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Broadway Show Review: First Date

I’m going to start this review as honest as possible and say I went to see First Date on broadway with one intention and one intention only - to meet Zachary Levi. I had zero idea what the show was about nor did I listen to any of the music from the musical. I had no expectations other than being able to meet Zach once the show ended and he stage doored. Well, I have to say expectations or no expectations that was one heck of a show!

Arriving to the theater was one of my favorite moments. I was anticipating seeing Zachary on stage and had not an inkling of what I was about to see unfold in front of me. The lights dimmed, and the show beginned. The show focuses on two main characters - Aaron and Casey. These two characters couldn’t be more different but the two were set up by mutual friends in hopes that they would connect. Aaron is hooked up on an ex, and Casey is always meeting the wrong men. The show takes you through all the awkward points of the first date/blind date, the meeting, fishing for topics of conversation, the awkward silence, the forbandence of bringing up the past, making it past the friend zone and the goodbye.

The writing is outstanding and puts a comedic twist on some heavy topics. I laughed and I cried. Crying was not something I was planning on but some of the lyrics of “Safer” tugged at my heart strings. “Safer” is a solo performance by Krysta Rodriguez who portrays Casey. Krysta is from NBC’s tv show Smash. Her performance was outstanding; she has such a strong and powerful voice. I have to give props to her because she was able to tear my focus away from Zachary Levi while she performed, which I thought would be impossible. Zachary did an amazing job as well. Most people would recognize him as Chuck from NBC’s Chuck, or as the voice of Flynn Rider in Disney’s animated movie Tangled.

One thing that definitely deserves some praises from First Date is the music. It hit so many different musical genres and had a little something for everybody. “Bailout” is one of my favorite numbers, it has a techno feel and is one of the funnest songs in the musical. Another great number was “First Impressions”. This is the first time we get to hear Zachary and Krysta sing solo as well as together. Zachary’s cute and awkward voice drew me in right away, while Krysta started off delicate and then blew me away with the dynamics of her voice,and when her and Zachary sang together their voices blended beautifully. The lyrics of the songs were exceptional and successfully told a story with each song.

I was thoroughly impressed by the whole cast as well as the writing. I have to mention that the stage door was amazing! Everyone was genuinely nice, but no one stood out to me more than Zachary. This was one of the most memorable stage doors I have been to and no, not just because it was Zachary. He made it memorable because he brought out his own boom box and made the stage door fun! The whole crowd sang “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” while we patiently waited for it to be our turn to meet Zachary. He made sure he got to meet with everyone and took a picture with them. I’m so glad I got my picture, and got to see the fantastic smile of his. I may have only been able to utter the words “thank you”, but it’s an experience I will never forget.

First date is performing at the Longacre theater in New York City until January 5th. So time is running out! If you haven’t had a chance to go see it, I would recommend not letting this opportunity pass you by. It is a guaranteed good day/night if you have time to squeeze this show into your New York visit!

And The Winner is…

After many weeks of testing out 4 different multitasking/task management apps we have finally come to the conclusion as to which best suited us here at Hey Cole, and which one is reigned our winner.

Before we reveal our personal favorite, lets review the apps we have explored once more.

1) Evernote - Cole was the only person using Evernote. She used it for keeping track of expenses while on the road. She originally was making different “notes” for different topics that she needed to work on. This information was all then transferred to Symphonical (see number 3)

2) Wunderlist - Again, Cole was the only person using this app and decided that she would only use Wunderlist for personal items such as keeping a list of movies she wanted to watch or new music she wanted to listen to. Upon further review this could be handled via Trello.

3) Symphonical - Cole took all of the information originally in Evernote (except expenses) and migrated it into Symphonical. Once that was complete we decided this would be the site that everyone in the office would try. The biggest downside is that Symphonical is not technically an app and after asking the company regarding the status of an app they told us there was no plan on building one. On both smartphones and iPad’s you are required to use the regular website version since there is no App. We do find Symphonical to be helpful and we do enjoy using it.

4) Trello - This is the second app that the office used. We loved how easy it was to label our cards by color coding and the ease it came with to create multiple checklists. This app was pretty similar to Symphonical. At first we thought it had too many steps compared to Symphonical but once we really sat down and gave it a chance we grew to like all of the options Trello had to offer.

So who was our champ?

Drum roll please….

And the winner is….TRELLO!

We can’t deny it. Hey Cole loves Trello. It’s clean and easy to navigate. We are so happy we took a second look at Trello. Even though Symphonical was a close second the fact that Trello was an actual app that is offered to be downloaded on your tablet, android, iphone, or ipad is something that could not be overlooked. We will definitely continue to use Trello and must admit this multitasking/task management app study has been very helpful in our quest to see if these apps are even worth it!

ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Pink

Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this multi Grammy award winner shows no signs of stopping. After gaining much success from her debut album “Can’t Take Me Home” Pink has continued to work for the past twelve years, releasing 5 additional albums. Her most recent album “Truth About Love” was released Fall of  2012. This album went double platinum. This is the first multi platinum album for singer Pink since her album “Missundaztood” in 2001. The biggest track off the album “Just Give Me a Reason features Nate Ruess, lead singer of the American band, Fun. Tracks off the album also feature guest vocalist from Lily Allen and Eminem. Pink is currently touring the US.

Fun Facts about Pink:

1. Pink’s stage name is derived from both Steve Buscemi’s character in Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Pink, as well as her rosy complexion, her real name is Alecia Moore.

2. Her father sang and played guitar, this is what sparked Pink’s goal of becoming a popular musician.

3. She first dreamt of becoming an olympic gymnast.

4. Pink proposed to, now husband, Carey Hart.

5. Is second cousins with singer Mandy Moore.

Watch the video for “Just Give Me a Reason here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpQFFLBMEPI

For tour date information visit here:

http://thetruthaboutlovetour.com/events

Click here to stream “The Truth About Love” album:

https://play.spotify.com/album/2rBb9rAEuMC8VH9uk7js3e

Foodie Friday: 15 Weird Food Combinations

Ever think hmm.. I wonder how so and so would taste together and end up with the perfect or in some cases the grossest pairings of food. Like for example, I can personally tell you that Cheetos and whipped cream with a raisin on top is definitely on the do not ever eat again list; I do not recommend that combo. BUT here are combinations that I’ve tried and some that others have recommended to me to try:

1) Ritz Crackers + Cream Cheese + Pickle Slices

2) Watermelon + Black Pepper

3) Fritos Corn Chips + Cream Cheese

4) Cream Cheese + Salami on a Bagel

5) Peanut Butter + Turkey Sandwich

6) Regular Potato Chips + Bananas

7) French Fries Dipped in a Milkshake (Vanilla or Chocolate)

8) Green Bell Pepper + American Cheese (Salt and Pepper Seasoning) Sandwich

9) White Vinegar + Fries

10) Ham Steak + Sour Cream

11) Peanut butter + Pickle Sandwich

12) Cream Cheese + Turkey + Cranberry Sauce Sandwich

13) Macaroni and Cheese + Ketchup

14) Breakfast Sausage Dipped in Syrup

15) Rice and Hot Sauce

Clearly there is a secret to cream cheese. Have you tried any of the above? We would love to hear from you. I personally love experimenting with food so please share any weird yet oddly delicious food pairing you may have tried!

Movie Review: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas tells one of the most ambitious, sprawling, and original stories I have ever seen in any film. Which is in part what made it one of the most polarizing movies of 2012, with critics such as Roger Ebert praising its scope and declaring it one of his best movies of the year, while other publications such as Time Magazine called it the worst film of 2012. But I’m going to side with Roger Ebert on this one, Cloud Atlas is a fantastic movie.

Normally, I try not to read any reviews before I see a movie, because I don’t want to become predisposed toward how I feel about it, but sometimes this sort of thing is inescapable (i.e. Avatar). Thankfully, I knew almost nothing about Cloud Atlas, other than Tom Hanks was in it, and if there is such a thing as a sure bet in Hollywood, it is that Tom Hanks will deliver a quality performance.

So I watched the movie one weekend with my friends, and without any preconceived notions on how it would make me feel. This movie is massive. It runs for nearly three hours and is an assault on your brain and concentration. The reason being is the story is quite difficult to follow at times. God forbid you were to leave the room for 15 minutes, you would be so hopelessly lost in a sea of interwoven plotlines and characters that would make no sense unless you had been following closely.

I won’t chronicle the entire plot, because it would be almost impossible to succinctly explain. But basically the movie is structured into six different mini-stories, that all follow separate plots and take place in different time periods, but at the same time are interwoven and connected, either through the characters or certain objects. There are many interesting aspects of this film, perhaps chief among them being that the characters across the six different stories are played primarily by the same actors, meaning while one actor may play the protagonist of one story, he is also a supporting character in the other stories.

Without giving too much away in spoilers, of the six separate stories, my favorite were the one that takes place in Great Britain in 1936 following the life of Robert Frobisher, a young composer (with a habit of never having closure in his life),  who in his time apprenticing for an older composer, sets out to write his own masterpiece, which he calls the Cloud Atlas Sextet. And another story that takes place in 2144, in a place known as “Neo-Seoul” which is basically Korea set far into the future. There the story follows Sonmi, a genetically engineered clone forced into servitude at a fast food restaurant, until she is rescued by the leader of a rebel movement and is suddenly exposed to the horrible realities of the world in which she lives.

Also, each main character within the mini-stories has the same comet-shaped birthmark somewhere on their body. This detail serves to highlight the overarching theme of the movie: we are uniquely connected to the same people in our lives. The movie draws heavily on the idea of reincarnation, and that each time we end up living separate lives, but with the same souls are journeying through them together. It also centers around the idea that the actions of individuals ripple through time to affect the lives of others in the past, present, and future.

Like I said before, wrapping your mind around the sheer size and ambition of this movie is difficult, and is bound to leave a few viewers scratching their heads. But the end of the movie I found to be extremely satisfying, and I could not have been more impressed with how the cast managed to play all those different roles and connect them all in a truly emotional and earnest manner. It is a film you could probably benefit from watching a second time, but one that is wholly worthwhile.

How to Make Your Business Profitable in this Economy

When a business starts to fail most people claim it to be the economy’s fault, but I once read somewhere that “If you know what you are doing you will be successful in any economy”. So how does one make sure their business is ready to take on any economy; easy be prepared and know what you are doing. Some things are easier said than done, but as long as you create an effective marketing plan you will most likely keep your business upfloat. Your marketing plan can make or break your product, and is one of the most important things to keep in mind when running a business.

The first thing you should do is gather your database of people who will buy your product. It is very important to keep your database up to date and continue to reach out and build it. Following that make sure your marketing message is clear. What is “your hook”? Your hook” is what is going to attract people to your product.  What are the benefits of your product, what’s your credibility/expertise, who are you, and what do you do- these are all the elements that come into play that creates “your hook”.

The next thing to evaluate is how you promote your product. This is how you will be delivering your marketing message. Here’s a past blog we did on promotional tools: http://heycole.tumblr.com/post/68979180831/effective-promotional-tools-giveaways Check it out for some suggestion on how to make sure you promotions are effective.

After you have done your promotions and reviewed your database; make sure to include a follow up plan. Don’t let your business lose customers through the cracks. If someone said they couldn’t afford your product right now still have a follow up plan, such as sending out circulars or other similar items. It is also important to have a closing sale tactic. A great idea is to give customers a coupon to use for future sales after already purchasing one of your products to ensure customer loyalty.

You should continue to update your marketing plan and make sure to always have a backup plan for if the economy crashes. A smart way to prepare yourself for both a good or bad economy is to have a separate effective systems for each.  

How to Pitch Yourself to a Booking Agency/Management

So, you have established yourself as a musician with a number of songs and the ability to sell out local venues.  Now you are thinking of branching out of your comfort zone and want to start playing more gigs.  The most logical step would be to hire a booking agent or manager to add to your arsenal of resources.  In order for an agent to take you seriously, it is important to sell yourself as a worthwhile client with a potential to do great things.  The bottom line is that booking agents and managers are running a business and you, as an artist, must show them that you have a unique value.

The first truth an artist must come to terms with is whether their career is at a point where a manager and/or booking agent is necessary.  Are you looking for a manager and/or booking agent because you have been working hard and are ready to take a step forward and need the right person on board to help get you to the next level?  Or, did you just play your first 4 shows, have some home demo’s recorded and feel you need someone to just make it happen for you?  Perhaps you are somewhere in the middle.  The long and short of it is… before you approach anyone you are going to have to work hard.  Oh… and once you do secure a manager and an agent be ready to work even harder.

So back to the question… how do you pitch yourself to a booking agent/manager?  There are a few things you need to make sure you have in place before you pitch yourself so that the package you send (whether via mail or electronic)  leads them to the best information about you.

- What recording’s are you sending them to listen to?  Make sure the production value is at an acceptable range.  It is fine to start out recording on your own, but when the time comes and you have the funds, go into the studio and digitally master your tracks.  If you are at the point in your career where you are looking for a manager and booking agent you should definitely have high quality recordings of your music.  

- Do you have an image? You may have some nice clothes you wear for shows but does your style match your sound. Does it all work together?

- Do you have a website? Be sure to take the time to create a web design and layout that creates a successful online image and brand. This branding should be used on merchandise and social networking sites as well.

- Do you have pictures on your website taken by a professional photographer or are they pictures that you were tagged in from facebook the last time you went out?  You don’t need to hire an expensive photographer but your photos should look good - this is everyone’s first impression of you.  That image we mentioned above will come into play here.

- What is your social networking presence?  Your website should allow access links to all of your social networks. Having social network pages such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Youtube are absolutely key to pitching yourself. It is also important to post frequently on these pages to increase your number of “likes” or “followers”.  If you lack any one of these pages or do not consistently update them, you may not be able to convince management that you have a fan base to work with.

- Although music videos are nice, it is important to have a handful of live performances. This will prove you sound just as incredible in concert as you do on your recordings.  

- The most important word to remember is respect.  Managers and agents are busy like everyone else in the working world (even busier with a full roster).  It is ok to do a follow up after a couple of weeks, but there is such a thing as overkill.  And if you cross that line, you might as well write yourself off.  If management likes what they see, they will not hesitate to make you aware of the talent you possess.  Show that you have been developing yourself as much as you possibly can and you are ready to move up to the next level.  

- Even if you are a talented musician, don’t expect to be automatically picked up by a manager or agent if you have not played a lot of shows and you don’t have a decent fanbase. If you have no tour history this could prove to be very difficult for many booking agencies to work with you.  

- Know what you’re getting into when submitting to agencies. If you have not played many shows, it may be wise to look into artist development services before sending your resume to a booking agency. Artists with live performance experience are much more appealing to booking agencies.  

Try to play more gigs and help get your name out there. The most important thing to remember is that this takes time. Maybe 1 out of 1000 artists actually experiences the fairytale overnight success story. For the other 999 it takes time, commitment, and patience. Remain patient and follow the tips we have suggested and you will find yourself in a better place when you are ready to secure management and a booking agent.

Artist of the Week: The Lawsuits

Founded in 2007, The Lawsuits is a band made up of 4 talented people:  Guitarist and vocalist- Brian Dale Allen Strouse, Vocalist - Vanessa Winters, Bassist- Brendan Cunningham, and drummer- Josh Friedman. Hailing from Philadelphia, Pa. The Lawsuits’ music has been praised as a “schizophrenic mix of modern music”. The Lawsuits combine the elements of reggae, 60’s pop flair, and 80’s anthemic and add highly literate lyrics to create their music. When they perform their powerful energy can be felt through their songs making it enjoyable and fun to listen to.

Fun Facts about The Lawsuits:

1. Their song “Dreaming #26” off their new album “Cool Cool Cool” was written and recorded at the same time.

2. Played the main stage at Philadelphia Folk Fest this past summer.

3. The Lawsuits consisted of a number of different members before the official four members up until 2009.

Download their new album “Cool Cool Cool” here:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/cool-cool-cool/id705234876

Hear their song “Love is Weight” here:

https://soundcloud.com/the-lawsuits/love-is-weight

Interview with Hey Cole Artist Ron Gallo

1) Favorite place you have performed at:

It’s a three way tie between SUN Studio in Memphis, Dream-Away Lodge in Becket, MA and the songwriting workshop i did on the roof of the McDonalds on Broad St. at 2am on Christmas eve last year.

2) What musician inspired you the most:

Ray Charles, Nilsson.

3) Best advice you have ever received:

"Spice Up Your Life"

4) Do you believe there is intelligent life on other planets:

I don’t believe in anything that’s not an iPhone.

5) Who is your favorite superhero:

Kenny Powers.

6) Cats or dogs:

Catfish and Hotdogs.

7) What was the first instrument you learned to play:

Trumpet.

8) Weirdest combination of food you eat:

Maraschino cherries and ketchup.

9) Favorite catch phrase:

SETH!

10) Do you have any hidden talents:

I can settle a mean Catan and sleep while I drive.

11) Is there a certain Venue that you dream to play one day:

A house show on Easter Island.

12) Who are your favorite artists to listen to when on the road:

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Father John Misty, Howlin’ Wolf, Mahalia Jackson.