Opera in Central Park, the very best way to hear Puccini. Jazzmobile is everywhere, but my favorite is Grant's Tomb on Wednesday evening—the sun setting over the Hudson River and New Jersey as the lights come up.
It is always cool by the river. Venders set up selling CDs, food and memories; all while listening to Count Basie's band or George Coleman's group—always great music.
There’s traveling theatre. The Staten Island Ferry—for a cruise—is no charge. Summer stage in Central Park, all the top Billboard charting groups performing.
At Brooklyn Prospect Park free concerts, all summer. Ladysmith Black Mambazo from South Africa is on June 28th. At Bryant Park (Manhattan) is Bryant Park Piano on July 3rd. At Rumsey Playfield (Manhattan Central Park), there’s Good Morning America's Summer Concert Series on July 5th. At Dana Discovery Center (Manhattan Central Park) is the Harlem Meer Performance Festival on July 7th.
And those are just a few of the many fabulous free concerts New York's parks have to offer!
The public library has a special summer program. Lincoln Center outdoor concerts—each year that is where I hear Sonny Rollins. And there is free Jazz at the Plaza on Thursdays at 12:30.
Summer is a good time in the city.
He shared his views on the industry today, and we talked about “Accidental Racist,” the controversial recording by Brad Paisley with LL Cool J. The song deals with white Southern identity and the meaning of the Confederate flag.
Charlie talked about growing up in Birmingham, Alabama during a time of racial tension and how much he learned from it. He also explored the effect racism had on him as both a musician and songwriter.
The discussion was long and interesting. Charlie is a great story teller. He stayed until after 9 p.m., though we are supposed to end an hour earlier. The group wouldn’t let him leave.
Each Pro-Shop member played their latest CD demo, and got wonderful feed back. It was a special night.
Easter weekend, spring and renewal, high hopes, and yet—being a musician of a "certain" age—sadness at the news of the death of our beloved Hugh McCracken. The wires are ablaze with words of shock and surprise as everyone recalls all the music we have made together, and then word of the passing of Phil Ramone.
Our world is small and yet it is large. Hugh gave B.B. King his first crossover hit with "The Thrill Is Gone." That is direct from B.B.'s own accord. He always gave Hugh credit. David Spinozza, another guitar whiz, was also on the session.
How many holidays spent together, how many dinners and bus rides? And laughing...a lot of laughing. Everyone thought that Hugh and Phil was their best friend. There is the real talent here, they way they made everyone else feel so special.
And so we gather with friends and family and count our blessings, to be together and know that it is special time to celebrate, pass the love that we have been given to others. My cousins in town, friends all. Looking at each other in a special way.
So I treasure each day, and celebrate loving my friends and family, and spring, and practice each morning. When you are playing music there is less pain.
Some of us cannot walk, but we can dance; and cannot speak, but can sing. We have this music forever. I have the sound system loaded with Hugh and Phil, their music fills the air. They will live though our story telling and the music.
Joy to the world!