It wasn’t long after finishing our first children’s book together [Doodle], that Michele Quinn and I started pondering ideas for a second story. What we didn’t know at the time was that our next book about the adventures of a little girl and her dog would be one of both love and loss.
The story of ‘Doodle Meets the Pound Pup’ is a very personal one for Michele as Cocoa, the guest star of this installment of Doodle books, was the Quinn family’s very own dog.
While the timeline and some details have been arranged to fit the “Doodle” theme, the heart of the story is quite true. Cocoa was adopted by the Quinns two days before Michele’s birthday, so they were especially close, as Cocoa was her special birthday gift.
Cocoa had spent her first years of life chained outdoors with another dog and by the time the animal rescue had her in their care, she was already afraid of men, had hip dysplasia, as well as separation anxiety.
Through no fault of her own, Cocoa was shifted to six different foster homes over the next six months, the last of which having her back outside on a large run.
The Quinns traveled for hours to bring Cocoa from Amish country back to their home in Eastern Ohio, never once regretting the decision to take her home (even after a $400 vet bill on her second full day with the family!)
Cocoa spent the next eight and a half years with her new family, who loved her deeply. Sadly, she began to suffer kidney failure at the end of March and the Quinns had to make the heartbreaking decision to end her suffering. She is now running free, finally catching up with the squirrels and bunnies that she loved to chase.
In keeping with our theme of giving back, from now until December 31st Michele and I will be donating 100% of the profits we receive from sales of “Doodle Meets The Pound Pup” to The Center For Animal Health & Welfare, a no-kill shelter located in our hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania.
For more information on “Doodle Meets The Pound Pup” and to keep up with future book signings and events, be sure to check out our website by Clicking here
You can also visit us on Facebook
Click Here to purchase your own copy of Doodle Meets The Pound Pup!
Earlier this year, Michele Quinn and I released our very first children’s book, “Doodle”. Shortly after it’s release, we decided to donate all profits from the book to the daughter of Michele’s friend, who was ill and in need of a bone marrow transplant. 100% of the monies we received as profit were used to help offset the family’s medical bills as well as raise awareness of Aplastic Anemia; the disease the daughter had been diagnosed with.
Now it’s time to put out a call to all faithful readers of this blog. Michele and I are nearing the final stages of completing our next book, Doodle Meets the Pound Pup – a rhyming story that centers around topics that aren’t discussed much, but ones that are very important.
In order to help us decide which Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization to donate proceeds from sales of the new book to, we need to hear from you!!
If you know of or represent a worthy Animal Shelter or Rescue Organization, we’re asking you to please write in and tell us which organization you feel is most deserving, but even more importantly… why you believe so. We’ll choose one entry that we feel best explains their cause to receive our donation.
The winner of the contest will also receive two signed copies of the new book; one for you and one for the winning shelter or rescue group!
If you don’t have an organization to nominate, please consider sharing or Tweeting this article so we can get the word out.
More information on “Doodle Meets the Pound Pup” as well as a release date will be made soon. Thanks in advance for your help!
When I arrived, the line had already stretched out the door and seemed like it just went on for miles. I remember at the time being filled with so much emotion that for a split second I actually considered just turning around and going back.
And that was just the line at the Starbucks….
Seriously, it was one of the best days ever. Yesterday, Michele Quinn and I signed copies of “Doodle” together for the very first time. It’s the book the two of us had spent the better part of a year working on together. If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you probably already know the story. But if you’d like to read about it again, Click Here.
Michele had driven all the way in from Ohio to spend the afternoon signing copies of the book with me at The Moravian Book Shop; a Bethlehem bookstore that was founded in 1745 and is considered the oldest in the country. If you’re ever in the area, I highly suggest you check it out.
One of the coolest parts of the day actually happened even before we arrived at the bookstore. Prior to heading off to the signing, Michele finally had the opportunity to meet the “star” of the book she’s been doodling about for months (See Pic above).
Any new author will tell you they’re nervous before their very first book signing and for me, this was no exception. I suppose the biggest fear is going in with every intention of leaving with writer’s cramp from signing your name, but believing you’ll end up just sitting there alone at your table. But shortly after we arrived, an elderly gentleman came up to our little kiosk and inquired about the book. He browsed through it and listened to us discuss what it was about and wound up buying two copies for his grandchildren. With that “first sale” weight off our shoulders so quickly, the rest was a piece of cake.
There may not have been a line out the door, but over the next two hours Michele and I saw a steady stream of people. Some locals were just looking, while others happened to stumble upon us and wanted to hear the story and buy a copy of the book. We also had a mother come in with her teenage son who had just gotten back from a nature conservation camp and wanted to buy a copy. And then there were the friends and former classmates who came by to offer support and have their own copies signed.
To some it might have seemed like a small event, but for us this really was a really big deal. Especially when you consider the fact that Michele and I wrote this book without seeing each other at all. In fact, yesterday was the very first time we were together since we decided to write it. Everything from brainstorming ideas to illustrating to revisions were all done via email, Facebook and texting.
When the signing was over, Michele and I did what friends and classmates often do: hopped in the car and literally took a stroll down memory lane. We got in my car with another friend and drove past some of our old schools and “stomping” grounds. Places we used to frequent as kids growing up, and many of which Michele hadn’t seen in years. It was yet another surreal moment.
I guess the moral of this particular story is that dreams do come true, but sometimes in unexpected ways. Back in 1988, the only dream I had was becoming the next Bon Jovi. So if you would have told me back then that 25 years later I’d be sitting in a bookstore signing copies of a children’s book I had written with Michele, I would have thought you were nuts. But now, if given the option of stadium touring or writing books with one of the best people I know, I’ll choose the latter every time.
Former Foreigner vocalist Lou Gramm pulls no punches in his new autobiography, Juke Box Hero.
In the book, which was co-written with Scott Pitoniak, Gramm leads readers on a journey from his humble beginnings in Rochester, New York, to the biggest stages in the world. He recounts his stint with Black Sheep, plus the ups and downs of working with guitarist Mick Jones in the band that made him famous.
From the diagnosis that nearly took his life to his solo career success and fascination for muscle cars, Gramm’s book is an honest portrayal of self-reflection from one of the greatest voices in rock history.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Gramm to discuss Juke Box Hero and get his thoughts on being inducted with Jones into the Songwriters Hall of Fame on June 13th.
You Can read my complete Guitar World interview with Lou by Clicking Here!
When I heard my very first KISS album back in the 1970′s, a seed was planted and I realized I wanted to be a rock star. I remember picking up my grandmother’s hand-held potato slicer (which kind-of resembled a guitar) and played it til my fingers bled. Which come to think of it, happened rather quickly. Those little metal tines sure were sharp.
In the mid 80′s, I seriously began working on my craft. I’d sit up in my bedroom and play guitar for hours after school. I even remember getting mad at myself if I fell short of my set goal and only practiced for 2 1/2 hours instead of three. I couldn’t let anything (not even dinner or mowing the grass) interfere with my progress. Whether it was trying to figure out the lead to ‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap’ by AC/DC or mastering a section from my guitar lesson music book, I accomplished it.
Back then, I had no fear.
It wasn’t until 1987 that I had my first chance to actually get out of the bedroom and play in front of an audience. I was the sole guitarist in the pit band for the school play and also performed the song “Flashdance” on stage with the school choir. That’s where it all began.
Over the next few years (oh, ok… decades… I’m 43) I played in no less than seven different bands with various degrees of success. I remember a lot of the lows, like playing hair metal in dive bars for 6 people. I also remember the high: performing in front of 6,000 people at Musikfest. But whether it was six or six thousand it didn’t matter. The message was the same:
I had no fear.
I’ve never really been concerned about playing my music in front of an audience. Nope, no stage fright here. Whether they loved it or hated it, I didn’t care. As Frankie said, I was doing it “my way”.
Which leads me to the real meat of this post.
Last month, me (along with a great friend and artist) had the opportunity to write and publish my first children’s book. I was interviewed by the local newspaper about it (piece of cake) and did an on camera, live TV interview (ok, I’ll admit, that one was a bit scary). I was even offered the opportunity to read my book to a group of children at a bookstore next week to help raise funds for a local organization, and I jumped at the chance. Not only would it be for a good cause, but it would also be a good outlet for the story. In retrospect though, as the day beins to draw closer, I’ve realized something:
I have fear.
There is something about reading in front of children that intimidates me. I could bring my guitar and sing songs all day long without worry. But reading a book (MY BOOK) is a whole different story (literally and figuratively). It’s funny to think that I can already tell I’ll be looking for reaction from their faces; hoping that my book will be worthy enough for them.
It’s odd how someone my age, who’s played so much music in front of people of all ages, would suddenly be nervous when it comes to a small amount of children. But I think I know the reason. When we’re kids, we discover early on how much it means to fit in with others. We all grow up wanting affirmation from our peers that what we’re doing is cool in their eyes. It’s important to kids that they feel a sense of belonging with each other, and I think one of the reasons for my own “cold feet” about reading the book has something to do with my subconscious mind still wanting to fit in too.
Regardless, I know the event is going to be fun and I’m really looking forward to it. Although some of my fear may rest with the fact that this whole experience is something completely new to me, I’m going to face it. For as is the case with music, the show must go on.
See you there.
A lot of people have been asking about my interview with Eve Tannery of WFMZ. So for those who may have missed it or just want to watch it again, here it is. Enjoy!
Thanks go out to Eve and everyone at WFMZ for taking the time to hear about the book.
You can read more of the “Doodle” story and purchase your own copy
by Clicking Here
I suppose it’s best to start from the beginning. It was somewhere in tenth grade when our paths crossed for the very first time. Now, thirty years is a long time to hold on to such memories but bear with me here. It was definitely the first year of high school; a time when the future seemed oh, so bright and the feeling of being in the home stretch of public education was finally starting to settle in.
Although I had just started playing guitar and dreamed of one day being the next Eddie Van-Halen, my original intent going into high school was to become a doctor. I had even taken some courses to help prepare me for my journey, including algebra and Latin. I really wanted to help people.
Anyway, I was sitting in tenth grade history class; a required subject, but one that I fell in love with right from the start. It was the only class in all of my years of education where I actually sat in the front row. I know this not because I was a nerd or anything (seriously, I wasn’t), but because last spring, Michele reminded me.
Michele, who also happened to be in the same class, could tell you exactly where I was sitting in proximity to her location and the classroom door. She has an amazing memory (in fact, when we reunited with each other last spring after too many years, it was one of the first things she pointed out remembering). I’m sure that if she thought long and hard about it, she could probably even tell you exactly what I was wearing. My guess is that it was a J’s Subs T-shirt and Lee jeans that I liked to wear religiously in those days.
High school years can be trying times, and mine were no different. But with all of the peer pressure and trying to find out where I fit in, I always found solace in art and music. And although we had never become friends and were nothing more than “another classmate” to each other, I do remember that Michele was also in my art class at one time too. Perhaps it was because she had written the word “Dokken” or “DIO” on her math book that jars my own memory about it. After all, she was a “metal head” too!
I always enjoyed doodling and writing poems in those days, never realizing what it might eventually turn into. But as the years went by, the hunger to become “Eddie” soon began to outweigh the desire to take the Hippocratic Oath, and music and art would become my life.
After high school was over, Michele and I both went our own separate ways. She would go on to become an educator and artist. As for me well, I did what most struggling musicians often do: bounce from job to job, attend community colleges and play the occasional bar gig or party. Eventually, I was able to balance my love of art with steady, full time employment.
Over the years, I have been extremely blessed to have been able to write and record my own songs and interview many of my favorite musicians for news articles, but there was always another dream I had running in the back of my mind: to one day write a book of my own. But as is often the case, life always seems to have other intentions and the dream would always wind up being placed on the back burner. Then last year, I began to have this idea for a rhyming story about a little girl and a dog. It was a spiritual story; one where both characters wonder about how things were made. The time was finally right. It was something I knew I had to do, but what I really needed was someone to come in and do the hard part: the illustrations. That’s when fate stepped in.
With our “big” 25th high school reunion approaching, the class of 1987 students began reuniting with each other via Facebook. It was there that Michele and I connected again. She was now living in Ohio but mentioned that she was going to be visiting the area and (along with another amazing friend) we all hooked up for dinner one night. I bounced the idea off of Michele, who coincidentally, also had the same dream of publishing a book. After a series of back and forth emails and months of organizing, proof-reading and spell-checking, “Doodle” finally came to life. It may be a children’s book about innocence, spirituality and wonder, but on a personal level, it’s also about friendship, reunions and good memories.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Shortly after the release of the book, Michele asked me if it were possible to donate her share of the profits of the book to her friend, whose daughter Ashley has been ill for quite some time. Ashley will soon require a bone marrow transplant and her medical bills are astronomical. Without hesitation, I decided the best thing to do was to donate 100% of all of the profits we make from the book to Ashley.
Check out the video of my interview discussing the Story Of Doodle and our mission:
The cost of each book is $7 and can be purchased online via Create Space or Amazon.Com. Depending upon where you order, we will receive a different royalty rate per copy. If you order through Create Space, we receive a royalty of $1.95 for each book. Purchasing through Amazon’s website will give us a royalty of .55 cents per copy ordered.
If you get a chance, please check out our “Doodle” Facebook page. Even if you don’t purchase the book, please consider giving the page a “Like” and share it to help raise some awareness. We’d greatly appreciate it!
Because in the end, while creating this book has fulfilled a life-long dream for both Michele and I, there is nothing greater than accomplishing that dream than with a true purpose.
For more information about Ashley’s Army Click Here
Click here to purchase your own copy of “Doodle”.
Chris “Breeze” Barczynski is a true success story. Born and raised in small rural Pennsylvania towns, he aspired to one day play professional football, but fate had other intentions.
In the early 90′s (following a devastating football injury while playing in London) he returned home to discover his true calling did not lie on the grid iron but rather with a microphone and a guitar.
For the next twenty years, Breeze would sing lead vocals and perform with a variety of bands like “The Honey Buzzards”, “Sweet Brother Rush” and “Citizens of Contrary Knowledge”. During that time, he not only opened up for some of the biggest names in music, but also licensed his songs to hit television shows, became a semi-finalist on Star Search and even sang as a regular on the hit TV show, The Singing Bee.
Now, after spending the last dozen years honing his craft in the New York City area, the former Lehigh Valley, PA resident is ready for another change. He’ll soon be making the move to California in search of new adventures and inspiration. He’s also in the process of finishing a book about his life experiences thus far.
I spoke with Breeze about his days performing in the local music scene as well as his forthcoming book chronicling the life of a music man.
Tell me a little about your upbringing.
CB: I was born in Reading, PA and went to grade school in and around the Hershey area. I came up playing trumpet and drums and when I was in 6th grade, we moved to the Lehigh Valley. I knew that in order to get to college, I was going to have to pay my own way, so I played sports. I played football, ran track and wound up going to college on an academic scholarship with every intention of having a professional football career.
When did music become your main focus?
CB: I played professionally for two years in England in the Budweiser League (before it became the World League) and suffered a severe knee injury that ended my childhood dream. I returned to the U.S. and sank into a deep depression. I was 23 years old and beginning to think that I had nothing to live for.
Then one night, I went to an open mic blues jam in Dayton, Ohio and sang a Muddy Waters song. That experience rekindled my love of music; which literally saved my life. I came back to the Lehigh Valley in 1991 and auditioned for a blues band. Soon after that, I started The Honey Buzzards and we played the area from 1994-2000.
What are some of the best moments you remember from that time?
CB: We got to open for a lot of great acts like Green Day, Collective Soul, Blue Öyster Cult and Kansas. We opened up for Sugar Ray in front of 12,000 people. We also opened for Hootie and The Blowfish on the same day that the video for their song “Hold My Hand” had its world premiere. I remember standing with Darius Rucker staring at the television screen and watching it for the very first time. That was a cool experience. We wound up signing with a management group who had worked with bands like LIVE and Fuel. We had some success with a song called “Fighting Gravity” and almost won a record deal through Garage Band.
What did you find most difficult about those days?
CB: We were trying to be an original band but were playing in cover rooms. That was the catch 22. With our management, you had to either be cover or original. Trying to do both was difficult. We were always walking the fine line between original and cover band and it was really confusing people. So, we decided to change the name of the band to “Sweet Brother Rush” to try to secure a deal. We came close, but it didn’t work out.
Why did you eventually make the move to New York City?
CB: I really wanted to put together the band that I had always dreamed of. A band where everyone respected each other as both men and musicians. One without ego and a band that just made great music: Citizens of Contrary Knowledge. We’ve had great success; licensing songs to things like Showtime’s “The Tudors” and a few indie films as well. Nickelodeon also licensed our entire CD for two of their kid shows: “Drake and Josh” and “Zoey 101″.
Tell me about how you wound up on The Singing Bee.
CB: In addition to Citizens of Contrary Knowledge, I was also been performing with a 22-piece big band that did a lot of corporate events around the country. Through that band, I met a keyboard player named Russ Graham who ended up becoming the Assistant Music Director on The Singing Bee. They were in LA trying to audition singers for the show, but it just wasn’t working out. So, Russ called me up one day and told me that the gig would be perfect for me. He said, “Do whatever you can to get here. We need you!” [laughs]
From all of my years playing cover music, I have about 2,000 songs running in my head that I know the lyrics to and can sing along with. Because of knowing so many, I just knocked it out of the park. I met with music director Ray Chew, who I’ve also worked with on several other projects since. When I get to LA, I’m going to reconnect with him and also look at putting together another band on the west coast.
Have you ever taken vocal lessons?
CB: I haven’t. I came up singing a lot of rhythm and blues and my voice blended well for that genre. There was a time though where I did reach out to a vocal coach to learn proper technique and taking care of the voice. I remember there were situations where I was playing 6-7 nights a week with The Honey Buzzards and at one point, I did 12 one night shows in a row. It was a lot of driving around and singing and that put a lot of strain on my voice.
How about your guitar playing?
CB: That’s a work in progress. I picked it up a long time ago when I first started playing in the Valley. I consider myself a singer who plays guitar. It’s the only instrument that I write with.
What’s your songwriting process like?
CB: There’s no real formula for it. Some songs I’ve written in ten minutes and others, I’m still writing ten years later. I’m more into being a lyricist and writing melodies and find it easier to write with a co-writer who plays piano or guitar. I love collaborating.
Tell me a little about your new book.
CB: It’s called “The Chronicles of the Music Man“. I grew up in the small towns of Pennsylvania and was taught certain things by my parents and teachers, as well as by government and idols. I’ve gotten to a point in my life now where I know most of what I was told or learned about was just bullshit. The book is my attempt at taking people through the “Forrest Gump” stories of my life. Explaining what I thought before, what I went through and learned and why I may not necessarily believe what I did before. I want to take people through that process and maybe get them to think a little differently about the world. It contains surreal stories of my life and the lessons I’ve learned from them as well as lyrics and poetry. I’m also recording a CD of music inspired by the stories to accompany the book. I’m editing it now, and hope to have it out in the next few months.
Godspeed to you Breeze on your next adventure!
Article first published as Winds Of Change: The Chronicles of Singer Chris “Breeze” Barczynski on Technorati.
This may come as a shock to you, but the truth is I’m not quite as hip as you think. At least, I never used to be. Oh sure, I write and play music and all of that fun stuff. But there are some things about me that you probably wouldn’t believe.
Here are just a few of them:
1. I’ve never EVER listened to (or owned for that matter) a single Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin album from start to finish. Nope, not one. I know, you’d think that a guy my age who plays guitar would have at least spent his early years immersing himself in every nuance of a Hendrix or Page solo. But in reality, I’ve not so much as spent a minute learning a single note. And although I’ve heard their songs played over and over on the radio, I’ve never actually purchased an album or listened beyond what filled the airwaves when there was nothing else on.
2. I’ve never watched a single episode of any of today’s hit television shows. People “ramble on” (did you like that Zeppelin reference?) about how funny shows like Two And A Half Men (both with Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher), How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family are. But when prime time rolls around on television; well, let’s just say that I always have something better to do.
I was about to mention that the same goes for my choice of literature. From the very beginning, my reading material had only consisted of comic books, guitar magazines and Stephen King novels. About the only time any literature of “culture” came my way was when it was forced upon me in high school english classes.
Novels like George Orwell’s “1984″ and “Animal Farm” found their way into my possession during those years, and I certainly do remember having to do book reports on them. But honestly, I couldn’t tell you a single thing about them. In fact, I don’t even remember “reading” them at all. My way of thinking was always: if it didn’t have a superhero, a guitar god or some kind of monster in it, it wasn’t on my reading list.
But in the past 24 hours, that officially changed.
Yesterday, I finished “Of Mice And Men” by John Steinbeck. A book written in 1937 by a guy who won the Nobel Prize for Literature. That last sentence alone would usually be enough to have me running for the hills, but considering that the story was only 105 pages and I’ve always wanted to see what all the hub bub was about, I decided to give it a go. And I was glad I did.
I won’t bore you with the details of the story (aside from encouraging you to read it, if you haven’t), but I will tell you that I’ve discovered a whole new realm of wonder. Things that I had previously thought were dull, boring and dated have suddenly become new, interesting and exciting. It’s opened up a whole new way of thinking for me and has gotten me out of the “box” I was in.
In a way, I think I’ve hit the lottery. I’ll be able to read “1984″ and “Animal Farm” with new found perspective. I can also buy a Jimi Hendrix or Led Zeppelin album and listen to them freshly for the first time. All of the classic things I should have allowed myself to be exposed to long ago will be new to me.
I must say that I’m a bit embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to come to my senses. But I can’t wait to explore everything that’s always been right under my nose.
Dave Rose runs Deep South Entertainment, a successful business and artist management company that’s been around since 1995.
Over the years, he’s worked with some big names, including Michael Sweet, Bruce Hornsby, Marcy Playground and Allison Moorer, to name just a few.
Rose’s own musical journey began as others often do: with a guitar and a dream. But shortly after he began regularly performing in bands, he discovered his true calling relied less on the art of making music and more on the act of helping others learn from the experiences he’s had. Thankfully, he’s shared that knowledge in an amazing new book.
Everything I Know About The Music Business I Learned From My Cousin Rick: The Musician’s Practical Guide To Success is a mouthful of a title, but it’s also one of the best books a musician can read on how to really become successful in their craft and enjoy the moments along the way.
Based upon the epiphany he had when his cousin (Rick) played him the first Boston album, Rose’s book is part “biography” and part “how-to.” It’s also a valuable resource for musicians of all levels.
If it’s something a band is going through now — or has done in the past, Rose has been through it. From writing songs and booking gigs to recording albums and creating a fan base, Rose shows you how to achieve real success in music. Success that’s not measured by the number of albums sold or the money earned from gigs, but rather from the goal that anyone who’s ever picked up an instrument should have in the first place: the desire to make great music.
Novice musicians will find plenty of informative information on things to avoid when building up their band; while those with more experience may find themselves looking into a mirror at times as they turn the pages. In either case, Dave’s book is a fast, fun read.
I had the chance to speak with Dave about his new book and some of the lessons he’s learned along the way. – Read the complete article here.