by David "Cat" Cohen
Published: 2015-04-12

Goodbye Summer, Hello Winter, What in the heck happened to Fall?

With the passing of a long hot summer, the slight nip in the air has become much more than a nip.  Here in high desert country, the mercury not only has receded, it is beginning to plummet.  The past week, after extended shirtsleeves only temps, it became sweater weather, quickly followed by jackets needed to venture outside weather.  I’ve already had to scrape up frost off my car windows in the morning.  This week’s strong winds have made wind-chill a factor much earlier than usual.  The leaves on my fruit trees seemed to disappear in a span of one week and their bare branches are a testament to climate change.  At least in the desert we don’t have lake effect snow like they do in Buffalo (lakes in the desert are an oxymoron).  We did get a bit of rain and there is snow on top of San Gorgonio, a sight I always look forward to.  However, the Arctic polar vortex hasn’t reached us yet.  Just you wait.


After picking the last of my Granny Smith apples and pomegranates, I’ve started my winter container veggie gardening ritual.  Goodbye tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants.  Hello lettuce, spinach, arugula, radishes, and beets.    At least, I have ample amount of avocado firewood to put in my wood-burning stove.  Birds have left the area for milder climes farther south and I miss their chatter.  Feel free to share with me what’s going on in your environs.


Here are some happenings in my desert turf, a few personal projects, and several from the folks in my creative community of fellow musicians, songwriters, and authors.


Coachella Valley Entertainment

Agua Caliente - 

Jim Gaffigan – Dec 5th

Gary Allan – Dec 13th


Fantasy Springs

Celtic Woman – Dec 13th

Terry Fator – Dec 20th

Smokey Robinson – Jan 17th


McCallum Theatre

Neil Sedaka – Dec 6/7th

Irish Tenors - Dec 12/13th

Moscow Ballet (Nutcracker)– Dec 17th


Morongo Casino

Chris Young – Dec 11th

Tower Of Power – Dec 12th


Spotlight 29 Casino

Jim Jeffries – Nov 29th

The Eagles – Dec 20th

The Bee Gees – Dec 31st

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Jan 3rd


Desert Rose Playhouse

Scrooge in Rouge – Nov 14th – Dec 21st  

Love! Valor! Compassion! – Jan 16th – Feb 15th


Pop Song Spotlight – “Stay With Me” by Sam Smith

One of the best recordings of 2014 comes from a young soulful pale-complected British singer whose expressive vocal is reminiscent of Smokey Robinson and Sam Cooke.   The song is equally impressive with its candid pleading lyrics and dramatic rangy melody, unusual in this era of boring flatline recordings.  Smith showcases his amazing ability to emote in this heartfelt ballad begging his seemingly fleeting lover not to leave.  Both the song and Smith’s performance laced with sweet falsetto passages are very memorable.  I predict a lot of attention at next year’s Grammys and a long life for this worthy effort. You can listen to his amazing track and view the gritty video which has already garnered over 150 million hits at www.youtube.com/watch?v=pB-5XG-DbAA


In addition, I invite one and all to the Anatomy of a Hit section of my website at www.catcohen.com where I recently posted reviews and analyses of three of this year’s top hits, “Rude” by Magic, ”All of Me” by John Legend, and “Story Of My Life” by One Direction.  An analysis of Sam Smith’s song will soon be posted there as well. 


I Taught and Mentored Songwriters At This Year’s TAXI ROAD RALLY Nov 7th and 8th

I had the good fortune of meeting many up and coming songwriters while mentoring at a whirlwind of a luncheon event that felt a lot like speed dating, then I taught a well-attended and inspired “Driver’s Ed” class on Defining Your Songwriting Genre/Marketing Your Brand.  This annual event took place at the Westin Hotel near LAX and was filled with hundreds of songwriters and music creators from across the US and around the world.   I always enjoy helping and fraternizing with so many creative souls like myself.


Very many Taxi participants have given me CDs of their songs and tracks to listen to, and I am in the process of going over them.  This includes works by Ted Alflen, Robbie Hancock, Ted West, David Moskowitz, Holly Montgomery, That Girl Laura, Wendy Loomos, Milton Ginzburg, Mark Butler, Van Newcomb, Michael Taylor, James Boucher, Mark Doyle, Clyde Roberts, Will Brady, and Rick Sullivan.  So far, I feel that a few of these recordings are ready to market while the majority of them, though containing worthy ideas and/or performances, need some work in order to be saleable.  I’ll be giving brief general feedback to as many if you as I can get around to in my busy schedule.  For more in-depth evaluation see my Song Critique Services menu below.


The trend of Taxi participants moving out of songwriting venues and into film and tv placements has continued to accelerate.  There seem to be more opportunities today in the industry for the latter.  This is both a plus and minus.  I miss the well-written songs of yesteryear.  What once was well-structured and well-contrasted material is being replaced on the airwaves and other media by too many monotonous flatline recordings that I believe will not stand the test of time like the recordings of the previous century such as those of The Beatles, Motown, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Burt Bacharach, and Jimmy Webb, et al.  I stand ready to make what contribution I can offer in my song critiques.


My “One Man Orchestra” Is Taking Its Regular Shows At The Hi-Desert Continuing Care Center and Santa Fe Assisted Living To New Venues In Palm Springs and 29 Palms


I play regularly at Joshua Tree’s Hi-Desert Continuing Care Center and will be there again on Mondays December 8th and 22nd at 2 pm.  I played there the other day to a loyal following of more than a dozen regular residents at this nurturing rehab center.  By answering their requests for lively music, I have these older folks if not dancing on the tables, at least boogieing in their wheelchairs.  This is quite a spectacle and open to the public.  The folks I work for here have already recommended that I begin playing at a related facility in 29 Palms.  A “Sing-Along With Cat” segment has become a regular part of my show.   We travel down memory lane, a perfect journey for the physically and memory impaired.


In addition, The Mizell Senior Center in Palm Springs has asked me to perform there soon in its auditorium. This won’t be for the wheelchair crowd, but for functional seniors like myself who enjoy the best songs of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s.  I‘ll probably sneak in a few of my more light-hearted original tunes as well.  A few more rehab hospitals and alzheimer’s treatment centers in the area are also on the horizon. 


Finishing touches continue on my novel THE LONGER ROAD HOME as well as more rewrites on my musical, OH SHIT I’M GOING TO LIVE!


I continue to polish my novel and my musical.  If rewriting, re-re-writing and re-re-rewriting is a hallmark of a professional, then I fess up to it.   I’ll keep you posted.


Here’s another recipe from my book Chicken Soups From Around The World


My international cookbook of chicken soup recipes covers cuisines of 13 states and 39 countries. This month’s recipe is one of my favorites, a surprisingly tasty potage of chicken, carrots, leeks, parsnips, and apples.  Since apples are inexpensive this time of year due to the fall harvest, it’s a perfect time to try the recipe out.  This soup is easier to make than to pronounce, and it’s a welcome light first course during our holiday season with its heavier foods.



This recipe is an easy-to-prepare light meal that balances sweet and savory flavors.  Who knew that apples and leeks would make such good soupfellows.


3 tbsp butter

1 leek, white portion only, cleaned and thinly sliced

1 carrot, diced

1 parsnip, diced

3 tbsp flour

4 cups broth

2 medium Granny Smith or other tart apple, peeled and sliced

1½ cups cooked diced cooked chicken meat

Salt & pepper


Melt butter in a soup pan and slowly sauté the leek, carrot, and parsnip for a few minutes until they soften but do not brown.  Stir in the flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring until well blended.  Add the broth, stirring vigorously.  Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the soup is smooth and slightly thick.  Add the apple slices and chicken meat.  Simmer 10 minutes longer.  Season and serve.

Prep Time             15 minutes

Cooking Time      30 minutes

Portions                2 main courses or 4 first courses

Taste Meter          4½ - Surprisingly fabulous

Health Meter      2½ - Fairly healthful

Calorie Meter      2 - Moderate

Budget Meter                  2 - Moderately cheap

Ease Meter          2 - Fairy easy to make

Exotic Meter        2 - Different in a subtle way


You can purchase this book direct from me for $15 including tax, shipping, and personal signage by contacting [email protected] or order it from amazon at my author page at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00GG0QB74,


Restaurant Spotlight – Kasa (Mexican)

As a restaurant reviewer in a past life, my first book co-authored with Avry Budka back in the 80s was DIVING OUT IN LA, a guide to the best cheap eats in Greater LA.  It sold over 5,000 copies and was favorably reviewed in several local publications.  I still regularly review eateries for Trip Advisor and Yelp.  This review is not from the book, but a more current culinary find.


Kasa is a tiny enclave of a taqueria hidden behind a Mexican market and carniceria in Old Town Yucca Valley at 56089 29 Palms Hwy.  It serves the best and most authentic Mexican food north of Palm Springs.  Besides a full menu of tacos and burritos, they also offer a variety of meat and chicken entrees that are very fresh because of the carniceria in front.  I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve ordered there including the bean tostadas piled high with veggies, cheese, salsa, and sour cream, a great value in this already very inexpensive place.  The salsa bar is tops and includes tasty marinated carrots and other veggie add-ons. 


Being an LA Native, I know and value Mexican food, and this eatery reminds me of those in East LA and other barrios in my hometown.  The prices at Kasa are so reasonable, one would have to order an extra meal to take out to break into double digits when paying the tab.


Here is an expanded menu for my consulting services for songwriting clients in person in LA and over the phone/skype 


In addition my regular song consultation, I’ve added new options to my list of songwriter coaching services. 


SONG EVALUATION SERVICE (SES) 1) How does the song fit into today’s marketplace?  2) How close is the song to a finished product?   3) In what genre or genres does the song belong?  4) Is the song suited for radio, film/tv placement, or both?  5) Does the song have potential universal or niche appeal?  6) What are the relative strengths and weaknesses of the song’s concept, lyrics, melody, groove, chord changes, and structure?



After analyzing your song, I’ll help you make the adjustments necessary to turn your ideas into a saleable product including 1) Determining which song sections function as verse, pre-chorus, chorus, and/or bridge, 2) Lengthening or shortening sections that tend to lose a potential audience’s interest, and 3) Finding the right balance of repetition, contrast, and development of these sections.



Examining your song to see if it can be changed to a different format such as 1) Converting the song suited for radio play with its hooks, ups, and downs to a more generic flatline product suitable for tv and film placement and/or 2) Converting a flatline background song for tv/film into the specific concepts, contrasts, and hooks needed for radio play.


Most songs need a half hour to an hour of my time for standard evaluation and an additional half hour to an hour for either or both of the additional services.


Feel free to contact me at [email protected], 818-645-4078, or 760-363-3371.  I commute to LA every other week to meet with clients in person, usually on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  But if we can telecommute on this, I offer discounts since I don’t have travel time or gas expenses to deal with.  




Mark Winkler performed a set of songs at Jazz At The Cap in Sherman Oaks on Nov. 13th.  He was accompanied by a band that included Rich Eames, Peter Buck, Gabe Davis and Ann Patterson as well as special guest Dolores Scozzesi.


Beth Lawrence has a new blog about the secrets of breathing correctly when vocalizing.  She also offers a variety of online courses. You can reach her and get on her mailing list if you wish at [email protected]

Jorgen Ingmar Alof performs with his band  L.A.vation-The World's Greatest Tribute to U2 at de Maasport in Den Bosch, The Netherlands on Nov 29th at 8:15pm and at Club Bollee in Rhene on Sunday Nov. 30th at 8pm.


Bob Wayne announces the release from his group Big Daddy of their new CD Smashing Songs Of Stage And Screen distributed by Rockbeat Records.  This longtime 50s-style based band has taken their campy nostalgic renditions of songs unlikely to be done in a 50s style to new limits with selections from Broadway and films with often amusing, sometimes hilarious results.  You can view their playful video featuring an offbeat rendition of "Muisic Of The Night" in the style of “The Monster Mash” at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_Y6fk8DrSk


Ann Parenti hosts Back Room Jazz at The Scullery in Las Vegas every Tuesday night at 7:30pm.


Garrett Swayne played a half hour set of original songs at The Guitar Merchant in Canoga Park on Nov 20th.


Betsy Walter was a featured interview as a songwriter/producer Sunday night, Nov 2, on Angel 95 KHCA for "Off The Grid" program sharing songs from her SongDriven Media's release, SONGDRIVEN CHRISTIAN VOL. 1


Kat Ellis continues to host her radio show Chords & Vines every Sunday in Old Town Temecula.



Keep sending me emails with your events and accomplishments and I’ll try to post them in future newsletters.  In the meantime I wish everyone a joyous, creative, and fulfilling Thanksgiving and holiday season.


Ciao and meow for now,


[David] Cat Cohen (& Stella)

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