Randal Branham | Dynamic Pianist & Vocalist

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Making the music video Touching Down -Oct ’15

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< Scroll and Click the “Read More” button for reading with photos>                               I’ve found that making a music video can be as simple as setting up a camera and microphone and playing your song. – Or, it can be as complicated and time-consuming as having many scenes that have to be carefully planned out, pulling together professional people, raising money, recruiting friends as actors, friends to help out, and lots of pizza-meetings to discuss each phase, post-production editing, experimenting with special effects, and carefully making sure the voice and lips are in sync. The Touching Down music video all started when my friend, Mark, a videographer by trade, said “we’ve got to make you a video.”  I said, “wonderful,” and got excited.  When we got together to discuss ideas, Mark mentioned the thought of setting up the camera in my living room in front of the grand piano and me singing Touching Down.  I knew I just had to tell him how Touching Down, a story about aviation, love and bringing people together, how I felt that this song as a video deserved a much larger treatment.  After several of my grandiose ideas bantering back and forth, and with Mark keeping realistic boundaries, he finally said, “Okay, Randal, if you bring it, I’ll shoot it.”      This meant that my ideas of walking on a runway, singing inside the cockpit of a jet,  standing in front of a turning jet engine, that I would have to somehow make these things become a reality for Mark to shoot this video.   We both pulled several friends together, with special talents – and a heaping help of enthusiasm, and began the process of requesting permission to use airport runways, use of the cockpit sim, set up in high-security locations.  To keep things authentic as possible, consulting with some Delta and Express Jet Captains for authenticity of the uniforms and what they do when sitting in the cockpit.  Mark outsourced other video experts such as steady-cam operator.  This would all take a few months working on it in our off hours from our day jobs.  Keeping in mind after it’s all shot, then there would be significant time required putting it all together in the editing suite.  Fortunately, we got permission granted to three separate airport facilities, a Delta jet cockpit sim, and a high-security airline turbine engine service center.  We were graciously allowed to use the runway at Deland airport for eight hours while planes were averted to a different runway.  We worked with security, were escorted every moment beyond public areas.  And Yes! – we did get a piano on the runway!        Something fun to mention is that for the interior of the cockpit scenes while in flight in a Delta jet simulator, is that the flight instructor on duty didn’t just tell my actors how to act or what movements were believable, the Captain had my actors for an hour in their seats, actually flying the plane long before I got into place, and they kept flying while we shot the scene.    We were also able to get access to the inside of a jumbo jet for the passenger shots.  But they don’t turn on the plane’s air conditioner for you, so you have to keep yourself dry from sweating every few...

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Playing in Restaurants – Part 3 – (in a 3-part series.)

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Playing in Restaurants – Part 3 – (in a 3-part series.)

Here in Part 3, I continue my blog about some of the restaurants I play in, and how their individual ambience and style will influence my set list. SEASONS 52:  Its warm, architectural entrance and valet parking gives you the sense you’re about to enter a unique and special venue.  Once inside, the tone is set with ambient, amber-hued lighting, lavish woodwork, slate stone, a gorgeous wood-toned bar – so large that the pianist/singer and bartenders are all within its oval surround; providing every person seated in the room the sight & sounds of the musician and the action of the bartenders serving you with their endless possibilities.  This beautiful bar is a dining room all on its own.  It is first-come first-serve seating, and the patrons fill up this gorgeous bar for dinner.  The acoustics are quiet but alive, and the bustling staff are professional, upbeat and smiling.  The live music is carefully distributed into the main dining room so everyone dining throughout the sprawling venue enjoys that sense of aliveness. You can see that Seasons has an obvious culture:  a timeless and classic environment, combined with the live musicians who play 75% ‘current material’ to keep the atmosphere contemporary.  I love the fact they obviate this image at the forefront – and I take pride in delivering it.   The remarkable food is served quite beautifully – and deliberately with your health in mind.  The staff are many, adorned in black, name tags, and – my gosh, did they have to go through a good-looking requirement before being hired; all such good-looking men and women, who make it their priority to ensure you are having an ‘easy’ and ‘memorable experience.’  I play various dates at Seasons 52, and they can always be found on the calendar page of my website.  In stride with their contemporary theme, I enjoy playing and singing the likes of Maroon5, Coldplay, One Republic, Gaga, Bastille, John Legend, and Avici – with all my favorite classics in between.    There is a large snifter tip-glass, and I’ll take requests.  You hand the tip and any requests to the server, who will pass it to me.  It’s a wonderful evening to be playing great songs for a great clientele, and for ‘five’ sets – that’s normally 63 songs – you can be sure we are working hard. Personally, I like the piano at the Orlando location the best.  This one anticipates my crescendos, stays in stride with all my dynamics, and responds to what you are actually performing – soft when I’m giving the soft touch, and it’s good and punchy when I need it to be.  The microphone, mixer and sound monitor are easy to control and sound decent.  If you come out here, be sure to say hi and let me know you’re in the house.   Thank you!  – Randal   Two locations –  SEASONS 52  Orlando  (407) 354-5212 – Plaza Venezia 7700 Sand Lake Road, Orlando 32819 SEASONS 52  Altamonte  (407) 767-1252 – 463 E. Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs...

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Playing in Restaurants 2: (a 3-part series)

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Here in Part 2, I continue my blog about some of the restaurants I play in, and how their individual ambience and style will influence my set list.   MAXINE’S ON SHINE Think Paris Bistro.  With two of the most loving and entertaining owners, Kirt and Maxine, this casual restaurant and wine bar has a vibe that elegantly spells f-u-n!  Uniquely set in the heart of downtown Orlando and in its ‘residential neighborhood,’ this hot spot can’t be matched for miles around.  The food is awesome, affordable, offering fresh fish, a skillet-lasagna, creative apps, a serious beer and wine selection.  And did I mention the great vibe in the room?  It is loud in here acoustic-wise, but I think that adds to the liveliness.  Kirt and his staff are so warm and loving to everyone – and when Maxine enters the room, all heads turn because she is quite the spectacle; she’s audacious, gracious, and we are assured an auspicious evening is under way!  Kirt and Maxine are pillars of the arts, they have local musicians at least four nights a week, exhibit many local artists’ work on the walls of the dining room.  And they win the Orlando restaurant awards every season, and you’ll agree this is well deserved once you’ve enjoyed the food and atmosphere.  There is also a parlor room in the back to explore or sit for a cozy gathering or private meal where more art-ifacts surround you.  I normally play there the ‘First Friday’ of each month.  The room enjoys whatever you’re good at playing, whether it be old school, contemporary, or even campy, silly and eclectic songs.  I’ll do Funky Town, Royals, Scott Joplin, Madonna, and Elton.  Here I like to play the oldest songs I know along with the newest songs I know so you never know what’s coming!  There’s a wacky fur-lined-hairy tip jar/bucket onstage.  And I enjoy taking requests.   Maxine’s On Shine: (407) 674-6841  –   337 North Shine Avenue, Orlando, FL 32803  –     –     – (Part 3 covering Seasons 52, coming soon) –     –    ...

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Music Video project under way!

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Music Video project under way!

To watch the new kickstarter video – take this link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1532870765/touching-down-music-video-blast-off We are very excited that The “Touching Down” music video campaign has started.  The link will take you to the Kickstarter site to see our story – and how you can be part of its success! It’s a courageous undertaking, and we are aiming high.  My team is Mark Russell of Iron Pixel Media and co-producer Denisse Kindl – from L.A. here until the project is finished. So far we have great people on board.  I’ll give some bios about them as we go along. Talk to you soon!  –...

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Playing in Restaurants 1: (a 3-part series)

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Playing in Restaurants 1: (a 3-part series)

I wanted to write a piece about my experiences playing in restaurants, because it is different from playing in a venue that is dedicated to original music.  For the record: Original music is music written by the performer.  Playing music you didn’t write is called playing covers. While I love performing showcases of my original music at music festivals and venues set up for this, they are few and far in between so I like to do the restaurant venues from time to time.  Restaurants like to have you frequently return, and so because you play several times a month or year, this can provide more recurring money in between those various original music festivals. It’s a great way to help local businesses, the dining patrons who look for restaurants with live music; and gives the local singer/songwriter an opportunity for exposure.  While you can add some of your original songs, the main focus is on familiarity, so here cover songs is the key. While it is fun to put your own take on a cover song, I remember a colleague in college telling me that people like to hear a song done in a familiar way, like the way the song was on the radio.  So I always try to make this my motto.  I may not sound exactly like the guy or gal who made it famous, but the listener will instantly know what the song is.  I also like to make sure that the melody is out front, put that recognition signature out there.  It’s a lot of fun seeing people at a table try to be the first to guess the name of the song. There are a few restaurants I’ll cover here that have their own unique identity, ambiance and style; and how I change my set lists according to the venue.  The first one in this series is The Attic Door. (The) ATTIC DOOR     This cozy gem of a restaurant/bar and music listening room is in the heart of downtown Winter Garden on Plant Street where the town has revitalized its quaint shops, restaurants, historic theatre, hotel and sidewalk promenades that give you a quaint feel of being in an historic, friendly town – with a fresh look.  The Attic Door, owned by Lori Gibson, is a restaurant right in the middle of it all, and it’s dedicated to a quiet ambiance where you can relax on couches and lounge chairs, with a glass of wine or hors d’houvres and enjoy ‘live music’ in this listening room, set at the perfect volume level to enjoy quiet conversation.  It is frequented by a casual but sophisticated crowd. You can see the performer through the window from the outside, so you’ll know whether it’s a solo guitarist/vocalist, piano/vocalist or duo before opening the door and entering the noticeable contrast from bustling sidewalk into quiet music atmosphere.  They also have a partitioned room with tables for dining, and decent speakers to hear the performer in the next room. The listening room is baffled with the deliberate acoustic treatment, visually and functionally on the floor and ceiling, with fabric, so there is no echo, and the ambient room level is perfect to hear every note, and with clarity the cling of your wine glass when touched...

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Vadia Vinyl

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Vadia Vinyl

What is Vadia Vinyl?  It is my record label.  Vadia is pronounced “VAY-duh.” Many artists and recording companies name their label to reflect something personal about them, a family member, something funny, something obscure, religious, political, or even a symbol or phrase to make a statement. For my record label I wanted two things.  First, to honor my grandmother, Vadia Rogers, who I affectionately called Maw-Maw Vadia, my whole life, even after I grew up.  And secondly, to give the title a ring, so to speak, tie it in with what it is, a record label; and with vinyl, the medium used for a near century of records and is making a comeback with a lot of indie bands – who offer stream and downloads of their music – are also offering vinyl once again, not only as a novelty but for everyone who wishes to have their music on something tangible – and watch it rotating on a turntable, with the label displayed front and center. What better way to honor my Maw-Maw Vadia than to have her name on the record label?  I know she would be proud of me now and the new music I’m making, because she always loved to hear me play the piano – and the first piano that ever raised my eyebrows was an old upright in her and Paw-Paw Fred’s house, yes, on a hill, in West Virgina.  She was mom to 11 kids and was, I understand, the best cook in the county – that is, until my mom grew up.  She was delightfully very quick-witted, she loved to laugh, and could easily rival any strong and smart player in a game of spoons, the very physical card game. Maw-Maw Vadia, I honor you, I love you and you are strong in my memory! –...

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American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” Fund Raiser

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American Cancer Society’s “Relay for Life” Fund Raiser

One of the most rewarding charity-related projects I have been involved with was the chance to honor friend Diane Hebel and the American Cancer Society with a CD of  14 songs to raise needed money.  We, among others, were blessed to have the American Cancer Society award us for raising a stellar amount of money for their “Relay for Life”.  I was proud to participate in the event in honor of my friend Diane, as was Diane, herself. The judicial and legal community whole-heartedly supported by purchasing hundreds of the CDs, “Songs for Diane”, in which I performed several of her favorite songs.  The picture is me holding the record award that was presented to me by Diane at the event.  100% of all proceeds went directly to...

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CD Release Party

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CD Release Party

We had a wonderful CD Release Party. Here is a letter from the Charity that the party was able to benefit: Dear Mr. Branham: It is an honor for the Genesis Program to be selected as your designated charity for the upcoming Randal Branham LIVE CD Release Party. Founded in 1994 this after-school program for high-risk youth living in Orlando’s Parramore neighborhood is a recognized by the IRS as a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization with Federal Tax ID # 20-8582992. Free tennis instruction is the core of the program but the emphasis is on offering a safe haven for children to come to in a setting where genuine compassion and concern for their well-being is expressed. Also provided free of charge : mentoring, family emergency financial assistance, college & trade school tuition assistance, annual Christmas party, athletic shoes, clothing, field trips, schools advocacy, incentive gifts for good and improved behavior, daily snacks, etc. Emphasis is on life skills coaching, good sportsmanship, appropriate social skills, conflict resolution, anger management, positive self-concepts, respect for others, team-work, and empowerment. We thank you for your support of the Genesis Community Program. We wish you the best of luck and we look forward to the CD Release Party. It was a great night!  Thank you, to the sponsors: Ariana Productions; Mi Tomatina Tapas Bar; McLeod Law Firm; Florida Barter; Stonewall Bar Orlando; Winter Park Family Health Center.  The event was a year-ago November and was such a wonderful time, here are some photos from the event: A vivacious welcome from friend, Dixie Approaching the piano is one of my favorite walks in life Actors, entertainers, talent galore at this party Scott and Sana Whitmer, long-time friends and Florida Barter sponsor Steven Watkins, owner of Stonewall Bar, sponsored the full bar and Kier Royals – the CD Release champaigne cocktail Thanking the sponsors of the evening ARIANA PRODUCTIONS sponsored this spectacular Live-Topiary to the event GENESIS Charity founder Jeff Horn takes the stage to tell us about progress in the Genesis works. Doing the original-song showcase at the Gibson venue’s Baldwin grand piano Leticia and Sana Remy and Nicolas, friends and World Gate Entertainment VIP Attendees Not too close!! Michel and Rafael, friends and Ariana Productions sponsored the living Topiary. Megan, the Live-Topiary model, takes off her gold Matt Verduin, curator for the Gibson venue helped make the night an acoustic success! Old friend from high school Mark Eichen shows up and surprises the heck outta me Stand-up boys Chris, Adam, Richard, John. Friends Elizabeth and John...

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“Randal Branham – LIVE” Press Release

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“Randal Branham – LIVE” Press Release

CENTRAL FLORIDA SINGER/SONGWRITER ANNOUNCES CD RELEASE: “RANDAL BRANHAM – LIVE” TO BENEFIT NON-PROFIT “GENESIS” Pianist/Vocalist and recording artist Randal Branham to release second full-length album of original works, the latest on the Vadia Vinyl label. To celebrate the debut of “Randal Branham – Live” a CD Release Party will take place at the Gibson Performance Center, 25 E. Central Blvd., in Downtown Orlando, Friday, Nov. 4, from 5:30 to 8:30pm., with a performance by Randal at 6:30. No-cost admission to the event, with portion of all CD sales benefiting “Genesis,” a non-profit 501(c)(3) Parramore district after-school program. Branham’s support of charities in the past have included Serenity House, Centaur and Hope & Help. With the 13-track CD comes Branham’s style of dramatic music composition, which underscores his original lyrics and that of collaborative lyricists Karen Brandon and Craig Stroupe. “Randal Branham – Live” introduces audiences to his powerful piano and compelling lyrics that are the Branham trademark. Branham’s work has garnered past awards including BILLBOARD Contest winner for the song “Kid,” and a Best Song by the International Song Writers Guild for “Find a Way.” The featured album is an unplugged, solo, and acoustical performance before a live-studio...

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