Lessons Learned From Rocky I – Rocky III*

January 4th, 2011

resizedIt's clear to me now that my expectations were wildly outsized.

Abbi, Maggie and I had ten days at The Kellers' Brays Island home with all the trimmings: running, swimming, golf, fishing, big screen HD movies, and a fridge full of special-ordered Cisco Brewers Wales Tale Pale Ale.

Our Christmas Eve flight from LaGuardia to Charleston unspooled mostly-unceremoniously. When Maggie wasn't sleeping, she was gazing out the window awestruck. It was actually pretty cool.

And when we landed, The Kellers we're waiting, car seat at the ready. ...

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Top Ten Christmas Songs That Rock

December 25th, 2010

resizedIt's presumably little surprise that I love Christmas songs. Not, like, all Christmas songs. Christmas songs with a backbeat. Christmas songs that rock.

You, Dear Reader, may recall that it all began in the passenger seat of my brother's Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser station wagon, nog in the belly, weed on the brain (sorry, mom), WYSP on the radio, and mind-blowing luminarium along the culdesac streets.

In fact, it may well have been rocking' Christmas music that got me through those years. Those experiences (Band Aid's "Do They Know ...

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Home For Christmas

December 24th, 2010

resizedThus far, parenthood is riddled with cliches: chubby cheeks, bare bottoms, wide eyes -- the whole thing.

Unlike other things stretched to the point of stereotype, though, the scale and scope of these new feelings are so huge, this new love so massive and revelatory at every turn, that its very triteness is completely superfluous.

Especially Christmas, that most-commodified, angst-ridden celebration of all.

You, Dear Reader, may recall my tragic history with the holiday. It was, for logical, reasonable and defensible reason (I'm sure) ...

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“A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 4” Release A Colossal Success

December 20th, 2010

resizedIt's taken nearly all weekend to recover from Thursday night's "A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 4" release party.

Yes, I was over-served. Accordingly (perhaps), the entire event is a bit of a blur. And while there's video (of the finale, anyway, see below) to help piece it together, I'd rather not watch; I prefer my sepia-toned memories.

I know that one minute, Roger Clark and I were pacing around Rockwood Music Hall nervously wondering if anyone would show up.

The next, I'm excuse me-ing my way through the packed venue towards the ...

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“A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 4” Silent Auction Is Open!

December 16th, 2010

Tonight (December 16th) we celebrate the release of "A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 4," our annual "A Holiday Benefit" for 826NYC, at Rockwood Music Hall.

Chris Abad, Bryan Dunn, Casey Shea, Charlotte Sometimes, Dave Pittener, Kelli Rae Powell, Rachel Platten, Wes Hutchinson, Zach & Sarah and I will rock your holiday socks off with a hosting assist from NY1's Roger Clark and comedian Negin Farsad.

As in years past, we've whipped together a terrific collection of silent auction items. But don't sweat it if you're unable to attend the show. ...

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For Maggie, In Her Sixth Month

December 7th, 2010

resizedDear Maggie,

You were born six months ago today. It was a humid June afternoon when your mother and I walked from our East 71st Street apartment to New York Presbyterian Hospital. You were breach and -- despite our best efforts in those final weeks -- refused to turn. You were delivered via c-section June 7th just before six o'clock.

I'll never forget the first time I saw you, and how massively and suddenly you changed my life. You were bright pink and screaming, struggling against the rubber gloves and bright lights. Before I could ...

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“Christmas All Over Again” Video Premiere

December 7th, 2010

resizedFor me, it was always crucial that "A Holiday Benefit" be more than just a compilation album. "A Very Special Christmas" (one of our original inspirations) did that well enough; we wanted to do more.

It was Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" that set the bar. Phil Collins, George Michael, Bono, Simon LeBon, Sting and Ultravox in one room!?! Yup, on November 29, 1984. I was thirteen-years-old. And as I sat there in my skinny, piano tie staring at The MTV, I wanted in on the laughter, the tomfoolery, and the cool.

Twenty-three ...

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“A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 4” Track List & Album Art Revealed

November 29th, 2010

resizedLast month, a dozen New York City singer/songwriters gathered in Brooklyn get their holiday cheer on early. The group's recording of Tom Petty's "Christmas All Over Again" will kicks off "A Holiday Benefit, Vol. 4," a thirteen-track charity compilation benefiting 826NYC.

Since its inception in 2007, in "A Holiday Benefit" has raised over $10,000 for the nonprofit organization's support of students ages 6-18 with their creative and expository writing skills.

Two weeks ago, five-year-old Otis Leimbach created an inspired album cover ...

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Golden Slumbers: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

November 28th, 2010

resizedThe hardest part about recording "Golden Slumbers" with Casey Shea was asking Casey Shea to record "Golden Slumbers."

I've known Mr. Shea pushing ten years now. Still, it didn't take ten minutes to discover his affinity for The Fab Four.

At his own wedding, Casey nailed "All My Loving." At my wedding (where the purvasive rumor was that he was John Lennon's Lost Son), he crushed "Twist & Shout."

Heck, one listen to his instant-classic "In Search of Seas," and you know this guy worships at the alter of Lennon & McCartney (with an ...

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You’ve Got A Friend: Benjamin Wagner’s “Forever Young” Track-By Track

November 22nd, 2010

resizedI'd been angling to collaborate with Raining Jane's Mai Bloomfield for nearly three years. It took me that long to find the right song.

I first met Mai in 2008. Raining Jane was opening for The Nadas in Des Moines. I was opening for both. The ladies knocked my socks off with their three-part harmony. But it was at the following night's late-night, bandmate-swapping show that I was truly smitten.

Mai, Raining Jane drummer Mona Tavakoli, bassist Becky Gebhardt, and Nada frontman Jason Walsmith joined me for an impromptu performance of ...

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