We are happy to welcome guest celebrity blogger Jason Danieley, who is currently starring opposite wife Marin Mazzie in the Tony and Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway musical Next to Normal. The singing actor, who has also appeared on Broadway in Curtains, Candide and The Full Monty, will blog for Playbill.com all week; his fourth entry follows.
For the Record
"Records"? My, what an outdated term, Mr. Danieley. Whether you call them records (still), albums, CDs, downloads (I doubt if anyone is mentioning 8-tracks or cassettes today), these are still a necessary and vital source to get the music of young, and not so young - but new to you, songwriters, out to the rest of the country.
The days of Tin Pan Alley are long gone. The "headquarters" of the music business has flitted from New York to Nashville to Los Angeles to, now, pretty much anywhere where anyone has a soundproof room and Pro-tools. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I know the next Cole Porter or John Mellencamp is growing up in Indiana and getting ready to upload some great tunes to their Facebook or MySpace page. But as Tin-Pan Alley no longer exists as it once did, there are a few stalwart record labels trying their damndest to keep you up on what's going on in the New York theatre and cabaret scene.
Believe me, selling records of a new Off-Broadway show or the first solo album of an up-and-coming young actor doesn't rake in the dough. It's a tough sell to a country that doesn't have the same passion for theatre that preceding generations did. But those few who take the chance on recording, and investing in the recordings, of "Love on a Summer Afternoon" or "(Sorta) Love Songs," are extremely important to the livelihood and encouragement of musical theatre and traditional songwriting.
I have a first-hand relationship with the PS Classics label, and Tommy Krasker its founder. They distributed both my album with Marin, "Opposite You," and my album with my band, "Jason Danieley and The Frontier Heroes" (not a shameless plug for my merch, although it probably doesn't hurt). I've also recorded many other albums of Off-Broadway shows and compilation albums with them. In fact, I'm heading into the studio in a couple hours to contribute to Sam Davis' album of songs, "Love on a Summer Afternoon."
Sam is a perfect example of someone "off the radar" to the rest of America, but to a large community of theatre veterans is an amazing accompanist (my fingers in Curtains), arranger and music director. Now add composer to that list. Sam, a "wunderkind" who is not so much the "kind" anymore, is getting a chance to show off his songwriting skills with a roster of amazing talents.
Sh-K-Boom Records and founder Kurt Deutsch is releasing an album of Burkell and Loesel's music titled "(Sorta) Love Songs." Long-time friends of ours, Scott Burkell and Paul Loesel, are another team worth touting. Scott and Marin met "X"-years ago in summer stock in Augusta, Michigan, and since then they have been tighter than stretch pants on a sumo wrestler.
Scott, an actor/director, lyricist/librettist, and Paul, an accompanist ( Wicked )/composer, met at that same summer stock theatre. Writing relationships can start anywhere, particularly the fertile fields of small theatre communities. Just a couple of weeks ago, Marin and I recorded solos each for "(Sorta) Love Songs." The release of the album will coincide with the Off-Broadway production of their musical The Extraordinary Ordinary. This album is a credible calling card for the musical to come, as well as a wealth of material for cabaret and theatrical singers.
Both albums incorporate a number of extraordinary orchestrators, salient singers and amazing musicians who combine their talents to support this milieu of music. It's our small contribution to continue this cycle of songwriting.
There are so many songwriters and songwriting teams that you haven't heard of and may never hear of unless you move to New York and immerse yourself in the music theatre scene. But thanks to Tommy and Kurt, and their passion for passing along this kind of music, the art of songwriting for theatre will continue to have a chance… for the record.