July 2014 Update

Posted on 01 July 2014

Hi Everyone,

Lots of things been going on since my last Update last October:

I am currently playing the world premiere and pre-B’roadway run of  The Last Ship at the Bank of America Theatre through July 13th, 2014. The original score is by 16-time Grammy Award winner Sting,  direction by two-time Tony Award winner Joe Mantello (Wicked), a book by Tony Award winner John Logan (Red) and Pulitzer Prize winner Brian Yorkey (Next to Normal) , choreography by Olivier Award winner Steven Hoggett (Once) and sound design by Brian Ronan.  It has one of the most heavily vetted orchestras that I’ve had the privilege to play in.  The musical supervisor, conductor and orchestrator is Rob Mathes who exudes musicality. The 12-piece band consists Rob as piano/conductor, Dan Lipton (Associate Conductor and keyboards), Matt Beck (Guitar 1), Steve Roberts (Guitar 2), Paul Woodiel (Violin/Fiddle 1), Martha O’Donnell (Violin/Fiddle 2), Mark Lekas (Cello), Mick McAuley (Melodean), Chris Layer (Uilleann pipes, flutes), Bob Garrett (Percussion), Joe Bonadio (Drums, and myself (Acoustic Bass). Here’s a picture of the band with Sting during the  rehearsals (which he played guitar and sang at both days):

Of course, I had to get a picture with Sting who impressed  me by his brilliance, artistry, work ethic and being a super nice guy:

Other theatre work this year included, Rent at the Paramount Theatre in Aurora from March 12 – April 6, 2014. It was a joy to reunited with the band (Steve Roberts – Guitar 1, Kraig McKreary -Keyboard 2/Guitar 2, Jim Widlowski – Drums and myself – Electric and Fretless Electric Bass) that we first played it at the Shubert in Chicago in 1997, but this time with Shawn Stengel as Musical Director and Keyboard 1. This was a great production and a fantastic band!

Pictured (Left to right): myself (Electric & Fretless Electric Bass). Jim Widlowski (Drums/Percussion), Shawn Stengel (Conductor/Keyboard 1), Kraig McKreary (Guitar 2/Keyboard 2), and Steve Roberts (Electric & Acoustic Guitar 1, Tambourine).

I started the year playing Gypsy at the Chicago Shakespeare Theatre from February 6 – March 23, 2014. It had a terrific 14 piece band, conducted by Valerie Maze. This size orchestra is laudable since the theatre only seats around 500 people. It also is one of the first times I could hear everything acoustically without needing an aviom or headphone cue. LOVED IT!

Pictured (Left to right): Marty Tilton (Trumpet 3), John Blane (Bass Trombone, Tuba), Dan Johnson (Trombone), Valerie Maze (Conductor/Piano), Tim Burke (Trumpet 1), Andrew Graham (Violin), myself (Acoustic Bass), Sharon Jones (French Horn), Sean McNeely (Reed 1), Linda Van Dyke (Reed 3), and John Kornegay (Reed 2).

The Chicago Tribune theatre critic Chris Jones wrote a review which bears reading . If you’re interested, follow this link:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/theater/chi-music-orchestra-gypsy,0,2830136.story

I also got to play Wicked again from October 29th to December 21st, 2013 at the Oriental Theatre. I hadn’t played it for nearly five years. What a treat to play this great score again with a killer orchestra. Once of the highlights was when AFM President Ray Hair and Jay Blumenthal (AFM Director of Symphonic Services Division) visited the Chicago “Wicked” orchestra Tuesday, Dec. 17th.

Pictured (Left to right): Michael Keefe (Keyboard 2), Tim Burke (Trumpet/Flugelhorn), Michael Joyce (Tenor & Bass Trombone), Andrew Graham (Conductor), Janice MacDonald (Flute/Piccolo/Recorders/Penny-Whistle), Adam Laird (Keyboard 1), Jay Blumenthal, Peter Jirousek (French Horn), myself (Acoustic/Electric & Fretless Bass), Jeremy Kahn (Keyboard 4), Ray Hair, Jeff Handley (Percussion), Ricardo Castañeda (Oboe/English Horn), Sean McNeely (Bb, Eb & Bass Clarinet/Soprano Sax), Jim Widlowski (Drums), Evan Rea (Keyboard 3) and Lou Garrett (Guitar).

I am super psyked to announce that I’m playing in an KILLER horn band lead by trumpet/arranger Carey Deadman. We’ve been trying to get this band together for well over 10 years. It consists of Carey Deadman (Trumpet 1 as well as the prolific arranger), Tim Burke (Trumpet 2), Dan Johnson (Trombone), Jim Massoth (Sax), Karl Montzka (Keyboards), Tom Logan (Guitar/Vocals), Jim Widlowski (Drums) and myself (Electric Bass). The arrangements are challenging, but aurally accessible . The range from Dirty Loops tunes to Tower of Power, Chicago, etc. tunes. We’re still rehearsing, but hope to be playing out sometime this summer. There will be guest singers as well. STAY TUNED!

After 27 years in my studio, I’ve said goodbye to my Trident Series 70 mixing console. It went to a great guy in Nashville. It was difficult, but correct decision.

My son Ashley is going to help me re-design my studio and upgrade it. I’m hoping he’ll record one of his c.d.’s here. Speaking of Ashley, he’s been recording a rock c.d. with some of his pals in Berlin. I can’t wait to hear it. I know it’ll rock hard. Ashley will be flying to L.A. any day now to rehearse with Ben Kenney (Incubus) to do another U.S. tour. I think they’re supposed to play Chicago on July 1oth. I’m going to run over there immediately after my show (The Last Ship).  Here’s a picture of Ashley and Ben at the Rockwood in NYC last winter:

Well that’s enough ‘catch-up’ for now. Hope you’re having a great summer!


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