I'm a small town singer/songwriter living in New York City who's mostly unknown. However, I was featured recently in the NY Times and on BBC World News and I just did my first major presentation in years, at the World Domination Summit 2013. Watch the video here.
I was supposed to die, but I wrote a musical instead: The Last Session. That's why I call my life "Living in the Bonus Round." The healing songs from that show set me on a worldwide adventure that is still unfolding. And this blog has created a community of caregivers who seem to want to keep me alive.
I have been open about my HIV/AIDS positive status, blogging about it since March of 1996, before blogs were invented and it continues. My health is strong, but it can fall apart easily. So, I mostly stay close to home, eating as well as I can, and making music wherever anyone will have me.
As I said, the Original Diary, which is still online, and which continues in blog form here, was a daily report: a "watch me die online" diary played out in real time, which was intended for my friends and family, and my doc, who wanted me to keep track of symptoms.
As we approached May of 1997, I was failing, eventually hooked up to feeding tubes. I had weeks left to live, if that. And I was telling the whole story online, which nobody had ever really done before because the Internet was so new, nobody had really done anything on it yet except make flashing buttons and other zowie graphics.
Because I was too sick at the time to do much else, the diary gave me a chance to just tell everything that was going on with me. To make me feel not so alone. But still, I was dying. I didn't say that out loud, but that's what was happening.
And then, by chance -- because my name was picked in a lottery for a new medication -- I did not die and The Death Watch became the Bonus Round -- that little extra time you get at the end of a show to go for broke and win all the prizes.
A year later, packed with those original songs I wrote just to keep me alive, The Last Session was playing Off-Broadway to glorious reviews, but it didn't really make me famous. Chances are you never heard of it. But I got to do some AIDS education concerts for awhile, until all the funding dried up. And the requests.
This, in 2012, a weird thing happened. A guy who saw it back in 1997 contacted me, saying how he had vowed back then that if he ever became a producer, this would be his show. And he produced it in a small run in London and that has begat a cast album, which will be out soon on JAY Records. But the London critics went bloody crazy rediscovering my songs.
Too bad I wasn't dead. It would have made the greatest headlines of all: Dead Genius Songwriter Rediscovered. What would he have been capable of if he had lived??
Then, in 2013, because of one of those little AIDS education concerts I did in Memphis in 1998, because some guy saw me, I get an invitation to play at the thing called the World Domination Summit to 3000 motivated artists and activists and writers and etceteras.
Living in the Bonus Round began as one dying man's cry to be noticed, became a community of caregivers and is what would have happened if I hadn't died.
Living in the Bonus Round: where time speeds up and the prizes are better.
My latest project is refashioning "New World Waking" from its concert hall size into an experimental "crowd-sourced event" suitable as a school/church/community project that focus on redemptive non-violence, using real life examples of people who were victims of bullying or other forms of violence. People I met here on the Internet.
I wrote it after I got to play John Lennon's "Imagine" piano because I met Gabi Clayton online, and then wrote and sang the story of her son, who committed suicide after a gay bashing. Then, somehow, George Michael heard about it, and the next day they were filming us:
I also donate my time as the Tenor in the back row and Resident Composer at Christ Church Bay Ridge, Episcopal church, which gives me a chance to learn from one of the great musical directors/musicians in New York, Mark Janas.
Though my primary work, today, is in theater, concert or cabaret stage, I'm really just a simple balladeer, at heart and am likely to sing in a hospice as a huge auditiorium. I'm pretty much the same, whether you put me in a tux or overalls.
The healing power of music is what I believe in.
If you're looking for material for your group, whether civic or religious, I got songs for you! Inspirational music suitable for any kind of campfire event, secular or religious. Easy to learn. With strong, emotional messages of thankfulness, courage and feeling reborn.
You can find these pieces at Watchfire Music. You can download sheet music to my songs as well as recorded demos to help those who don't read that well.