Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ervin Drake: They were ALL Very Good Years

Ervin Drake (April 3, 1919-January 15th, 2015)
But now the days are short, I'm in the autumn of my years
And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year
-ERVIN DRAKE
Songwriter Ervin Drake has passed away. Writer of I Believe, Good Morning Heartache, It Was a Very Good Year, Room Without Windows.

When I heard earlier this week that Ervin Drake had passed on, a dark pall came over me. Not only was he one of the greatest songwriters that ever lived, he was a dear friend. I cherish every moment that I spent in his and Edith's presence. 
Today. I celebrate the good times. Ervin was a MAJOR part of my Carol Channing years. One of my favorite Carol Channing albums is an album called Carol Channing Entertains. On that album is a song called Widows Weeds by Ervin Drake!
From the first time I heard that song, I knew that someday I would HAVE to have that song in my show! 
I have lost track of the years and the exact time line, but around 2000, I think, I started putting the pieces together for a "new show". I had already reached out to Paul Stephan to create new arrangements for a five piece band and three back-up singers. I also started putting the song selections together. I was dying to include Widows Weeds in the show. 
One night, as fate would have it, I went to see Mark Nadler at The Algonquin. Sitting in the audience were Ervin Drake and his gorgeous wife, Edith. We didn't know each other at the time.
with Stacy Sullivan
The next day I called Mark to congratulate him on yet another great show. I also asked him if he could make the introduction to Ervin. Mark told me that Ervin was very accessible and that I should call him. Mark gave me his number and I called him.
He answered the phone and I introduced myself. He said, in true Ervin fashion, "I never heard of you!" When I explained to him that I did a tribute show to Carol Channing and wanted to include Widows Weeds in my show, he asked me if I was any good. I told him that that was something he would have to ask others.He said OK...and hung up!
About 25 minutes later he called back telling me that he had checked me out on the internet and asked around and that I was "pretty good!" He said that not only did he want me to do the song, but that he was going to write new verses especially for me...AND HE DID!
Of course, because of the way it was written, it became the longest song in the history of songs! However, performing that song was one of the highlights of my "Carol" career.
Audiences had a love hate relationship with that song...due to its length.
Ervin and Edith, with a full entourage, were at the center table on my opening night cheering me on. They came to my entire run EVERY PERFORMANCE.
There were very few performances of mine from that day forward in which Edith and Ervin were there to cheer me on.
Over the years, I have had the pleasure of being on the radio with Ervin Drake, sharing stages with Ervin, and being part of many celebrations. The last one I did was at The Iridium last year, produced by Scott Barbarino and featuring an all star cast. Above all of that, I will always cherish the dinners with him and Edith and the times we were at each others homes. Ervin, you are so loved and will be surely missed. Thank you for incredible memories. It has been many very good years. Good Morning, Heart Ache, Sit Down!
I'd like to share a few celebrations and testimonials from friends starting with my dear friend, John Tantillo.
IN LIEU OF FLOWERS PLEASE SEND A DONATION IN ERVIN'S NAME TO FIGHT PANCREATIC CANCER


Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,


 

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!                

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
IF you like this blog, please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook


with Caroline Sorokoff
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com










Saturday, January 10, 2015

Margaret Whiting Lives On!

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!
Dr. Seuss


I hope this finds you well. The theme of my blog today is family. If my father had lived, he would have been 80 this week. He passed on when he was 67.
I also found out yesterday in a chat with Debbi Bush Whiting, daughter of Margaret Whiting, that it was four years ago on January 10th that her mother had passed on.
It is hard to believe. When I first came into the cabaret community, Margaret was a very open welcoming presence.
There wasn't a time that I met her that she didn't treat me as if we had known each other all our lives.
Even after a stroke, she would light up a room when she entered.
I don't think there is a day in which I don't hear Margaret's voice on the radio. Thanks to the work of Debbi, she has devoted her life to preserving the legacy not only of Margaret, but also Margaret's father, song smith Richard Whiting. There are many things in the works that I am sworn to secrecy on! Let me just say this, Margaret Whiting lives on.
I am a great admirer of Debbi. How wonderful that she has taken on this labor of love celebrating the legacy of Margaret Whiting. We are ALL the better for it!
Debbi posted this on Facebook this AM:  January 10, 2015 marks the 4th year of my mom's passing.
January 10, 2015 marks the 4th year of my mom's passing.
The past year has been so incredible for preserving her memory. We have doubled Margaret's friends on Facebook, we have archived her sound recordings, we are introducing her to a younger generation of music lovers, there are awards given in her name and memory, and the most extraordinary event

was on June 23 when the MIM team and The Mabel Mercer Foundation produced a most loving celebration to Margaret for what would have been her 90th birthday.
WELL FOLKS, MARGARET LIVES ON!!!!!!
I am so proud to announce that with the success of the Weill Recital Hall concert, we have decided to take Margaret on the road. We have downsized the show and it's available for bookings...SONGFULLY YOURS, MARGARET WHITING (Mom's favorite signature ) is our new title of show! Click on the link below for all the information. We are also being represented at APAP this coming week.
Thank you everyone for all your love and support!


 http://www.margaretwhiting.com/songfullyyours.htm

I had a quick chat with Debbi this morning. She was on a train on her way into the city for the New York Sheet Music Society.
I have to get this finished within the hour so I can meet her there!
I asked about Margaret as a mom. Although Debbi gives Margaret an A+ for trying, she admits that her MOM wasn't really mom material, although she tried very hard. Her career really came first. For years, Debbi was kind of angry about that, but she totally understands it now. Look what happened! Her career is now Debbi's first concern. Things just happen for a reason. Debbi did have a wonderful father who took over raising Debbi. It all worked out. He was Lou Busch. He was Margaret's second husband. She was also his second wife.
Debbi realized that her mom was MARGARET WHITING at a very early age. They had done so many commercials and press events. Debbi knew there was something special going on with all the music.
Going to the recording studios as a very young child, she knew she was living an existence that was different from her friends that she played with during the day. She had play dates and when she went to their homes, the homes were so quiet that Debbi thought someone was sick. There was no music playing! In Debbi's home, music was a constant presence. Debbi now realizes that there are homes that don't play music.   
She knew there was something kind of "special" in her world.
There are two things that Debbi misses most about her mom, her stories  and especially her singing.
Debbi was mesmerized by her mom's voice.
There was a period in Debbi's life, when her mom sang, she would just fall apart. It would literally just tear her apart and she would weep and weep.
On New Year's Eve, Debbi was watching Julie and Julia.
Richard Skipper, Carol Woods, Peggy Eason, Debbi Whiting, producer Tanya Moberly and host Mark Janas at The Salon 1/11/15
She and her mom spent a lot of time together watching movies. It hit her that her mom was not physically with her. It happened after the Carnegie Hall concert in June to commemorate what would have been her mom's 90th birthday. She even got a little verklempt during this interview.
Although Debbi says she misses her mom's voice, it is a constant presence in our lives. 
I hear her voice every single day on Siriously Sinatra on Sirius Radio. Debbi loves it when her mom's voice pops up unexpectedly. She doesn't take anything for granted.
with Kathy Brown
Today on her way to the train station, she heard Peggy Lee's Ain't We Got Fun? That is Debbi's grandfather's composition. She took a picture of the radio in the car and sent it to Peggy Lee's granddaughter and said, "Look, Holly! Grandmother is singing Grandfather." Debbi still gets excited over those moments when mom is singing or grandfather's music is being played or anything having to do with her father or Allan Sherman.Allan Sherman and Debbi's grandfather collaborated together.
The one thing about Debbi's mom that most people may not know was that she was a deep thinker. 
She was very articulate. She didn't walk around with a book in her hand quoting from the great writers, but she did have this wonderful sense of wonderment and love of knowledge. She was a very sensitive woman, but didn't share that aspect of her. She kept her cards very close to her chest.
Aside from the fact that Margaret Whiting was Debbi's mom, preserving the legacy of her mom and family is tremendous therapy for Debbi.
Walking around for years as an only child from a divorced family with a kind of strange atmosphere, Debbi always tried to reconcile her reason for being here and HER purpose in life. Why was she born? As time went on, she realized that it was to carry on the torch and legacy and she is really enjoying it. She knows her mother so much better now than she ever did.
Debbi says there are not too many similarities between her and her mom. She is more like her Aunt Barbara. Everyone used to say, especially her mother, "Oh my God! You remind me of my sister", or Aunt Meg who was a vaudevillian comedienne. Debbi is much more the clown while her mother was much more reserved, but always with great sense of humor. Debbi does have a striking similarity to her mother. People look at her and immediately say, "I know you're Margaret's daughter." Once in a while, Debbi will have a "snobbery" moment and say, "I just did a Margaret!" There are certain traits one picks up when living with someone!
Margaret was not a big abuser with drugs and alcohol. As a matter of fact, Debbi can only remember her mom being a little "tipsy" once in her life!
with Tex Arnold and Celia Berk
As stated above, she loved to read. She loved magazines. She loved movies. She loved the theatre. She loved the arts. When Picasso exhibited in New York at MOMA, Debbi and Margaret stood in line for two hours to see the exhibit. She introduced Debbi to Frank Sinatra by taking her to her first Frank Sinatra concert in the sixties, when most girls her age were going to rock concerts. She wanted Debbi to experience the arts.  Debbi ended up loving him. There were certain things she HAD to see.
Debbi desires more than anything for her mom to be recognized as one of the top vocalists of her generation. Debbi wants her to "get in the sandbox with the kids" who are her peers and to be recognized. It is getting harder and harder as time goes on. There was a recent thread on Facebook
Lou Busch and daughter, Debbi
after someone posted "Who is Paul McCartney?" If it's getting to be that bad, the Great American Songbook is in a lot of trouble. Debbie wants people to say, "Yes! I know who Margaret Whiting is"...as well as Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, and others of that genre. Debbi has been working on this most of her life. When Margaret stopped performing, this is when it kicked into high gear.
Debbi is doing exactly what she SHOULD be doing at this point in her life. She has never been happier with herself and the decisions she has made. At 64, she considers herself a late bloomer. She is glad that she is on the track that she is now. She is doing what she was put here to do. Please visit the official Margaret Whiting Facebook page. Please hit the LIKE button and SHARE it.   

Thank God Debbi is doing the same with her mom and family legacy.
 

Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,


 

Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!                

Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!
with Michael Feinstein and Marcy Heisler

Richard Skipper Celebrates at The Salon! TOMORROW NIGHT! Celebrating Broadsway and the film Life Inside Out on January 11th
Please join Us on January 11th if you are available!

Richard Skipper Celebrates at The Salon! Celebrating Broadsway and the film Life Inside Out on January 11th
I would love for YOU to help me kick start 2015 with this show that I am very excited about.
I co-hosted The Salon on January 5th of this year. This is my comeback! I cannot wait to experience it again!
The Salon (see their website – http://markjanasthesalon.com)… Multi Award winning weekly open mic.
This edition will also feature Broadsway (http://thebroadswayshow.com/), I have also asked Stephen Sorrentino to drop in to preview a number from his upcoming show at The Iridium.

The Theme for the night is Life Inside Out to celebrate the New York Premier of this delightful film that I encourage all to see. http://www.lifeinsideoutthemovie.com
There are a lot more surprises in store!


This all takes place on the 11th of January.
If you wish to entertain yourself, sign up starts at 6:15 PM

I am also taking requests! What would YOU like to hear ME sing?
7-10:30 PM
Etcetera, Etcetera
252 West 44th Street

Tickets are $10 cash at the door, $15 food or drink minimum


Would LOVE to see you!
Let’s toast the past year and the promise of the next.

With grateful XOXOXs for your support,
Richard 845-365-0720
Cost: Tickets are $10 cash at the door, $15 food drink minimum
IF you like this blog, please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook


A SWINGING BIRDLAND CHRISTMAS Klea Blackhurst Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch ,Marcy Heisler and Monica Corton.
Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com












Friday, January 9, 2015

Ron Greenfield: Aspects of Entertainment

I dwell in possibility…
-Emily Dickinson

Happy Friday!
A lot has gone on in the world in the last five weeks surrounding the subject of the right to free speech. I do not advocate censorship but I do hope that more and more will operate from a "moral" compass.
My philosophy for ME is that if I've offended one person in my art, I have offended one person too many.

I think we all have an obligation to raise the bar and to continue to raise the bar. That is the goal and purpose of Richard Skipper Celebrates.
I love the internet and social media. It has opened doors and made connections that I thought could never have imagined. The other side of the coin is that it can cut like a knife.
2015 for me is about being an "earth angel". I want to raise the bar, to elevate, to celebrate. I am cleaning house and dispensing with those that don't contribute in a positive manner and/or are just taking up space or
who only make snarky comments. I have two words for all of you, GOOD BYE!
Now...on to the positives!
Earlier this week, someone shared a positive posting on my page and the source was Ron Greenfield and Aspects of Entertainment. I only had to spend a few moments on his website and seeing his posts to see that we are kindred spirits.
Interestingly enough, I moved from South Carolina to New York. He moved from New York to North Carolina. I encourage all of my readers to check Ron out. I reached out to him to do a blog feature and I was thrilled that he agreed to do this. Today, I celebrate Ron Greenfield, AspectsofEntertainment.com, and their Body of "Worth"
About three years ago, Ron was working with someone to produce their movie. The other person was the writer and director.
Ron knew all the whys and wherefores.The other person started to pull a prima donna act. He kept responding by saying, "Since I'm the writer/director, I should do this" or, "I shouldn't do that." When one is producing an independent film, you have to "beat the bushes". Ron eventually withdrew from the project. He started to think about what was next for him. One day, he started to free associate all that he had done in this industry...from theatre to film to games.
He started to write down everything that he had done and it turned out to be several pages. He realized that he had done a lot. Over the next few days, he began rolling ideas around in his head. He then decided to move those ideas from his head to a website. He had done all these aspects of the entertainment industry, thus the title.
As stated above, Ron grew up in New York City, Brooklyn to be exact. From a very early age, his older brother and he were encouraged in the arts. That included the fine arts. They were always taken to museums, to concerts, to plays, all aspects of theatre. His older brother, Ray, and he were exposed to all of this from a very young age.
As a kid, he was in art classes. For as long as he can remember, Ron was always drawn to the visual first, whether it was color or setting, or whatever. From movies and theatre, he was always drawn to the visual setting of whatever he was experiencing. In the theatre, he was always fascinated by how the scenery was moved.
By the time he was seventeen, he was already working in summer theatres in Pennsylvania and Connecticut.
By the time, Ron was in college, he knew he was going to do something in this business. He was always intrigued by the titles and closing credits on movies and television. Names like Saul Bass and Wayne Fitzgerald were names Ron would often see. At that time, there were no schools or training for this. It was very corporate oriented. The design classes at Hunter College, for example, was geared towards corporate design. He knew from the beginning that if he going to do this, he would have to rely on his own resources to find the kind of job he wanted. He knew it was out there, he would just have to do the leg work to get it and to find out where they were. He would go to a school guidance counselor and tell them he wanted to design graphics for television, they didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

We are talking about a forty year career in this business.
What does Ron do when he needs a little "nonsense" in his life?  
He likes to travel or just hang out with his friends and just "shoot the breeze". He admits that many of them are "out on a limb".
Anything entertaining, he loves.
What does he desire more than anything?  
He is really putting himself out there and he feels at this stage of the game that he has had so many blessings and so many good things happen to him that he desires to now pay it forward. He is in the process of trying to get representation to start speaking. He had written a book called Perspectives on Entertainment
What he is really focused on right now is positioning himself as a lecturer and educated expert, which he is. 
Why should someone hire Ron Greenfield to do the things that he is talking about that he would like to do?
There are very few people out there who can articulate and also know what the creative process involves, but also as to how it relates to the entertainment industry. Ron has covered so many areas. There are very few people out there, like Ron, who has his background who can talk about it from any point of view. Read his blogs, his articles, and listen to his podcasts. He is all about creativity. 
He certainly feels that all people, whether they are in the business or not, have some kind of talent. To Ron, it is a sin, if it is not being utilized or expressed.
What is next for Ron?
He is not sure. In the last three or four months, he has been trying to get major traction. He is not just talking here in the United States. He has had people responding to him from all over the world, Australia, France, Italy, South Africa. A lot of people are asking him, "Where were you?" He is hitting a chord with them on the subject of creativity and the obstacles. No one in their life has had an easy path. There are always obstacles. What he tries to share is what obstacles he has faced and how he overcame them.
On a personal level, people feel as if Ron is joining them in their conversations. He gets into their head. They feel that he knows what he is talking about. It makes him relatable on a very strong basis.
If Ron could change one thing about today's entertainment
industry, he would like to see more of those people who are in the outer stratosphere be able to make the transition to the forefront. 
He would like to be able to open more doors for those people and lend a hand. There are so many young people, whether it be in the film business or the theatre, who are finding their voice, but they need to be established. Look at the talent that is out there. When you see it, you see the talent. Where are we going to find the next Stephen Sondheim, Martin Scorcese, Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, or Barbra Streisand? Where will they be coming from? Ron really desires to examine who is out there and start opening doors for them.
The trajectory of Ron's career once again with him being born and raised in New York. That is also where he saw his life being.
with Sidney Lumet
As the entertainment industry was changing, he found himself in Los Angeles. He started working in various studios, then he found himself working for Aaron Spelling. Sometimes he would just pinch himself, not believing this was his life. Here he was, a kid from Brooklyn in Hollywood! Not only was he working in the industry he loved, he was working with one of the legends of the entertainment industry. It still boggles his mind sometime.
Ron considers his career a 60/40 split. When he began to design trailers and on air openings for the studios, he was very focused. He went at it very aggressively. Going to Los Angeles was not something that he really planned for. Like anything that anyone experiences in life, along the way, you will meet people who guide you and people who will mentor you.
with Phaedra Valencia
At a certain point in his work, he was contacted by Spelling asking him if he would like to join them. 40 percent of his career, Ron feels was not planned for and leaves that to a Greater Power , with the remaining 60 percent being what he physically worked for.
The industry  has changed tremendously since Ron began. It has now become totally a global community. At the time that he moved to Los Angeles, which was the mid eighties, pretty much, the entertainment was a cottage industry. It has changed the nature of the whole business.
If he could change one thing about Ron Greenfield, he would change something he works on consistently. He is a very impatient person. When involved in a creative process, he is always fighting against wanting an immediate result. He tries to just let nature take its course. He knows that he does not have to be on top of everything all the time. Things happen! Deal with it as it happens instead of stewing about it. One of
the things that Ron has tried to do for himself when he gets a job or when someone says they are going to do something and they don't, he tries to convince himself that this is not the only game in town. There are many different directions that one can choose to go in. He just has to figure out which direction that should be. Who can open that door or who else can he connect to?
There are a lot more options now than there was fifteen or twenty years ago.
Aspects of Entertainment started three years ago and Ron never visualized it would get to this point.Ron is now trying to add more videos and more resources. He desires to be able to direct people to certain places when they come to the website. He desires to add more topics on the blog. At the time of our interview, he had just published his latest blog having to do with another aspect of entertainment, puppetry, a subject that many people don't think about.
Whatever Ron writes about or whatever he talks about, what his videos are about, it always relates back to creativity. He is trying to expand that platform.
What does Ron feel are the three essentials that are necessary for building a successful career in this business?
You have to have a Purpose. You have to know what you desire in life.
The people who have succeeded, and he is not talking about major bucks and/or physical things, he is talking about those that are respected. They all share a Passion about what they do. Throughout all the years, those are always the people that he has gravitated to. It is true of performers, dancers, singers, first assistant directors. Whatever you do in this industry, you have to be driven by this passion. Why give 200 percent of yourself if the whole SELF is not behind it.
The last of what Ron always refers to as the three Ps is Persistence.Without persistence, you are not going to get anywhere. This is true if you are looking for your next job or gig. If someone says "no", it is only a no. You have to go forward and figure out what the other options are.
If all of those three Ps are in place, you will find the right doors to knock on.
From starting out as a graphic designer to creative services and then into marketing, Ron had a responsibility to design a campaign whether he was working on a film project to a theatrical project, or a TV project with someone else's vision, he had to make it visual for the audience. He realizes that he will not always please everybody. He feels, however, at this stage of the game, this is how HE sees it, this is how he feels it, it is how he will say it and express it. For all Aspects of Entertainment, check out Ron Greenfield's Website.

Thank to ALL mentioned in this blog for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,



 
Check out my site celebrating the first Fifty Years of Hello, Dolly!

NO COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT INTENDED.  FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY!


Please do what YOU can to be more aware that words and actions DO HURT...but they can also heal and help!    
            




Here's to an INCREDIBLE tomorrow for ALL...with NO challenges!




Richard Skipper Celebrates at The Salon! Celebrating Broadsway and the film Life Inside Out on January 11th
Please join Us on January 11th if you are available!

Richard Skipper Celebrates at The Salon! Celebrating Broadsway and the film Life Inside Out on January 11th
I would love for YOU to help me kick start 2015 with this show that I am very excited about.
I co-hosted The Salon on January 5th of this year. This is my comeback! I cannot wait to experience it again!
The Salon (see their website – http://markjanasthesalon.com)… Multi Award winning weekly open mic. This edition will also feature Broadsway (http://thebroadswayshow.com/), I have also asked Stephen Sorrentino to drop in to preview a number from his upcoming show at The Iridium.

The Theme for the night is Life Inside Out to celebrate the New York Premier of this delightful film that I encourage all to see. http://www.lifeinsideoutthemovie.com
There are a lot more surprises in store!


This all takes place on the 11th of January.
If you wish to entertain yourself, sign up starts at 6:15 PM
I am also taking requests! What would YOU like to hear ME sing?
7-10:30 PM
Etcetera, Etcetera
252 West 44th Street

Tickets are $10 cash at the door, $15 food or drink minimum


Would LOVE to see you!
Let’s toast the past year and the promise of the next.
With grateful XOXOXs for your support,
Richard 845-365-0720
Cost: Tickets are $10 cash at the door, $15 food drink minimum

IF you like this blog, please leave a comment and share on Twitter and Facebook



Keeping Entertainment LIVE!
 
TILL TOMORROW...HERE'S TO AN ARTS FILLED DAY


Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com