Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bastard Jones' Rocktastic Demo

For the past two weeks, I've been in LA for the demo recording of my first--and definitely not last--Broadway musical, Bastard Jones. I say Broadway musical because it's obvious to everyone involved that's what it is, so why not put the universe on notice? Bastard Jones is rock adaptation of Henry Fielding's bawdy 18th century novel, The History of Tom Jones, a book so scandalous critics thought it caused earthquakes.

My collaborator, Amy Engelhardt of The Bobs, and I didn't encounter any earthquakes in California, but the band and the singers she gathered rocked not one but four different recording studios, thanks to the kindness and generosity of Bob DeMarco, Troy Dexter, CJ Vanston and Gary Stockdale. The demo will be available to hear next month, but here's the story so far:

First, Amy came to Portland for the month of July, during which time we wrote the entire first act in the basement of my friends David and Lisa Sloan's house while they were on vacation in Europe.

Amy wrote the music:

I wrote the book:

And we collaborated on the lyrics.

Proudest accomplishment: rhyming "papists" with "rapists."

Then it was off to LA and into the egg carton:

Here's Amy with our kick-ass band.

From left to right - Bob Malone, keyboards. Hiding behind Amy are Lynn Keller bass, and our first sound engineer, Steve McDonald. Then Adam Gust on drums and Troy Dexter on the geetar.

And Yours Happily in the studio with Yoda, who also guitar plays.

It's amazing how much recording talk ends up sounding dirty:

Where do you put the men's parts?
We're getting to much bottom end fuzz.
We need to get off faster.

Of course, it's not helped by the fact that we wrote a song called "Cock of the Walk," prompting legitimate musical conversations about needing cocks that are either bigger or longer.

After recording the band, it was to Studio #2 where Tom's Led Zeppelin shrieks, Adam Lambert high notes and Justin Timberlake purr were provided by the truly astonishing Greg Whipple, who can do anything with his voice short of fixing a car.

Joining him was the sublime Jen Malenke, singing the role of Tom's beloved Sofia.

This video is the reason why we asked her:

We took a break on Labor Day where we got to share molecules with the one and only Joan Rivers thanks to my buddy Dennis Hensley, who's a writer on her new show on E, Fashion Police. Here we are playing Joan's favorite game - Starlet or Street Walker.

My favorite comment was about Natalie Portman in this dress:

Joan: "She should only wear this on a heavy flow month."

Studio #3 found me on the mike with the hilarious Randy Crenshaw who had to say the word "fornication" multiple times. Not because he screwed up, but because we wrote it that way.

I sang a tiny bit on the recording, but my proudest achievement was that I performed both the sound of a woman giving birth and a man having a heart attack back-to-back.

Studio #4 was run by CJ Vanston, who has the hippest gig ever, touring with Spinal Tap.

Amy was very excited to find herself on top of Christopher Guest - in CJ's inbox, at least.

There we recorded the brilliant Cynthia Carle. Our last stop was back to Gary Stockdale, who also sings on the recording and plays a hilarious lisping vicar.

Amy and I are beyond grateful for the generosity and support of everyone who participated. Thank you all for doing us such a solid.

We celebrated finishing by going to the broadcast of Stand Up to Cancer, courtesy of Spidermanproducer and cancer survivor Laura Ziskin. Having worked on the yet-to-be-produced movie version of How I Paid for College through two rounds of chemo over the last seven years, the most moving moment of the night was seeing her dance in the aisles while Eric Clapton played onstage.

Then Amy and I geeked out at the after party, drinking champagne through straws on empty stomachs..

And eating tiramisu with - how-did-I-live-so-long-without-this - a chocolate spoon.

Since I find it easier to take pictures of the backs of celebrities' heads, here are a few. Can you guess who they are? (Answers in the labels)

Which basketball legend did Amy give a flat tire to while trying to walk backwards?

Then there were these guys:

Somehow, Amy managed to be Super Jew throughout, singing five High Holy Day services. In keeping with the Hebraic theme, I stayed with my LA caregivers, Yiddish with Dick and Jane authors Barbara Davilman and Ellis Weiner. Oh, and their Ridgeback Jackson, who is obviously a supermodel.

Jackson would like me to mention that Barbara and Ellis have a new book out, The Big Jewish Book for Jews . Check out the video. Try it, it couldn't hurt.

While Amy does the final mix, I'm back in Oregon for two weeks before heading off to NY for the fall to start another musical and pimp this one.

Stay tuned for the demo online...


The Frog Queen said...

Sounds like a great time. Thanks for sharing it with us. Looking forward to hearing it!


Christina Katz said...

I just don't think you are doing enough.

And I wish you could try a little harder to impress us, because this is like a fairly typical day in my life.

And I'm sure your other readers feel the same way.

(P.S. This is my feeble attempt at sarcasm...is it working?)

Anonymous said...

Wowzy. F*cking Awesome, Marc!!! You the man.