Sudano An Interview with Bruce Sudano - PopMatters
Bruce Sudano discography and songs: Music profile for Bruce Sudano, born 26 September 26 September , Brooklyn, NY, United States Release Date. Brooklyn Sudano is a married woman as of now. She is wedded to Mike McGlaflin. The couple dated for a long time before getting into the. Bruce Sudano. Three tracks into Bruce Sudano's latest album, The Burbank Sessions, we reach crisis point. “Why Aren't You Here” has a jaunty.
In more recent years, his own solo sides have reached the summit of the Adult Contemporary charts "It's Her Wedding Day" and are even now becoming a presence on smooth jazz radio stations "A Glass of Red and the Sunset". Songs like "Beyond Forever" might be light years away from the nights Sudano spent playing until four A. From Avenue I to Laurel Avenue, the future holds even more intrigue and excitement than the past.
I think that at that time, I was such a different guy and I was so driven by I don't even know what.
I was just young and crazy. Things were disposable to me at that point.
I was on a mad dash but I didn't know to where. A lot of people that started out back in the day "got off the train".
A select few of us have managed to hang on the straps with our bare knuckles and survive playing the game. It's just good to see that people have been able to hang in and carry on and that goes for Joe Bean [Esposito] and Kenny Vance and Genya Raven and all of us. Soul survivors, for sure. It can get very dispiriting after awhile. Yeah, but you got to go with your gifts and stay where you're called to be and what you're called to do.
Well, I'd like to revisit Flatbush for a minute. Where did the gift of music come from? I started off as an accordion player. My father was a singer. He was always singing around the house and had the radio on.
He never pursued any kind of singing career, really, but he had a really good voice. My younger brother Barry had a really good voice and writes songs. It's never been his career but he's also musical. I would say, if there was any musical influence, it came from my father. He opened a discotheque in Brooklyn back in called Dynamite.
It was like the Brooklyn version of the Electric Circus where they had a rubber room and a dancing room and a smoking room.
Alive 'N Kickin' actually opened the club. This was a big deal in Brooklyn. There were commercials all over the radio: Alive 'N Kickin'--and this is before "Tighter, Tighter"--played there for the first week or two. My father also managed Little Anthony and the Imperials. The other big thing is that he managed this band called the Yo Yo's. The singer's name was Ray Sabatis. The Yo Yo's recorded for Decca. They put out a single, an a-side and a b-side.
My father was their manager and co-produced their record. This is really a web! Pepe Cardona texted me about a month ago and said that he was doing a fundraiser at the Dynamite Music Center in Brooklyn. Was the accordion your parents idea? It was very typical of the day. My grandfather came back from Italy and brought me an accordion. From the ages of four to eight, I took accordion lessons every week and was forced to practice an hour a day while everybody was outside playing.
What happened was, when I was 12, my mother gets a call from another mother in the neighborhood. Her son was a guitarist. They had a gig opportunity to play at, I don't remember if it was a Sweet Sixteen party or a bar mitzvah, but I was 12 and I got that call.
I played that gig. It was me on accordion. It was me, him, and some long-forgotten trumpet player. I don't know if that leads us to the trumpet guy on "Beyond Forever" [laughs]. And "Beyond Forever" will be played on Radio Free Brooklyn, so we've put the period on the whole story.
It all goes back to Brooklyn. So what kind of music would be playing in the Sudano household? Pop music of the day? Jimmy Roselli was played a lot in my house because he was an Italian guy whose family was from Naples, the way my family was from Naples.
That's what my father played around the house. At nine years-old, I went to the Brooklyn Fox. That was really the turning point in my life. That was a defining moment. Were Italian cultural traditions celebrated in your family? They were Brooklyn-Italian cultural traditions.
I don't know how "Old World" they were. Every Sunday, you'd go to Grandma and Grandpa's house for Sunday dinner. She would make this nine-course Italian meal. Your cousins would be there and the family would congregate there.
A lot of that I've carried on in my family. A part of me feels that it's important to make sure that sense of culture and family is carried through.
Were there any other aspirations you had outside of music or was music always the main aspiration? The only other aspiration I had was acting. I went to St.
My major there was Theater. I was in numerous school productions. I also studied with Stella Adler. I was on that course so if I had any other aspiration it was that. The whole time I was in college I was studying acting and I always took acting classes in the city. At that time, I was pretty serious about it but I was also playing nightclubs five nights a week.
What did you learn from your theatrical training that you've carried with you? To be present in the moment. I think that that's the thing that I carry through. Now that my daughter Brooklyn's an actress, I talk to her frequently. First of all, Brooklyn is clean.
She's got no marks. I say, "Brooklyn you're clean so you got to be a little quirky. When you go in there, you got to twist it up a little bit". Whenever you go for an audition, you want to give them something--it almost doesn't matter if they like it or not--it has to be, "I didn't see it that way and I didn't expect that".
In doing a scene with somebody, be spontaneous in the moment, even if it's a thing where you're reading a line and then all of a sudden you reach over and grab the other person's hand and they're not expecting it. It keeps it alive and real. I think that that's the thing I take most from theater training. Probably the thing I take the least is The Actor Prepares.
It's always a fine line for me to prepare too much. I don't like to over-prepare because then it takes away from the spontaneity in my mind. I don't know if that's actually true but that's kind of the game I play with myself. If we were to time travel back to the late-'60s, and see the culture of New York through your eyes, what would we see?
It was a revolutionary time. Everybody knows that and everybody says it but unless you were there, it just seems like words. Things that are taken for granted now were revolutionary at the time. It was really a generation separating themselves from the generation before. The whole thing of the long hair and the stripes and the polka dots, it was all a statement, We are our own generation. At the time, there was the phrase "The Generation Gap" and that phrase at that time was real.
The gap between generations now is much less. In the late-'60s it was ying and yang. It was polar opposite. Kids were taking the culture to the extreme opposite of what it was. What was the dynamic like between you and your family at that time?
Were they supportive of what you were doing? I think ultimately they were supportive. When I look back on it now, I think they were very supportive of me. I don't know that they had much choice [laughs].
I was a lot more extreme than my kids are. At the same time, I think they knew that they had put a core in me that I may go off-base a little bit but hopefully I wouldn't fall off the edge. There were a lot of people falling off the edge. Fortunately, I had enough of a center in myself to only go so far. How did you meet Tommy James? Alive 'N Kickin' was playing at a club in Manhattan called the Cheetah.
It was on Eighth Avenue and 52nd Street or something like that. Sandy, who was the singer in Alive 'N Kickin', her sister-in-law was our pseudo-manager at the time.
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She was friends with Tommy James' wife at the time. She got him to come down and hear the band. It wasn't much of a stretch because he was living on Eighth Avenue, just a couple of blocks away. That's how I met him. Then I think I called him every day for a week, "Can we write a song? I was on it. What did you learn from him about songwriting? He taught me a lot. He basically took me under his wing and wrote with me, took me into the studio, and let me do stuff. He involved me in things on a level that up until that point, I hadn't been privy to.
In those days, it was a big deal to get into a recording studio. It was expensive and studios were limited. Alive 'N Kickin' would pool our money and try to get a session at four o'clock in the morning at some studio in the city when there was down time.
It was those kinds of extreme things that had to happen to try and get into the studio. Tommy, at that point, was king of the world with all the hits that he was having.
To this day, he's a pretty underrated guy but he's very innovative and had a very good sense of what a hit record sounds like and what a hit song does, and yet at the same time be innovative in the studio and experiment. He taught me a lot and give me big opportunities. How did writing "Ball of Fire" for Tommy James come to fruition? You know, I think it just came about of me calling Tommy asking if we could write a song and then he said, "Come on over".
Tommy had a little bit of a song and we kind of finished it. It was really that simple. I hung around quite a bit with him at that time and I'm sure that there were other songs that we wrote. I always say that my songwriting in "Ball of Fire" was basically that I wrote "of" [laughs].
I'm sure you did a little more than that! It gave me the appreciation of something that is always a point of debate in songwriting circles. In co-writing, there's a chemistry that goes on in a room frequently.
If there's three people writing, there's one guy that's not really contributing that much because things take on a life of their own and people get going. Boom, the song is written. You might be the guy that wrote "of", so then there's the debate: I always say yes because of the chemistry that's in the room at the time. I think Tommy was looking to branch out a little bit. He had never really produced another act.
We had become friends. He said I'll produce your group. I'll write you a hit song. He said he'd cut "Crystal Blue Persuasion" with us. We rehearsed it and got it down. Then, at the last minute, Morris Levy said, "That's Tommy's next single.
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You guys aren't cutting it. Tommy said I got another song "Tighter, Tighter". Morris said, "Don't worry I'll make it a hit". It was a hit. That's how it was in those days. That's the uncomfortable truth, I guess. When you moved out to Los Angeles for the first time, did it take much adjusting, coming from New York? Things that I remember about moving out to Los Angeles for the first time It's kind of a situation where, "Inky man who drove the fastest car" from "On the Corner" had a girlfriend.
He broke up with his girlfriend and I hooked up with her. It was a three-week jaunt across the country. When I got to LA, she got a job. It was really nothing. It was in the 'hood but it was what we could afford. She got a job at a restaurant. Through her job at the restaurant I met a whole bunch of other musicians. That's where we shot the album cover. It was on the beach in Malibu. We had gone out there to do American Bandstand.
LA at that point in time, to me, was like, why would you want to live in Brooklyn when you can live out here with palm trees and nice weather? I think I had had enough nights of getting out of the club at 4 o'clock in the morning, freezing, trying to get my key into the door of my '57 Dodge. LA at that time was also very vibrant with lots of singer-songwriters. It was very inspiring to me at that point. Did you notice a change in I guess what I'd call the Los Angeles lifestyle, between when you first moved out there in the early-'70s to the end of the '70s?
Was there a shift across the decade? There was a shift. The early-'70s were more mellow. It was easy, sailing along in a nice, creative, "peace and love" kind of way. By the end of the '70s, it was wound up and spun tight. The drug scene in those years played a big part in the lifestyle. I think that the early-'70s were more about marijuana and by the late-'70s it evolved into quaaludes and cocaine. By the time you got into the early-'80s, it all fizzled into something else.
To me it's fascinating to consider that arc, beginning one place, then peaking, then going down the other side. It's interesting, now that we're talking about it. The late-'70s, for me obviously, were a very exciting time. Things went very fast in those days. I'm sure today, for some people, they're going that fast but it's a very different world now. When you heard the re-release of the first Brooklyn Dreams album recently, were there any particular revelations upon hearing it?
It was a very interesting phenomena that I experienced and that I saw other people experience. In speaking to Joe [Esposito] and Jimmy Ienner and seeing my mother's reaction Sad, and then it got a little bit angry. Then, it got to proud that it's a great piece of work. It was really interesting because I saw the same reaction from different people. Jimmy Ienner left me this message saying, "I don't even know how to feel about it. I always knew it was a great record.
It holds up so magnificently. Neil Bogart took over and stepped in. Ultimately, it leaves me with the feeling that it's a really great record. It really holds up. Joe was going on about two of the songs that I sang, " Baby You're the One" and "Hollywood Circles", because he hadn't heard them in 30 years. He said, "Bruce, I forgot those songs! To me it's been interesting to play Brooklyn Dreams for people and get a very honest reaction because they don't have a reference point. Except for "Music, Harmony and Rhythm", it's not like the songs have been repackaged that much in a readily accessible way.
So many people are hearing it for the first time and think, "How did this not become bigger? There's part of me that feels that way and there's part of me that doesn't because maybe I just look at it and think life is what it is.
Things work out the way they work out. You can't go back. What keeps the bond between you, Eddie, and Joe so strong? I think part of why Brooklyn Dreams was as good as it was, was that there was a certain understanding that the three of us had.
We know very well who we are, the good parts, the bad parts. We love each other and accept each other in spite of all of the flaws. We didn't let the flaws override the good stuff. It's the same thing with any relationship. There's a level of honesty. There's a level of trust. There's a level of forgiveness. I think that the three of us have always been able to maintain that. I think it's things like that that break groups up. We never had that. I know you all understand that … so here's the song"!
My purpose is really a dialogue. I want to provoke some thought. It's not really about preaching. It's more about talking and thinking things through. To go back to an earlier comment you made about looking outward and looking around you, "True Believer" is an absolutely chilling character study.
How did that character manifest in your mind? There was a period of my life when I lived in Nashville. Nashville is really a bubble of contemporary Christian thought and action and reality. There are bubbles everywhere… New York, LA. For me, as somebody who has moved around a lot and lived in a lot of different bubbles, I see the bubbles clearly and I also see how the bubbles affect me because within every bubble, there's a certain level of truth and a certain level of good, but again, it's a bubble.
It's one almost incestuous ideology. The contemporary Christian community has its own face and its own presentation to the world. They're putting up this front of what they want people to see and who they think they're supposed to be. There's a bit of hypocrisy in that, but again there's hypocrisy in every bubble. I'm not saying it's here and not there, but for me I experienced a lot of it just from how people responded to me, personally, as I transitioned out of that and went on with my life.
It all comes back to me, as well, to strive to be more compassionate and not as self-centered. They would both be complete strangers in each other's world. They don't relate at all on the surface. If they got into a conversation, depending on the people involved, they could come to some understanding, but the "True Believer" guy in the "Bat Shit Crazy" girl's world would be like "Oh my God, these poor people".
That's a concept I never thought about. With "Cinderella", it's really a specific story of me being a guy who was married for a long time, who then gets out in the world and runs into these women who were trying to figure out their lives with a kid or two or three on their own.
Basically, they got married with a "happy ever after" Cinderella dream and got to this place where they had to recalculate their lives. I had such respect and empathy for these women and their strength and commitment to working it out. Then I got into this thought about the state of marriage and how people view commitment now. Is marriage not taken as the commitment that it was for me? I had all of these thoughts around that and I think that's what drove that song more than anything.
It deals with searching for an understanding. We're all looking to understand what's going on and read the signs in our life. It's really just kind of analyzing your internal and external dynamic as you go through life. It surprises me because in some ways it could come off as a personal thing, but people totally relate to that song, they get it and they like it.
There are a couple of songs that I've written over the course of my life that appear and come through me in a different way.
In terms of how the song came out, how it got written and the things that it deals with, for some reason, it made me feel the same as "I'm a Rainbow".
It's not like you had a shortage of new songs. How important was it for you to still make that statement on this record? I think that in my mind "Common Sense" was always the first song of the record. It set the direction of everything else that I wrote. For me, it was the doorway to the record. What were some of the things that the students were curious about or that you were surprised to be discussing with them? I gave them a lot of basic facts.
I think the things that I found interesting were that certain things I take for granted because I've known them for so long. For me, it's really a joy to be able to do those classes because I love to be able to inspire people, to encourage and inform people.
I get a great sense of satisfaction from it. They'll say, "Oh thank you! I never understood that. At this point in your career, would you ever collaborate again or do you prefer writing solo? When I was in Nashville, co-writing to me was always a little bit -- in most cases, not in all cases -- a frustrating situation because I frequently came away feeling that it wasn't the best song that I could write. You have somebody else's opinion that you have to acquiesce to sometimes because it's a collaborative thing.
There are places that you compromise. There was that in my psyche. When I got to this place of being on my own again, there was a lot of emotional turmoil going on inside of me. Since writing is my go-to place, I had a lot to say. I was inspired and driven. I think it was a combination of those elements, of the frustration that I always had in collaboration, and it was also my own desire: Okay Bruce, you've lived this whole life and now you are on your own.
You've always kind of hidden from being this guy for whatever reason, but this is who you're going to be, so be him. I'm sure I'll collaborate again. I say this as part of when I do the songwriting class: You may learn a new chord, it's going to take you to a place that, on your own, you wouldn't get to. It was a surprise to see you record someone's else's song with your cover of Tracy Chapman's "Talkin' Bout a Revolution". What is it about her songwriting that resonates with you?
Tracy Chapman's an artist that I completely respect.
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As an artist, she's somebody that I feel some kind of alignment with. Mike said, "I think that you can sing somebody else's song. It might be a good experience for you.
I thought, thematically, it was a message that fit in with the record. I did better with it than I thought I would. This is not everybody's interpretation of that song, but in my mind, it's a warning. It's about if we don't deal with some of these issues, we're going to have a revolution. People think we're so far away from that, but this world that we live in is much more fragile than people think.
What does he bring to the table?
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When I was on a European tour together with Hollis Brown a couple of years ago, we spent a lot of time packed into a van. We listened to a lot of music together. They're a generation away from me in terms of what they like and what they know, how they hear things and how things are perceived through their eyes and ears. Mike would just start talking about, "Here's how I see you". I've finally gotten to a place where I understand who I am as an artist now in this incarnation, at this point in my life.
I think that Mike helped me clarify that. He said, "It's really about what you say, and you and your acoustic guitar. We color it in a stripped-down basic kind of way. That lined up very much with what I was feeling and how I saw myself. Just doing these songs that I'm doing from my house, singing them live in person, and putting them on Facebook or YouTube or Instragram, it's just me and the song and the guitar. It's all very immediate. I felt that I was on a path to get to that place because that's really the essence of who I am and what I do.
When I was on the tour with Johnnyswim I had to play solo. It was really the first time that I had to do that. It was a challenge, but it was a place that I had to go to and wanted to get to. I think that's the ultimate: It's the most vulnerable and the most real and, for me, the most challenging place to be. That's not to say that now I can't go back to a place of being with a band, but I like that I was able to get to that place. Your daughter Amanda and your son-in-law Abner are flourishing as Johnnyswim.
It was so special to see their name and your name on the marquee.
What did that mean for you? The fact that it was sold out and their audience was so receptive to me? It was cool on every level. Touring with Johnnyswim was such a beautiful experience. It was such a beautiful expression of love from my kids to me.
Of course, it was full circle. Here I am on the tour bus and Amanda's like, "Okay dad, here's your bunk".
It's their crew and their tour.