Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dynamite - KSE Singing Hawks Choir at Elitch Gardens

Kathryn Senor Elementary (KSE) 4th Grade Singing Hawks Choir at Elitch Gardens Contest Spring 2012 singing Dynamite under the direction of Jeff Van Devender.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Rare Picture: David Bowie and Elton John + Princess Diana and George Michael at Live Aid 1985

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Tis The Season: Scenes For a Christmas and Winter Holiday Musical

Tis The Season: Scenes For a Christmas and Winter Holiday Musical These cute scenes are written to be part of a Christmas or Holiday elementary school program. Use what fits your song choices. You can add, edit, delete and/or mix up dialogue to fit those choices. Due to the current climate of many public schools, the theme is primarily secular in nature. A more religious-themed Christmas script will soon be available. No real costuming is necessary, other than to perhaps wear dress-up holiday-themed clothes or even pajamas to reflect the Christmas nature of the subject matter. This Christmas/Holiday elementary musical is available at our TeachersPayTeachers site. Here is the address/link: Christmas/Winter Holiday Musical. It is published by Alpine Road Publishing, a subsidiary of JavaMusiK. Written by Jeff Van Devender.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Elton John live & other little nuggets

BloG #52: The Shoutout From Sir Elton John Captured

You may remember me getting fairly bent out of shape a couple weeks back, alleging that Sir Elton John paid me a dedication with his final song of the evening in Denver at his Pepsi Center show September 20, 2014. I am happy to report that audio has finally been located, so you can listen and judge for yourself. The short version of the story is that Elton does indeed pay attention to what is written about him. (Scroll down a bit on my page. The complete story is still there.)

I have created a video using the audio with his dedication & snapshots from the article and comment which led to this dedication to (allegedly) ME. Is it possible, that there was another Jeff his comment was intended for? Sure. It is just hard to not believe that given the circumstances and context that this particular dedication was in fact directed at me, with perhaps a slight degree of malice intended considering it possibly was a response to a comment on a review he didn't wholly appreciate. Nevertheless, as I have said multiple times, it is his show & definitely his right & prerogative to perform how ever he sees fit. He completely made his point & proved us naysayers dead wrong!

Oh and hey Elton, if you're reading this... THANK-YOU and great show!!

Here is the audio/video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIYDl5Wr9ss
The dedication comes shortly after he starts playing.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

BloG #51: A Shoutout To and From Elton John!!!

My goodness... It has been awhile, hasn't it??
Seems I've had virtually nothing to write about for some time and anything I really had to say was offered up elsewhere. All that kind of changed this last week. I'll take the opportunity to re-post it here, as this is my own unadulterated forum. So, here goes with the re-posting.

***The following is essentially a recap of how things went down over the last week regarding a virtual conversation I believe I had with Elton John resulting in a dedication to ME from the stage in Denver, CO - September 20, 2014:

I hesitate to post this, due to some strong opinions/emotions it may stir for some. But, the story actually happened. While not trying to sound narcissistic, but after giving lots of thought to it all and as crazy as it sounds, I truly believe it all happened as I state here and was ultimately directed at me.. What follows is a narrative of what turned out to be one of the most surreal memories that was just experienced by myself..

Last night, I attended, along with my family, what I estimate to be my 20th Elton John concert in nearly 35 years of seeing him and over 40 years of being a fan - in Denver. Aside from the unimpressive seats I once again had, to say the concert was once again stellar would be an understatement. Elton simply never disappoints!

Prior to the show, I read reviews and watched videos, so I was quite prepared for what was in store. What I was not prepared for was a dedication from the man himself on the stage! The story goes like this..

One of the reviews I read actually received a response from Elton on stage the following night. It was a glowing review of Elton's Vancouver show with an opinion shared that perhaps the concert shouldn't close with songs from the Lion King. I decided to go ahead and add my two cents in general agreement with the premise but say "Elton, go ahead and include the songs. Just don't close with them. You have a catalogue of potential closers that other artists dream of! Oh, And by the way, I'm looking forward to your show in Denver." I meant no disrespect. Just sharing an opinion.

Well, after nearly 2.5 hours of amazing music from my all time favorite musician, Elton begins to talk about his next song and why he chose to include this song in his show. He was speaking of Circle Of Life. He spoke of his kids and how they reminded him of those songs he brought to the screen 20 years ago. He also spoke of how some have suggested he shouldn't include them (just to clarify, I do NOT feel this way.. just don't close with it.) but he feels otherwise. Fine.

Then, the shoe drops...

Right before he goes into the first chords of Circle, Elton says "This one is for you, Jeff."

My ears picked it up, but kind of blew it off. Amy nudged me and we both kind of chuckled in a curious sort of way. 30 seconds passed.. I began to wonder.. Who could this Jeff be that would be receiving such an acknowledgement from the stage? I then began to replay what he had just spoken of.

Then I began to remember what I had written. And I also started to recall that Elton had actually responded to the original review from the stage the following night after the original posting. Could he have actually read my comment? And if so, would he really care what I have to say?? Is there anyone else in this arena named Jeff that would be garnering a dedication of that particular song from Elton John???

The article and my comment, with a follow-up comment from me after the show appears here: http://www.straight.com/blogra/732496/elton-john-not-thrilled-newts-review-his-vancouver-show Feel free to judge for yourself.

*** I also followed up an online review of the Denver show with the following comment:

Thank-you, Elton, for once again proving why you are worthy of sustaining a 45-plus year career that is virtually unmatched in the industry. Having seen you live at least 20 times, your shows never disappoint and this most recent Denver visit was no exception.

Without trying to sound narcissistic, I am the Jeff who called you out through a comment on a review of an earlier show regarding your usage of Lion King for the encore. You seemed to respond with a beautiful explanation and hit, what I could only interpret as, ME back with a dedication to Circle of Life.. "This one is for Jeff." If I was your intended target with that dedication (and I am guessing I was), you more than made your case, thereby obliterating my case for otherwise, while making this fan the happiest guy in town that night! (Sadly, there was no corresponding Grammy-winning Can You Feel The Love Tonight to follow.)

I fear that this current run is a kind of swan song for you with your recent threat of retirement and boys who are closing in on school-age. While I selfishly hope such is not the case, I fully understand if you do wind up cutting back. You have given us fans an excellent run and I for one am truly thankful. I dream of the day that I could meet you and share what your music has meant to me, but alas am resigned to the realization that (to quote another Disney lyric) "a dream is a wish your heart makes."

One more thing before I go, while I have your attention.. I secretly hope the day will come when you record an album of piano instrumentals in the vein of your present Rocket Man and recent Take Me To The Pilot preludes. Give us something that truly showcases once and for all your amazing talent to set those keys on fire!
Thank you for all you do, Sir Elton.

Sincerely, with much love and respect,
Jeff Van Devender

The review and my comment is officially posted here: http://www.heyreverb.com/blog/2014/09/21/photos-elton-john-pepsi-center-show-denver-review/94774/#disqus_thread

Saturday, February 05, 2011

BloG #50: Profile Pics; Heeere's Me!!

A couple observations, if I may...

Here is a relatively new phenomenon that wasn't too prevalent just a few short years ago. Until fairly recently, most distant relatives, former classmates, etc. didn't exist much beyond a distant, hazy memory. Images of these people who were major players in our lives previously, are frozen in time. All we typically had were memories and/or possibly a few photos from that period. Depending on how well we stayed in touch, an occasional photo might come our way at Christmastime, or perhaps we might bump into them somewhere. Beyond that, they were out of our lives.

In an incredibly short amount of time, social networking has had a massive impact on this norm. So much so, that one could make a case for the tsunami effect it is having on our evolution as a species. Considering the many implications, one big impact most certainly has to be our ability to now wipe away the imaginary visual association distant and former acquaintances may otherwise project on us.

Suddenly, we can post a picture or set of pictures we all wish people to visualize us by. It can be current, not so current, or perhaps an avatar that represents our own concept of who we wish to present. This is such a foreign concept to how things were not so very long ago.

As I read over what I have written so far, it somewhat occurs to me how old school I may come across with this writing. What we all currently take for granted with social networking was absolutely NOT the norm until such a short time ago. Now, it is completely embedded in our culture. And it has all happened so quickly! Yes, I guess you can officially call me old now.

Another interesting phenomenon is how many work and education environments choose to pretend online social networking doesn't exist. The official default seems to be to block it and it might go away. Some schools/workplaces even punish students/employees for using it on their clock rather than choosing to embrace it. Why not instead use social networking as an educational or marketing opportunity for these schools/companies?

We commonly hear about how writing and language skills are decreasing, due to texting and internet chatting. Perhaps a teachable moment approach might be for students to be granted the privilege to social network at school during designated times, only if they use proper etiquette and grammar. As for companies that choose to block, why not open their eyes and look at the big picture? Realize the potential if all your employees are networking there. Set some parameters, if you must, but encourage creativity for the good of your company. Employees may just possibly reward you with better attitudes and ultimately, increased productivity.

As one who has buried his own head in the sand at times, I can truly admit that upon pulling it out, it felt good to grab that huge breath of fresh air! Here's to profile pics and keeping our heads above the sand.


Jeff Van Devender
Alpine Road Publishing

Sunday, January 02, 2011

BloG #49: Are you happy? Did your dream come true?

I just returned, with my family, from a week-long visit to a major theme park resort. This visit had been saved up for, planned and looked forward to for many, many years. Generally I would say that, in most ways, the experience was positive. However, as with everything, there are a few barbs in the fence that prevent this vacation from being a desired must-repeat experience. To protect the innocent (and myself from any slanderous accusations), we will refrain from naming the resort in this writing.

The series of parks we visited is a fantastic theme park with incredibly wonderful ideas. More fun packed into a roughly 10 square mile radius than any 10 square mile radius should be packed with. Each ride, show and/or adventure is jam-packed with thrills that is guaranteed to not disappoint

Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately for this company's very healthy bottom line?), every corner of this green earth is now clued in to that little secret and has figured out a way to jam the entrance of every single theme park attraction with at least a 2-3-plus hour wait for that fleeting moment of extreme ecstasy.

As you stand in line for these attractions, you have extended moments that can become somewhat tedious if you allow. It is up to you to decide what you're going to do with these extended opportunities of tedium. Personally, I frequently find myself observing the behavior of others. Occasionally, I find this to be entertaining. Sadly, the alternative feeling that comes from such observations is the overwhelming sense of sadness. Sadness at how the bar of our societal norms just seems to have become so low.

Let's talk for a moment about what you can expect to be treated to during these extended periods of suspended animation while patiently waiting for your thrill. There is no guarantee that you will be confronted by any of these treats at a given moment during your wait, but a good chance exists that at least several moments of questioning why you are putting yourself through this may begin to cross your mind. It did for me, often.

This is not to say that every family, individual, occurance or whatever is bunched in to these generalized observations, because they are not. These are just general observations of our esteemed populace that, sadly, are slowly becoming more norm and less exception.

The first observation that circumvented my cross hairs during my visit to this series of theme parks was the general pronounced self-centered attitude that seems to pervade the general populace. Allow me to explain:

The above mentioned self-centered attitude shows up in so many different ways. You can see it in the me-first adults with kids-in-tow cutting ahead in line. You can see it in spoiled, out-of-control and precocious children showered with rewards when their precocious behavior needs no further reinforcement. You can also see it in the cell-phone use with no regard for who is within ear-shot of the user.

The last ride we treated ourselves to included a 90 minute wait in line behind 2 couples of daters. One couple included a male and female who seemed to enjoy each others' company. The girl was all over the guy and he wasn't about to turn that away. Not the type of behavior that is necessary for families with children need to be exposed to for nearly 2 hours in a slow-moving line, but considering the context of in-line behaviors, certainly not the worst of expositions. The other couple featured a boy who could not control his urge to gnaw on the female he was with. She, on the other hand, was increasingly annoyed with his gnawing but was unable to communicate beyond her rather obvious body language to the rather obtuse and thick-headed boy she was with that she wasn't enjoying his, shall we say, gnawing.

Situations such as this leave you frustrated and exhausted by the time you reach the attraction you so desperately have waited for and by the time you get there, you run the risk of getting crammed into some capsule with them, when all you want to do is get completely away from them.

These are just a tip of the iceberg of self-centered observations that are running untethered among our line inhabitants. There are certainly more, not to mention the continual jockeying for position in line throughout the extended wait. It sometimes crossed my mind as to where the lineup techniques being bestowed upon visitors was originated. I have my thoughts, but must do a little more research before sharing such suggestions on such a public forum as this.

Meanwhile, can anyone tell me why it is a good idea to take a newborn out to a place like this? For that matter, why take a one-year-old? There is plenty of time later in life. Why would you put yourself, the baby and, just as importantly, everyone you come into contact with at the park through this hassle? The park is generally over-populated and over-run with self-centered individuals grabbing and squeezing every ounce of entertainment from their hard-earned vacation that they can muster. Wait a year or three before subjecting your defenseless child to such a road-hardened environment!

When a low-lying or double-wide stroller crosses a path with these mercenary individuals loaded down with a bag of popcorn, extra large soda, 2 large bags full of goodies and 3 kids in tow, wielding Star Wars light sabers, how does the parent pushing this stroller expect their 4-month-old new-born to survive such a battlefield of stimulation? What is the value of increasing the likelihood of a potentially disastrous accident with such a defenseless infant being positioned in the midst of all the aforementioned chaos? There is plenty of time later. Wait a year or three!

Another observation boils down to the worthless crap being purchased for children that is going to get tossed aside never to be touched again before the car returns to the home driveway. Recent news headlines proclaim how the whole world is enveloped in a recession, the likes of what hasn't been experienced in decades. I'm sorry, but from what I just observed being purchased and carried around at our famed theme-park resort, Americans and the visiting vacationers who visited this park from other countries are not yet anywhere near the breaking point.

It was also interesting to observe that privileges allowed by the theme park and their kinder graces seem somewhat open for abuse. For example, there is a policy to grant handicapped and special needs people and their accompanying parties special access to certain attractions. This might include front row/special seating, cutting ahead in line or some other type of accommodation. Perfectly understandable.

Questions start to become a little more pronounced, however, as to where the line might be drawn on what kind of disabilities qualify for the accommodations and how many accompanying family members, friends, etc. benefit from receiving these residuals? On a hot day, in a 4-hour-plus waiting line, how accommodating is everyone feeling when a (rather large extended) family of someone in a wheelchair marches up to the rope and demands to be let in with the injured/disabled?

Credit must be given for the often frequent attempts to keep line-dwellers slightly entertained with the mind-numbing loud music continually blaring about the park, accompanied by the occasional clever signage posted about, but come on. Really? Your vacationing clients have spent upward of half a year's salary to get here and this is the best way you can come up with to treat them during their time waiting for one of your rides? Your creativity is over the top in nearly every detail, yet this one opportunity seems somewhat unfulfilled. You could do better in this respect.

More than half of the vacationers' awake time is spent in lines waiting for your attractions and some clever signs and loud music is the best you can come up with? How about you hire me to assemble a team to rectify that. Budget me a cool $100 million. Chump change from what I can see based on your ticket prices and spending habits of your customer base. We'll increase the smiles and decrease the frustration of your line waiters in no time. Of course, we we need the services of your top creative advisers, consultants, engineers and assemblers to pull this thing off, but I can assure you, we'll get it done on-time and under budget.

Finally, based on the masses of people coming to see you, I sure hope you have plans to expand at this location. And fast! There is no more room in the park! You are turning people away. Literally! I witnessed it. That just shouldn't be. Most of us pre-bought our tickets. What are you expecting 10 years down the road. Less people??

I'm sure you as the reader can find lots to disagree with in this reading, but... This piece is written on the heals of an expensive and taxing vacation with a company that is billed worldwide as the premier destination resort catering to families and people everywhere. There is always room for tweaking. Just offering a few suggestions.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Alpine Road