Marty Brown: “King of Music Row”

Singer-songwriter Marty Brown has been busy recording new music in Nashville, and we cannot wait for the new release. One of the recordings will be his official version of the song that launched his comeback career on America’s Got Talent, Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel My Love.” Also, during recent studio sessions, he recorded the song “King of Music Row,” by Tom Douglas and Kathy Ashworth.

Brown was recently featured in PBS station KET’s story “Kentucky Life.” The segment on Brown tells about his run on America’s Got Talent and also shows him in the studio in Nashville recording “King of Music Row.”

Although we are always especially excited about Marty Brown’s original songs, the new recording seems a perfect fit for Brown’s story and his voice. The song speaks in the voice of a songwriter, singing about “what needs to be written just right.”

The first verse of “King of Music Row” tells of slipping into The Bluebird Cafe, the famed Nashville songwriters’ hangout. So it seems appropriate that Brown has performed “King of Music Row” at that venue. Check it out.



Photo via YouTube. Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    The Regurgitator and the Firecracker-Mouth-Guy on “America’s Got Talent”

    [Updated September 16, 2015.] Two of the more interesting acts on this season’s America’s Got Talent involved guys putting things in their mouths: the “professional regurgitator” Stevie Starr and the guy with the firecracker in his mouth, Wayne Hoffman. Both performers showed some magic talent that kept the audience gasping for different reasons.

    During his audition, Stevie Starr showed how he could swallow things and then . . . regurgitate them. Starr started with some numbered coins, showing his ability to regurgitate on command. He ended with something pretty amazing involving sugar. Howie Mandel, Mel B, Heidi Klum, and Howard Stern all voted for him to go on to the next round. Is he really swallowing those things or is it a trick? Check it out.

    Seeing Starr’s talent, you might wonder why you have never seen him before this appearance. Well, if you lived outside the United States, you might have seen him earlier. He appeared on the 2010 season of Britain’s Got Talent, making it to the semi-finals. And, before coming to the American version of the show, he also had appeared on the Czech and Slovak version, the German version, the Italian version, and the French version of the Got Talent series.

    Even if nobody told the judges about Starr’s previous performances, at least one of the judges should not have been too surprised. Howard Stern had Starr on his radio show back in the late 1980s, as show in this video. Anyway, we will have to see if Americans embrace regurgitating as much as those other countries.

    As we have noted before, unlike some shows like American Idol, there are no rules preventing someone with a previous career from appearing on America’s Got Talent. So, contestants like Starr can get second (or third. . .) chances like this one. It is pretty cool that America’s Got Talent gives people a new chance, but I think it would be more interesting if the show were more open about telling us the full backstory of contestants.

    Another highlight in the first round of auditions was Wayne Hoffman, a magician/mentalist who did a pretty amazing stunt with firecrackers in his mouth. I have no idea how Hoffman was able to avoid exploding his mouth, but his act was fun to watch.

    Like Starr, Hoffman has been around awhile. For example, he has a career using his skills in giving motivational speeches. He was featured on NBC’s TV show Phenomenon, and like Starr, appeared on Howard Stern’s show. In 2012, Hoffman published a book motivational book entitled Mind Candy, and has his own website.

    With Hoffman also advancing on America’s Got Talent, it appeared we would be seeing much more of both these guys. [See updates below.]

    Wayne Hoffman August 2015 Update: Wayne Hoffman, for unknown reasons, mysteriously disappeared from America’s Got Talent and did not appear in the Judge Cuts round. His Twitter account and Facebook page does not tell us whether he had to leave for some reason or quit the competition on his own. The America’s Got Talent Wiki provides no insight either. On June 30, 2015, though, he opened his own show “Mind Candy” at the Trump Taj Mahal in Las Vegas, so it seems likely he decided to leave America’s Got Talent after some other options opened up.

    The Regurgitator August 2015 Update: After advancing through the Judges Cuts round, Stevie “The Professional Regurgitator” Starr gained enough votes on August 26, 2015 after his performance at Radio City Music Hall to move to the Semi-Finals. Below is a video of his performance broadcast August 25, 2015, where he does something amazing with Heidi Klum’s ring and a lock. The trick was similar to one he had done on Britain’s Got Talent, which also confounded experts on how he does it. Some folks make a case for explaining the secret of how the Regurgitator does his act, but he is still a great performer.

    The Regurgitator September 9, 2015 Update: This week, Stevie “The Professional Regurgitator” Starr advanced to the finals of America’s Got Talent. Below is his performance that earned him a spot in the finals, where he impressed viewers with his ability to regurgitate smoke into soap bubbles.

    The Regurgitator September 16, 2015 Update: In the finals, Stevie Starr showed that he can keep coming up with new ways to entertain us with his regurgitating. This time, he ramped things up by incorporating fire into his act. We will find out tonight whether he wins, and it is most likely going to come down to being between him and the inspiring and funny comedian with a stutter, Drew Lynch, who also has been great throughout the season.

    Who is your favorite act on this season’s “AGT”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    And Then There Was One (Magician on AGT)

    This week on America’s Got Talent, three magicians performed in the top twelve, but after America voted, only one magic man was left standing. The comedy-magic team of David and Leeman left everyone amazed with their giant lottery ticket trick, while Mike Super put Nick Cannon in a money machine and revealed a secret message he had given Howard Stern earlier in the week. But it was Mat Franco, featured in a previous Chimesfreedom post, who wowed America with his card tricks to advance to the finals.

    This season of America’s Got Talent found some excellent magicians, so it was sad to see it narrowed down to one. On the other hand, it is likely that having so many magicians split the vote for magic fans, making it harder for any of them to win with the other ones around. Franco should benefit from the elimination of the other two magic acts when he goes to the finals.

    Did America get it right? Check out the three performances below. Here is David and Leeman amazing everyone by using random numbers selected by the judges.

    In the following segment, Mike Super gave a prominent role to Nick Cannon and some one-dollar bills to match a prediction made with cards and a special message he revealed with a (malfunctioning) small butane torch.

    Finally, Matt Franco incorporated several card tricks into his act, even involving the audience at home. The next night, he would learn that this performance was sending him to the finals while the other two magicians went home.

    Was Franco the best of the magicians? All three acts did a great job this week, although none of them probably had their best performance of the season. Franco’s act seemed a little small and scattered compared to the cell phone trick he did last time he appeared, so I suspect his prior work played a role in the vote. Looking just at the night, I liked David and Leeman’s act the best, but on overall strength through the season, the audience probably got it right in picking Franco if only one act could proceed to the finals.

    In the finals, Franco will have some tough competition, even though one of our favorite acts, Blue Journey, was sent home. The six remaining acts also include excellent singers like Emily West, Sons of Serendip, and the amazing 12-year-old Quintavious Johnson. So we will have to wait and see whether Franco can pull a million-dollar win out of his hat. (September 17, 2014 Update: He did. Mat Franco won this season’s America’s Got Talent competition.)

    Which magic act did you like best on this season’s America’s Got Talent? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Magician Mat Franco and the Missing Cell Phone on “America’s Got Talent”
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    Magician Mat Franco and the Missing Cell Phone on “America’s Got Talent”

    Some of the highlights of this season’s America’s Got Talent have been several talented magicians, including David and Leeman, Mike Super, Smoothini, and Mat Franco. In this week’s semi-finalist show of the NBC series, the Rhode Island native Mat Franco did a pretty amazing trick with Mel B‘s cell phone.

    In the performance, Franco makes the cell phone disappear and reappear in an impossibly unusual place. Franco’s way of proving that it was the same cell phone was pretty cool too. Check it out.

    If you are an inquiring person who does not want to be left with the amazement of magic, Reddit has a discussion speculating about how Franco may have done the trick. In addition to Franco, several other artists had a good week too, including dance duo Blue Journey.

    September 4, 2014 Update: The following night after Franco’s cell phone trick, both he and Blue Journey advanced to the next round, putting them among the top twelve acts.

    September 17, 2014 Update: After advancing past the last two remaining magic acts in the competition, Mat Franco went to the finals and won America’s Got Talent for the season.

    Who is your favorite artist on “America’s Got Talent”? Leave your two cents in the comments.

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    Blue Journey Has a “Wonderful Life” on America’s Got Talent


    One of the highlights of Season 9 of America’s Got Talent is the dance duo Blue Journey. The two dancers, Nick Mishoe and Rachel Kivlighan incorporate images into their dance that make the routine, choreographed by David Middendorp, tell a mesmerizing story.

    Last week, Mishoe and Kivlighan advanced to the semi-finals on a night where the show had a lot of talent. In case you missed their routine, check it out (and you may want to watch it on full screen).

    If you are wondering about the song that accompanies their dance, it is the song “Wonderful Life,” which was written by Britsh singer Black (aka Colin Vearncombe) and appeared on his 1987 album, Wonderful Life. The song was quite successful in many countries round the world, although U.S. listeners may not remember it.

    The version that Blue Journey uses, though, is a cover by Smith & Burrows. Below, you may check out Smith & Burrows doing an acoustic version of “Wonderful Life.”

    In the meantime, watch for Blue Journey to return to one of the semi-final episodes of America’s Got Talent.

    September 2, 2014 Update: During the semi-final round, Blue Journey performed to a Radiohead song, “Exit Music (For a Film),” from the band’s 1997 album OK Computer. Check it out.



    What is your favorite act on “America’s Got Talent” this season? Leave your two cents in the comments.

  • Marty Brown: “King of Music Row”
  • The Regurgitator and the Firecracker-Mouth-Guy on “America’s Got Talent”
  • And Then There Was One (Magician on AGT)
  • Magician Mat Franco and the Missing Cell Phone on “America’s Got Talent”
  • New Marty Brown Single: “CrackerJack”
  • Sneak Peak at Marty Brown’s Video for “Whatever Makes You Smile”
  • (Some related Chimesfreedom posts.)