Volume 6- Edition 1
Summer/Fall 2005
BY MYSELF Judy Garland Dan Levine
Quarters Michael Feinstein Linda Kids Mann Center Contest Fan Corner

September 2005

Okay… it's that time again. The time when I try to put into words some of what is happening in Ederville. Honestly, it feels like a different planet. My life has gone through a major change, and now that the dust has started to settle, I'm still looking around in awe at the new world. I have to start by saying that I'm very happy. On all fronts, life is good.

The new album, BY MYSELF, was a joy to make. It took me to London, a city that I love, and it introduced me to new wonderfully creative people who I had a great time hanging out with. Ettore Stratta (producer, conductor) and Byron Olson (orchestrator) made this project so much fun and, between the two of them, there is a wealth of amazing stories about this crazy business and the people who inhabit it. I was fascinated and laughing at the same time. It was also quite incredible to record a tribute to Judy while working with someone who actually knew and worked with her. I learned things about Judy that you don't find in the books. One of the things that became loud and clear, upon hearing the personal stories from people who knew her, is that they all really liked her. She was fun to be around and her sense of humor was stellar.

While we were recording with The London Symphony at Abbey Road Studios in London, we took a day and went to The London Palladium with a film crew. This is the famous venue where Judy made her triumphant "comeback" after Hollywood told her she was a has-been. We were met there by a long-time member of the Judy Garland Fan Club. He was a small (Judy's height) 80-year-old Englishman with the most charming and dignified manners. He wore the same brown silk corduroy blazer that he had worn to all of Judy's opening nights. It was 54 years old and looked brand new because he had only worn it for those occasions. The crew filmed us while he gave me the tour of The Palladium and we ended up on the bare stage talking. He pointed up to the mezzanine to show me where he had been sitting on that fateful night all those years ago. I admit that I got a goose bump or two. We ended our conversation with me saying that I hoped he and the club would like the new album and that I would pass muster. He squeezed my arm and with the kindest smile told me that he was sure I would. It was a day that I won't forget.

I am thrilled to finally be doing a real show with my buddy Michael Feinstein. Ever since we first shared the stage for some shows, we have wanted to do an evening where we really "shared" the stage and we have finally done that. It wasn't easy with our busy schedules to find the time to work on it, but we managed to carve out a few days where we were on the same coast. With the help of a wonderful musical director, John Oddo, we put together Two For The Road. It was a challenge for me to learn all those new songs with harmonies in time for the first performances that took place on the Cape and on Long Island. I spent all my airplane trips with my ipod listening to the mp3s that John had made. I felt like I was cramming for a test. To say that I was nervous for the first night is a major understatement, but I was happy with the results and with some tweaking, I had a good sense that we really had something. It was a pleasure to watch the faces in the audience every time we introduced another classic duet. Backstage was fun as well. It felt a bit like a Broadway show. Not only was my crew there, but so was Michael's and because of the newness and the nerves, it added to the excitement. It was great to have someone to share it with, and I look forward to the shows we have planned. Michael, you are the best!

My solo concert will now be the Garland Tribute and that is my latest challenge, learning all those words and finding the timing and the rhythms that make a show work — finding it for Judy, but also for myself. My goal has never been to imitate, but to let her influences, that have become inherent in me out, and at the same time be me. I have now performed some of the songs from the album, and it has made me excited for this show.

It was never my intention to move forward without Jeremy Roberts. He has been a part of my performing life for so long, and this is one change that I have not looked forward to. Change is something I have always resisted. However, it no longer frightens me. I know that I have changed, dramatically. It's an important part of life and often the key to true happiness. So, while I am saddened by the end of 19 years of magic and memories, I applaud his desire to change and challenge himself.

TRAIL MIX has been an amazing project to be part of. The goal is to show famous singers relaxed in their own horse environments, and it has lead to some wonderful interviews. Co-creator Maureen Smith and I have traveled to great locations and spent fun days with the talented team that has made TRAIL MIX a reality. We have been welcomed into the homes of these amazing singers, and I have had the great pleasure to literally "horse around" with them. Highlights included riding western cutting horses with LeAnn Rimes. It was something I had always wanted to try and it was a blast. Cutting horses evolved out of the need for ranchers to cut a single cow from the herd in order to brand or treat it. Because of their strong desire to return to the herd, it is no small feat and it is mostly up to the horse to stop that cow. They bob and weave and almost go to their knees in the process. I was happy that I did not fall off. Another highlight was riding horses on the beach in Mexico with a very good-looking Latin heartthrob. Ladies, it's a tough job.

But my favorite interview was the first. My friend, the incredible Irish tenor with the life story that movies are made of, Ronan Tynan, came to my farm. On the hottest day of the year, we laughed, we joked, we rode my horses, we sweated, but we really did what I so love to do. We talked horses. He helped kick off TRAIL MIX in a way that gave me the confidence to believe it was going to work. Thank you, Ronan.

I am blessed with a wonderful family and very good friends who have made navigating through this "change" in my life much easier. I am also blessed with extraordinary fans who gave me the courage to perform during a time when I was really very much afraid to. It has been an amazing year. I want to thank all of you for coming along for the ride. I have no idea what the future holds, but I'm not afraid of it. I look forward to it. I appreciate everyone who is on the "team" helping me to sail the open water.


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