Monday, February 19, 2007

Old soft-rockers don't die. They just write rock operas

Le Sweetie e-mailed the following press release:



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Due To Drop In March, The Nottingham, England Native's First-Ever Solo CD, 'The Future', Wraps Romantic Lyrics In Unique Rhythmic, Electronica and Acoustic Settings

(WFT? I thought the Air Supply dudes were from Australia. You know, like the Little River Band.)

Starting on Valentine's Day At Harrah's Casino in Kansas City, Russell Will Be Opening All Air Supply Dates With A Three Song Acoustic Set Featuring Songs From The Album

When Graham Russell was nine years old, he ventured for the first time into a forest, located just at the edge of his hometown of Nottingham, England, that has captured the Western World's imagination for over seven centuries.

And he didn't get bugbites or poison ivy. Of course not. That would ruin the whole mystique of the story, right?

Finding himself lost in the dark, dense and spooky Sherwood Forest-the real live home of the great Robin Hood legend-he says, "its magic became a part of me. I somehow felt I had returned home."

A nine-year-old kid wanders into a dark forest and doesn't start whimpering "Help, Mom, I wanna go hooooooooome"? Why does that sound far-fetched?

Now, many years, countless hit records and thousands of concerts around the world later, Russell-better known to still-rabid romantic pop music fans as one half of Air Supply, with songwriting and performing partner Russell Hitchcock-is bringing that magic to glorious and exciting musical life with his ambitious new rock opera The Heart Of The Rose.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking. I too was surprised to find out that these guys are still performing. Wasn't their last hit a 1984 Jim Steinman composition?

With forty pop and rock flavored songs penned by Russell and a book written by the composer, his wife Jodi Russell and noted British historical writer Graham Phillips (author of the 1988 bestseller Robin Hood: The True Story), the musical presents the real story behind the powerful Robin Hood myths that have hijacked it in our renderings of the tale since the 14th century. The Heart Of The Rose, based on the extensive historical research of Philips, is the culmination of a 20-year musical journey for Russell, who started the project at his home studio in 1987 (a few years beyond Air Supply's initial heyday) and worked on it in pieces over the years between the band's frenetic tour schedule of over 120 global dates per year.

On January 29, Russell previewed ten selections from The Heart Of The Rose for an elite group of potential investors at the penthouse home of Sandie Tillotson, owner of Nu Skin, a direct selling company that sells cosmetics, nutritional supplements and technology services; her penthouse, located in the Time Warner Building in Columbus Square, offers a 360 degree view of New York. The evening, which was a highlight of NYC based social events attended by top Broadway theatre people, included performances of Russell's songs by top singers Karla DeVito (Meat Loaf's first female partner), Tony Harnell from the Norwegian rock band TNT, Broadway vocalist Stan Brown and Russell himself. The highly successful event was capped off with cuisine and wine from Gabriel's restaurant.

Karla DeVito I've heard of. Brown and Harnell--who're they? How is this supposed to be a major social event? We're not talking about some costume ball for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, folks.

Anyhow, anyone curious about Nu Skin can check out their Web site. That is, if you're bored.

"The response was incredible, and it's especially gratifying for me because the show's been coming for a long time," says Russell.

Like a bowel movement after a nasty case of constipation.

"Everyone at the presentation echoed the wow factor of these songs, that the music just grabs hold of you and is very passionate and moving. The idea behind The Heart Of The Rose is to convey the true, heroic story of Robin Hood, out of the green tights we traditionally place him in."

Waaaaaaaaaiiiiitaminnit!!!! Robin Hood lived in the Middle Ages, okay? All the guys wore tights back then. It was a big fashion statement. What is wrong with Robin Hood wearing tights? I mean, besides the fact that he wears a tunic but no pants with them?

Russell first had the brainstorm to tell the story in the mid-70s, just as he was about to appear in the Australian production of Jesus Christ, Superstar, where he met his future Air Supply partner Russell Hitchcock. "During the show, I began to realize how a show called Sherwood could be staged," he says. "But then, something happened that put Sherwood on hold for a while. Air Supply became extremely successful, touring, recording, writing songs and playing all over the world for many years to come."

"Once I had time to dedicate to making the dream of Sherwood a reality, it took on a life of its own and came together very quickly," Russell adds. "I sang most of the roles myself at this stage, but the people that worked on the project would become immersed in it and take on their own roles. Being spurred on by Jodi, we took a trip to England to gather more historical information and completely by chance, met Graham Philips. The three of us traversed England, this time looking for the 'real' Robin Hood. What we found was a thousand times more interesting than the legend. He led us to a place that exists in all of us, whose physical embodiment is a Holly tree beside a mesmerizing pool of water, encircled by ancient stones in the very heart of England. Hidden from all until the time is right, it was a place not bound by this dimension, Robin had led us to the Heart of the Rose."

The more I read of this, the more I appreciate the Disney animated version of "Robin Hood." You know, the one with Robin Hood as a fox. That was a fun movie.

Aaaaaaaaand here's the homepage for the rock opera! The opening flash sequence has to be seen to be believed.