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Moving Sale!

We’ve moved!

Hopefully you didn‘t notice a thing, but we moved the entire RobPRocks website (and all subdomains and email) to a new hosting service! We made the move at the very beginning of June and we were so happy everything went relatively smoothly we decided to have a moving sale at our online store!

Through the end of June, 2022 you can use the coupon code “Moving10” for 10% off every item in the store!

Oh man, I’ve been meaning to make the move for a while now. Every year when my old hosting service would get renewed I’d begrudgingly re-up because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle of moving. But they weren’t a great service. Their server software was old, it was a pain to get the SSL certificate renewed smoothly, and everything about them felt out of date.

So poke around the site, I think everything made the trip and is right where it should be. Plus I got some new stuff, like the promo page for my show The American Songbook: Redacted! Enjoy the new digs and the sale!

Beep! Beep! Outta the Way!

A little song about Henry Ford

We all know Henry Ford as the car guy, the man who adopted the assembly line, made affordable cars, and whose company changed transportation and manufacturing, but did you know he had some strong opinions about music?

He hated the popular music of the teens and twenties, what was starting to be called jazz. He thought it was crude, vulgar, a bad influence on young people, and he blamed its popularity on a Jewish conspiracy. He blamed a lot of things on the Jews. So many, in fact, that he bought a newspaper and had them publish a weekly anti-Jewish column. It ran for 91 weeks.

Musically the old man preferred the old timey music he found wholesome so he heavily promoted square dancing and fiddle contests. Did you take square dancing in grade school gym class? Thank Henry Ford.

So I figured the best way to make fun of all of this ridiculousness would be to write Henry Ford a 1920s-style jazz song. It’s featured in my new show The American Songbook: Redacted!

The American Songbook: Rescheduled!

Timing is everything, right? Yesterday, the day before the big show, I felt pretty achy, tired, and had a slight fever, so I took a home Covid test and it was positive. That of course meant I couldn’t perform The American Songbook: Redacted, the show I’ve been working on for about 5 months, tonight at Caveat.

Thankfully the wonderful people at Caveat were very understanding and we’ve rescheduled for Wednesday, May 18, 9:30. All advance tickets for the live show and the live stream will be honored on that date.

So far the symptoms have been mild and I hope that trend continues. If the worst thing that happens is I have to reschedule my show I guess that’s acceptable. I’m really excited to get this new material up in front of people, I’m really happy with it and the songs have gone over well when I’ve worked on them at The Odd Rock Comedy Hour at QED over the last couple of months.

Speaking of which, I hope to be back and virus free in time for this month’s Odd Rock Comedy Hour on April 23, which will be more than 10 days after my initial symptoms from Monday night. I’ll test before the show and if I can’t make it I’ll find a very capable replacement and the show will be in good hands

Take care of yourselves out there and I hope to fist-bump you at a show soon!

RobP

New Solo Show Debuts April 13!

ASR-Banner-V3-2000x1000

The American Songbook: Redacted!

I’m very excited to announce that a brand new show filled with brand new songs will officially have its very first performance on Wednesday, April 13 at Caveat in NYC! The show is full of original songs inspired by American history and poking fun at American myths and culture. Song styles will include everything from jazz, heavy metal, emo, and disco, to western and Stephen Foster-style parlor songs.

This show is a preview/trial run/proof of concept that I plan to develop into a longer running show that will hit festivals and play in various cities. I’ve started working on some of the songs in my monthly show at QED, The Odd Rock Comedy Hour, so if you want a preview of the preview come on out to Astoria, where you’ll also get to see other great comedians and musicians.

And if you can’t get to NYC on April 13 there will be a streaming option! Info for streaming and the theater are on Caveat’s site.

The American Songbook: Redacted!
9:30 pm Wednesday, April 13
Caveat
21A Clinton St. NYC 10001

“Start over Again” Behind the Song

“Start over Again”

Behind the songs on The Green L.E.D.s debut album—Track 7

Start over Again kicks off “side 2” of the album and, as the advance single released back in July, it was the first public glimpse of what the album would sound like. Since The Green L.E.D.s had yet to release anything on the streaming services the decision to put out an advance single was more of an administrative one than anything. I needed to establish artist accounts at Spotify, Apple Music, and other places in order to properly promote the release of the album in the fall. Still, I wanted the single to showcase the best parts of the project and get people excited to hear more. There were three songs I considered for the single: Start over Again, What’s in Store, and Show Me Something Else.

Even though I think What’s in Store one of the strongest candidates for a single I decided against it because I already knew it would be the opening track of the album and I didn’t want to kick off the album with a track people had already heard. I wanted the album to start off with something brand new, with that upbeat energy the track has, and a song that sets people up for, well, what’s in store.

The remaining choice between Show Me Something Else and Start over Again wasn’t as easy because I think they both have intriguing elements and are catchy enough to stand as singles. Show Me Something Else has a guitar solo I’m really proud of and I wanted people to know the album was going to be guitar oriented. Start over Again has a dramatic chorus and a lot of angst, which is also an important ingredient in the album. In the end I felt Start over Again not only best captured the overall mood of the project, starting over again is what the album is. It’s a restart. It’s one of the many times in my life and career I’ve felt I had to take a few steps back in order to move forward. It’s me trying to navigate a way out of the abyss of 2020-2021.

Start-over-Again-Notebook_web

above, from my notebook on March 29, 2021

With the working title of “Chicago Bar Chords,” the second working title to include ‘Chicago,’ Start over Again started taking shape early in the project. My first audio note for the song is on March 28, 2021 where I have the chords and melody of the chorus, and by April 12 I had the lyrics worked out and had named the piece “Start over Again.” As I worked on the backing tracks I started to hear the angst and longing coming through in the chorus and my goal with the song was to set that up and deliver it as best I could.

From a songwriting standpoint this song has a bit of an odd structure in that there’s a prechorus that only appears once, before the second chorus (the section that starts with “it’s a waste to wait another day”). The bridge is in a more traditional position after the second chorus, which means chorus 2 is sandwiched between two sections that only appear once in the song, which is a little bit weird. And is it really a prechorus if it’s only in the song once? Are they really two bridges?

This deviation from the formula was one of the reasons I thought maybe the track wouldn’t be the right choice for a single. But in the end I felt the sections flowed so well that the exception to the songwriting “rules” wasn’t an issue. And the fact that the song so perfectly summed up why I was making this record—the hope, the doubt, the dread and fear of a restart—made it the perfect song to introduce The Green L.E.D.s new album to the world.

The Green L.E.D.s debut album releases Oct 28!

The date is set! The Green L.E.D.s debut album, my first non-comedy, all-music studio album ever, will be released Thursday, October 28, 2021 on all digital platforms! And you’re invited to the release party! I’ll be playing songs from the album and talking about the project on a live stream on my twitch channel and youtube at 8pm NYC time on Oct 28. Tune in!

Wondering what the album sounds like? The advance single “Start over Again” came out back in July and is available everywhere, and there’s even a way to get a second song from the album right now before it’s released!

If you pre-order the album on Apple Music you’ll get the opening track “What’s in Store” to download right away! You’ll get access to the full album on the 28th.

If you’re the Spotify type, follow The Green L.E.D.s and you’ll be notified when the album is available. And to give you an idea of where the album is coming from I put together a few playlists of my inspirations: So far I’ve posted 80s Arcade of Angst and Friday Night at the All-Ages Goth Club, more to come!

Find The Green L.E.D.s!

Leading up to the release I’ve also been doing some behind-the-scenes videos on tiktok and instagram. Dare I try to embed some here? Let’s do it!

The Odd Rock Comedy Hour Returns to Q.E.D.!!

The Odd Rock Comedy Hour is back!

After a loooong hiatus—thank you Covid-19—my comedy music variety show will be returning LIVE to the QED stage (or back yard, weather permitting) and I couldn’t be more excited!

I also couldn’t be more grateful to Kambri and Q.E.D. for the hard work and determination they put in to get through the absolute hardest year+ I’ve witnessed in my entertainment career. We all went a little crazy I think, and I hope you’re as ready as I am to experience live entertainment again!

Q.E.D. will be very safe: audience members and all performers and staff are required to be vaccinated and tickets will be sold through the Eventbrite service to facilitate contact tracing should there ever be an issue (get your advance tix for our return show here).

I’m putting the lineup together for the first show now, already confirmed is the very funny comedian Christina Walkinshaw, who was booked on our March 2020 show waaay back when.

A Project Full of “Real” Songs

There’s a weird and very annoying question people have asked me after shows. I’ll have just performed from 10-45 minutes—playing comedy songs of mine that are well-known, new, or somewhere in between, singing said songs and playing guitar—and people will ask “do you ever write any real songs?”

THEY’RE ALL REAL! I’m playing them! Can you hear them? The air molecules are vibrating and moving your eardrums! They’re real!

But I get it: they mean non-comedy songs. They don’t mean any offense by implying by contrast that comedy songs aren’t real They’re only unwittingly negating my entire life’s work!

Well post-pandemic life is gonna be a lot easier because I’ll be able to just say “yes” and point them to the new non-comedy album of 100% real songs I will be releasing this year under the name The Green L.E.D.s.

Why the name? To differentiate it from my comedy music stuff!

Don’t like it? Come on, it’s better than “Childish Gambino!”

I’ve been enjoying working on it and I’m really happy with the way the songs are shaping up. I’ve been inspired by early 80s post-punk and some Aughts rock but those were just the starting points and I’m going to wait until it’s done before I characterize it more. It‘s been hugely helpful for my mental state to have a creative outlet. Writing comedy during the pandemic has been really difficult for me because there were no live shows to test out the material, and with a global pandemic, a nationwide reckoning on systemic racism, and a dangerously contentious election year (that didn’t end at the election), I haven’t been super inspired to be funny. So what does a comedian/songwriter do when he doesn’t feel funny?

I guess he writes some “real” songs 😜

Look for the first single in July and the full album this fall!

Cover Tuesday 1-Year Anniversary Telethon!

To commemorate a full year of using stoopit covers to cope with the pandemic I’m putting together a ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY TELETHON EXTRAVGANZA on March 16th!

That’s right, an actual telethon! I’m going to be doing the biggest fun set of stoopit covers yet! And after 48 episodes and over 600 covers I’ll even do songs I’ve covered before! I’ll do songs I can’t believe I haven’t covered before! I will have special guests covering stoopit songs (hopefully)! And it will all be to raise money for Food Bank NYC, an organization that provides meals to those in need in New York.

I’ve set the ambitious goal of raising $500 and we will hit it even if I have to play all night! (Please don’t make me play all night!) Every dollar donated helps provide 5 meals to people struggling with food insecurity and we’re going to help Food Bank of NYC with the 80 million free meals they provide annually!

I’ll have a special campaign page set up through Food Bank NYC’s website so all donations will be handled by and go straight to them. We’ll C U Next/This(?) Tuesday!

Cover Tuesday 1-Year Anniversary Telethon!
Tuesday, March 16
Pre-show 7:30 pm NYC time (4:30 Pacific, 2330 UTC)
Showtime 8:15 pm NYC time (5:15 Pacific, 0015 UTC)
on Twitch!

Please donate if you are able, and join us for the live show on Tuesday, March 16, 2021 at 8:15 pm EST at twitch.tv/RobPRocks!

Cover Tuesday’s Greatest Hits Vol. 5!

Cover Tuesday’s Greatest Hits Vol. 5!

Watch If Bauhaus covered Get Into the Groove

Get Into The Groove

To sing Madonna’s Get Into the Groove I needed to lower the vocal an octave and somehow I ended up sounding more like Peter Murphy from Bauhaus, so I decided to lean into it. Enjoy Mads the Goth!

Neil Diamond’s “Heartlight”

Neil Diamond and Burt Bacharach walk into a movie theater to see E.T. The Extraterrestrial and they walk out thinking “we gotta write a song about that!” So they did and this is that.

Watch Heartlight by Neil Diamond
Watch Take This Job And Shove It!

Take This Job And Shove It!

This classic country song, originally sung by Johnny Paycheck, is a prime example of why you should never, ever take career advice from country music! On the upside it inspired a movie of the same name, the climax of which is Robert Hays telling his boss to, you guessed it, take his job and shove it!

Back In Time

Speaking of movies, we have this classic from Back to the Future! Because you can’t go back to the future unless you first go Back in Time!

Watch Back in Time by Huey Lewis AND the News!
Watch The Trucker Classic: “Convoy!”

Convoy!

Still speaking of movies, this song was so popular they made a movie out of it! And the movie starred a better country music songwriter who had nothing to do with the song! Kris Kristofferson played Rubber Duck in the movie based on this CW McCall (a pseudonym for Bill Fries) song; so, that’s weird.

Purple Rain

OK, so I guess every song in this Greatest Hits has something to do with a movie (Get Into the Groove was featured in Madonna’s screen debut Desperately Seeking Susan if you were wondering). But this one takes the purple cake because Purple Rain is the name of the song, album, AND movie! I even turned on the reverb for this one!

Watch Purple Rain

New EP Blindsight 2020 Out now!

Blindsight 2020 Cover

Screen cap of Blindsight 2020 on Apple MusicI’m really excited to announce that my new EP Blindsight 2020 is out right now! It’s a 5-song collection of studio tracks that I recorded over the last few years and it features a lot of songwriting and production that I’m really proud of.

In fact, that’s why I decided to release the EP in the first place. I was really happy with my arrangements on the songs “I’m Just Here for the Swag” and “Somewhere Else,” the pandemic-inspired Beach Boys sendup of “Catching Rays on the Fire Escape” captured 2020 really well, and I really like of “Booze Women, and Movies” and “I’m as Broke as Kansas” both for what they say and how they say it.

It’s my first studio release since A/B came out just over 4 years ago, in November 2016. In 2018 I recorded the live concert album Rob P. Rocks a Jazz Club which had a lot of new songs on it, but since I was focusing on getting them in shape for the live album I didn’t do as much studio recording. My goal for 2021 is to get back in the studio so I wanted to motivate myself to push ahead with new music and not “save” these favorite songs for a later release. Without these gems to fall back on I’m hoping to force myself to innovate!

Or maybe realize the pandemic has killed my artistic drive. We’ll see! [shrugging emoji]

Cover Tuesday’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2!

Cover Tuesday has been going strong every week on Twitch(Tuesday, 8:15 PM Eastern U.S.) and it’s been a ton of fun putting the setlists together and doing as many of your requests as I can! I posted the first selection of favorite covers back on May 13, and below are some faves from the next 11 shows!

The spotify playlist is currently (as of this writing on 6 August, 2020) is up to 224 songs, which means I’m averaging 12 songs a week. The Ridiculous Dozen!

I had to make two substitutions in the playlist: In Week 2 I had to substitute a different Mighty Lemon Drops song because “Inside Out” wasn’t available, and Little Richard’s “Scuba Party” from Catalina Caper, which I performed on June 30, was nowhere to be found so I swapped in “It Ain’t What You Do.”

So here are some recent favorites:

Wannabe by the Spice Girls

In cranking out this girl power anthem I somehow took a few detours through Howard Jones and Young MC, but it worked, trust me!

I Love It by Icona Pop

“I crashed my car into the bridge, I don’t care” seems to sum up Summer 2020 in the U.S. so I have deemed this song my summer anthem!

Ace of Spades by Motörhead, a la Johnny Cash

“Ace of Spades” was a request and in order both oblige and save my voice (singing like Lemmy hurts!) I reimagined this song as a Johnny Cash cover. Though it was born out of necessity it’s now the only way I can hear the song!

Tom Sawyer by Rush

Another song by request! This one came from a college friend via facebook and I did the best I could, even though I’ve always said I thought Rush used “too many notes.”

Trooper by Iron Maiden

Sometimes requests seem more like dares, like when my friend Jonathan requested the lyrically overflowing Hardware Store by Weird Al. Though the “heavy” and the “metal” were missing I think it still turned out OK and I should at least get an A for effort.

I Love Your Smile by Shanice

I love when a request is a song I somehow missed the first time around, and this early 90s R&B earworm was really fun to do. Even though it was stuck in my head for the whole dang week. It’s just too peppy and poppy!

Baba O’Riley by The Who

Tried to pull off an acoustic version of one of the best rock anthems ever and thanks to the Loopback plugin in MainStage I think I ended up with a decent rendition 🙂

All 50 States Day 30: New Jersey!

All 50 States Day 30:

New Jersey!

Jersey is so close I can see it from my roof! I can take public transit there for gigs and recreation! And back when I had a car I would hit “one-nighters” in Jersey in exciting places like the basement of a barbecue restaurant and the corner of a bar and grill! There were also some fun weekend rooms like Catch a Rising Star in Princeton and Uncle Vinnie’s on the Jersey Shore.

I also have a life-long family connection to New Jersey, my aunt, who came over from the Ottoman Empire with my grandmother in the 1920s, lived in Weehawken, just across the river from Manhattan. Back in the early 60s when my dad was getting his masters degree at Montclair Teacher’s College he and my mom lived in Weehawken. She commuted to an office job in Manhattan and my dad worked on his masters and also studied acting with the renowned Bobby Lewis.

The family visited New York at least once when I was a kid, about 5 years old, and I got dragged along to Broadway shows and sight seeing in Manhattan. I visited again with my dad around 1989 or 1990 and we stayed with my aunt and cousins in Weehawken, near the park named after Alexander Hamilton, on a bluff with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline.

I’ve also played some college shows in New Jersey (of course), in including the Stevens Institute in Hoboken, Farleigh Dickenson, College of New Jersey, and more

  • Over the Rainbow in Weehawken! 2009
  • Selfie in the ’Hawk, 2009
  • Skyline from the ’Hawk, 2009
  • One nighter in central Jersey, 2006
  • Stevens Institute in Hoboken, 2006
  • What exit? Jersey Turnpike, 2006
  • Polaroid of NYC skyline from Jersey, 2009?
  • Stevens Institute in Hoboken, Empire State Bldg behind, 2006
NJMap

All 50 States Day 17: Kentucky!

All 50 States Day 17:

Kentucky!

My most recent run-in with Kentucky was in the middle of a crazy trek across the eastern midsection of the country back in 2010, when I went from a gig at U.S.C. in Columbia, SC, hit Asheville, NC the next night, stopped in Nashville for a set the following night at Zanies, and then dropped in to Louisville for a night before a heading to a couple of college gigs in Illinois. Nicholas Anthony, with whom I had recently worked in Vegas, was living in Louisville at the time and we met up, hung out, did sets at the Comedy Caravan, and hit an art show and a bar.

My favorite show ever in Kentucky was a few years before that in Louisville opening for Carlin at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in 2007. It was the 3rd in a series of 3 consecutive shows that took us from Erie, PA to Columbia, MO, to Louisville.

My first experience with Kentucky was during my first ever road gig: in 5th grade traveling to Nashville for a competition with the Waukegan Grade School Orchestra. We even stopped at Mammoth Cave for a tour before hitting Nash Vegas and coming home with a gold medal.

I’ve played several colleges in the state but just about all of the college shows I did in Kentucky were in the first years of my college touring career, from about 1995-2000. I therefore don’t have precise records of when and where the shows were (all my old contracts and physical calendars are in storage, I think), I doubt I have any pictures.

Off the top of my head I can remember names like Berea College, and names that sound familiar when looking at a list of Kentucky colleges include Centre College, maybe Morehead Sate? I know for sure that on Jan 16, 2001 I did two college shows in Louisville, an evening show at Bellarmine College and a noon show at the University of Louisville. I distinctly remember the U of L show being a typical noon show with a loud, inattentive audience in a large student union open area. That show specifically got mentioned in my Life as a Comic episode on noontime college shows cuz I blew some of the money I made on that show on upgrading a rental car in LA to a convertible Trans Am. Thanks U of L for being a terrible audience, cuz that was a sweet ride!

  1. Me on stage at the Comedy Caravan, 2010
  2. Louisville bar, 2010
  3. State line on I-65, 2010
  4. a few frames later, mile 0 on I-65. Check out that rolling shutter!
KYMap

All 50 States Day 8: Delaware!

All 50 States Day 8:

Delaware!

Well, I knew that eventually there was going to be a state I didn’t have a personal picture of. I’ve been to Delaware, I swear! I can still write about it, but I won’t have much to put on instagram <frowny face>.

Keep in mind my rules for counting a state: I’ve had to have performed in the state or spent at least a night there. With Delaware, anyone who’s driven from New York City to mid-Atlantic region cities like Baltimore or DC has driven through the tiny northern tip of the state near Wilmington, but that doesn’t count!

I know of at least two college shows I’ve done in Delaware, the University of Delaware in March of 2001 and a small college called Goldy Beacom College in Wilmington in January of 2003. For the latter show I remember going out to a local bar & grill after the show and seeing an acoustic duo cover band and it was the fist time I think I heard the Jimmy Eat World song “The Middle” all the way through. During the second chorus I joked with the people at my table that if it strictly followed the rules of a pop song it would go to the bridge. It did. During the bridge I said the next rule of pop songwriting is breaking it down for the third verse, and sure enough the song breaks down for the third verse.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing! Standard song structures become standard because they work!

Also, I was reminded by my note in the google map of past gigs I put together (check it out here) that the show at Goldey Beacom didn’t have a sound system, I had to play completely acoustic in a multifunction room. the fun of putting this project together is all the little details!

DelawareMap

Live Stream March 17 8:15 pm! Eastern US

Hey everyone!

Since all of my shows are on hold and most of us are stuck at home I decided to try to put on a live stream show! Tonight, March 17, at 8:15 pm eastern US time (5:15 West Coast US, 00:15 GMT) I’m gonna log on to my brand new twitch channel and play a bunch of Monkees covers!

It’s an experiment! If it works I’ll try to do more of this kind of thing. Join me! We’ll have some fun and play some tunes!

 

Watch live video from RobPRocks on www.twitch.tv

© Paravonian