Wednesday, August 31, 2011

What Amy Winehouse, Susan Boyle and Adele Taught Me

Amy Winehouse  - proof: there IS a market for old school soul music. Susan Boyle  - proof: that people don't really care what you look like, they just want to hear great songs. Adele - proof: that you don't have to be rail thin and dance around in a bikini to strike a chord with people. All three of these women are proof - at least to me - that when given the opportunity to listen to music with heart and soul, people respond to it. Just make it real.
-- Mari Mack

SSP : If you happen to be one of those people who appreciates music delivered with heart and soul, my next show is 9/1/11 at the Southern Pacific Smokehouse in Novato 224 Vintage Way Novato, CA 94945 (415) 899-9600

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What's Wrong With Today's Music Industry

When the VMAs give a Lifetime Achievement award to someone who is not yet reached the age of 30, THAT pretty much tells you what is wrong with this industry - and society.
What is happening when we do not value life experience, only the beauty of youth?

We are all missing out on some great life experiences - from giving kids time with their grandparents to hearing music artists who have been there and back.

Dig deeper, people. Seriously.

On Giving

I read this passage from "The Prophet" and thought it worthy of sharing again.

"You give but little when you give of your possessions.
  It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
 For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
 And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself? 
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable? 
There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome. 
And there are those who have little and give it all. 
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty. "

This quote describes a lot of my musician friends. We give because we must. 

(read the entire passage on Giving here )

Monday, August 29, 2011


If you missed the VMAs : 
Lady Gaga dressed in drag and told us how creative and weird she is - as if we couldn't tell already. Girl, if you have to dress up as someone else to tell us how great you are -  something is wrong - very wrong. I knew ahead of time that Brian May was going to be playing with her, but he was SO gray, I almost thought he was Jimmy Page there for a minute.
Adele sang "Someone Like You." Seemed a bit nervous and "a bit pitchy" on the low notes, but it kind of fit in with the whole "pain" aspect of the song, so maybe it was intentional? Being hung up one thing or one person is painful. Been there, done that. Anyway, I'll take Adele over Lady Gaga in drag any day of the week. Hope that song choice was your decision, Adele. If not - you need a new manager. I'm guessing your record company wanted to push "Someone Like You."  Have to say, I am bummed you didn't do "Rollin' In the Deep" which was nominated for the VMA -  a selfish desire on my part, because I need a little help pushing that memory of The Voice cattle call out of my head. Time to move on.
Can someone please explain to me HOW and WHY Britney Spears got the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award, which is basically the equivalent of a Lifetime Achievement award?  What is she, 30?   I don't think SHE even thought she deserved that award, because her acceptance speech was a one line reminder that yesterday was Michael Jackson's birthday  - then she started gushing about Beyonce.
Then Beyonce asked us to join in the celebration of the "love growing inside" her, sang a song that hinted to how she got pregnant, while setting a world record for most modulations in an award show performance. She capped it all off by rubbing her baby bump. You go, girl. Arne is SO proud.
Russell Brand gave a heartfelt and honest tribute to Amy Winehouse, but lost me when he dropped the "G" word. If ONE hit album is all you need to be called a genius, what do we start calling artists like Paul Simon and Bob Dylan? Stevie Wonder? GOD? Speaking of God, that was really cute that Justin Beiber thanked God AND Jesus, after carrying around the symbol for the DEVIL in the pre-show - a little snake named he named "Johnson." ((roll eyes)) Selena, get used to it - he will be cracking jokes like that his whole life. Wait until he's 69, you'll see what I mean. It's a package deal - you want the package, you have to take the whole thing.
Chris Brown on a high wire was cool - but I don't remember the song. If that was me, the audience would have to be wearing plastic, for two reasons.
Tony Bennett classed up the place in a subtly sparkly jacket, but seriously, Tony - did you have to compare Amy to Billie Holiday & Ella Fitgerald? No artist is satisfied being compared to another. Besides, isn't that the same thing you said about that little blond girl on American Idol? What was her name? Haley? Ugh. When Haley went into the fake raspy growl thing, everyone was comparing her to Janis Jopin. Puhlease.
Bruno Mars - one of my favorites of the night. I'm partial to big horn bands, sure - but that boy can SING. Gives me hope.
Then that Lil' Wayne guy left me scratching my head and feeling REALLY old school. No roll credits. Just an immediate segue into a show with a really stupid title.
That's what you missed.
Fame - you can have it. I would not be caught dead with a box on my head.
The only thing I would change about my life is a slight increase in income so I can fix my house up to be more energy efficient, upgrade my car to run on EV or a WVO and afford to buy health insurance.
 - MM
p.s. If you happen to be near Novato, CA on Thursday, I'll be singing with Livin Like Kings at the Smokehouse.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Guest Post : Beth Reynolds Vents re: "The Voice"

Got this hysterically funny email from my friend Beth yesterday.
Hey Mari-
I read your great blog on your experience with The Voice. I was going to post to FB and say basically the same thing- that we had the same chance as a snowball in Hell. I'm thinking that we had to be
(1) under 30;
(2) Have a fatal disease that miraculously disappears right after the FIRST SHOW! WOW!
(3) be a welfare mother with a relative that you're doing the show for, in the hopes that you can raise the money to help her with the medical bills she got when hit by a drunk driver
Should I have proudly told the judge that I was 57?
NO! I SHOULD HAVE LIED, even if I DO look 57!! I should have gotten two Life Lifts and some youth prosthetics, if such a thing exists. And a lot of makeup. And PRAY that the judge is near-sighted and only sees a blur where my face is.
I think you probably rocked the room when you sang. And you probably had one of the best voices that judge heard. But the one guy who got to perform a second, contemporary song by request from the judge of my group- and he was FLAWLESS, and had a gorgeous, effortless tenor voice that Bruno Mars or CeeLo would have given their left nut for- he KILLED on CeeLo's F** You song- only got the advice to keep his phone on until 8 and if he didn't get a call, he wasn't getting THE call back. I think they were definitely looking for a YOUNG WOMAN this time out, since an older guy won the first season.
Anyway- buck up. It may have been an opportunity for some lucky girl, but it wasn't for us. And something WILL be. I think the show is ageist - I gave a pretty damn good audition myself and had eye contact with the judge the whole time- I know he liked my voice. But that little speech about being 57 had him putting a black mark through my name, instantaneously. I imagine that even you, who are much younger, probably got the same reaction. They didn't care how good a performance either of us gave- they wanted the youngster, and told us as much while we were waiting. They wanted the NEW, YOUNG artist. That would not be us, unfortunately. They told us it didn't matter if we had the best voice or gave the best performance.  I'm wearing a costume next time, one with a MASK!
You're already way past the point where you need a show to give you a boost. Something else will come to you as a direct consequence of them hearing you sing live. With a mic.
Take care, and I'll see ya around the cow corral when they announce auditions for the X Factor!! Yeah, I've GOT one of those!! And a Y factor to boot!
PS- Feel free to publish this in your blog if you like!

btw : Beth and her man, Knut Kramer, run Sunnbolt Studios in Novato. They also happen to play together in a band called S'Cream, a Cream tribute band, and they are playing tonight, Friday, August 26th, 2011, at MACK'S Bar and Grill in Penngrove. If you love Cream - check it out!

related post: 


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Live Music Licks the Wounds

You know, sometimes, I have to go out and listen to some live music played by some friends, to get a recharge, a reminder of why I am on this planet. Last night was one of those nights. Thankfully, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and have a multitude of choices, so last night I caught a songwriter's circle at a local venue (The Sleeping Lady : Danny Click, Tracy Blackman, Bonnie Hayes  - with Don Bassey.)   It was a nice reminder of why I sing and write songs: to help people get in touch with their emotions and make a human connection. I don't need no stinkin' TV show. Who wants to be owned by a corporation when my music is already spreading by word of mouth?
If you live nearby, do yourself a favor and make your reservation by calling 415-899-9600 
for our upcoming show at the Southern Pacific Smokehouse -  I'm really fired up after that audition for NBC's "The Voice."   - Pretty soon I'm going back into hermit writing mode and I'm not coming out until I have  enough original songs to make another album- worthy of your ears and attention. (btw: I've heard the ribs are really yummy.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Audition for "The Voice"


I auditioned for Season 2 of "The Voice" when they came to the SF Bay Area, bearing in mind that it was a long shot. When I saw Cee-lo wearing that Misfits shirt in Season One, I took it as a hint that I should try out for the show.*
So, I went to the online audition site and checked out the online tool, had a bunch of old classic tunes. "Cool, they must be looking for real singers," I thought. But the online tool wouldn't work with my operating system. I couldn't get past the point where they could see my camera. So, reluctantly, I signed up for the "open call." I say reluctantly, because  HATE singing without a mic, and the last time I tried one of those, they shut the doors on all of us when I was fifth in line and I never got a chance to audition after standing in line all day. But that was 30 years ago. And "that Misfits shirt was a sign," I kept telling myself. "If you want to win the game, you've got to be in the game."  How hard could it be?
Well, here's how it went : I had a 2:00 pm appointment. I got there at 2:00 pm. Already about 100 people in line.  They were making people pour their water bottles out - security thing. "There will be water for you inside." Waited for hours, made some new friends. Wait, drink water, pee. Wait, wait, wait. Very noisy in the waiting "salon," Production assistants keep telling people to keep it down, auditions are going on in the adjoining rooms. I'm thinking "send the talkers home - that's get rid of all these rude people." Then I think, "I'm feeling cranky - must be because I haven't eaten." I leave the room to get a granola bar, a nutri grain bar and a cup of tea. Cost me six bucks. I pop the tea bag in my purse and drink the hot water, scoping out the competition.
Ran into my friend Beth Reynolds, wearing some great green boots. "Money boots" she calls them. We chatted - both feel the same way about this - don't expect much. She says some very nice things to me - tells me she thinks I have a better chance than most - thank you Beth.  We joke and laugh, we're going for the sympathy "last chance old chick" vote. hahahhaha Trying our best to keep our voices down because auditions are going on on the adjoining rooms.
After waiting three hours, some really nice guy came out - one of the producers, to talk to the crowd - told us "go ahead and sing your classic old tune, but since we are looking for contemporary artists, be prepared for us to ask you to sing something more contemporary after that."
I'm pretty sure that is what he said - I couldn't hear him very well, because I was in the back of the room and he had no microphone and people were talking. I should have walked up the aisle to make sure I could hear him loud and clear.
After he walked out, the room exploded in an uproar - and the production assistants did that "wave" thing with their hands when they want to shush the room up.  (You know - the movement that looks like a flight attendant action.)
So, after Mr. Tall Dark and Handsome producer's speech, I'm thinking "Oh shit - I'm singing Dusty Springfield. Oh shit I don't want to have to sing that Adele tune, I mean, that is the only contemporary tune I know by heart, and EVERYONE is going to be singing that tune. Oh shit Oh shit Oh shit. OK, I'll sing the Dusty tune and then he'll ask me to sing something more contemporary - yeah, ok, that's what I'll do..." Quick, get the iPhone out - bring up YouTube, write the lyrics down. OK done. Thinking, "What else - oh - I can sing that Kings of Leon tune - I know that one pretty good. Only a verse and a chorus. It's Scot's birthday, he liked Kings of Leon, must be a sign. My mind drifts to that Rosie O'Donell character in Sleepless in Seattle. What ? Oh yeah. Bring it up on the iPhone. Kings of Leon...."
I get the feeling that someone is watching me, so I look up - here comes my friend Beth again. She says "Oh shit, I'm done - he wants a contemporary tune." We laugh, again, in hushed tones - don't want to be rude like all these other noisy folks. She sees the look of panic on my face and says. "You're working here. I'll let you get your lyrics" - and she goes to sit in a chair a couple of rows up. Thanks, Beth....So, I double check that I have the verse and chorus for "Use Somebody" down, and sit and wait, and wait and wait and wait.
And wonder "WHY am I doing this again?" But I figure "I've come this far, might as well wait it out."
So, I sit and wait, and wait and wait and wait.
Finally, Beth's row, a couple of rows up from us, is led to the other waiting area. Wait some more.

OK. Our group is up! We are led to another hallway, told to wait, we can now go to the bathroom, warm up, etc. So I go and pee again. Wash hands, check makeup. I keep my poncho on because the air conditioning is freezing.
The group before us comes out. A bunch of sad faces, they all get their wristbands cut off. No call backs. Then two very handsome young men early 20's (if I had to guess) come out smiling, callbacks for them. Yay for them.
Another group comes out - no callbacks.
Our group goes in.  The person who is charged with this decision to send us to the next round is one guy - a very young guy, red hair and freckles. His skin is beautiful, cherubic. Seems robotic, and tired. I feel sorry for him and a bit of panic at the same time, because I can hear someone in the next room murdering that damn Adele song. Fuck.

My heart starts beating out of my chest. I mean, so loudly, I can't hear what the fuck he's saying. This must be what a roller coaster ride feels like if you're not the kind of person that wants to puke whenever they get on a roller coaster. Which I am, by the way.
Come to think of it - puking sounds good right about now, but it would only be a couple of chewed up nuts because all I had to eat was a granola bar. My bad. if I get up the nerve and they have a third season, I'm eating my Wheaties before I show up.
It's much warmer in this room, and I consider taking my poncho off, but decide against it. Again, my bad, I should have ripped that baby off and let my boobs do the talking.
I'm thinking "I hate singing without a microphone."  I use it like an instrument. Seriously. I make love to the damn thing, not in a crude way, but that is how I am used to singing - with a mic. "Red" as I have dubbed him in my limitless imagination, calls the names, one by one. We each take our turn. Some of these girls can't sing a note in tune. But they are having a  wonderful time singing - their faces are filled with such joy. I come to the realization that eight of ten of us are "shower singers" - people who are not professionals, they sing in the shower. My guess is just one other gal besides me has done any professional singing. Again, I think "What am I doing here?" I'm hoping there's an ambulance nearby, because I swear I'm going to have a fucking heart attack if this thing doesn't end soon. "Think positive thoughts,"  I tell myself.

Ok - it's my turn, Trying to find the starting note in my head, I breathe. I remember what the producer said in his speech - "Perform for us." So I tell the other girls in the room I'm going to ask them to clap their hands for me. Immediately, they start applauding. I tell them - "no, not like that." We all laugh - it relaxes me enough to find the note.  I know that the only reason I am even slightly nervous is because I am out of my comfort zone - the no mic thing. I start to sing and clap my hands and the other girls follow suit. It felt good and I'm pretty sure I rocked it - I could tell by the looks on the other girls in the room - most were smiling and that one looked as if she wanted to rip my hair our of my head. It was fun.

But "Red" was not moved. I have to admit I was a bit shocked that he didn't ask me to sing something more contemporary.

Am I disappointed? Yes. Because I would have welcomed the opportunity to sing for millions of people at once - and tv exposure would help me get better gigs for my Kings.
I could be bitter and say that "Red" had no soul or no ears. But instead, I left feeling sorry for the kid - because if I had to listen to several hundred out of tune wanna be singers murder Adele's "Rollin' In the Deep" -  all day long - my ears would have been gone by the time I heard a REAL singer too.
Maybe he was too tired, too low on the totem pole to make an exception to the parameters set out by the higher ups. Maybe he sat too far away from me. Maybe I just didn't shine my light bright enough for him to feel the heat.

So, what I take from all this is a sense of who I am and who I want to be. I'm grateful. Because after what I heard in that room yesterday, you couldn't pay me to do anything BUT sing - and write.
If anything, I am more committed to keep plugging away, because these are the gifts I have to bring into this world.

Next time, I will shine my light so bright, the heat from the glow will melt that kid's earwax.


Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. " Marianne Williamson

"‎Do not allow people to dim your shine because they are blinded. Tell them to put on some sunglasses, cuz we were born this way bitch!"
Lady Gaga

* I went to high school with Jerry Only, bass player from the Misfits - only I knew him as Jerry Caiafa, quarterback of the football team - But that's a story for another post.   

Friday, August 19, 2011

Mari Mack News

Hello Friends : Next show is Thursday, September 1st Southern Pacific Smokehouse, Novato, CA The Smokehouse was voted BEST NEW VENUE in Marin.
This will be our only show in Marin this month, as I'm writing new songs for the next album.
CLICK HERE to download tracks : check discography for new tracks

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