© Tard The Grumpy Cat

I set out this week…

…to review a “blast from the past” holiday album from one of my favorite artists (NOT Tony Bennett despite the feature photo … just foreshadowing a bit).

I snagged the early 2000’s released holiday LP from iTunes and anxiously started listening … to make a long story short, it’s not very good; in fact it’s really pretty bad with significant deficits on the vocals, arrangements and some less than stellar production.

Though this artist is a recent find for me, he/she has been around many years and has released some great LPs; this particular album however is not one of them.

If he/she was proffering this LP this year as a new holiday release, it would be fair game; but the album in question was released ~ten years ago and I respect the artist  and their overall body of work too much to dredge up and flail this one anomalous poor recording.

It seems to be the season…

…for interviews, anecdotes, birthdays, holiday releases … I also have questions and notions frittering around in my head on the music industry, upcoming VS interviews and reviews, a Sinatra related DiningwithTheRatPack jewel … and a major new VocalStandards.com addition I’m considering, and I could use some feedback.

So … with a flaming hole in my content plan for this week, beaucoup newsworthy items in my inbox and a brain racing from too much eggnog, I thought I’d fire off a stream of consciousness piece and get all this stuff out of my head! [Read more…]


Hard to believe it’s already been a year…

…but indeed it was exactly a year ago today that I launched VocalStandards.com with a “Let’s Get This Party Started” post.

Re-reading that post is tough … it reminds me how difficult it was to launch this place; to get VS into motion with no wind in the sails.

Seems quite a bit different today after pushing out 123 articles and news/update posts (somewhere north of 100,000 words) over the last year.

More important than the stats…

I’ve learned a ton about the artists and music, met some great people — both in the music business and fans thereof — and seen a slew of great acts … far too much to recount here, but if you’ve been with me for awhile you know what I mean and if you’re somewhat new to VocalStandards, wander around a bit, take in some of the sights and let me know what you think.

Too much to do…

With all those words and stories in the archive, I look at my content plan and am dumbfounded to see literally 100s of story ideas — many/most of which have been in the hopper from day one! With the gush of emerging talent and the massively deep history associated with the Great American Songbook, there is literally too much to do.

Most days, I feel like a dog waking up from a nap to find 1,000 squirrels all running in different directions — my biggest problem is, which one do I chase first!

To celebrate VS’s anniversary…

Well, the next squirrel I’m chasing is a trip west this week to see Luca Ellis at his regular Beverley Hills Hotel gig in LA, and then take a short road trip into the desert to catch Robert Davi at the Soboba Casino Saturday night.

These guys represent all that’s good and right about this music genre … I knew neither of them as singer/performers when I started VS a year ago (certainly was familiar with RD as an actor) they are emerging stars — both of which have a respectful fascination with Frank Sinatra, the music he brought us and the way he lived his life.

Davi and Ellis display their respect and affection for Mr. S with the talent and dedication they bring when they perform Frank’s classic material. Seeing both of these guys this weekend is going to be a treat … What a great way to put the wraps on the first of hopefully many years of VocalStandards!

Take care all … come back soon.


My mom’s birthday was yesterday…

I think she would have been 85 — she passed away in 2004. I don’t want to get all maudlin here or make this too personal, but I do want to share an anecdote about how Dean Martin helped my mother in her time of greatest need.

As I mentioned in last week’s post on Andy Williams, we religiously watched Dean Martin’s television show at our house. To my knowledge, neither of my parents ever caught a Dean Martin live performance but nevertheless they were huge fans … the distant way most people are with guys as big as Dean or Frank Sinatra.

For the most part Bernice Cox lived a great life; she was a beauty queen (Miss New Hampshire!), married a dashing fighter pilot after the war (WW II), traveled, played great golf, danced … raised two amazing and talented children ;-). [Read more…]


What a Year…

With the ball drop in Times Square about to usher in the new year, I took a look back at 2011.

Even though Vocalstandards.com went live in August of this year, it began in earnest several months earlier with a lot of soul searching, website design and research … and fifty-two posts later, what a blast!

 Whole ‘lot of music…

Between album reviews, radio station reviews and live performance recaps, we covered a lot of ground in 2011.

Catching great performances like Nikki Yanofsky, Steve Tyrell, John Pizzarelli, Michael Feinstein, Steve Tyrell again(!) and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy were major highlights for the year to be sure.

But if I had to pick one…

I love the pressure of the “if I had to pick one” question. It forces you through such strenuous and impossible decision contortions … excruciating fun! That said, I can’t do it when it comes to the Rat Pack … I simply can’t force myself to distill  “the one best” from Sam, Dean and Frank. Thank goodness the decision for “best of 2011” wasn’t that arduous. [Read more…]


So Sorry …

… that I’ve been MIA the last week and change. I got called back into service by my previous “real work” gig (sucks, but holiday cash is nice) on short notice and my content deployment planning took it on the chin.

My bad … but I spent the weekend revamping my schedule and will be back in the VSguy throes again this coming week.

So, listen to Brenda apologize for me (above) and tune back in for some cool upcoming posts on Matt Monro, Jack Jones, Steve and Eydie, Ella and Louis, and several reviews queued up including Frank’s new Compendium CD “Frank Sinatra — The Best of the Best” that I should receive Tuesday!





Do you ever catch yourself…

…listening to lyrics of a song you’ve known and sung for years only to REALLY HEAR THEM for the first time and go … woah.

The sudden realization of how spectacularly weird the actual words are can be jarring. I mean you’ve probably been snapping you fingers, tapping your toe and singing the song for years and then WHAM, you actually process the lyrics … maybe something like “When love congeals – it soon reveals the faint aroma of performing seals.” Uh … oh my. [Read more…]


There is a song on the Radio Days Soundtrack CD that I always thought of just as a kitschy WWII ditty — “Remember Pearl Harbor” (Sammy Kaye and his Orchestra). Even though my dad was a fighter pilot in Europe during the war and I am an avid WWII history buff, I always considered this song to be nearly a farce … until September 11, 2001.

That horrible day, our generation got to feel in full measure what our parents felt when they awoke on Dec 8, 1941 to the news of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the realization that they could no longer insulate themselves from the fascist elements tormenting the world at that time.

For us … different bad guys … a different kind of war; and sadly a much more visceral experience as we all got to watch in realtime the events as they transpired on 9/11. We literally watched thousands of innocent people die and took the quite literal hammer blow to our personal and national psyche that day as WE realized the same sense of violation.

I no longer think of Sammy Kaye’s “Remember Pearl Harbor” as a kitschy number … Like the Rat Pack era — the greatest generation before us …”we shall always remember, how they died for Liberty.”

We must NEVER forget.


Leader Static

Working on a review of “DEAN MARTIN cool then, cool now” book/CD for this afternoon but I wanted to get a shout out to Brad, Mother Miriam, John, John and the extended MITM family … Happy 5th anniversary!

You guys are the best — here’s to many more years of great Standards radio from the Martini In The Morning spot on the internet radio dial!