By Lisa Morgan -
American Parlor Songbook will be a weekly podcast hosted by JP Houston live from his piano at the Ace Hotel’s Amigo Room. This unique variety and delivery of entertainment from an experienced composer and showman could prove to be just what our desert needs, bringing back all that was good and endearing of the old timey radio shows that exercised our listening and imagination skills.
Every Wednesday night, beginning February 27th, a preshow party will be held at 8pm with taping commencing at 9pm. Guests lining up for the weeks to come include Jesika Von Rabbit of California dance rock legends Gram Rabbit; Viral video guru, The Laughing Yogi; Robbie Waldman from desert rock bands Waxy and War Drum; acclaimed Australian singer/songwriters, Jordie Lane and Clare Reynolds; spaghetti western psych rockers, Spindrift from Los Angeles; the Riz Orchestra and Psychic Medium, Patrick Harrington. These live shows will be recorded and podcast the following Sunday.
JP Houston has a resume packed with success: a California singer, songwriter, pianist, and producer, JP began his professional career in Canada at the age of 17. With a large catalog of songs composed for record, theater and television, his first credit was writing the theme song for the hit PBS children’s series The Big Comfy Couch. He has since composed for BBC, HBO, CBC, PBS and many others and was nominated for a Gemini (Canadian Emmy) for best dramatic score for his work on Land Of Hands. In addition to his composing work, JP is an accomplished performer who has toured and recorded all over North America and Europe. Most recently in Brian Bell’s Weezer side project The Relationship, and Gram Rabbit alter-ego The Country. When not on the road or in the Studio, JP can be seen leading the house band at Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneer Town California. The popular Sunday shows have seen JP Trading songs with the likes of Victoria Williams, Band Of Horses, Tim Easton, The Jay Hawks, M. Ward, John Doe and a host of other notable guests who sit in each week. Houston is currently recording a follow up to his debut solo album As Long As You’re Here With Me.
“I grew up wanting to do a variety show,” says JP as he explains his motivation behind the development of American Parlor Songbook. “My parents are theater types. My mother was a Shirley Temple act during WW2, playing theaters to raise war bonds. My father is a journalist. They would have parties with their friends who were actors, singers, dancers, and writers. Watching them all around the piano, singing songs and telling stories had a big impact on me. As a kid, I hid a small TV under my bed so I could climb under and watch the Tonight Show on school nights. As a teen I discovered the old time radio shows like George and Gracie, Jack Benny, etc… I love old fashioned showbiz and I’ve missed the old shows. So I decided to make one for myself and hopefully everyone else to enjoy.”
“I have always written stories, songs, and jokes and have done so extensively in television along with a lot of experience in the production side of things. As a composer I’ve done a bunch of theater, played piano at comedy clubs, and worked with comedians as musical director a few times too.”
“I am a fan of a bunch of podcasts. Comedy Bang Bang, Hollywood Babylon, WTF, Radiolab… I’m really excited by the wild west-ish-ness of internet entertainment. I didn’t want to do the conveyor belt talk show format. And I didn’t want to do a presentation show… “and our next act is” type stuff. The show is closer to a revue. I host from the piano, I sing songs that lead to games. I do duets with guests. I tell stories that connect themes and transition into guest performances. Prairie Home Companion has definitely been referenced in comparison, along with Jools Holland, and even things like Match Game. It’s like after dinner at one of my parent’s parties. The guests go into the living room to entertain each other.”
“I’m putting most of my energy into getting the show off the ground. With any luck, I will be doing it for a long time. Hopefully, it all comes together as something new, and entertaining. I think it will, and I’m excited about it.” Follow American Parlor Songbook on Facebook. The Ace Hotel is located at 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs (760) 325-9900. Their website address is acehotel.com/palmsprings.