- Dave Koz to Reunite With Original Christmas Tour Lineup for 20th Anniversary Concerts - Though his latest Christmas Tour is just underway, Dave Koz is already planning next year's trek -- which will mark 20 years since he first took the holiday package on the road. The saxophonist tells Billboard that to commemorate the anniversary he plans to reunite the original Christmas Tour crew of David Benoit, Peter White and Rick Braun in 2017. "A lot of very wonderful energy will be on that, kind of make it full circle," Koz says. "I never thought in a million years we'd be doing it this long. There's a familiarity thing that happens with this music; People hold on to these traditions and somehow we've become part of a lot of people's traditions. It's amazing. The most surprised person about this whole thing is me. I think it deserves to have a celebration of some sort, so next year will be very special."
Koz is high on this year's Christmas Tour, too, of course, which features Jonathan Butler, Valerie Simpson and Kenny Lattimore on a 24-tour itinerary that wraps Dec. 22 in San Jose. Koz notes that it's the first time he's featured three vocalists, and in the contentious wake of this year's presidential election the shows seem to be providing a bit of balm to the crowds so far. "There's such a warmth and energy to these songs," Koz says. "They make people feel good, so innocent. Especially coming off this last couple months of just craziness and divisiveness, it's so reassuring. It does a lot of good for all of our hearts on stage to see people melting a little bit and letting their guard down and hopefully be a little kinder in the holiday season and the new year. We need more of that, common kindness."
Koz, who's released three holiday albums, says his plans for the tour's 20th anniversary may also include some studio time. "I would love to go in the studio and record with the guys, maybe do a little retrospective and some new music," he notes. He's also planning to work on a new album of his own in the new year, although Koz hasn't "narrowed in" on what direction he'll take. Meanwhile, he's also still buzzing about being the special guest on Barry Manilow's One [Last] Time! Tour during the past couple of years, which brought new fans to Koz's own shows. "I just met up with some Manilow fans the other night in Naples," Koz says. "They were there and came backstage and said, 'We saw you with Barry in Florida. This is our first Christmas show and we won't miss any more in the future.' So touring with (Manilow) was an amazing experience for me. He went above and beyond to truly make his fans really aware of me. It was really sweet. I don't know if he'll ever do a big tour like that again, but I'm happy to play with him any time he wants." (Yahoo! News, 12/5/2016)
- Dave Koz at Andiamo, 5 Things To Know - With 19 years of an annual holiday tour in his pocket, Dave Koz has become one of entertainment’s kings of Christmas. Not bad for a nice Jewish boy from Los Angeles. Nevertheless, the saxophonist has spent most of the past two decades gathering some musical friends and hitting the road playing seasonal favorites. The enterprise has outlasted the Smooth Jazz tag Koz and company once labored under and is now [just] an accepted, and expected, part of the annual December Christmas parade... Koz still carries warm memories about being on the road with Barry Manilow during his “One More Time! Tour last year and this. "I just met up with some Manilow fans the other night in Naples," Koz says. "They were there and came backstage and said, 'We saw you with Barry in Florida. This is our first Christmas show and we won’t miss any more in the future.' So touring with (Manilow) was an amazing experience for me. He went above and beyond to truly make his fans really aware of me. It was really sweet. I don’t know if he’ll ever do a big tour like that again, but I’m happy to play with him any time he wants." If You Go: Dave Koz Christmas Tour with Jonathan Butler, Kenny Lattimore and Valerie Simpson. 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 7. Andiamo Celebrity Showroom, 7096 E. Foruteen Mile Road, Warren. Tickets are $25-$175. Call 586-268-3200 or visit andiamoitalia.com. (The Oakland Press, 12/5/2016)
- How Joni Mitchell's 'River' became a Christmas classic - Michael Ball, a British stage actor and singer, was watching a performance of traditional Christmas music at a London drama school several years ago when the students unwrapped Joni Mitchell’s "River." Ball said he was somewhat startled, given that the classic 1971 confessional isn’t really a Christmas song ... "River" is a bereft song about a broken romance and a woman who desperately wants to escape her heartbreak, saying repeatedly: "I wish I had a river I could skate away on." The despairing drama just happens to be set around the holidays.
[Ball] recorded a version of "River" for his holiday album, "Christmas." At the time, he thought he was a maverick for placing the song alongside the likes of "Silent Night" and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." As it turns out, plenty of artists have been dreaming of a very, very blue Christmas over the last two decades: "River" - originally featured on Mitchell’s melancholy 1971 masterwork, "Blue" - has become a seasonal favorite ... "We needed a sad Christmas song, didn’t we?" Mitchell said with a chuckle on NPR in 2014.
"River" has long been a popular cover among musicians, more than 500 of whom have recorded it for commercial release. Countless others have performed it in concert ... Mitchell’s composition has been included on dozens of Christmas albums, from Barry Manilow’s "A Christmas Gift of Love" and Tracey Thorn’s "Tinsel and Lights" to Sarah McLachlan’s Grammy-nominated "Wintersong" and Megan Hilty’s new "A Merry Little Christmas."
Various versions of "River" have become hits on the radio stations that play Christmas music and nothing else around the holiday, making Mitchell’s tune one of the rare "new" entries in the Christmas canon, alongside Mariah Carey’s "All I Want for Christmas Is You." "It’s the most beautiful, like, sad Christmas-time song I’ve ever heard in my life," country singer Ashley Monroe recently told A.V. Club. "Every time I sing it I kind of cry a little on the inside." "River" has become popular in Hollywood, too, featuring in the seasonally set movie "Love Actually," in a Christmas scene in "You’ve Got Mail," and in shows from "Glee" and "Ally McBeal" to "E.R.," which used McLachlan’s ethereal version of the song in a dark, holiday-themed episode...
Mitchell told NPR in 2014 that the song is about "taking personal responsibility for the failure of a relationship." "And my generation is known to be a Peter Pan, narcissistic generation ... So it's really that aspect of our inability - 'I'm selfish and I'm sad.' People think that's confessional, but I'd say, in my generation, you think that that's a unique personal statement? ... No wonder there's so many covers of it!" (Washington Post, 12/7/2016)
- The Holiday Albums That Topped the Charts Each Year Since 1987 - With Thanksgiving in the rear view, it's now socially acceptable for those who are so inclined to listen to nothing but holiday tunes from now until Dec. 25th. If for some reason you aren't already deeply attached to a particular set of holiday albums, consult our list to begin your holiday music education. PrettyFamous, an entertainment data site by Graphiq, pulled data from Billboard's Holiday Albums charts to find the holiday albums that topped the rest each yuletide season... Holiday Season '87-'88: "A Very Special Christmas" by Various Artists ... Holiday Season '88-'89: "A Fresh Aire Christmas" by Mannheim Steamroller ... Holiday Season '89-'90: "Merry Merry Christmas" by New Kids On The Block ... Holiday Season '90-'91: "Because It's Christmas" by Barry Manilow ... (Tucson.com, 12/6/2016)
- Annenberg theater wows on opening night - Singer-Actress Megan Hilty has thousands of fans from her break-neck-speed career encompassing some 24 TV appearances on shows such as Bones, The Closer, Desperate Housewives and Ugly Betty; plus 10 films, including "Sally" and "Rules Don't Apply" ... And now, judging by last week's applause, Megan has won another 400 + fans who attended the sold-out Opening Night Benefit Concert at the Annenberg Theater in the Palm Springs Art Museum. The sponsors of this lavish event were also treated like stars, beginning with Annette Bloch, who was the Annenberg Theater Council and Diamond Row Sponsor. Close behind came Gold sponsors Donna MacMillan and Arlene Schnitzer & Jordan Schnitzer and Silver sponsor Harold Matzner...
Megan Hilty is one of those performers who makes you feel like you've known her – and loved her – all her life. Between her oldies but goodies numbers like "Someone To Watch Over Me" she chatted intimately with the audience about her life .... "I wanted to be an opera star" ... "That handsome guitar player is my husband and the father of our little girl" ... and (explaining her slightly pudgy figure) I'm five months pregnant .... we only get pregnant when we're coming to Palm Springs." Her show-stopping numbers included "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend" and a magnificent arrangement of "Autumn Leaves" ... Barry Manilow [was] in the audience.
It is a long-standing tradition for the Annenberg's opening to be held early in the evening, followed by a reception upstairs in the main gallery of the Palm Springs Art Museum ... A major topic of conversation this year was the Annenberg's "Take Your Seat" fundraiser which offers sponsors the opportunity to purchase the seats of their choice for $1,000 and have a name plaque on it, identifying it as theirs’ – forever! ... The proceeds of this program will be used for major renovations to the theater, its equipment, and décor. The Annenberg Theater is located on the ground floor of the Palm Springs Art Museum at 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. Information: 760-325-4490 or Annenbergtheater.org. (The Desert Sun, 12/3/2016)
- Dave Koz continues Christmas tradition at Plaza - Some might say it wouldn't be Christmas without Santa, but in El Paso, it's not Christmas until Dave Koz comes to town. The nine-time Grammy Award-nominated saxophonist’s annual Christmas Tour stop at the Plaza Theatre has become an El Paso holiday tradition over the last 10-plus years. "El Paso is like a second home for me," Koz said in a phone interview from California, where he, his band and his special guests were rehearsing for the tour, which kicks off Friday in Sarasota, Fla. The Dave Koz Christmas Tour returns to the Plaza Theatre on Dec. 13 ... In 2015, Koz celebrated his 25th anniversary as a recording artist. He continued that celebration into 2016 with two tours that were near and dear to him. The first was a tour that started in 2015 in which he opened up for and performed alongside one of his favorite artists, Barry Manilow. "As a monstrous Manilow fan, I got a chance to travel with him and really get to know him," Koz said. "He was kind enough to let me travel in his airplane (from show to show); it was so rock 'n' roll, you have no idea." Koz said that returning to an opening slot on a tour helped him get back to a space he hadn’t been to in a long time -- going out each night and giving his all in order to prove himself to an audience that was there to see somebody else perform. "For me it’s always been about trying to ... get more people into the tent; I don’t think any artist is ever done with that," Koz said. "The fans were open and kind and welcoming to us. Barry went out of his way to make sure (his fans) knew how important we were to him." Then Koz received another chance of a lifetime -- the opportunity to tour with his childhood hero, saxophonist David Sanborn. The duo hit the road together last summer for their Back to Back Tour, sharing the stage together on the road for the first time... (El Paso Times, 11/22/2016)
- The 20 Best Daft Punk Songs - Daft Punk is one of the most influential musical acts of the last 20 years. Dance and electronic music defines the musical movement of our era. It's leaked into rock, rap and even country. It is the pop sound of the day, and Daft Punk has most certainly played a heavy hand in that sonic domination ... Pick any Daft Punk song or album from its 20-year history, and it sounds good enough to be released tomorrow. Daft Punk is conceptual, simple, cinematic, and timeless. Ranking this music is almost impossible, but here are Billboard's top 20 favorites ... #13 Daft Punk Song - "Superheroes": What even is this song? It's got a beat so heavy, it is sometimes reminiscent of hardstyle's affront. The arpeggiated synth comes in like piñata candy that rains in slow motion. There are ray-gun pew pews, space-travel noises. There really is no other song like this I can think of, simultaneously anxiety-inducing and balls-to-the-wall fun. It is like the soundtrack to an interstellar superhero final fight. I spent my entire childhood trying to figure out what these lyrics were saying. Turns out, it's Barry Manilow singing "something's in the air," from his 1979 deep cut "Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed." One of life's great mysteries, finally solved. (Billboard via Yahoo!, 11/13/2016)
- Antenna TV Nov. 16: Tonight Show from 11/29/1985 - Antenna TV is scheduled to broadcast a classic episode of The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson from November 29, 1985 with guest appearances by singer Barry Manilow, actor Chevy Chase, actor Dan Aykroyd, and host David Letterman. (Antenna TV, November 2016)
- Manilow magic at Mansfield venue - Copacabana is to be performed by New Youth Theatre on November 15-16 at Mansfield’s Palace Theatre. Her name was Lola. She was a showgirl... Barry Manilow’s Grammy Award-winning song you never forgot is now brought to life on stage. A love letter to the technicolor musicals of the 1940s, Barry Manilow’s Copacabana presents the story of Lola, as told through the eyes of Stephen, a present day aspiring songwriter whose imagination takes him back to a time when music and passion were always in fashion. He dreams of Lola, fresh off the plane from Tulsa, who arrives in New York with showbiz aspirations. Tony is a bartender/composer who falls in love with Lola and helps her become a Copa Girl. While performing, Lola attracts the amorous attentions of Rico, who abducts her and takes her to his rival nightclub in Havana. Tony, with the help of his Copacabana friends, must now rescue Lola before... well, even if you know the song, there are still a few surprises. The New Youth Theatre concept is simple. Children between the ages of 3-17 years are taught how to develop and improve their performing arts skills whilst rehearsing for a fully staged musical each term. This unique approach to musical theatre brings children of all ages together to enjoy learning new skills, have fun and be on-stage! To join the energetic cast call 01623 406284 or visit www.newyouththeatre.co.uk/mansfield. For tickets for this production of Copacabana, call the box office on 01623 633133.(Eastwood Advertiser, 11 November 2016)
- Up and Out Plan Ahead ... Friday, Nov. 18 - Saturday, Nov. 19: West Burlington High School, 408 W. Van Weiss Boulevard, will present “Barry Manilow’s Copacabana” at 7:30 p.m. in the school auditorium. Door admission is $5. To learn more, call (319) 754-6567 or email email@example.com. (The Hawk Eye (Burlington, Iowa), 11/6/2016)
- Bette Midler’s 'The Divine Miss M Deluxe' - It’s been 44 years since Bette Midler released her debut album ... Midler has [an] edgier voice, as this deluxe reissue of her iconic The Divine Miss M debut record attests. It’s a voice full of emotion and humour and pain and longing and coquettishness and the album is suitably, wonderfully all over the place. Bette picked up the Divine nickname when she performed in the gay bathhouses of New York, with Barry Manilow accompanying her on the piano. A couple of years later this pint-sized sensation landed a record contract but, as Midler recalls in the new sleeve notes, the early recording sessions weren’t up to much. They were too polished so she went back and redid a lot of the tracks live, resulting in a record alive with Bette’s energy and emotion. Listened to now, in a masterful remaster, it still sounds fresh and iconoclastic, kicking off with a sultry "Do You Want To Dance" and ending with a chirpy "Friends." In between there are classics like "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and ballads like "Hello In There" plus a bonkers cover of "Leader Of The Pack" that speeds up, slows down, speeds up again and races to a noisy finish. Like the album as a whole it’s a bit mad, full of passion and something only Bette could pull off. The two-disc set comes with single edits, demos, alternate versions, and a fabulously glittery sleeve. (Attitude, 10/22/2016)
- Bette Midler Revisits Her Star-Making Songs - NEW YORK (AP) – Bette Midler is going back to the beginning of her career -- the divine beginning. The Grammy- and Emmy Award-winner is re-releasing a deluxe version of “The Divine Miss M,” her 1972 debut album that included the hits “Do You Want To Dance,” ”Chapel Of Love,” ”Friends” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” “They were the songs that launched me, really. They were the foundation on which I built my career,” Midler said. “I’m always happy to sing them because they’re friends. They’re old friends.”
Midler made a name for herself in the early 1970s singing high-energy concerts downtown with Barry Manilow as her pianist. In vintage clothing and with her bawdy personality, she breathed new life into old songs and made torch songs scalding. “She was, and is, the most brilliant performer we have in my lifetime,” Manilow said. “When it came to the music, her taste in songs and her choices were so odd — what was on the radio those days was nothing like what she wanted to do. Her taste was very much my taste.”
Midler and Manilow put together a solid hour of music and one night lured Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun to a swanky midtown nightclub to hear it. “The audience was so crazy that at the end of the show they carried her out on their shoulders,” Manilow recalled. Midler soon signed with Atlantic and released “The Divine Miss M” based on her act. She won a best new artist Grammy in 1973 and went on to get two more, plus four Golden Globes and three Emmys. This spring she returns to Broadway in a revival of the musical “Hello, Dolly!”
She admitted to being a little shocked revisiting the platinum-selling album that made it all possible 44 years later: “It’s just unbelievable the way that time passes. And yet I still look fabulous. What can I say?” Midler was hands-on with the re-release by Rhino Records, including selecting the bonus disc of singles, outtakes and demos. There are five unreleased recordings, including “Mr. Freedom And I,” and an alternate version of “Superstar.” She recalled that recording the album was stressful because co-producers Joel Dorn and Manilow didn’t get along: “In those days, I was really caught between a rock and a hard place. I couldn’t really stand up for myself.”
Dorn, who had produced Roberta Flack, was the first to take a crack at it. He threw out Manilow’s tried-and-true arrangements and started from scratch. When it was finished, Midler stopped by to play it for Manilow. “Sure enough, she sounded like Roberta Flack. She sounded beautiful and professional and boring,” said Manilow. “She was never boring. That’s the last word you would ever describe Bette Midler, especially in those days.” Manilow vowed to not let that album out -- “I was this young, punk musician but I believed so much in her,” he said -- and lobbied Ertegun to let him produce a handful of the songs his way. It was a bluff: He’d never produced an album.
Manilow tried to re-create a live vibe in the studio, inviting an audience and stringing some lights. “I wanted to get that wonderful personality on this record,” he said. “No, she didn’t sound like Roberta Flack.” His tracks were melded with Dorn’s for the final album. “Over the years she has sounded much better on other albums. But this album was so special and so unique and so individual and the performances are so brilliant -- they’re funny and they’re moving, just the way it should be,” said Manilow. “I was glad that I fought for her.” (CBS Dallas/Fort Worth, 10/17/2016)
- Copacabana at Drury High School - The high school fall theater season has begun. In addition to this Saturday's production of "Big Bad," at Wahconah Regional High School, here's a look at other recently announced shows in Berkshire County ... "Voices of Terror" [at] Taconic High School; Agatha Christie's "The Mousetrap" [at] Pittsfield High School; the annual Fall Festival of Shakespeare presented by Shakespeare & Company in Lenox; Seamus Heaney's "The Burial at Thebes" in the Tannery in New Lebanon, N.Y.... and Drury High School will present Barry Manilow's "Copacabana," on Dec. 1-3. Times and ticket prices to be announced. (Berkshire Eagle, 10/24/2016)
- Things You Don't Know About Tyler Perry - Madea is back! Tyler Perry’s alter ego spends Halloween fending off ghosts, ghouls and zombies - and shrieking “Help me, Jesus!” - in his new flick, Boo! A Madea Halloween. The Atlanta-based filmmaker, 47, scared up 25 interesting facts about himself exclusively for Us Weekly! ... #21. I love Barry Manilow’s music, and he’s a fan of my OWN show, The Haves and the Have Nots... (US Magazine, 10/24/2016)
- Property of legendary music artists to be auctioned - Julien’s Auctions, the world record-breaking auction house to the stars, has announced an extraordinary auction featuring a wide collection of property from the life and careers of some of the world’s most legendary and iconic artists of Rock n’ Roll. On Saturday, Nov. 5, Julien’s Auctions will offer collectors and fans the opportunity to bid on rarities that include property from Eric Clapton, Prince, The Beatles and much more ... The world was stunned on April 21, 2016 when they learned of the untimely death of Prince... Icons & Idols: Rock n’ Roll auction include Prince’s 1959 Gibson L48 guitar and two rare photos of Prince with the guitar ... Other incredible highlights of the auction include the only known Beatles “Hard Day’s Night” album that was signed on the front cover by all of The Beatles; John Lennon and Yoko Ono signed “Bed In” display photograph; Jimi Hendrix signed arrest documents ; Michael Jackson’s photoshoot worn sweater ... Barry Manilow back up singer’s costumes and albums (estimate: $800-$1,200) ... For more information, visit www.juliensauctions.com. (Norwalk Reflector, 10/10/2016)
- Bette Midler Expands Her Debut Album 'The Divine Miss M' - Bette Midler is going back to her beginnings and re-releasing her debut album The Divine Miss M(due October 21, 2016). The Divine Miss M was released in 1972 but it wasn't really the start of Midler's show business career. She had a non-speaking role in the 1966 film Hawaii and worked on in off Broadway including the role of Tzeitel in Fiddler on the Roof from 1966 to 1969. In 1970, Bette started playing regularly at the Continental Baths in New York's Ansonia Hotel with piano accompaniment by Barry Manilow. Her following steadily grew and, in 1972, she was signed to Atlantic records for her debut album, The Divine Miss M. The album had four producers, Manilow, Ahmet Ertegun, Joel Dorn and Geoffrey Haslam. Manilow was also the music arranger and conductor. Among the musicians on the album were Cissy Houston, Melissa Manchester, Ron Carter, Thom Bell, Dick Hyman and Arif Mardin. The album included a mix of older standards (Am I Blue?, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy), early rock songs (Chapel of Love, Leader of the Pack) and more contemporary material (Hello in There, Superstar, Delta Dawn). The album was a major hit, going to number 9 on the Billboard 200 and being certified platinum. Three singles also charted, Do You Want to Dance? (1972 / #17 / #8 Adult Contemporary), Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (1973 / #8 / #1 AC) and Friends (1973 / #40 / #9 AC). The new edition of the album comes on two-CDs with the first containing a remastered version of the original while the second includes four single versions of songs from the album plus five demos, alternates and demos, four of which are songs that didn't make the album. There are also new liner notes written by Midler. (Vintage Vinyl News, 9/10/2016)