Monday, February 23, 2009

Thailand In A Glass

A Shot of Vodka
Coconut Liqueur
A dash of chili pepper and sugar
Lime juice
A few slivers of lemongrass and ginger
Shaken not stirred, then strained into a glass
Add ice and soda water.....

And you have the "Siam Sunray" a new signature drink the TAT (Tourism Authority of Thailand) unveiled this week in the hopes it will boost tourism.

Successful signature drinks are one way to fast-track holiday destinations onto the world tourism map,” the tourism authority said in a joint statement with the Thai Hotels Association.

Siam Sunrays was the winner of a competition sponsored by the two agencies to create a national cocktail.

Thailand's new signature drink is based on very Thai ingredients,” the statement said, adding that the drink was now available at hotels and resorts across the country.

The TAT hopes that the Siam Sunray will soon be as well known as the Singapore Sling, Cuba's Mohito or New Yorks' Manhattan.

While I haven't tried one yet, it does sound cool and inviting. Unfortunately the pubs I frequent tend to carry more standard libations such as Singha Beer!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Launch of

I recently blogged about my friend Jeff Fabischek, a talented musician/arranger I met on board the cruise ship Volendam.

He is currently providing me with backing tracks to augment my shows when I am faced with smaller band configurations.

Sadly, with the economic downturn, backing tracks are becoming a necessity throughout the industry.

My first tracks arrived this week and they are excellent!

I'm pleased to say, Jeff's website is now online with tons of samples of his work. If you are a professional entertainer and you need new charts, old charts cleaned up & digitized or click backing tracks that sound like the real instruments, be sure and check him out!

Vince Eager

Over the past 20 or so years I've been very proud to call Vince Eager a friend. We first worked together on board the Cruise Ship "Ocean Islander" in 1988 and have remained in touch ever since.

For those not familiar with Vince, from his Bio..

"VINCE EAGER is a name synonymous with British pop. As a member of the legendary "Larry Parnes stable", along with Tommy Steele, Marty Wilde, Billy Fury and Joe Brown, Vince became a household name. "

Today, Vince still keeps knocking them dead with his unbelievably powerful voice. If you've never heard him, take a moment to watch this wonderful Youtube clip..

A Youtube search on his name turns up a number of his early recordings including Lonely Blue Boy.
I remember while working with him on board the Cruise Ship "Ocean Islander", he would share with me over a late night drink (or two) many wonderful stories about the early days (pre-Beatles) of British Pop.

I often urged him to write down his life experiences in the form of a book. I'm pleased to say that finally did just that!

It's available from his website . He has also released the definitive Vince Eager Collection on CD (available there too).

Along with his wife Anette, Vince is now based in rural Nottinghamshire close to his two sons Simon and Christie and their families.

Not only a true pioneer in British Pop history but one of the truly special people in the industry! If he's performing near you - don't miss him!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

30 Seconds to Fame

Back in 2002, I was working part time in the office of Carl Mack Presents , an entertainment agency in New Orleans.

One of the acts I booked was Daniel Browning Smith, a young contortionist from Meridian MS.

As a young man, Daniel ran away from home and joined a circus as a contortionist (really!). He went to circus school and trained with Master Lu Yi in the art of contortion to become the most flexible man alive.

Daniel had worked on numerous occasions for Carl and I had heard about a new TV show called "30 Seconds to Fame" that was looking for unusual talent.

After securing permission from Daniel, I submitted his demo tape to Pat Buckles, one of the shows' producers.

Here is the clip from the Show...

I'm pleased to say, Daniel won $25,000 for his appearance!

Since then, Daniel has racked up numerous TV & Film credits including "Minority Report", "Don't Mess With The Zohan", "Monk" , "CSI:NY", "The Vaudevillian" and many more.

He now resides in Los Angeles and combines his unique abilities with acting to conform into anything imaginable for movies, commercials, stunts and motion capture!

Catching Up with Bruce Block

Back in the 1990's I had the opportunity to work with zany comedian / juggler Bruce Block.

Our paths crossed again last year, albeit briefly on board a cruise ship.

When I first worked with Bruce, his big claim to fame was the ability to balance cigar boxes on his chin.... 213 of them for a period of 9.2 seconds!

The "Guinness Book of Records" recognized this as a world record.

To call Bruce " just a juggler" would be to underestimate him. Bruce continued honing his talents by singing, dancing, and acting in productions of "Kiss Me Kate,""Lil' Abner," "Guys and Dolls," "Camelot," "The King and I," "Carousel" and others. After a six-month run in the burlesque musical "Sugar Babies," Bruce met veteran vaudeville comedian Buddy Graf.

Bruce appeared at Buddy's Midwest Theater working as Buddy's sidekick and straight man. Bruce became a friend and protégé to this Top Banana who taught him the tools of the trade. Soon Bruce was using many different talents to entertain his audience.

Nothing proved as big of a challenge to Bruce's versatility as appearing in the title role of P.T. Barnum in the national touring company of the Broadway musical "Barnum."

Bruce has appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,""The Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon," "Comedy Central," "CBS This Morning," "Entertainment Tonight," "CNN News," and as Captain Pete on the popular children's television series "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers."

Additionally, Bruce has worked with Jay Leno, Joan Rivers, Gary Shandling, Regis Philbin, Jeff Foxworthy, Cybil Shephard, Harry Blackstone Jr., Steve Harvey, Richard Carpenter, Judy Tenuta, Nipsey Russell, Arsenio Hall, Howard Stern, The Mavericks, Porno for Pyros, Alan Jackson, and many others.

As luck would have it, here in Thailand they are running the second season of Americas Got Talent on TV (yes, we get ALL the latest shows!) where Bruce appeared on two episodes (including one where he pulls a Rabbi out of a hat!)

If you get the chance to catch Bruce's act, don't miss him!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bill Fegan Attractions

Back in 1982, I was a young struggling banjo player hoping against hope I might get a break in show business.

That break came through a phone call from Bill Fegan.

Bill produced national touring shows through his office in Dallas TX.

Among the many shows Bill produced was The Riverboat Ragtime Review. This "musical memoir" to the turn of the century featured Don Cowan as Mark Twain, Singer / Tap Dancer Joe Kelly, Vocal Quartet The New San Francisco Singers, Blues singer Beatrice Loo and the Riverboat Ramblers, a Dixieland band made up of such New Orleans "heavy hitters" as Bob French, Walter Payton, Orange Kellin,Pud Brown ...... and me!

I was clearly out of my league, but an opportunity like this comes along so rarely, I jumped at the chance!

Not only was it a very welcome paycheck and an opportunity to play over 60 cities from Eugene Or to West Palm Beach Fl, it was a wonderful learning experience!

All in all, I did three tours of RRR in '82 / '83. The discipline of performing every night and having to work within a group was invaluable to me and probably helped me develop more as an act than any other of my early show biz experiences.

Thank you Bill Fegan for taking a chance on me!

Bill Fegan now lives in Raton NM and was the winner of the 2007 New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts

He maintains an office in the Historic Shuler Theater from which he manages the Santa Fe Trail School for the Performing Arts (SFTSPA). SFTSPA sponsors the Raton Youth Theater, annual performances of A Christmas Carol during the holiday season, and a summer repertory season featuring professional productions of four different plays and musicals.

Ramsen Followup

Last week I blogged about Comedian Bobby Ramsen & his wife Gloria.

I mentioned that I had not heard from Bobby in several years but that he was in good health and still working last we talked.

Within a day or two of posting the entry, I got an email from Rick Saphire Celebrity Entertainment saying that Bobby & Gloria continue to be well & Bobby continues to work!

Thanks Rick for taking the time to write and for passing my best reagrds onto the Ramsens!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meet Donald King Cowan

Social Networking on the internet is a wonderous thing.

In the past few weeks I've been re-united with old friends including Don Cowan with whom I toured nationally in 1982-83 in The Riverboat Ragtime Review.

Don has toured for years in his one man show "Meet Mark Twain" since 1975 and re-created the role of Twain in "RRR" for Bill Fegan Productions.

A native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Don Cowan made his professional debut at the New London Barn Playhouse in New London, New Hampshire, in l972, beginning his theatrical career in the time-honored New England summer stock tradition.

During several seasons at the Barn, he was featured in such shows as The Straw Hat Revue, Angel Street, You Can't Take It With You, Mame, Man of La Mancha, Cabaret, The Boy Friend and Guys and Dolls.
Audiences across the country have since seen him in productions of Enter Laughing, Gypsy, Oklahoma!, A Christmas Carol , Murder At Rutherford House and Love Letters, to name a few, as well as in the television series Dallas and the Oliver Stone film JFK starring Kevin Costner.

Today, Don lives in Dallas and still performs as Twain, devoting more time to working "behind the scenes" in the Texas entertainment industry as a talented producer, administrator and designer who has worked on a variety of television, theatre and film projects with such stars as Gary Oldman, Morgan Fairchild, Billy Dee Williams, Della Reese, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Dorothy Malone, Patrick MacNee, James Drury, Alice Ghostley and Jerry Haynes.

In response to a widespread need, Cowan continues to help non-profit organizations around the country raise operating revenues through sponsorship of the innovative fund-raising gala Dress For Dinner With Mark Twain

Bobby & Gloria Ramsen

While channel flipping the other day, I ran across an old episode of "The Nanny" (That's because there are no NEW episodes..).

To my surprise, my old friend Bobby Ramsen was in the show. Bobby is a wonderful comedian/actor who I worked with for many years on Royal Cruise Line in the late 1980's.

Starting as a radio actor, Bobby's first "role" was playing a mosquito in a sketch on WOR's "Rainbow House." In a short time he was playing juvenile parts on such radio serials as "Dick Tracy," "Let's Pretend," "Front Page Farrell," and "Terry and the Pirates." At age fourteen he made his Broadway debut in a play titled "Career Angel."

His performances at the Copacabana and Latin Quarter led to bookings in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, and Atlantic City. Bobby then traveled throughout the country sharing billing with such stars as Dinah Shore, Tom Jones, Englebert Humperdink, and Diana Ross.

TV & Movie roles followed including Double Trouble, Night Court, Diffrent Strokes, Newhart and The Bob Newhart Show.

Movie roles included cult films such as "Hell up in Harlem" and "It Lives Again!".

He also made numerous Tonight Show, Merv Griffin & Ed Sullivan show appearances.

Bobby married Gloria, a showgirl from Lou Walter's Latin Quarter. Here's a picture of her from the performance days.

During the late '80's and early '90's the three of us traveled together quite often and I have very fond memories of both of them.

I last spoke to Bobby & Gloria about five years ago and both, I'm pleased to say were doing well. Bobby and his wife Gloria live in New Jersey and he is still quite active on the performance circuit.

Is Anybody Out There??

Whenever you write a blog, you always wonder if ANYBODY is reading it.

Although I was aware there were ways to track website hits, I tended to avoid them for fear I'd find out my blog is lonlier than the Maytag Repairman.

Buoyed by the fact that even the Super Bowl ratings were down this year, I decided to try an experiment....

So yesterday, I placed a widget on this page to track visitors ( just locations). You'll see a small map on the left hand column called Recent Visitors.

For those of you from Seattle to Rome who have dropped by, I thank you!

With millions of websites competing for eyeballs, I'm very pleased to see a few coming my way.

I'll be posting several new blogs in the coming days.