Steve's Fall 1998 Tour
Volume 1 Book 10 Part 2 of "Living In The Bonus Round"
The Online Diary of Steve Schalchlin

Part 2 - Syracuse/ochester/Waterloo!
(Entries culled from public discussion board postings)

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[ Book 9 ] -- [ Part 1 ] [ Part 2 ] [ Part 3 ] [ Part 4 ] [ Part 5 ] - [ Vol. 2 Book 1 ]

October 25, 1998

Hi all. Steve here posting from a hotel room in Syracuse. I was met at the Syracuse airport by three girl teens and the barely older Renee who was from the Red Cross. They were giggly and cute so I was laughing a lot.

After we began talking, they told me in no uncertain terms that they were TOTAL RENT HEADS -- COOL! -- so I told them if any of them had video cameras they were free to shoot any of my appearances because if I didn't come back with SOMETHING my TLS/RENTheads in CA would kill me.

They gave me a car and today, Sunday, I'm driving to Waterloo to meet up with the three kids who originally found me. I asked Renee last night to remind me how she came to be aware of me.

It seems the three I will meet today had originally found me on the net, bought the Bonus Round CD and, I guess, pushed Renee into inviting me. This was just a few weeks ago. So Renee told me they were really excited about getting to spend the day with me. First we are going to visit Seneca Falls and look at some of the landmarks of the early Womens Movement. (I told them I was a feminist and was interested in this kind of stuff).

Then tonight I sing for a group of teen HIV peer educators. I had told Renee I wanted to do this. It takes a great deal of effort for the kids to learn all this stuff about HIV so I wanted to be able, whenever possible, to "reward" them with special performances and give them encouragement. I feel this is especially critical in a time when HIV seems less scary due to the new meds making people like me look so healthy.

I've decided that if anyone receives bootlegs of my live performances, I want a disclaimer put on them that I still own the copyright but that I am granting permission for people to make one copy to give to a friend -- just like the diary. True Sessionauts, of course, may make as many copies as you wish. And no one may sell my videos. I offer them freely as long as you always indicate on the video that I own the copyright. And some of you may also reimburse Lori for her expenses making the copies. I wasn't expecting all this so I'm only now catching up to it and I don't want to discourage people circulating these tapes (although I don't know why you'd want to -- sheesh!)

Joey, on the plane to Syracuse I rewrote "Simple Faith" and finished a first draft of "James Robison." I can't WAIT for us to get together again. For the rest of you, Joey is helping me get new songs together by either singing them with me or by supplying ideas and stories. Im very excited because these songs are more in the spirit of TLS than the others I had been writing.

I need to shower and get some food. I love you guys so much. You cannot imagine how much inspiration I get from you.

October 27, 1998
Well, I have to tell you guys about my concert last night in Rochester. First of all, Renee here from the Red Cross videotaped it, so if any of you idiots want to see it, you can. 

I dont' brag about myself very much... 


...But I think last night was the best performance I can remember. The little theatre was packed. It's a bit larger than San Diego and the stage is elevated. They had brought in all their big investor types who help the theatre keep going and this gig was only booked about two weeks ago so there was not time to advertise. And Chris, who runs the place has been trying to get them to support TLS as a production since it will be more expensive than their usual show. 

I decided in advance that rather than doing my usual "and then I wrote this" show, I'd try to actually perform a one man version of TLS as I did for the drama class at Penn State. Backstage I was trying to remember all the set-ups. "Buddy brings a tape, Tryshia's son, etc." I didn't want to get to the end going into "When You Care" and have to stop and say, "Oh yeah, back at the beginning, Buddy came in with this tape..." (which is what happened at Penn State.) 

The first good thing was the piano was a real piano. You cannot imagine what difference that makes in the sound. So, I began by describing the scene and that Gideon had decided to commit suicide. I spoke a few of the words Gideon uses in his intro to Jack and went into "Save Me A Seat." 

And I don't know, maybe it was because I felt I was doing the play or because the lights and the sound were good, but I felt the words of that song like I have never felt them before. The crowd laughed at the humor and cried at the end. Every syllable had power and I thought I'd become lightheaded and faint! As I finished the song, the audience went NUTS. 

So, I intro'd Jim and then Tryshia, skipping most of what they said but concentrating on who they were to Gideon. Then Vicki, of course -- and I spoke her opening dialogue. "JIM JIM!!!! WHY THE HELL..." and the audience screamed!! Then I prepared the way for Buddy and didn't quite do as well on his entrance but got into "Preacher and the Nurse." 

And this time I did it in the show key using the show rhythm on the song. (I sing it in E using a swing beat. The show key is A using a stright 4/4) and it was amazing how much more powerful the song felt in the newer key. And I didn't have any trouble singing it despite the fact that it's a full 4th higher. Again, the audience went nuts. 

There were two really old men sitting close - stage left. And it looked like they were asleep when I sang but after finishing one of them would just YELL and applaud. Hooping and hollering. I think he was just listening with his eyes closed sometimes because after the show he was beside himself talking about the music and how he loved the "orchestrations" in my piano voicing. 

The real moment, though, came when I got to "Going It Alone," (as usual). I described the scene rather than performing it, the reading of the letter, Buddy's jumping in, etc. and suddenly I was Joey trying to hold back tears.

At the end of the song I didn't even allow them to applaud. I just described Gideon leaving the room, Tryshia following him. Then I gave them Vicki's "Sodom and Gamorrah" line and how Buddy goes stage center and weeps over his Bible. 

The effect was powerful. Almost as powerful as if we were there actually doing it. 

I fumbled a bit on the act two beginning deciding not to go into Vicki's speech --WHO COULD??-- but instead concentrated on "Killing Me" which caused shouts of laughter and applause and then Tryshia's description of her son, which got some painful gasps - and then "Friendly Fire" which they enthusiastically joined in on. 

Then I got to the revelation of the suicide, briefly described Vicki's attempt to talk him out of it -- and then finally, for the first time in public, I sang "Singer and the Song" which totally brought down the house. I had been shy about singing that song since I always felt it was a piece that needed the show around it to make sense. But the passion that came from inside as I tried -- to talk myself? -- out of committing suicide nearly broke me down. 

Then I described Buddy coming forward and when I got to his lines I almost lost it. Once again, I was Joey trying to hold my emotions in check.  "...well, if you kill yourself, that's exactly what you'd be doing..." and those words nearly didn't come out. They were barely a whisper.

The silence in the room was palpable and some were already crying. 

Anyway, I was able to finish the show to an incredible standing ovation.  Then I came back out and had a little mini-talkback. And it was just like in Laguna.  People were praising the show, me, the theatre. Then I met Andre and his mom Marie who drove down from Toronto and also REEN from the Toronto RENT board. We posed and autographed, etc. 

And we all went out for a big meal with the investors who were very enthused. And Chris was beside himself. He also said he had connections with some theatres in Toronto so I told him what I would love is if we could get a really strong cast with an eye towards moving the production to Toronto, or at least allowing the Rochester production to serve as a workshop for a larger theatre in Toronto. 

So, that's what we're going to do. Now if I could get Binky to join me in Rochester... since Joey will be burning up the boards in L.A.... or maybe bring Binky to L.A. for four weeks while Joey and I do Rochester... or ...  See how crazy I am already getting??? 

I miss you guys and I can't wait for you to see the videos we've done. The one at the college on Monday night sounds good but the lights were overhead so my face looks TERRIBLE --big hollow cheeks and eyes. Hmm. I looked just like BOB! (j.k.n.r.). I even got up after the first song and changed the lights since, after starting I realized none of them were in my eyes. (And you thought I wasn't vain.) 

I miss you guys and I NEED SOME HUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

From Marie
Re: Rochester
I would like to tell you my feelings about your show. Tuesday night was the first time I have heard any of your songs. I did know a little about the show from reading your diaries etc. the story line etc. I WAS SUPRISED!! STEVE YOU CAN REALLY SING or SHOULD I SAY BELT IT OUT!! First and foremost you come across on your site as a songwriter, however you are also quite the entertainer. Your humour stood out within the sadness and plight of Gideon. Many of the songs paralleled my emotions of the last year and yes sometimes I had to take a step back and pretend not to hear what you were saying because it was far too emotional for me to handle. I was sitting way too close to the stage to let heaving sobs take over. It would have interfered with your singing and those wonderful Patrons would have been wondering far too much. As for those Patrons, when you take the fact that these blue hairs understood the plight and emotions of all your characterís is an indication to me anyway that your show will make it anywhere. They were genuinely sweet people and I it was a pleasure to meet them. 

The theme of your play when reading bits and pieces may sound like too much of downer for some to handle but I think the spirituality of the moment overpowers any trauma that some may have. When you told me that it was only your second time pretty much doing a one man show I was shocked. We could see the emotion on your face when you thought of each little snippet of story line. The sweet Minister and his wife who were sitting next to me were singing along word for word. At the end when he and I spoke I mentioned that for me that it didnít matter who or what you are when that spirit took over. I mentioned to him that I was RC but could have been anything or even nothing and would still have gained clarity. 

This show is not designed for one segment of any population. Hope you are reading this Stoney, that this show is a must see for everyone; this is a must for anyone with a heart or anyone that thinks they have a heart. Itís a love story, itís a sermon, itís a comedy and above all itís a call for compassion . 

Steve thank-you for sharing your spirit. I will think of you and put the word out in Toronto about your wonderful play. 

October 27, 1998
Today I did indeed sing for the chorus classes at Waterloo High School. The teacher was one of those special human beings who was full of energy and was amazed that "a living composer" would come to their little class. So, they all gathered around me in the little room while I played at the upright Steiway which was a little bit out of tune.

And of course, halfway through my presentation some of the girls started to get weepy, so I stopped the presentation and let them get their kleenex out. It was really sweet. 

Meanwhile, I've been hanging out with three of the students who have been carting me around. Rhonda (from the TLS list), Aerin and George. We have been laughing and gossiping and having a jolly good time.

Tonight it's Rochester and tomorrow back here to sing for the Drama team. They're putting on a prodcution of My Fair Lady.

From Jim
Oh, wow, Steve. I just can't get your performance out of my mind. The drama club folks loved you, the adults in attendance loved you, and I loved you. About that piano...the slightly out-of-tune Steinway? I/we apologize. Susan has perfect pitch, really...and that instrument is her pride and joy. You must have arrived a day or two before the tuner ;-)

I still have the feeling that Wednesday eve's. "be-in" was a significant event. There was magic in that cafeteria. It's a good thing we had the tissues from our makeup kits handy.

Take care, and again...good luck and God speed...

From Angel
It was truly wonderful. It's a VERY good thing we had tissues. Me and Meghan were sitting there bawling together. It was good though. I'll never forget it, and Steve, I want to thank you.

Re: Waterloo
I thought at first we were doomed. It was being held in the Waterloo High cafeteria where they have a little stage. But there were no lights to speak of and then I noticed that there was also no piano. Jim, though, got a group of students together and they went to find one. Unfortunately, as he pointed out, it was out of tune, but that never stopped me before. And we couldn't put the piano on the stage, so instead we moved all the tables and gathered everyone in chairs around the piano. A very cozy little group.

Then, as I had promised them earlier, I performed the one man TLS that I had done in Rochester. Only this time I think I did a little better job remembering the plot points and the lines.

(I suppose it wouldn't hurt to write it down...) *doink*

It was thrilling, though, to be singing for this wonderful mixed group of teens and a few adults. They listened. They laughed. They cried. In fact, we all did.

One of them wrote me and said they couldn't believe a "big shot" like me would come to a small town. I didn't want to break the news to him that I'm not a big shot, but since I also have Buna, Texas as a hometown, small towns are the real thing to me. I don't relate to cities as much as I do rural areas. As my mom would say, "People are people." So, it's a pleasure to sing in a small town. I feel more at home. 

Finally, I stood and thanked the students and their generation for being more tolerant toward gay students than my generation was/is. Change comes slowly and hate resists love with ferocity. It was an honor to sing at Waterloo High. 

Steve, Your performance at Waterloo High School was nothing short of amazing. You were correct in saying that music that is written from the heart is the most powerful. It takes A LOT of GUTS to go in front of total strangers and Put them to tears with your very touching music. I am 16 years old and enrolled in the advanced music class at Waterloo. I am also a member of the Waterloo Varsity Ensemble, and the well known men's group "Just Us" It was definitely a pleasure hearing you perform, Students at school are still Raving about your performance. There are some hypocritical people in school whom I cant stand, I ignore them, and carry on. I know out of the 53 people in that chorus room that period, You touched at least 51 hearts with your music in a way that only you could. (52 if you want to include me) As I looked around the room, I saw 99% of the room on the edge of their seats, or crying their eyes out into a Kleenex. The only advice I can offer you is to live every second of your remaining life to the fullest, and may God bless you for all you
have done. 

I was one of the students you did the one-man version of"TLS" for at Waterloo High last night. I'm also one the type of people you were talking about afterwards.. I accept people no matter who or what they are. One of my best friends had gotten really sick.. She never said what it was, but I didn't ignore her. I guess you could say the whole show corresponded in places to my life. Between my friend's sickness..{She finally confided in me it was HIV - not full out yet, but hurting her} and my father's cancer that gave him a 3% chance to live. In fact, I've almost given up a few times.. but I thought about them and how unfair it was of me to leave my boyfriend, my best friend and my father after all they went through to stay with me.  No more of that...especially from what this guy's taught me about life and not giving up on others. 

THANK YOU STEVE!!! You have touched hearts and souls of so many people in this area. Your message definitely transcends age, gender, orientation, etc. Your CD is a permanent fixture in my CD player at work. It keeps me focused on why I have done HIV/AIDS education for 6 years. (I'm director of HIV/AIDS Education for the Red Cross, for those of you who don't know me.) 

Second of all, THANKS to Rhonda, Aerin and George who came storming into my office a month ago with news of this "Steve" who was a singer, songwriter .... Truly, they were talking too fast for me to decipher everything they said that day. They are truly the ones who are responsible for bringing Steve to NEw York. I just paid the bill. (Thanks NYSDOH -- I love grant money). Earlier this year I sent my peer educators a list of what would make them "good" peer educators and what would take them to that "above and beyond" level. Thanks, guys, for choosing the latter. I think all of our lives have been changed! :) 

I was fortunate enough to see 6 of Steve's 7 NY performances. Each one was tailored to meet the specific audience he was performing for. I watched students weep as they listened to the lyrics that hit home or as their attitudes underwent an amazing transformation. 

Last week I received a call from the Waterloo High School principal saying he was gathering information because two parents called in complaining that they understood Steve's performance was "promoting homosexuality and bashing Christianity." What a reminder that ignorance still remains in this world. (I felt like we were still in the early 1980's!!) I knew that Steve's performance did neither, but I reviewed the videotape to use as my evidence in case I received another call. The whole incident has sparked a number of conversations between peers, between peers and their parents, etc. -- in my opinion, the conversation is good. In a small town, people tend to ignore issues that aren't smacking them in the face every day. So, this dialogue will hopefully get people to challenge their own and others' views on sex, politics, and religion -- the 3 very topics you're not supposed to talk about with strangers, right? :)

Steve, thanks for being a trooper last week. You just went with the flow -- a welcomed relief with the stressful month I've had! I thoroughly enjoyed your performances & the time I get to spend just talking. Denny's was ... well... an experience. Be careful with those straws! And...NO...I don't think I want to try the peppermint-gasoline tasting protease inhibitor, even though it does sound quite appealing. :) Well, that's all for now. I've procrastinated long enough and it's time to get back to work.

Thanks again Steve -- YOU WERE PHENOMENAL!! 

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© 1996 - 2001 by Steve Schalchlin.
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