A few years ago I took some time off to write a musical—a fully-fledged, 2-act, 20-song musical—and this year, after a really fun and productive read-through, a theater company in the Tampa, FL area has expressed interest in putting it on their 2020 schedule! I’m beyond excited for what the future of this musical will be, and even at this early-middle stage the project already has an interesting history.
It started with a sketch I wrote for my 2001 album Keep Your Jazz Hand Strong in which a shady boyband manager (played by the wonderfully talented Michael Bernard) informs a member of one of his boybands that he’d been traded. The boyband-as-baseball team premise included talk of cutting payroll, a farm system of up-and-coming younger bands, and a career arc for performers similar to the career spans of athletes. In the sketch I chose Tampa as the location for the young band because at the time Orlando seemed to be where the major league boybands were coming from (Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, O-Town). Tampa felt like the right market for a feeder team. Plus it’s an inherently funny-sounding name. “Tampa.”
For years the idea of expanding the sketch into a film script rolled around in the back of my head. The idea of a veteran performer forced to take a big step back in his career plus the hilarious shadiness of a boyband manager unabashedly treating pop music like one big grift were waiting to be explored and played with. I thought it could be a really fun movie with lots of music, like the Blues Brothers or Tapeheads. But a movie with a lot of music is—duh—a musical! So I decided to just do that.
After submitting to several festivals and theater companies—and not hearing back from most of them—I began to pursue other projects and career paths. I wasn’t completely discouraged though, I still believed it was a really solid script with good music that would make for a fun show. The project wasn’t lost, it was just hibernating. The work that went into it would still be worth it if and when the time came for it to hit the stage.
And that time might be next year, in 2020, and the place will be, oddly enough, Tampa, Florida! And the way my musical that is set in Tampa found it’s way to a theater company in Tampa is a bit of a story in itself.
My older sister moved to the Tampa area about two years ago and just this past year started playing oboe in a few local bands and orchestra pits (we’re a musical family :P). While playing in the pit for Ragtime she told the musical director about my musical; the fact that it was set in Tampa (and that he was familiar with my Pachelbel Rant) intrigued him enough to take a look at the script.
My sister suggested we try a read through should I visit the Tampa area, and that read through happened just this past Monday at the offices of Not Your Normal Entertainment. Joseph Scarbrough, the head of NYNE, brought together a lovely group of actors who brought life to the script while I played demos of the songs from my laptop. The jokes landed, the story flowed, and hearing people who live and work in Tampa react to the song “What’s in Tampa?” was a double bonus!
I am thrilled by the opportunity to debut this project on the stage. I’ll update here and on my social media, and follow NYNE on social media too, they do amazing work!
This is my favorite song musically on the new live album so I had to make sure to get a lyric video together for it!
I even dabbled in calligraphy to make some of the props for the beginning of the video because I figured there had to be something hand-written in a song about impersonal invitations 😛
Check out the other lyric videos from the live album too, there a lot of fun and a nice way to enjoy tracks from Rob P. Rocks a Jazz Club while you’re poking around on YouTube. And you can always buy the album on iTunes, bandcamp, Amazon, etc. or stream it on Spotify. It’s everywhere! But the only place you get all the lyric videos is right here at the HQ.
To celebrate the release of the newly-remastered American Cheese, my studio album from 1998, all of my albums will be only $8 over at bandcamp! And yes, that includes my brand new live album Rob P. Rocks a Jazz Club! The offer is for a limited time so act quickly!
American Cheese is my second studio album and the first one I produced and recorded in my own studio, which at the time was anchored by an ADAT tape machine synched to a Mac Classic computer running 16 channels of MIDI instruments. Though it’s a little rough around the edges I think the songwriting and arranging holds up, and it will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the first big project I produced and recorded on my own, which started me on a wonderful artistic journey of producing and arranging music.
And now, for the first time EVAH! it’s available on something other than the original CD you had to buy from me in person or through my website. It’s over at bandcamp, a very artist-friendly music site, and for a mere $8 you can download the album in any format you want, from mp3 or m4a to fancy audiophile formats like Flac, Apple lossless, or something called “Ogg Vorbis” (that’s a Ferengi name, isn’t it?)
Also newly available on bandcamp—and also only 8 bucks—are the full versions of Living it Down and Songs From The Second Floor! Up until today I only had a couple of tracks of each on bandcamp but now you can get the complete albums!
That’s a lot of comedy music, and if you buy it you’re not only supporting me as an artist and getting some great music for your collection, you’re ensuring that you’ll always be able to hear your tunes whenever you like. Streaming services will come and go, streaming agreements and licensing will change, and heck, American Cheese and Don’t Crowd the Plow (also remastered) aren’t even available on any streaming service so bandcamp is the only way to get ’em!
So take advantage of this sale and tell your comedy music-loving friends!
New lyric video for everyone’s favorite surf-style rock song “Driving With Grandpa”! It’s the second lyric video for my new live comedy concert album Rob P. Rocks A Jazz Club and it’s a song that’s been well-received from Brooklyn to Europe!
And like the first lyric video from RPRaJC it features a retro pic of a 10-ish-year-old Rob P.!
OK, I think I just made up a French verb, but it doesn’t matter because everyone speaks the universal language of Music With Funny Lyrics But If You Don’t Understand Them You Can Still Enjoy the Music!
I had a wonderful time doing shows in Switzerland and Paris, and catching up with my longtime friend Jen Kirwin, an American comic who runs several English language Expat Comedy Nights in and around Geneva, Switzerland.
My first show was the day after I landed (and was still pretty jet-lagged) at Mr. Pickwick Pub in Geneva. The English-style pub is a haven for expats and the downstairs showroom was a perfect spot for a night of English language comedy. Sharing the bill with me were Magda Mihalia, a very funny Romanian comedian who performs in English, French, and Romanian; Robbie Toole, an American currently living in Geneva; Marie Connolly, an Australian comic who now makes her home in Lyon, France; and Jen.
The crowd was a lot of fun and included people from several countries, not just the English-speaking world. As a performer it was interesting to see the different levels of English comprehension and how it affected my set. I have a few songs where the lyrics are rapped rapid-fire so I tended to slow down as much as I could without changing the groove of the music from pop track to ballad. One person, an Italian I think, said after the show that he couldn’t understand everything but even when he couldn’t he enjoyed the music. Totally made lugging my guitar across the Atlantic worth it!
The day after my first show I hopped a train to Paris, and not just any train, one of those fancy high speed ones! Got to Paris in 3 hours, spent a lovely weekend there and did a set on an English language monthly show called The Great British American Comedy Night! There were 5 comics in the lineup, 2 French, 2 Americans currently living in Paris, and me, and the crowd was packed into a cozy showroom on a boat docked in the Seine.
The crowd was energetic and amazing and it was a truly unique experience.
Then it was back to Switzerland and another Expat show with Jen and Magda, this time in a lovely music room called the Bleu Lézard, in Lausanne, Switzerland. They call these basement rooms “caves” (pronounced “kaaahve”) and the Bleu Lézard was my favorite of the bunch. Even though my voice was a little scratchy from a long weekend in Paris I had a blast performing.
And here’s a short clip from that show, unlisted on YouTube just for you guys. I opened with a very old bit of mine about the Friends TV show’s theme song, but even though that joke is pushing 20 years old it was a great opener for the international crowd because not only was/is the show popular in Europe, the bit was a good gauge of people’s familiarity with American English!
And rounding out the performances on the trip was a Valentine’s-themed show at the Caustic Comedy Club in Carouge, Switzerland, just outside of Geneva. Caustic is a beautiful and friendly club and the showroom is another amazing “cave.”
I hope to get back to Europe soon for more shows and to hit these spots again, and check out the photo gallery above for some other pics from the trip, including the invasion of Brooklyn hipness into downtown Geneva!
My new live album, Rob P. Rocks A Jazz Club, recorded in front of a packed house in a beautiful venue in Brooklyn, NY, will be hitting e-tailers and streaming services on Tuesday, January 22, 2019!
Working on this album was really fun and rewarding, from the energy of the live show to the process of fine tuning the audio in post production, I really enjoyed digging in and working to capture and convey the energy and fun of the live show. There are 21 tracks and 15 songs, 12 of which are making their album debut. The three that overlap from my last studio album A/B include 2 “deep tracks” that didn’t get much attention at the time but grew into being staples of my live show.
I’m really happy with the variety of the songs too, from the spoken word/storytelling of the opening track “Devil Dealing” to a couple of tunes that feature musical compositions that I’m really proud of. There are pop tunes, country tunes, and some funky R&Bish tunes, including an old school rap breakdown in the song “I’m Just Here For The Swag” that I was sure I was going to blow live and have to play twice, but I spit it cleanly!
I’ll update this post with purchasing and streaming links as they become available. Can’t wait for you to hear it!
Update: Jan 11, 2019
Pre-orders JUST WENT LIVE!! If you pre-order on iTunes you’ll be able to download the track “Driving With Grandpa” right away, and will get the whole album on the release day Tuesday, Jan. 22.
Why pre-order? It’s a big help to me in promoting the album because all of the sales from the pre-sale period get reported on the day of the release, so it can help boost the album ranking, which helps more people find it. And you’ll be able to enjoy a brand new funny song while you wait!