The Hal Show is Going Online!
Well my babies - It appears we are in a state of limbo. Most All My Gigs Have Been cancelled!
Life has come to a surreal and almost complete standstill. I’ve been reluctant to address the Coronavirus at all, but, look - it’s upon us and is impacting all of our lives in so many profound ways. It’s got me reevaluating the way I think about pretty much everything. So, here’s how I personally intend to deal…
First of all, it’s imperative that we fight this thing by complying with all the suggestions put forth by the CDC and the WHO. They know how best to combat this crisis and we need to do what we have to do to get break through to the other side.
Now, me and a lot of my friends and acquaintances play music for a living. Some full time, some part time, but we counted on these gigs to pay our bills, buy our groceries, go out to bars and restaurants to support our friend’s and act otter’s gigs and for now, we can’t do it that way.
Those of us who have music in the blood will continue perform whether we’re getting paid or not. I’m one of those people who make a decent living from gigs and also derive great pleasure from the sheer joy of holding a guitar in my hand or sitting at a piano and singing out loud. Many of my peers are already doing live concerts on Zoom, Facebook Live and other platforms that allow us to stream our performances. Me? I personally have a hard time just turning on the camera and playing spontaneously because I get self-conscious when I know I’m being recorded. I know. Weird, huh?
You could put me on stage in front of thousands of people and I would be fine, but me alone in front of a camera I choke, because I know that moment will be captured for posterity. That said, I am going to start doing some shows. Some live, some prerecorded. I’m still working up the nerve, but I just want to give you a heads up. The Hal Show is coming soon. I hope you’ll tune in. It will be completely free, but I will provide a link to a virtual tip jar. I will gladly accept gratuities and I will use that to help me get through this rough patch. In turn, I will contribute whenever possible to other online buskers and entertainers. I hope everyone will find ways to pay it forward. A rising tide lifts all ships.
TotRW Podcast Update
March was Women Appreciation Month, so I have three episodes in a row featuring female singer/songwriter performers.Toby Lightman, Andrea Nardello and Kendal Conrad. Also on the horizon is another short conversation with funkadelic songstress Laura Cheadle.
Her debut album Little Things appeared on the Billboard Top 100 in its first week and gave way to comparisons to sultry songstress' like Lauryn Hill, Sheryl Crow and Norah Jones. She received high praise from magazines like Rolling Stone, People, Billboard and others, which led to appearances on Letterman, Carson Daly, Conan, CBS Morning Show and more. Her second record, Bird on a Wire (2006), helped lead Lightman to enormous success in the film and TV industry with the single “My Sweet Song” being featured in the movie PS I Love You, starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler.
She has toured extensively, both solo and with her band, sharing the bill with renowned artists such as Rob Thomas, Jewel, James Blunt, Gavin DeGraw, Train, Marc Cohn, the legendary Prince (who happened to be watching the night Toby appeared on Conan and was so impressed with her performance he invited her to open for him). Official Toby Lightman Website
Philly's Andrea Nardello has garnered comparisons to Melissa Etheridge and Shawn Colvin for melding pop songwriting smarts with a confessional and literate songwriting style. Her refined accessibility draws from folk, rock & pop. She can tug at your heartstrings with her softer tunes and get you dancing on your feet with her upbeat songs and powerful voice.
In early 2019, Andrea won a contest to sing with Brandi Carlile at Carlile’s all women’s festival in Mexico and was then named a top “Emerging Artist To Know” by NPR. She’s made a nice name for herself in the Tri-State area winning the prestigious Philadelphia Songwriter's Project Contest and the Tri-State Indie's "Acoustic Artist Of The Year." Her songs, "Leave The Light On" and "Home To Me" each won WSTW's Award for Folk Song Of The Year. Nardello has toured extensively opening for well known artists Colbie Caillat, Brandi Carlile, Gabe Dixon, Emerson Hart of Tonic Fame, Tim Reynolds of The Dave Matthews Band and Ron Pope.
Official Andrea Nardello Website
Kendal Conrad is a singer, actor, published writer, and award-winning songwriter. Kendal appeared on MTV and sang a duet onstage with Keith Urban. Kendal was featured on Keith Urban’s website as one of his favorite “Raise ‘Em Up” Tour moments. She also joined Walker Hayes onstage to perform “Halloween” for 92.5 XTU’s Ski Day at Jack Frost Big Boulder. She is an International Miss Talent and won the title with her original song “Girlstrong.”
She has performed at the White House, Wells Fargo Center, Sands Casino, Six Flags, Hersheypark, the Bitter End, and Musikfest, as well as the Susquehanna Bank Center for 92.5 XTU’s anniversary party. She has sung the National Anthem for several major events including MLB, NBA, MMA, NASCAR, and NBC’s National Dog Show. She has opened for many country artists; among them: Blake Shelton, Charlie Daniels Band, Chris Lane, Trace Adkins, Adam Doleac, Devin Dawson, Drew Baldridge, Alabama, Diamond Rio, Phil Vassar and many others. Kendal recorded her latest EP with platinum Kane Brown producer Matt McVaney in Nashville, TN. Official Kendal Conrad Website
I’m excited to announce that I caught up with my old friend, Henry Phillips for an episode that should be dropping in April. You really should check out some of Henry’s music and video short films before then because, well, to be honest - Henry is an acquired taste and i want you to take the time to acquire it. He’s more that an an accomplished guitarist. More thanks a comedy genius and much more than your average songwriter. He takes all three elements - songwriting, guitar playing, and comedy and combines his talents into some sidesplitting content.
Here are links to some of his videos to give you an idea of who I’m talking to when the time comes.
Henry Phillips Website
Including: Music Vids, Henry's Kitchen, The Loner, You and Your F%Ucking Coffee, and More
Coming Soon from Henry Phillips: The Highwayman
Erractic Podcast Schedule Alert
Finally, I just have to put this out there. My intention, when I started the Tales of the Road Warriors podcast was to release an episode every Thursday. Of course, when I started, I was playing music pretty regularly and I had enough time between gigs and enough money produce the podcast fairly conisistently. Due to circumstances beyond our control, I’ve been propelled back into the non-music gig economy, which means working a lot more hours for less pay. It’s also more exhausting. So I must apologize in advance if I don’t stick to the original schedule. But please know, I am not going away. If you subscribe through most any popular podcast app, you can be notified any time a new episode come out. You can also add your or a friend’s name to the mail list by visiting the website and get these Hal Aaron Email Updates once every month or three.
Contributions are Most Welcome
One last thing… In order to survive during this crazy and frankly, scary time, I am asking for all the help I can get. No, I’m not in such dire straits as to start a GoFundMe Page. Ideally, I’ll find a corporate sponsor for the podcast, but I haven’t approached anyone yet. So, if you’re inclined to help out as an individual supporter of TotRW, or my music - here’s a direct link to the Hal Aaron (Hal Cohen) PayPal Tip Jar. You can choose to contribute in $5 10, 20… Whatever you feel you.
I think that about covers it all for now. Stay safe! Stay Healthy!
Hal Aaron Cohen performing live at
Green Fork and Local Roots Market
115 S Main St, North Wales, PA 19454
SATURDAY, JULY 22
7 pm -10 pm
Andrew and Tracy, the owners of this terrific spot in North Wales, have been in the food industry for over 30 years. They wanted to put together a menu that had choices for everybody.
As result. they offer plenty of deliciously tempting items such as the Grass-Fed Angus Burger, yet they also cater to vegans, vegetarians, as well as those seeking gluten-free and allergy free options. They always make sure there are many healthy choices and they’re are very interested and involved in the community, so getting ingredients for the menu from local farmers is very important. All dishes are fresh… Made from the heart and crafted with pride!
The Green Fork has a relaxed, unhurried atmosphere, welcoming staff, friendly and knowledgeable service.
Feel free to wander around the restaurant and check out the local vendor’s items and information AND their Art Wall. Each month, the Green Fork features two local artists. All that and of course - LIVE MUSIC.
I’ll be performing from 7 pm till 10 pm. Hope you can join me this Saturday evening!
I haven't written very much in the way of updating the blog here at HalAaron.com. But as a child of the 60's, born in the 50's, and as a bonafide baby boomer, for the last few months, I've been in the process of building a brand new website for and about - you guessed it - baby boomers. Now as you may surmise, boomers are a pretty big niche. So there's an awful lot of ground to cover. And of course, we all experience that particular era in different ways.
Some of us were pot smoking hippies, some were straight,
Some were drafted and sent to Viet nam, Some enlisted.
Some burned their draft cards. Some even moved to Canada
Like today, these were politically charged and turbulent times. There were things that brought us all together, too. The music, movies, television shows, sex, drugs, rock and roll. Be-Ins, Love-Ins, Happenin's, and massive outdoor events. Massive tragedies such as the assasinations of Martin Luther King, John F Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, and massive celebrations such as Monteray and Woodstock.
There is the fact that many of us are getting older. So there is a sectionon Health: Mind, Body and Spirit. A Baby Boomer Bookstore and product reviews for items that aid us in our every day routine like bathroom breaks, sleeping and trying to maintain our youthful appearance.
I hope you'll visit the site. At the time of this writing, it's still in its infancy, but It will grow to be a fantastic source for entertainment and information for baby boomers and fans of the our culture. We introduced a lot of great things into the world, much of it is still very popular and relevant today.
Please visit! Stuff For Baby Boomers
People ask me all the time… "So, Hal, what do you do besides play music?" The answer is I wear several hats. I've tended bar for many years and lately I have been involved in sales and marketing. My latest venture, however; includes my other passion besides music. That is my pets. Over the years I have had dogs and cats; currently I have two. One is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel named Cooper. The other one, Keegan, is a little brown, 20 pound mixed-breed ball of fur. I just call him my little chocolate nugget.
I recently switched dog food and I now feed them Life's Abundance exclusively. It's highly recommended by many trainers and breeders, but most importantly, it's a healthy alternative to a lot of the brands you find in supermarket and pet stores. Here's a video to introduce you to this wonderful brand. Please watch and enjoy.
To purchase Life's Abundance products or if you're interested in becoming a rep yourself, please click here
Happy holidays, everyone! I want to thank all the people who have hired me over the years to play your parties and events. Thank you and warm holiday wishes to all the venue owners that have booked me and continue to bring me back as the featured musician. Every gig is a new adventure, and I enjoy each and every one of them. I cherish the challenge of learning new songs for you and I always have a blast meeting so many new people in my travels.
Even though some gigs are miles away, I look forward to discovering new places. My favorites are afternoon events that end in the evening, so I get to witness sunsets in lots of different locales. May you all have a safe and warm Holiday Season and A Happy New Year! And try to keep those resolutions this time, will ya!?
How I Determine My Bid
Quite often, a potential client seeking ceremony music for their wedding will stress the fact that they only need music for 20 or 30 minutes, the length of the ceremony. From experience, I know that it never is just a 20 or 30 minute event. My meter starts running when I start the job, which includes loading up the car, the time it takes to travel to the gig (occasionally it's close by, but most of the time it's anywhere from 1 to 3 hours away). In many cases, I am requested to learn a new song or two for the event. For the record, I do NOT factor in the time it takes me to practice and learn new material. That said, here are some of the criteria I use when bidding on a party:
1. The minimum I might make if I got hired for another party.
If I were to charge say, $150 because the ceremony is only 30 minutes and you hired me; then the next day another potential client asked if that date was available to play a birthday party for $800 - well, you can see what I'd be giving up. I average it out to the least amount I stand to earn for that day when I have multiple gig requests.
2. Demand for my music is mostly before Labor Day.
During the Spring and Summer is when most people have outdoor events and it's the time I get the most requests to play weddings, grad parties, luaus and backyard BBQ birthday parties.
3. Gig requests taper off in the Fall and Winter
After Labor Day, the demand drops off for outdoor parties. This means I have to survive on what I earned during the summer while trying to find work playing in local venues during the winter time. These types of gigs are usually just enough to tide me over till the warm weather comes around again.
4. A wedding is a milestone event.
The reason musicians charge more to play a wedding than they would charge a restaurant or bar owner is because it is a one-time event. A restaurant or bar owner might only pay $100 - $200 a night but it's usually for more than one time, for instance, every Friday during happy hour for 3 months. This means exposure, tips and it all adds up to enough to make a living. A wedding on the other hand is a very special occasion. You want the best you can get and someone with not only talent, but experience to be sure you and your guests have a day you will remember fondly for the rest of your life!
Let's suppose you're in Maryland. I am yours for the entire day. I can't accept another gig, unless by some crazy coincidence, I got hired to play another wedding taking place an hour later and they're only 15 minutes away. Truth is, it's one heck of a drive from NE Philly to Rose Haven or Rehoboth Beach, Maryland, and I will probably rent a car to be sure I am driving a dependable vehicle for the trip. Add in the price of gas and it's almost $200 more for me to be able to accept a job there.
These are some of the major factors in determining what factors I must consider when I quote a fee. Nevertheless, I'm always willing to negotiate, and I try to stay within a client's budget whenever possible!
I recently played a posh Country Club for their annual wine night. It was a hot and muggy night, with a very high probability of thunderstorms. When I booked the gig, I made sure they had a "plan B" - to take the party indoors in case of intimate weather. However, when I arrived, I was informed by the woman who booked me that the party had been moved inside. I was pretty relieved to hear that, as anyone who plays music for a living can tell you; setting up and performing in the heat and humidity with an impending storm, for 3 - 4 hours can be pretty challenging.
As it turned out, "moving inside" meant moving the party onto a large outdoor patio, adjacent to the dining room - so technically, I wasn't "inside" at all. The patio was partially covered by an overhang above the guest's tables so they would remain dry if it started to rain. However, the area they set aside for me was completely exposed to the elements because the overhang ended just short of where they had me set up to perform. Fortunately, though it threatened to rain, it didn’t actually start to come down until I was almost packed up after the show.
I wasn’t so fortunate a few years earlier when I played a gig in a huge backyard for a client who tented the entire yard where her guests were seated, but had me set up next to a tool shed with absolutely no shelter whatsoever. No sooner had I gotten everything set up, when I, along with all of my equipment were drenched when the sky burst open in an intense downpour that lasted about 40 minutes. I did my best to cover the electronics and my speakers, and get my guitars out of there, but I couldn’t do much, because if I got soaked, I wouldn’t be able to plug in at all when and if the rain stopped.
I eventually play for the remainder of the afternoon after the storm passed, but the damage had already been done. And for the sake of getting a good review on the internet, I smiled the entire time, and told the client "not to worry, the show must go on"... or something like that. The truth was, I wanted to kick myself for not making her sign a contract with a contingency plan for bad weather.
SOOO... the lesson I want to convey here is this: If you’re planning to hire live entertainment for your party, please make provisions for covering the stage area in case of rain. That also goes for late afternoons on hot summer days when the sun is directly on the performer to provide shade. And if you’re an entertainer - be sure to include somewhere in your contract (and you should ALWAYS draw up a contract), a provision that your client doesn’t leave you outside in the rain or blazing hot sun. Let them know, in no uncertain terms…
Hal Aaron's Blog