music

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Dance the Night Away

Published October 11, 2020 by Maryanne

Fun times with my late friend Vinnie, 1982

A few days ago I heard Eddie Van Halen died.

I was not a big Van Halen fan. But when a musician is that huge a hit or two is bound to be backdrop music for whatever is going on in your life at the time of their massive success. So, of course it hits you. Even though I never saw them in concert and never owned a Van Halen record, I have a memorable story to share.

Earlier this year a very dear friend of mine died suddenly of a heart attack, at age 56. My friend Vinnie, who I have known since I was a teenager and absolutely adored.

The stories of Vinnie can go on and on and on. He had a kind heart and a wicked sense of humor. He was the type of person who could say anything and the way he presented it, it would just make you almost die laughing. He had that power about him. And was oh so humble about it. He was the kind of friend everyone wanted to be around. Anyone who knew him was a better person because of him.

As soon as I heard Eddie Van Halen died, once again Vinnie was on my mind. During the early 1980s, Vinnie and I were both into the dance club music of the time — The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs, Culture Club, Haysi Fantayzee … you get the picture.

So what does this have to do with Eddie Van Halen?

When the song “Jump” came out, Vinnie was raving about it. He was always the first to get on the bandwagon of new music. He played the song for me and it was a “wow” for me too. We were not die-hard Van Halen fans, but that was a song we could get into.

There was a bar in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, called Aldo’s Hideaway. Vin and I were regulars there. The owner’s uncle, Pete, was a bartender there and he loved us. He told us many times we were his favorite customers. If I went to Aldo’s alone and Pete looked out the window and saw my Monte Carlo pulling into the driveway, he’d have my drink ready for me at the bar — a White Russian.

One Christmas, Vinnie and I gave Pete a Christmas card and we drank for free all night. The memories we made at Aldo’s were grand ones. Especially the “Jump” night.

On our way to Aldo’s one Saturday evening, Vinnie was playing a cassette tape he made. It was songs we grooved on, by artists we were fans of — Johnny Thunders, Aerosmith … and now that new Van Halen song, “Jump.” It was a great mix.

Saturday night at Aldo’s there was a DJ named Brian. He was very much into David Bowie and Japan; two of my favorites. That’s why Saturday nights at Aldo’s were a win.

This particular evening, we arrived at Aldo’s and ordered drinks. Pete was concerned because a crowd was on the dance floor, more people were coming in the door, and Brian had not yet showed up to DJ. The place was filling up and there wasn’t any music.

“What about that great tape you have in the car?” I asked Vinnie.

“Oh, do you want me to get that?” he asked both Pete and me, as if my say had any clout. It wasn’t hard to twist Pete’s arm; he thought we were great and trusted our judgement. He said, “Sure.”

Now, for those who aren’t familiar with music of the late 1970s or early 1980s, I have to tell you, the hard rock sounds of Aerosmith and Van Halen were nothing like David Bowie, Japan, Psychedelic Furs, and other ambient dance music Brian played. So, obviously, that mix was NOT the type of music Brian played. In fact, you would NEVER hear Aerosmith or Van Halen at Aldo’s. Never, ever, ever!

Nevertheless, people were enjoying the music, and dancing! “They’re digging it,” Vinnie said, and then smiled.

By the time “Jump” came on, Brian showed up. He looked flustered, obviously concerned about what was playing on the DJ mixing board at Aldo’s. His Saturday night reputation of playing austere art rock was now tarnished.

A drop of sweat ran down Brian’s forehead as he jolted towards the dance floor. He got to the DJ booth. He looked out of breath and slightly agitated. “Jump” was still playing. It would be unprofessional to cut the song off mid-way. Plus, people were dancing and enjoying it.

Vin and I sat observing. We felt like little children who got away with something bad. We looked at each other and smirked. A Van Halen song at Aldo’s — and on a Saturday night no less. It was hilarious.

When “Jump” ended, our party was over.

I do not remember the next song Brian played after “Jump.” Most likely something by Depeche Mode or Medium Medium; who knows.

But Vin and I were easy to please music fans. We didn’t care. It was fun while it lasted. Vin went up to the DJ booth to retrieve his tape. Then we hit the dance floor, and danced the night away. Well, until our young appetites kicked in and we decided to leave and hit a diner.

Rest in peace, Vinnie. You are so very missed.

And rest in peace, Eddie Van Halen.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

Happy Birthday MTV!

Published August 1, 2020 by Maryanne
DSCF1622
Maryanne with original MTV V-Jay, Mark Goodman, 2018
MTV premiered on television on August 1, 1981. It launched with the spoken words “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll” followed by the video for the song “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles. The cable channel was initially available only to homes in parts of New Jersey.
I was thrilled to be part of history that summer. I had just graduated high school and remember watching. To this day I LOVE the song “Video Killed the Radio Star.”
Back then there were only a handful of videos and you’d watch the same ones over and over. Yet it was thrilling to see your favorite songs accompanied by the artist’s vision.
I was honored to meet original VJ Mark Goodman back in 2018. Such a nice guy and still handsome! (pictured above)
MTV may not be as magical as it was in the beginning, but we have memories that still hold strong in our heart. Let the music live on!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats

Visit Maryanne’s You Tube Channel here: Be YOUnique

Happy National Nude Day!

Published July 14, 2020 by Maryanne

Love Cats 2020Love Cats by Krystianna Mercury

Today is National Nude Day! But you don’t have to take your clothes off to have a good time. You can live vicariously through my characters in my fictitious, erotic book, Love Cats. The second edition was recently published by Pink Flamingo Media. Just click here to order: Love Cats

Love Cats is the story of Janey Peyton, a spoiled rich girl who meets Beck, a working class guy. It’s the 1980s and they connect mainly on music, but there’s also a strong sexual chemistry. Beck works hard to make a life for himself, and Janey mistakes his hard work for neglect. She goes out on a sexual rampage with both men and women. Broken hearted Beck could only take so much and finally dumps her.

While they are broken up, a kitten shows up on Janey’s doorstep. Learn how a kitten helps Janey change her evil ways, and learn that what she had with Beck was real.

Do you plan on celebrating National Nude Day?! Do tell!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats

Social Distancing, First Outdoor Concert of the Summer!

Published July 8, 2020 by Maryanne

DSCF5086Do you see the social distancing circle in white paint? 

Last night was exciting. It was the first outdoor concert my husband and attended since COVID19. I don’t keep up with the news (it’s too depressing), but last I’ve heard is that New Jersey, USA is doing good. We now have outdoor dining and outdoor concerts — with social distancing. We are in Phase 2 of Covid; hopefully moving to Phase 3 soon. I truly believe our Gov. Murphy is doing a great job, especially with the two-week quarantine for those who have visited other states and countries. Why not? NJ has worked so hard to get to this point; why should we be punished because other states are careless?

Woodbridge Township is offering a concert series all summer long, on the lawn of their high school. Mondays are Golden Oldies; Tuesdays are Tribute Bands; Wednesdays are indie acts; Thursdays are local bands; and Sundays are country bands.

Since many of the acts are from out of state, they will most likely cancel because they don’t want to quarantine for two weeks. You can’t blame them; they need to earn a living. But according to the Township, they will replace those bands with others, so it’s still a music win!

Though humid, it was still a lovely summer evening. It stays light late and it’s romantic watching the sun go down while listening to great music.

Last night the concert was Best of The Eagles. They were a great tribute band and so on the money. Such a vast collection of music, much of which sends chills up your spine, like my favorite, “Best of My Love.”

They also had a bar garden; and treats like popcorn and ice cream. It was especially lovely seeing so many senior citizens coming out, wearing their masks, and having a great time. Dancing was not permitted because it would bring strangers too close together. Everyone obeyed. It was truly a scene I was proud to be part of — a small piece of history, and people coming together during trying times.

For more information on Woodbridge Township and their concerts, visit: Woodbridge

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit:Be (Extra)Ordinary

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: I Don’t Want To Be Like You

Her fiction book “Love Cats” second printing is now available, under the pen name Krystianna Mercury, from Pink Flamingo. You can purchase it here: Love Cats

 

Love Cats – Second Printing Now Available!

Published June 4, 2020 by Maryanne
Love Cats 2020
“Love Cats” by Krystianna Mercury
With all the tragedy happening, I was hesitant as to when to write about the second printing of my book “Love Cats.” (Krystianna Mercury is the first time I’m using a pen name. You can purchase directly from Pink Flamingo: Love Cats).
I’ve decided that making my announcement today, National Old Maids Day would be appropriate, because it’s a day to support single and childless women.
In “Love Cats” (Love Cats) I address the “old maid” issue via my character Janey.
 
Janey starts out as a smart character who wants a guy with substance. Though when she meets one, her insecurities get the best of her and she subconsciously does everything she could to kill the relationship. Though the difference between me and her is that while creative success is what drove me, Janey doesn’t need any kind of success as she’s already a wealthy trust fund and she’s simply driven by her own selfishness.
 
Whatever motivates us to stay single (work, fear, waiting for the right one, etc.) I think it’s super cool that in these modern times women are viewed as so much more and we no longer have to live in “shame” because we aren’t hooked up.
 
I tell everyone who asks my advice, to wait. Wait until you meet that one of a kind soul mate who rocks your world. There is no need to settle. Nor was there a need to settle 30 years ago either, we just took more shit from people for not settling. I’ve avoided certain relatives for years because they were more interested in who I was dating and how serious it was. Not my career, not my interests, not my dreams or desires. Just who I was dating and if marriage was in the cards.
 
I dreaded those horrible questions, yet stuck to my guns and never settled.
 
Mind you, when I say “never settled” while I did date a ton of jerks, I also dated some really cool guys — just not right for ME. I am still friends with some of these guys and my husband likes them too. We are so blessed that we have such an honest relationship with each other. And his ex-girlfriend’s brother is my favorite of all his friends! And that’s another cool blog for a later date, how trust is the most beautiful thing in a relationship.
 
But back to Janey …
 
In “Love Cats” Janey’s live-in maid, Lucia refers to her as an “old lady” for not having a ring on her finger — and she’s not even 25 yet! But that’s how it was in the 1980s. So much pressure for a young girl trying to find herself. Too much noise from the peanut gallery. Urgh!
 
It’s so cool that it’s acceptable today for women to live at home longer, concentrate on their careers, and not even marry at all if they don’t want to. Even though I’m married, I can sigh with relief that there is no pressure on me to bear children and raise a family. My husband and I are perfectly fine with our little love cat, Derick. Life is so good when you don’t have the rest of the world throwing their desires in YOUR face. We’re so blessed to exist in a live and let live time. Let’s keep it that way!
 
We’ve come a long way baby!
 
THANK GOD!

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. In addition to Love Cats, she is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

Being Authentic… to Ourselves and Each Other

Published May 28, 2020 by Maryanne

Being Authentic: A Memoir by Morhaf Al Achkar, MD, PhD

Review by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta

While many people are complaining about being cooped up during the pandemic, I’m secretly rejoicing because I’ve been doing what I didn’t have much time for before—READING! Since the mid-March lockdown, I’ve read six books, all special in their own right.

Prior to writing this review, I questioned myself… Is it weird to say I can relate to a man who was born in Syria, two years after I graduated high school? A man who became both an MD and a PhD–whereas I struggled just to get my diploma?

First, I took the safe route and wrote the blog as a regular book review. However, after a re-read, my review appeared dull and stale. This author deserves so much more. After he exposed his deep feelings for all to read, I promised myself I should do the same. I do not see that as narcissistic, but rather compassionate. In this review I want people to see me as a person who can find something in common with almost anyone—male/female, young/older, rich/middle class/poor, black/white/mixed. Because this is what the world needs right now, to focus on what we have in common, rather than what sets us apart. (And, honestly, I’ve been quiet about politics for too long, so read on!)

Leo

Author, Morhaf Al Alchar, MD, PhD, and faithful companion, Leo! 

Morhaf Al Achkar has not reached his 40th birthday, yet he ponders death.

I question: Why is he thinking about this now? Perhaps because of his struggle with both Crohn’s disease and a stage four lung cancer; perhaps because he dealt with the devastating loss of his own mother at a young age; or perhaps because we are in the midst a pandemic, all of us facing a virus that has no cure yet. And so many people are at each other’s throats, making it political.

In his memoir, Dr. Achkar strives to be authentic—his true self. And that he is. His story is direct as he gets right to the point with no apologies. And he is vulnerable. There is absolutely no pretense. You do not feel like you are reading a book written by a doctor, with both an MD and a PhD. Instead, you are chatting with a brand new friend.

Growing up in Syria, in a family of nine children, Morhaf often locked himself in a room reading books. He was labeled the “philosopher of his family” by his father. Early on, one of his major struggles was living in a culture “with hypertrophied masculinity.” Men boasting of foolish things like beatings or shootings was the norm. There were also bullies and schoolteachers who were abusive. Wise beyond his years, Morhaf made sense of it all and did not let any of this hinder his growth as a human being. As a person who was also bullied, I relate to this.

Once I began sharing my story to others, I no longer felt shame, but rather a big relief—even empowered! When I read about other people being bullied, it’s a soft spot for me. I can’t help but get a lump in my throat. Then I immediately switch my brain to the good parts of one’s life; their triumphs!

The saving grace in this picture is Morhaf’s mother, a warm, trusting woman, but one of authority and one who greatly valued education. Reading about how his mom pushed Morhaf to take the first steps on the dance floor reminded me of my grandmother.

Grandma practically raised me since my parents were divorced and neither were around much. I think about a family reunion we had when I was about 12. My sister, cousins and I danced to the hired band. When the reunion came to an end, my grandmother encouraged me to “talk to them.” I was shy, but wanted to make Grandma happy, so with my older cousin, we went up to the stage and asked the musicians for their autographs. A parent or grandparent encouraging the kids to dance or talk to someone at a party is a great move to get a kid out of their shy shell.

Another way I relate to Morhaf is not being satisfied with religion and rituals. As a Muslim he reflects on his faith after his mother passes. I was raised without religion, so I had nothing to go by except the standards Catholic holidays that Italian families practiced. When I was 24, I met an older Filipino gentleman who became my mentor. Together we studied religions and philosophies from all over the world.

Remaining open-minded until I met some Christian friends, I decided to give Christianity a chance. But then after my grandmother died, I lost faith, the same way Morhaf felt his faith was faltering after his mother died.

I stopped going to church and celebrating any holidays that had to do with Jesus. When I returned to faith, I took it all with a grain of salt, saving the positive and discarding what seemed overbearing. I now believe in Jesus, but also Buddha, God, and The Universe.

Perhaps this is something people of all faiths go through, but not many admit. So once again, as I’m reading the book, I am grateful to Morhaf for his honesty.

Amongst his great successes, he has had his shares of disappointments too. His passion in activism inspired was an option to leave his family, but after failing a commission-based job, he returned home.

Some of the best times seem to be spent in America. At first, Morhaf lived in Columbus, Ohio with his sister and continued to study. He traveled extensively throughout the USA. In addition to his studies, he had fun adventures that young people experience like dancing, hookah nights, playing cards, consuming cheap drinks, and adopting a canine companion named Leo.

Sadly, dating was an issue, especially in Indiana, where he lived and where many women were prejudiced to his color and didn’t think twice about making racist remarks. It felt terrible to read this. I am sorry that many USA women put a bad taste in one’s mouth, but I want people from other countries to know we are not all that way.

I live in NJ, a democratic state where we are open-minded to making friends of all races and colors—without judgement. I know behind my back my conservative friends and family refer to me as a “Libtard.” It’s wrong and very hurtful.

As a spiritual person, I refuse to retaliate with words and placing derogatory memes on Facebook. Instead I pray for them. And I pray for our president, who I do not care for.

During the month Donald Trump was elected president, Dr. Morhaf was diagnosed with cancer. As a Syrian immigrant he felt affected by the ban on Muslims, fearing he would not be able to say goodbye to his family. He wrote a letter to speak of his struggles. It was published in a Huffington Post blog, entitled “Dear Mr. Trump, You Are Cancer and I Only Live If You Shrink!” The letter explained what it was like to live with what he had then perceived as a terminal illness and as a Syrian immigrant affected by the ban on Muslims. After writing the letter, he felt empowered and liberated him to engage with the Syrian struggle.

I suppose many have friends who have immigrated to the United States and have been affected by Trump’s stance. It is absolutely heartbreaking seeing families being broken up. I know one personally, and will leave it at that to protect their privacy.

Aside from the prejudice Morhaf experienced from American women, he has decided to stay single because he doesn’t want to be a burden to someone should his health fail. I seriously hope he changes his mind because true love is mending.

I’ve shared the story many times and am happy to share it again. When I first began dating my husband I was going to many doctors because I never felt right. A few doctors feared I had cancer. After many ultra-sounds, CAT scans, and countless opinions nothing was found. Seven months after dating my husband, I had one final test that showed I was cancer-free and perfectly healthy! A week later I felt better than I did my entire life! Having a supportive loving person by my side healed me. I believe that!

So, you can see why I’ve enjoyed “Being Authentic” so much. There’s enough to relate to, but also much to learn. And, that, is what a good book should be!

Morhaf’s reflections on life in his later years, while he is now, fortunately, in stable health, we see that he is a true humanitarian and invites others to be as authentic as he is. This is what I wanted from my book, “I Don’t Want to Be Like You.” I want others to share their stories without feeling disgrace. The troubled times are what got you to where you are today. Always remember that.

When we look deep inside ourselves, and share our notions in writing, the reader gets a peek at our true soul. A reader may not “get it” entirely, but the more open an author is, the more we can learn about each other; and love each other. After all, deep down we are more alike than different. This is a book everyone can learn from. And Morhaf will be remembered for writing it.

To purchase “Being Authentic” (and have a sneak peek inside the book) please click on this link: Being Authentic

Follow Morhaf Al Alchar on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/morhafalachkar

95849294_2817039011678255_9072810759997620224_oBeing Authentic book cover

 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

 

A Shout Out to Musicians For Live Streaming

Published March 30, 2020 by Maryanne

DSC_0012

My husband and I put this home photography collaboration together earlier today. I’m modeling with his B.C. Rich Warlock. My boots are Katy Perry.

I wanted to get dressed up today because social distancing and staying in isn’t very glamorous. Then I got the idea, hey, so many musicians are putting their work out there to entertain us, why not do a tribute for them.

Billie Eilish and Finneas, in my opinion, were the best part of the iHeart Living Room Concert for America last night. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mQB5s7uvZs

This one is very funny (but not kid-friendly, so proceed with caution): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0-2XxgHIXk&feature=youtu.be

I’m also digging the COVID-19 parodies that are circulating on You Tube. Stayin’ Inside, a parody on Stayin’ Alive is my favorite, because it’s not only hilarious, it’s a great performance; truly genius: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmUXntGlqFI

And last, but not least, I want to share a video of the late Alan Merrill, the man who wrote “I Love Rock and Roll.” He died yesterday due to COVID-19 complications. Godspeed to this legend: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8AT_Pbtyid0

Are you a musician who is streaming your music for us? Or are you a fan who is turning to music during these hard times? Share your thoughts, videos, etc. below. We are all in this together.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

Loving the Lock Down!

Published March 23, 2020 by Maryanne

DSCF4759Outside, at least six feet away from the rest of the world

My husband and I are very social people. We don’t let any grass grow under our feet. We’re the types who are always going to parties, getaways, restaurants, and concerts; and double dates with other couples.

But on the other hand, we can be homebodies too. Some of our best memories include being stranded at home during Hurricane Sandy, snowstorms, very cold weather, and when one of us is sick.

So staying home like good citizens during the Corona Virus pandemic is not a bad thing for us. We’re enjoying the down time tremendously and the days are going faster than we’ve imagined.

And why shouldn’t we be enjoying ourselves? If this pandemic taught us anything, it’s that our precious lives can end with the blink of an eye. We’ve lived each day to the fullest before, so why not now?

We’ve fallen into this great groove where we’ll spend a little time outdoors on nice days (six feet away from others). I’ll pick up groceries once a week at my favorite natural market; and he’ll get the extras during the week.

As a public speaker who has lost all my recent gigs, I’m keeping up my speaking chops by creating You Tube videos every day. They are all Corona Virus themed and are meant to inspire others. Or accidentally be funny. For example, today I made a video to honor National Puppy Day, and spoke about how pets can soothing to us at such a crazy time. However, unbeknownst to me, my cats photo bombed, with the one sniffing the butt of the other! It was so funny, how could I not share?! Check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onipyTq0q1g&t=2s

It’s nice to wake up in the morning with my husband and not have to be on a schedule. I like to write in my journal, give myself a facial, and then have our coffee together indulging in great conversation before I work out.

In between our creative projects and preparing meals, we’ll watch a little TV, listen to music, laugh, dance, sing, call our friends/family, and play with our kitties. Before retiring for the night I like to do a little reading.

We do stuff together, as well as give ourselves space. I’m very blessed to have married someone I could call my best friend. And someone I enjoy being locked down with.

This is a scary, and stressful time since we don’t know what’s going to happen next. And it’s great to have someone by your side, so get through it with.

Of course I’m looking forward to getting back to “normal” but in the meantime, this ain’t so bad.

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

NJ Vocalist Working On New Projects During Coronavirus Lockdown

Published March 21, 2020 by Maryanne

EV3A4604 (2) (1)Stephen Fuller 

Stephen Fuller, of Newark, New Jersey, longs to see his kids and grandchildren who live in New York City, but that’s not an option. Neither is performing live shows.

Fuller has been a working musician, both solo and with a group for most of his adult life. With the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, all his gigs have been canceled. Nevertheless he is keeping himself busy organizing his taxes and preparing for a Lionel Richie tribute show. “It’s a perfect sound,” he said. “It’s going to be really good. He [Richie] did a lot of ballads and I love ballads. They really resonate with me.”

Growing up in Newark, Fuller was inspired by his neighbors who were into music. “They all took piano lessons,” he said. “The daughter ended up being a concert violinist.” But what really planted the seed was an eighth grade teacher who told him he had a nice voice.

Fuller attended Arts High School in Newark. Famous names who attended the school include: Melba Moore, Sarah Vaughn, and Savion Glover. While still in high school, Fuller worked in a professional choir, which paid for his voice and piano lessons. He received a scholarship to study at Westminster Choir College in New Jersey where he learned about singing and conducting with a choir.

He then went on to Colgate University, a liberal arts college, in Hamilton, New York. He joined the band Colgate 13 as lead vocalist. They traveled around the country, and the Virgin Islands. “I was so glad to get into that group,” he said. “They are friends for life.”

Colgate had concerts featuring Stevie Wonder and Bill Withers. Fuller had the opportunity to be the opening act for both artists. He continued to travel to England with Colgate 13 and ended up meeting Roberta Flack by taking a wrong turn in trying to find a bathroom!

Then Fuller married his first wife and moved outside of Kansas City, Missouri. He continued his music, singing for a band at a hotel. He also had his own group, The Stephen Fuller Quartet. And he sang the National Anthem for the NBA team. Fuller also recorded with a couple of songwriters. “We did original material,” he said. “Some was pretty good. I’m sorry it didn’t go anywhere.”

During his time in Kansas City, Fuller had two sons. When he returned to New Jersey, he joined some more bands including The Ted Klum Trio, and Vince Seneri in Platinum II.

An opportunity to perform in Japan came up, but Fuller had his family, and a day job at AT&T, which had him traveling the USA. Fuller continued to work full time and tried to sing in the evening, though his first wife didn’t like the idea of him singing.

For the next 25 years, he stopped doing music professionally. Instead, he sang at family events like weddings, and funerals. Then he got into real estate and was “so miserable.” For his health and sanity, Fuller left that business and returned to where his heart was — music.

Fuller divorced his first wife but said, “I got two great sons out of the deal.” Neither followed in Fuller’s steps as a musician. “They are smart,” he said, then chuckled. “They are both in finance.”

He met his second wife in the choir at his church. “We just hit it off,” he said. “Her daughter said, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if Mr. Fuller dated Mommy?'” Fuller beams when speaking of his wife, who is very supportive of him, and his music. “We go out of our way to do nice things for each other,” he said.

In 2012, Fuller joined Jazz Vocal Collective, which is a group of jazz singers supporting each other. Fuller currently works both solo, and with his band Armani, which was formed in 2016.

“We’ve got some good things coming up this year,” Fuller said, “We’ve done big shows and big shows are coming up, including a bunch of Nat King Cole Christmas shows.” The King Cole Show was originally part of a project created by Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta called “The Learn & Listen Series,” which was presented in New Jersey libraries. Christiano-Mistretta would give a talk on the artist, followed by live music performed by Stephen Fuller. The Christiano-Mistretta/Fuller team also included Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra in the series.

Fuller looks forward to debuting his Lionel Richie tribute and some new things for jazz projects. And learning new songs to perform in the nursing homes and libraries. “I have a lot of new things that’s gonna make me better at the end of all this,” he said, regarding the corona epidemic. “I feel we’ll be okay, and we’re going to get through this too.”

For more information on Stephen Fuller, visit his website at: https://www.fullersounds.com/

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9

 

Why I Won’t Pay Big Money For Concerts

Published February 23, 2020 by Maryanne

Duran Duran concertMy husband and I at a Duran Duran show — FREE! 

I’ve been a music fan as soon as I knew what music was. Music was always playing in my house when I was a kid. And growing up, music was my priority in life. Mind you, I am not a musician; just a huge fan.

Concert going was always important to me. And even back in the day, growing up in an upper middle class family, tickets were overpriced. However, back then, you still had a fighting chance if you got to the mall early in the morning, you could score a front row seat for the regular ticket price before the scalpers got their grubby hands on them.

Then, things changed. You had no choice but to get tickets from scalpers. However, the most I paid to see a big name star, David Bowie, was $150 for 10th row center, during his Serious Moonlight Tour at Madison Square Garden in 1984.

David Bowie set the bar for me; he was worth it. And I subconsciously made a vow that I’d never pay more than $150 for a concert — over 30 years later, I stuck to it. The only other times I shelled out money close was $100 to see The Stones and $75 to see Prince.

Throughout the years, I’ve seen many big name concerts free because they were outdoors. OR, because, lucky, ambitious me, I was a journalist and was guest listed. And I have some friends in the music industry. And I married a musician. And I’m lucky. I’ve won tickets to see some great shows. And, last but not least, let’s not minimize the talent of our own friends who have made their way in the music industry on a smaller scale. Local talent should never be disregarded.

About 15 years ago I reconnected with a music loving friend I knew from high school. We went to many concerts together as teenagers; then a few as adults. She complimented me, saying that I was always up for a good time, and that I always had money to do things. She invited me to go to a concert with her that was well over $200. I declined. I couldn’t see the justification for paying that kind of money to see anyone when I’ve spent a lifetime of going to see music — GOOD MUSIC– for way less.

Here are some examples of great shows I’ve seen over the decades, for free, for winning, for being on the guest list (due to being a journalist or knowing someone), or for a real good deal. (Note: I’m not including concerts where people treated me as a gift).

Check it out….(note, all random off the top of my head, there are TONS more)

Free Outdoor Concerts

Elton John

Patti Smith

1910 Fruitgum Company

The Smithereens

Lou Christie

Tommy James

Gary Puckett

Ian Hunter

NY Dolls

Tom Tom Club

Peter Noone

Nancy Sinatra

The Turtles

Joan Jett

Chuck Berry

The Zombies

Sheila E.

And many, many more!

On The Guest List

Blondie

Tom Petty & Stevie Nicks

The Pixies

The Plasmatics

Diamanda Galas

Duran Duran

Judy Collins

Roger McGuinn (The Byrds)

The Fab Faux

Tommy James

And many, many more!

Tickets I Won

Richard Barone (The Bongos)

Jeffrey Gaines

Rain (Beatles Tribute)

Probably more, but I can’t remember unless I go to my diaries.

(And don’t get me started on tickets I won but couldn’t attend for whatever reason, urgh! Still kicking myself for not going to see the late Hasil Adkins at Maxwell’s in Hoboken!)

Shows I paid $10 or less! 

Sierra Ferrell (upcoming artist, Rounder Records)

Ratt (1980s hair metal band)

Brute Force (Apple Records Recording Artist)

And many, many more!

Maybe I’m blessed, or just spoiled, but with so many great musical acts out there, and so many opportunities to see cheap or free shows, why should I shell out big bucks to ticket agencies? It’s definitely not necessary. Especially since, when you think about it, what goes up eventually must come down. Not to put anyone down–no way, I love these musicians way too much–but it’s just a great fact for us fans that in years to come, one of your favorites that was charging a ton of money in a large venue will perform for much less (or even free) in a smaller venue in years to come. Just a few years ago I saw Cher in a theatre in Maryland for under $40.

What was your favorite cheap or free concert? What was the most you ever spent on a concert? How do you justify it? 

Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta can be reached at: maryannechristiano@gmail.com.

She is available for blogging, ghost writing, writing. She is also available for book signings and motivational speaking engagements. She is the author of the following books :

“Be (Extra)Ordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, visit: https://www.amazon.com/Be-Extra-Ordinary-Ways-Become/dp/1733546227

“I Don’t Want to Be Like You” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback, Kindle or audio copy, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Dont-Want-Be-Like-You/dp/1726273261

“The Gypsy Smiled” is available on Amazon. To get your paperback or Kindle version, go here: https://www.amazon.com/Gypsy-Smiled-Maryanne-Christiano-Mistretta-ebook/dp/B074VC7MT9