L.A. proved too much for the man,
So he's leavin' the life he's come to know,
He said he's goin' back to find
Ooh, what's left of his world,
The world he left behind
Not so long ago.
On that…. Well, it’s not exactly a midnight train to Georgia, which coincidentally is my home (SHOUT OUT TO: SAVANNAH)… but it’s NEW YORK CITY and the accompanying RIDGEFIELD PARK, NEW JERSEY where I once laid my head at night… and will again on the night of my birthday. The wrap for my contribution to “Monica: Still Standing” kept shifting back and forth; in and out; up and down; once October, then February, then November, then January, now – again – November (and on my birthday)… and though I had gotten over the hoop of being able to extend to January (as I put myself up here in L.A. – hotel, car rental, etc.) and know that the marketplace can be dry during the month of December, I still consider it an early BIRTHDAY GIFT… and I trust that once I land, RECUPERATION and GOD’S FAVOR are mine. Meanwhile, PLEASE be sure to keep watching as the lion's share of the work is done (just awaiting network notes and a few pick-ups)... and there are 8 or 9 episodes left to go depending on when you read this. And my touches are all up and through it.
And already, there are festive things in what my best girlfriend Nat describes as my element that will quickly bring me comfort and joy. My own REALITY will be in the SPOTLIGHT for the first time in a long time. FIRST: In addition to Ant setting up tix for us to see "Dreamgirls" at The Apollo on Friday and "FELA" on Broadway on Saturday, he has planned a karaoke set. Of course, right? LOL! He knows I love to sing and karaoke is a way I can do it often (since it’s been a minute since I’ve done my own ‘intimate evening of song’: http://18.104.22.168/rileyshowforkodjoe.wmv). We’ll hang with friends and frolic at a new SOHO spot: www.karaokeboho.com/.
Then, my friend Kevin-Anthony called me and invited me to sing Diana Ross’ "The Boss" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBKSjzqe5Bw) at his Saturday 11/29-installment of "Broadway Uptown: Celebrating the Music of Ashford & Simpson", who my Dad ran into recently at the Detroit Airport. (http://www.theatermania.com/content/show.cfm/show/161434)
I love all things DIANA, Nick & Val, and NYC!... So what a welcome home/bday treat! And I guess you know what I'll rehearse a time or two at the karaoke bday set on 11/21? LOL! I'm HONORED. HUMBLED. EXCITED. Will just have FUN with it as I must figure out how to relay the ESSENCE OF ROSS' BOSS (which is my automatic pilot) and REFINE IT TO RILEY (so it's a new experience and not just mimicry... you know?). I'll find it. Kinda' like what DIANA did (but less intense... perhaps) in her search for BILLIE in "LADY SINGS THE BLUES". You know? At that point, she was a SEASONED SINGER IN HER OWN RIGHT but had to split the difference between DIANA and BILLIE for the recordings and the filming - since so much of BILLIE was burnt into her soul from having researched so organically and intensely. You know?
Though I sing and do intimate evenings of song in NYC, I consider this a stretch - especially considering the treasured material (around which I'll quickly calm my nerves come rehearsal time) and that it MAY be in front of the composers themselves, though that won’t exactly be the first time:
FLASHBACK TO SEPTEMBER, 2003:
I hosted an event at Ashford & Simpson’s Sugar Bar for my girlfriend Caroline and she wanted me to lead the audience in Ashford-&-Simpson composition REACH OUT & TOUCH as Diana's recording of it - her first as a solo artist - played. Next thing I know, Valerie comes from the back... and joins me. I KEPT SINGING... but mostly I was in AWE! LOL! I REALLY LOVE THEIR WORK! MOSTLY ALL OF IT!
ELIZABETH RANKIN-FULCHER WROTE: Hello there: The above-captioned event at the Sugar Bar last night went quite well and we're planning a repeat performance at Akwaaba Cafe in Brooklyn in the near future. Representatives from BET attended and excerpts from the event will be shown on BET, September 11. We were delighted and excited when Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford joined us; our wonderful evening ended with Valerie singing "Reach Out and Touch Somebody's Hand" the song she wrote with Nick. The fabulous Patrick Riley was our MC.
Thanks for your support. Hugs,
I WROTE: I wish y'all could have been at the BACK TO SCHOOL WITH BLACK AUTHORS event I hosted last night at Ashford and Simpson's NYC spot SUGAR BAR. I really just came aboard as a favor to my friend CAROLINE BREWER, who asks me often to host/moderate events in which she participates. (She was one of the three spotlighted authors of color). Thinking of our hosts (Ashford and Simpson), I told Caroline that ""no wind, no rain nor winter's cold" [could stop me from being there to host the event for her] ("Ain't No Mountain High Enough" is an Ashford & Simpson composition). I also told the audience that Caroline's current title "Kara Finds Sunshine on a Rainy Day" oozes of irony as this event took place on one of New York City’s rainiest days in a while, but there we all were to bathe in the light of these literary treasures.
And still, the evening exceeded my expectations. What I expected? For Caroline and her fellow black writers to inspire us with their words, illustrations, photographs... and presentations. That they did.
I had even gotten a nice introduction to "Ashford & Simpson" (compliments of Caroline); I've met the famous songwriting/singing duo on many occasions as we attend a lot of the same events and shows in town. In fact, Valerie said "we see you all the time!!!" Nick agreed. But this was an introduction with meat as I was hosting an event on their stage at their restaurant. Then, after each scribe had there moment in the spotlight, I returned to the mic to welcome questions. Before I could do that, the first strains of a tune-so-familiar begins to play. Caroline interrupts the expected flow. "Patrick! We have one more song we want to share [earlier, an instrumental had scored her book's recitation]. And everyone can join in. Patrick will lead us...".
This marks the beginning of my out-of-body experience as the recorded singing voice of Diana Ross pipes in (now accompanied by me in my moment of quick ham adjustment): "Reach Out And Touch Somebody's Hand... make this world a better place, if you can...".
yes, Caroline chose Diana's first solo single as a finale for her special literary evening. and here, she's telling me to lead the way. instantaneously, i've channeled Diana (in my singing voice of baritone) and jump off of the Sugar Bar stage into the dining room - asking folks to sing-along. i'm also shaking hands as she does (and i have begun to do in my own little cabaret).
as i pour through the sea (or pond) of excited guests, Caroline alerts me that Miss Valerie Simpson is coming up (from the back) to join in our love-fest. she's handed a mic and begins to do her vocal interpretation of Reach Out with Diana's prerecorded vocals underneath (and my own right beside her, not to mention the many who are harmonizing with us).
valerie and i end the song (which fades out). we're holding hands, which are also outstretched and reaching for the stars. i take my free hand and put the mic to my mouth to announce "Ladies and Gentlemen! Valerie Simpson, who along with her husband Nickolas Ashford wrote 'Reach Out And Touch'!!!!!!!" The audience cheers - some gag as if they did not know to which I say: "Just thought I'd offer that tidbit for those of you who were living under a rock". The audience applauded again. Valerie laughed at my quip and then graciously shouted me out with "... and to our host, Patrick!!". more applause.
at the end of the program, we had Ashford and Simpson come back out, so i could thank them one more time for hosting the event at their spot. they both spoke and thanked the organizers for using The Sugar Bar for such a culturally significant event, which - by the way - was being chronicled by BET and is scheduled to air (in some form) on BET NIGHTLY NEWS on September 11th. (Check it out - if you remember...; it'll likely be a little over a one-minute feature piece... but maybe they'll include some of these highlights.).
before ashford and simpson left, they told me i did a wonderful job of hosting the evening and bringing everyone together. i attributed "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)" to that. they argued i had brought everyone together before that special moment. they asked me to please come back and join them again very soon. their events manager asked for my information (on their behalf) - so maybe we'll get together for more collaborations in the near future. i added "i thought i was just doing my friend Caroline a favor, but one of my many dreams came true tonight!". they smiled graciously, and each gave me a hug.
i've admired ashford and simpson for so many years - not just because of their work with diana ("ain't no mountain high enough"... "the boss"... "remember me".... "surrender".... "it's my house"... "i ain't been licked"... "no one gets the prize"... "what you gave me"... "some things you never get used to"... "i'm gonna make you love me" [ashford]), but because of their collabos with other stars (like Chaka, Whitney, Jennifer Holliday) and their own repertoire ("high rise"... "is it still good to 'ya?"... "solid"... "don't cost 'ya nothin'"... "found a cure"). i love their brand of r&b. it's smooth, silky... yet gospel-tinged --- like i like.
"i was so right...so right... thought i could turn emotion on and off. i was so sure... but LOVE taught me who was, who was, who was... THE BOSS." (LOVE was THE BOSS!!!!).
love & LIGHT,
MEANWHILE IN THESE LAST & EVIL DAYS OF L.A. (SMILE!):
Derek and I went to my L.A. buddy Jae Joseph's Fashion Show - a Lupus Foundation Benefit - at O Hotel in Downtown L.A. The event celebrated all things www.poshglam.com (for which Jae is now the West Coast Publisher) - including Natalia Romano's fashions. It also featured a funky-futuristic performance by Logan. THINK: Grace Jones, Lady Gaga, and Prince! I’d actually met him a few days prior with my Adolpha. We saw Jae too. You’ll recall, she is my best friend Ern’s cousin. She invited me out (on her dime! YAYY!) for some great food (Kitchen 24 in Hollywood); great Paper Mag party with cool folks like Paris Hilton's almost-BFF Anch; Afterwards, we joined Adolpha's girl-and-guy friends at The Blue Monkey for dancing - including a twirl around the dance floor to my Diana's "Upside Down" GREAT NIGHT! THANKS ADOLPHA!
On one night, got to enjoy "Monica: Still Standing" on east coast feed of my friend Derek's Direct TV after which he, his buddy Michelle, and I went to WEHO's Cantina (for a lite bite) and Micky's (to support my friend Tony's hip hop dance contest). Michelle and Tony were sponsors for the evening... or I would have been at my hotel in Gardena in a fetal position. LOL! And Miss Michelle and her ride-or-die Lady invited Derek and me to The Valley for Sunday dinner after which Derek and I joined Keith at Cantina and The Abbey.
My buddy Derek also invited me to join him at a BRUNCH event at THE LAVA LOUNE on Wilshire. It benefited The Feeding America Network and was hosted by my Morehouse brothers Benjamin and Brian (and others). The food was great, the energy was good (including funny man/actor Ray Cunningham and girlfriend Michelle); and a host of others I met for the first time (including singer Octavius. Also, my Spelman sister Charlie).
My L.A. buddy Delandis -a professional dancer in his own right - took me to see our mutual friend Derrick Garcia and his fellow dancers in the Fullerton College Faculty Dance Concert - including a number inspired by THE WIZ (featuring music from Diana & Michael's recordings i.e. 'Ease' & 'Brand New Day'. Also, there was a 13-minute MJ TRIBUTE). Afterwards, we went to TGI-FRIDAY to celebrate the young'ns. Derrick just started dancing professionally a few years ago... and he is really good! Look out for 'em!
On one night, my boy Brian came and scooped me up to attend The Official "I Want To Work For Diddy" L.A. Launch Party at The Aqua Lounge in Beverly Hills. POPRAH hosted. OLD BLOG ENTRY W/DIDDY SIGHTING: http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2007/10/24/making-a-wave-or-is-it-way-when-you-can.html
And I had to breakaway to Pontiac, MI for my Uncle Bobby’s funeral. He’s my father’s baby brother. Since my time in L.A. had been extended to January (and many of my funds were tied up in that piece to manage), I prayed to be with my family and attend the funeral of my Dad's brother (Uncle Bobby) in Pontiac, MI (but didn't see how I'd make that work when I can barely put two pennies together to stay in my L.A. hotel). But ‘earth angles’ came through and I went to Pontiac by way of Detroit’s airport to be with my Dad, his wife Diana... my sister... and the rest of the RILEY clan.
Though a sad occasion (my Uncle Bobby's funeral), it was so good to see the extended RILEY family in Pontiac, MI. It was truly a FAMILY REUNION… and even inside the grief, we found lots of reasons to laugh - simply because we were together. In fact, my Uncle Bobby's kids: Sonya, Bobby Jr., and Chris were gracious enough to take 'all us cousins' out on the town in Pontiac. Great times were had by all.
Nothing like being with my family in what has been a (few too many days) in 'Hollywood'. But ALL GOOD as this ride nears its wrap (but I must immediately identify another steady stream of revenue around these here talents. *SIGH! <tired and determined!>
OH! Anybody seen "Precious"? I was thinking gut-wrenching lines like this are likely to take on 'Color Purple'-cult-level status: “My name is Claireece Precious Jones. I want to be on the cover of a magazine. I wish a had a light-skinned boyfriend with good hair. But first I want to be in one of those BET videos.”
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