Started Airing Last Night

TTaco Bell Fireman Widehis commercial started running last night, as dozens of people mentioned seeing it on various stations, during various shows.

You can see it HERE…

The cast members I met and the director and crew were super cool.

– Quiche Out

Taco Bell

O.O.T. (Out Of Town) Outer Banks (N.C.)

P1020908-alt-smallI had just landed in Washington D.C. and was literally running to make my connecting flight to Norfolk VA, when I got a message from my commercial agents. The question: Could I come back to Los Angeles for an ADR session, or squeeze it in before I left?

They were super cool with my long-winded answer, which was basically, “no.” I had made a promise to my parents that I would do whatever I could to make it to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They had saved up and rented a super swanky beachfront house, something they had never done before, with beds for all their kids and grandchildren, and scheduled it when the teachers in the family and grandchildren wouldn’t be in school… It was to be a celebration of their lives and their decision 50 years ago.

It was overwhelming on many levels, but it was wonderful to be there when my parents teared up as they renewed their vows and to experience new memories with my siblings and their kids…

Now back in California, I feel like the wind has been pulled and I’ve forgotten what it is I do here. My apartment was as much a stranger as was the thought of what I do for a living… I’m sure it will come back to me tomorrow or the next day, however for a week, I was living it up… Swimming daily in the Atlantic, hot tubing, eating whatever, drinking whatever, and surrounded by family member after family member… Good times.

It was insane, fun, and life filled.

Here are some of the photos of some of the scenery in case you’ve never been or perhaps you want to remember… Since I know I’ll be asked, we stayed in Pine Island, above Duck.

So you know, even though I’ve chosen a semi-public life, most of my family and friends haven’t, so I keep their privacy.

– Quiche Out



New Commercial on TV (video)

photoFor those that wanted to see it, but, like me, aren’t in a market where this one will play… I offer you this embedded video. Too funny that when it started playing, and I first saw it, I was on vacation where there were many branches.

Tis a cute one.

I hope it runs for a long time.

– Quiche Out


Director Dave Laden...
Director Dave Laden…

Captured: My Uncle Larry & Me

uncle larry alt
Listening to my Cabaret Uncle Larry Davis while studying the performer at an open mic.
candid photo by: Patrica Russell

I love studying, analyzing, listening and learning from people. This candid captures all of that… Watching a performer at the mic while also listening to what one of my cabaret uncles expresses… I’m sure some might say, I should sit back and just enjoy the music… But I truly enjoy learning.

In life, we never know how or when we’ll find our mentors, who they’ll be, or what we will learn from them.

– Quiche Out

Art vs. Craft. Interesting vs. Snooze-fest (part 1)

Fucking Perfect- FUCK YOUThree weeks ago I strained my vocal chords in tech-rehearsal for a live show I’d be performing two days later. I had lost track of technique as I passionately let notes and volume fly recklessly… I was frustrated, stressed, pushing, trying to impress and express, with no regard or respect of my own physical instrument. Like a carpenter carelessly flailing a clawed framing hammer, I smashed my chords like he might crush his thumb…

It was as if I was painting naked on ice, while covered with razor blades.

[insert photo later]

I’ve mentioned my interview with a two-time Oscar winner in a few recent posts… And while much of what he said is still resonating inside of me, especially a statement he made about art verses craft. I would certainly misquote him if I tried to write what he said off camera, but basically it was something like: One mistake he’s seen people make throughout his life was/is considering songwriting an art, and not a craft.

Since, I’ve been looking at art verses craft… “Art” is something readers know I have questioned often. What is art? What is craft? Where are the lines drawn? Who draws the line? Why does any of it matter?

I truly believe with any form of creative expression, it has to be a mix. When I watch someone on stage or TV just being a craftsman, it’s much like watching someone build a house. It’s pretty damn boring to watch for more than a few moments.  And, when I see someone expressing without any technique, while it can be exciting and dangerous, often someone, or something gets broken… It can be like watching an actual train wreck, or even worse, like watching someone go through therapy.

Balancing art with craft or craft with art… That’s the sweet spot of magic. Because of the craftsmanship, it can safe, measured and repeated, but because of the art, it is fascinating, unpredictable, and will never exactly duplicated or expressed in the same way.

Synchronicity vs. Coincidence. Skeptic vs. Believer.  (part 2)

This might be one of those posts that, like an abstract painting hanging on it’s own wall, might make not make a bit of sense to ten people, but maybe it hits the eleventh person.

Or possibly I’m writing this down, just continuing to figure the same things out, over and over and over, for myself.

I mentioned Synchronicity in a Facebook post this past week…

synchronicity: Spending the morning fine tuning the writing for a one-man show and that same morning having a two time Academy-Award winner call you, and tell you that an idea hit him on his walk…

“Have you ever thought about doing a one-man show?”

Screen shot 2013-08-14 at 12.12.12 AM

Another synchronous moment happened this past Monday…

Sunday night, two friends raved about a massage therapist they had just seen, who practices acupressure and offers psychic insight along the way. Now, while I have a very strong, inner, New Jersey skeptic, ever since my trip to Burning Man two years ago, I do try to stay open, and adventure from time to time, even if it’s just fodder a possible future story.

Halfway thru our hour-long session the massage therapist declared she was getting a strong feeling that I was or should be a songwriter… Or that songwriting was in my life…

I had not mentioned my new friendship with Al Kasha (the songwriter I had been talking with recently), or the one-man show (with music) I had just finished re-writing. But, I’m sure she saw my music stand, headphones, Closet Singer paraphernalia, or some sheet music laying around. However, to make that particular moment odder, seconds later she commented on a pretty orange and yellow butterfly, apparently, flying just outside the screen door.

It was then I admitted to her that while I’d never consider myself a songwriter, I had written lyrics to a few songs, and one of them I had recorded was called “Butterflies In The Moon.”

Maybe nothing means anything… Or everything means something… I don’t know.  More than likely it’s something in the middle. The truth is, if we open our eyes we are able to see butterflies on the other side of screen doors, and if we keep our eyes closed we’ll never even see the walls we’ll walk into.

Practice your craft, explore your art, open your eyes, try new things, be open to suggestions and new things… What harm is dancing around naked in your living room as long as the razor blades are put away?

One additional random thought…

You never know who is watching or when they’ll come to it… Last week some kid in a high school production of Oklahoma watched the Closet Singer I where I sang the song from that show… It seemed to inspire him. Last night a good friend and I did a mini-pub-crawl, and he told me something I had written inspired him to watch a certain movie, and it was eye-opening.

All we can do is offer…

Speaking of “offering…” I’m not really sure what this second half of this “offering” is… And I’m not ready to define it, or tie it up in a neat little bow for you… If all you just see is a random splattering of commonly used words displayed upon a digital canvas, so be it… But, if you are the eleventh, and happen to see something else, something behind the letters, grammar and spacing… Brilliant.

– Quiche Out

Truth… Handle It? I Feast On It.

SPARK August 5th, 2013 Performers and Producers

On Monday night, on stage, along with seven other storytellers, I told a true story to packed theater in Pacific Palisades at SPARK

On Tuesday evening, on camera, I had the distinct privilege of interviewing Al Kasha, a two-time Academy Award winning songwriter.

Today, several days later, I’m still processing what I learned from both of these nights. But in one word, it’s “Truth.”

It’s truly amazing how things line up at times, it was my first time “storytelling” and the second-half of my first time interviewing people on camera. Last week or so I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert C. Pullman and Trish Doolan, the writers of the new musical “Two Boys From Brooklyn,” which is the true story of Al and his brother Larry Kasha’s triumph over childhood adversities.

Before the camera and producers showed up I got to talk with Al, and while the shooter was more interested in keeping the questions on camera more about the upcoming show… Off camera, I asked questions that I had no idea I wanted to ask, until after Al answered them. His musical influences (Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Polka…) His take on star turns (Rodney Dangerfield, Neil Diamond…) Various performers (Sinatra, Carol King…) Artists (Pablo Picasso, Zero Mostel…) Writers (Rogers & Hammerstein, Stephen King…)

Al Kasha Interview
Tom Kiesche & Al Kasha
August 6th, 2013

Since I can remember I’ve always wondered where and how I fit into things… And lately, I’ve been doing that a lot with singing and live performances. Asking questions about what cabaret really is, or is supposed to be, or has become… Why one song or performer makes me sit up and listen, and why some tunes, vocalists and most musicals bore me to tears.

Somehow, Al Kasha answered most of that in a few sentences.

He said something like: Good theater, good acting, and good cabaret is about truth… Where most musicals are about fantasy. Sondheim is one exception, as he writes mostly two people scenes, which are mostly about the characters’ truth…

We talked about where and why cabaret started… How sadly it has become mostly known as a precious thing, that very few people care to go see. But how true cabaret started as an alternative form of entertainment that often pushed boundaries, or echoed what was going on in a society.

Recently, I discussed the very same topic with my friend and cabaret producer/director Clifford Bell. He too felt that cabaret should be and is a broad canvas, that it is just a performance venue that holds a smaller audience, and that I am not doing myself any favors by trying to define where I fit in. That I would be better served looking at a wide variety of performers like Sandra Bernhard who push perceived boundaries.

I’m still researching two names I was unfamiliar with that Al Kasha mentioned inside of our two-and-a-half-hour talk, Jacques Brel and Gilbert Becaud… And though I’m not exactly sure why he mentioned that I look them up, when people recommend something, I believe it’s in my best interest to do some digging, even if I when I start, I don’t know why… Now, two days later, I’m thinking it’s because of truth. Truth.

Twenty years or so ago in New York City I had the pleasure of living with two very talented opera singers… James Rio and George Dyer. Tenors. One day I was dissing on opera, not quite understanding what it was that I didn’t dig about most of it… When Jimmy popped in a VHS tape he had. I believe it was of Maria Callas… Her simple performance shut me up… The way I remember it was she was standing on a huge stage and just opened her mouth and let out her truth. I wish I could remember the song or particular performance and include a link… But this was way before the Internet and YouTube… I remember it as no cuts, a wide shot, and her not moving even an inch from when she started the song till the moment she finished.

I had another similar experience when I started researching Barbra Streisand, who I had previously not ever really been a fan of… Her performance on the Dinah Shore show, though 50 years later, shut me up, and kept me captivated.

The truth is, whether or not I’m familiar with the language or story, if it’s truthful… An honest, truthful performance will stop me dead in my tracks, and now I realize that truth is what draws me in, what keeps me watching as an audience member, and what as a performer I strive for each and every time I open my mouth or get on a stage. Truth.

Truth. Truth.

– Quiche Out