NEWS & VIEWS
THE BELLA LAKESIDE GHOST by author John Charles Unger, published by GYPSY SHADOW PUBLISHING is my newest ebook and is due for release by the end of 2021. I am honored and owe it all to Mary Beth.
My album Strings and Strangs was entered in Grammy 63. This is self-produced, self-created relaxing instrumental music. I'm on streaming sites such as Spotify and Soundcloud etc. I also sell CDs from the stage whenever performing. And thank you.
OMG!! Melodie's album Simply Melodie, entered in Grammy 62, was accepted by PANDORA!! This is no easy feat. They are very fussy. We are honored. You can get a free phone app for Pandora. Then just type in Simply Melodie by Melodie Cox. Yay!
WOW! I never thought I'd be on the radio again. 96.7 FM in St Petersburg played 6 of my tunes!! They support local artists which is such a good thing to do. Thanks to Rick Crandall for taking me on. Listen on the Internet at www.musictampabay.com.
Hello everyone and welcome to my News and Views page. This is a space designed for fill-in information about my own doings as well as my reunion with the amazing Dale Williams and a bit of history about When Buffett Meets Sinatra.
I started recording in 1967 and have never stopped. During the 70s, while I was touring the States with a Vegas-style show band, I had a 2 track Akai reel-to-reel in my motel room and was constantly recording the guitar on one track and a vocal on the other. This was a miracle then; to actually be able to record a vocal without having to play the guitar at the same time! In just a few years I would go into Michigan Producer Gary Praeg's new studio and have the luxury of 16 tracks to work with. OMG! Today there is practically no limit to the number of tracks one can have.
During the 80s and 90s, while living near Detroit and helping raise three beautiful children, I operated a recording studio in our basement. I started at 8 tracks, then 16, and finally 32. This taught me a lot. My clients were white, black, and in between and I had to bounce from Rhythm and Blues to Alternative Rock to Gospel, sometimes in the span of 8 hours. The extra cash was useful but what these years taught me I couldn't have learned anywhere else. A lot more details on this time can be found in my book, A Musician's Story, available at Amazon.com.
Jump ahead a few years, divorced from a 21 year marriage and disillusioned by my lack of success in the music business, I made the move to St. Petersburg Florida where the tourist scene promised the option of being able to perform 7 nights a week. I had tried Florida twice before but couldn't get a foothold in a music scene that was rife with Buffett-style entertainers. The reason I was finally able to do it was because of a duo I/we created in Michigan called When Buffett Meets Sinatra featuring a long time friend and wonderful Sinatra-style singer Dale Williams. This act caught on from the moment we arrived and lasted 7 years! I never had to pick up the phone and look for work. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced and the reason it happened? - - - I was willing to sell or give away everything I owned back in Michigan, leave the past behind, take a chance, and dive into the unknown! It was one of the best decisions I would ever make.
Wherever I lived, I took all my recording equipment with me and always ran a studio. In 2005 I met the girl that would turn my life upside down and inside out. Not only was Mary Beth far too beautiful to be with an ordinary looking guy like me, she was my soul mate! She married me in 2007! She gave so much support to my flagging musical spirit that wonderful things began to happen. I was accepted by the Recording Academy of America and became a voting member for the Grammys. What an honor this was! Because only voting members could enter CDs for Grammy consideration, this would allow me to enter projects year after year, and I have, as Producer, created something and entered it every Grammy season since 2012.
I also revived my writing career which had begun around 2000 with my first book, A Musician's Story and eventually this evolved into 5 books. Back in 2008, with Mary Beth's encouragement I entered a writing contest sponsored by People Magazine and ended up winning the Grand Prize! I couldn't believe it. 3 days with my honey at the Bellagio in Vegas - wow! Now I've come to find out, my latest book The Ghost of Bella Lakeside, is under consideration by NBC Universal for a movie! Time will tell.
Well that's it in a nutshell. I'll try to keep adding to this for those of you that are interested and thank you! -JC
Well Well! Another strange and wonderful development. I suddenly got the urge to get a drone for making videos. Again with Mary Beth's encouragement I moved forward. I didn't realize several things: that there's a serious learning curve and that the quality of the camera and the resulting video is astoundingly good. I crashed twice inside our home which resulted in damaged furniture and wear and tear on the Phantom 3's propellers but not much else. I was hoping for that sweeping, moving camera look for my videos but I rushed things. Plus I didn't realize there are specific settings for this drone related to flying indoors. I've crashed once outside but it was not serious and didn't cause any damage either. Now I've taken a deep breath and slowed down and am learning how to manage the very sensitive control stick that comes with the Phantom. Here are some drone vids I made while constantly learning.
MY DRONING WEBSITE: http://www.jcdronezhomes.com Check it out!
WHEN BUFFETT MEETS SINATRA continued...
But wait...there's more! Playing around the St Petersburg area, over the years I would frequently run into old friends who remembered me from the days when I performed with Dale Williams in our act, WHEN BUFFETT MEETS SINATRA. Many would ask,
"You guys ever gonna get back together?"
For some wonderful reason, that act caught on in a big way - so big, we never had to look for work - it always came to us!!! My fellow working musicians will understand how rare that is. When you're not famous and have it handed to you like a little pansy, you have to work yer friggin' butt off! Well, we weren't famous but very, very lucky. But let me go back...
It was around 1985. As I said earlier, I was married with three kids, living in a Detroit suburb and playing bars as a solo act. Previously I had played in bands, actually for 13 years, but the time had come to hang that up and make some better money. I was never going to put kids through college with that salary! So I started creating tracks to sound like a band but worked alone. We had a pretty good sized back yard and weeds would come making us look for answers. Our neighbors had a guy who dragged his hose back and forth over their lawn and it looked good so we hired him. Twice a month I would open the gate and let him through and we'd say a cordial "hello." One hot August day I was catching some rays on the back deck watching this handsome, shirtless guy sweating his you-know-what's off when he stopped and started talking. He told me he was a singer, liked to do Sinatra, and did DJ-ing at weddings! I couldn't believe it. He started popping up at my gigs and I showed up at some of his. I was truly amazed at his talent and especially that voice. Man, what a voice.
15 or so years went by. My marriage ended. I was living in a mobile home, running a studio, and still performing solo outside of Detroit. Dale and I had become good buddies, keeping in touch, seeing one another every other week or so and hanging out. I liked him because he was a kind and gentle soul with a voice the size of the Grand Canyon, and best of all - he was no competition for my gigs! Around this time I wasn't happy - the Michigan scene, or complete and total lack thereof - made me depressed. Somehow I landed a gig at a great club in Dearborn called The Dearborn Tavern. The owner Steve and his wife were very good to me, treating me with respect and kindness - a rarity then. I had been getting Buffett songs together and learning them down pat because I was bound and determined by this time, to go to Florida and stay there - hell or high water. I was simmering - just waiting for the right time. Meanwhile, Dale and I joked about doing a future gig together - we never talked about naming the act.
One night at the Tavern I mentioned to Steve that a friend of mine that sang Sinatra was going to hang out and sing with me the following night and we were doing it just for fun and here's what he said...
"What are you going to call the act? I'll put it on our website."
What? I gulped. Call the act? We're not an act, just a cuppa buddies hangin' out...I had to think fast. Up to this moment, I had never given one thought to naming our duo.
"Uh, When Buffett Meets Sinatra," I blurted. I swear to you, the following is true. This kind soul offered to pay my friend and we would be a duo performing Mondays from then on.
"We'll see how it goes," he said. Working steady Mondays in Michigan? That's not possible I thought. It was getting so bad for entertainers that even Fridays and Saturdays were no guarantee. Well guess what? In two weeks there was a line at the door! We bonded quickly with those Dearborn folks and I'll love them forever. We worked there for 3 months and then came a big change.
Dale had sold his lawn care business and now devoted his entire life to music. He was happy. I didn't think he'd be interested in taking this new act to Florida but he surprised me with the news that his girlfriend lived in Palm Beach and that we should visit her and scope out the area which we did around 2000. We went to clubs and checked them out but nothing jelled so we headed back to the cold miserable winter. I was really depressed now. My beautiful daughter had graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to Colorado, my sons Jason and Michael had moved on too; Jason graduating from Michigan State and Michael becoming successful in the computer field. I wasn't suicidal but really at the end of a long, frustrating rope.
One day, thinking that Dale was content in Michigan and would never be interested in trying Florida again, I asked him, "Do you want to try the other coast of Florida and see if it's for us?" To my shock he said without hesitation,
"Sure." Wow! Now my brain went into, no-looking-back action. We're gonna take this act to Florida and do or die, my thoughts screamed. Now here's what happened...
In April of 2003 we grabbed a room at a very unflattering motel on Gulf Blvd in Madeira Beach - right across the street from the Gulf of Mexico. We had enough money, if we watched our spending, to last three weeks. During the first two, we knocked on a lot of doors, offering to play for nothing just to get heard. So far no luck. Around the beginning of the third and final week, we set up and played at an outside tiki bar located at the foot of the revolving Holiday Inn in St. Pete Beach. There weren't many in our audience but nevertheless we got a good reaction. Good enough that the manager hired us for the revolving restaurant on the 11th floor. Our audience now would come and go once an hour and though they clapped, we knew it wasn't for us. However, luck prevailed once again when the manager took us aside and said,
"You know where you guys would fit? Philthy Phil's!!!" OMG I thought. We might as well save some money and head back to Hell. But what the heck. I'll never forget it. Unlike the name, Philthy Phil's was a clean and popular bar and restaurant right across the street from the Gulf. There was a line waiting to get in and as I squeezed passed, I saw the owner Phil, with apron on, frantically bussing tables and seating patrons, all with a friendly smile and good humor. Bad timing I thought but interrupted him and handed him our demo CD which he accepted graciously, me turning and thinking how cold Michigan was going to be. Dale and I drove away and now started talking about returning home. I was heart broken. I loved it here so much and never wanted to leave.
It was now very quiet in the car.
Suddenly my phone rang. This would be the call that would change our lives forever! On the other end of the line was Phil and he was practically screaming,
"I want you guys here tomorrow night!"
Un-frickin'-believable! Not only Thursday, but Friday and Saturday too we worked and the reaction was overwhelming. Everyone loved us and the rooftop bar where we played was shoulder to shoulder. I just couldn't believe our luck. We had to go back to Michigan to sell things and close up shop but Phil promised us steady work starting in 6 months and he was good to his word! We started in October right where we left off and the place was nuts! From then on, we never had to look for work. We probably could have charged more than we did but we were just so happy to be living in Florida in the sunshine!
We played for around 7 years and then, just like some marriages, it ended softly. It was no one's fault - it was just time for a change. Neither of us ever stopped working. And now ladies and gentlemen...
Friday's - 6pm at The Blue Parrott! (See Calendar)
Private functions too. (contact: email@example.com)
The reunion night was amazing! Sorry to say, some were turned away. Well they could have stayed if they were willing to stand all night. The place was just packed. I looked at Dale and he was as shocked as I was. Did we really have that much of an effect on these folks that we could leave them for seven years and come back to this? I guess it must have been the timing. Back in 2003, we came down to Florida at just the right time. See the calendar for all new Buffett/Sinatra dates. And thank you!
Well, here we are about 17 years since Dale and I started and it looks like we're just about finished. Dale is retiring, not all at once but gradually. Our last gig will be New Year's Eve at a beautiful complex in Madeira Beach. I have to say, it will be an emotional night for me. I love that guy and so does everybody else. All he has to do is start singing and everybody turns their head. My favorite and Mary Beth's too, is the song he does called All My Tomorrows. Thank God I made a video of him singing it that I will have forever. You can hear/see it on the opening page of this website; just scroll down a bit. It still brings tears to my eyes when I sit in a quiet place and watch it.
Grammy Member: I am asked quite frequently, "What does it mean that you're a Grammy Member?"
Answer: The Recording Academy, which is the actual name of the Grammy organization, has a membership of around 13,000 people, all ages, from all over the world. These folks are the only ones that vote for Grammys. We are also the only ones that can enter songs (or videos) for Grammy Consideration. So, it doesn't matter who the big star is, whether it's Taylor Swift or Adam Levine; if they're entered in the Grammys, it's because they were entered by a Grammy Member. And of course, it isn't hard to find Grammy Members in big recording companies. That's one of the things that suck about the whole process. Famous stars have a distinct advantage. But it is also why it is so special to me. To become a member, you have to apply on line. You have to have been an artist with recordings all over the Internet, either as an artist or as a Producer.
Grammy Considered, Grammy Nominated, Grammy Winner: Every now and then I am also asked, "Did you win a Grammy?" To the average person, it's all the same but here's the difference. When we enter our music in the upcoming Grammys, we are called "Grammy Considered." Then we all vote and in each of the 82 categories the result is always 5 nominees. Then in a few months we vote again and this time we only consider the 5 nominees in each category. Come January, it's Grammy time and the nominees with the most votes in each category win a Grammy. There now, is that more understood? Probably not, but I tried. I've entered 12 albums over the past 7 years and have not gotten a nomination. If I ever did, I'd die with a huge smile on my ugly face!! I may go one more time with an album of original violin/fiddle tunes I'm calling, Strings and Strangs.
MY BOOKS!: Back around the year 2000, I started writing and that morphed into books. I ended up writing 5 of them. Here are the titles:
A Musician's Story
One Thing Over
Love and the Wild Side
They were more or less self published and were easily available on line through Amazon or the publishing company. Sadly, that company folded and now all of the authors can no longer get their books. None. Can't get any! It's very sad. Don't know if there's a lawsuit coming or what. So...the only option is to write a new one which I am trying to do now but it's going slowly. Coming up with new story lines is hard these days. But nevertheless, keep on sluggin'... And, Scene!!
THE ARTWORK OF BILL STARR
This is the wonderful imagination
and artistic talent of my good friend Bill Starr.
He heard me perform one night
and the next time I saw him
he had made this...
And later this...
And even later this...
And finally, this...
If I could afford it, I would fill my house with his artwork! He is a true genius!
CHRISTMAS OLD is NEW AGAIN on Sugar Lieu Records, now has over 500,000 spins on Pandora!(As of Sept/18) This means so much to me. Pandora is the Cadillac of Internet Radio. Most businesses use it for their background music. I wanted to create a CD that would be played long after I'm gone and by golly, according to Pandora, I have! (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon etc....)
CONGRATULATIONS Jay Cee!
In September of 2012 Jay Cee was accepted by the Recording Academy of America as a voting member for the Grammy Awards! The only way any artist, from Timberlake to Shelton, can be nominated for a Grammy, or even enter their music for consideration, is through a voting member. For the 2014 Grammy's, Jay Cee was entered in 12 categories for 3 different acts as producer; in 2015, 4 cat's. for Them Two Yoots and for the 2016 Grammys, 3 categories for Be The Violin. - endless hours of work. No nominations as of yet but Jay Cee works every day in his state-of-the-art Pro Tools recording studio working on the next project.
John Charles Unger's newest book, The Ghost of Bella Lakeside is now available for download to Kindle, Nook and hard copy at Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com. Dedicated to his lovely wife Mary Beth, this is John's 5th book and the one he is most proud of. It is under consideration by NBC's Universal Studios to be made into a movie.
See the synopsis on the home page of this website.
Thanks for Watching!___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
JC UNGER: 727-434-1519
Need a catchy jingle for your business?
Imagine a 30 second, "hooky" musical jingle highlighting the name of your product in a way that listeners won't forget, professionally made with the very latest Pro Tools technology. If you leave it to the radio stations, they'll use a bland licensed track and have one of their jocks talk over it. There won't be any voices singing the name of your product.
That's not personal.
On top of that, they'll gouge your eyes out!
With us it's only $200 for a 30 second spot, made to your liking, satisfaction guaranteed. And we have other offers too, like our 60-30-15 deal, only $450 and you tell us what you want to say in the ads.
Call Jay Cee @ 727-434-1519 and let's get started. (Pro tools 11, 30 years production experience including Motown, Private Stock and MCA.)
For speaker repair J.C. Recommends:
Simply Speakers - 6625 35th Street, Pinellas Park 571-1245
Bose speaker repair, reasonable.
For anything electronic,
Hi-Energy in Clearwater
from the desk of J.C. Unger
Luck Be a Beautiful Lady
In 2008, People magazine held an essay competition called Luck Be a Beautiful Lady. The premise: describe your beautiful lady and why she brings you luck - in fifty words or less. Designed to coordinate with the new release of a Frank Sinatra compilation CD, the grand prize was a 3 day/night stay worth $5000 at the luxurious Bellagio Hotel in of course, Las Vegas.
More than wanting to win a contest, I wanted to honor my wife and see if I could write something deeply meaningful in only fifty words. For this I called on my years of song writing experience where deep emotions have to be conveyed with as few words as possible. After a month of rewrites, I submitted this entry:
Mary Beth was a living doll. Satin skin, come-hither eyes and lips all men wanted; when she danced, her swaying hips hypnotized. She loved me, loved my music, and made all things joyful again in my life. Best of all, she wanted to be my wife. Lucky, lucky me.
Two months later, after I had all but forgotten about it, a letter arrived from People Magazine informing us that we had won the Grand Prize! The following spring Mary Beth and I enjoyed our weekend at the Bellagio, meeting up with MB's sister and brother-in-law Sharon and Fran, as well as my long time friend, musician and Las Vegas resident Richie Vane and his girlfriend Sarah. It was a thrill to be able to share our good fortune with treasured friends - we had a thousand dollars in food money that we had to spend! It was a time to cherish and remember always and to this day I still can't believe it happened.
from the desk of J.C. UngerTHE MOTIVATIONAL COWBOY"For about 20 years I ran a recording studio out of my basement in Romulus Michigan. Oh it wasn't like one of those fancy ones you see on TV; I was helping raise a family and trying to make it on a musician's salary. But I paid attention to acoustics, found deals on the best sounding equipment, and when it was all said and done, I got a pretty good sound for folks who only had to pay 20 bucks an hour. And I learned about producing and what producers do. At least I think I did. I met some interesting people this way and they would come right into my home so I'd get to know them as friends as well as clients.
One of these folks was a super cool dude named Johnny who's last name was so difficult to spell that he just said "D". He was at the time, an aspiring motivational speaker - he wanted to help folks by pumping them up; getting them out of their funk. He began to catch on and businesses would hire him to fly across the country and appear at their employee functions and such. Then someone at NASCAR saw Johnny D in action and now he's a fixture for Chevrolet at all their races and if you're a race fan, you've probably already seen him at the Chevy stage, handing out T-shirts and hats and pumping the newest cars. He also interviews all the NASCAR drivers.
But that's not all he does. He also records CDs and that's where I came in. In February 2013, Johnny came and stayed with Mary Beth and me for a couple of days and I recorded his distinctive voice, telling little stories (and in some cases longer ones). He talked about his daughter, his wife, and his dog in simple, clear poems; some that would make you cry - that's how sweet they were. Then he left - headed back to NASCAR and back to motivating folks and helping them find some direction in life. Meanwhile, over the next 6 months I molded music behind his words. Unlike any other time I have ever done this, it inspired me to such a degree that I couldn't stop thinking about the project, even while I was onstage at night performing. It became a curious obsession and when it was finally finished, mixed and mastered, it was something I was very proud of.
The CD was entitled Outstanding Bound and was entered for Grammy consideration in the 2014 Grammys. Doing this music was a blast and I owe a big thank you to my lovely Mary Beth for always clearing the way for me to work in the studio. And her daughter Sabrina is on this CD too! I wrote the music for the project, and Johnny wrote all the words. He is a profound poet, and doesn't know it." - Jay Cee
Check Johnny D out at www.themotivationalcowboy.com