When singer-songwriter Christopher Cross unveiled his self-titled debut album in 1980, little did he know the impact it would have. With hits like “Ride Like The Wind,” “Sailing,” and “Never Be The Same,” the album went on to win five Grammy awards in 1981, including earning Cross the coveted Best New Artist and Album of The Year awards. A year later, Cross followed that success with an Academy Award win for Best Original Song with “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do),” from the movie, “Arthur.”
In the years since, Cross has released more than a dozen acclaimed albums, from 1983’s “Another Page” and hits like “All Right,” and “Think of Laura,” to recent albums like 2018’s “Take Me As I Am” and a limited-edition box set retrospective aptly titled “The Complete Works,” which celebrates his 40th anniversary as a recording artist.
On Tuesday, Cross will bring his signature sound and legacy of carefully crafted songs to an intimate performance at the State Theatre in Easton. Joining Cross that evening will be renowned Moody Blues guitarist and lead vocalist, Justin Hayward, who will be performing a selection of his own classic hits.
I recently spoke with Cross about his upcoming performance and more in this new interview:
Q. What can fans expect during your performance at The State Theatre?
Christopher Cross: I’m a singer-songwriter so for me it’s all about the songs and playing them for the fans. One thing about the show is that there are no tracks. I have an amazing group of musicians with me who are jazz trained and very high-level players and singers. It’s a sophisticated, high-production show as far as the music goes. I’ll be playing most of the first and second album and the hits that people know. I’ve made 12 albums over the years so I’ll also be playing selections from the other albums as well. This is our first time out this year and we’re really excited.
You can read the rest of my Morning Call interview with Christopher Cross by Clicking Here!
The Allentown Art Museum is the place to be when its groovy new exhibition, “Fashion as Experiment: The ’60s,” opens on Saturday, May 6.
The exhibit, which runs through Sunday, Sept. 24, explores clothing as a tool for change and focuses on the mid-1960s styles that offered young people of the era a laboratory for imagination and play as well as a growing sense of activism.
The new exhibition will be structured in two parts and will feature more than 100 garments and accessories from the museum’s vast collection, some of which by iconic designers such as Geoffrey Beene, Emilio Pucci, Bonnie Cashin, and André Courrèges.
A special preview night event will take place on Friday, May 5, from 6 to 8 p.m., that will include light refreshments as well as a disc jockey spinning the music of the 1960s. If you can’t make it on Friday, there will be a special member-only preview hour on Saturday, May 6, from 10 until 11 a.m. The day’s attendees will be able to take a tour of the exhibition with museum curator Claire McRee or can stop by the museum’s new kid-friendly Fashion Maker Station.
Visitors are encouraged to wear their own vintage-look clothing or bring along old garments and transform them into iconic ’60s tie-dyed fashion statements.
I recently spoke with Museum curator Claire McRee about the upcoming exhibition and more in this exclusive new interview.
Q: What was the inspiration behind the new exhibition, “Fashion as Experiment: The ‘60s”?
Claire McRee: We have a strong 1960s area in our fashion collection with a lot of depth and interesting garments. That was really the inspiration. Then as we thought about the issues and conversations that were happening during the 60s we realized a lot of the ideas about things like gender, race and the environment still resonate today. It felt like a great moment to take a closer look at this important era in history.
Read the rest of my Morning Call Interview with Claire McRee by Clicking Here!
For the last 20 years, Weisenberg Township native and Emmy-award winning TV personality, actor and fashion designer Carson Kressley has delighted legions of fans with his work on acclaimed shows like “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
On Saturday, Kressley will add yet another event to his entertainment roster when he returns to the Lehigh Valley to debut and host “Drag Queen Fight Night with Carson Kressley” at the Wind Creek Event Center.
Billed as a play on sports, drag and nightlife, the event features drag entertainers made popular through social media and from their appearances on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” Using their unique and extraordinary talents, performers Vanessa Vanjie Mateo, Kennedy Davenport, Angeria Paris VanMicheals, and Salina EsTitties will battle it out for bragging rights as well as a coveted, bedazzled championship belt. An after-party will immediately follow the event and will feature another “Drag Race” alum, Plastique Tiara, as guest DJ.
I recently spoke with Carson Kressley about “Drag Queen Fight Night,” his return to the Lehigh Valley and more in this exclusive new interview.
Q:“Drag Queen Fight Night” is going to be kind of a homecoming event for you. What can you tell me about your ties to the Lehigh Valley?
Carson Kressley: I’m a proud Northwestern Lehigh Tiger, Class of ’87 and always sing the praises of the Lehigh Valley. I loved growing up there and currently have a farm a little west of town. We actually have a lot of famous alum from the area. I went to the Emmys recently in Los Angeles and it was like an Allentown reunion. I got to see Christine Taylor, who was inducted into the Lehigh Valley Hall of Fame with me. I also saw Amanda Siegfried, who won an Emmy for her show, and got to reminisce with her about some Allentown stuff. It’s a beautiful area and a great place to grow up.
Read the rest of my Morning Call interview with Carson Kressley by Clicking Here.
It’s been a rough last few months for comedian Jay Leno. Last fall, the acclaimed TV late night show host and pioneering car enthusiast spent nine days in the hospital with severe burns following an incident while working on one of the hundreds of exotic cars in his vast collection.
This was prior to being involved in a motorcycle accident in January that left him with several broken bones. But as most comedians do, Leno is quick to make light of the unfortunate situations and even uses them as material in his stand-up routine.
At 72, Leno shows no signs of slowing down.
He’s currently fielding offers to continue his long-running series, “Jay Leno’s Garage,” and his acclaimed game show, “You Bet Your Life with Jay Leno,” has just been picked up for a third season. He’s also out on the road performing his classic standup comedy, which will see him pay a visit to The State Theatre in Easton at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
I recently spoke with Jay Leno about his performance in Easton, his recovery, the current state of comedy and more in this exclusive new interview.
You can read my complete Morning Call Interview with Jay Leno By Clicking Here.
With more than 50 million albums sold and having an enviable reputation as both an artist and for his wit and raconteur, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Rick Wakeman should delight his fans when he performs “An Evening With Rick Wakeman: His Music And Stories” at the Wind Creek Event Center on Thursday.
The one-man event gives Wakeman the opportunity to perform selections from his vast 50-plus-year musical catalog as well as share anecdotes from his early days as a session player right up to the present day. Included will be selections from Wakeman’s time arranging and performing keyboards on hits like David Bowie’s Life On Mars, as well as his groundbreaking stint with the progressive rock band Yes, and his own multi-platinum solo albums.
An Evening with Rick Wakeman: His Music and Stories promises to be a show filled with musical memories and riotous reflection from a true rock legend.
I recently spoke with Rick Wakeman about his plans for his Wind Creek performance and more in this exclusive interview.
What do you enjoy most about these one-man shows as opposed to performing in a group ensemble?
Rick Wakeman: I don’t really prefer one over the other, I do shows with orchestras, band shows, band shows with orchestras and even one-man and two-man shows with my son, Adam. They’re all different and I love them all. I think the reason why is because I’m not doing the same thing all the time. I’m a people person and it’s great to just be in a room with a lot of people and playing away.
What can fans expect from your upcoming performance at Wind Creek Event Center?
Wakeman: It’s a one-man show where it’s just me, a piano, a couple of keyboards and a microphone. I’ll play music from all the eras I’ve been involved with in my life and the people I’ve played with, such as David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Yes [obviously], some of my own stuff, and a few surprises. In between, I’ll tell ludicrous stories. Some of which, possibly, have some resemblance of truth to them. You never know.
Read the rest of my Morning Call Interview with Rick Wakeman By Clicking Here.
Now in her sixth decade as a multitalented artist and performer, Marie Osmond is showing no signs of slowing down. Her latest album, 2021’s Unexpected, debuted at #1 on the Billboard’s Classical Crossover chart. An album that showcases Osmond’s versatility in performing everything from opera to The Great American Songbook.
Osmond first rose to fame in 1973 at the tender age of 12 with the release of her debut album, Paper Roses. Three years later she would find herself, along with brother Donny, as co-hosts of one of the most popular variety shows in television history, “Donny & Marie.”
Osmond is currently performing a small run of shows, which includes a stop at the Wind Creek Event Center in Bethlehem on Friday. Longtime fans can expect to hear many of the songs and stories that made Osmond one of the most iconic artists in the world.
In addition to these select run of shows, Osmond is also planning to join in the 40th anniversary celebration of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which to date has raised more than $8 billion for children. Osmond is one of the co-founders of the nonprofit organization.
I recently spoke with Marie Osmond about her upcoming show in Bethlehem, her career and more in this exclusive interview.
What can fans expect from your performance at the Wind Creek Event Center?
Osmond: You’ll get to see six decades of my career along with multiple singing styles and genre performances with my fantastic band. There will also be lots of video and interaction with the audience. David Osmond will also be there, who’s a phenomenal entertainer. I had him perform in my Christmas shows. His story is unbelievable. I really enjoy these shows and think it’s a good time for people to get out and live again. It’s a fun show and I think people are going to have a really good time.
When Sabrina Joseph began her musical theater journey, it was in the production of “Hairspray” during her time at Dieruff High School. She’d later go on to participate in the State Theatre’s annual Freddy Awards and take part in the ceremony’s opening and closing performances.
The Dieruff and DeSales University graduate will be making a homecoming visit on Saturday, Feb. 18, to The State, this time as part of the touring production of, ironically enough, “Hairspray.”
Set in the 1960’s, “Hairspray” tells the story of 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad (Niki Metcalf) as she dances her way onto TV’s most popular show and winds up changing the world. The show features a beloved musical score and a talented ensemble cast that also includes Andrew Levitt and Sandie Lee.
Joseph’s role in the touring production is that of a swing, an important position that requires her to master multiple parts. Slightly different than an understudy, Joseph is an offstage performer who goes on often at a moment’s notice if someone in the ensemble is unable to do so.
I recently spoke with Joseph about the upcoming “Hairspray” performance and her local ties to the Lehigh Valley and State Theatre in this exclusive interview.
What can fans expect from the upcoming Hairspray tour stop at The State Theatre?
Sabrina Joseph: You can expect a great show with a lot of fun energy, moving moments and, at the end, a big dance party.
What can you tell me about your role in this touring production?
Joseph: I’m a swing for the show, which is an understudy for the ensemble members. My role is to learn multiple ensemble roles and be ready to go on for them at any given time due to someone going on vacation, being sick, or has an injury. Sometimes I may have two days’ notice, but often times it may be hours before the show or even while the show is happening.
Over the course of his nearly 50-year career, Mandy Patinkin has established himself as one of the legends of stage and screen. His accolades include a Tony Award win for his debut performance as Che in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Evita,” as well as an Emmy for his role on the CBS series, “Chicago Hope.” Patinkin also spent eight seasons in the role of CIA agent Saul Berenson on Showtime’s acclaimed series, “Homeland.”
On Saturday, the self-described mailman storyteller, along with pianist Andy Ben-David, will take to the intimate stage of The State Theatre in Easton, to perform Patinkin’s latest concert experience, “Being Alive.” A show Patin
kin describes as a celebration of living, learning and loving.
I recently spoke with Mandy Patinkin about his upcoming performance and more in this exclusive new interview.
Q: How did your new concert experience, “Being Alive,” come about?
Patinkin: I had a previous concert called “Diaries” that I did before the pandemic. Times were a little dark then and, although I loved it, it was a bit of a dark concert. When we were coming out of the pandemic and deciding to get back on the road I said, “I need a concert that makes me and my audience feel happy.” So I went through 13 hours of archival material that I had in my repertoire over the years and we put together a happy, fun evening. I called it “Being Alive” because that’s the great privilege of being 70 years old and still waking up every morning. To say nothing of the fact that I get to do what I love and have fun.
I hope this letter finds you well. I was having a bit of trouble trying to find the right words to say as I wrote it. It’s not every day you try to put into words just how much an old high school teacher means to you. Yeah, I know, it’s been more than thirty-five years since I was a student walking those hallowed halls but believe it or not, you’re still the first person who comes to mind whenever I think about my high school experience.
Back then, you had a saying you liked to use whenever someone was having a problem. Whether it was something as simple as a homework assignment, peer pressure, or even trouble at home, whenever someone was having an issue, you’d pull that person aside and say, “Talk to me.” Those three words became your mantra, and I guess in a way that’s what I’m doing now, talking to you.
I never told you this before, but you played a huge role during the most fragile and formative years of my young life. Like so many other teenagers trying to find their place in the world, I didn’t fit in well in high school, but your choir class was the one place I could go where I felt like I completely belonged. You taught me how to sing and how to release the song from inside my soul. Most of all, you made me feel valued.
I remember the awkward feeling I had walking into your music room every morning and seeing you surrounded by a gaggle of students. All of them eagerly asking you questions about last night’s music theory assignment or trying to get your opinion on a selected piece of music they chose for their district chorus audition. You seemed like a celebrity and the class was your fanbase. Sometimes I had questions of my own to ask but was too shy to do so. It wouldn’t be until after class had ended that I’d pull you side and tell you about my interest in majoring in music at the same state college as you.
I hadn’t seen you since the night of my graduation in 1987. If I’m being honest, I also hadn’t given you much thought at all, that is until almost two decades later when someone told me about the adult choir you were directing once a week in a chapel on the far side of town. This was shortly after you’d retired from teaching, and long after I’d given up on my own dream of becoming a professional musician.
Call it nostalgia but I had an urge, a tickle in my stomach of wanting to be part of something special. By then, I’d already had a family of my own and was long established in a busy career in information technology. Something like the prospect of singing in a choir with you seemed too good to be true, but regardless of any scheduling concerns, I needed to make time, if only for myself.
I still remember the familiar feeling of awkwardness when I walked into church that night for that first rehearsal. As usual, you were already in conversation with a few people and didn’t see me approaching. I felt a knot in the pit of my stomach. Part of me wanted to turn and run, not because I wasn’t sure of what to say, but because I’d already started second guessing myself again. It had been years since I’d sung in a choir. Would I even know what to do?
I also wondered if you’d even remember me. I was one of thousands of students you had taught over your thirty-three-year teaching career. It had been decades and the skinny, introverted, long-haired student who once sat before you in the corner of the room was now a full-blown middle-aged man. Less hair on his head and, sadly, a bit thicker in the middle. Somehow, I was able to muster up the courage and nervously tapped my hand on your shoulder.
“Hello, M” I said, meekly. “Do you remember me?”
I will never forget the look of joy on your face when you turned around and saw me standing there. It was as if the Prodigal Son, who had been through the confusion of life and adult responsibility, had suddenly found his way back home. Here I was, once again the fragile student now stuck in an adult body, and there you were, still carrying the age and wisdom of years just like me, but with the same wit and energy I loved while sitting in your music theory classes.
“Oh my gosh!” you exclaimed as you shook my hand, firmly. “It’s been a long time.”
You told me to call you “Ed” that night because your name was Ed Milisits and we were now both adults. I did but truthfully didn’t want to. That bond of teacher-student was still very strong. For me, and I think for most everyone who ever had the pleasure of being one of your students, you were known as a single letter of the alphabet:
I spent the next ten years spending Tuesday nights in the choir under your direction. One year, I mustered up the courage to suggest a piece of music to do that we performed my senior year of high school. You were excited about the possibility but let me know that it was a bit of a long-shot because approval was needed by the music committee. It took a few more years but one morning, ironically thirty years after last performing the piece in high school, I received an email from you:
“Thought you’d be interested to know that ‘Os Justi’ is on the Winter program list! We WIN!”
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and the world shut down, the choir went on hiatus. It was also a time when I was going through a lot of personal issues and you were facing your own challenges as well. Ones that made mine look small in comparison. Although I did email quite a few times to see how you were, I always respected your need for privacy.
It’s hard to believe that today makes a full a year that you’ve been gone. Sometimes I’ll see a post pop up in my Facebook memories and read your comments about it. That will, inevitably, get me to thinking about you and our conversations in the high school choir room or the adult choir rehearsal hall. It puts a smile on my face but I wish there was a chance to have one more conversation with you. Until then, I suppose this one-sided letter will have to do. Someday, God-willing, I’ll have the honor of sitting in your choir again.
M, just know that you are missed dearly, not just by me but by the generations of people who had the pleasure of sitting in one of your classrooms or choirs. You taught us to believe in ourselves, to laugh and, most importantly, to raise our voices in song.
It’s sometimes hard to believe that we’re at the end of another year, let alone that we’re in the third decade of the 21st century. I still remember when I got my very first laminated school identification card back in September of 1981. On the back of it was a sticker that listed the year of what would be my high school graduation – 1987.
I remember staring at that card for a long time thinking about 1987 and, even though it was only six years, how far away it seemed to be. For some perspective – this past year, 2022, I attended my 35th high school reunion.
A lot has happened over the course of these last twelve months. I’d like to spend these next few minutes giving you a list of my top five events of 2022.
#5 – The Loss of Favorite Teachers. Hey, I never said this list was going to only contain good things. Not only did 2022 mark the 25th anniversary of the death of my father, it was also the year I said goodbye to two of my favorite teachers. First was my favorite teacher in all of my schooling; my high school music theory and choir teacher, Edward Milisits, who died on January 8th. I could easily write an entire book on how Mr. M and his classes affected my life. His influence was so popular that after his retirement from 30+ years of teaching, generations of former students (now adults) signed up to sing in his choir.
Then there’s my third grade teacher, Mrs. Tanzella, who passed away in November. Although I don’t have much recollection of her after I left the halls of Porter Elementary, I’ll never forget the day my brother and I rode on a float the Cub Scouts had made during our town’s annual Halloween parade. I had told Mrs. Tanzella how nervous and scared I was about riding and waving to people. As the route began and we made our way through town, I heard a woman’s voice calling my name. I looked and saw that it was Mrs. Tanzella, briskly walking behind the float; waving to me with a huge smile on her face. Seeing her put me at ease.
These days I can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, but 45 years later, I can still remember her doing that for me.
#4 – This one actually dates back to one year ago today, December 31st, 2021. The day I adopted Merlot, or Merle as he is known in my home. He had been part of a hoarding situation and I gave him a second chance at life. It took him nearly five days into 2022 to come out from under the bed. Today, he is my buddy.
#3 – Painting Holiday Watercolor Cards. As most of you know, I regularly watercolor. Most of them are 9×12 in size. For Christmas this year I was asked to paint a few 5×7 postcards to use as Christmas cards. I started out thinking I would only do a half dozen or so. Instead, I wound up doing 60 of them. I’m happy to say that, like Merle, all of the cards now have happy homes. Take a peek at them below:
#1 Graduating from College – It was a journey that actually began after graduating high school. It was August of 1987 when I entered college thinking I’d become a music teacher. The road would lead me to Penn State, Northampton Community College and West Chester University. All fizzled out and in 1990, I reluctantly entered the work force. When Covid struck in 2020 and we couldn’t go anywhere, I decided to gather all of my transcripts and see what, if anything, I could get. I was told that if I passed five courses I would receive an Associates Degree in General Studies. The quest began, and over the next year and a half I took Environmental Science, English II, Geology, Developmental Psychology and Nature of Mathematics, In May of 2022 I passed my last final and became an honors college graduate almost 35 years to the day after graduating high school. Framing the degree and putting it on my wall was the biggest accomplishment of all for me.
So, another year is about to pass. Along the way there have been a few ups & downs. Some days to remember, and some days to forget. But there’s a New Year ahead and new dreams to collect. So, I wish you one that’s full of health, contentment and most of all….love. Here’s to 2023.