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Almost five years ago now I wrote a song that was later titled “Tailspin”.  The first time I ever performed the song live was at a little show at the University theater up in SLC, UT as an encore piece.  It was definitely unrehearsed, and we were leaping into the deep by letting it fly live.  Here is that old version so long ago https://youtu.be/LLy_mjqJqm4

Now don’t judge the vocals!  When you know that I had completely lost my voice the day before and by the grace of God and Vix lozenges made it to the show to sing you’d be high fivin’ me.  The arrangement of this piece was simple that day, just a little bass, cello, and some light percussion.  The words at that time were not yet solidified but there for the most part, and the the arrangement was tentative with a love for the basic melody structure. I was excited to imagine the possibilities of where this song could go if only I could get it there, and the warm reception of the crowd that day and those who approached me expressing a love for it was encouraging enough to pursue a finished project.

Before I tell you too much about the beginning, let’s start with the end of this story shall we?  The end, or the big news rather, is that the song is produced, mixed, and mastered. No more changes, no more hemming an hollering over the little details probably nobody will ever notice and only I’m possessed with.  It is ready to live the way it was created to live.  That my friends to every songwriting musician is a dream come true.  The second dream come true is that it does something to you and for you the way it has for me over the years.

Before I let you hear the song I want to include you on the journey of its genesis. I want you to be part of my world, if you care to, for a few brief seconds and watch how much a song can change from original conception to final production. I want you to see how incredibly genius a great producer can be for a simple piece with only basic frame work in place, and how their ability and skill can create amazing transformations.  Todays blog is just an introduction into the old so you can become familiar with the song.  The next time we meet I’ll show you a more recent show where the production changed yet again and introduce you to the producer who flipped this in the direction I always wanted and hoped it would go.

Until later my friends…be cool.

AZ

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Hi everyone…well we are almost two weeks out from the show and I haven’t even announced the official line up of the show “Rock the Glam”!  Last year we had these awesome guys starting from left to right, Bob Sach on bass, Dan Aakhus on keyboards, Johnny J. Rivera on guitars, Matt Vocalist extraordinaire, Mike Meecham on Drums, and Joey Singer on Piano, in addition to Carlos Perez (not photographed) on percussion, and Tom Ehlen on Trumpet.

Last years crew

Last years crew

This years line up will be a mix of last years crew and some new invitee’s.  Unfortunately Joey, Mike, and Matt will not be joining us.  Joey is now the new musical director for Mama Mia, “YAY”, who is not allowed to sub out for the gig, Dan will be sitting in for an orchestra where he could not sub out as well, and though we loved Matt our budget required us to find a local vocal talent this year so we couldn’t have him back.  Which leads me to our new line up…drumm roll please….

Benjamin Hale

1922309_10153814457835282_552521282_nI love this guy…this picture says it all.  Ben and I probably met about eight years ago, but this is our first musical colab since then.  He has been busy playing the roll of Johnny Cash in the show “Million Dollar Quartet” which spotlights the last studio session Jerry Lewis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins were in the studio together.  Great show if you have a chance to go and see it.  So although he can sing very looooow, you will have to come and see what I am making him do at the show…it will amaze!  He will also be filling in here and there are guitars when needed which is awesome to have the option with another vocalist.

 

Emilio Rivera 

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Emilio is our latest recruit and fresh out of school, which is a blast to see new talent emerge on the scene, and yes you guessed it folks, this is Johnny J. Rivera’s son.  I can’t wait until rehearsal when we get to see what he can do.  If your father didn’t just have vocal surgery you would probably be in for some good harassment Emilio…we will go easy on you! =)  So cool to have you aboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jess Gopen

10157164_630964066986826_4535485186582759551_nAfter we lost Mike we were referred to Jess Gopen.  He’s definitely got this rocker edge I love about him, which will work perfectly for some of the tunes we have planned for the set list.  He is the drummer for Clint Holmes who has a monthly show at the Smith Center as well.

 

Dan Ellis

1959471_10151906345771338_1607611259_n The first time I saw Dan play was when I was seeing the Scintas show down at the D Theater.  I was then referred to him after my piano guy got called out to play for Terry Fator…the nerve! =)  Dan was so generous to come on board since his schedule is crazy, and since he still had a show that night.  He wanted to do something for the Shade Tree which makes it even cooler to have him.

I have quite a few other surprises planned for the show, but you will have to come to see what I’m talking about.  Tickets are available at http://www.thesmithcenter.com and the show is July 12th @ 7:30 pm.  If you are traveling from out of town and are wondering where to stay, The Smith Center is closer to Fremont street (the old Vegas) so you can stay down there or on the north end of the strip where the Wynn is.

If you check back in after the 4th maybe I’ll post some footage from rehearsal.  Until then here’s a good pic from last years show with Dan Aakhus, Johnny J., and Carlos.

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Much love friends,

AZ

Climbing out

IMG_3558I love this picture of my friend Josh, which I snapped while in Mexico a couple of years ago. I was just cleaning out my hard drive and found it again. There’s two images here…on top, or underneath. I’m sure on any given day we find ourselves on opposite ends of the water….either desperately breathing for air, feeling like we are completely drowning, or on top safely enjoying the surface trying to avoid getting sucked back under again. Over the last seven months I’ve been trying to climb out from being under water. I have been musically very absent as I’ve been extremely sick with what has just recently been diagnosed with toxic mold poisoning. I’m one of the lucky ones, as it hasn’t taken years to diagnose my problems when others have not been so lucky, needless to say seven months is still a loooong time to feel like something is terribly wrong. I guess I’m writing this blog as a bit of a PSA in case some of you know someone who has been ill for unknown reasons and are spending thousands of dollars in the medical world with absolutely no luck. My symptoms started rather small…first foggy mind, loosing short-term memory which advanced to lack of sleep, dark circles under my eyes, restless leg, and then weight gain. When the major crash and burn happened in September I experienced a rather intense panic attack, followed by nausea, anxiety that would last all day, uncontrollable surges up my spine, hair loss, weight loss…(not a bad trade-off if you gotta go through it), all over malaise, headaches, mind loops with OCD thoughts, extreme fatigue, incredibly slow digestion, difficulty breathing, heart palpitations, etc. The trouble with some of these symptoms is that they closely look like thyroid issues, rheumatic, or neurological issues, so it can be easy to be misdiagnosed. I was just perplexed that all of a sudden I went from functioning to barely being able to go to the grocery store. My blood work said unexplained inflammation. My doctor at the time was thinking Lupus, or some other disease. Non of this made sense to me as it wasn’t in my family history, and because I was healthy and vibrant before moving homes. I’m so thankful today that I found Dr. Claire Riendeau, a Canadian Natural MD based out of Reno to help figure out my issues. You see I was concerned as to the “why” things were happening in my body. I guess that’s how I’ve always been since I was little…If you can tell me the why, I can buy into it. I don’t know how long recovery will take but I’m looking forward to it six months or so down the road. It’s an interesting world this mix between Western and Eastern Medicine. Unfortunately so many are either so pro one or the other. I was just talking with a friend the other day how necessary both forms of medicine really are. If I had only believed in Western medicine, I could have been improperly diagnosed with an auto immune disease and struggled my whole life with harsh medications that would slowly break down my body many auto immune patients have to take. I am so thankful for the people in my life who prepared me to look at other avenues for healing, as I feel that being open was exactly what I needed for healing. So if you have a friend or family member who’s been struggling with health I can’t say a Natural MD will solve the problem, but I do believe there are solutions to problems if we are willing to look, and don’t stop looking until you find it. I am fascinated with how many people I found on the web doing things with health, and their clients finding incredible results that are completely outside the box of the way we’ve been conditioned to think or  believe. So that’s the end of that PSA…moving onto much more exciting things I hope.

Yesterday I saw Raiding The Rock Vault.  Raiding the Rock Vault is a 2 hour classic rock concert experience that transports the audience from the 1960s to the 1980′s with classic anthems from The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Eagles, Queen, AC/DC, Deep Purple, Van Halen, Journey, Free, Aerosmith and more. We spent a little time back stage with the guys, saw where Elvis used to hang, his bar that has been cut in half, his old lounge, and they still have a piece of the old stage saved as well. Here’s a picture of the cast….let me know who you recognize:

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Another show I’d love to give a shout out to is the Scintas who are playing at the D Theater downtown in Las Vegas.

The-Scintas-at-the-DI really enjoyed this show…it had a lot of heart…a good ol’ Italian family vibe….funny. It’s just a good Italian laugh. When I’m in Vegas I think of Italians, so it makes you feel almost like these were the types of shows playing in Vegas back in the day. I’d go again for sure…and high fives guys for staying in the game so long. I don’t know how many shows can brag that they’ve run as long as you have in Vegas.

I’m working on a new show, in hopes that by the time the show comes I’m in shape to sing. I’ll fill you in once everything is nailed down. Til then my friends…eat cake for me, since I am the lucky recipient of a mold free diet. I know, you are jealous…stop it… I know! If you are curious how lucky I am just go look it up.

Much love,

AZ

Last weekend I received some sad but happy news as I learned of the passing of my friend Holly’s grandmother Mary Roberts.  I of course was sad for her passing, but happy that she no longer had to deal with health issues….she lived a long full life.  I met Mary for the first time a couple of years ago while we were shooting a sizzle reel for a TV show.  Holly told me about how her grandmother loved music and had been writing and playing her whole life, but that she really didn’t have a chance to do much with her music.  On one occasion while she was in Las Vegas she met Frank Sinatra in which she thought this song “Why Did You Say Good-bye?” would have been a great fit for him, but after being passed to his assistant she never pursued it any further.  Sitting next to Mary while she played was like jumping back into the 1920’s and 30’s.  It was magical…I could hear exactly how I would produce her piece.  She sat and taught me the melody and we had a good  laugh while she kept playing song after song for me.  I was in love with my life that day.  Watching her play I was amazed at how easy her old hands swept across the keyboard as if it was nothing…I couldn’t even imagine playing music like she did.

Mary 1 Here is a picture of Mary in her prime…I love the hair and clothes from this era.  I would have loved to live during this time except for the whole women had zero rights, and racism was still very big.  I probably would have gone to jail…Thankfully I was born in a time where I could waste my energy on something more productive like Mary.  Mary shared with me that it was her dream to have people hear her music, and to hear it produced as most of her songs were recorded to a hand-held recorder as piano and vocal.  Fast forward a year later and I was doing a special jazz concert for the Rape Crises Center in Las Vegas at the Smith Center, produced by Bart Doerfler.  I told Bart I really thought it would be cool to do this song for Mary.  I had heard that her health was declining, and I thought if we could just make one of her dreams come true that would be the highlight of the show for me.  One person that really helped make this come to life was Joey Singer.  Joey is the most talented piano player and arranger I have worked with thus far.  All I had was a little mp3 of her playing this song, which I had sent to another player who said it would take him quite a bit of time and money to figure out what she was playing.  Joey thankfully was able to figure out charts and what to play in no time…a true pro.  I will always be grateful to him and all the other band members Bob, Dan, Johnny, Tom, Carlos, and Mike for putting this together with very little rehearsal time.

So goodbye sweet Mary, you have opened my heart a little wider…and I will always remember this moment where your song came to life….(oh and the package you sent with all the cartoon drawings you spent hours doing on the outside.  I’m sure you gave the mail man a thrill as well as myself.)

So my friends…”Why Did You Say Good-bye”, written by Mary Roberts….hope you enjoy!  If you feel inspired to share this story with anyone else please do…maybe more people than Mary ever realized will get to be part of her dream by your sharing.

AZ

“Why Did You Say Good-bye” lyrics

Why did you say good-bye?

I often wonder why…

What did I say, is there a way?

Have you an alibi?

Was there a someone new?

Someone who stepped right through…

My one romance, is there a chance, to prove my love to you?

I keep saying to myself, you shouldn’t feel bad

Love is just like a game.

Although I’m praying and pretending I am glad,

My heart aches just the same

Why did you say good-bye
I often wonder why…I love you so

Want you to know…why did you say good-bye?

Wait for you

It’s been awhile since I’ve been ready to start playing and recording things for you to hear.  Its not that I haven’t wanted to because believe me I think about it everyday….but somehow I have been playing cat and mouse with the keyboard, and  a lot of my creative energy has been lost through the demands of book writing and projects.  But a few weeks ago I sat at the keyboard and was gifted this song.  It was really quite a simple melody I was able to construct pretty quickly.  I am putting it in my lullaby catalog for an album I hope to do.  But until that day I don’t want it to sit on the shelf unheard, so I hope that you can indulge me by letting me share this rather crappy audio visual video.  Here are the lyrics to help you understand what I am saying:

Wait for you

Out of the darkest cold, you are left here waiting

I’ve been gone too long, and your mind is racing

You forget that I want you to be close to me always

You’re tired of the emptiness inside, Its lonely…

But you’ll wait for me to come…

Wait for me to come…

Wait for me to come home…

After the longest day, trying to climb the ladder

Holding steps that stay, higher than what matters

You will climb up to catch me just in time, as I’m falling

You are my steady holding me love you know I’ll only

Fall here for you every time

Fall for you every time

Fall for you every time

Minutes turn hours and you still carry the weight of your scars

Like they were veins to your heart

You keep them alive

Give ’em a grave and you’ll see

You were just pushing me

Further away than I needed to be

But I’ll wait for you to come

Wait for you to come

Wait for you…to come home

To view this video visit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMWehXad-SA

Back in the studio….

I’ve spent the last few days in the studio working on a couple of pieces for a project that was started a looooong time ago.  We are not at the button room (Ajay’s) studio this time, but are spending time working with Sean Williams who has a nice little studio he is starting to build in Las Vegas, which allows him some time to learn some master Ninja mixing skills from Ajay and for me to continue learning and doing what I do.  This time I was in charge of all the vocal edits, so that was fun working with Sean on that, and coming up with the best vocal we could get.  Today I will be in the studio doing some background vocals, and then hopefully we will finish up the mixes.  Here are a couple of pics from the last couple of sessions….

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Hopefully we will be able to wrap this up by Thursday and then on to the next!  =)

AZ

I have to apologize to all of you out there that I haven’t kept up on my blog as of late.  Not that I haven’t thought about it a ton, I have just been tired of writing as I have been working on a book project, and opening my computer to blog is like coming home after a long day of answering phones to a phone ringing off the hook.  I kinda needed a break.

I’m not going to re-cap too much about what has been, just looking forward to what will be.  Today I wrote some lyrics for Dave Rosa who gave me a songwriting assignment without music, and only a map of syllables and lines that would have to rhyme…it was hilarious..I have nooo idea how the song sounded, but he did say when he played it on his end a lot of it fit into the music he had crafted. Why I think this is an interesting exercise is that I had to imagine what I thought his music would sound like and then pick lyrics I imagined he might use, it was a good stretch for me and taught me a new way to extract concepts, lines, and ideas for other projects, as so much of the song on my end sounded disjointed.  What could have been awesome is if he imagined something I would musically write and we had this really weird marriage of music and lyrics.  When all was said and done the song I wrote for him, I called it Silent Coma…knowing Dave this title says it all.

I’m attaching a rehearsal video that Dan Aakhus recorded from our last benefit concert for the Rape Crises Center.  What a great time with everyone involved…this was our first run through of the song, and as you can see we are a little rusty, but whatev…..it worked out perfectly the next day, and that’s why we rehearse!  I’m looking forward to more shows with these incredible players!

Also after the loss of all those beautiful children in Connecticut a tribute video was made with the song Eden’s Angel released last year as a fundraising tool for children with special needs.  It’s a beautiful way to remember them in a positive way, after such tragedy…and I’m glad the song is being used for something that can help people heal from loss.

I’m so thankful that you still read the blog.  Thanks for stopping in and for sharing with others.  I dig you for that.  More to come…so be cool!

Much love,

AZ

Edens Angel Promo