Sunday, February 26, 2012

Richard Marx Gig 2012

Steve Hornbeak, Richard's keyboard player/background vocalist. This man is brilliant and personable:) Hear one of their songs (my favorite!) here.
Sound check Thursday afternoon with RM.
The set list. Holy 18 songs, Batman! loved them all. Check out our performance with RM here.
The few, the proud that were smart enough to follow RM down to his dressing room immediately following the concert.

Here are a few things I learned about Richard Marx:

1) He drinks "The Brew", which is a concoction of lemon juice, honey, ginger and cayenne pepper. This drink is what keeps his vocal cords happy. He sips it between songs, from his white mug. It has healing properties apparently, because when he was singing back up for Sheila E in Vegas, he woke up the morning of the gig, and he had no voice. No other symptoms, but having no voice freaked him out, so Sheila E made him this drink. It worked like a charm restoring his voice, and he has used it ever since. How else can an artist sing 18 song set-list???

2) He is married with 3 sons, ages 18, 19 and 21. They are also budding musicians.

3) He has this wonderful self -deprecating humor. For instance, he would preface an older song he wrote by saying, "Back in 1912 when I wrote this..."

He made fun of his "puffy mullet" by saying, "We've all made at least one hair mistake in our lives. The only difference is, mine's all over YouTube!"

And he told a story about a time when he was listening to a local radio station while driving in his car. He heard one of his songs come on, followed by Lady Gaga. And his response in his words, "I was like, 'yess!' because I was used to my songs being sandwiched in between Bette Midler's "The Wind Beneath my Wings" and a Carpenter's song."

4) He is really witty. He would crack jokes spontaneously, and respond to audience yell-outs. He was hilarious. (Minus a few colorful words.)

5) He is a true musician. I say that after having worked with other celebrity artists who play solely by ear or chord charts even, but no musical theory, etc. For example, in the sound-check/dress rehearsal with him Thursday afternoon, he turned around to the strings and said, "Violins, that phrase at the beginning needs to be a whole step between C# and D#, not a half step!"

Also, in 'Children of the Night', the trumpets have a really cool series of solos. After we ran it once, RM said, "Trumpets, I need you to play those solos with every ounce of testicle you own! And if you're a woman, grow some!"

6) He is a perfectionist. He swooped in on time, rehearsed 5 songs of the 17 on the set list, and swooped out wanting to go back to his hotel for a while before the concert. The little time we had with him was tense, yet efficient. I felt immediately like everyone was walking on egg shells when we were running the songs. He was all-business. He lost patience with us for not understanding a tacet-measure and making the mistake one too many times.

7) He had a chilly bed-side manner when he wasn't on stage. I was disappointed that he wouldn't give any autographs or pictures for the orchestra (except one group photo down in his dressing room, and whoever was there got in on it, but as I waited outside his door after the show, his security kicked us all out.) I mean, come on-- He skipped what was supposed to be a 2-hour dress rehearsal Wednesday night because of a "travel day from hell", which is typically when the artists give us a few moments of their time... In a volunteer orchestra, that's about all you hope for in compensation. (Note that David Archuleta was the extreme opposite. Abundantly generous with his time, eating with us, taking individual photos, autographs, answering questions, etc. with each of us before the gig.)

8) On stage, he is charismatic, funny, quick-witted, musically passionate, and calm. A truly gifted musician and performer. It was a perfect evening for those in attendance. Even ask the Mister, the two oldest fruit of my loins, and my 60-something-year-old mother.

9) His Dad (Dick Marx), was also a gifted musician; a well-known jazz musician who wrote hundreds of jingles used in commercials. RM loved and admired his dad, saying, "I won the lottery for Dads." DM wrote the Overture the strings played as the opening number. It wasn't easy to play.

10) He was written and produced "To Where You Are" for Josh Groban, and "This I Promise You" for NSync.

11) He chews gum while performing. (Probably to mask the cayenne pepper-thing in his Brew.)

12) As far as we can tell, RM is the only singer/songwriter with a #1 hit in every decade for four decades. Amazing talent and longevity. I loved every bit of his show. I love his newer songs tremendously... In the famous words of Eric Wenstrom, our conductor and friend, "The birthrate in Idaho Falls is going to sky-rocket after this concert."

Bonus: Check it out-- Idaho Falls made Richard's VLOG here!

Monday, February 6, 2012


"Parents, remember that now is your opportunity.
You may feel yourself harrassed as you struggle through the days with children,
but you are living the happiest and most golden years of your life.
As you tuck them in at night, please be kind to them.
Let them hear a kind voice amid all the angry, vile voices that they will hear throughout life.
Let there be an anchor to which these little ones can turn when all else fails.
The Lord help you to do so.

~ Harold B. Lee