Archive for February 2015

Music, moods and emotions – Welshman in TN blog   Leave a comment

This week’s Grammy’s once again served to show the diversity of music and how it can reflect and change mood and emotion.

I don’t understand people who only listen to one genre of music. We should all be musical sponges, soaking up the vibe or the pain or the passion of a track, whatever kind of music it is – rock, pop, R & B, jazz, classical, blues, hip hop, country – and these are in no particular order.

I have always encouraged artists I’ve worked with to trace back the artists that they like to see who influenced them – surely every female singer should know who Billie Holiday is for example, as they should of course be aware of Sinatra. Trace music back to the delta, Robert Johnson, or the folk songs of Woody Guthrie; you can go back further – the commercial melodies of Sergei Rachmaninoff (my personal favorite) and before him Bach or Mozart; it is in the arrangements that also pull a song out of itself.

A great production can save a mediocre song; a bad production can kill a great song.

Nelson Riddle was talking about arranging songs for Sinatra and he said that he would build up to the part when Sinatra would start singing and “get the hell out of there!”

Whatever time of day it is, or whatever mood you are feeling, there is a song out there for you, I hope you find it.

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Posted February 12, 2015 by Jon Johanson in Uncategorized

Acting, actors, methods – Welshman in TN blog   Leave a comment

Weekend Break
Me on stage for my play, Weekend Break, trying to remember my lines! Photo courtesy of The Stage

I’ve started to consider actresses for the lead female role in the new play/film for later this year and the difference in acting methods between UK and US actors interests me.

In the UK acting is, or certainly was, all about the stage. When I studied acting it was very much aimed at the stage – projection, etc. Here in the US it is primarily for television and film, the camera.

If you polled UK actors, I would suggest all have performed on stage; if you polled US actors, I would suggest that less than half have ever appeared professionally on a stage. In the past, a lot of US actors have gone to the UK to act on stage, taking minimum fees too, just to do it. Lindsey Lohan is doing it right now.

It’s very noticeable whether an actor has been trained for the stage or for the camera.

On stage of course you have to project, so that the audience can see you. Gielgud, Burton, Olivier were all stage actors and are of course some of the greatest actors of all time. When you started out as acting as I did as a kid, it was all about the stage really. Film was almost a dirty word. The one thing with stage acting was that you had to learn all your lines! I learnt this to my cost when we did my play as above, Weekend Break, at the Gilded Balloon at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Even though I had written it I dropped several pages, totally forgetting them, ill prepared. A lesson I will never forget.

I would never work with a prompter though, an actor’s safety net, the person who sits in the wings ready just in case you do forget your lines. When I had the theatre I witnessed a local amateur dramatic company stage a play, complete with prompter. One elderly actor duly forgot his lines and waited for a prompt. Unfortunately the man, who was such a sweet soul, was also deaf and couldn’t hear the prompt so had to go off stage and read the script. The audience though could see him and started laughing; it was quite sad.

Props and sound effects can also be nightmares for stage actors. I’ve seen a stage wall, a ‘flat’, fall down; actors miss their cues and come in at the wrong time or on the wrong line, but it some ways, it’s part of it.

But when it goes right ………. there is a reason why acting on stage has been around for six centuries or more. If you have never been to see a play, I encourage you to do so – not an adaptation of a film musical, although they can be great, not a pantomime as in Britain, which is the only live theatre most people in the UK regrettably see, although they too are great fun; no, I mean a proper play. It doesn’t need to be Shakespeare, actually far from it, look for something new, a contemporary play, something at least from the last century at least – Williams, Osborne, Orton, Steinbeck, Naughton, Barstow, Sillitoe, go back further to Wilde and Coward – these are just my personal favorite writers.

Nowadays of course it’s all about television and film – the camera. One of the best actors in this genre is John Travolta who knows that the camera will pick up the slightest movement, expression, the raise of an eyebrow. Learning to work the camera is like learning to work an audience.

The difference has been highlighted for me this week in beginning to consider and find an actress for the new play later this year, trying to find an actress who is able to take on the demanding role, and on stage first. It will be out of a lot of actor’s comfort zone, which is nearly always a good thing and produces their best work. We will see, time will tell.

Posted February 6, 2015 by Jon Johanson in Uncategorized

Busy week, Wolf Moon – Welshman in TN blog   Leave a comment

moon

It’s been a busy week.

I’ve been writing and have finished the second draft of the new book literally just now. So a proof read and one more read through and that’s done. I’m very pleased with the book so far, and think it’s the best thing I’ve written to date.

Now to concentrate on the music with all the new songs.

I’ve lost a couple of days. Yesterday we had to go to the doctors for our medicals. This is the first time I’ve been to a doctors in years and then it was only due to me slipping on a loose paving stone in London.

We had to have jabs for TB, flu and MMR. We’d had these as kids of course but it was easier just to get them done again rather than try to get confirmation from England.

The problem was is that I had needles, so having four in a day meant it was not a day I hope to repeat soon.

We’ve got the permission to build on the land finally too, so will be starting on that properly next week with the septic tank permit. We can’t wait to get on there. The building officer at the city hall here is so friendly and helpful.

I tell you, it’s all go!

Last night was a snow moon, or a wolf moon, but what made it special as you can see from the photograph, is that you could clearly make out Jupiter, right next to the moon.

Snow moon is apt as apparently despite being in the mid-50’s right now as I type, it is going to snow tonight!

Posted February 4, 2015 by Jon Johanson in Uncategorized