Not quite a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from Alex Cooper.

That, in and of itself, was not unusual. I have received emails from people who have visited and read my blog before. However, it was the first time I was ever asked if I would endorse a product/website on my blog. And, to be honest, at first I thought Alex was pulling my leg. But, after emailing back and forth and assurances that it was a legitimate offer, I agreed to do so with the understanding that I would first “test drive” the product. If I liked it, I would endorse it and add a link to my blog roll. If I didn’t like it, nothing would go up on my blog. No harm, no foul and no damage done to anyone’s reputation.

So, the fact that I am writing about this at all means, obviously, I did like the product.

Of course, the fact that Alex knew from my blog that I am a Barry Manilow fan and just happened to have a t-shirt in stock that might appeal to that part of me certainly didn’t hurt in any way! LOL

Here I am wearing my new t-shirt.
I received the t-shirt yesterday and put it through the washer/dryer test first. It passed with flying colors. No shrinking, fading, bleeding, peeling, or unraveling of any kind. Best of all, it was actually in a size I could wear comfortably. I like my t-shirts to be a little loose fitting, but seldom can find any like that from an online source. So… bonus points there!
Anyway, T-Shirt Grill is a UK website with hundreds of different designs from funny slogans, to sports teams, to musicians/bands, and “as worn by” designs (t-shirt designs worn by celebrities). It’s a straightforward and easy to navigate website, so you shouldn’t have a problem looking for and finding that t-shirt that’s your style. They also offer hats and pull-over hoodies.
Just based on the quality of the shirt I received, you won’t be disappointed if you order from T-Shirt Grill. But if, for some reason, something isn’t quite right, they do have an extended 28 day return policy and if you live within the UK, they’ll cover the postage for the return.
At any rate, it never hurts just to take a look.
Thanks Alex!
And if you want a t-shirt just like mine… look in the Retro Music section on the left side of the screen. ūüôā

Barry Manilow World Tour Kick Off In Omaha!

Photo: Rebecca S. Gratz – Omaha World-Herald
Last night was the kick off performance of Barry Manilow’s World Tour (I have no problem writing those words because he actually said them during the performance, though, up until then, he has protested that this is not a tour, but a “road trip”)
I sat dead center of the stage in the front row and had an amazing time.
I know I was holding my breath as the lights went down and the music started and the curtain came up because there was a little uncertainty as to how he would be as just a week ago he posted to his Facebook page that, while he had permission from his doctors and physical therapists to do the show last night, and the shows the next two nights in St. Louis, he was only about 85% post surgery (he had surgery on both of his hips two months ago to repair bursa and re-attach muscles torn completely away from his hips).
He came out on that stage bouncing and dancing to It’s A Miracle and went at full throttle the rest of the show. If that was only 85%,,, he’s gonna be absolutely killing people when he hits 100%!
Photo: Rebecca S. Gratz – Omaha World-Herald
He moved from It’s A Miracle into an uptempo Could It Be Magic and I was thinking… “He wouldn’t dare!”
But… he did! A BAM! And the crowd went absolutely nuts! It was awesome!
Photo: Michelle D. Wampole – Omaha
The above photo was one of the better shots I took, what few I could take before my damned battery died!
It was about a second or two post-BAM and you can see Kye Brackett “passed out” across Barry’s piano and Sharon “Muffy” Hendrix running to his aid. It was a very funny moment and proved to the fans, well, this one for sure, that there was nothing to fear. Barry was fine and was set on having a good time with his “friends” in Omaha!
Photo: Rebecca S. Gratz – Omaha World-Herald
The High Points (other than the opening):
First and foremost, just that he was there and in such obviously great spirits. He appeared to be having just as much fun as we were having in the audience!
He performed several “fan favorites” that he hadn’t done in awhile, including Keep Each Other Warm. One of my personal favorites. ūüôā
When he spoke of his surgery and recovery… Finding a higher power, greater than himself that got him through all the pain he had to endure… and what that higher power was, LOL! Being cooped up in bed and sooo bored! Then he got serious, thanked his fans for their hundreds of cards, letters and Facebook comments that were so encouraging and helped pull him through and then he sang I Made It Through the Rain and you couldn’t help but believe that he meant every single word. It got him one of several standing ovations last night.
Talking about the Manilow Music Project
Reminiscing about Grandpa Joe
When talking about All The Time and feeling like a misfit, he said that he really didn’t have it as bad when he was in school as kids do today, emphasizing that “all the bullying now is just too much. It’s gotta stop”.
There were a couple of miscues and an occasional lyric fumble, but it was the opening show and I am sure as time goes on and a few more performances pass by, the very few rough spots will be smoothed out.
Barry, being the professional that he is, managed to get through those few moments with style and humor.
The only Low Point in the entire show…
Absolutely nothing from 15 Minutes except “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” being played over the sound system as the audience milled out of the arena.
And, honestly, it wasn’t even a real disappointment. The show, as it was, was so great that the realization of any of that album being missing from the show was an after thought.
All I can say, ultimately, of it all is… Well done, Barry,,, and welcome back!
Special thanks, also, to Kye Brackett, Sharon “Muffy” Hendrix, Ron Walters, Jr., Ron Pedley, Joey Melotti, ¬†David Rozenblatt, Russ McKinnon, Mike Lent and… damn, I can’t remember the bassist’s name at the moment.
As great as Barry Manilow is, he can’t do it all on his own. The professionalism and talent of these men and woman are so great, though, they all make it seem like he does just that. Their performances, so seamless and perfect, work to bring out the best in Barry’s performance and spotlight their own unique abilities as well. It was as much fun and entertaining to step back and watch all of them as it was to watch Barry.
Extra special thanks to Dawn Downes, without whom I could not have been at that concert last night. And the seat was sooooo fabulous. Front row, dead center! I was close enough to see the twinkle in those beautiful baby blues and I will never forget it.
Also thanks to my Facebook pals: Pamela. Pattie and Gwen. It was so nice to be able to meet you all. I just wish I could have spent more time with all of you, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe we’ll all meet up again, Somewhere Down the Road. ūüôā
Pattie, Me, Pamela and Gwen
Late addition…
Thank you, also, to my new friend and chief Kleenex supplier (I confess, I cried… A LOT), Lynn Driscoll. Just for being there, for being so sweet to a complete stranger, and for sharing the great photos she had from the show.

Happy Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year again…

Family, Food, Fun… Football!
Whether we realize if or not, and I hope we all do, there’s so much to be thankful for… not just this one day out of the year, but always.
Count your blessings…¬†
And now… it’s time to kick off “the most wonderful time of the year”… The Christmas season.
Enjoy some Christmas music from Barry Manilow… Because It’s Christmas.

When October Goes

When October GoesLyric: Johnny MercerMusic: Barry Manilow
And when October goes The snow begins to fly Above the smokey roofs I watch the planes go by The children running home Beneath a twilight sky Oh, for the fun of them When I was one of them 
 And when October goes The same old dream appears And you are in my arms To share the happy years I turn my head away To hide the helpless tears Oh how I hate to see October go 
 And when October goes The same old dream appears And you are in my arms To share the happy years I turn my head away To hide the helpless tears Oh how I hate to see October go 
I should be over it now I know¬†It doesn’t matter much how old I grow¬†I hate to see October go

The Manilow "Endorsement"

A couple of weeks ago when Barry Manilow was in Washington, D.C., lobbying Congress to further fund Atrial Fibrillation awareness, education, and research it was reported by The Daily Caller that he admitted he donated some money to Ron Paul’s campaign in 2008 and that he “agree(s) with almost everything he says”. Somehow that caught fire, went viral and was soon reported as an endorsement of Ron Paul and his campaign for the Presidency of the United States.

You would have thought the heavens had opened up and God, himself, had pointed an approving finger at Mr. Paul for all the attention it gathered.

Fast forward a week and Mr. Manilow decides too much has been made about a donation and off hand comment that he needs to clear things up. He wrote to the Washington Post, and they later reported, that he has not and would not endorse Ron Paul, he will be voting for President Obama to have a second term.

Again, it was if the heavens opened up and God himself wagged a disapproving finger at Paul for all the boo-hooing going on in response to the perceived about face, though, in reality, there hasn’t been one as Manilow never endorsed Ron Paul in the first place. Saying you agree with something someone says is not the same as saying you will vote for them.

My question is, why? Is the Republican Party so desperate that it will consider a public endorsement from a celebrity, who, until now, hasn’t made very many, if any, public political statements, their coup de grace against the Democratic Party? If so, they’re a bigger bunch of losers than even I thought they were and, believe me, I have an¬†abysmally low opinion of the Republican Party and their potential party nominees.

Now, I absolutely adore Barry Manilow. I’ve been a fan of his since 1975. I love his music.¬†I think he’s a good man with a good heart who has done a lot for others. That being said, when it comes to politics, I do my own research on each candidate, weigh their merits, and make my own decision on who will be the best choice to hold whatever office they are running for. I don’t care that Mr. Manilow says he is voting for President Obama, it’s nothing I will consider when I am standing in that booth come November 2012.

Anyone who lets another person’s opinion/endorsement become the deciding factor of their vote is a fool. You need to do your own research, see what the nominees have already done, think of what they might be capable of doing in the future and make up your own mind. But, for the sake of this country… do make up your mind and actually vote!

15 Minutes ~ Barry Manilow (Review)

This is NOT your Mama’s Manilow!

Any preconceived notions and opinions that you may have about Barry Manilow and his music? Check them at the door before you listen to this cd.

15 Minutes is a concept album with the majority of the songs written by Manilow and lyricist Enoch Anderson. Only one, Wine Song, was written by Manilow and lyricist Adrienne Anderson.

He has done concept albums before (2:00 AM Paradise Cafe, Here At The Mayflower), but this is one with a linear progression… each song continuing the story started by the first song, until the story is completed (or started anew, depending on how you look at it) with the last song.

The story is a familiar one. Boy wants fame, boy gets fame, boy blows it and loses everything… boy starts over.

Familiar because we see it every day, We live in a time that seems to be the epitome of the old Andy Warhol quote from which Manilow derived the name of the cd,

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

Because of reality shows, almost anyone can experience being a celebrity and nor even necessarily have any discernible talent. (For a detailed list of reality programs from the past decade, just go HERE.)

This album is, in a lot of ways, a risk for Manilow. First, he’s stepped away from the safety net that was his partnership with Clive Davis/Arista Records and he’s started his own independent label, Stiletto Entertainment (branching off from the already established management/production company). Then he’s stepped away from the kind of music he is known for, anthemic, piano-driven ballads to guitar-driven, edgy, pop/rock without a single anthemic ballad (well, almost…) in the bunch.

The closest you get to the expected Manilow sound is Bring On Tomorrow, and it IS a ballad, but nowhere near anthemic such as earlier, classic Manilow ballads like Could It Be Magic or Weekend In New England. Do not mistake that as a negative comment, it’s not.

Bring On Tomorrow is a gorgeous song with a hopeful sentiment and it fits in perfectly with the idea of paying your dues, finally getting the big break and wanting to share all of it with the person who has stood by you through all of it.

Bring on tomorrow 
for me and for you
We’ve hung on through dark hours
dawn’s overdue
Bring on tomorrow
and show me the sun
We’ll live it together
’cause you are the one

The rest of the album is about as far removed from the classical Manilow style as the West Coast is from the East Coast.

Manilow not only steps outside of his comfort zone, but out of others’ comfort zones as well… as evidenced by some particularly nasty reviews that have little to do with critiquing the music and are more about personal attacks because, let’s face it, people get scared when their perceptions are altered and I can promise you, if you go into listening to this album with some notion that there can never be more to Manilow than that lame-ass ruffle-sleeved Copa jacket and Can’t Smile Without You… your perception is gonna be completely skewered!

Letter From A Fan/So Heavy, So High is blood-chillingly creepy and amazing at the same time! Nataly Dawn of Pomplamoose has such a unique and wonderful voice, but on this song… she’ll scare the wits out of you!

Remember I sent you a picture
I know all the names in your band
I was the girl wearing yellow down front
I was the first one to stand

It starts out all sweet and light, as I am sure most fan¬†correspondence does. But what the fan sees and what the artist is living aren’t necessarily the same thing.

Too many scenes
and I’m losin’ the names
Silence and talk
Both feelin’ the same
All the same city
All the same night
Step over the bodies, boy
Turn out the light
Forever, whatever
What’s winning or losing
There’s nothing my money can’t buy
Too tired to sleep
Too wired to try
I’ll pass on the party
So heavy, so high

As time goes on, and he doesn’t respond to the fan who thinks he’s her soulmate… the entire tone changes from dreamy to nightmarish with a slight change in the arrangement and the following:

You never waved back at the airport
I covered your poster in mud
I cut out the eyes on the photo you signed
I wrote you a poem in blood…
I’m stupid to think I could matter
A loser pretending you’d care
To you I’m a nothing
I ought to be dead
But night after night
I’ll be there, I’ll be there, I’ll be there…

And… that is enough to make any celebrity with an overzealous fan run for hills and go into permanent hiding!
I also think the song would have been a great choice for a first single, but… it’s not my job to choose singles for Manilow, so…

There are so many truly great songs on this album (Work The Room, Now It’s For Real, He’s A Star, Who Needs You, Winner Go Down, Trainwreck and more), that it’s impossible for me to select just one as a favorite.

All I know for certain at this point is that this is my new favorite cd. Barry Manilow’s music and Enoch Anderson’s lyrics create an amazing story about what can sometimes happen when you look for fame.

Sometimes you find it, sometimes it’s not what you think it’s going to be, sometimes you completely blow it and, when you’re really lucky, you sometimes get a second chance,

My hope is that this brilliant album is given a fair hearing because it deserves it… and after 30+ years of being the critics’ whipping boy. so does Manilow!

But I think, when all is said and done…¬†Everything’s Gonna Be Alright! ūüôā

You Make Me Feel

It’s been a long day, going into one of those nights
I don’t want to know from anything
I’d like to crawl inside myself and turn the it all off

Instead I slide the disc in
Hit play and wait
No hesitation, no patience

The music fills the room, and I start
To relax and drift away
And soon, there’s a smile

And then there are tears

And then I am dancing

And then I am laughing

And then the tears come again

And I don’t know how you do it
But I’m grateful that you do

When the pressure from the weight of the world
Gets to be too much and I slowly go numb
I turn to you because you make me feel

I feel hurt, I feel pain, I feel anger,
I feel silly, I feel sorrow, I feel joy
I feel passion, I feel love, I feel renewed

Most of all…

I feel alive!

Copyright 2011 Michelle D. Wampole

Thank you, from my heart, for being some of the best therapy money didn’t have to buy.

Barry Manilow to Release All Original New Album Entitled 15 MINUTES

Barry Manilow to Release All Original New Album Entitled 15 MINUTES – PR Newswire article.

I can’t even begin to tell you how psyched I am about this new album!
I have to correct one inaccuracy in this article… This is not Mr. Manilow’s first original album. But it is his first original album since Here At The Mayflower was released 10 years ago.
I wish Mr. Manilow, Mr. Anderson and everyone else associated with the creation of this album great success!
Is it June 14th yet???