Saturday, March 16, 8:00 PM, at The Temple Tifereth Israel, in Beachwood (Shaker Blvd. & Richmond Rd.) – my brother David Budin and I will be performing a “sing-along” concert of music from the 50s, 60, and 70s.

Last time we did an evening of folk and folk-rock songs that were written by Jewish singer-songwriters. This time we'll be joined by a band for an evening of rock and pop songs by Jewish writers — including Billy Joel, Leiber & Stoller, Carole King, Neil Diamond, and many more. $15 admission includes beer and food, singing, dancing and whatever else people do at parties .

RSVP to Alice Licker at 216-831-3233 or email alicker@ttti.org.

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They're Here.

Lots of boxes. Will sort the lists and send out soon!

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Songbook Going to Print!

So, it's finally here. The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is in my sights. Just got off the phone with Joe Eglash of Eglash Creative Group and gave him the final OK. Turn around time is now about four weeks, so I'm looking at mid-November for the final product!

The book will be have a glossy cover with photos by my daughter Mariah. There's a foreword written by me, a little bio, and a page of acknowledgements. It'll be about 100 pages of sheet music and chordster of all 22 songs from Hallelujah Land and Metaphor. It will retail at around $20.00.

I will, of course, update all of my social media, so be on the lookout.

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It's been a while since I've updated here. Almost a year, in fact. Of course, much has gone on. But, here are just a few updates:

There is Songbook progress! I'm in what I call the final push to get to the final phase. We're almost done editing all of the songs, and once that's done there's just a few steps left. I don't have a formal timeline for publication yet, but when I do, I'll post it here and on my other social media outlets.

On Sunday, May 20, 2012, I am going to be honored by HaZamir Cleveland and Akiva High School at the Siegal College in Beachwood, Ohio. They are honoring me for my many years of work, especially with music, in the Jewish community. I am, well, honored and humbled to have been chosen to receive this special recognition.

I'm close to finishing a couple of new songs, which is cool because Ive been jotting down ideas for songs for the past year or so, but not actually writing. I'm excited to complete them and share them with you somewhere, some time.

Personal notes: My wife Sharon and I will celebrate 26 years of marriage this August. We've chosen July 4th to renew our vows. We figured more people (like our kids) will be in town in July, plus there will fireworks for us in the evening.

Zachary finishes his Massage Therapy certification this summer. We've enjoyed his homework. Rachel is stage managing a show at Ensemble Theater for my favorite director, Fred Sternfeld, and continues her good work in theater. The last time I posted, Mariah had just graduated High School. Now, she's about to finish her first year at Akron University. She's in Photojournalism, and she's doing an internship with Buzznet.com shooting concerts.

More soon. Peace.

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Where Are We Now?

Hi.

It's been a while.

Good to see you again. How are you?

Now that we've got the small talk out of the way, let's catch up an get up to date.

American Buffalo (see the last two posts) is long over, but the memory remains vibrant and powerful for me. It was a very short run, in a very small theater, but served a very important purpose in my life. No details here. It just made me feel really good about my skills, instincts, and ability to memorize a hell of a lot of lines.

There are so many things swirling around me right now in both my personal and professional lives.

For those of you who are friends with me on Facebook, you may have seen the massive Home Improvement and Renovation Project that my wife and I took on. We did all of the work ourselves (except for some of the electrical) and I must say, it looks really good. There's a photo album of it on my Facebook page.

My youngest graduated from High School and is getting ready to attend Akron University (if we can afford it. I'll bet you didn't know that college is expensive.) We're still working out the grants and loans and financing, but she's been accepted and is motivated. (In the photo: My daughter Mariah and my mother Greta. My mother is the one with the gray hair.)

Still working on the Songbook. I have a little more proofing and writing to do, and a little more money to raise. The Kickstarter total was based on an estimate from a few years ago, but it covered most of the expense. I don't have a release date yet, but I'll let you know in this and other social media spaces.

The High Holidays are fast approaching and I'll be leading services with Rabbi Eddie Sukol again at the Agnon School/Siegal College of Judaic Studies auditorium. Rabbi Eddie runs a program called The Shul and brings all kinds of Jewish learning and services to people in all kinds of venues including homes and, no kidding, Corky and Lenny's Delicatessen.

I'm not doing much performing right now – there is almost always a Rock My Soul Shbbat service at The Temple Tifereth Israel every month – but I'm extremely busy at my job as the Assistant Director of Activities at Stone Gardens Assisted Living on the campus of the Menorah Park Center for Senior Living. You can see my Stone Gardens blog here.

Musically, I've got some new songs started, but I lack a quiet space with uninterrupted blocks of time to work on them. Let's get the songbook done, then I'll look ahead to financing a recording project and writing the songs for it.

That's about all for now. Stay in touch. Friend me on Facebook. Love your emails and comments.

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Me and the Buffalo, Part Two

Justin Robinson (Bobby) and Brian Zoldessy (Teach) on the set of American Buffalo opening May 6.

28 years ago I was 28 years too young to play the part of Donny Durbrow in David Mamet's American Buffalo. But I did. It was terrible. There were so many things wrong with that production, me among them.

I won't mention where it was or who directed it or the other actors names or the directors “concept.” But, I should have known from the start that casting me, a 23 year old, in that role was a bad idea. But I was 23, a newly minted college graduate with a degree in theater, and very eager. What did I know?

It actually drove me away from doing theater for a while. It spooked me.

Flash forward. I've had a long a varied (and somewhat successful) career in the performing arts. But I have a “real job” now so I can actually make a living. I still perform, mostly as a singer/songwriter. But I really don't have much time to devote to theater. Because that's what it takes – devotion. Rehearsals can be long and arduous. And there's lots of outside “bookwork” that needs to be done. Memorization.

My memory is not great. But a few years ago I decided that I would take on small rolls every couple of years because one, I enjoy being in plays and, two, it's a good way exercise my memory in new ways. All the research shows that you've got to keep your mind active as you age to keep it supple and working well. Mental exercise for the mind is like physical exercise for the body.

So, here I am, 28 years beyond college, and the opportunity to play Donny comes up again. It's with people that I trust, admire and respect in theater. The location is convenient. So, I accepted the role.

OK. It's one thing to exercise my memory. But I believe I am giving my memory a heart attack.

Donny is not a small role. There are only 3 characters in the play. Mine never leaves the stage for the entire two acts. When I finished highlighting all of my lines, there wasn't much white space left. I finally am, as we say, off book. But it kind of makes my head hurt.

It is a pleasure to work with the brilliant actor and director Brian Zoldessy. Brian works full time at Tri-C east as the head of the Theater Department. But if my brain is having a heart attack, I can't imagine what Brian is going through. Most people who act and direct don't do them all in the same show. Brian is directing this production. He's also playing Teach, a huge role. I must say, he's doing both brilliantly.

I think it'll be worth checking out. Brian is terrific. I feel good in the role – I am, at least, in the correct demographic. And the very talented Justin Robinson, a Tri-C student, is playing Bobby.

There are only 6 performances. The Studio Theater only has 45 seats. Tickets are only $10.00.

Don't bring the kids. It is Mamet. The play is typical Mamet slice-of-life theater, which means the language is crude and the content is of an adult nature. Probably R rated. But Mamet is a good writer and nothing is gratuitous.

28 years after I nearly scared myself out of doing theater forever, I get to exorcise some demons. It's a rare second chance, and the role of a lifetime.

Call 216-987-2438 for reservations.

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Me and the Buffalo, Part One

Cleveland, Ohio…indeed, Northeast Ohio…is a vibrant cultural arts Mecca.

Yes. Really.

Let's start with the Cleveland Orchestra, one of the world's best.

Cleveland Playhouse

And the Cleveland Playhouse is the country's oldest regional theater, having been an early theatrical home to luminaries such as Margret Hamilton and Joel Grey. And Tom Hanks did some early work with the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, now called The Great lakes Theater Festival.

Don't forget University Circle, especially the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Playhouse Square

Playhouse Square has been staging local professional productions and bringing in bus and truck shows (national tours of Broadway shows), concerts and other professional entertainment for years. The JCC always did pretty good work, especially when Dorothy Silver was at the helm. And there are a few small, professional theater companies that have been around for a while, like Dobama and Karamu House. And many that have come and gone. Today, there are many more professional theater companies, and professionals to fill

Cleveland Public Theater

the jobs. Cleveland Public Theater, the Fairmount Performing Arts Conservatory and the Beck Center for the Arts are some of them. And, of course, there are Community Theater productions aplenty with theater hobbyists filling the rolls and building the sets.

Fred Sternfeld, Director of FPAC

Equity Actors abound. There are actually people who earn their livings solely in the arts. Not many, not like New York or Chicago, but some. There are fine acting schools and programs here, like the above mentioned FPAC and Baldwin-Wallace. Even Tri-C East – Cuyahoga Community College, Eastern Campus – has as it's theater department head a guy that spent many years in New York and L.A. working on Broadway, Off Broadway and in films (such as Saturday Night Fever and Woody Allen's Annie Hall and Stardust Memories).

His name is Brian Zoldessy.

Brian is directing and starring in a production of David Mamet's American Buffalo at Tri-C East. I am proud to be a part of that production.

American Buffalo is a three person cast. I'm playing the roll of Donny Dubrow. It's a big roll. Not only do I get a lot of stage time (I actually never leave the stage for the entire two acts), but I get to work with one of Cleveland's finest directors and actors. And, I get to exorcise some demons. But more about that in my next post.

The play will only have six performances, and it's a very small theater – only 45 seats – so, call now to make reservations: 216-987-2538. Tickets are only $10.00. Performances will be Friday, May 6 at 8PM, Saturday, May 7 at 8PM, Sunday, May 8 at 2PM, Thursday, May 12 at 8PM, Friday, May 13 at 8PM, and Sunday, May 15 at 2PM.

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My Last Songbook Post (For Now)

So, I'm finally getting a chance to blog. It's been a busy few weeks and it's not slowing down for me until mid May. I'm in rehearsal for a production of American Buffalo right now, so that takes up most of my time when I'm not at work. But that's a blog unto itself.

Let's put this songbook to bed.

THANK YOU! Thank you all for your generous support,well wishes and spreading the word for me. We've surpassed our goal of $4624.00, thanks to all of you. Whether your pledge was $1.00 or $1000.00 (and I've gotten both) it's all very much appreciated, and it all makes this project possible.

The pledge deadline is April 14th (so you can still donate, if you want!*) and my funding will become available after that. Actually, they tell me, it takes about three weeks for Kickstarter and Amazon to process the funds and send them to me. Once that's done, and I pay my songbook creator Joe Eglash (oySongs), we'll begin the final stages of publication. I don't have a projected publication date yet, but I'll let you know when I do.

That's all about the songbook for now. On to other endeavours.

*My $4624 figure was based on a 2007 quote. I'm betting the printing costs have gone up since then, so anything over the stated Kickstarter goal will go to good use!

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One Thing On My Mind

Sorry I haven’t posted anything more interesting lately, like about songwriting or upcoming performances. This Kickstarter project has been consuming. There is, after all, a limited amount of time that I have to either meet the goal or get nothing for my efforts.

It’ll all be over soon, one way or another.

So, we are officially into our second week of fundraising for the songbook and, at this writing, we are 52% of the way there. That’s good.

But the majority of that happened within the first two days of the launch, and half of the funds raised are from one VERY generous $1000 pledge. Thanks you pledger! (You know who you are.) There’s still $2184 to go. And unless I get two more $1000 pledges, or 2184 people donate $1.00, I may not make it. That would be a shame.

So, please visit the Kickstarter site, and perhaps even more importantly, spread the word. If you have any contacts with local Jewish newspapers around the country, or organizations, musicians and song leaders who’ve used my music, please pass the info on to them, or their info to me.

Thanks!

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Still At It

Almost one week in. 46% funded. Added content to the text. Added a new level at which to pledge. Corrected the typo in the video.

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