May 20 2016

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 74) “Toni Tennille – A Memoir of Sunshine and Shadow” [part 1 of 2]

Whenever I get the opportunity to interview a famous songwriter, I feel the need to step up my game and ask questions that my listeners are dying to know.  This, of course, is rarely the case on my radio show, where I had a wonderful conversation with the lovely Toni Tennille.  She, along with the Captain, contributed several definitive pop songs of the 1970’s, and in our conversation, Toni happily shares some stories behind the tunes.  I tried to discuss the very compelling book (Toni Tennille: A Memoir) that she wrote with her talented niece, Caroline Tennille St. Clair. This was a challenge, because the publisher never sent the book to me as assured, but Toni understood this and gave me two full episodes of warm and fun conversation. I learned a lot about her role as a prolific songwriter and classically trained pianist, as well as the often disheartening marriage with Daryl Dragon and their partnership as a musical act. Take a listen, and you will enjoy Toni Tennille’s southern charm and friendly personality as much a I did!   ~ Dean

Featured Guest:   Toni Tennille

Cathryn Antoinette “Toni” Tennille is best known from her ’70s and ’80s chart-topping hits with the pop duo Captain & Tennille.  After thirty-nine years together, Toni and husband Daryl Dragon separated in 2013 and finalized their divorce in July of 2014.  Suddenly single, Toni has found peace in her new life surrounded by family, her dogs and cats, and the music she still loves to play on her grand piano.  A classically trained pianist and a prolific song writer, Toni has also released numerous solo albums celebrating the romantic music of big band and American standards.  She has just completed a memoir of her life and career which will be released in April 2016.

Toni Tennille 008 singing loud

Visit Toni Tennille’s website:
www.ToniTennille.net

A very special THANK YOU to Toni Tennille for the use of her images and music! © 2016 Toni Tennille, all rights reserved

Captain & Tennille - ''You Never Done It Like That''

February 14 2016

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 69) “Frank Shiner – My Wonderful Spark Plug”

One of my most cherished guests is New York-based singer Frank Shiner, because he is so approachable and genuine in our interviews.  Today’s episode is bonus footage of our most recent talk, and I saved it for Valentine’s Day, because Frank gets the opportunity to talk lovingly about his wife in this one!  Their teenage daughter is also is subject of discussion, and it’s crystal clear where Frank’s top priorities are – his family!  You’ll still get to grab some wisdom and inspiration from this fantastic entertainer, so listen in on our conversation for a good smile or two!

~Dean

Featured Guest:   Frank Shiner

In the early 2000s, Frank Shiner’s wife Suzanne began a battle with cancer “a truly life altering experience that changes your perspective on everything.” The deepness of the couple’s relationship courses through nearly every song on The Real Me. Suzanne went through hell, which makes her prodding of her husband that night at the bandstand in 2010 even more moving and climactic. She pulled on his heartstrings saying it would bring her great joy if he would sing. Only that got him up on the bandstand.

When Tony the bandleader rushed out to the parking lot afterwards to collar Shiner before he disappeared, it was the start of a beautiful friendship. Shiner grew to love this new character, who would not take no for an answer, and he even came to Shiner’s office over a period of months to spend time with the singer on a campaign to recruit him. “Frank,” Tony said, “music heals the soul.” The singer took the advice to heart, with all that he and his wife were going through with her illness.

“I call her my spark plug!”
– Frank Shiner

Visit Frank Shiner’s website:
www.FrankShiner.com

A very special THANK YOU to Frank Shiner for the use of his images and music! © 2014 Bakerson/Pyramid Records

The Real Me, his debut album produced by Gary Katz (Steely Dan) includes the top 5 hit Feels Like Home and the new top 12 single The Real Me.  Available Now

“Frank Shiner sings these songs as if he wrote them. He sings with a maturity and a truth that comes from living and loving deeply and fully.”
-NPR

“His music is generating a buzz across the country.” – The Journal News

“The Real Me is a beautifully delicate and articulate whisper from the very core of a true artist.” -AXS.com

“Frank Shiner’s The Real Me resonates with the rich, lush soul of enduring honesty.” -Songwriter’s Monthly

– Winner of 2 LA Music Critic Awards: Best CD Male & Best Song, Feels Like Home.

February 6 2016

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 68) “Milt Larsen – Good Collaborators Are Like Siamese Twins”

Today’s episode is the conclusion of my conversation with the incredible Milt Larsen!  If you missed part one, you can go back and listen here! Milt shared insight from all facets of his life’s work, including songwriting. We discussed his collaboration with Richard Sherman, specifically on Smash Flops (see below) and how songwriter’s can deal with stalls or blocks in their creativity. But the whole conversation is just a relaxing chit-chat with one of Los Angeles’ living legends of entertainment and magic! Hope you enjoy!!
~  Dean

Featured Guest:   Milt Larsen

MILT LARSEN is best known for his role in the world of magic.  In September 2016, he will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of his annual stage show It’s Magic!  In 1963, he founded the world famous private club for magicians, the Magic Castle in Hollywood.  He is a true renaissance man in that his career encompasses writing, producing and performing.

In the songwriting field, the team of Sherman and Larsen have a cult comedy following for their outrageous songs (for their time) Smash Flops and Banned Barbershop Ballads.  He has written many stage revues and musicals.  A new musical, Pazzazz – Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Milt Larsen, enjoyed a full-scale premiere production at the University of Texas, and would have its world premiere at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater in 2008.

As a performer, he has been seen yanking tablecloths in films and commercials.  He has been the opening act for The Amazing Johnathan in Las Vegas.  He has been a lecturer at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and magic conventions around the world.

He created and hosts a weekly radio feature HEAR THEM AGAIN – For the First Time, featuring recordings from the first half of the 20th century. The show is now heard on CRN digital radio Saturdays and Sundays www.crntalk.com

Get the reissued edition of SMASH FLOPS
featuring songs by Sherman & Larsen.

Available at iTunes!

Insert

 

Writing Career of Milt Larsen (Top 12 Facts)

Visit Milt Larsen’s website for more info:
www.MiltLarsen.com

Special thanks to Milt Larsen for the use of his images and music.
© 2015 Milt Larsen – All Rights Reserved

January 29 2016

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 67) “Milt Larsen – The Magic Is In Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously”

“Milt Larsen – The Magic Is In Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously”

Today’s episode is a kind of fireside chat with the creator of the world famous Magic Castle… the one and only Milt Larsen! He is a long time friend of my previous featured guest, Richard Sherman, and has been affectionately dubbed the “Third Sherman Brother” as he and Richard have a long history of writing songs together. You can hear two episodes worth of conversation as I got to know this renaissance man of sorts. As an “octoplus,” Mr. Larsen recalls doing just about everything that interested him: magic, acting, writing, television, theater production, and much more. But, as Richard Sherman and I discussed, Milt wrote several outrageous comedy songs with his best buddy. Please enjoy the first half of this interview with the great Milt Larsen!
~  Dean

Featured Guest:   Milt Larsen

MILT LARSEN is best known for his role in the world of magic.  In September 2016, he will celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of his annual stage show It’s Magic!  In 1963, he founded the world famous private club for magicians, the Magic Castle in Hollywood.  He is a true renaissance man in that his career encompasses writing, producing and performing.

In the songwriting field, the team of Sherman and Larsen have a cult comedy following for their outrageous songs (for their time) Smash Flops and Banned Barbershop Ballads.  He has written many stage revues and musicals.  A new musical, Pazzazz – Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Milt Larsen, enjoyed a full-scale premiere production at the University of Texas, and would have its world premiere at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theater in 2008.

As a performer, he has been seen yanking tablecloths in films and commercials.  He has been the opening act for The Amazing Johnathan in Las Vegas.  He has been a lecturer at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C. and magic conventions around the world.

He created and hosts a weekly radio feature HEAR THEM AGAIN – For the First Time, featuring recordings from the first half of the 20th century. The show is now heard on CRN digital radio Saturdays and Sundays www.crntalk.com

Get the reissued edition of SMASH FLOPS
featuring songs by Sherman & Larsen.

Available at iTunes!

Insert

 

Writing Career of Milt Larsen (Top 12 Facts)

Visit Milt Larsen’s website for more info:
www.MiltLarsen.com

Special thanks to Milt Larsen for the use of his images and music.
© 2015 Milt Larsen – All Rights Reserved

January 15 2016

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 66) “Richard Sherman – Serenading the Kiss Goodnight For Walt Disney”

“Richard Sherman – Serenading the Kiss Goodnight For Walt Disney”
including the song “A Kiss Goodnight” sung by Ashley Brown

I certainly hope you enjoyed the first part of my series, when I talked to songwriting legend Richard M. Sherman.  But if you missed it, you can go back and listen to it here, and then come back and hear part two!  In this episode, Mr. Sherman and I discussed how he and his brother Robert wrote songs together, and he gave me insight on what makes a great song.  Richard also shared the story behind the writing of a tune that is now used as the soundtrack during Disneyland’s closing fireworks show, called “A Kiss Goodnight.”  Then I picked up some note cards and asked a mixed bag of questions, and got some great answers from Richard, including a backstory on the Mary Poppins experience.  When you hear Richard M. Sherman offer up the wisdom of more than six decades of his experience, you’ll feel that there is, indeed, a great big beautiful tomorrow!

~ Dean

Featured Guest:   Richard M. Sherman

Over the years, Richard M. Sherman and his late brother Robert B. Sherman, wrote more songs for motion pictures than any team in cinematic history.  As the foremost composer-lyricists in family entertainment, they have written the soundtrack of our childhood, most prominently working for Walt Disney.

Richard’s achievements include:  Two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins (score) and “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (song), nine Oscar nominations, three Grammy Awards, twenty-four Gold and Platinum albums, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, an honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, Bard College, and in 2008 at the White House, ‘National Medal of Arts’ the highest honor bestowed on American-born artists.

The Sherman Brothers wrote over 200 songs featured in Walt Disney’s films, TV shows and theme parks. Their 36 feature Disney film credits include:  Mary Poppins, Jungle Book, The Parent Trap, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Happiest Millionaire, and the Winnie the Pooh series. They wrote Disney’s long-running TV theme song, “The Wonderful World Of Color,” and their many contributions to Disney theme parks include: “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” (Carousel of Progress), and “One Little Spark” (EPCOT).

Get the reissued edition of SMASH FLOPS
featuring songs by Sherman & Larsen.

Available at iTunes!

Insert

 

Richard Sherman Plays ''Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'' at D23 Event

Visit the Sherman Brothers music website:
www.ShermanMusic.com

Special thanks to Richard M. Sherman for the use of his images and music.
© 2015 Richard M. Sherman – All Rights Reserved

January 8 2016

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 65) “Richard Sherman – Good Songwriters Have Got To Expect Curves”

“Richard Sherman – Good Songwriters Have Got To Expect Curves”
including the songs “The Palin For President Polka” & “The Fracking Song” from the Sherman & Larsen album SMASH FLOPS!

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow for my very special guest Richard M. Sherman! Having just turned 87 years old at the time of our interview, this living songwriting legend shows no slowing of his pace, and he continues to look at the creative road in front of him. Richard’s sanguine personality took over the show almost instantly, and he overdelivered in his storytelling and songwriting advice. This episode is one of four parts. Richard Sherman will be with me for two episodes, and the remaining two will feature his best friend and songwriting partner Milt Larsen (a.k.a. The Third Sherman Brother!) Both Sherman and Larsen added two relevant songs to their illustrious novelty compendium CD, Smash Flops, which we discussed at the beginning. From there, the conversation traveled from Richard’s beginnings in songwriting with his brother Robert to securing a job with Walt Disney. You are sure to catch the optimistic fever of Richard (“Call me Dick,” he told me before the interview, but I addressed him as Richard.)  So make sure you also listen to the following episode, as we were just getting warmed up!

~ Dean

Featured Guest:   Richard M. Sherman

Over the years, Richard M. Sherman and his late brother Robert B. Sherman, wrote more songs for motion pictures than any team in cinematic history.  As the foremost composer-lyricists in family entertainment, they have written the soundtrack of our childhood, most prominently working for Walt Disney.

Richard’s achievements include:  Two Academy Awards for Mary Poppins (score) and “Chim Chim Cher-ee” (song), nine Oscar nominations, three Grammy Awards, twenty-four Gold and Platinum albums, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, an honorary Doctorate from his alma mater, Bard College, and in 2008 at the White House, ‘National Medal of Arts’ the highest honor bestowed on American-born artists.

The Sherman Brothers wrote over 200 songs featured in Walt Disney’s films, TV shows and theme parks. Their 36 feature Disney film credits include:  Mary Poppins, Jungle Book, The Parent Trap, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, The Happiest Millionaire, and the Winnie the Pooh series. They wrote Disney’s long-running TV theme song, “The Wonderful World Of Color,” and their many contributions to Disney theme parks include: “The Tiki Tiki Tiki Room,” “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” (Carousel of Progress), and “One Little Spark” (EPCOT).

Get the reissued edition of SMASH FLOPS
featuring songs by Sherman & Larsen.

Available at iTunes!

Insert

 

Richard Sherman Plays ''Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious'' at D23 Event

Visit the Sherman Brothers music website:
www.ShermanMusic.com

Special thanks to Richard M. Sherman for the use of his images and music.
© 2015 Richard M. Sherman – All Rights Reserved

December 23 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 64) “A Very StrongWriter Christmas 2015”

“A Very StrongWriter Christmas”
featuring Christmas songs from various StrongWriter guests

A Very StrongWriter Xmas

It’s my very special Christmas show!  How cool is it for me to spin some Christmas tunes on my radio program, especially when the artists are my friends from the show!   Grab some hot chocolate (or something stronger if you like) and enjoy my special offering for the end of December… It’s a Very StrongWriter Christmas!!   ~ Dean

Merry Christmas!

A Very StrongWriter Christmas 2015

Sleigh RideDean Olson
I’ll Be Home For ChristmasKanisha K
Christmas Is HereCindy Alexander
Jingle Bell RockShantell Ogden
Driving Home For ChristmasFrank Shiner
Santa On VacationCindy Alexander (featuring 6 year old Jette Betrue)
Blue ChristmasBrian Hutson
That’s What Christmas Used To BeLaura Pursell
I Found Love (Just In Time For Christmas)Kanisha K
For Auld Lang SyneCindy Alexander
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting)Dean Olson

Special thanks to all my guests for the use of her images and music.
© 2015 StrongWriter On the Radio – All Rights Reserved

December 18 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 63) “Cindy Alexander – An American Girl’s Sweet Musical Journey”

“Cindy Alexander – An American Girl’s Sweet Musical Journey”
including the songs “Burdens and Bones (How Bad Do You Want It?)” and “American Girl”

Today is my final interview show of the year, and what a way to wrap up 2015!  All month long, it has been De-CIN-ber, in honor of my latest featured guest Cindy Alexander!  In this conclusion, we talk more about her songs and life, but Cindy also shared stories of her voyage through the music business and her success so far.  Parts of her musical journey are bittersweet, as she expresses in a song from her latest EP An American Girl.  The track is called “Burdens and Bones (How Bad Do You Want It?)”  It allowed Cindy to tell a story publicly about how she was led to a disappointing situation, one of which she was narrowly taken advantage by an entertainment mogul.  I appreciate that Cindy shared that story on the program.  The personal responsibility and grace that Cindy shows as she pushes on through her challenges is something that inspires me, and of course, I’m sharing it with you.  I really hope you enjoy my three part series featuring the wonderful singer/songwriter Cindy Alexander.  Here are the links to hear PART ONE and PART TWO, in case you missed them.  Blessings and best wishes!  ~Dean

Featured Guest:   Cindy Alexander

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cindy was trained at the acclaimed USC School of Drama but realized quickly that there was enough “drama” in real life and the best part she could play… was herself. So, she wrote what is now 7 cd’s (and added to numerous compilations and soundtracks) worth of her life, which she has performed all across the United States, Japan, Germany, Ireland, and islands as far as Barbados and Guantanamo Bay. Music has always been the key to her adventure, and she soaks up the stories of those she meets, the cultures, the geography, the spirit and the down and dirty details of the road she travels. As a seasoned writer and performer, she has tackled numerous subjects – not only the classic singer/songwriter confessional fare of dysfunctional relationships, marriage, and motherhood, but also her personal discovery and recovery from breast cancer, the perils of the entertainment business, classic literature, sexuality, spirituality, history and the human condition. There is no topic which is out of bounds – she tells The Truth.

Cindy Alexander CONNECTS, and her relationship with her fans has funded her recording projects and fueled her continued success as a touring indie musician.

Cindy’s new EP An American Girl is available NOW at

blue elan logo

Cindy Alexander 000 American Girl cover

CINDY ALEXANDER - Play (Official Lyric Video)

Visit Cindy Alexander’s website:
www.cindyalexander.com

Special thanks to Cindy Alexander for the use of her images and music.
© 2015 Cindy Alexander – All Rights Reserved

December 11 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 62) “Cindy Alexander – Writing Through the Curves”

“Cindy Alexander – Writing Through the Curves”
including the songs “See You In L.A.” “Anesthesia” “Heels Over Head” & “Old Dreams”

Did you miss the premiere episode of StrongWriter On the Radio featuring my special guest Cindy Alexander?  Part One can be heard by clicking here, and Part Two has lots of talk about Cindy’s music and songwriting.  I had a lot of fun hearing behind the scenes tales of making her music videos, and we started to discuss her newest project, An American Girl.  I was not expecting Cindy to turn the tables on me, but she asked me to explain my own cancer experience on my show.  After all, she was gracious enough to share her double mastectomy story with me, and for that, I appreciate her.  But the music goes on, and Cindy is writing strong and beautifully.  Please enjoy this episode, and be sure to listen to the conclusion next week!  ~Dean

Featured Guest:   Cindy Alexander

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cindy was trained at the acclaimed USC School of Drama but realized quickly that there was enough “drama” in real life and the best part she could play… was herself. So, she wrote what is now 7 cd’s (and added to numerous compilations and soundtracks) worth of her life, which she has performed all across the United States, Japan, Germany, Ireland, and islands as far as Barbados and Guantanamo Bay. Music has always been the key to her adventure, and she soaks up the stories of those she meets, the cultures, the geography, the spirit and the down and dirty details of the road she travels. As a seasoned writer and performer, she has tackled numerous subjects – not only the classic singer/songwriter confessional fare of dysfunctional relationships, marriage, and motherhood, but also her personal discovery and recovery from breast cancer, the perils of the entertainment business, classic literature, sexuality, spirituality, history and the human condition. There is no topic which is out of bounds – she tells The Truth.

Cindy Alexander CONNECTS, and her relationship with her fans has funded her recording projects and fueled her continued success as a touring indie musician.

Cindy’s new EP An American Girl is available NOW at

blue elan logo

Cindy Alexander 000 American Girl cover

CINDY ALEXANDER - Play (Official Lyric Video)

Visit Cindy Alexander’s website:
www.cindyalexander.com

Special thanks to Cindy Alexander for the use of her images and music.
© 2015 Cindy Alexander – All Rights Reserved

December 4 2015

StrongWriter On the Radio: (Episode 61) “Cindy Alexander – Gracefully Living Through the Big C”

“Cindy Alexander – Gracefully Living Through the Big C”
featuring the song “Play”

This December is all about the big C, and that stands for Cindy!  I’m talking about indie singer-songwriter Cindy Alexander, who actually isn’t big at all, as she stands measuring five-foot-two and about 100 lbs.  Her petite frame is a contrast to her powerful voice and grand songwriting, which give an open display to Cindy’s big heart.  And just in case you happened to think of the word cancer when I said the big C, that was a reference to Cindy’s breast cancer diagnosis in 2013.  It’s also about the proverbial curve she hit head-on and over the wall, and the courage to continue to live her dreams, on her own terms.  You’ll understand when you hear this very special conversation I had with this wonderful award winning singer-songwriter, wife, mother, breast cancer thriver and so much more.  Please enjoy this part one of a three part series!   ~Dean

Featured Guest:   Cindy Alexander

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Cindy was trained at the acclaimed USC School of Drama but realized quickly that there was enough “drama” in real life and the best part she could play… was herself. So, she wrote what is now 7 cd’s (and added to numerous compilations and soundtracks) worth of her life, which she has performed all across the United States, Japan, Germany, Ireland, and islands as far as Barbados and Guantanamo Bay. Music has always been the key to her adventure, and she soaks up the stories of those she meets, the cultures, the geography, the spirit and the down and dirty details of the road she travels. As a seasoned writer and performer, she has tackled numerous subjects – not only the classic singer/songwriter confessional fare of dysfunctional relationships, marriage, and motherhood, but also her personal discovery and recovery from breast cancer, the perils of the entertainment business, classic literature, sexuality, spirituality, history and the human condition. There is no topic which is out of bounds – she tells The Truth.

Cindy Alexander CONNECTS, and her relationship with her fans has funded her recording projects and fueled her continued success as a touring indie musician.

CINDY ALEXANDER - Play (Official Lyric Video)

Visit Cindy Alexander’s website:
www.cindyalexander.com

Special thanks to Cindy Alexander for the use of her images and music.
© 2015 Cindy Alexander – All Rights Reserved