Monday, December 31, 2012

On the SPOT: Il Volo


The three great voices of Il Volo filled the room with insight and laughter, as we discussed the fast rise to fame of the young Italian singers.  In 2012, they released a new album and some bonus Christmas tracks.  They also toured the U.S. and Canada as a headliner, and as a support act for Barbra Streisand's North American tour.  Il Volo are: Piero Barone, Ignazio Boschetto and Gianluca Ginoble

PAUL:  Did you have big dreams when you were little?

GIANLUCA: Yes!  To be singers!

PAUL:  What's it like to see your dreams realized?

IGNAZIO:  Now imagine...we met three years ago.  I was playing Playstation with my friends, mostly, you know, soccer, and now here I am in America, touring with Il Volo with a great career.  It's really the dream come true!  The dream coming true.

GIANLUCA: We still play Playstation, on the tour bus now.  We are always playing soccer!

PIERO:  Our dream is to see the people, to see the audience really excited to come to our concert. And when we finish the concert they start to say always "encore, encore!"  We have always a standing ovation at our concerts.  That makes us real excited.

PAUL:  You are known for singing classic Italian songs.  What kind of music do you enjoy?

IGNAZIO:  We listen to opera, but we love all kinds of music... Michael Buble...

PIERO:  Janice Joplin.

IGNAZIO:  Janice Joplin, ACDC, Aerosmith, but the opera is the perfection of music.
PIERO:  And we don't sing opera.  We sing classical music, crossover.  With the first album we did all covers, but now for our new album I can tell you there are new songs, duets, lots of surprises.

GIANLUCA: Now we are singing crossover.  We can tell you we love opera and we love pop.

IGNAZIO:  It's a mix of the three tenors and the Jonas Brothers.  It's a mix.  Il Volo is Il Volo.  If you listen to the album you can say it is Il Volo.

PAUL:  You three have very big voices when you perform.  How blessed are you to have these voices?

PIERO:  We have to say thanks to everyone, to our parents, our management, our producers,  but we say thanks to God because he gave us this gift.

PAUL:  What's joyful about being in Il Volo?

GIANLUCA:   Meeting these two guys.  I am so proud to work with them.

PAUL:  What would you like to see happen to Il Volo in 10 years?

GIANLUCA:  We hope to stay together.

IGNAZIO:  Yeah, we hope to stay together, but in the years we hope to bring our music, our emotion through the music to the people, but all kinds of people, young and older, and we hope to make the young generation love this kind of music.

PIERO:  When a young guy listens to this kind of music he's going to fall in love with this kind of music.  But you have to discover it.  When you discover it, you love it.


The CD We are Love is available now.

The CD Il Volo is available now.

Il Volo Takes Flight, and other music.

Official website:

Sunday, December 30, 2012

On the SPOT: Michael and Kevin Bacon - THE BACON BROTHERS


Emmy Award-winning music composer Michael Bacon and his sibling, accomplished actor Kevin Bacon enjoy their respective jobs, but they also join forces to perform as the Bacon Brothers.  Both brothers have talent as musicians and songwriters, and their band has a loyal following of fans in countries around the world.

PAUL:  Has music always been something that has bonded the two of you?

MICHAEL:  Yeah, pretty much as long as I can remember.  We both grew up in a household that valued creativity and artistic expression above everything else, including grades in school and the idea that you actually had to go out and make money as an adult.  We didn't really get that message until two years (laughs)!  So our household was about music and acting and art and dance, and so it's something we shared and it's as natural as breathing for us. 

PAUL:  So how did the two of you wind up performing as a duo?

KEVIN:  Michael was performing from my earliest memories... He was in a band with my sister when they were little kids, and then eventually in a duo called Good News in Philadelphia, and I used to go and see them when I was really young.  And then eventually Good News broke up, and the first time we really started performing together was when he first asked me to play percussion in his solo act.  So we had a bass player and I was playing percussion and we had a girl singing background vocals, or he had a girl singing background vocals.  It was Michael's songs and he was the front man.  And that sort of went away for a long time, many many years, and then we grew up and then about fifteen, sixteen years ago we got a call from a buddy of ours from Philadelphia, where we grew up, and he had heard a demo that we had done and the demo was basically to get some other people to cut some songs that we had written, and he said "how about a Bacon Brothers show?" So, you know, he kind of came up with the name and we figured, yeah, we'll just put a band together and did one show and that was it.  It just kind of took off after that.  

PAUL:  How is expressing yourself as an actor different from expressing yourself as a musician?

KEVIN:  Well, I think they're very, very different because writing is kind of the key. In the band, almost all the time we are writing songs and performing songs that we wrote... either Michael wrote, or I wrote...or once in awhile that we wrote together.  So that means from beginning to end, it's your own piece of creative expression.  When I'm doing a film, I'm a tool for somebody else's words to get put across, so that's a different kind of process.  In some ways, acting is more of a collaboration in a strange kind of way.  Certainly, we collaborate as brothers and as a band, but in terms of the genesis of a creative expression it's all our own in music.  It's like you're standing there in your own clothes and singing a song about something specific that happened to you.

PAUL:  Do you feel more vulnerable as a musician and songwriter, or as an actor, because you reveal a lot of yourself as an actor?

KEVIN:  Yeah.  I mean My theory about acting is you use yourself and you lose yourself.  So a good performance to me is tapping into as much as you can of what your own personal and emotional experiences are, and then trying to lose yourself and feel like you are truly walking in someone else's shoes.  Because acting, to me, is not being Kevin on screen.  That's not acting.  But at the same time, it is a very vulnerable place to be.  It's vulnerable every day, whether you're on screen or not, because people, especially as you get more and more well known, are constantly judging you.  They're judging your look, and your hair, and your clothes, and your weight, your performances, and your choices and your career, all that kind of stuff.  So that's one kind of vulnerability and certainly again it's like apples and oranges.  On the flip side to stand up and say "Hey, my dog died so I picked up my guitar and wrote this song about her and now I'm going to sing it for you," I mean that's a pretty vulnerable place to be too.

PAUL:  And you've done that?

KEVIN:  Yes!

PAUL:  What is your greatest wish for the Bacon Brothers?

MICHAEL: I'd love to write a song that out-lived my brother and me and the band, that's still remembered long after we are forgotten.  My example would be "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?"  It's one of the most poignant anti-war songs ever written, by Pete Seeger, but a lot of people don't even connect that song with Pete Seeger.  That song will still be there.  It has a sense of eternal life and I think it's a really great contribution to history.  I think that's what we're trying to do.  That's what every songwriter is trying to do.

PAUL:  You are both enormously successful in your respective careers.  Does having a hit single matter to you?

MICHAEL:  Well, you know it's almost like a metaphor for a disease you have.  You always want more than what you have.  You're always aspiring and for me it's a big  a motor.  It really pushes me.  I'm not going to speak for my brother but for me, no matter what, whatever place I've gotten to there are places beyond that I would like to get to and it takes a lot of work and a lot of focus, and a lot of support from one's family.  So I dream.  I keep dreaming.


The album Philadelphia Road - The Best of the Bacon Brothers is available now.

Mountain Lake PBS interview and concert footage of the Bacon Brothers.

Video for Go My Way.

Bacon Brothers Adirondacks PSA.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On the SPOT: Chris Isaak


Chris Isaak is a super nice guy, and had me laughing all through our interview.  His latest album is Beyond the Sun.  It pays tribute to musical legends who got their start at Sun Studio in Memphis.  The album also includes some of Isaak's own compositions.

PAUL:  Your album Beyond the Sun pays tribute to a lot of the musical greats.  Where were you when you first heard this kind of music?

CHRIS:  I'm lucky enough that my parents were smart and they had good taste.  My  dad listened to nothing but Johnny Cash, Elvis, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, you know, B B King... it was all these great records.  I didn't realize that they all came out of one little place in Memphis, Tennessee until much later in my life, but I loved that music growing up

PAUL:  What appeals to you about this kind of music?

CHRIS:  I think I liked it because I'm a guitar player, and growing up we didn't really have musical lessons so we taught ourselves to play guitar.  You could learn those songs. They were simple enough that you kind of felt like you could kind of pick them out...and you could start twanging along.

PAUL:  You wrote about Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Studio on the liner notes of your album.
He discovered Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.  Why is he so special to you?

CHRIS:  I understand how the real world works.  Elvis Presley deserves tons of credit, and he's going to be the one remembered because he's beautiful,  and you see him singing a song and you think, "Well, he did this all by himself,"  but Elvis really was part of a musical movement that was started by, I think, Sam Phillips.  Sam Phillips really was a visionary, a genius, and he took risks. I mean he took risks and he did stuff with music that changed the whole world. I know you think of it as just rock n' roll but I love Sam Philips because one of the things he said for example goes "I didn't want to just make a record by black artists and then try to change it so it would be palatable to white people.  He said I wanted them to make the record that they wanted to make.  For his time and where he's from, I mean, he was way ahead of everybody.  He said, "We're not going to worry about rules.  We're going to play this for fun, and we're going to have fun, and you're going to feel that on the record."  That's what rock n' roll is.  You can feel the fun.

PAUL:  He also paid you a very high compliment.

CHRIS:  He did.  There's a lot of great musicians and he worked with so many of them and I was reading an article in Oxford American it was a great music magazine, and I was reading this article.  I had no idea that he had mentioned me, and at the end of the article, they said, "Well Sam, who do you listen to today?"  I was the first one he mentioned.  He said "I listen to Chris Isaak," and he said a lot of nice things.  Man, it meant a lot to me.  When I saw that article and I read it I broke down in tears, because he's the reason I have a job, I mean, it was his records that really made me want to be a musician.  One time I saw him talking...this is an odd bit but it sticks in my mind about Sam Phillips... He was talking to a bunch of school kids, and Sam was a little older at the time, and he said to them something I thought it was a great quote.  He said "Any time yo spend making music is never wasted."  And you know like everybody else, I waste a lot of my life.  I waste time doing stuff that really didn't mean much, but when you're making music with your friends, that time is never wasted.

PAUL:  What is the best thing about performing music from these great musicians?

CHRIS:  I have a ball singing this stuff.  You get to sing that, and the whole band kicks in behind you.. the whole band and the singing in the background.  I go, "This is what I used to pretend to do when I was a kid in front of the mirror in my bedroom, you know?  I'd sing along with a record.  Now I have the band behind me.  So, this is a dream come true.


Chris Isaak's album Beyond the Sun is available now.

Official website:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

SPOTLIGHT: Il Volo Exclusive!

"Il Volo" may mean "the flight," but these Italian singers are well grounded.  During our interview, they stressed the importance of remaining "humble," even while facing enormous global success before they each reached the age of 20. 

Meeting these three talented singers was a pleasure.  I hope you will enjoy hearing them speak about how their different personalities and distinct voices helped create a group that is causing a sensation among people of Italian origin, as well as among a much wider public.

To appeal to a wide range of young people, their parents and even their grandparents, it helps that these teenage singers enjoy performing classic Italian songs, as well as other types of music.

My exclusive interview with Il Volo will run on Borderless North this Thursday at 8:30pm.

Repeat airings include Friday at 6am & 12:30pm, Saturday at 7:30pm, and Sunday at 6am & 10:30am.

Before December 31st, you may also wish to support Mountain Lake PBS and receive a thank-you gift of some Il Volo Christmas music, or their brand new album, We are Love.  Go to to find out how.