Thursday, December 13, 2012

CHICAGO'S HISTORIC MUSIC LEGACY: INTERVIEW WITH CARL GIAMMARESE OF THE BUCKINGHAMS



"The British Invasion rocked our world – musically and otherwise -- but there was something cool (dare I say groovy) about Chicago groups making music and hitting the charts. Our city was on the musical map and hey, so was our fountain! It’s nice to know The Buckinghams are still around and still sounding great."   Rosemary Backes - Rosemary Backes was a junior in high school the first time she heard Kind of a Drag. All these years later she is still enjoying the music of her youth.  


Back in the winter of 1967 some cold winds howled through the city of Chicago, but the cold and historic winter couldn't prevent the upbeat sounds of supremely spirited pop/rock music from rolling right on in with old man winter. On that memorable Thursday, January 26, 1967, snow began to come down and it would keep snowing until the following evening. While an entire population of people were locked and stocked in their homes the first single by the Buckinghams was playing on radios all across the country. Three weeks later the song would become the number one song on the Billboard charts and it would sit there triumphantly for two straight weeks. The rest as they say...

The music of the Buckinghams is embedded in the catalog of the musical minds of older and younger baby boomers, but those songs are emblems for older boomers (I'm not an older boomer). Carl Giammarese is one of two original members of The Buckinghams and he and fellow original member, Nick Fortuna continue to tour; and from time to time they create new music. Recently, I went with my entire family to see The Buckinghams perform and they put on a fantastic two hour plus show. Their delivery of their own songs is perfection to the ears, but their interpretations of other 1960s' gems prove to be as gratifying as their performances are of their original material.    

Since this a site dedicated to all things Chicago, having an interview with a member of one of the signature pop/rock acts that hailed from the city of big shoulders is a thrill for me. Several other bands called Chicago home, among them, Chicago, REO Speedwagon, Styx, the Ides of March, the Cryan' Shames, Rockford's Cheap Trick, the Shadows of Knight, the New Colony Six, the Smashing Pumpkins and more recently, the Plain White T's. The city's legacy of music lives on. Carl Giammarese was kind enough to agree to an hour long session of a series of questions.

Judith: At the performance I was surrounded by mostly older era boomers, so obviously much of the audience was composed of people that assuredly bought your records upon their original release back in the late 1960's. However, there were plenty of teens sitting in the auditorium, including a 17 year old guy in front of me who clearly was enjoying the show. How do you explain the interest of young people loving the music from the 1960's and 1970's?

Carl: I've known it for years. We've long attracted a younger audience and it's particularly noticeable at the fairs and festivals we play. Usually the younger end of the spectrum is 50% of the crowd. 

The only thing I could say is the music from the era was great. Younger audiences relate to four or five piece guitar bands. Good music is good music. Don't get me wrong there are a lot of talented people making music today. The songs from the generation I was part of are memorable, but there are some talented people leaving their stamp on and making significant contributions to the music business today.

When I was starting out we didn't really relate to a great deal of the music our parents had been listening to even though I now appreciate much of that music. 

Judith: Carl, you mentioned new music. Who are the acts out there today that you genuinely appreciate and follow?

Carl: I like John Mayer very much. He's a gifted guitarist. Maroon 5 are good. Train makes some good music. They have a sound that could be timeless. I think Alicia Keys is fabulous. She's one of the best singer/artist/pianists in the music industry today. Very talented. I listen to a great deal of contemporary music, but I love older music as well. I have grown to appreciate Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett more and more as I've grown older and learned more about music, vocals and styles. I find myself attracted to several different genres, including jazz. My wife likes jazz, so it's playing in the house and it's grown on me. I get my satellite radio going and I play with the buttons and listen to a variety of musical genres. A great song is a great song.

The American Music Awards turn me off. Seeing Justin Bieber's dance routines to songs that have no melody is unappealing. A great song to me should have you sitting down with a guitar or a piano in your living room and you just sing and play and it still should come across without all of the production. That's a great song that will live on for many years.    

Judith: At the Joy of  Christmas show I noticed you played acoustic guitar, steel guitar and bass guitar. When and why did the guitar become your passion?  

Carl: I started playing when I was 13 years old. My dad found a guitar teacher for me. Her name was Mrs. Seitz. Obviously, I still remember her name. Mrs. Seitz was in the neighborhood and she taught me how to play. At first I wanted to play the saxophone, but my mom was a huge fan of Elvis Presley's and she wanted me to play the guitar, because he played the guitar. I always remember her saying you can play the guitar and sing at the same time. Of course, she was right!  

Judith: Once you had the guitar who were the influences on your playing and your style?

Carl: Johnny Smith was a gifted jazz guitarist. He used to be Perry Como's guitarist on his television show. Whenever Perry Como sang a song with just the guitar you could really hear Johnny Smith's great talent. Also, I had a deep appreciation for James Burton. Burton was a superb guitarist. He was one of country and country rock's big talents. I loved his playing. The first time I saw him was with Rick Nelson. At that time, Rick would play one or two songs at the end of the The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. I'd watch all the time and I couldn't wait until the end of the show since I knew they'd be playing. Burton played with Elvis Presley and he was a session guitarist on a million different records. Talented guy. 

I loved the Ventures, Chet Atkins, Les Paul. When the Beatles came along, I wanted to learn every lick George Harrison was playing with that big "Gretsch" guitar. 

I new that this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to do this for the last 40 plus years. 

Judith: As a non-professional musician I still enjoy visiting recording studios. I went in to a couple of famed studios while living in Los Angeles. I took a tour of Abbey Road Studios and I went on the Sun Studios tour when I was in Memphis last year. Where did the Buckinghams record?

Carl: Our first recording session took place at the legendary Chess Studios at 2120 South Michigan Avenue. I would never forget the address. At that time, Chess produced some of the great legends of Blues music. Muddy Waters and Little Walter recorded there. Chuck Berry did some of his recordings there. The Rolling Stones came in to do sessions there from time to time. Leonard Chess owned the studio. We were a pop band, so our recording there was unusual. We had a great engineer named Ron Malo. He did a lot of blues albums. We were brought there by our manager and producer, Carl Bonafede and Dan Bellock. Dan owned the Holiday Ballroom on the north side of the city of Chicago. We were basically a house band at his club and we played there every weekend. Dan thought we were special, because every time we played people stopped dancing and watched us perform. At that time, we were a cover band. We would do everything from the Beatles (we even recorded "I Call Your Name" which was a unique John Lennon song), to Wilson Pickett and James Brown.   

Judith: Looking back - what was the big break?

Carl: Our first big break was on WGN. WGN was huge. Not as huge as it would become in the cable era, but it had a reach even way beyond Chicago, which at the time was the 2nd largest market in the country. They had a show on the air called All Time Hits. We auditioned for the show with a group of other local acts and we won the audition. They gave us a 13 week contract and every week we would come in and do a few songs. We'd perform whatever was popular at the time. The show was responsible for giving us the name of The Buckinghams. The British invasion had already started and the Beatles were bigger than life, the Rolling Stones were out there, the Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits. Someone on the set decided we should have a British sounding name, so we became the Buckinghams. Our first album cover photo is in front of Buckingham Fountain. A friend of ours took that photo with a Polaroid camera. The fountain had nothing to do with our name, ironically enough. 

All Time Hits led to a contract with USA Records. We covered some songs and had a few regional hits. Carl Bonafede found Jim Holvey and his writing partner, Garry Beisbier and they were writing songs they couldn't use in their band, the Mob. The material they were writing wasn't right for them, so they gave us Kind of a Drag

We took the song and rehearsed it. Dan Bellock had the idea of putting horns on it. We weren't a horn band, but Dan was a big band leader. He thought the horns would give us polish.  His trombone player, Frank Tesinsky did the arrangements since we couldn't arrange horns. The label released it and it ran up the charts. Ultimately, it became a number one song, although initially it was played regionally and then it grew and grew before it went national. 

Judith: Carl, you were all from Chicago. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods. Was then and still is now. What neighborhood were you born and raised in?

Carl: I'm a guy from the Albany Park area. It's near Sacramento and Lawrence. Dennis Tufano lived near Grand & Fullerton. John Poulos, our original drummer lived near me. Nick lived up in Niles and Marty was our sole southsider. He was raised in Blue Island. 

Judith: I can remember all kinds of things. Sometimes I can even tell you what outfit I had on when something of consequence took place in my life. Where were you exactly when you first heard Kind of a Drag on the radio?

Carl: The band was rehearsing in my parents' basement. We would rehearse at our houses. We would spend a couple of days at one house - drive the neighbors wild and then we would move to another house. Our parents gave us the freedom to play and enjoy the experience of that first rush of success. The day the song was heard for the first time, we were in my basement. My parents ran down the stairs and said our song was on the radio. It was on WLS. The entire band ran up the stairs to hear the tail end of the song. To be on the big 89 was a big deal. You could hear a song over and over again on a record, but when you heard it on the radio it was like nothing else. Pure magic.     

Judith: The Buckinghams appeared on television consistently during the late 1960's. Thanks to YouTube, one can still have a revisit with many of your performances from the time. Any particular standout memory that still lives on with you and Nick? 

Carl: Doing The Ed Sullivan Show was a big deal for us, but during that time it was a big deal for any artist. His shows were the "when you knew you had made it moment." Ed Sullivan was smaller and shorter than I thought he would be. Also, the theater itself was small. When you see clips of the audience, you don't realize how small the actual theater seating area was. 

When we appeared on The Joey Bishop Show - Joey was interviewing us and a bit of spittle came out of him and landed on Dennis Tufano. From that point on every other act on that night referenced Joey spitting on Dennis. 

The appearance on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour has the now wild mishap of the British Union Jack flags on our set. The set designers thought we were British, so we performed in front of a multitude of Union Jack images. 

Of course, The Jerry Lewis Show appearance was memorable for the actual meet and greet with Jerry Lewis. We were backstage and Jerry was going into his dressing room. He was all decked out in tie, pressed shirt, but he didn't have pants on. We learned that night that performers put their pants on at the last minute, so they would be as wrinkle free as possible. It's still kind of funny looking back on it and seeing Jerry Lewis standing there in his boxer shorts - just talking, like no big deal.

American Bandstand was an iconic brand for pop/rock music and we enjoyed being on that show. Dick Clark was a wonderful person. Years later, we had the good fortune to work with him. In the 1980's and 1990's, Dick was hired to do a series of big corporate shows and he booked us many times to do the shows. We enjoyed working with him.  He was unassuming and down to earth. 

Judith: Ok Carl, you're on a desert island. Which albums, artists do you want shipwrecked with you? 

Carl: I'd have a crowded island! I'm in love with Joni Mitchell. Her album, Blue is one of my all time favorite albums. She had a great gift for writing lyrics. I can't listen to that album without getting emotional. I have always appreciated James Taylor. His work holds up and I still enjoy what he's doing now. October Road (the album was released in 2002, long after Taylor's chart topping years) is a great album and it can reside on a shelf with some of his classic albums from the 1970's. I love Stevie Wonder. Of course, The Beatles. If I had to pick just one artist - I'd pick the Beatles. Being around during their recording years was exciting, particularly if you were a musician. You anticipated every new album. It was like Christmas bearing gifts when they released a new album. You knew it was going to sound like them, but be something completely different. They were constantly reinventing themselves and everyone else was trying to catch up and no one was able to catch up. 

I'm also a big fan of the Eagles. Don Henley and Glenn Frey are talented songwriters, musicians and singers. Led Zeppelin had a unique sound and I loved the band, America. Their music still works today. They were produced by George Martin, who produced all of the albums by the Beatles.   

Judith: I'm always fascinated by who is not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Who should be inducted that hasn't been inducted yet?

Carl: The Buckinghams! Honestly, you've caught me off guard, but I do think someone from the Happy Together tours should be in the Hall of Fame. Some talented people have been left out. Tommy James and the Shondells, the Grass Roots, the Turtles, Paul Revere & the Raiders. A lot of acts with significantly fewer hits made it in and if it were a time capsule you'd want some of the bands from that period of time in the Hall of Fame.  

Judith: My family went to see your show in Chicago and it was billed as a Christmas show. Any particular reason why you wanted to do a Christmas show?

Carl: I still love recording, so recording The Joy of Christmas was a labor of love. We revisited our sound from the 60's and put it to some new music and we did a couple of covers of a few Christmas classics. Every artist either has or should do a collection of Christmas songs. The Joy of Christmas is our contribution to the sounds of Christmas.

Judith: By the way, you do a lovely interpretation of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.  It's one of my favorite secular Christmas songs. Judy Garland's version in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis still gets to me, but your version is beautiful. Just the right touches of sentimentality. Just thought I'd let you know.

Carl: Thank you.

Judith: Are you political?

Carl: No, we aren't. We just want to entertain people. We live in interesting times. We got offers to perform at one of the inaugural balls in 2004 and again in 2008. We enjoyed it, but when we performed in 2004 we received a ton of hate mail from people that hated George Bush and then when we performed in 2008 we received hate mail from people that hated Barack Obama. It was strange for us, because publicly we are pretty apolitical. Most of the mail was hateful with things like we are so disappointed in you guys and on and on. From my perspective, there is no cooperation between the parties. They are both at fault. Let's do what is best for the country! Personally, I've met a lot of nice people on both sides.

Judith: You are a Chicago born and raised guy and you still live here. If you have guests coming in from out of town who have never been here before what would you set them up to do?

Carl: I'd take them to the city. Grant Park, the lakefront, Millennium Park, the magnificent mile - the entire city center is beautiful and it offers a great deal for residents and visitors.  Gorgeous lakefront and skyline.

You have to have Chicago food. I love the Little Italy area, so I'd probably take them to the Rosebud Cafe and then on another night, we'd go to Lou Malnati's for pizza. I'd make sure they had a taste of the city's music scene too. Blues music is still a large part of the city's culture, so pizza and then we'd go to Buddy Guy's.

Judith: Sort of curious about something. You were a major act from our great city and you made it nationally with five huge hit singles. This was all going on during the Vietnam War. Outside of Elvis Presley and Jimi Hendrix I wasn't able to think of any artists from the rock era during that time that served in the military. Was there an exemption for musicians (I ask knowing that isn't true)?

Carl: Actually, we got lucky. Our draft numbers didn't come up during the draft, but our original lead singer, George LeGros was drafted in 1966. George kept saying at the time that we shouldn't worry, because he had a bad knee, but he did get drafted. We all went to say goodbye to him at the train station when he departed for basic training. Several months later Kind of a Drag went to the top of the charts. George passed away several years ago and it's still all sad.

Judith: Carl, you've been writing an autobiography. What's going on with the project?

Carl: It's been years in the making. I wanted to have it released in conjunction with a new album. The album would pretty much be an acoustic work, but the book has been taking me a lot longer to write than I thought it would.

Judith: Carl, thanks so much for taking us on another part of the journey with you and the Buckinghams. I still love your music and it always makes me feel good! Classic songs - Kind of a Drag, Don't You Care, Hey Baby, Susan and my personal favorite Mercy, Mercy, Mercy should all be listened to - repeatedly. They are great treats for the ears some forty plus years after their initial release dates.    

To see upcoming tour dates for The Buckinghams, please visit www.thebuckinghams.com


                                Carl Giammarese and Nick Fortuna
                                   Original Buckinghams today
             

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2012

              

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Weekend/Weekday Getaway - Door County in Wisconsin



One of the loveliest locations in the entire nation is a heartbeat away from the city of Chicago. I've been to Door County before, so its beauty was not a surprise to my eyes. Last week, I drove up to Door County and the scenery is quite a spectacle. Driving onto the Door County Peninsula one is surrounded by the glories of Lake Michigan on both sides of your ride.

I will admit to this and it's a tough thing to admit to, but my brother-in-law (who is a die-hard Chicago Bears fan) insisted on stopping at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Go figure, but I did have my photograph taken with the gigantic Vince Lombardi statue. The statue doesn't look like Lombardi, but it does look a great deal like the late (long late) actor, Wallace Beery. Unless you are a film buff (I am) or you are over 80 years old (I'm not) you might have to look him up. Take my word for it, this statue looks like Wallace Beery. Even as a Chicago Bears fan, you can have lots of respect for the late Coach Lombardi. 

After looking online for several days I managed to come up with a few locations I thought would provide a pleasant couple of nights in Door County, but then it dawned on me that I recently had been around an old friend who goes up there almost every year, so I made it easy on myself and I asked her for a recommendation. Her recommendation was to stay at the High Point Inn and I did. The High Point Inn is centrally located in Ephraim (not in the town's center, but close enough), which is smack dab in the middle of Door County. The High Point Inn is a lovely property. It has great curb appeal, excellent customer service and a clean and livable room! I would stay there again and that's always a high praise compliment. Three other people were in my party and we stayed in a two bedroom suite with two bathrooms.  Private and quiet as well.  The price was quite reasonable.  

While in Door County we ate at two respectable breakfast eateries. Both the Summer Kitchen and Carroll House were good choices for eggs, etc... I love to support small businesses whenever I can, so it's a treat to go to these locations.

The drive around the entire County is a wonderful experience and if you intend to only do this once in a lifetime, then enjoy every frame of it.  Ephraim, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Sister Bay are all gorgeous small towns along the water of Door County.  Door County is a quirk of topography - 70 miles - north/south! There is some jaw dropping scenery on this peninsula.  If you don't want to drive around, although you will enjoy every moment, there are plenty of boat excursions to take you around.

One of the best restaurants in Door County is the Gibraltar Grill.  Excellent meal.  Quite honestly, you couldn't get a better meal at a restaurant in the city and by that I do mean, Chicago.  Outstanding food and service.

Wilson's has been in existence in one way or another for a hundred years.  It's a classic in more ways than one. Classic decor, but more importantly, the ice cream is creamy and superb. It rivals any great ice cream parlor in America, including Illinois' own, Oberweis Dairy.  Make this a must stop on your trip to Door County. Prices are beyond reasonable.

Wilson's


Nothing could possibly beat the sun setting along the shore of Ephraim.  When you exit Wilson's you will be treated to a sight beyond sights.  Every three to four minutes you will get another amazingly wow of a sight as the colors change along the skyscape.  Picture perfect!

Peninsula State Park is a stunningly beautiful state park and it offers a wide variety of trails, so take advantage of those trails. Many are difficult on rugged terrain, but there are a few for the light of heart and easy of feet. The Lighthouse in the Peninsula State Park is another must see while in Door County and you can drive around the Park as well as enjoy it by foot or bike. There are 20 miles of hiking trails and 20 miles of bike trails.  The Eagle Bluff Lighthouse has been there since 1868 and the tower gives you a 180 view of the park and the surrounding area.

There are a wide variety of shops and boutiques in Door County, but two standouts are the two Christmas stores.  The Mistletoe Holiday House in Egg Harbor not only offers a wide variety of unique items (I purchased two items), but the proprietor is a lovely woman who serves up an ornament as a bag tie. The other Christmas store is the Tannenbaum Holiday Shop in Sister Bay.  Both stores are musts for the shopper and non-shopper alike.

Two other must see places - Cave Point and the Old Rugged Cross. Cave Point is stunning and it's in a County Park, so it is not necessarily going to be heavily promoted like a State or National Park. Cave Point is located in the Sturgeon Bay area.  Also, George Bennard wrote the inspirational hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross" in 1913 and an old rugged cross is on display at Friends Church in Sturgeon Bay. For those who believe in the saving power of the Cross, this will be a highlight on a trip to Door County! Bennard was from this part of the country.

Travel to the northernmost tip of the peninsula and take in Washington Island for a further adventure on your painted journey!

Door County is beautiful during all four seasons, but much of the County is closed down during the winter months, but a hearty soul can travel up there and find a place to stay and things to do.

Galleries, lighthouses, state and county parks, boat rides, and don't forget the famed fish boils. Go to Door County!

Copyright Chicago and then Some

Monday, February 27, 2012

Interview with Shroud of Turin Expert, Russ Breault


Russ Breault is one of the leading experts on the Shroud of Turin. He has appeared on several nationally televised documentaries airing on History Channel, Discovery Channel and the CBS News.

He has participated in nearly every international research symposium since the first Shroud of Turin Research Project in 1981. He is the President and Founder of the Shroud of Turin Education Project which functions to raise general awareness of the Shroud with a specific focus on colleges and universities.



He will be hosting a forum at Marytown in Libertyville, Illinois (see review of Marytown on this site) on Saturday, March 17 from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Contact miyouth.org/shroud if you are interested in attending the forum. Mr. Breault’s presentation unfolds like a CSI episode featuring 150 images. The audience watches the investigation and this mystery is explored in an entertaining and educational way.  


How did you originally get involved with the Shroud of Turin

I have been intrigued with the Shroud ever since I learned that a team of scientists was going to analyze it in 1978. As a student, I was a writer for the college newspaper so I spent several months preparing for an article series that ran in the fall of 1980. That same summer, National Geographic published a major story on it.  I called several scientists for quotes and by the time the articles went to press I was hooked. In 1981, I gave over 60 lectures at churches all around the southeast. Since that time I have participated in nearly every international conference on the subject.

 What inspired you to make this a major part of your life?  

I have always been intrigued the fusion of faith and science.  I don’t believe we leave our brains at the door of the church.  One of the most significant aspects of both the Jewish and Christian faith is their historical validity.  With every scoop of the shovel archaeologists are finding more evidence in the Holy Land that confirms the truth and accuracy of Scripture. Could the Shroud be an actual artifact of the crucifixion of Jesus?  That possibility is so enormous, that it trumps anything else we may ever find.  Recently fragments of the Gospel of Mark have been discovered that may date back to the First Century.  It is a huge find, yet it pales compared to the potential represented by the Shroud of Turin. 

Watching "The Real Face of Jesus" on the History Channel was an eye opener.  Why are we so fascinated by the Shroud?

The Shroud speaks to the world on many levels. When Leah, my two-year old granddaughter looks at the Shroud, she points and says, “Jesus.”  Whether the Shroud is authentic or not, the whole world can look upon that iconic face image and know it either is or represents Jesus. For those of faith or perhaps searching, the Shroud represents the hope offered through Christianity.  Did God really send his only Son into the world to suffer and die in our place?  Did he really rise from the dead and defeat the power of death?  Does he really offer that same victory to those who believe?  The hope conveyed by the Shroud is that very hope that jumps off the pages of the New Testament.

Whenever people that don't believe ask me what is the one reason why I believe in God I always say the same thing.  Israel still exists.  There is no human reason for Israel's continued existence.  Why do you believe in God?

The answer is both objective and subjective.  Much like Saint Thomas Aquinas, I am gripped by both natural and supernatural revelation. God is known first of all through his creation.  Whether one looks through the eyes of Hubble to the vast expanse of the universe or through the lens of an electron microscope to see the complexity and design of life, the hand of God is plainly evident. Despite the onslaught of evolutionary thought, which is largely atheistic, I know intuitively that complexity, order and design inherent in all organisms did not arise spontaneously by nothing more than random chance and natural selection.  These processes by definition are unguided, undirected and emerge out of randomness rather than purpose.  Yet nothing exists in my house without purpose or intent.  From a pencil to a sheet of paper, it exists on purpose.  The object did not define its own purpose; it was designed, engineered and manufactured to fulfill a pre-determined purpose by an outside intelligence.  This is true of all life forms as well. 

The great question of our existence is; do we exist by purpose or by accident?  I reject the cosmic accident theory therefore I must accept and embrace that I am created and designed on purpose to fulfill a purpose. Nothing can exemplify this more than God sending his Son to redeem a fallen race.  It is the singular and most profound event in human history that tells us we have value, we have meaning and we have purpose given not by the government or ourselves but by God. This is a long way of saying that creation itself is why I believe in God.

Breault On The History Channel's "The Real Face of Jesus"


What is the single biggest scientific evidence that this Shroud is from the body of Jesus of Nazareth (or from another man during this time period)?

The forensic pathologists who have carefully examined the Shroud image say it is the image of a real human being who died from the wounds seen on the cloth.  The blood chemists say it is real blood from actual wounds.  This would suggest that the cloth wrapped a corpse at some point in history. Yet if the cloth contained a body, it wasn’t in there for very long as there are no stains of decomposition.  When it comes identifying the body, we must compare it with scripture. Is it Jesus or just someone else who got crucified?  The distinctive features of the Crucifixion as revealed in Scripture are all plainly evident on the Shroud:
·        The Crown of Thorns was a mockery for being called King of the Jews. Scrapes and blood flows are seen all around the head.

·        A severe scourging (120 scourge marks from the base of the neck down to the ankles)--this happened because Pontius Pilate did not think he was guilty of a crime worthy of capital punishment, therefore he hoped the scourging would be sufficient—it wasn’t.

·        A wound in the side to make sure he was dead before the body was given to Joseph of Arimathea for burial. Most times the legs are broken to bring about a speedy death so the bodies could be removed from the cross. Jesus was already dead so his legs were not broken.

There are more similarities but these three alone are sufficient to reasonably identify the man as Jesus.

You speak to both Christian and non-Christian groups?  What are the biggest changes in your presentation from a largely Christian audience to a largely secular one?

They are 80% the same.  In both cases I treat the Shroud as a great mystery to be explored--comparable to the Pyramids or Stonehenge.  It is a valid comparison--we are still trying to figure how they were built and by who?  The same goes with the Shroud as one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the world.  Is it authentic or nothing more than a medieval hoax?  Shroud Encounter peels back the layers of mystery like a CSI investigation.  I make no claim of authenticity. The audience must act like a jury in a trial. Whether it is fact or fiction—the audience must come to their own conclusions. The difference between the secular and Christian versions relates to the resurrection.  No reputable scholar debates the historical existence of Jesus.  A discussion of the Crucifixion as a historical event as revealed through the Shroud is perfectly legitimate for a secular audience.  As to the cause of the image, the resurrection is offered as one of several alternatives.  However, for a Christian audience, I will use the Shroud to explore in detail the resurrection as revealed both in Scripture and the Shroud.  Was the image caused by the resurrection?  It is a mystery and no one really knows—I simply explore the possibility.


Who originally discovered the Shroud? 

Legend tells us that a cloth was taken from Jerusalem to Edessa, an ancient city in southern Turkey, sometime in the first century. The Apostle Jude Thaddeus is said to have taken it there.  King Abgar is healed of leprosy as a result of seeing it.  This is known as the “Legend of Abgar.” The cloth was later hidden away because of the Roman persecutions.  It was rediscovered centuries later in 525 AD.  It was two hundred years after Constantine and it was safe to be a Christian. The cloth was heralded as the “True Likeness of Christ—Not Made by Human Hands.”  It remained in Edessa until 944 when it was taken by force to Constantinople and stayed there until 1204 when the French stole it during the 4th Crusade.  It eventually arrives in Turin, Italy in 1578 and has been there ever since. 

It's huge at 14 feet in length? What is the historical and forensic documentation leading us to this Shroud coming from this era?

The Shroud appears to be a genuine Jewish burial shroud and consistent with burial practices of a man who died by violent death. In the event of death where there is a significant loss of blood, the body would not be washed and would be wrapped in a single linen shroud.

The cloth is manufactured with a 3:1 herringbone pattern, which is rare but possible during the first century.  Comparable examples have been found in wool and silk but thus far have not been found in linen.  Everything about the Shroud suggests it was a very expensive cloth.  The scripture says that Joseph of Arimathea was rich man and purchased a “fine linen cloth.” Some speculate since Joseph was a Pharisee and a secret believer in Jesus, he might have purchased a cloth made with “fine twisted linen” which is what the high priests were supposed to wear when they made the annual sacrifice in the Holy of Holies. Such linen represented the “holiness of God.”  Is that what Joseph was trying to convey? 

Jesus Christ was beaten, tortured, scourged, lanced and crucified.  We say the words, but to contemplate the agony and pain is incomprehensible. We know of the agony and stress that Christ went through prior to the physical persecution and death, but how did Jesus die?  Explain the physical process to us.

Jesus probably died by hypovolemic shock, which is essentially death from extreme dehydration.  Asphyxia may also have played a part since breathing on the cross is difficult.  Jesus was already brutally scourged before he was crucified.  The scourging, over 120 whip marks can be counted on the Shroud, would have caused a severe loss of blood resulting in severe dehydration.  Add to this the loss of blood from the crown of thorns and the nail wounds, such loss of blood would have ensued bringing about hypovolemic shock and death.

Christians are basically the only people you can mock and have no protection from hate speech guidelines. Obviously, Paul talks about believers being persecuted and believers have been ridiculed and scorned through the ages, but it seems like the attacks are all around us now in ways we never even dreamed of previously. 

The Shroud shows a man who has been beaten, mocked, whipped, nailed and killed.  Jesus said, “In this world ye shall suffer persecution, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.”  As the world grows increasingly hostile towards Christianity, we must remember that Jesus suffered far worse. Perhaps the Shroud is meant to give us strength to persevere with hope that darkened hearts might one day change. 

Young people are falling further and further away from the church. 

I am incorporated as The Shroud of Turin Education Project, Inc. with a stated mission: “To advance the knowledge of the Shroud to a new generation.”  This is exactly why I make every effort to bring Shroud Encounter to colleges and universities across the country.  The Shroud may or may not be authentic, but there is no question that Jesus is a historical person.  Exploring the Shroud creates a unique visual vehicle to experience what happened to Jesus on his way to the cross.  Perhaps the Shroud can help make Christianity real again to a generation so influenced by popular culture. 

The most important question regarding the Shroud is “what if?”  What if it is authentic?  What would be the purpose?  The only miracle Jesus performed not witnessed by others was the resurrection.  Could the Shroud be a silent witness to the one miracle that had no eyewitnesses? 

We live in an age when we communicate more with images than we do with words. Jesus is described in Scripture as “the image of the invisible God.”  Is it possible that God allowed an image of his crucified Son to remain for this very age? 

Does the Shroud express the very love of God who speaks to us as he spoke to Doubting Thomas, “Be not faithless, but believe.”  Thomas went on to say, “My Lord and my God”—the strongest profession of faith in the New Testament. Perhaps the Shroud gives doubters of the 21st century the same opportunity he gave to Thomas.


http://vimeo.com/36451067 for more information on the Shroud Encounter

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Debby Boone Interview - Still Lighting Up Lives



Debby Boone Interview - I conducted this interiew with Debby Boone shortly after her last visit to Chicago. She is going out on tour (and I wanted to give the tour an extra boost).

Boone has been singing and performing most of her life. She is the daughter of legendary Pat Boone and she is the daughter-in-law of another legend, the late, Rosemary Clooney. She is best known for recording the single biggest selling single of the 1970’s, “You Light Up My Life,” (the song spent a then-record breaking ten weeks in the number one position on the Billboard chart) but she has been recording and performing for the last 37 years.

She has won multiple Grammys and has recorded several top ten contemporary Christian albums. She has also performed in musical theater during her career, including extended runs of “The King & I” and “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.”

She is married to Gabriel Ferrer and is a devoted mom. She and her husband have also co-authored several children’s books.

She performs all around the nation and does an annaul Christmas show in Branson, Missouri. For more information on Debby's tour schedule, please visit http://www.debbyboone.com/ .

J: You were raised in a show business family and you lived your life in Hollywood's back yard. How did your youth, your coming of age period in that environment, influence your life and career? What was your childhood like?

D: I think probably more than most kids of celebrities that have talked about their upbringings, I think mine was more normal. Our lives were what most people would experience across the country. My parents wanted it to be that way and worked very hard to give us a normal, not show-biz-y kind of life. It was definitely a privileged life. I'm not kidding myself about that. They put us in high-end private schools and that kind of thing, but we had a real strong sense of family and the importance of family and spending time with family. We had the spiritual side of my upbringing where we were in church and had morning devotionals around a table. I mean this was back in the 50's and 60's when people actually sat at the table and ate together. My parents didn't shower us with whatever we wanted, because they could afford it. It was quite the opposite. I was able to see how hard my dad worked and how he handled his popularity and how he dealt with the people who really gave him his career in terms of buying his records and supporting his career. He was always incredibly gracious and grateful and I think that has been tremendous preparation for my own handling of my career.

J: I've been around you personally and I'm always impressed with you. You're sort of an exercise in humility by show business standards. Having been in the business a long time it's always a delight when I'm in your presence.

D: Thank you. I had a good role model.

J: One of my brother Chris' favorite songs of all time is your father's recording of "Friendly Persuasion."

D: It is a beautiful record. If it didn't have such a strong male lyric, I would definitely put that in my show. It's a gorgeous song.

J: Coming from a musical family, when did you know you had the gift for music?

D: Obviously, you know you have these gifts. Everybody has different gifts that they discover as they grow up and I think one of the ways that I discovered what I could do was also kind of a competitive, trying to find out who I was in the midst of four daughters who were dressed alike with the same exact hair cuts and marched around town looking indistinguishable except for maybe height. I was pleased that I was the only one with blond hair and blue eyes. That set me apart. I also found out that I had a bigger voice, so I then knew I could sing. That was another way that I could say this is what I do that's different than my siblings. So it was a little bit of a search for identity and a need to stand out in some way.

The Boone Family

J: I just read about the Beatles going up on iTunes for the first time. I say that because I remember being a little kid and my older siblings loved the Beatles, and of course, I ended up loving them. What was the first record you bought?

D: You know I wish I had that good of a memory. I really don't remember what the first record I bought was. I really don't. I mean, a lot of my choices, again I don't know what this says about me, but a lot of times I just wanted so much to be different that I would choose groups that my sisters didn't like or weren't really drawn to. Also, a rebellious streak made me want to sort of like groups that I didn't think my parents would necessarily like, like the Rolling Stones and Cream. I remember loving the band Cream.

J: Oh, Eric Clapton on guitar, please!

D: Yes! My parents liked the cleaner cut bands, but I had very eclectic tastes. I would put up album covers and posters of Sly and the Family Stone, who I love to this day. Those are great recordings, but you know it was the beginning of a drug culture and I think my parents were really nervous about the kind of messages being sent in the music from that time. At the same time, as I got a little bit older, I was really drawn to Barbra Streisand, and that was out of character. I loved the Carpenters. I just remember getting really caught up listening to great vocals by Sarah Vaughan and Frank Sinatra.

J: Well, if you could take just one album with you on that proverbial island, which one would it be?

D: That is so hard, because it just often times depends on what I'm obsessing over at the moment. One album, it might be and it's sort of blue, but it's really something that holds up, every single cut, the arrangements, the vocals and all of that. It might be because of where I'm at in my own musical career, but very possibly "In the Wee Small Hours," by Frank Sinatra. Though, it might make me really sad while alone on an island.

J: That's a great album. I love Sinatra. I heard you hosting a celebrity segment on Siriously Sinatra on XM/Sirius radio one day. I loved your recollections. I loved when you were talking about Sinatra. I particularly couldn't get over the comment about when you were pregnant, and at his home in Palm Springs. It was a great story!


Rosemary Clooney with Frank Sinatra

D: I still have to pinch myself. I often will talk about how I got to open for him and he kind of took me under his wing to a certain degree. He invited me to appear on one of those big variety shows to raise money for children's hospitals, and that's when I stayed on the compound in Palm Springs with my husband. To be on the personal property and in the presence of Frank Sinatra -and then having dinner with Frank Sinatra, it just almost sounds like a dream rather than something that's part of my history.

J: Even fourteen years after his death he's still tremendously popular. Talent will win out. You had the biggest hit of your career, "You Light Up My Life" back in the 1970's. It clearly was a gigantic hit staying in the number one position for ten weeks. When you look back on that period, was there any one moment above all moments that stand out for you?

D: Certainly the Grammy's. To grow up watching shows like that and fantasizing that it might be you one day, but never really thinking that it would be. To be standing on the stage singing your big hit record, and what even stands out more than the actual show itself, because it was something I didn't even know they did until then, was going to the sound check and rehearsal and seeing big blown up pictures of people that I idolized in chairs where they were sitting because that's how the director got the camera crew kind of acclimated to where they would take audience reaction shots. So, I knew before I was going to walk out on stage that I was going to be looking at Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt. I could see their pictures in the chairs where they would soon be sitting, and having the rehearsal and thinking, "I don't know if I can possibly come out and sing in front of those people." I was excited and nervous. Overall, it was a pretty amazing evening.


Debby with her dad, Pat Boone - the night of her multiple Grammy Award triumphs

J: All of those women are talented. I came of age in the seventies so I love Linda Ronstadt. Her voice, of course is remarkable. She can do anything with that voice. Rock, pop, country, standards, opera.

D: Absolutely, and I've gotten to meet her and talk with her. She came to a play that I was doing in Arizona. I was doing "The King and I" and she came to the show with her mom.

J: She does a version of "Sisters" from White Christmas with Bette Midler. It's on Midler's tribute album to Rosemary Clooney. It's a fun version. I enjoy listening to it. Great interpretation of the song.

D: I should go back and give that a listen.

J: You seem comfortable with yourself. You've handled your life and your success well, and you've been married to the same man for three decades plus, which is an accomplishment in today's day and age. I know your family was an influence, but was there any one thing that you felt you did in your life that made you stay grounded. A marriage tip, something that you and your husband decided to make sure you always did to have a successful marriage?

D: I think I give him more credit than I can give myself, because his temperament is so wonderful. He's very even keeled, which I think makes him the perfect guy for me to be drawn to. Even people I know really well are surprised when I say that I see myself as volatile and up and down. I swing high and low, and my husband doesn't, but I only do that in front of the people I'm most secure with. My kids certainly know. He doesn't fly off the handle. He's not a guy who would ever raise his voice - even when we argue. When somebody has that kind of integrity you learn really quickly that if you say something that's sort of below the belt, you're the one who's going to pay for it down the road in feeling really horrible about yourself. I learned quickly that it would be counterproductive. I carefully choose my words when I'm upset, because of the way he is. I think one of the real keys to our relationship, and I hear so many people say this about their long-term relationships, is there is so much humor in our lives. My husband is always good for a laugh. He'll come down almost every morning to the breakfast table with our kids and do some crazy thing that would make everybody laugh. He has a great sense of humor and a real positive, optimistic style about him that keeps a real happy atmosphere around the house.

J: When picking up celebrity magazines today, I think most of us are stunned at the problems we see that so many young stars are having. Many of them seem disconnected, isolated, and even lonely, even though they are never alone. Is there any advice that you would want to offer some of these young women who are coming up and suddenly they just seem messed up? They seem troubled.



D: Well, you know, I really think I have to give my parents some real credit for me, and then quickly acknowledge that it is so different now than it was when I achieved success. Everything is magnified a hundred times now. When you're the next big thing, big is so much bigger, and paparazzi, and money and all of that is so amplified. So I think already out of the gate, it's harder for any young person that achieves a huge degree of success, because it has changed so much. I think if you don't have the gift of an already strong foundation you may feel entitled or better than someone else. Whereas you should realize you're a human being like everyone else and that your first attitude should be gratitude for what has come your way, not an entitlement. I was always raised with a sense of real responsibility that If I was going to have a voice to influence anyone that I'd better be prepared and take it very seriously. I could affect somebody else's life and choices. It is the truth that little girls look up to these stars and those girls may not have strong parental guidance and family foundations.

J: Are your children interested in following in the family footsteps into the entertainment world?

D: It looks like there's one of the four who has that entertainment gene. My youngest daughter, Tessa, was always the one of the four who loved to be around it in any way, shape or form. She loved to travel with me on the road and be back stage. She would so much rather be backstage than sitting out in an audience. Although, she loved to see people sing, and dance and act, she always wanted to be in the mix, right in the middle of it all, and also loved to be on the stage from the time she was three when we put her in our Christmas show with Rosemary Clooney (Debbie's mother-in-law). She was the one that just loved every bit of it: the dressing up, the attention, she wanted a new song every year in the concert tour. My other kids could have cared less about changing a number or even being onstage. They liked the adventure of traveling and hotel rooms, but they didn't really like being onstage in front of people like Tessa did, and does. Now she's studying and is a very gifted actress. I think people will definitely hear from her.

J: You are a beautiful woman, and you've aged well. I know how old you are. Is there some beauty secret you want to share?

D: You know what, I think that the real truth of it is, I lucked out and I got some pretty impressive genes. Look at my dad. He looks young and fit. A lot of that is genetic, but I also think that my dad instilled in us early on a kind of real responsibility to our bodies. He was always a guy that exercised, and he demanded that we eat leafy green vegetables every night with dinner.

J: With all the travel you do, do you read much? And if so, is there a book you treasure more than anything else?

D: A book? Oh my, that's like picking a favorite album. I do read a lot and I love to read, and my new obsession is audio books because I'm a slow reader. If I sit down to read, I have a metabolism, I think that's what it is, that if I sit still for any length of time no matter how much sleep I've had, I fall asleep. I just have to either be moving and doing something or I get really sleepy. So, I've discovered audio books, and I often say to people I've read so many more books now that I listen to them. I read all kinds of books. Obviously the Bible is one that I would not want to be deprived of. I read a lot of spiritual books of all different kinds. I love fiction too. I'm always working on a couple of books. My husband is an avid reader and I never understood when we were newly married how anybody could have so many books with bookmarks in them all around. How do you divide your attention among so many books? And now I do the same thing where I'll have devotional books with bookmarks in them. I have an audio book, or a couple of them that I'm listening to at the same time, and then some hard copy books. I always have about six books going at once.

J: I do that. I enjoy reading very much. My favorite devotional is Oswald Chambers' "Utmost for His Highest." That is my favorite. It's my go to no matter where I am in life; I just go there daily.

D: Yes, I have several different daily devotionals that I read through.

J: When we were talking about Sinatra before, I couldn't help thinking of an obscure recording of "Some Enchanted Evening" with Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney. I don't know if you've ever heard this recording.

D: I don't think so.

J: It's pretty obscure. As a matter of fact, I tried to download it. I worked with a guy at ABC, and we both loved the Great American Song Book songs. Even though we were younger we both loved the standards. He heard the song one time and then he couldn't find it. I then found it. If you ever get your hands on it, it's just stunningly beautiful.

D: Wow, it sounds like a wonderful song to hear the two of them sing.

J: My family watches "White Christmas" faithfully every Christmas. We wouldn't go a year without viewing it. It's a true classic. Any thoughts on the film?

D: It sets the stage for the whole season. That and Charlie Brown's Christmas are the holiday favorites.

J: You perform on the road and you have lengthy stays in Branson Missouri. How did the long association with Branson come into your life?

D: I found out about Branson for the first time when my dad was working in Branson doing a musical. He was having a wonderful time in an extended run there and my parents decided to celebrate their sixtieth birthdays and their fortieth anniversary and have a family reunion all while he was there. Aunts, uncles, cousins and all my sisters and all of our kids and everybody converged on Branson to see the show and celebrate these momentous occasions. That's when we got our first taste of Branson. Of course, my manager Susan Munao was also right in the glory days of Branson. She and Tony Orlando were working together and Tony built his theater there, so I was hearing about it from Susan. The first time I performed in Branson was when Andy Williams had uncharacteristic trouble with his vocal chords and he needed to have some rest and my dad and I filled in for his Christmas season and that was the beginning of my coming to perform in Branson. That was over ten years ago and I've been here for the last couple of years during their Christmas season and I'll be there again next year.


One of the best Christmas shows in Branson

J: Hopefully I'll be able to make it there this year. I saw you last year and it was a wonderful show.
I want to thank you so much for all the great years of music and live performances and thank you for taking the time to chat with me today

D: Thank you Judith.


Debby on an Oprah Winfrey episode from Oprah's last season   

I ORIGINALLY CONDUCTED THIS INTERVIEW FOR "SIGNIFICANT LIVING." COPYRIGHT 2010