Singing in Las Vegas and L A

Free Circus at Teenbeat club

Free Circus at Teenbeat club

Our family moved to Las Vegas,  when I was a Recording Artist!  It was traumatic  enough for my sister and I. Being raised in Los Angeles, you get used to a certain culture, access to the beach, and the mountains. Also, I had recorded six songs, at Capitol Records.  We had  lived in the Hollywood Hills, then  North Hollywood then Northrige,  Sherman Oaks, and finally  Van Nuys bordering Studio City. . I went to Van Nuys Jr high.   This was a real blow,, I was only 3, whn we left New York for L A, so young, I didn’t remember,  so  this was HUGE.  My sister and I were never closer and we clung to each other for survival. I was lost when she went off to live in San Fransisco for the rest of her teen years with my aunt and uncle. My parents were show Biz all the way, Dad, Irv Kluger was a very well known Drummer. Mom had been a big band singer.  All our friends were big stars.  Joel Gray, Ray Bolger, Andrew Sisters, Bob Crane, Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Shelley Mann, Peal Bailey, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Jerry Lewis, Harry Bellefonte, and more.   Dad moved us because he was In Las Vegas more than home!   He was with Juliet Prowse, the gorgeous Dancer who was engaged to Frank Sinatra, when we actually relocated. 

Not long after the move to Vegas, I found that my record was a little popular there, and Dennis Hunt on KENO Radio had given it a lot of play.  I went to Odyssey Records and even found my record in the sale bin!!!!! Talk about a blow to your ego!

I found out, I was to open for Johnny Crawford of the TV show The Rifleman at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Odyssey Records

Odyssey Records

His hit song ‘Today is Cindy’s Birthday’ was huge at the time  and this was the biggest venue in Las Vegas, where The Beatles played.  I was to lip-sync my 4 songs, because the last two were not really mixed, and completed  when I was dropped from the label. I still have the demos,  the vinyl, but they didn’t make it to the radio.

I was so nervous!  All these young girls screaming Johnny… Johnny… and I come out!  They were polite enough, but bored stiff until my set was over. Whew, my first big concert. Alone! Over with! I think if my opening song hadn’t been ‘Johnny Let Me Go’ they would have killed me!

I was  at Valley High , in  Las Vegas. High school started  at 9th grade, unlike Van Nuys Jr High.   So here I was in high school, after a half semester at Roy Martin Middle school.

The bands were all male dominated. NO chick singers. A band, ‘The Little People‘ asked me to join them.  YES, after doing that concert alone, being IN a band was a great thrill for me.  This was when I honed my performing skills, and we worked every weekend.  We even did the  Jerry Lewis Telethon, during MORNING PRIME TIME!!!! After a  few personality issues, we morphed into another band, ‘London Fog’, adding on more talent.

teenbeat-clubThat band was an improvement; we were getting older, and working better places, The Teenbeat Club and many frat parties. We even played the only casino in Searchlight, Nevada, a mining town, about an hour outside Las Vegas.

Then the best thing happened to me. A college band called ‘Free Circus’ asked me to come aboard. I was so excited to join these older guys, and do originals, and songs by Traffic, Yes, and Jefferson Airplane. The band had great musicians,, and two singers in addition to me.

Roby Bennet wrote a lot of great songs and Danny Barnett was on B3 organ, a rare sound for local Vegas bands. We were so good, concert promoters hired us to be opening act for Santana, Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly, Electric Prunes, Sweetwater, and others, I can’t even recall!

We were stars now, when we would load in, kids would crowd around to watch us, just to be around us because we were going to be close to these headline bands backstage; acts they all loved, and admired. This was a great time in my life.

So, after we were really on a roll, and I was in my senior year, The Viet Nam war was calling our pianist! Yes , Danny had to go, and we just could not replace him. He played B3 for goodness sakes, and that was our sound! When Danny left, I knew my next move had to be for ME, for my career.

Program cover: Los Angeles Hair

Program cover: Los Angeles Hair

So, I went to Los Angeles with an agent that my sister had met at the Stardust Hotel. He was quite well known, when he dies, I might post his name! He had a big  agency, and you would think someone that big would behave themselves?  After he read my bio, he just took a shot and took me to Hollywood, and checked me in at the Bel Air Motel.  That’s when my world started to get pretty scary!

I have to add, that years later (which I’ll cover in another post), Las Vegas wasn’t so forgiving to female singers, and I have some horror stories there also. But as a teen, it treated me well. As I made my journey with this complete Stranger to Los Angeles, the rest of my life begins a whole new chapter!

I had a small room at the motel, with a little fridge.  Mr. SMOOTH was well behaved up to this point. I had my first audition set for the following week, the Love Rock Musical HAIR, I was preparing my song and dance.  I bought some vintage satin pants at a thrift store,,, a madras thin cotton  blanket and I sewed it into a top,,,that was my Hippie outfit,,,     I auditioned for Teddy Neely, and Kay Cole, Armand Coulet, and I got a callback,,,,,   Then I was called without the callback,,that I  was to start right AWAY!!!!  I was thrown into the most popular Broadway show in decades,, The Aquarius theatre on Sunset was historic, My drummer dad had worked there when it was The Earl Carroll theatre.. Rehearsals set in and that script was really huge! they had me watch the show every night and that helped with the memorization of it.

Because of a very frightening incident with the agent, Mr. Smooth,,I checked out of the Motel , and had been staying in The Hollywood Bowl Motel. . It was about a forty block walk to the Theatre, but I left early, and walked through Hollywood Blvd to window shop, well, and shop,,,to Sunset where the theatre was. 

The agent incident was just the beginning.  Sadly, the #Metoo movement was far in the future!

On one trip to the market, , a very dark haired hippie approached me in the produce section, and started chatting me up, said he was a songwriter, come to my car, I will play you a song.

Well, I did, and it was a smelly, beat up old car. He was smelly, too, and seemed a bit crazy… The hair stood up on my arms, so when Charlie, that was his name, asked to to go to his ranch, I declined.

Yes, my friends,, The Spahn Ranch and CHARLIE MANSON was his name.  Welcome to L A!  I had recently seem on T V, the gruesome Sharon Tate murders, I had no idea, the man I met would be arrested  a few months later!     To Be Continued

.

Jessica Kluger  Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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Riding the Career Roller Coaster – Phase 1

Grammy-trophyWhen I read through my leads for lessons. I get everything from, “I want to get over my stage fright,” to, “I want a Grammy!  Really?  You want a Grammy, and you think just having a better voice will help you? Having a good voice helps, but there’s a lot more to it.

Let me start at the beginning. When I was three, my family moved from New York to Los Angeles, because my dad was a drummer. That’s when my life began.

I have no memory of our big house with the wraparound deck in the Hollywood Hills… although I have seen photos of myself on that deck.

Eydie-Gorme-Eydie-In-LoveI DO remember moving into the cute house in North Hollywood. I also remember getting Eydie Gorme’s album , ‘Eydie In Love‘  for my 4th birthday.  ‘Someday he’ll come along, the man I love, and he’ll be big and strong, The man I love…….

Yes, I was crooning love songs at four, and knowing and believing I was a singer. I wasn’t a famous singer,  or a paid singer. At age four, in our living room,  this is where I would dream my dreams.

However, those fantasies never included awards, mansions, cars and lots of money.   They were dreams of singing for people, and doing it for a living. Making enough to have a house and a dog or 3 and sing. Sing all the time.

In retrospect, that IS how my life has turned out. But there are many many stories in-between.

Be Aware of Red Flags

Not all the experiences are radio appearances, concerts, and signing autograph. For those of you who are pre-teens, teens, or young women, I want you to know what you are in for.

Signing with a Record Label was easy, in 1962

When I was 12, my dad took me to Capitol Records to sing for the CEO in his big office. I had my guitar, and sang for him. He made a call, and in a few minutes, we were signing a 6-song record deal. Three records of two sides each.

Career Roller Coaster

Jessie Paul in Studio C

Within a few days, a few songs were delivered to our house via limo. My producer/manager was nice as could be. He was the only one who Was  in my career!!. It was all so exciting and new.

THEY said I had to change my name. My new name was Jessie Paul.

I was in Van Nuys Jr. High, and the press releases were all, ‘that cute new doll from Van Nuys Jr High, the new singing sensation blah blah blah.’  I had photos done, but NO one told me how to pose!! No one helped me with my wardrobe?

So we recorded with a full orchestra in Capitol Studio A, or C, I just know it was the BIG one., a huge orchestra,   with three back up singers. It was so much fun, I knew this would be my life, forever. I lip-synched my record ‘Johnny Let Me Go‘ at a school party. I had a blast.

The song charted on Billboard’s Top 100, 75 with a bullet. Then, the roof caved in. The Beatles landed in America, and what label were they on?  Capitol Records.

My next session was NOT at Capitol, but a smaller studio with a smaller rock band. I didn’t mind that, I was doing what I loved and the songs were better than the last ones. However, Female singers were not on the hit maker machine anymore. It was all British bands and beach music. The boys dominated. Capitol dropped me. I was a has-been, overnight.

My initial success as snatched up in an instant.  Well, it wasn’t the end of the world… we were moving to Las  Vegas, and KENO radio was playing my songs!!  When I arrived, Dennis Hunt asked me to appear on his KENO radio show.

On the strength of my record and radio appearance, I was booked to open for Johnny Crawford at the Las Vegas Convention Center . He had a TOP 10 hit, “Cindy’s Birthday.”  It was my first big show at a stadium, but not my last.

Lessons Learned: 

  • Having access to decision makers is always important. In today’s labyrinth of record executives, getting signed to a label does not happen so swiftly and directly.
  • As exciting as it can be, you learn quickly that you are not in control of your career. You’re being told what to sing, how to sing it, what to wear… in my case, being told (not asked) to change my name ‘for career purposes;’
  • Events were moving so quickly, I barely had time to be stage-ready in front of large audiences. Feel the fear and do it anyway.
  • When you’re the flavor of the month, everything is sunshine and flowers. But tastes in music are like fashion. They can change in a moment, and suddenly, you are on the outside, looking in.
  • Every performance is training for the next appearance. And collectively, you move up the career ladder.

Next Stage: The whirlwind begins anew in Las Vegas. Opening for major rock acts.

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

How much do you want to sing?

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson

I have been cruising YouTube recently, watching many so-called coaches try to sell their packages on a course of ‘How To Sing’.

Some of them are funny, and some are just so basic, I feel like their material could be taught in one hour. There is so much more to singing than singing. First of all, the whole business side of Show Business has changed so much, over time. You have to be willing to have the patience of a saint.

You can write your own songs, record them, and put videos up on YouTube. Then what? Wait, and wait, even if you get 40,000 views, there are no rules; there a minute chance that anything will come of it.  The only talent I discovered on YouTube who is making any waves, and they are in the beginning stages, is Sheléa Frazer. She put out a Whitney Houston tribute video that went viral.

She sang about 6 bars Love Fell On Me at the end of the film ‘Jumping The Broom’ and in the credits more of the song was played. She caught the attention of the big guys, Quincy Jones, Brian McKnight, and more. She sang at the White House for a Burt Bacharach/Hal David  tribute. Her version of ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart’ is one of… no… the best I have ever heard.

Ok, So, what if that doesn’t happen for you? What if you are a good singer, maybe a great singer, but how do you get heard?  The first thing you need to do is have a support system, and time. You need time, because not everyone is so lucky as to have a video that goes viral.

I would sell something, or borrow a chunk of money, and pay a producer in Los Angeles to find me a few great song, and record a 5-song EP download.  Five songs, that’s all. Put them on iTtunes and CD Baby, and then wait. And if nothing happens, save or borrow or sell something else and do it again.  If you spend money on an album with 13 songs, you have invested too much money, and the chances to do another album become slimmer.

You can get into a band, get out there and work , get stage experience, and work with real musicians. That will be a huge help, going forward.

Back to your online coach.  If you can, find a coach to help you with the interpretation and phrasing of a song. If you listen to Sheléa sing ‘Anyone Who Had A Heart‘, it makes you cry, it makes you wistful, and you go on a short journey outside your body.

I have a student from Paris, France, whose voice is strong and fills the house. She is doing well working with two bands in town. This singer should be in the Los Angeles scene and should be, like Sheléa, making some noise in the business.

It is something you can’t easily identify. It is a sound, a tone, and an emotion that a truly great singer brings to the table. We don’t have a lot of those singers out there. Oh, we have many rich, famous, good singers. But only a handful of great singers. The days of Ann Wilson of ‘Heart’ are largely behind us.  We have Beyoncé, who has a good range, good songs, but her voice? It doesn’t cut through me like Ann Wilson‘s.

Jennifer Hudson is one, When she sings, she means it. This girl has ‘IT’  She has been through a lot and uses it in her singing. I really get it when I hear Jennifer sing, Marine Goujon, my student, has a similar tone and sound that is rich and heavy, and fills you up with joy.

In closing, it isn’t just how you breathe, and how you long you hold a note. It is the connection, the feeling you give people when you sing. That is something you just have. Listen to the great singers. Really listen, watch them, watch Jennifer Hudson on YouTube singing Roberta Flack’s ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’. I dare you to not feel anything!

Thanks for your time, good luck on your journey!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Life is Short: Go For It!

I had the pleasure of seeing the “Just Imagine” John Lennon tribute show, based at Planet Hollywood. I was the most animated person in the room. This was about a Beatle, this is John Lennon music. How can people sit still? Why am I so different that when a drummer starts drumming? I feel it in my bones. This band was so good, I couldn’t possibly sit still.

Speaking to the keyboardist, my friend Cosmo Topper, who came in from los Angeles to do the Las Vegas-based show, I said “Vegas audiences are the worst”, the drummer overheard us, and said “no, L.A. is the worst”.

Well, if that is the case, Why is live music still alive at all?  What has happened to people’s souls? I thought the music of The Beatles was universal. The theatre was 1/3 full and half were too young to remember the Vietnam war, the 60’s and the whole hippie movement.

But music is music, it heals the soul, it reminds you that  you are alive. The musician/singer/actor who played John was very very good. I felt like I was at a John Lennon concert.

He mentioned the lost Beatle, drummer, Stuart Sutcliff, who died of  brain cancer. He speaks of the loss when his mother pawned him off on his aunt and then his mum died from an off duty drunk policeman. His father left and seemed to never come back, unclear if he died in the war or something else.

He admits to being a bad husband to Cynthia and worse father to Julian. Then Later on, when the love of his life Yoko gives him a another son Sean. HE is the love of John’s universe. I hope Julian doen’t see this show. He doesn’t pay tribute to anyone but Paul, mentions Ringo and omits George. entirely. But the reason it inspired me to write this because he constantly reminds us that he was unhappy. Success and fame do not bring happiness.

That is what I want to talk about when the show is over. It should be enough to leave a body of work that you are proud of and leave a legacy that will define you. You don’t need the stress and pressure of superstardom.  If that happens to you and you want it, you need to be ready.

You need the right support group around you and advisors. You shouldn’t step on people on your way up.  All the voice coaches, dance and acting coaches that helped you get there should be not left in the dust.  Remember who you are and that is who you need to stay. When you are on stage,  think  “Miley Cyrus” and fans are screaming your name,when the concert is over, and you are alone in your hotel room with 22 more hours until the next show, you need to lead a life that you can be proud of.

You need to be well read, and able to converse at a party with record execs. You need a good education, both in history, english, and the industry. Who was in the “Who”… or the “Doors”? “Traffic”what band members branched out from what bands to be huge stars on their own?

You want it. OK, go for it, but do it with the power of knowledge, and class.

Rock on!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

On the road with Sonny Charles, learning to dance, and much more

When I was in The Los Angeles cast of “HAIR”, I was in a terrible car accident on my way to Las Vegas to surprise my mom for her birthday.I was leaving Baker, California, and the wind was really kicking up badly. My boyfriend Tony Good was getting tired and I said I would take the wheel.

Tony was the manager of North Beach Leather on Sunset Blvd., and we were together for about a year.  We had a very small English car, right hand drive, and the wind really blew it around.

I vaguely remember losing control of the steering wheel, and waking Tony with my screaming. We were off the highway, on the sand, spinning around and skidding at a very high speed. That is the last thing I remember  before waking up four days later at UMC Hospital in Las Vegas. I had been in a coma.

My leg was broken in three places, my ribs and lungs collapsed. I had a neck brace on and a lot of cactus in my limbs. Tony had shoulder and arm injuries, but wasn’t as injured as me. A passing truck driver had spotted our upside down car off a reveene with the headlights still on, he pulled over and started looking for people. He called 911 and we were transported to Vegas.

Tony was on a different floor, and they wheel-chaired him to see me. He told me that at that same night our best friend Frank had died of an overdose. He was devastated. Frankie owned Head East Jeans on Sunset and La Cienega, Tony had manged that until North Beach Leather grabbed him away.

Many of my Hair buddies came to Vegas,to see us.Teddy Neeley, being one, he was so sweet  to do that. Tony’s other  friend Cliff who lived with Frankie, moved in with us when we returned to Los Angeles. We had a beautiful little house in the Hollywood Bowl hills and it had about a hundred stairs, so we had to find a new house.

Tony went home while I recouped at mom and dad’s in Vegas. He found a great house in Nichols Canyon in a cul de sac with a stream running through it. he did all the moving and I never saw the Hollywood Bowl house again.

I had a lot of recouperating to do. HAIR was closing, they let me do the last show on crutches and sing “Frank MIlls”. Everyone either went on to “Jesus Christ Superstar” or the Mercury Tour of HAIR. I lived in that house on the mountain, on disability.

In time, everything was spiraling, and Cliff died of an overdose. Then his girfiriend killed herself over his death. It was a time when I started acting classes. I was with Justin Smith right there on Santa Monica and La Cienega. I loved classes. In my class was Michelle Phillips, and Helen Reddy.

It started to distance me from Tony though. We hung in there for another year. We became close to former “Berger” In HAIRRed Shepard, and his girlfriend Karalee Phillips. They had a rented mansion with an elevator and huge kitchen where we would throw a lot a parties. Keith Carradine, and a lot of actors of that generation were at the parties. Red had started Revolution Records with Michael Butlers help. I sang on a lot of the sessions.Keeping up with the likes of Clydie King and others was a challenge.

On a trip to Vegas to see my family, I stopped into Gus Gallo’s, a local club with live music. I sang with the band, and Sonny Charles of the Checkmates asked for my number. Sweet Louie, Sonny’s bandmate, was in prison at the time. Sonny was traveling alone with a band.

Shortly after that, Sonny called from Fort Wayne, Indiana, could I come right away and be a back up singer with his niece Regina Warfield. Tony and I were done by then, and off I flew to a wonderful adventure.

When I got there, I found out the drummer, Billy ,was a student of daddy’s.  Every night after a show, Regina and I were off to Sonny’s room for dance class. How fun was that?

Also, the golf courses were a big part of Sonny’s road life.I would caddy for him a lot, and learned the game. The shows were fun, exciting, and always brilliant.  One night Sonny asked me to his room and we talked and spent a lot of hours together. we got very close and I have always cherished my one night with him. After a few months on the road, I got close to the bass player, Jim Strauss.

Jim was a tall, skinny, Jesus look-a-like! He was from Los Angeles. and his girlfriend at home was on a big billboard all over the city as the bikini’d babe on the Coppertone ad. Then she appeared in a clothing pictorial for men’s clothes in Playboy magazine. I had a huge crush on him but knew I wasn’t in his league. Well, he returned my crush and we began a relationship.

Despite his girfriend Peggy! Shame on me,, I was young and that was not right. Peggy was so nice, she let us stay at her house when we got to Los Angeles. AWKWARD! when she was out of the house, the anwswering machine for her was ringing with calls from Warren Beatty! She was going to be fine!

Jim and I got our own place in Hollywood, near Sunset and starting keeping house. Sonny stopped touring, and I found a job with a band called “The Sunshine Company” I was now on the road and Jim stayed in Los Angeles.

Let me teach you something that took me a long time to figure out. When a guy cheats on his girlfriend with you, he will also do it to you. He did and I learned the hard way, life lessons.

My one night with Sonny was always a bright spot on my heart and I have never talked about it. It was just a moment and something that seemed right and that is all it was. I remember his mama’s cornbread, sweet potato pie, and those lovely visits to Fort Wayne. I remember the whole band seeing “Play Misty For Me” together one afternoon.  I remember when Sonny played the Hammond B3 and sang “Your Song” and gave me chills every night.

Now he is with the Steve Miller band. and what a thrill for people to still see and hear this great performer. Try not to miss them if you get a chance. This was one of my greatest memories of the business and my youth. I am one lucky girl!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

How being cast in the show “HAIR” changed my life

Jessica (Kluger) Marciel

Jessica (Kluger) Marciel – HAIR 1969

 

I had been a recording artist at 12, with Capitol Records ‘World Pacific Jazz’    I then moved to Las Vegas and was in three rock bands, opening act for ‘Santana’, ‘Sweetwater’, ‘Cream’, ‘Iron Butterfly’, ‘Three Dog night’, ‘Steppenwolf’, and many others.  My graduation from High school, found me in a new direction,,Musical Theater.

My first adult venture, was flying off to Los Angeles after high school, living in a motel in Hollywood, and really going for it on my own for the first time since recording as a solo artist. I lived at a  motel alone, at 18, back in my home town, but far away from the San Fernando Valley, where I grew up.

I was so lonely, and the agent that flew me out there was giving me the creeps…But, finally, I had an audition,,

I had never really heard any of the music from the Broadway show, HAIR, wasn’t familiar with it. But unless you lived in a cave, you knew it was innovative and very popular.

I got a funky tie dye thin fabric Indian blanket, and sewed arms in it, and got blue velvet slinky pants from a thrift shop. I looked the part, for the audition.

Because I was so young, just 18, I was cast “because I would be a good Chrissy”, eventually,  the ingenue in the cast. Good timing!! I was a tribe member for a long time, but loved the family that we all became, so much that we are all still in touch some 40 plus years later.  The producer Michael Butler left his home up in the hills open to us, to swim, and just hang out. We also would go to Santa Barbara to watch him  play Polo..

The show is one of a world with Peace and Love and understanding. No hate and no homophobia. Sadly, the world is  far from that even now. We sang of Pollution, and climate change,,,Yes,, we tried, and were aware of all that is going on still !…      We sang of accidental pregnancy,  The role I was the understudy for, and got to do once,,’Jeanne’,, the actress Teda Bracci was so amazing in it,, I was intimidated to fill her fat suit even once!

My  first big show was the show of the decade, and here I was , just the lucky one, right out of school, jumping in with both feet,, Bare feet, we wore no shoes.   We started before the show did, out in the audience handing out flowers and sitting on peoples laps to shock them, then the chimes rang and we  Froze!!  After we froze, we in slow motion made our way to the stage. The people who had never seen it had no idea we were the cast. They must have thought we were audience flower people or something.

The show was so moving, and it gave you chills every night. When we are acting out a show on these very touchy  yet very important issues, you can’t help but get involved.  Very few of the cast became conservative.  We were actors, yes, but doing this show helped form our views.  Well, most of us.

 

The show made me  a caring and sensitive person, and this would last my entire life.

Every night, watching the character, “Claude,” die from the war in Vietnam. I still feel it. I have voted ever since, and will always keep my eye on the ball. I care about this country, I thank Ragni and Rado for writing this masterpiece, and I thank Teddy Neeley, Yes,, Jesus Christ Superstar himself, for hiring me. I auditioned for him and Armond Coulet. Also, a very lovely man. Kay Cole for blocking me in the show, helping me Jump in fast, and get going.. So, Let the sun shine, and pray for peace.  One day???

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

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