Turnstyle Debuts at Pearson Park

August 16th, 2011

My vocal jazz group Turnstyle had our debut performance (since revamping the band) on Saturday night at Pearson Park Amphitheatre in Anaheim. The 2000-seat venue near Disneyland was full of jazz and music lovers who received us with a VERY warm and enthusiastic attitude! We did some old jazz favorites like Gershwin’s “Summertime” and “But Not For Me” and rounded out our set with two ecclectic a cappella arrangements of pop and R&B hits by Stevie Wonder and Billy Joel.  Here’s a photo of the group performing on stage.

Ken Malouf, Martin Schloemer, Melissa Pontanilla, Kathi Funston (Photo by Patrick Ortman)

New Album In The Works

November 12th, 2010

I’ve been writing new songs with my songwriting partner Patrick Ortman lately, and we’re getting ready to lay down some scratch tracks for a new album we’ll be recording after the holidays. So far, it’s got a bit of a soulful singer-songwriter vibe to it, a definite indie feel, influenced by storytellers who sing the blues, with a touch of country (can’t fight those Texas roots!). I can hear us on Grey’s Anatomy, whose music supervisor should win an award for discovering such great indie artists. Fingers crossed, and I’ll let you know when the album drops!

Malibu Wines Gig with In Transit

October 24th, 2010

I sang with In Transit, my a cappella vocal jazz group, this weekend at Malibu Wines in the beautiful canyons of Malibu, California. It was a great day at an amazing venue, the perfect setting for an intimate afternoon of jazz. Even though it was misty outside, people came. We had two birthday parties, a bachelorette party, and plenty of wine lovers come through during the afternoon to enjoy the wine and music. All in all, I think about 400 people heard us play. Not bad for a cloudy California day!

In addition to our a cappella vocal jazz, we did a couple of acoustic sets with Patrick and Martin accompanying us on guitar. I loved seeing the audience sing along, and we even got some folks up and dancing to our Mamas and Papas covers and our closing number ”Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel. So much fun! The winery asked us back for another afternoon of jazz on Valentine’s Day weekend! More about that later.

Thanks to Malibu Wines for having us. We had a great time and can’t wait to come back!

Covering a classic Kenny Loggins tune

Singing a jazz number with the group

In Transit in the Studio

June 27th, 2010

I had a great time in the studio back in March with my a cappella vocal group, In Transit. It’s always a blast to do a vocal session, but directing a session in addition to singing is even better in some ways because it challenges my noggin and works my other skills as a musician and producer.

I’m really excited about how the demo turned out. The editing and mixing process was a lot of fun. We did some sweetening and recording of clap tracks (and a whole mess of fun stuff for the Stevie Wonder tune). Sweet goodness! Special thanks to Martin (our tenor) for his master editing chops in ProTools!

Hope you like what you hear!

Listen to our demo

Find us on Facebook

Bad As Jazz

May 10th, 2009

I returned to my old stomping grounds last weekend to sing with the University of North Texas Jazz Singers in a concert honoring our musical director (also an amazing arranger, all-around musician, and general cool cat), Paris Rutherford. Paris is retiring this spring, and of course, he wanted to go out with a bang. So, he invited all of the Jazz Singers alumni to sing in a couple of numbers, including his incredible a cappella arrangement of “My Funny Valentine.” All I can say is WOWEE! The whole weekend was a whirlwind of rehearsals and get-togethers with friends both new and old. The sheer chops these fellow musicians have, what an amazing thing to be around again! We had a great time, and took a lot of good photos and videos (more to come). 

To top it all off, Paris invited me to sing on a small group number called “Splanky” and I don’t mind saying, we swung the hell out of that chart! Not only was the rhythm section smokin’, but the group was made up of some of the top singers from UNT, including my former bandmates Brandon Pedigo and Cathy Jensen-Hole. And as if that weren’t enough, Paris also gave me the honor of letting loose like a trumpet player who ate some bad meat. Here’s a picture of me getting down during the concert on May 2. What a night! It was so much fun and a slap-in-the-face reminder of why I love jazz music so much! I will never stop singing. Thank you for that, Paris.

Kathi Funston perfroms with the UNT Jazz Singers on May 2, 2009

Kathi Funston performs with the UNT Jazz Singers on May 2, 2009

Digging My New Design

April 30th, 2009

I just wanted to give a quick shout out to Patrick Ortman for my new website. There are still some tweaks to be made here and there, but I love the new edgy design! Patrick, you are a talent. Thanks for everything!

In Transit at Javapella

April 26th, 2009

Tonight my group performed at Java Joe’s in Yorba Linda as part of their a cappella night known as Javapella. We were invited as special guests to sing with two local Orange County groups. It was an hour-long trek to the OC from LA, but the good music and appreciative crowd made it worthwhile!

In Transit at Javapella

In My Writer’s Cave

March 29th, 2009

I’ve been working on the draft of the Couch Cases half-hour pilot over the past few weeks, and the more I go into my cave to write,  the more I want to tip my hat to talented writers like Tina Fey. How DOES she do it? Cranking out story after story and making it look so easy! To be fair, I do have a day job that takes up part of my time that would otherwise be spent writing, but I still find it challenging to have to call upon my muse and be creative at a moment’s notice, especially when I just don’t FEEL like writing that day. (Those are the days I end up singing, by the way.) Seriously, just because it’s 10:00 AM on a Tuesday and my schedule says it’s time to write, doesn’t mean I can. 

Sometimes I would prefer to wait for inspiration to hit me like it does with music. You know, that inconvenient surge of creative energy that occupies your mind at 3 AM and won’t let you rest until you’ve got the tune down? Annoying, yes, but also extremely productive and rewarding. That’s why we give in to the muse and let her speak to us. I don’t think I’m there yet with my screenwriting. I have yet to be hit with an urge to write until my little fingers can write no more. And until I’m lucky enough to be inconvenienced like that, I’ll just have to inspire myself through discipline and hard work. I’m on my way to earning my 10,000 hours, and writing in my cave for a little bit every day is sure to get me there. When I earn it, my muse will come. I’m sure of it.

Couch Cases Editor’s Pick in the Toronto Star!

January 27th, 2009

After a successful debut online, Couch Cases is generating a lot of buzz. The show has been featured in USA Today and Tubefilter News, and the latest is a feature in the Toronto Star! Matt Carter says, “The jokes are sly, the characters charming and likeable.”

Couch Cases Review in the Toronto Star

As Co-Creator and Executive Producer of the show, I couldn’t be prouder! Putting out all four episodes last fall felt like giving birth four times in 3 months. Couch Cases is our baby, and we’re so appreciative of the wonderful feedback and support we’re getting from fans in the online community. We have over half a million views already, and the number of people we’re reaching is still rising! 

My Interview With Tubefilter

January 18th, 2009

We recently had an interview with Tubefilter.tv  about Couch Cases. While the article turned out to be less than spectacular, I think we really gave them some good stuff. Here’s the full content of the Tubefilter interview:

I notice that “Couch Cases” started posting on YouTube on Halloween, yet it’s currently listed on your site as “Premiering January 15th.” Can you give me the background behind the relaunch?

We were excited to preview the show as soon as it was ready, but we look at the January 15th launch as our wide release. We’re now available on iTunes!

When did you shoot? How large was your crew? What was your budget?

Patrick: We shot over a number of months, part-time and on weekends. We had a tiny crew– it was me, a camera assistant, a sound guy, and our makeup artist on most days. Our budget… well, our hard costs were pretty low but we all put in an enormous amount of sweat equity in the show.

Kathi: Yeah, and it helps keep the costs down if you have a one-man shop on your team! Patrick did everything from shooting to editing to special effects. Plus, I helped with the editing and music production as well. Lucky us, we didn’t need to outsource to a production house.

Did you work with any unions or guilds on this, like SAG?

Nope.

Do you have a “financial model” that you can speak to? That is, how is/will the show make money?

We’re in discussions with companies interested in product placement and/or sponsorship. We have a vision for where the show is going, and we want to hold onto the rights as long as possible. We’ve already turned down an offer to sell the show because the buyer just didn’t get our vision.

It seems from your blog that you used the Red One camera. How did you make the decision to do that? What was the experience like?

Patrick: The RED One is amazing. I’m looking forward to using it a lot more in the future. I purchased the camera for my company, Genius Monkeys. See, I have this day job where I do TV commercials….

How did you guys come to work together?

We didn’t intend to write a show together; it just sort of happened. We were hanging out one day having a beer, and we started to throw some ideas around. That morphed into character and story ideas centering around a neurotic therapist and her patients. Could potentially be some funny stuff there. Two months later, we had an entire season written. At that point we thought, ‘How can we not shoot this?’ The whole process was very organic.

As I was watching the episodes, I immediately thought of “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” so it didn’t surprise me to see you compare the show to that on your YouTube page. What other influences would you say inspired you while making this show?

Patrick: We’re huge sitcom fans. And we wanted to write something that fit in with smart, funny shows you’d see on TV. We also wanted to create something that looked good, something cinematic like Sex & The City. We aimed high.

Kathi: Ah, Christine is a good one! Thank you for the compliment. I grew up watching mostly sitcoms, so my writing and acting were definitely influenced by some of the great shows like Friends and Gilmore Girls.

What are your hopes/goals for this show? Did you make it with an eye toward crossing over to TV? Or is this a strictly web-only project?

Oh, the things we could do with the $50,000 per minute budget of a typical network sitcom! That said, we look at our show as a micro-version of a TV show, but developed specifically for the Web, with characters and story arcs that develop over the course of the season. By the end, we want you to be hooked! The Web gave us the opportunity to create something outside of the Hollywood system that’s creative, fun, culturally relevant, and we hope… profitable.

I noticed you have a poll on your web page about who Amy should date. Will the votes in that poll influence the story? Do you have other interactive elements planned?

We would absolutely be open to letting our fans influence our story lines. And we have all sorts of ideas about how to engage our audience beyond the episodes themselves. Stay tuned!

For Kathi, tell me about starring in the show and also producing. How did you juggle those jobs during the shoot?

Kathi: I must admit it was hard to stay in character between takes because there were a million things going through my head during the shoot. But I placed my trust in Patrick as my producing partner and the director to guide us through, which he did. I had a blast performing in front of the camera, and I equally enjoyed post production. We had a chance to be producers and writers again during the editing process, which I found to be very fun! I’m really happy with the finished product. I truly feel that it’s a nice blend of Patrick’s and my creative vision.

Also for Kathi – what is it with Texas and actors?? Half the actors I know in this town (including 3 of the 5 cast members in my own show) are from Texas.

Kathi: We’re people people. We can’t help it. We love to entertain. Ain’t nothing else I can say about that. Hey, y’all!

For Patrick – how about the directing/producing split? Did you produce until the shoot day, then put it in someone else’s hands so you could direct, or did you wear both hats at once?

Patrick: I never really thought about it that way. There were a lot of things that needed to be done, and I’d delegate where I could; otherwise I’d just do it myself. I’ve always felt that a director should have some expertise in every facet of filmmaking, so wearing lots of hats comes naturally to me, I guess.

Also for Patrick – I see you were responsible for the “Deliverance Pizza” mobisodes. Can you speak to the aesthetic differences, if any, in making a show for cell phones as opposed to for web viewing?

Patrick: It’s all storytelling, but of course we had a lot of technical limitations with the mobisodes due to the medium. What’s exciting to me now is seeing the evolution of video on the Web. We can create stories that are much more cinematic and visually interesting and deliver them to people whether they’re at their computer, on their iPhone, or sitting in front of their television. Technology is finally getting to where it can almost keep up with one’s imagination, and that’s pretty cool.

Back to both of you – What are your favorite shows on TV? How about on the web?

Kathi: I have so many shows that I love, I thank the inventor of the DVR every day. Some of my current faves are 30 Rock, How I Met Your Mother, The Starter Wife, Brothers & Sisters, and House. I’m definitely into scripted comedies and dramedies with a lot of funny included. Life without laughter isn’t worth living! On the Web, I’ve been gravitating towards comedic news vlogs lately.

Patrick: I agree– I also have a soft spot in my heart for “Brit-coms” like Father Ted, Little Britain, and League of Gentlemen. And I watch everything Sci-Fi that I can find online. One of my all-time favorites is Star Trek: Phase II. And of course, The Onion has some funny stuff online.

What’s your vision of the future of web TV?

It seems to us that the future of Web TV is also the future of TV in general. Everything is merging together, networks are pushing their websites more and more, and it seems like people are still looking for quality programming, no matter what the venue. Whatever the future is, we hope to be there!