A Tribute To John Lennon Benefits Local Families Living with Disabilities

Imagine John, a benefit concert for Lift Disability Network, will be performed Saturday, May 21st at 6:00pm on the lawn of The Bear Club at Keene’s Point in Windermere, FL.

Lift Disability Network’s desire is to elevate life in the disability family. Their passionate mission is to inspire individuals and families living with disabilities to discover a new vision for their future. They do this through camps, community events and groups and family care. The Imagine John benefit concert, hosted by Promoting People, will raise funds to help Lift Disabilities provide a permanent home for their outreach and service activities in the West Orange County community.

The artist, Carm Castiglione is a versatile singer and songwriter. He was been performing in cover bands for over three decades, and has impersonated artists such as Maurice Gibb (Bee Gees), John Lennon and Robert Plant (Led Zeppelin) across North American venues. He writes and produces audio for film and licensing placements as well as arranges and composes Classical sheet music. Castiglione is also a secondary school music educator in Canada.

Tickets are available for $40.00 online at liftdisability.net/imagine-john/ or at the door the night of the event. Attendees are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair. Light hors d’oeuvres and beverages will be available for purchase.

Come enjoy a great evening of music and fun and elevate life in the disability community at the same time.

When:              Saturday, May 21, 2016 | 6:00 PM
Where:             The Golden Bear Clubhouse at Keene’s Point
Tickets:            General Admission:  $40      
https://liftdisability.net/event/imagine-john/

Reserve your tickets: (407) 228-8343 at the door May 21, 2016.

 

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Blu-ray Review “A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King”

“A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King”
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Shout! Factory
Run Time: +/-60 min
Format: Blu-Ray and DVD

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

On January 24th, 2014 Carole King was honored as the 2014 MusiCares Person of the Year. During the event King along with a long list of super star guests performed some of Kings most celebrated songs from a career spanning decades. “A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King” is the film presentation of those performances which in include appearance by LeAnn Rimes, Gloria Estefan, James Taylor and Lady Gaga just to name a few. Proceeds from the sale of this disc will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures that music professionals have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need.

“A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King” is the latest MusiCares release from Shout! Factory who has previously released tribute concerts dedicated to Paul McCartney, Barbara Streisand and Neil Young. Much like previous releases in the MusiCares series the concert is made up of a number of guest’s performances all paying tribute to the selected artist for that year. King is certainly more than deserving of the award and you can certainly tell the impact she has had on all music simply by looking at those who appear in her honor. Songs like “You’ve Got a Friend” performed by Lady Gaga and “Natural Woman” performed by Alicia Keys are definitely worth checking out as is my own personal favorite “Beautiful” performed by Sara Bareilles, Zac Brown, Jason Mraz and Raining Jane.

All in all a pretty entertaining release however if you’re looking for something a little bit more such as bonus content or interviews you won’t find it here. What you do get its 60 minutes worth of star studded entertainment which at times outweighs the lack of those missing special features.

Track Listing:
1.) Hi De Ho (That Old Sweet Roll-) LeAnn Rimes and Steven Tyler
2.) So Far Away- P!nk and Paul Mirkovich
3.) I Feel the Earth Move- Train
4.) Its Too Late- Gloria Estefan
5.) Love Makes the World/Where is the Love?- will.i.am and Leah McFall
6.) Beautiful- Sara Bareilles, Zac Brown, Jason Mraz and Raining Jane
7.) Way Over Yonder- Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill and Darlene Love
8.) Where You Lead- Jesse & Jay
9.) Crying in the Rain- Miguel and Kacey Musgraves
10.) Natural Woman- Alicia Keys
11.) Been to Canaan- Jennifer Nettles
12.) I’m Into Something Good- Amy Grant
13.) It Might As Well Rain Until September- Miranda Lambert
14.) One Fine Day- Martina McBride
15.) Up On the Roof- James Taylor
16.) Home Again- Carol King, Moez Dawad and Ahmad A. El Haggar
17.) Sweet Seasons- Carol King and James Taylor
18.) Hey Girl- Carol King and James Taylor
19.) Will You Love Me Tomorrow- Carole King and James Taylor
20.) Jazzman- Carole King and Tom Scott
21.) I Feel the Earth Move- Carol King and Cast Ensemble

Blu-ray Review “A MusiCares Tribute to Paul McCartney”

Stars: Paul McCartney
Number of discs: 1
Rated: Unrated
Studio: Shout Factory
Run Time: 60 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

“A MusiCares Tribute to Paul McCartney” is a collection of never-before-seen performances by a slate of all-star artists ranging from Alicia Keys and Coldplay to Neil Young, James Taylor and McCarty himself. The songs all pay tribute to Sir Paul McCartney an artist whose lasting impression in music and on the world as a whole is unmatched. Proceeds from the sale of the disc will provide essential support for MusiCares, which ensures that music people have a place to turn in times of financial, medical and personal need. If you are a fan of The Beatles and Paul McCartney the latest release from Shout Factory has you covered. “A MusiCares Tribute to Paul McCartney” has some of today’s hottest artist combined with legendary performers which I found gives this release something really special.

Presented in beautiful 1080p Hi-Definition with DTS-HD sound you are getting the best sound and picture quality available which only adds to incredible performances such as Alicia Keys rendition of “Blackbird” to James Taylor and Diana Krall’s version of “Yesterday”. Probably my personal favorite of the whole performance is that of Paul McCarty, Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh. The three artists seem to mess flawlessly creating a performance every music lover has to experience.

Though the disc doesn’t really include any special features or additional content I found the concert to be strong enough to stand on its own with no real need for extra footage though it would have been cool to see what was going on behind the scenes and possibly some of the rehearsal footage. That aside proceeds from this release will be donated to MusiCares which is a great organization that helps musicians in their times of need so they can keep providing us with the music we love. If you want to get a great performance you can watch over and over again while supporting an equally great cause then this is the release for you.

Performance List:
1.) Get Back/Hello Goodbye/Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band- Cirque du Soleil feat. The Beatles “Love” Cast
2.) Magical Mystery Tour- Paul McCartney
3.) Juniors Farm- Paul McCartney
4.) Blackbird- Alicia Keys
5.) No More Lonely Nights- Alison Krauss & Union Station feat. Jerry Douglas
6.) And I Love Her- Duane Eddy
7.) Oh! Darling- Norah Jones
8.) I Saw Her Standing There- Neil Young and Crazy Horse
9.) The Fool on the Hill- Sergio Mendes
10.) We Can Work It Out- Coldplay
11.) Yesterday- James Taylor w/ Diana Krall
12.) For No One- Diana Krall w/ James Taylor
13.) My Valentine- Paul McCartney
14.) Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five- Paul McCartney
15.) Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/ The End- Paul McCartney feat. Dave Grohl and Joe Walsh

CD Review “Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute”

“Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute”
Various Artists
Produced by: Bob Kulick
Label: UDR
Tracks: 11

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute” is a collection of 11 classic Rhoads co-written songs. Twenty top contemporary artists including old friends and former band mates make up the roster of performers and include Serj Tankian, George Lynch and Frankie Banali to name just a few. Produced and compiled by Grammy Award winning producer Bob Kulick the album certainly lives up to its title.

Right off the bat fans are greeted with what is undoubtedly Randy’s best know track, “Crazy Train”. Helmed by System of a Down” Front man Serj Tankian and former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello along with Rudy Sarzo and drummer Vinnie Appice the track remains virtually unchanged with the exception of Morello’s signature toggle switch stutter solo which certainly gives a modern day feel to a staple in guitar wizardry. Chuck Billy steps in lending his growling vocals to “Mr. Crowley” while Children of Bodom shredder Alexi Laiho lays down some flawless solo work that could easily be confused for the original.

This is not just another tribute album made up of the most well know songs of Randy’s career as it is much more than that. Songs such as “Back to the Coast” and “Killer Girls” originally performed by Quiet Riot appear on this album as does the song “S.A.T.O.”. A deep cut from Randy’s Ozzy era material. As if the star studded line up was enough these three songs alone will have music fans clamoring for a copy of this album. Grammy Award winning producer Bob Kulick lends his production stamp to this release further solidifying that this release is worth its weight in gold.

If you still need further proof that this is not just another fly by night tribute release then how about the fact that Randy’s own brother Kelle Rhoads appears on two of the albums tracks! Randy is often imitated however never duplicated but if he could be “Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute” is the closest yet.

Track Listing:
1.) Crazy Train
2.) Over the Mountain
3.) Mr. Crowley
4.) Believer
5.) Back to the Coast
6.) I Don’t Know
7.) S.A.T.O.
8.) Killer Girls
9.) Goodbye to Romance
10.) Suicide Solution
11.) Flying High Again

 

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Dweezil Zappa talks about Randy Rhoads tribute album “Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute”

Guitarist Dweezil Zappa appears on the latest Randy Rhoads tribute album titled “Immortal Randy Rhoads- The Ultimate Tribute”. The album which pays tribute to legendary Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads reads like a who’s who of hard rock musicians. Along with Dweezil the album also features the likes of Tom Morello, Rudy Sarzo and George Lynch. Media Mikes had the pleasure of speaking with Dweezil recently about his work on the album, his first exposure to Randy’s Music and also about his first solo album release in over 10 years.

Adam Lawton: What was your first exposure to Randy Rhoads and his music?
Dweezil Zappa: I grew up listening to music my dad made and whatever he was listening to around the house. I didn’t really know about other music until I was about twelve. We never listened to the radio or anything like that. Around that same time I started to get into guitar. I liked all of my dad’s music but I thought it was a bit hard and not the easiest place to start. At that time the most popular music on the radio was hard rock music. I would hear bands like Van Halen and Ozzy Osbourne when I was hanging out at a friend’s house or what not and I was super into what Randy was doing. When I started reading about him and his playing what really stuck out was just how much he practiced. You could tell what he was did in Quiet Riot and a short time later with Ozzy was just leaps and bounds ahead. Hearing that made me very dedicated to the instrument. Seeing what he was able to accomplish in a very short amount of time made it seem possible to me. I could start from one place and get to another in big steps.

AL: How did you get involved with the album and, what do you think make’s it stand out above other tribute album?
DZ: I have been in touch with Randy’s family over the years in different ways and been involved in a few different tributes they have put on. This particular record was being produce by Bob Kulick who had contacting me to work on previous projects he was involved in. It was a simple thing to want to be involved with as everyone who worked on the project is really great and just good people. Randy’s playing was something that was very life shaping for me and ever night that I’m out doing a show I try and throw in a Rhoads lick as sort of a tip of the cap. It’s one of those things I decided to do a long time ago. So getting to just be part of this has been great.

AL: How did you go about approaching your performance?
DZ: I felt that what Randy did was so great that I didn’t really want to change it any way. Bob wanted us to make the pieces our own so I did do that to an extent but, I tried to keep things true to what Randy did. I feel like in order to play Randy’s music you have to play it as he did.

AL: Were you involved in the song selection at all?
DZ: All of the songs on the record are ones I appreciate. The one I was invited to play on buy Bob was “S.A.T.O.”. That song has always been one of my favorites. The solo is one of the ones that Randy didn’t have completely composed solo for. Most of his work is done as a complete composition but this song has always felt like it was more free form with him just going for it. With that being said the song still has great structure and flow. What’s also cool about this song is that it goes through a series of chords that are a little different than what he had been playing over. There are elements of major pentatonic along with a few other things that are different. There are also some bluesy elements to it as well. He really seems to have dug in and just went for it which I love.  I added a few slight changes of my own and who knows they may have been things Randy may have done later on.

AL: What do think it is that keeps Randy’s legacy still going some 33 years after his passing?
DZ: I think you have to put things in to context by what he did and the time that he did it. That makes a difference. There wasn’t anyone doing what he was doing at the time. The intricacies of his recordings can still be listened to today and you can hear all the pieces and how they are connected. His style of arranging and songwriting hadn’t been done up to that point. He added classical styling’s making his work very sophisticated. There were a lot of rhythmic things in his riffs which I think made him stand out. He was in his early twenties when he did all of this and the fact he was here so briefly adds to his body of work which really stands the test of time. Everyone took notice of him and those two albums were burned in peoples mind. The energy and emotion just jumped out of the speakers. I think all of these things helped Randy and his body of work transcend time.

AL: Can you give us a quick update on some of the other projects you are currently working on?
DZ: I have a lot of things in the works right now. I have a new solo album in the works. I haven’t been able to make a record of my own for over a decade as I have been busy doing Zappa plays Zappa. I have a pledge campaign started at www.pledgemusic.com and the plan is to have it out sometime in April. There’s a lot of stuff on the record which sort of showcases everything that kind of got me into the guitar and taken me to where I am. There are a lot of different styles and influences on there. I even did a track by the Bulgarian Women’s Choir on guitar. It’s a very song oriented album with lots of strange moments of guitar spread throughout. I am also working picking out dates for the next run of Dweezilla boot camps. Along with that I recently shot a new DVD lesson series, I will be out doing more Zappa plays Zappa date along with a few other appearances.

Bob Kulick talks about working with Kiss and “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson” album

Bob Kulick is a Grammy Award winning producer with credentials that read like a who’s who of music royalty. Bob is also the older brother of ex-KISS/ current Grand Funk Railroad guitarist Bruce Kulick, and has performed on stages around the world with groups such as Alice Cooper and Meatloaf. Bob’s newest production project “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson” was recently released via Cleopatra Records and Media Mikes was fortunate enough to speak with Bob recently about the release and his longtime relationship with KISS.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what initially sparked your interest in music?
Bob Kulick: My cousin played guitar and during family functions she would often play her acoustic guitar. My sarcastic, Brooklyn mother would always say things like “why can’t you do something like that”. It was sort of a dare on her part. My cousin started showing me the basics and when The Beatles came out the seed was planted. I do recall that even before that when I was a child in school we went on a trip to the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The orchestra there performed Ravel’s “Bolero”. I remember sitting there with my mouth hanging open and I just started to cry. I couldn’t understand what was happening to me. The gift I was given was announced that day. That was the birth of my gift and I just couldn’t recognize it initially. That was something special. I went on to college and did all that stuff but I still wasn’t happy. My gift was music and that is what I wanted to do. I knew if I applied myself and gave it the one thousand percent that it needs I would get the result I wanted.

AL: Having worked with everyone from Meatloaf to Alice Cooper at what point did you start to notice your transition from a performer to a producer?
BK: Being a studio musician afforded me the look see at people who I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten the chance to work with otherwise. The stuff I did with Diana Ross was one of those instances. She was dating Gene Simmons from Kiss at the time and he called me from the studio one day to ask if I would come in and play a solo. I went in and ended up playing the solo on her number one hit single “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”. Hanging around with people like that and utilizing my brain really helped. I got to watch guys like Eddie Kramer and Tony Bongiovi work so I just watched everything. I never was really interested in engineering as I was more interested in song creation. When I met my mentor Dick Wagner who worked with guys like Lou Reed and Alice Cooper I really got a firsthand look at somebody who was an arranger and a writer. Dick was also the guy who hired me to fill in for Steve Hunter on the Australia/New Zealand leg of the Alice Cooper tour and to play on Mark Farner’s solo record. I learned all the little tricks from him. It also became apparent to me at this time that the business was changing, as was the music. After being out on the road with Meat Loaf, Paul Stanley and Diana Ross my desire to be out on the road constantly had also started to die down. I said to myself that I wanted to try producing so that’s what I did. I met my first partner Billy Sherwood who had a studio here in Los Angeles and when he got the gig in Yes he handed me the keys and I started getting hired to work on projects which included a series of tribute records I did which included a Metallica tribute album that ultimately won me a Grammy. As of late I have started performing more regularly. I have been doing charity gigs as well as some Kiss tribute band gigs. I was part of the pre-Kiss Kruise kick-off party this year in Miami. I also jammed recently with Dick Wagner and Mark Farner at another event. It’s been nice to rekindle that fire and show myself that I can still dish it out. I even still look the same, as I haven’t lost any hair. (Laughs) It was like getting back on a bike after not riding for a while. It’s a blessing to be able to do both and to see and talk to the fans. I am very lucky, blessed and grateful.

AL: You have been working with KISS on and off almost since the bands inception. What do you think has been the biggest contributing factor to that ongoing relationship?
BK: My visibility with the band has been several fold. I have participated not only as a player on records and as part of Paul’s 1989 solo tour but I also have worked with the band as a writer. Even now I still get up and jam with the guys at various Kiss type events. Because of my visibility with the band I have been dubbed the 5th member of KISS. (Laughs) I have played on a number of KISS tracks like “Nowhere to Run”, “Rockin’ in the USA”, “Partners in Crime” “All American Man” and “Larger than Life”. There is quite a wealth of work there. The band has thought of me enough over the years that they even interviewed me recently as part of a new KISS documentary. It’s great that Gene and Paul acknowledge the times we had together. During the time of Paul’s solo album he was by best friend. People always ask me about that experience and what it was like working on that album. It was great! I got to hang out with my best friend. There was no pressure and it was fun. That’s why it came out so good. Paul would show us the songs and we would play them a couple times until we thought we had it and that was it. It was very organic. Everyone was really professional.

AL: Can you tell us about your work on the recently released album “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson”?
BK: Michael Jackson even after his death is still one of the biggest stars in the world. The second album I did with Diana Ross he wrote the song “Muscles”. I was always fascinated with him and would often ask Diana what was up with him. (Laughs) After the work I did on Dee Snider’s Broadway album and the Frank Sinatra album we decided to take that same attitude and idea and apply it to this record. We weren’t re-writing or changing any of the songs, as we wanted to remain faithful to the originals while at the same time being different. We came up with a tunings that worked and got some guys that could really dish it out. We got some classic metal guys like Chuck Billy and Paul Di’Anno along with Lajon Witherspoon, Corey Glover and Angelo Moore from Fishbone who did an awesome job! We were very lucky to have such a great group of musicians/singers be a part of this record.

AL: Were you involved with the song selection at all?
BK: We worked in conjunction with the label on that but all of the arrangements are my partners and mine. No one came to us with arrangements ahead of time, as these types of albums don’t generally work that way. We usually will cut the song as a template and then send it out to someone to see if they would be interested in doing it or not. By doing that the artist gets to see maybe not the finished product but they have the framework of what it is.

AL: Having done a number of tribute albums what is it that interests you in these types of projects?
BK: Some projects are harder to do than others. So the idea of putting together a track say for instance the Chuck Berry song “Run Rudolph Run” which we did for the Metal Christmas CD and getting guys like Lemmy, Billy Gibbons and Dave Grohl as the band is just crazy. No one but me is doing things like that. I am the guy who comes up with these creations. A lot of times the creations are what make the people want to show up and be a part of these projects. That’s how Tim “Ripper” Owens got connected with Yngwie Malmsteen. I put them on a track together and Yngwie loved it! For me it’s all about making exciting concepts of these songs through the arrangements and through the combination of people who play and sing on them. The word tribute really is just a title. People have been covering songs for years and I am a guy who likes to stir the pot. It’s just music which is about the fun and I like to push the envelope.

AL: Can you tell us about any other projects you are currently working on?
BK: I worked on a song for Dee Snider and Giuliana Rancic from the E! Channel which available now on ITunes. We did a very unique arrangement of “Silent Night”. This is a really cool version of the song as you don’t know what you are getting until you start listening. I also have a few other projects in the works however I can’t announce any of those just yet. I also have been working with my brother Bruce on some songs that we hope to have out early next year. The idea with these songs is to keep things within the boundaries of our audience. We want to make songs that people who enjoy our work will like.

 

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CD Review “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson”

Various Artists
“Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson”
Cleopatra Records
Producer: Bob Kulick
Tracks: 13

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When you think of heavy metal your probably not instantly thinking of Michael Jackson however, Cleopatra Records along with Grammy Award winning producer Bob Kulick and a laundry list of metal’s elite musicians are about to change that. “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson” features 13 reworked versions of some of Jackson’s most memorable songs heard as they never have been heard before.

Being a fan of music there is always room on my playlist for some Michael Jackson. Now I’m not saying I am a fan of everything he ever did however “Thriller: A Metal Tribute to Michael Jackson” has shined a new light on the departed singers catalog. Producer Bob Kulick and a diverse cast of metal maniacs have put together a great sounding metalized pop album. The album hits the ground running or maybe in this case moon walking as it opens up with Testaments Chuck Billy’s grainy rendition of “Thriller” which gives way to Angelo Moore’s spot on performance of “The Way You make Me Feel”. As the album progresses we are treated to performances by everyone from Paul Di’Anno and Doug Pinnick to Phil Campbell and Corey Glover who team up for a great rendition of “Billy Jean”.

Now before all you MJ purists out there take to the message boards only to discredit the albums mere existence I strongly encourage you to take a listen before making any judgments. Yes this is a rather unconventional line up performing however Bob Kulick truly lets his genius as a producer shine as even with the songs being reworked and beefed up they still retain the charm and appeal of the original versions making this album a great listen whether you are a traditional MJ fan or a fan of the artists performing on the record.

Track Listing:
1.) Thriller – Chuck Billy (Testament)
2.) Man In The Mirror – Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria) & Billy Sheehan (Mr.Big)
3.) The Way You Make Me Feel – Angelo Moore (Fishbone), Doug Aldrich (Whitesnake), Rudy Sarzo (Queensryche)
4.) Black Or White – Lajon Witherspoon (Sevendust), Bruce Kulick (ex-Kiss),Tony Franklin (The Firm)
5.) Beat It – Priya Panda (Diemonds) & Ron Bumblefoot Thal (Guns n’ Roses)
6.) Billy Jean – Corey Glover (Living Colour) & Phil Campbell (Motorhead)
7.) Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground) – Elias Soriano (Nonpoint)
8.) Rock With You – Doug Pinnick (King’s X)
9.) Dirty Diana – Chris Jericho (Fozzy)
10.) Bad – Paul Di’Anno (ex-Iron Miaden) & Craig Goldy (Dio)
11.) They Don’t Care About Us – (Icarus Witch)
12.) Never Can Say Goodbye – Lonnie Jordan (WAR)
13.) Smooth Criminal – (Alien Ant Farm)

Mike’s Behind the Screen: “JawsFEST: The Tribute”

On a movie scale, if the original 2005 “JawsFEST” was the fan equivalent of “Jaws” then the recent “JawsFEST: The Tribute” was more like “Jaws: The Revenge!”

I took some time off between the end of the Fest and writing this because I wanted to make sure that other fans shared some of my feelings about the event.  Some did.  Some didn’t.  Some were pleased.  Some were pissed.  Some were downright angry.    The quotes that I include in this piece are real.  And before I list the Top 5 Reasons “JawsFEST: The Tribute” was not well received I want to point out that this is not an indictment of the people behind the event.  They did what they could with what they had.  In my opinion (and a majority of those I spoke with) there just weren’t enough hands to go around.  There was some fan input (mine included) but a lot of things were either dismissed at the beginning or fell off during the planning stages.  The people in charge were nothing but great to deal with, both as a fan and as a member of the media.  I was proud to have some of my memorabilia on display and even prouder to host one of the “Location Bus Tours.”  That being said, here we go:

  1.  EXPENSIVE! (Part One)

If you’ve ever been to Martha’s Vineyard you know things are just a little bit more expensive than elsewhere.   Never is that statement truer than during the month of August, the busiest (and most expensive) time of the season.  Like the fictional town of Amity, the island needs summer dollars.  The same hotel where I’ve stayed in early June for $145.00 a night was renting for $450.00 a night during the Fest.  My wife and I were lucky to have found a nice 1BR studio to rent for the time we were there, averaging $225 a night.  A little more than what we were used to but it had a kitchen where we could make breakfast before we headed out for our day.  Even still, we spent almost as much on food as our airfare from Kansas City and back cost.  Lunch and dinner routinely came to $30-35.00, including tip.  And this was for what I would call “simple” food:  sandwiches and such.  We did have one “nice” meal which came to about $100 with tip but if you can’t splurge on a romantic dinner while overlooking the water on Martha’s Vineyard when can you?

  1.  EXPENSIVE (Part Two)

From the $295.00 VIP bracelets to the $20.00 programs, it seemed that every time you turned around you were opening your wallet.  Let me be up front here and inform the reader that because of my assistance with the Fest, the fact that I was also there as a member of the media and that I had actually won a free general admission for winning a contest describing my best original 2005 “JawsFest” memory, neither myself or my wife had to pay for our bracelets.  Those that did were disappointed to find that not everyone was checking them.  “I feel so bad for people who paid for the gold bracelets,” said one fan.  “People with red bracelets got into things meant for gold bracelets, people with no bracelets got into things meant for people with bracelets period. Things were sold at outrageous prices and then just handed out for free on the same day.  I’m pretty sure my $50 red bracelet wasn’t worth the free keychain (that wasn’t even like…given to us… we had to go find them) and the foam fin hat that Discovery channel pushed at us.”    Said another, “gold bracelets basically got nothing for their money.  I had an absolutely amazing time but it had nothing to do with “JawsFest.”  If anything, it was in spite of it. The screening was a disaster.   I can’t imagine people that paid $75 for the kayak to the movie + gold bracelet and they had to leave because the movie was bounced. Just seems like everything was very disorganized and very poorly laid out. You want to say ‘Well it was a labor of love, they did what they could.’  Then you realize people were dropping hundreds of dollars on bracelets and then the sympathy goes out the window.  It’s not hard.   Clearly define what you get for the bracelets and then make sure people get it.  One worker said gold (bracelets) got free bags.  Other worker said they didn’t but got a special bag.  A third worker said the special bags were for special bracelets above gold.  No one had a clue what you got and the answer was really nothing.  Red bracelets got a free key chain bottle opener that can’t open bottles.  That’s it.  $50 for a $1 key chain? You could say they got to see the movie in the park but IT WAS IN THE PARK and I was sitting next to people without bracelets.”

In my opinion, the Fest was a cash grab.  Autographs were $20.00 each.  They were free at the 2005 JawsFEST.  Having done many celebrity events in my lifetime I’ve always tried to include the guests signing fee in their appearance fee.  Maybe limit autographs to (2) per person per guest so as not to take advantage.  I have no problem with the celebrity guests charging for their autographs.  For some of them that is how they make their living and I certainly don’t fault them.  For a brief time they were charging $10.00 for admission to the memorabilia display, even though it was advertised as free.  . One woman told me, “the red bracelet got me nothing but $50.00 lighter…it almost seemed like it cost money to breathe the air!”  One of the main problems I saw was that “JawsFEST: The Tribute” was NOT sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce as 2005’s event was.  It was put on by a private promotional company and the goal in putting on an event is to make money.

One of the questions I’ve been asked constantly is “where did the money go?”  I really don’t know.  I know that money put in the donation cans is earmarked for the SHARK SAVERS organization and that money will continue to be raised into September.  I’ve sent out a couple of emails but haven’t heard if any of the proceeds from the sale of bracelets, T-shirts, etc was going to anything but to offset the cost of the event.  Perhaps if there is a profit some of that money will go to SHARK SAVERS.

  1.  WHERE WAS AMITY?

Another complaint registered by many of the fans who had attended the 2005 event was that Edgartown looked exactly like…Edgartown!  Unlike the original Fest, the sign on the city hall still read “Edgartown,” there were no welcoming banners (Amity Island Welcomes You) and several of the businesses that still had their “Amity” business signs neglected to hang them.

  1.  THE GUEST LIST

Though a final confirmed guest list was posted on line in early June, several earlier promoted appearances never occurred, including Brenda Scheider (widow of Roy) and Virginia Shaw (widow of Robert) and their children.  As I was working on a charity event in Roy Scheider’s memory and had wanted Brenda’s input I was informed that she would not be attending.  But even though these family members were originally listed as attending nothing was posted to say they wouldn’t be.  In fact, if I hadn’t overheard “The Shark is Still Working” director Erik Hollander speaking with her I never would have known that Mr. Shaw’s sister, Joanna, was in attendance.  She was included on the V.I.P. list but it was virtually unknown to “Jaws” fans that she was indeed there.  One fan had hoped to share a tragic coincidence with Brenda Scheider.  Sadly, her father had not only passed away from the same cancer that took Roy Scheider from us all too early, he had been under the care of the same physician and passed away in the same hospital as Roy had.   Tragic, yes, but a tragedy that had touched both of them similarly and one she’d hoped to share.

  1.  THE TRIBUTE?

What happened to “the Tribute” part of “JawsFEST:  The Tribute?”  Fans were promised a “multi-media tribute to Peter Benchley, Roy Scheider and Robert Shaw.”  Due to my past relationship and association with Roy Scheider I had asked to be a part of whatever tribute was being prepared for him.  My understanding was that “the Tribute” was to be presented prior to the outdoor screening of “Jaws.”  The original screening planned for Saturday evening was moved inside the Old Whaling Church due to the threat of rain that evening.  It was re-scheduled for Sunday evening at the park in Oaks Bluff.    Again, from a fan, “there were two guys playing some weird instruments and a poet laureate from the island read a poem about sharks and Wendy Benchley spoke for two minutes. No “tribute” whatsoever.”  Another asked, “(you mean) they couldn’t find some college kid to ‘intern’ and edit together some sort of tribute montage of people who had passed away?”  And a final comment on the screening pretty much summed up the event in total:  “A large group of obnoxious full grown adult men and women were sitting WITH NO RED BRACELETS AT ALL next to us at the film screening. When they were asked to leave the VIP area by the soccer mom security JawsFest 2012 representative, they basically started yelling at her that (and I quote verbatim) “We ain’t goin’ no place!” So what did the JawsFest 2012 rep do? She GAVE them (for FREE) a handful of red bracelets (that I had to pay $50 each for) and told them to “just flash these if anyone else asks to see your bracelets”.  We literally sat there and witnessed this first hand. If that wasn’t a kick in the balls to those of us who played by the rules and trusted that the event planners had this all under control, I don’t know what was.  If it matters to anyone, the woman who gave away the red bracelets (that we had to pay $100 for) was walking around the film screening wearing the JAWSFEST 2012 banner over her shoulders like it was James Brown’s cape. She was also the person I heard yell to the angry fans who DID pay to sit in that area that “Hey, I told them (the non-payers) to leave. What more do you want? Call the police if you want to.” This was the level of professionalism our hard-earned dollars got us. It was essentially an “Amateur Night at the Apollo” free-for-all and we (the fans who actually paid) were footing the bill.”

Ouch!

On the positive side, many of us who have been “Jaws” friends for years got to spend time with each other.  Old friendships were rekindled and new ones fostered.  Which makes sense because Amity, as you know, means friendship.  I was able to put a face to so many people I had only known via the computer and I began new friendships that I hope will last forever.

So where do we go from here?

2015 will mark the 40th anniversary of the release of “Jaws.”  This gives the powers that be, if they are so inclined, to start planning.  One of my friends on the island stated that the original “JawsFest” had “caught lightning in a bottle.”  And he was right.  Everything fell together perfectly.  Maybe it was because the people in charge weren’t planning on a huge turnout.  My understanding is that they had hoped 500 fans would show up, not the 3,000 plus who came from literally all over the world.  And I mean ALL OVER THE WORLD.  I shared a house with fans who had traveled from New Hampshire, California, Kansas, Great Britain and Australia!  Many of us have held our own “Fests” since the first “JawsFest.”  50 of us spent a week at Camp Amity for the exciting “NOFest” of 2006.”  A Tom (“Smallville”) Welling sighting was one of the highlights of RestFest in 2007.”  Even as I write this many fans are already talking about getting together unofficially next year in Amity.  Should the island undertake another “Official ‘Jaws’” event, I’m hoping the Chamber of Commerce will not only be involved but will invite some fans to help plan some of the events.  And hopefully it will be in June, the month the film originally opened and when the rates are a little more reasonable.  It will give us a chance to not only celebrate our favorite film but to celebrate our friendships.  Which is really what “JawsFEST” should be about.

JawsFest: The Tribute ends with a bang!


JawsFest: the Tribute, the second official “Jaws” event to be held on Martha’s Vineyard, ended in high style when the new and improved Blu-ray version of the film was premiered under the start with an outdoor screening at Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs on Sunday night. The outdoor screening had been scheduled for the night before but the threat of rain moved the screening to the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. It was my pleasure to sit behind Lee Fiero (Mrs. Kintner) during the screening. Each time she appeared on screen the audience would break into wild applause, causing her to break into a big smile. To continue the tradition started at the first JawsFest, our group of fans at the screening went “Rocky Horror” during the film. During the scene where Chief Brody admonishes his son for sitting in his new boat, we all yelled, “Get out of that boat!” in unison.

The past few days have been a whirlwind of activities. On Friday, I visited Menemsha for an exclusive lunch interview with Jeffrey Kramer (Deputy Hendricks) and Susan Backlinie (Chrissie). That the interview was held directly next to the vacant lot that used to house Qunit’s shack made the time together perfect. Friday was also spent walking around Edgartown and being greeted by Media Mikes fans. For those of you that took the time to say hello I want to say thank you for your comments. This site is a labor of love for those of us who write for it and it’s your appreciation of our work that make what we do possible. On Saturday I had the great opportunity to interview Michael MacCormack, a co-producer and the composer of the soundtrack for the fan documentary “The Shark is Still Working.” I also spent a few moments with former Media Mikes interviewees Joe Alves, Carl Gottlieb and Greg Nicotero. Later in the day I met with author Tom Dunlop, best known in the “Jaws” world as having appeared as one of the teenagers in “Jaws 2.” I’m currently reading Tom’s new book for review and will be interviewing him shortly about his career, both on screen and off. Saturday ended with the exclusive screening of “Jaws” on Blu-ray and then a night out in Oak Bluffs with many of our “Jaws” friends.

Sunday morning came early as I was asked by the organizers of the Fest to host a “Jaws” location bus touraround the island. The tour was sold out and the people on board had plenty of questions. They also got an extra thrill when, after arriving at the South Beach location where the film’s opening scenes were filmed, we ran into Erik Hollander, director of “The Shark is Still Working.” Erik very kindly agreed to address the group for a few minutes, even showing the group where the film’s director, Steven Spielberg, had set up his cameras to capture the scene.

After the tour I stopped by the art exhibit of Paul McPhee, who has produced some beautiful items for this years festivities. McPhee is responsible for not only the official Festival poster but also sculpted the shark heads which were featured on the “Shark Preservation” barrels which were available across the island. Also featured were several of McPhee’s original “Jaws” inspired paintings. Another artist well represented was Bill Wieger, who did a beautiful sculpture of the Big Three!

 

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MediaMikes helps usher in JawsFEST: The Tribute

9:00 a.m. came early on the island of Martha’s Vineyard this morning. But that didn’t stop Dave Picton and I from covering the opening ceremonies of “JawsFEST:The Tribute,” a salute to the film “Jaws,” which was filmed here in 1974.

The day began with a mob of people assembled in front of the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown, waiting for their chance to purchase their admission bracelets. As the purchases began a buzz went through the gathering as an old-style fire truck approached, transporting many of the special guests that the masses had come to see. Among those on the truck: Production Designer Joe Alves, co-screenwriter and co-star Carl Gottlieb, co-stars Jeffrey Kramer and Susan Backlinie and Hollywood make up master (and Media Mikes pal) Greg Nicotero. My day got off to a great start. A special batch of Media Mike’s t-shirts had been printed for the event and the first recipient was Wendy Benchley, whose late husband, Peter, had written the original “Jaws” novel. Several people in the crowd were Media Mikes fans and clamored for the shirts. Thanks to everyone there, especially those of you that complemented our site. Several of us with media credentials were allowed an early peek at what is sure to be one of the event’s most popular attractions, a display of memorabilia entitled “Behind the Screams.” Inside fans will be greeted with various items detailing the making of the film. I’m happy to say that several items from my own collection are prominently featured and I couldn’t be prouder. But what fans are going to fall in love with is a group of lifelike character sculptures of Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss greeting them from the transom of the ORCA. The sculptures are the work of Greg Nicotero, who had built a full size mock up of the mechanical shark’s head for the first JawsFEST in 2005. These sculptures are truly works of art and are so realistic and lifelike that many fans found themselves doing double takes.

One of the highlights of my day came when I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Ms. Virginia Shaw, whose late brother Robert played Quint in the film. I also had the chance to talk with Erik Hollander, director of the fan driven “Jaws” documentary “The Shark is Still Working,” which will finally be released next week when it is included on the upcoming “Jaws” Blu-ray DVD.

As the day went on, fans spent their time touring the exhibit, attending a book signing with Matt Taylor, Jim Beller and artist Paul McPhee, who collaborated on last year’s award winning book, “Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard.” They also took a (2) hour bus tour around the island visiting various locations where the movie was filmed. There are three more tours planned for the rest of the event. Friday’s tour will be hosted by Lou and Yana Pisano, whose “JawsFest” film series is popular among fans. I’m very proud to say that I will be hosting Sunday’s bus tour. For tickets visit www.jawstribute.com

 

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JAWSFest: The Tribute General Access Bracelets Now on Sale!

For fans planning to attend the upcoming JAWSFest: The Tribute on Martha’s Vineyard this coming August, General Access Bracelets are now on sale.  The current “early bird” cost is $45.00 for adults and $35.00 for youth (ages 13-18).  Children under 13 will not require a bracelet to attend General Access events.  On June 1st the prices raise to $75.00 and $50.00 respectively.

The General Access Bracelets INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:

OPENING CEREMONY: Bracelet Holder Access to JAWSFEST opening ceremony on the front steps of the Old Whaling Church with VIP’s and special guests.

BEHIND THE SCREAMS: A museum-quality display of private collections of JAWS photographs and memorabilia from the filming, including items from the private collection of Robert Shaw and other never before seen items.

SHARK IN THE PARK: Join the fun at our Shark in the Park fan and family reception where VIPs, family and crew will join with fans and the MV Sharks baseball team for collegiate baseball, family games, autographs, and more. Followed by ‘The Making of JAWS’ presented by Jeffrey Kramer, Joe Alves & Carl Gottlieb.

SHARKS, ARTS & CONSERVATION: This 2-day “event within an event” includes the opportunity to meet with globally recognized shark experts including Dr. Greg Skomal and members of Discovery Channel Shark Week. Leading conservation organizations, including Shark Savers, join with Wendy Benchley and conservationists from around the country, to teach us about sharks in our oceans today. Artists, who share a love and appreciation for the beauty and importance of sharks, display their work and share stories of inspiration. Based in Oak Bluffs, Sharks Arts & Conservation will include interactive displays, exhibits, educational videos, science demonstrations, kids’ activities and much more.

THE TRIBUTE & JAWS ON THE BIG SCREEN AT OCEAN PARK: Our grand-finale on beautiful Ocean Park, Oak Bluffs, with very special intros and our full roster of VIP’s present. General Admission bracelet holders will have a forward reserved area in the park (behind VIP bracelet holders, sponsors and cast & crew).

Tickets are on sale now at www.ticketsmv.com/jaws
This link takes you directly to the GA Bracelets www.ticketsmv.com/jawsGA

CD Review “A Tribute to John Williams: An 80th Birthday Celebration”

Conductor: John Williams
Composer: John Williams
Label: Sony Music Masterworks
Release Date: February 28, 2012
Tracks: 15
Running Time: 68 minutes

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Who doesn’t love the scores from John Williams. He is such a legend with his music. The new collection is a celebration of Williams’ 80th birthday and is a real wonderful tribute to his career to date. Over almost six decades, John Williams has composed score to some of the biggest films in history including the “Star Wars” series, “Jaws”, the “Indiana Jones” series, “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” and the first three “Harry Potter” films. The guy literally shows no signs of slowing down either with 2011 proving to me a very busy year for him with “The Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse”. Both of them were even were nominated for Oscars in the 84th Academy Awards. So sit back and get ready to celebrate the works of one of our greatest composers.

For the man that has won twenty-one Grammy® awards, four Golden Globe awards and five Academy Awards®, you can’t encompass every known track but this does a really great job. I actually really enjoyed the specific track selections especially from the film “Jaws”. The obvious choice was to use the theme that we all know…”duh nah”. But instead they included the track “Out to Sea/The Shark Cage Fugue” and I really enjoyed that decision. It is not what you would expect and was a great change. The choice to use a track from “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” was an interesting choice, it is different and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I also enjoyed the tracks from “The Adventures of Tintin” and “War Horse”, I haven’t had much exposure of the score prior and I loved them.

This collection of songs include guest appeared from both Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma. Perlman plays violin beautiful on both the themes from “Sabrina” and “Schindler’s List”. Yo-Yo plays cello on two tracks also “Elegy for Cello and Ochestra” and “Going to School” from the film “Memoirs of a Geisha”. This release is all the first time that Williams’s recording on his “Happy Birthday Variations” track has been recorded and released. Overall this release is a celebration and it definitely succeeds in doing that and encompasses the massive career of this amazing legend. I very much recommend this for all fans of film scores and the work of John Williams.

Track Listing:
1. Sound the Bells! from American Journey
2. Out to Sea/Shark Cage Fugue from Jaws
3. Theme from Sabrina (w/Itzhak Perlman, violin)
4. March from 1941
5. Adventures on Earth from E.T.: The Extra-terrestrial
6. Dartmoor, 1912 from War Horse
7. The Adventures of Mutt from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
8. Harry’s Wondrous World from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
9. Elegy for Cello & Orchestra -Yo-Yo Ma, cello
10. Going to School from Memoirs of a Geisha (w/Yo-Yo Ma, cello)
11. The Mission Theme (Theme for NBC News)
12. Theme from Schindler’s List (w/Itzhak Perlman, violin)
13. The Adventure Continues from The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn
14. Throne Room & Finale from Star Wars
15. Happy Birthday Variations (Previously Unreleased)

JawsFest: The Tribute Announces First VIP Guests

JawsFest: The Tribute, the second official “Jaws” celebration scheduled for this August on Martha’s Vineyard, announced it’s first list of celebrity attendees.  Scheduled to appear at the celebration:

Wendy Benchley, widow of “Jaws” author Peter Benchley

Brenda Siemer Scheider, widow of “Jaws” star Roy Scheider (Chief Martin Brody)

Virginia Shaw and the Shaw Family, widow and children of “Jaws” star Robert Shaw (Quint)

Carl Gottlieb, co-star and co-screenwriter of the film.  Mr. Gottlieb is also the author of the popular book, “The “Jaws” Log”

Susan Backlinie, who played Chrissie Watkins, the sharks first victim.

Greg Skomal, Marine Biologist best known as the “Shark Guy” on the Discovery Channel

Greg Nicotero, award winning Hollywood make up and special effects artist.

Edith Blake, local journalist/photographer and author of “On Location on Martha’s Vineyard: The Making of the Movie ‘Jaws'”

Susan and Lynn Murphy, whose work behind the scenes during the filming of “Jaws” was invaluable.

MediaMikes writers Mike Smith and Dave Picton will be covering the event from beginning to end with up to date reports and exclusive interviews with those in attendance.

Also this week Universal Studios announced that, in conjunction with the studios 100th Anniversary, they will be restoring thirteen classic films for possible theatrical re-release, including “Jaws.”  Other films scheduled for restoration include “All Quiet on The Western Front,” “The Sting,” “Out of Africa,” “Frankenstein,” and “Schindler’s List.”  The studio announced late last year that “Jaws” would be released on Blu-Ray this coming August, hopefully to coincide with JawsFest.”

JawsFest: The Tribute will be held on Martha’s Vineyard from August 9-12, 2012. For more information go to www.jawstribute.com.

JAWSFEST Tribute Event Hits Martha’s Vineyard August 2012

WE’RE GONNA NEED A BIGGER ISLAND JAWSFEST: THE TRIBUTE PLANNED FOR AUGUST, 2012

October 26, 2011. Martha’s Vineyard, MA – In 2005, thousands of fans of the Universal Studios’ movie JAWS flocked to the island of Martha’s Vineyard to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the blockbuster movie at JAWSFEST ‘05. Since the day the inaugural event ended, fans have been clamoring for more. In August 2012, JAWS fans will get what they’ve been asking for at JAWSFEST: The Tribute. An event in the making for nearly seven years, JAWSFEST: The Tribute will honor the talent, dedication and determination of the men and women behind the making of JAWS and celebrate how Steven Spielberg’s telling of Peter Benchley’s story has forever made Martha’s Vineyard ‘Amity Island.’

For the first JAWSFEST, fans traveled from as far as Australia for the event and media outlets from around the world flocked to the island to cover the festivities. “Our 2005 event was incredibly successful and had a much greater reach than we ever anticipated with fans showing up en masse from around the world—many in character,” said Susan Sigel Goldsmith, event co?director from 2005 and producer of the 2012 event. “As JAWS continues to entertain new generations of audiences around the world, we’re thrilled to give fans a unique event experience in Martha’s Vineyard that they will never forget.”

JAWSFEST: The Tribute will take place August 9?11, 2012 and will explore how the making of JAWS impacted the lives of those who came to Amity in 1974 and how the blockbuster film they created continues to impact fans and the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Preliminary event plans include:

  • LIVING JAWS: A series of lively and engaging discussions with cast, families, crew and locals on the making of JAWS, including how the film has impacted lives and families in the 1970’s and beyond.
  • JAWS TRIBUTE: A multimedia tribute to Peter Benchley, Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw and members of cast and crew who have passed.
  • JAWS: MEMORIES FROM MARTHA’S VINEYARD: Presentations from Matt Taylor, author of the exceptional new book and many Island locals whose expertise and resourcefulness ultimately made the filming possible.
  • BEHIND THE SCREAMS: A museum?quality display of private collections of JAWS photographs and memorabilia from the filming.
  • IN THE SCENE: Live re?enactments from some favorite JAWS scenes—in some unexpected locations.
  • AMITY ADVENTURE: JAWSFESTTM TREASURE HUNT: Attendees will test their knowledge of the film as they explore Amity, collect items from the treasure hunt and return completed kits for great prizes.
  •  SHARK IN THE PARK: An all?American afternoon of fun and surprises in collaboration with the MV Sharks baseball team.
  • JAWS ON THE BIG SCREEN: Outdoor screening of JAWS under the stars and on the big screen.“This is an event that JAWS fans from around the world have been eagerly anticipating—they are going to be ecstatic when they hear that there will finally be another JAWSFEST on Martha’s Vineyard,” said Jim Beller, owner of the JawsCollector.com website. “I know for a fact that fellow fans from around the world that couldn’t make it in 2005 are going to be coming to Martha’s Vineyard this time around.”

    “The Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce is delighted to support JAWSFESTTM: The Tribute in August 2012. We look forward to welcoming JAWS fans from throughout the world to explore ‘Amity’ and all that the Vineyard has to offer,” said Nancy Gardella, MV Chamber of Commerce Executive Director.

    Event planning is underway. For event updates or travel information, please visit www.jawstribute.com. The event schedule will be posted when attendance confirmations are received from invited participants.