Wednesday, October 29, 2014
If you ever wondered whether a famous person is still alive or not, check out the website:
And yes, Abe Vigoda is STILL ALIVE
Here is a fascinating list of famous people who are over the age of 90 and are thankfully still with us!
Irwin Corey 99 07/29/1914 Entertainment
Herman Wouk 99 05/27/1915 Literature
David Rockefeller 99 06/12/1915 Business
Norman Lloyd 98 11/08/1914 Entertainment
Olivia de Havilland 98 07/01/1916 Entertainment
Kirk Douglas 97 12/09/1916 Entertainment
Zsa Zsa Gabor 97 02/06/1917 Entertainment
Vera Lynn 97 03/20/1917 Music
June Foray 97 09/18/1917 Entertainment
Joan Fontaine 97 10/22/1917 Entertainment
Marjorie Lord 96 07/26/1918 Entertainment
Louis Jourdan 95 06/19/1919 Entertainment
Al Molinaro 95 06/24/1919 Entertainment
Billy Graham 94 11/07/1918 Religion
Joseph Wapner 94 11/15/1919 Ent,Law
Alan Young 94 11/19/1919 Entertainment
Maureen O'Hara 94 08/17/1920 Entertainment
Jayne Meadows 94 09/27/1920 Entertainment
Nanette Fabray 94 10/27/1920 Entertainment
G.D. Spradlin 93 08/31/1920 Entertainment
Ann Rutherford 93 11/02/1920 Entertainment
Noel Neill 93 11/25/1920 Entertainment
Little Jimmy Dickens 93 12/19/1920 Music
Carol Channing 93 01/31/1921 Entertainment
Hugh Downs 93 02/14/1921 Journalism
Abe Vigoda 93 02/24/1921 Entertainment
Barbara Hale 93 04/18/1921 Entertainment
Jake LaMotta 93 07/10/1921 Sports
John Glenn 93 07/18/1921 Space,Politics
Monty Hall 93 08/25/1921 Entertainment
Ernest Hollings 92 01/01/1922 Politics
Patrick Macnee 92 02/06/1922 Entertainment
Steven Hill 92 02/24/1922 Entertainment
James Noble 92 03/05/1922 Entertainment
Carl Reiner 92 03/20/1922 Entertainment
Marty Allen 92 03/23/1922 Entertainment
Bill Macy 92 05/18/1922 Entertainment
Christopher Lee 92 05/27/1922 Entertainment
William Schallert 92 07/06/1922 Entertainment
Kay Starr 92 07/21/1922 Music
Janis Paige 92 09/16/1922 Entertainment
Fyvush Finkel 92 10/09/1922 Entertainment
Doris Day 91 04/03/1922 Entertainment
Norman Lear 91 07/27/1922 Entertainment
Stan Lee 91 12/28/1922 Cartooning
Red Schoendienst 91 02/02/1923 Sports
Liz Smith 91 02/02/1923 Entertainment
Franco Zeffirelli 91 02/12/1923 Entertainment
Chuck Yeager 91 02/13/1923 Military
Ara Parseghian 91 05/21/1923 Sports
Henry Kissinger 91 05/27/1923 Politics
Jack Carter 91 06/24/1923 Entertainment
Earl Hamner, Jr. 91 07/10/1923 Entertainment
Bob Dole 91 07/22/1923 Politics
Rhonda Fleming 91 08/10/1923 Entertainment
Rose Marie 91 08/15/1923 Entertainment
Glynis Johns 91 10/05/1923 Entertainment
Larry Storch 90 01/08/1923 Entertainment
Mort Walker 90 09/03/1923 Cartooning
Bob Barker 90 12/12/1923 Entertainment
Gloria Vanderbilt 90 02/20/1924 Fashion
Stanley Donen 90 04/13/1924 Entertainment
Theodore Bikel 90 05/02/1924 Entertainment
Charles Aznavour 90 05/22/1924 Entertainment
George Bush 90 06/12/1924 Politics
Eva Marie Saint 90 07/04/1924 Entertainment
Bess Myerson 90 07/16/1924 Entertainment
Arlene Dahl 90 08/11/1924 Entertainment
Phyllis Schlafly 90 08/15/1924 Social Activism
Jimmy Carter 90 10/01/1924 Politics
Roger Williams 90 10/01/1924 Music
Bill Dana 90 10/05/1924 Entertainment
Lee Iacocca 90 10/15/1924 Business
To A Long Life!
"I'll be joining the cruise ship Diamond Princess in a few days sailing Bangkok to Darwin, Australia."
Quite often when I say something like that to a "land based" entertainer, I get a look from them that seems to say "Sorry your career is not going well.."
I guess it's understandable to feel that way if you've never been on a ship before.
On popular TV Reality shows like The X Factor or American Idol, some of the Judges make disparaging remarks about someone being a "Cruise Ship Act".
And 40 years ago, there was some truth to that....but not in today's cruising world.
Many of the acts you see today on ship routinely perform in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, New York, London, Branson etc.
On ships, not only are the Show Rooms world class and the audiences appreciative, but as a performer it makes monetary sense.
About 20 years ago, I was offered a job at a well known Theater in Branson MO. The offer broke down to a total of approximately $1200 a week for six days / eight shows. Additional money could possibly be earned by selling albums (cassettes were big back then) after the show.
This did not include housing, meals or transportation to/from Branson.
At the same time (20 years ago), I was making about $1500 a week on ship. I was working a maximum of two nights a week (4 shows) and all of my meals, my transportation to/from ship and my accommodation (private passenger cabin) were provided by the Cruise Line.
Needless to say, I did the math and didn't take the Branson gig!
Since then, the money and the onboard conditions have continued to improve. On many ships, I don't just get a Passenger Cabin, I get a Mini Suite with balcony!
I also get to travel the world (well over 80 countries now).
I've seen a lot of great Entertainers on ships (and, to be honest, a few less than great..) but that holds true in Las Vegas, Branson etc.
For many Performers, Cruise Ships are a great venue to work.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
It's not often in life that a $35 dollar decision can change a life but it happened to me....
I was one of the first Advanced Cardiac Life Support Paramedics in the United States back in the early 1970's. I loved my work and I was good at it.
Unfortunately, at the time, there was very low pay and extremely long hours for those of us willing to do the job. I felt that, in my 20's I could work those grueling 24 hour shifts, but in my 30's......
I wanted to find "something" that I had a passion for and could pay a decent salary.
I had always loved the music that was NOT of my generation. I enjoyed the Big Band Swing and Dixieland Jazz my parents listened to. These were the tunes that constantly ran through my head.
One day, while walking down King Street in Charleston SC I happened to pass a Pawn Shop that had a banjo in the window. I went in and, on impulse, I paid $35 for it!
Now understand, at this point I didn't know a Tenor from a Plectrum from a 5-String. All I knew was it was $35 dollars and I had that!
Once I got it home, I soon discovered there were no 4 string banjo teachers in Charleston and I was pretty much "on my own". There were no Youtube videos to learn from back then, only dry instruction books.
I did have as inspiration a copy of Eddie Peabody's "Man With A Banjo" album which I would play it and attempt to copy.
Little did I know at the time, Eddie played a Plectrum Tuning and I was trying to duplicate it on a Tenor Banjo!
Most Tenor Banjo players would either chunk chords or play single string melody. I learned to play Chord Melody style on a Tenor Banjo because I didn't now any better!
It was a long, hard learning curve until one day my friend Randy Morris found me an out of print copy of Harry Reser's "Let's Play The Tenor Banjo" published in the late 1920's.
Reser, who was widely known for his single string dexterity was also an excellent chord melody player.
Suddenly a light went on! So that's how you are supposed to do this!
Combined with Pat Terry's Cassette Banjo Tapes (Terry Tapes), I finally had the tools to learn and explore.
That $35 dollar investment literally has taken me around the world dozens of times as the two maps below will show. If it's in blue, I've been there, thanks to playing the Tenor Banjo!
|1982 to Present. States visited while playing the banjo!|
1982 to Present. Countries visited while playing the banjo!
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
When I began playing Banjo, I could only afford a low end instrument. I learned to play on an old KAY Banjo I bought in a Pawn Shop for 35 dollars.
It, (and I) sounded awful.
That was 1978.
As a Professional Banjo Player I've been lucky to play very good instruments through the years.
The first really good Instrument I had was a B&D Senorita Tenor Banjo made by Gretsch. A beautiful banjo with the distictive B&D "ring". Although it was a "well worn" instrument when I acquired it, I truly wish I still had it today...
Following that, I played a hand made instrument by WC Chester from California. The Chester Banjo was a sturdy, well crafted banjo with great tone.
The instrument previously belonged to my friend Randy Morris in Orlando, Fl and he gave me a wonderful deal on it when I wasn't able to afford much more (thanks again, Randy!)
In 1990, I met CC Richelieu at a FIGA (Fretted Instruments Guild of America) Banjo Players Convention and thanks to "Rich", I travelled the world playing his Golden Eagle Tenor Banjo for the next 24 years.
Of course, CC Richelieu has passed on and his workshop is closed, so when it came time to find a new Instrument, I turned to Wayne Rogers at Gold Tone Banjos.
I emailed Wayne in mid September and he responded immediately and was extremely helpful (as were everyone at Gold Tone I dealt with).
In less than 10 days, I had my new TS-250AT Tenor Banjo delivered to my door in Thailand.
|Gold Tone TS-250AT Tenor Banjo|
It's a beautiful, well made instrument that sounds great! Admittedly, it took a day or two to get used to the instrument (anytime you play one banjo for 24 years and suddenly switch... ) but now I love it!
Thanks Wayne for making it so easy to put one of your fine instruments into my hands! I'm looking forward to debuting it onstage on the Diamond Princess next week (Oct 31 - Nov 09).
If you are looking for a really good quality banjo, check out Gold Tone, you won't be dissapointed.
In this age of constant Internet connectivity, it's are to believe we survived reasonably we without it!
When I began working cruise ships in the early 1980's, there were no Televisions on board, no Internet service, no Cell Phones, No Satellite TV Channels... we were lucky to find a two week old copy of USA Today in port (for $5).
Every Port Day guarenteed that there would be lines of crew members and passengers waiting to you the bank of Pay Phones in the Cruise Terminal.
Now, if ESPN flickers for two seconds, passengers are calling the Front Desk in a panic.
As a kid, before we had Gossip Websites like TMZ we had to make due with "Party Lines" (under 40?, ask your parents).
Of course all has changed now, we have Emails, Twitter accounts, Websites, Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, LINE, WeChat, Google Plus, Hangouts, Skype, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, AIM, Smart Phones etc.
I recently heard that someone actually sent someone a hand written letter! Have to check Snopes.com on that one!
The point of all this is that we live in a different age now. EVERYBODY is interconnected now.
I'm no different.
Here are the easiest ways to connect to me:
Skype: jcoston54 (not always online)
There are others (snail mail etc.) but if you can't catch me here, it means I'm either dead or in jail!
It HAS been awhile, hasn't it?
In a way, Blogging is like exercise. It's a discipline. You can be going along fine every day and suddenly, you miss a day and the next thing you know .... IT'S FOUR YEARS LATER!!
OK, a LOT has happened over the past 4 years (I promise NOT to bore you). I turned 60, put on a few extra pounds....
You know, the same thing that happens to everyone.
I'm still (thankfully) working the cruise ships. Next week I'm on the Diamond Princess sailing from Bangkok to Darwin Australia (Oct 31 - Nov 09).
I'm Still in Thailand and love it more every day. Actually bought some property up country that will be my eventual
I have a new Banjo (more on that in a future blog) and my health continues to be good.
There you are. Caught up without having to read 4 years worth of blogging!
I'll be back soon (promise!)