Singer/Songwriter John Michael Hersey

Press/Reviews

Beach Sloth

John Michael Hersey – You Got To Me

Sep 30, 2016 | Music | 0 comments |

Delivered with true spirit is the impassioned work of John Michael Hersey’s “You Got To Me”. John Michael Hersey’s vocals serve as the heart of the album as his expressive lyricism works wonders. Carefully crafting an intricate narrative over the course of the album John Michael Hersey explores the concept of relationships and the many complications they often run into. Tapping into a wonderful kaleidoscopic rush of styles ranging from indie rock to classic rock all couched within a singer-songwriter framework, the songs have a luxurious fully formed sound to them. Layer upon layer of sound come together ever so elegantly from the vamp of the organ to the expressive percussion that punctuates the pieces. At times John Michael Hersey’s highly articulate, intricate arrangements feel reminiscent of Jon Brion’s soundtrack work.

 

Opening the album off on a high note is the loose and gentle spirit of “You Saved My Life”. With a level of restraint, the song has a slightly jazzy feeling to it as it slowly unfurls. Downright leisurely is the lovely “You Got To Me” by far the highlight of the album. A sense of gleefulness dominates on the playful “Don’t Shy Away”. Stripping the sound down to the absolute essentials is the nimble guitar work of “In The Dark”. Another highlight reveals itself in the rollicking spirit of “It’s Not Black And White”. Bringing the album to a joyful finale is the tender ballad of “Yes, I Love You”.

 

John Michael Hersey’s “You Got To Me” offers a timeless take on pop music.

folkwords.com

‘ADIRONDACK’ by John Michael Hersey - raw, hard, observant and thought provoking

(May 23, 2014)


They do say that there’s nothing like adversity to drive the strength of lyrics. Having spent time becoming familiar with the harder side of fortune, John Michael Hersey surely writes some strong words, with powerful tunes to carry those words. The folk rock and folk ballad songs on his album ADIRONDACK' relate a journey through tough times laying down feelings in song. It’s raw, hard, observant and thought provoking.

‘Walking to the Light’ takes you into the man's music, and it’s immediately obvious that here’s a songwriter that delivers sharp hooks and stark messages. And what’s more, here’s a voice that matches the thoughts expressed. The achingly observant ‘What Do You Think?’ is a potent song telling its truth without pulling its punches, while the solid understanding, poignant poetry and gentle melody of ‘Difficult Man’ make a point well worth the recognition – this is tough love indeed. Built around a touching piano track, Hersey expands his observations with ‘The World Came To Town’ – reflecting his own feelings through a hard to bear view of 9/11; then throughout the mournful reality of ‘Keeping Each Other Company’ and the essential truth of ‘A Bar Of Gold’ he lays down more strong narratives.

ADIRONDACK’ written, performed and produced by Hersey (except for a poem written by Victor T. Runowicz) allows you to hear a man share experiences in a way that make them easy to understand without blunting their hard edge.

Reviewer: Tom Franks

Music Connection

Live Review 3/21/14

 

The West End New York, NY

Contact: jmhersey@gmail.com

Web: http://johnmichaelhersey.com

The Players: John Michael Hersey, vocals, guitar; John DiGiulio drums, percussion.

 

Material: Kicking off a show in support of his new CD, Adirondack, John Michael Hersey’s opening narrative takes you through images of the scenic Adirondacks: “Snow capped mountains, a clear blue sky with a graceful eagle soaring through it.” Then suddenly the imagery switches to a “20-foot fence topped off with gleaming razor wire.” No one in the audience is prepared for the abrupt and jarring reality that follows as he announces that this is where he’ll be spending the next one to three years as an inmate at the Adirondack Correctional Facility after pleading guilty to grand larceny. This back story sets you up for Hersey’s journey from inmate, to parolee to free man and the songs reflect each part of that journey introduced by a short scripted setup. The songs lean toward Americana with roots and rock injected into the mix.

 

Musicianship: A former member of the vocal group, the Cadillacs, Hersey is fluent on vocals as well as guitar. He also holds a Ph.D in ethnomusicology. Hersey performs the entire set with just guitar and the aid of drummer/percussionist John DiGiulio, which solidly fills out the songs, giving the boost they need in the more blues/rock numbers.

 

Performance: The juxtaposition of Hersey’s educational credits, musical abilities and

personal profile of otherwise good-man-gone astray has the makings of something far more dramatic and, with some re-writes and strong direction, could evolve into a good piece of theater. Hersey infused humor and levity into his delivery along with the appropriate amount of humility, but one can only imagine the pain that accompanied this time in his life. More poignant evidence of this would add to the overall emotional spectrum without being too weighty and would involve the audience at an even deeper level.

 

Summary: If an artist needs personal fodder to fuel their art, there is no shortage of it here. With tweaking and additional guidance, this set could develop into something bigger; and at a time when our moral compass is faltering, Hersey’s story could find its way into popular culture. If music does indeed have the power to heal, then this concept work might have been Hersey’s best route to redemption and perhaps to even greater musical success. – Ellen Woloshin

www.highway61.it

Adirondack ... is a very fine and appealing album with some great songs covering a wide gamut of American roots music styles and arrangements.

Rootstime.be

[English translation]

The musical career of New Yorker John Michael Hersey started in the 1980s when he was a vocalist and guitarist for the New Jersey rock band Shale. Subsequently, he played In New York with a number of folk and rock bands before he decided to take a chance as a solo artist in the folk circuit. To date he has released three solo albums: Soup Du Jour (1999), Whirligig (2003) and How Am I Here ? (2007).

Today he has released a brand new album with fourteen self-composed tracks, Adirondack. The album is named after the correctional institution in New York where he was a prisoner. He looks back on that period with a healthy dose of humor and the lyrics of a few songs on the album express hope for a better future.

Folk ballads like "Adirondack" and "The World Came to Town" are interspersed with more blues-inspired tracks like "Fallen" and "Never Give Up", and country ballads "Keep Each Other Company", "This Day" and "Walking to the Light." There are two great dance tracks: the waltzing "A Difficult Man" and the reggae tune "Sittin' Pretty." He also included a pure rock song, "Bad Examples.”

The influences of the story-telling folk singers like Bob Dylan and the rich, melodic songs of The Beatles are a clearly audible presence in the album Adirondack.  John Michael Hersey clearly used his period of seclusion to compose strong songs for this album. The prison sentence served, the future looks rosy again for this musician, who finds inspiration in his songs to become a better man in the life that's ahead of him.

 

https://poprockdoowopp.com

Speedo & The Cadillacs 2010 interview

June 17, 2014 by poprock

As exciting to watch and pleasing to listen to as they are important in the history of rock and roll, The Cadillacs were one of the best on the scene for almost 60 years after the group started on the street corners of New York City.  Their recordings of classics like Gloria, Speedo, Zoom, The Girl I Love and Peek-A-Boo are not only fan favorites, but have been used in countless movies like American Hot Wax and Goodfellas.  Even The Cadillacs themselves are no strangers to the silver screen, having appeared in the Alan Freed classic Go Johnny Go, where they showed off their now-legendary stage antics.  Original lead singer Earl “Speedo” Carroll, original bass Bobby Phillips, industry veteran Gary K. Lewis and musical director / second tenor John Michael Hersey brought down the house everywhere they performed until the passing of both Bobby Phillips and Speedo just a few years ago.  I had a chance to spend some time with all 4 gentlemen shortly before illness sidelined the two surviving originals.  Here’s what you would have heard had you been a “fly on the wall” with these legends.  — Joe Mirrione

 

Joe:  What was your first introduction to show business?

Speedo:   As a kid in elementary school, I loved Bill Robinson, “Bojangles”.  So I got myself a cane and a hat and I used to whistle Sweet Georgia Brown.  I would do a little tap dance and I really didn’t know what I was doing, but people seemed to enjoy it.  I was always interested in rhythm and blues, but then rock and roll came.  A young man came from Cleveland by the name of Alan Freed and I was impressed with what he was doing.  It all boiled down to one thing – entertainment.  That’s what I wanted to do – entertain people.

 

Joe:  What was your introduction to group harmony?

Speedo:  A few spiritual groups – The Swan Silvertones, Sam Cooke’s group The Soul Stirrers, The Five Blind Boys.  As far as R&B, The Orioles, The Five Keys, Jimmy Ricks & The Ravens… The Dominoes were very impressive.

Bobby:  My favorite group was The Clovers.  I always wanted to be a bass singer and the bass singer in The Clovers made a big impression on me – Harold Winley.  He caught my ear – he started me wanting to be a bass.

 

Joe:  Your first experience in the recording studio became one of the most influential and most-recorded songs in the history of vocal group music.  Tell me about Gloria and how you got that incredible echo effect at the beginning, where it sounds like you’re coming from the end of a tunnel.

Bobby:  Well, that was the idea.  It sounds like he’s off in the forest somewhere and each time he sings “Gloria”, its closer and closer.

Speedo:  That was a studio technique.  Falsetto was very popular, so I put a little falsetto into it.  That high tenor voice would always stick out a little more in the harmony and that’s what we did.  We put a little doo wop to it, that’s what I guess you would call it.  With the falsetto and that far-away sound, it caught on.

 

Joe:  Bobby, your bass voice is so prominent on that record.  What did you think when you heard it played back to you?

Bobby:  It knocked me out.  I never knew I sounded that deep.  The studio did that – they could soup-up your voice!

 

 

Top: Earl “Speedo” Carroll, LaVerne Drake, James “Poppa” Clark; Bottom: Bobby Phillips, Johnny “Gus” Willingham

Joe:  How much of a role did you play in the re-working of that song from the old 1940’s standard that it started out as?  We all know how other people’s names ended up as authors when these songs came out…

Speedo:  We put it together.  The group was very talented in arranging the tunes that we did, but we weren’t too familiar with publishing and copyrights – we were artists.  Those were the days of the rip-off so everybody got ripped off as far as writing and publishing.  If you look for the writer credit on most of the recordings, you’ll see the writing by Esther Navarro.  She was not a writer, but a hell of a manager.  She brought us along and introduced us to people to help our act become bigger and better, but she was not a writer.  We basically wrote all those tunes.  Hopefully, one day we’ll get the publishing and writing credit.

 

Joe:  What are your recollections about the original members that passed through the group?  Papa Clark, Johnny Willingham, Earl Wade, Lavern Drake, J.R. Bailey, Buddy Brooks, Bobby Spencer…

Speedo:  We were all young and wild – I remember that!

Bobby:  Papa Clark was also with The Five Crowns and his brother was in The Harptones.  Earl Wade was also with The Opals.

Speedo:  We were all from the same neighborhood.  J.R. Bailey lived on 135th Street in Harlem and we knew each other.  He was with a group called The New Yorkers Five.  He and Robert Spencer were writing and doing a lot of work for Jackie Wilson.  He admired The Cadillacs and when a spot opened in the group, he took it.  [Editor’s note: Highlights of J.R. Bailey’s extensive musical accomplishments include singing first tenor for The Halos, singing lead on The Globetrotters’ Rainy Day Bells and writing Everybody Plays the Fool for The Main Ingredient.]

 

Joe:  How did the nickname and the song Speedo come about?

Speedo:  We were working at an armory in Massachusetts with Connie Francis, The Moonglows and several other acts.   It was a successful engagement and we were getting in the car to come home – back to New York.  Bobby Phillips, the ham of the group, saw a big bombshell and said, “Hey Speedo, there’s your torpedo.”  And the guys just fell out laughing because they used to tease me about my head being pointy.  I was a little upset with it so I turned to Bobby and said, “My name is Mr. Earl as far as you’re concerned.”  By the time we got to New York, we had lyrics and just about all the music that we needed.  We went in and recorded it and it was our biggest hit.  That was 1955.

 

Joe:  What kind of influence did it have on you when you saw The Regals do “Got The Water Boiling” live at the Apollo Theater?

Speedo:  Bobby Schiffman, who owned the Apollo Theater with his father, was managing The Regals at the time.  They were very talented and they were ahead of their time – with performances and with their sound.  They had a unique sound.  They were doing a lot of show tunes and we took their “wop-wah-shoo-be-doop” and put it into Speedo and the rest is history.

 

Joe:  How did you come to be known for your choreography?

Bobby:  Cholly Atkins had a lot to do with that.

Speedo:  We used to work on it for 8 hours a day at the Ed Sullivan Theatre on Broadway.  Cholly Atkins and Honi Coles were amazing – they looked like just one person, they were that close.

Gary: In Gentleman Prefer Blondes, they did the slowest soft shoe ever filmed.

Speedo:  We were thugs in those days.  We said, “Cholly, we ain’t no dancers.  We can sing a little bit but we can’t dance.”

Bobby:  He said, “Can you walk?”

Speedo:  Then he said, “Can you count?  Well, then, give me 2 guys up here right now.  Here’s what I want you to do.  All you’ve got to do is count – 1-2-3-4-5 – Now, put those steps together. “   We looked around and we were dancing!

 

The Cadillacs in the 1959 Alan Freed movie “Go, Johnny, Go”: J.R. Bailey, Bobby Spencer, Earl Carroll and Bobby Phillips

Bobby:  We had rhythm but the choreography that he was giving us – the way we were stepping with the words – we had never done that before.  We said, “Damn!”  Then we went to the Apollo…

Speedo:  …and they went off!  When they saw, everybody went off!  They couldn’t believe it.  They said, “What are these guys bringing?”

Bobby:  Even the acts on the show, standing in the wings…

Speedo:  They said, “We’ve never seen anything like this!  This is really something new.  They’re dancing and singing!”

Bobby:  Then we put the hat and the cane in the routine…

Speedo:  …and a couple of guys in the group thought they were Fred Astaire.  Big Earl Wade and Buddy Brooks – you couldn’t tell them that they weren’t Fred Astaire.

[Editor’s note: Coles and Atkins was one of the premier tap dance acts of all time.  With roots in Vaudeville, the duo performed trend-setting routines in numerous major motion pictures and on stages across the country throughout the 40’s and 50’s.]

 

Joe:  When you saw The Coasters, did you think they had taken a page out of your book or were you inspired by them?

Speedo:   They really impressed me.  They weren’t only singing and had good material, but they were actors on stage.  Everyone was playing a part.  I thought that was fantastic because I had never seen a group do that before.  Our song Peek-A-Boo was actually written for The Coasters.  The writer, Jack Hammer, took it to Lieber and Stoller, the Coasters’ producers, but they wanted more than 50% of the tune.  So he said, “No.  Forget about it,” and he brought it to us.  We were always in love with The Coasters’ sound, the two-part harmony type of thing.  We went into the studio and did it and it came off very good for us.

 

Joe:  In later years, you sang with The Coasters.  How did that come about?

Speedo:  Well, The Cadillacs and I had a little misunderstanding with management and we thought it was best to cut loose at the time.  The Coasters were going to Chicago for 9 days and they told me if I would like to join the group, they would love to have me.  So in 1961 or so, I took Cornell Gunther’s place.  I was with The Coasters for over 20 years, but then in the early 80’s, Subaru offered me a commercial and asked if I could get The Cadillacs back together.  They were using different stars with car names.  They had Susan Ford, the President’s daughter, Mercury Morris, the football player, and it ran very well for a whole year.

Bobby:  I had kept performing as The Cadillacs in the 70’s, with Earl Wade and some other guys.  We weren’t doing too much of anything and then Speedo came around the neighborhood and said, “They got a commercial for us.  Write down the clothes sizes that you wear.”  I couldn’t believe it, but he came back the next day and said, “We got it.”

Speedo:  I approached the guys, they flew us to California.  We did the commercial and the commercial was so successful, that’s what really got us back together.  We started working again and doing different things.  At the time, we also had Johnny Brown who had sung with Bill Baker’s Five Satins.  Unfortunately, he passed away about 4 years ago.

 

Joe:  Speedo, you’re sitting at home, watching this made-for-TV movie about The Temptations and all of sudden, there’s Otis Williams of the Temptations being portrayed as a kid in the audience at a rock and roll show and there you are – being portrayed as the group on stage that inspired him.

Speedo:  The Temptations have always been a favorite of The Cadillacs and they say that we have always been a favorite of their group and that we started the dancing thing.  Cholly Atkins had gone to Motown and started teaching everybody at Motown.  They could always sing, but they were inspired by our routines and our dress.  I guess The Cadillacs were always one of their favorite groups.  Otis calls me from all over the world and wishes me the best or if Otis is in Atlantic City, he’ll invite me down to spend a few days with him.  It’s been a living relationship.  We stay in touch.

 

Gary, how did you get started in the business?

Gary:  I saw the Will Mastin Trio with Sammy Davis, Jr. and I knew what I wanted to do.  Then, in 1955, Alan Freed had a show at the Loews that had The Harptones, The Moonglows, Lavern Baker, The Five Satins and quite a few other groups and it blew me away.  Alan Freed came out with his plaid jacket and I was hooked.  I wanted to get into a group.  I was already singing in a group in Boston, but not at that level.  We didn’t have any records.  And I had first seen The Cadillacs at the Apollo around that time.  In those days, you could go in and stay so I watched like 4 shows.  When I was through, I had their routines.  I watched their feet and counted it out.  They were so great and so smooth.

 

Joe:  Tell me where your love for choreography and singing took you?

Gary:  I was the choreographer for the original Duprees and I started singing with The Crests at the end of 1961.  When Earl was singing with The Coasters, I was singing with The Crests – J.T. Carter, Harold “Chico” Torres, Jimmy Ancrum and occasionally, Johnny Maestro on a big rock and roll show.  Earl asked me if I would like to join The Cadillacs and I joined The Cadillacs in 1982 – I had just left The Drifters with Charlie Thomas, Doc Green, Elsbeary Hobbs and occasionally Ben E. King.

 

Joe:  John Michael Hersey, you’re significantly younger than these gentlemen.  How did you come to be a part of this act?

John:  At the time I auditioned in 1987, I didn’t even know who The Cadillacs were.  Someone said they’re a famous group and as time went on, I realized who they were and how important they are.  I’ve been in R&B college for 23 years.  I learned how to make this kind of music and I’ve learned about show business.  It’s been amazing.

 

Joe:  It seems you’ve become quite a prolific songwriter under their tutelage.  I understand you wrote all of the songs on The Cadillacs’ new CD Mr. Lucky?

John:  Mr. Lucky was a chance for me to capture what they sound like in the latter part of their careers.  I was involved in their 1996 album Have You Heard the News – I had a couple of originals on there and it inspired me.  The new CD is me saying, “Here’s what I learned from you guys.”

 

Joe:  What are your favorite memories of all the shows you’ve done through the years?

Bobby:  I love that routine that Cholly Atkins gave us for Speedo, when we went to the Apollo…

Speedo:  Are you’re still doing it.  That is amazing because we’re not young kids – we’re in our 70’s!  God is good.  It’s been a beautiful trip from then until now.  My favorite memories are of some of the people we’ve met, like Fats Domino, Little Richard and Ray Charles – we have opened for these acts – wow!  People ask, “You worked with these guys?  You know Fats Domino?”  I say, “Yeah, we’re good friends.”

 

Joe:  Speedo and Bobby, you’ve been doing this for over 55 years and you’ve touched a lot of lives through your music and your performances.  How would you like to be remembered?

Speedo:  As a fun-loving person that made people around me very happy.  They tell me that today, but it’s hard for me to believe.  People say, “Speedo, do you realize how many people you’ve influenced or you made their life better?”  It’s hard for me to see that.

Gary:  Bobby and I were in the elevator this morning and this man said that it was your music that helped to get him through when he was in the foxholes in Vietnam and a lot of his friends were listening to The Cadillacs.

Bobby:  I would like to be remembered the same way – a loveable, helpful guy, who loved entertaining and liked to help other groups.

 

 

The last performing group of Cadillacs: Bobby Phillips, Earl “Speedo” Carroll and Gary K. Lewis

Joe:  Speedo and Bobby, you’ve been friends for almost 60 years.  What do you think when you look over at each other on stage?

Speedo:  What amazes me is that this old buzzard is still around.

Bobby:  Same thing!  You know what I’m tired of?  You ever notice we sing “The Girl I Love” and he’s singing at me?  What are you singing to me for?  Smiling and trying to tell me something I guess!

Speedo:  My singing must have meant something to him.  He married a young lady named Gloria.  You know, I have people ask me, “How old are you?  How do you guys get to move like that at this age?”  I’m 73 years old.  They can’t believe it.  They say, “How is this guy moving around like that at 73?  I don’t understand it!”  I say, “Me neither, honey.”

Bobby:  I’m 75 years old.  You better respect me!

Speedo:  Wow!  You’re old!

 

Joe:  What do you think is in store for The Cadillacs, and this music in general, in the future?  And what do you think about the younger generations, especially abroad, that are discovering this music for the first time?

John:  Younger people, like me, we learn how to do this music.  I think we’ll carry it on somehow.  The 50’s was a very important era and I think that’s why people hold onto it.  We learn from these guys and somehow, the songs will be performed and played on the radio and used in movies.

Speedo:  If you told me this music would last till 2010 or 2011?  I couldn’t foresee it, but it’s happening! It’s amazing to know that it’s come this far and it’s all over the world.  These kids are coming to see this doo wop and rockabilly – they’re coming from all over the world.

Gary: When we go to Europe, the kids dress just like the kids dressed here in the 50’s with poodle skirts and D.A.’s and leather jackets.

John:  Just with a few more tattoos and piercings!

Gary:  In Germany there’s a club called Gloria, named after the song.  We went to a night-club in Spain.  This young man in a leather jacket and a D.A. with a girl in a poodle skirt, he saw and recognized Earl.  He dropped to his knees and grabbed Earl’s hand and kissed his hand.  “Mr. Earl!  Mr. Earl!”  We were in Barcelona, Spain!  Poor Earl was so embarrassed.

 

Joe:  You’ve created something that will go on long after all of us are gone.  How does that make you feel?

Speedo:  For many years, I thought it was all over.  But then something comes along and it gets bigger than ever.  It gets bigger and bigger every year.  It’s the public – they love American rock & roll and doo wop music – and if you count them out, then evidently you can’t count.

 

 

Smother Magazine

"John Michael Hersey's forte is his ability to write and tell great stories first and foremost.  That's followed by great guitar-centric roots folk rock.  Whirligig would fit nicely on radio formatted for Adult Alternative but also would be easily gigging on a front porch's boom box, while sipping ice tea and watching the Sunday afternoon coast by in the spring.  Chordophone Records should be proud that such a rootsy fun album carries their name."

Independisc.com

"(In 1970 Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, without enough backing money to produce a play they wished to open on Broadway, took what money they had, went into the studio and recorded the soundtrack to their rock opera 'Jesus Christ Superstar.' The subsequent best-selling double LP raised enough money for the pair to realize their dream.)

Whirligig by John Michael Hersey is a CD which should be a Broadway play.  For this is a Pop Musical soundtrack.  The storyline focuses on a lost generation musical artist who, because of his age, is overlooked by the mainstream pop culture.  Yet it is his songwriting sensibilities, crafted from years of exposure to the sounds of Brill Building pop and Motown soul, that takes us on an insightful journey as we glimpse the world that revolves around him.  Using a child's toy, a whirligig (pinwheel, if you will) as the symbolic reference here - The artist transfixed into the center spins both his craft and tales as he too spins along with the different aspects of his world, like the individual fan blades whirling about in the wind.  For the wind that causes these individuals to orbit the artist's axis is the passing of each day's time.

Act 1:
The curtain lifts with a drum hook leaping at us, the organ slides in - The artist seated center stage puntuates the sound with a vocal delivery of creative lyrics the we just can't help digging the narration of.  The Glorious Pop carries us away in the rolling rhythms of a warm breeze on a summer day, turning the windmills of our soul with the chorus of this overtly unorthodox overture setting the stage and inviting us to Let It Come To You.

Turning quickly we're thrust headlong into the artist's anthem; Don't Trust me laments a world last generation pure pop creative songwriters are no only not fashionable, but expendable to the point where pre-programmed Corporate entertainment - "Anarchy makes money/In the land of milk and honey/That's show biz/What did you expect?" - is packaged and sold back to the unsuspecting masses. 

As the curtain sweeps in to end the 1st act we understand that we are  to sit back and let this pop musical of an over 30 artist spring to life before us.  For, when broken down, one of the better definitions of a Pop song is that it creates a stage for a grand and glorious musical - a three to four minute piece that can suck you in, and place you in the middle of its action - the acting out of these small musical vignettes is the power, when the music can make the scene come alive - the original music video.

Act 2:
We are transported to a passionate tale of forbidden love and heartbreak detailing secret rendezvous' that end too soon.  While Stealing Kisses is part of the game, the emptiness and unfulfillment is the driving wedge of this masterful Pop gem.  It is a song with every element to make it a Top 40 smash (in the most deserving way) from the plinking of the piano echoing along a stringent rhythm beat, to the accompanying picking of the complementing plinkety guitar solo (that brings to mind Bob Dylan in all it's understated glory). This heartfelt ballad is as classic a Brill Building homage as we will ever hear.

The set changes, the mood shifts, we have a jaunting bounce of a fairytale world where a killer progression of sound reminiscent of early Rascals roars out of the speakers.  With backing harmony vocals providing depth to the overall production we know that this is what every day as Saturday feels like (Saturday), and we bounce around with the two main characters.  Another set change, and now we're downtown, way downtown and Sidewalk Penny with all it's West Side Story flavor gives us a lyric that makes the best use of the double entendre this side of Elvis Costello.  It is a story of a down and out on her luck female that draws its power from the lyrical wit of her name and the intense, driving, swirling, in your face musical blanket (dare I say 'Wall of Sound?') until it breaks down with a flamenco drop in the center bridge - and tell me you just don't want to snap your fingers in a choreographed musical street scene a la 'the jets and the sharks.'

Act 2 concludes with a dreamy melodic landscape of lost love:  Only So Long brings to mind such worthy ballads as those of Joni Mitchell and Carol King - Lush, beautiful grand piano stylings, tender guitar strumming accent, mellow vocals that carry the emotion over the top until the lowering of the lights ...

Intermission and time to meet the band:
On vocals and guitars: John Michael Hersey (Who also wrote all the songs, and draws comparisons to the aforementioned Elvis Costello as well as East Side Story era Chris Difford/Glen Tillbrook, Robyn Hitchcock, Ron Sexsmith with balls, and mid-70s troubadour Bob Dylan - to name a few.)  Drums and percussion:  John DiGiulio.  Bass:  Bob DesJardins.  And, keyboards:  Jim Wacker (Whose use of many different style keyboards - from Grand to Upright Honky-Tonk to electric, toy and everything in between is what sets each piece.  You can see and feel the scenery, as well as the mood and emotion spewing forth from each set as the keyboards bounce, twinkle, tickle, glide, plink, strut, swoon, hedge and nudge as needed.)  It's no surprise they're based out of New York, but the sound they produce here is all over  the Pop map.

Oh, there's the lights.  Let's head back in for the last two acts ...

Act 3:
She's A Cat captures the attention of every female.  A musical kick that is as seductive as the title character.  With biting wry lyrical twists such as 'She purrs and she teases and shows her claws.' 'Have you seen here prowling/Through the alleys of your mind/Did you wake up and find/There's a Tiger in your bed,' Elvis Costello with his affection for feline tormentors would love to cover this song.

The next four pieces relay more tales of the daily life that constantly revolve around the narrator/us.  Making use of old time Jerry Lee Lewis piano chops and Elvis Presley swivel-hipping vocals (Twisting in the Wind), and Steely Dan meets lounge music paying respect to the middle ground between Van Morrison and Boz Scaggs as much as it does Tony Bennett (and that is said with true affection) (What It Means) we find that each song does indeed cast us into the whirligig of the artist's (and, to some extent our) everyday life.

Act 4:
The show concludes with a final two-song set.  The first finds our narrator/artist still in character and in the setting of the school of love.  Place the spotlight center stage as the old sage teaches us  a very important lesson in Heartbreak 101.  Cue the back-up singers, feel the irresistible crunch of the guitar, the snap of the backbeat, the simplistic guitar solo that'll have you weeping and jamming along to the subliminal funky Bowie-esque vibe.  "Let me show you how it's done/Here at the school/Where the golden rule/Is to do unto others and run."  Almost a fitting conclusion to this cycle of events, and certainly a good spot to bring down the curtain, but John Michael Hersey decides to get back out of character and end the show as the Artist who introduced it ...

Chairman of the Bored with its latin style mambo lifts us above the solemn subject matter of a lost love.  But, it is this loss that has given the artist the time to absorb everything else that is going on about him, even though he thinks his time is wasted pining away his days waiting for her return, it is actually his boredom that ultimately forces him to take out that whirligig/pinwheel and not only play with it, but observe it for what it really is.  His life has not been reduced to boredom as evidenced by the Pop Musical as he has just staged for us.  So, while he begs for our sympathy, he also reaches out and shows us why he isn't in need of it, for the life that revolves around him and the stories and tales they relate can be as entertaining and fulfilling as the joy a child can experience from a simple toy and a warm breeze on a summer day.  

Close curtain.

And, as you file up the aisle, don't forget to pick up your own Whirligig on the way out."

Good Times Magazine

"Soup Du Jour is a strongly eclectic and seamless collection.  The country stylings of Men With Ties starts out the album.  While I must admit I was skeptical about another cynical song chronicling the evil corporate businessman, Hersey is slightly tongue-in-cheek, if poignant, and stays away from cliche. The album only gets better.  Wipe The Smile might be the most accessible of the lot with its syncopated catchy chorus and lyrically this album is top-notch; cutting wry and smart.  
One hears touches of Joe Jackson here, a bit of the Grateful Dead there (as on Steady As She Goes), and the melding of ballad, country, blues and rock is a joy.  Check out the longing, harmonica-laced Miles Away, the up-tempo More Or Less In Love or the rumba of Looking For Trinidad.
Hersey writes sophisticated music with bemused lyrics.  Think happier Dave Matthews, with themes from hearing your neighbors doing it (The Lady Upstairs) to the more thoughtful and deep Silence."