NASHVILLE NIGHTS | MEET MY SON EMERSON HART

When we have children we hope for the best for them, but truly, even with a crystal ball, we don’t know what lies ahead for them.

Once they leave the nest, they are on their own to chart their own path. We, as parents, just hope their journey is smooth without too many downdrafts and that their flight will lead them to a fulfilling life.

In this blog I am sharing with you a recent conversation I had with my singer/ songwriter son, Emerson Hart, lead singer of the 2x nominated and Platinum awarded alternative rock band, Tonic.

His first album, LEMON PARADE, had 5 top ten BILLBOARD HITS, one of which stayed on the top of the charts and became the most played song on rock radio that year, “If You Could Only See The Way She Loves Me.”

We talk about his beginnings and what it is like to be a a songwriter/singer and musician. I can’t use his music in my videos because of publishing and record company rights shared with him. I have posted below the video he speak’s about and that he filmed in London when Princess Diana died.

Join my conversation with a singer and songwriter on his creative process, his solo career vs Tonic and what is in store for 2019.

Copyright Sandra Hart ©️2018

All Rights Reserved

I Had A Dream

I had a dream that I awoke to a world of rationality, patriotism, non-partisan peace among men and charity to those who mean no harm. Love, hope for the future and for those willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard the opportunities were there.  The churches and synagogues were an integral part of  jointly helping their rebounding communities ….and I felt safe. Malice, greed and hatred were words unfamiliar to us.  The year was 1947 and I was 8 years old.  

This morning I opened my eyes and the forward flight of  seventy years brought me back to reality that has no dream attached to it, but all the realities of our 2017 collective nightmares.  How did this happen?

I have lived through 14 presidential elections, my family’s preferred candidate not always getting elected, but my parents were patriots who lived through the depression and respected our Constitution and the democratic process.  With hate and malice toward none, they placed patriotism and love of country before politics. I am grateful for their strength that has allowed me to move forward in my life, sharing their same values.

My father always cautioned me that if I couldn’t say something nice, keep it to myself.   “There are other ways to give positive reenfircement than hurting someone with negative speech or actions,” he would say.  “Think before you speak. Always give someone the benefit of doubt and a chance,” he advised. “Do as your faith guides you, not as ‘they’ do.”

Well, it is evident everywhere I turn, all of this sage elder advice from my father years ago has evaporated in today’s divided political and hateful rethoric. 

 With  fake news running rampant on the internet and passed around greedily like Krispy Kremes, everyone salivating to get  their ‘two cents’ in to see who can be the most hatefully  divisive, politicians holding up the democratic process because they angrily feel like it, Facebook ‘likes’ attached to vile negative posts, it seems we are doomed to perpetual division. 

Where oh where has my country gone? Is everyone drinking denial Kool Aid? Hey folks, if you know civics, we have a new democratically elected president.  The electoral college has spoken. I understand, reality bites for some, but acceptance and support of our Constitution is part of the privilege of living in this great country.

 

I am off Facebook and only sharing my blogs. I have turned off the television and instead I am reading more and working at my own craft and thank God everyday for the beautiful  adoptive children in my extended family life who wouldn’t be here today if their birth mothers had had an abortion. 

 I am boycotting my once respected union peers out in Hollywood. I want to see them ply their craft and I care not a twit their stance on politics. Whether folks agree or not with you, fellow actors,  award events are not the platforms to share your political rage. Just because you can, doesn’t make it right, or even interesting.  

So, I don’t know how long my withdrawal from the political insanity will be, but  with malice toward none I am giving the new president a chance to keep us safe, improve the economy, and move us forward. If he doesn’t, then, lucky me, democracy will allow a change. 


In the meantime, for someone,  do or say something kind today, will you? One small step for mankind may collectively save all of us in the end.

Artwork by Norman Rockwell

Copyright©Sandra Hart 2017.      All  Rights Reserved

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A Twenty Year Journey

  
In 1977 how does an eight year old boy living on the New Jersey shore emotionally survive his father’s mental illness and the news that his paranoid schizophrenic father has been murdered? How does he survive the fact that his body has never been found and there never would be any closure for him? How does he survive the fact that the same genetic predisposition might be his? Music.

  
Well, that little boy grew up to be the lead singer/ songwriter of one of the few multiplatinum, Billboard awarded and twice Grammy nominated rock bands of the 90’s to survive and thrive when most have gone into oblivion. No big PR firms, trashing of hotel rooms, or over-the-top pyrotechnic concerts; just plain great lyrics and music written and performed from his heart that have given him venues full of loyal fans for 20 years in both his solo and band’s career.

  

That band is Tonic and the musician/composer is Emerson Hart. Everyone has known his songs, but until his solo career, in spite of his success and awards in singing and writing for Tonic, movies and television, who recognized the name ‘Emerson Hart’? Although Tonic was a force in the music arena, it was not until 2004 after the release of his first solo album “Cigarettes and Gasoline” and his ability to talk about his father through his music and interviews did he start getting recognized for his songs everyone had been singing for years.
  
Along with Emerson’s songwriting success, his Tonic co-founder and lead guitarist, Jeff Russo, has scored several television shows, including the television show, Fargo. They are both musicians with something to say. 

As my son often reminds me, “It’s not always about fame”, but loving what you do and making great music. These musicians, both Emerson and Jeff, have relatable human interest back stories and I am not alone in thinking  that in this digital age Fair Pay for Fair Play must be demanded by music fans to keep all music alive. It is a real issue concerning the plight of the 90’s rock bands who were surging on the cliff of the changing musical tastes of 2000 and now trying to survive through the streaming age.

A Twenty Year Tour with new Tonic material and special re-release of 1997’s Lemon Parade with “If You Could Only See The Way She Loves Me” is planned for 2016. Still standing after all these years. 

If you are a fan of keeping great rock alive and want to celebrate this milestone year for Tonic, check out the links below.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016. All Rights Reserved

http://www.pledgemusic.com/tonic

wmeclients.com/music/contemporary/Tonic Links:

1) 10/2015
Cryptic Rock interview: http://crypticrock.com/interview-emerson-hart-of-tonic/

2). 10/2015 – http://youtu.be/NHpyIsADUxs
3) – 2014 – In Schizophrenia’s Wake, a Son Laments the Father Who Might Have Been | Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Formerly NARSAD): 
https://bbrfoundation.org/stories-of-recovery/in-schizophrenia%E2%80%99s-wake-a-son-laments-the-father-who-might-have-been
4) – 2010 – Przystanek Woodstock 

5) Kosovo – http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/tonic-to-become-first-band-to-perform-in-kosovo-additional-dates-to-take-them-across-europe-before-returning-to-america-73430172.html
 6) 1997 – Old Vic Chicago – https://www.facebook.com/tonicband/videos/10153481670454590/

Home Is Where The Heart Is

  

I was born with an extra chamber in my heart. OK. That’s not exactly the truth. I just have love for three places where I can hang my hat and call home. Period. 

Some of us are happy wanders with a pack on our backs and home is our wanderlust. Some of us are gypsies at heart who pick up and can only live for a short time in one particular place. Then there are those like me and maybe you. We are nesters. I am a nester.

 When I am living on the water it’s the sea inside of me that makes my heart beat. When I am living in the tropical sun it’s the white sandy beaches and swaying palms that warms my heart. Then there is Chelsea. Chelsea makes my creative heart crave to do just that. Every time I’m in Chelsea I long to be back in the theater and back into acting. 

Many mornings in Chelsea I awakened at 4 o’clock to be on the set by six. Night after night, I have taken cab rides home at 1 o’clock in the morning from the theater district, both exhilarated and tired to the bone. The indoor sets for Law and Order were just three blocks away at the Chelsea Piers and many streets shoots were right here in our Chelsea neighborhood where producer, Dick Wolfe lived. It was a good time in my life. It’s not a big revelation nor secret to anyone that it always is better when you’re doing what you love.  

  

I have often had script reads here in our Chelsea apartment with fellow actors. Back in 1999, I wrote my memoir, BEHIND THE MAGIC MIRROR, on a word processor. I did it right here, warmed by the light streaming through our ivy covered windows overlooking the gardens of London Terrace.  All the while unknowingly inspired by the ghosts of numerous Chelsea authors. 
  

The Chelsea Hotel is just a block away going east from here. One must take a deep breath before diving into this list of Chelsea Hotel writers: Mark Twain, Arthur C. Clarke, William S. Burroughs, Leonard Cohen, Jack Kerouac, Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Wolfe, Arthur Miller, Edgar Lee Masters, Brendan Behan and so many others, not to mention all of the musicians who have lived and died there. 

I think most of us are a little schizophrenic in our likes and wants. Sometimes to survive economically we have to have a 9-to-5 existence that is not exactly us and we have dreams of another life we would like to live. Take it from this over-fifty woman,  “Don’t let those dreams die.” There are hours in your life away from the mundane where you can pursue your dreams if you just do it. It is up to you to make it happen.

Martin Luther said, “I have a dream.” He was not alone. Of course as individuals we each have our own dreams. Both you and I may have different dreams. Right now I’ve added a return to acting to my bucket list for next summer, but while we are still here we should each work hard to see our bucket lists fulfilled. Let your dreams awaken. Don’t let them die with life-long regrets. It is never to late.
Copyright Sandra Hart©. All Rights Reserved. 

THE ART IN POLITICS

  

   

The Art in Politics

I know it sounds silly, but that doesn’t make it not true. Art engenders empathy in a way that politics doesn’t and in a way that nothing else really does.  

Whether it’s a photograph, play, television show, movie, or lyrics in a song – it doesn’t matter. Art has a way of changing things that most factions don’t or can’t. 

Art can bring the conversation to the forefront when politics on sensitive issues builds walls and divides. We can dissect, digest, debate and appreciate Art in whichever form it is delivered and ruminate the message we take away. 

Without malice we can disagree, but Art spawns conversation and changes the temperature of how we talk about divisive issues. 

  

   

The books and plays; To Kill A Mocking Bird, Look Who’s Coming To Dinner, Bird Cage, West Side Story, Schindler’s List, Hamilton (now on Broadway) and, of course, Shakespeare. The list is long. I’m sure you can add to this with some that might have influenced or changed your thoughts about a social issue.

  

Photographs by Robert Capa, Eddie Adams and others that have evoked conversations and changed the world forever. Visuals of events frozen in time that provoke and will stimulate discussions for generations to come. 
  
Lyrics of Dylan, Springsteen, RAP, and, if I might add, the 90’s generation Dylan songwriter, Emerson Hart. These and many more creative or controversial writers bring sensitive issues – war, racism, poverty, dysfunction, mental illness into conversation. 

Art creates change in people’s hearts. It happens slowly, but it does happen. As the wheel of creativity turns, so does the world.

Copyright Sandra Hart© All Rights Reserved

EMPTY NEST SYNDROME

( Author Note: As former Romper Room Teacher and Pittsburgh CBS affiliate anchor, my children began their lives with Romper Room and Mr. Rogers as their ‘normal’ family. We relocated with my late husband to New Jersey 43 years ago, but no escaping for them – their friends here in New Jersey always remembered me as the lady on Romper Room.)

Growing Wings Of Their Own

It has almost been 20 years since one of my children took his sisters out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ shadow they had been living under for most of their lifetime. A new dimension was added to our lives and nothing would ever be the same again.

In 1996 my Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey singer/songwriter son, Emerson Hart, and his band Tonic released their first album, Lemon Parade, which rocketed to multi-platinum status and garnered him awards, including the Billboard Award for the #1 most played song on rock radio.

What followed in the ensuing 19 years would be world tours, six Tonic albums, two Grammy Nominations, ASCAP Award, movie soundtracks, two successful solo albums and concerts in war zones entertaining our American troops – even being knocked off of his feet by a bomb blast while the band was staying at one of Sodom Hussein’s Palaces in Iraq.

Springsteen. Bon Jovi. Both New Jersey icons, were already firmly established within the 80’s Rock frenzy by the time Emerson and Tonic came along. But the ‘new kid’ on the block from New Jersey, the late ’90’s talent entry, came into the game like gangbusters when music tastes were were changing. Emerson was on the tail end of Rock’s biggest roll, but he and Tonic have survived.

So have his sisters. Each of them with their own quiet, or not so quiet victories growing up and out from under the ‘Romper Room Mom’ memories.

So a toast from parents to our children and their victories growing up and out from under our wings. A toast for 20 more quiet and maybe not so quiet years!

 DANCING AT THE LOTUS

  

She heard the sounds of the piano stridently rising above the restaurant chatter and began to squirm in her seat. Whenever the music started it was hard to sit still. She looked at her parents busy with their menus, then over to her brother who was attempting to make a paper airplane from a cocktail napkin and slowly slid off her seat and ran toward the dance floor. 

 She loved music and the sound always made her want to move and swirl and swing around the floor with her arms open wide. She couldn’t help it. Something inside of her four-year old self just made her do it because it was fun and made her happier than hugging the cat or eating ice cream. Swinging and dancing and moving to the music until she was dizzy was out of her control. It was just what she loved to do on Sunday afternoons at The Lotus.

It was 1943 in Washington, D.C.. The Lotus restaurant was popular among military and government personnel during the war years. The Washington Daily News called it “a sort of a poor man’s Stork Club where the average Joe can put on a dog without pulling more than a five spot out of his billfold.” 

The restaurant occupied the top level of a two-story 1926 building and her little dancing legs looked forward to those stairs each week when her family lunched at The Lotus. It was not the food for which she had visions in her head, it was the music. Most of all it was the music that made her love those stairs.

In movies of the 1930s and 1940s, supper clubs were portrayed as places where big stars and popular bands such as Glenn Miller’s played, but far more common were the sort that hosted local musicians. Still, patrons dressed up and enjoyed a time out, dining and dancing, and maybe a floor show, without spending a fortune.

 Located in the capital, The Lotus got the best bands of the era and she got to dance out on that shiny floor with them all. Twirling in and out between the soldiers and their girls taking that last dance of leave, or when she was held in her daddy’s arms, the thrill was always there. Music was in her heart and she just had to move and be a part of the magic she felt.

This particular Sunday she had the dance floor for a few minutes all by herself and she swirled and dipped to the live music with her curls flying in the air and was just having the best of time before her father interrupted her short solo by leading her back to the table. It was also on this particular Sunday that her life could’ve gone in another direction. A talent scout from Hollywood just happened to be lunching at the Lotus that afternoon and thought that this little dancing girl should go to Hollywood for a screen test. After all Shirley Temple was a big star and he thought he saw something with the same star quality in this little curly haired girl who loved to dance. 

Her parents said politely to the Hollywood gentleman, “Thank you very much, but no.” They didn’t want their daughter to be in the movies. That was the end of that, as far as her parents were concerned, but certainly not the end of her love for music, or dancing, or just being herself. 

The author Virginia Woolf once said, “Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind is written large in his works.” 

 And so, my friends, that was my life during the war when I was four. And in the end, it turned out, I did it anyway. All by myself. My way. Written large.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2015. All rights reserved.