The Other Side Of Me

Singing at the Tribute to Jim and Jesse, with Gene Yellin on Guitar. Photo by Jack Hirschorn

In Poland at the Mazurka festival

Up the Spout” video

At WOMEX with my Balkan friends

On location in Taiwan at a temple complex

Besides visual art I have been deeply involved in music. Having these two creative faces is quite common; I find that many of my artistic friends have “interdisciplinary” talents!

I have been a singer for many years, starting professionally at the age of 11. I have sung just about any kind of music that I have been called upon to sing (with varying degrees of success), but I love it all. I fronted a rock-satire band formed by Robert Downey Sr. I sang with the rock group the Elephant’s Memory (I left just before their association with John Lennon — and no, I do not regret it) and went on to work with a garage band, a club date band, a Christmas caroling group, a Celtic music band, a country band, a progressive bluegrass band called Charged Particles, and my own band doing my own compositions.  I  have even sung Tin Pan Alley torch songs at the Bronx Zoo!

In the early 90’s I started working for a world music publicist. This was not a far jump—I had always been open to all kinds of music, and the musicians in my various spheres were always turning me on to new sounds from all over the world.  After three years of exposure to a plethora of ear-opening sounds, I landed a job producing world music compilations for Ellipsis Arts.  They are, in chronological order: Planet Squeezebox, Klezmer Music: A Marriage of Heaven and Earth, Celtic Lullaby, Latin Lullaby, Unblocked: Music of Eastern Europe, and Dancing with the Dead; Music of Global Death Rituals. I found the music, the photos, wrote the liner notes, hired the essayists, mastered and sequenced the CDs –it was hugely challenging but gratifying work. In the process, I also started writing reviews and overviews for various magazines.  With all of this experience, the next natural leap came when I started working in television, at Link TV. It was here that I finally found my visual and musical skills merging.  I have to give credit to my boss Steven Lawrence, an artist in his own right, who sensitized me to the nature of video as a medium, and who always demanded the highest standards for what we showed on the channel. After ten years, I parted ways with Link, but had a Panasonic camcorder, a videoblog on the Huffington Post, and my own world music video site, InterMuse.

Nowadays, I shoot video of music that interests me here and abroad.  I find music from other cultures to be as intense, pleasurable, meaningful and memorable as anything else we regularly listen to. And sometimes it goes well beyond simple entertainment, into the spiritual and philosophical realm. If you have some musical curiosity, I invite you to check my videoblogs out.  I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

And I still sing.

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