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Posted by on Oct 19, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Music and Concert Reviews, Personal, Politics, Video 1 | 0 comments

My New Song, “Trump People” [Video]

 

Nolan Dalla Song "Trump People"

 

I took Randy Newman’s wonderfully catchy “Short People” off his 1977 album ‘Little Criminals’ and had some fun adding my own lyrics. Recorded as a rough cut with no rehearsal on Oct. 19, 2020.

 

 

“TRUMP PEOPLE”

Trump people got….no reason
Trump people got….no reason
Trump people got….no reason ……….or rhyme.

They got little brains
Tiny little minds
They walk around tellin’ great big lies.
They wave big blue flags
They’re off-a their meds
and red MAGA hats atop their deplorable little heads.

Well, I ….. don’t want no Trump people, no….
Don’t want no Trump people, no, no….
Don’t want no Trump people ‘…..round here!

(I had a dream)
Trump people are just the same — as you and I
(That’s what they say)
We’re all brothers and sisters until we die
(Yeah, but we’ll lead the way)

Trump people got……no vision
Trump people have…no wisdom
Trump people, lookin’ for someone to blame.

They post Russian memes
They hit so low
They think Hunter’s sinkin’
Corn pop Joe.

American government….its “deep state, deep”
Everyone a-around, it’s… “sheep! sheep! sheep!”
Obama’s a Commie
and masks are dumb
They blame ANTIFA
so gonna grab their guns.

Well, I …. don’t want no short-minded people!
Don’t want no Trump people!
Don’t want no Trump people ’round here!

__________

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Posted by on Oct 16, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Music and Concert Reviews, Personal, Video 1 | 0 comments

“Summer’s End” by John Prine (My Cover)

 

 

Today, I’m doing something completely different.

I recorded this short 5-minute song, this morning. It seems most fitting right now and speaks to our time.

“Summer’s End” by the late John Prine.

Since his passing, I’ve become even more of a fan of John Prine and his music. Released in 2018 on “The Tree of Forgiveness” album, “Summer’s End” was a wonderfully moving song written about the opioid addiction crisis. But John Prine’s comforting message of loss and hope could apply to any and all of us in our own times of confusion and conflict. I’m posting my first cover here on YouTube, with special thanks to David Huckfelt & Over The Rhine (Etown Radio) for being my “backing band.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I take away sharing it with you.

“Summer’s end came faster than we wanted….”

That says it all, really. A more brilliant nor more poignant lyric has not been written.

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Posted by on Oct 4, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Music and Concert Reviews | 0 comments

Does Today’s Music Suck? [Video]

 

 

Matt Lessinger and I just released another edition of AN INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION.  It’s our new podcast.

I ask — does modern music suck?

This is one of the very few occasions in recent memory I can remember where my opinion changed on two topics. Matt’s arguments were so informed and convincing that I came away with a different viewpoint after 90 minutes of conversation. If you’re into music, see if you agree.

I was also fascinated with Matt’s tutorial on the history of rap and hip hop music. That’s probably not a topic that would normally interest many of my readers, but Matt’s subject knowledge and passion made this a terrific exchange.

I hope some readers and listeners are enjoying this series as much as Matt and I look forward to doing AN INTELLIGENT CONVERSATION, which is an unscripted hour-and-a-half on a variety of subjects. We’ll be releasing a new segment every week.

At the very least, some listeners might enjoy a deviation away from the draining hostility of current events.

0:02 – Intro

8:08 – The #1 song in the United States is WHAT??

16:48 – People are incredibly passionate about their music.

20:47 – Good, original music is harder and harder to make as time goes on.

22:44 – Most people think the music from their era was the best.

25:13 – A brief discussion of rap.

35:12 – Where do we go from here? (EDM!)

40:50 – Our pull-the-car-over moments in music.

51:07 – What will the early 90s be remembered for?

1:00:45 – EDM and instrument-based music aren’t entirely mutually exclusive.

1:07:20 – Music brings us together, even in an era of isolation.

1:10:06 – Are musicians past their prime at 30?

1:21:23 – Giving props to longevity and boos to plagiarism.

1:26:50 – Final thoughts and Matt’s best song of the past decade.

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Posted by on Apr 25, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Music and Concert Reviews, Personal | 0 comments

An Evening with Al Pacino

 

al-pacino-thumb

 

Writer’s Note:  Back in January 2017, I penned this article after seeing Al Pacino interviewed onstage in a two-hour career retrospective.  I’m publishing it here for the first time on the occasion of Pacino’s 80th birthday — April 25, 2020.

 

Few can command a room just by being inside it.  Al Pacino is such a man, with an undeniable command presence.

That was my instant takeaway the moment when the spotlight hit the iconic film actor who was introduced to a Saturday night crowd of about 800 loyal fans at the Opaline Theatre inside the Palazzo.

Pacino had arrived in Las Vegas for an exclusive one-hight-only, one-man engagement.  Think Pacino unplugged.  Aside from the somewhat nameless and faceless interviewer who tossed Pacino plenty of softballs to smash out of the theatre, this was Pacino totally in the raw, mostly unrehearsed and unscripted.  While some of the questions asked were repetitive and maybe even a few of the answers were orchestrated for maximum impact, the intimate setting was also loaded with plenty of spontaneous moments and edge-of-your-seat recollections for classic movie lovers.  Most satisfying of all, Pacino seemed to sincerely enjoy the trip down memory lane, with pit-stops where you’d expect them on his 50-year-career.  He was a much better storyteller than one might have anticipated.

Indeed, Pacino personifies what it means to be a movie star.  He made the Godfather’s fictional character Michael Corleone into someone who’s real to millions, forever embalmed into cinema’s collective consciousness.  When we hear Serpico, we think of Pacino.  Sonny, the bisexual bank robber based on a real incident, is Pacino.  Scarface.  Dick Tracy.  Frank Slade.  Carlito.  Lefty Ruggiero.  Shylock.  Richard III.  Phil Spector.  He even played Dr. Kevorkian.

I was surprised by my own reaction, that Pacino’s best moments weren’t the highlights of his superstardom, but rather the low moments and the struggles, both personally and career-wise.  We can forgive but he can’t forget, and Pacino carries the burdens of pain from his childhood, though no amount of talking about his early life could quite remove the lingering sting of loss all these years later.

He talked about growing up in East Harlem (and later the Bronx), born into a lower-class household, raised by a single mother at a time when single mothers were widely viewed social outcasts, especially in Italian-American culture..  Pacino’s father abandoned the family when Al was 2.  Interesting factoid from the show:  Pacino was mostly raised by his grandparents who were immigrants from….Corleone, Italy.

Pacino seemed the most unlikely heir of what was to become his ultimate destiny.  He worked as a messenger, busboy, janitor, and postal clerk in between acting jobs consisting mostly of small roles in stage productions.  There was even a period when he was unemployed and homeless.  Sometimes he slept on the street, in theaters, or at a friend’s house.

In the 1960s, leading men cast in movies did not look and talk like Pacino.  Smallish.  Way too New York.  And way, way too ethnic.  By age 30, even though he’d studied at the famed Actors Studio under the tutelage of mentor Lee Strasberg (who would later play the legendary role of Hyman Roth in Godfather II),  his acting career was going nowhere.

However, everything was about to change, including public tastes and mass audiences’ demands for authenticity combined with Hollywood’s own methods of casting prompted by a new age of writers and directors.  New movies would need smallish actors, with New York accents, who were genuinely ethnic.

Pacino’s role, playing a heroin addict in his first film The Panic in Needle Park (1971) caught the attention of movie director Francis Ford Coppola, who had just won an Oscar for screenwriting Best Picture winner, Patton.  Coppola took a big risk and cast Pacino as Michael Corleone in what became a blockbuster film, The Godfather (1972).  Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Warren Beatty, and even Robert De Niro tried out for the part, but Coppola insisted on Pacino, to the dismay of studio executives who wanted someone better known.

The stories of phone calls between Pacino and Coppola during the tense negotiations were told here, presumably, versions heard by the public for the first time.  Neither knew of the monumental tidal wave that was to come engulfing both of their lives, totally reshaping the careers of both men.  Now, Pacino remained every bit as appreciative of that loyalty, noting that no other film director would have gone to bat with such steely determination, especially given that Coppola was also relatively young and didn’t have total control of casting decisions.

As one would expect, there wasn’t nearly enough time to tell all the stories.  Even Pacino’s most obscure film roles elicited some hysterical recollections about on-the-set disasters and even the actor’s own missteps.

Pacino had clearly done this before, and his experience as an amiable storyteller showed onstage.  Yet, the actor’s occasional gaffes were among the most endearing moments.  When absorbed in stories, he’d often get excited and would sometimes even ramble off on tangents.  A few times, the moderator had to steer Pacino back on track.  This wasn’t annoying at all.  It gave the presentation a genuine sense of spontaneity, that we were privileged to be sitting in an audience sharing Pacino’s recollections of what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling.  I should add that not having any film clips, props, or other supporting materials actually helped the format.  Midway into the retrospective, everyone in the audience seemed to feel what a special moment this was and we were lucky to share it.

Las Vegas might be known for gambling, but it usually leaves nothing to chance.  The odds are known.  Most shows are the same, night after night, year after year.  Pacino’s recollections, though imperfect and incomplete, was in a sense the acrobat performing without the net — no notes and no script.  While other celebrities have done one-person stage shows, with mixed results, most of those efforts look way too contrived, even manipulative.  Not so, with Pacino.

Pacino has crafted a reputation based on playing tough guys in movies.  But his first love is stage acting and theatre.  After taking about 25 minutes of questions from the audience (most of which were terrible — thankfully, Pacino was gracious and answered questions he’s undoubtedly been asked hundreds of times and anyone with access to IMDB can lookup), the legend paid homage to Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neil, and Noel Coward.  It seemed Pacino wanted to talk more about stagecraft.  Unfortunately, the interviewer cut off some of the evening’s most passionate thoughts from Pacino.

The final few minutes included a short glimpse of what was then Pacino’s next major upcoming film project.  That night, he’d recently signed a deal to play Jimmy Hoffa in Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.

Was it enough?  Was it worth paying $80 to listen to a film icon talk about his life and career?  Was this a show to recommend?

The answer is simple.  Hey, it was Al Pacino.

Enough said.

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Posted by on Dec 31, 2019 in Blog, Essays, General Poker, Music and Concert Reviews, Personal | 4 comments

Video Tribute to Poker People We Lost in 2019

 

Empty Poker Table

 

A Note to Readers:

I didn’t plan on doing this.

In fact, I had no intention of writing anything to do with poker ever again.

But sometimes, forces extend beyond our control and sharing something meaningful becomes an obligation.

Last night at around 8 pm, I began putting together a short article about all the wonderful people who left us during these last 12 months — mostly friends, and even family.  Oddly enough, as I compiled my thoughts and reflected, I came to realize that all of them were in some way connected to poker.  I guess that’s what happens when one spends nearly a quarter century attached to the game.

Words just didn’t seem enough for the occasion.

Purely by coincidence, I’ve been working on a project called the “Van Morrison MasterClass.”  One of the songs from the daily retrospective was off the 1999 album, Back on Top.  The song isn’t just appropriate.  It’s an epiphany.

“Reminds Me of You” says it all, really.  It expresses how we feel.  It reflects a sense of longing, and even loneliness.  But the song also gives comfort.  It’s not a song of sadness.  It’s a melody of joy, and celebration.

I uploaded this hours later, on YouTube.  Some of the cuts and transitions are a bit rough.  Please indulge me.  Also, forgive any people I missed in this tribute.  I’m sure there are names forgotten who deserve to be mentioned.  Feel free to add their names, and even photos, on social media or in the comments section, if you wish.

And now, let’s remember:

 

Yours Truly,

 

Nolan Dalla

Las Vegas — December 31, 2019

 

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