2015: Looking Ahead

2015So, as I wrote earlier, 2014 was a great year for me.  And the year before.  And the year before.  But that’s because I’m pretty easy to please.  It’s a great problem to have, but it also places me in my own way sometimes.

I’m like a little kid.  It doesn’t take much for me to feel like “this is the most awesome thing ever!!!”  When I’m doing extra work, most of the people around me are complaining about the lack of variety in the catering, or how it’s such a long day.  I just look around and think “but guys, we’re working on a real mooooovie!”  Same for reenactment tv.  And student films.  And shows.  And concerts.  I guess the great news is I haven’t become jaded.  When it comes to focus, though, that’s where I have a problem.

When people get to know me, or at least get me involved in conversation about everything I’m doing, they inevitably ask me what my dream job is.  And I always struggle to come up with an answer.  Again, the good part is that there isn’t only one thing that I’d be happy doing.  The bad part is that with so many options on the table, I never really put enough focus into any one of them.

In a city like New York, if you want to get to the top in any field, you’ve gotta work harder than everyone else around you.  And while a lot of people will tell you that I’m one of the most driven people they know, that drive lacks focus.  What they see is that I’m always on the go, always working, and usually have something fun to post about on Facebook.  But I don’t really have a master plan.  I just submit and apply for everything that interests me, and if I can squeeze it into my schedule, I do it.

I usually only have one day off a month where I’m not running from one thing to the next, and on most days I’m working more than one job.  If you look at the last two weeks before I left for the circus, I worked as an admin assistant for The New York Pops and Actors Equity, I acted in a short film, was the rehearsal accompanist and sang in a concert with Essential Voices USA, recorded a voice for an animated film (which I also composed the theme song for), taught one workshop for Disney and two for A Class Act, directed and accompanied a benefit concert, worked as a church organist and choir director, photographed a press event, and hit up a few auditions.

Insane, right?  That’s literally the two weeks before I left New York.  Was it a blast?  You bet!  Was I sleeping enough?  Not a chance!  Did I get sick because of it?  Of course, silly.  But that’s just what I do!

Now here’s the thing.  I’m finally getting to a point, at the ripe, young age of 35, where I’m starting to realize that I need a plan.  Sure, I’m doing a lot of fun stuff and getting loads of random crap on my resume.  But if I really want to take off, to really excel in one of these areas, I’ve gotta let people know that’s what I do and that I’m damn good at it.  Of course you can do as many things as you want, and I don’t believe that you can only be really good at one thing.  But, it’s a little harder for people to take you seriously if they don’t really know what you do.

Look at it this way, if you were going to hire a wedding photographer, would you hire someone who has a legit wedding photography business with hundreds of weddings in their portfolio, or would you hire a photographer who has shot a couple weddings, some fashion shows, a little bit of travel photographer, who has also catered weddings, worked them as a dj, and baked a couple wedding cakes?  I think the answer is clear, and I think you know I’m the metaphorical photographer/caterer/dj/baker.

The ball’s gonna drop in a few so I’m gonna take a break, but I’ll be back next year with more on my 2015 plans!

Happy New Year!

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2014: The Year In Review

2014-new-yearAs 2014 comes to a close, I can’t help but take a little time to think back on what an awesome year it was.  I always try to be optimistic, so I’ve never looked back on a particular year and said “well, this one really blew.  Let’s hope the next one is better.”  But this year in particular was really exciting.

I had a ton of fun, I got to do a lot of cool things and meet a lot of cool people, and in general, I was just loving what I was doing…most of the time.  (I’m sure if you talked to my roommate, she’d be able to point out a few times where all I did was bitch about what I was doing.)

RIght now, I’m in Ft. Myers, Florida, having a breakfast sandwich and a hot cup of black coffee at Panera Bread, one of my favorite places to just sit and relax.  I was thinking of going through, month by month, with my Google calendar open, but that just seemed obnoxious, so I’ll just shoot from the hip.

To start, I’m a teaching artist!  At this time last year, I didn’t even know what a teaching artist was (or that I had been one without knowing it); I had heard the term thrown around a lot but thought it was someone that had a masters in education who went into schools to do special programs.  Little did I know that a teaching artist could also be someone who dropped their education major after the first day of Classroom Instruments in college (though I don’t advertise that when applying for jobs).  Fast-forward to now and I’m working as a teaching artist for Disney Theatricals, Broadway Classroom, A Class Act NY, and starting in two weeks, The New York Pops, all which happened in 2014.

At the start of the year, I took a little cruise with Jim Brochu, playing piano for his show Character Man, which took us to St. Barths, St. Maarten, Jost Van Dyke, and San Juan.

I got to photograph a ton of celebrities I adore including Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, Aaron Tveit, Matthew Morrison, and Debra Messing.  And my favorite shot of the year was at The New York Pops gala honoring Scott Whitman and Marc Shaiman, when I was able to get “the three Tracys” in one photo: Ricki Lake, Nikki Blonsky, and Marissa Jaret Winokur.

With Judith Clurman’s Essential Voices USA, I had the privilege of singing with the chorus two more times at Carnegie Hall, once in March and once in Novemeber.  A small group of us also spent an evening with John Bucchino, singing through an arrangement of his piece Grateful that my friend Jeremy created.

For film and TV, I shot (acted in) an episode for Discovery ID and another one for The Travel Channel, I did my first voiceover work for Lucky and the Pirates, shot a short film, and recorded a little music for a web series I acted in last year, but finished up with the music this year.

And at the piano, I was a rehearsal accompanist for Broadway Backwards, musically directed Warp Speed for the Midtown International Theatre Festival, accompanied a couple cabarets, and had a blast working with Will and Anthony for several concerts.

And now?  I’ve run away and joined the circus!  I could not be more grateful for everything that’s been going on.  There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t take some time to be thankful for all of the blessings (and insanity) in my life!

Another reason for this list is to segue into my next post, which will be all about figuring out what my plans are for 2015.  I still want it to be wacky and exciting, but as you can see, I tend to spread myself a little thin.  I think I’m going to hone in a little and put more energy into fewer things.

What will they be?  Patience, my child.  I’m still figuring it out.

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Another murderous rampage on Discovery ID

FatalENcountersLast night my episode of Most Evil aired on Discovery ID.  I’m staying at a studio 6 in West Palm Beach, so I wasn’t surprised to learn that the cable package didn’t include the channel.  I also checked a couple of bars we had been going to, and they only subscribe to some ESPN pro package.  Apparently, no one has any class in WPB.  And yes, by class I mean watching trashy true-crime reenactment shows.

We got out of rehearsal a little early yesterday, so I decided to walk around the downtown area and not quit until I found a place to watch the show.  Finally, after two hours, I had a place-Duffy’s Sports Grill on Clematis Street.  They had dozens of TVs, all set to football, but the manager said it wouldn’t be a problem to switch one of them over to Discovery ID at 10:00.  So I had just enough time to walk the hour back to my hotel, eat dinner, and then walk the hour back to the bar.  Sure, I could’ve taken an Uber both ways, but thanks to The World of Beer down on the waterfront, I’m a little over budget and trying to keep expenses down.

So there I was, tucked away in a corner of a packed sports bar, watching myself drag a dead hooker’s body out of my car and leaving it by a dumpster; just your typical Sunday night.  And as if that wasn’t creepy enough, mom suggested that I get a picture of myself watching the show.  So there I was, drinking alone and watching true-crime TV in a sports bar, grinning like an idiot as if it’s the most thrilling movie ever made, and taking selfies of me watching me.

I haven’t uploaded them to my computer yet, but if they’re half as creepy as I’m expecting, I’ll make sure to post one here!

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Confession: I’m A Workaholic

workaholic-career-addictionAnd I mean that in the best way possible. I don’t just work for the sake of working, and it’s not because I have a feeling that I’m not doing enough so I’m constantly trying to get ahead. I just love my job! (or maybe I don’t know how to have enough fun outside of work?)

Today was our first rehearsal for Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey presents Built To Amaze in West Palm Beach. We just finished Winter Quarters, which is the gold unit’s annual rehearsal process. The band rehearses six days a week, from 9-6; not that different from a theatre rehearsal schedule. While people not in “the biz” might say “six days a week for nine hours a day? Are you kidding?” I wouldn’t have it any other way.

On Wednesday we traveled from Ellenton, FL to West Palm Beach. Thursday and Friday we were off, which was great. I spent a lot of time outdoors because the weather is beautiful, and I took advantage of the fact that I didn’t have to be up at 7. That being said, I had more fun today during our two-hour run-through than I had in two days total of free time. As soon as I step foot in the venue, I light up. Walking through the parking lot I passed a man who was riding on a horse while standing, another guy whizzed by on a unicycle, and two elephants were playing in the stand. Moving into the venue, one performer is practicing with his crossbow, the Russian trapeze guys are doing handstand pushups in the center ring, and a clown was bouncing on a trampoline. And I work here! This is an actual job with an actual salary; a union job at that!

The second the announcement comes over the loudspeaker that it’s our three-minute warning, I just smile. From the downbeat of the ringmaster entrance song to the last note of the exit music, I’m dancing at my keyboards, taking it all in. Sometimes I’m focused on my music because it’s a tricky passage, other times my eyes are glued to the conductor, waiting for an important cue coming up, and other times I’m trying to watch the acts without losing my place in the music. And every second of it is thrilling!

I’m sure some people on the show were lamenting the fact that we were back to work, but me? There is no place else I’d rather be!

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Most Evil on Discovery ID

Most_evil_logoI just got word that my episode of Most Evil is going to air on Discovery ID on Sunday, 12/21 at 10:00 PM.  It’s my first episode of the show, but my fourth on the network.  My first was when I had the privilege of playing Charles Yukl on Fatal Encounters; to this day, it’s one of my favorite experiences!

Second and third was On The Case with Paula Zahn.  I was hired for one episode, and when I got there and we started shooting, I was asked if I’d mind stepping in for the previous episode.  I don’t know if an actor didn’t show up or if the production ran out of time, but they needed to film the boyfriend of the victim.  Clearly, I had no problem saying yes.

And now, Most Evil!  All I have to do now is find a way to watch it.  I’m pretty sure the hotel I’ll be staying in won’t have that channel, since I’m staying at the same chain where I’m currently settled in, and they only have the basic channels.  Maybe I’ll be able to find a bar nearby that wouldn’t mind switching one of their sets to ID.  I’m sure they’ve had stranger requests…I hope.

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