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Home #Hwoodtimes Rita Wilson Unveiled – “Liner Notes” Reiterates at the Geffen

Rita Wilson Unveiled – “Liner Notes” Reiterates at the Geffen

A Harmonious Evening of Songs with Songwriters 

By E.M. Fredric

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Westwood, CA (The Hollywood Times) January 14, 2019 – Actress/producer, Rita Wilson recently released her third album as a singer/songwriter, Bigger Picture, and was joined on stage in an intimate, cabaret-style setting at the Geffen Playhouse for a limited four-performance engagement (January 10-13) as her fourth Liner Notes Tour continues on.

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It was a night to hear hit music performed by the songwriter/musicians themselves – in the round.

Special guests were Holly Knight (Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield, Tina Turner’s The Best), Billy Steinberg returned (Madonna’s Like A Virgin, Cindy Lauper’s True Colors) and the Warren Brother (Tim McGraw’s Felt Good On My Lips, Dierk Bentley’s Feel That Fire) with accompanying Andrew Doolittle (guitar) and Michael Farrell (keyboards).

Wilson is a striking woman whose captivating personality elicits applause when she hits the stage with award-winning friends in tow, she explained the title of her show: “I love Geffen audiences! As a kid and a teenager, I’d spend hours and hours lying on my bed, holding up my record albums, reading the liner notes – I pulled out from the album’s sleeve – explaining how each song was written or recorded. I would learn all the words to these songs that expressed exactly what I was feeling. They were like a little road map of human experience.”

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The cozy nightclub atmosphere generated was the perfect backdrop as the songwriters began telling stories about their songs before singing them. Wilson’s inspiration for Heart He Handed Down came from her father. She said, “I never knew that my dad had been married before my mom. I had never known that his wife died in childbirth and the baby died four months later on December 26th.” Wilson divulged sorrow was the root of her father’s decision to immigrate to America where he would eventually find and marry Wilson’s Greek immigrant mother. He endured escaping Bulgaria to Turkey before shoveling coal on a freighter to make his way here and she discovered the importance of so many generations of family birthdays on December 26th – after her father died. She said, “I thought when I was writing this song, if my dad could keep this vision for a better life in his head and risk his life in order to get that, then it is possible that ambition gets handed down to your kids and then to your grandkids. So I wanted to write that really for my children, to really let them know that they come from a line of courage.”

Rita asked the audience if anyone had had breast cancer, a few hands went up as she revealed she is a breast cancer survivor. Wilson then sang the song she wrote should she leave the world before her husband (you know that guy) asking him to “throw me a party” and “dance like I’m still there” as the audience thunderously clapped along. A beautiful way to say goodbye in celebration of loss by acknowledging one’s life with exuberance.

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Warren Brothers: Brad & Brett

Red Solo Cup was easily the funniest song of the night and one that wasn’t meant to be heard. The Warren Brothers (Brett and Brad) wrote it as a joke, Toby Keith made it a hit and it’s one of their most downloadable songs. The brothers are one of the most sought after writing teams in Nashville and their easy banter with Wilson, Steinberg and Knight along with their beautiful harmonies – on songs shared – made the two-hour night even more remarkable – as if that were even possible.

Holly Knight

Holly Knight, a powerhouse of the 1980’s rock radio scene – much of the night’s music played came from the 80’s. She created several hits for Tina Turner and revealed that Turner’s life will be a Broadway show coming this fall. This prolific songwrither helped define the sound of rock radio of the time. A hit for Pat Benatar – Love is a Battlefield – Knight jokingly said, “I’d like to dedicate this song to my three ex husbands.”  Better Be Good to Me Turner recorded after her break-up with Ike, Knight says, “Tina loves The Best as her favorite and said it’s what she wants to be remembered for (as a signature song).”  Knight’s songs have heart, muscle and soul to them.

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Writer Eva-Marie Fredric with Billy Steinberg

Billy Steinberg with a simple acoustic guitar told the story of how before Madonna came along – It’s A Virgin almost didn’t get made (which he wrote with Tom Kelly) due to the word record companies were offended by. That started a round-robin of jokes amongst the musicians. Billy told his Bob Dylan story about meeting his idol at a party and feeling star-struck but he tried to elicit more than a few grunts from him and shockingly Dylan said, “Is that why you wrote True Colors?” A stunned Steinberg seemed pretty set for life on that recognition as he smiled widely. Steinberg then played True Colors and slayed it.

The lively, nostalgic evening is Wilson’s current reiteration of Liner Notes having had other equally renowned panels of singer/songwriters with her in the past. Wilson’s music is part pop, folk and leans into country. Bigger Picture she co-wrote with mostly a Nashville crew and the Warren Brothers were an integral part of it along with record producer, Fred Mollin (Johnny Mathis, Kimmy Webb and Kris Kristofferson). Wilson last worked with Mollin on her 2012 singing debut album, AM/FM.

Rita Wilson

Rita has leapt into the last chapter of her life as a multi-faceted artist with a boldness that resonates with her voice and words. This behind-the-scenes with backstories to your favorite songs is a solid hit wherever it goes. Look for her return and upcoming shows at:

www.GeffenPlayhouse.org and visit Rita’s website for other tour dates and information: http://www.ritawilson.com/

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Valerie Milano is the well-connected Senior Editor and Entertainment Critic at TheHollywoodTimes.today, a website that aggregates showbiz news curated for, and written by, insiders of the entertainment industry. (@HwoodTimes @TheHollywood.Times) Milano, whose extraordinary talents for networking in the famously tight-clad enclave of Hollywood have placed her at the center of the industry’s top red carpets and events since 1984, heads daily operations of a uniquely accessible, yet carefully targeted publication. For years, Milano sat on the board and tour coordinator of the Television Critics Association’s press tours. She has written for Communications Daily, Discover Hollywood, Hollywood Today, Television International, and Video Age International, and contributed to countless other magazines and digests. Valerie works closely with the Human Rights Campaign as a distinguished Fed Club Council Member. She also works with GLSEN, GLAAD, Outfest, NCLR, LAMBDA Legal, and DAP Health, in addition to donating both time and finances to high-profile nonprofits. She has been a member of the Los Angeles Press Club for a couple of years and looks forward to the possibility of contributing to the future success of its endeavors. Milano’s passion for meeting people extends from Los Feliz to her favorite getaway, Palm Springs. There, she is a member of the Palm Springs Museum of Art and a prominent Old Las Palmas-area patron.