Thursday, February 24, 2011

Daniel May:Personality test

Daniel May says his whole musical life has been a mixture of the "legit and the illegit."

He has gone from writing the soundtrack for "Chopper Chicks in Zombietown" to recently doing pop-opera arrangements for a Ukrainian singer.

These days, the record producer-pianist-arranger-composer is operating his career out McCandless, where he lives with his wife, Jennifer Saitz, and three children in a home with a studio in the garage.

He also is playing piano for a number of performers and is one of the coordinating forces behind the Jazz at Andy's program at the Fairmont Pittsburgh, Downtown.

May was born in Wisconsin, but lived in a number of towns as his father taught music at various colleges. May attended Augustana College in South Dakota, got his master's degree at the University of Connecticut and his doctorate at Cornell University.

The May family came to Pittsburgh in 2005 after spending 20 years in Los Angeles. He is pleased with the move back to his wife's hometown.

"I always knew Pittsburgh was culturally rich," he says, "and I'm unpeeling that all the time."

The star who would play me in the movie version of my life and why:

Larry David: Because many people say I remind them of him. I have no idea why.

Childhood hero and why:

Composer Josef Haydn. I have always loved his music.

Pick one:

A. Go-Gos

B. Goo-Goo Dolls

C. Lady Gaga

D. Yo Gabba Gabba

I pick "D," even though I don't know what it means. I think I'd still prefer it over the other choices.

The piece of memorabilia from my childhood I wish I still had.

My old record turntable, along with my jazz records.

The superpower I wish I had in real life and why:

I would like to be Elastic Lad. I could sure use him when I crawl behind my equipment to rewire something in my recording studio.

I can't live without my: iPod, cell phone, DVR, or laptop?

DVR. Definitely.

My favorite reality show:

My own life.

App I wish I could invent:

One that, with the touch of a button, turns off all cell phones belonging to loud rude people at airports and restaurants.

Favorite brunch food:

Raw cauliflower with ranch dressing.

Favorite guilty pleasure:

Tomato soup with oyster crackers.

Best mistake I've ever made:

Buying a tiny house in Long Beach, Calif., and then selling it at the peak of the housing bubble.

Something I would do over if I could and why:

I would have agreed to sing the role of Amahl in "Amahl and the Night Visitors" when I was 10 years old because now it is one of my all-time favorite pieces.

Pick one:

A. Pirates

B. Penguins

C. Steelers

D. Other

E. I hate sports

D. I root for all of the Pittsburgh teams, but I have to pick "D." For the Los Angeles Lakers. It is hard not to like the Lakers after living in L.A. for over 20 years.

My favorite Pittsburgh athlete:

Franco Harris. He is a big music fan.

Favorite lunchtime spot:

Habitat Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel

Top thing on my "Bucket List" to do before I'm gone:

Learn to play the bassoon.

In five years, I'd like to:

Still not have a real job and continue doing the things I love.

My favorite thing about Pittsburgh is:

How I am constantly amazed and delighted by what the city has to offer.

Star I'd like to dance with on "Dancing with the Stars":

Cloris Leachman (wasn't she on that show?)

Three people I'd love to have dinner with:

Maya Angelou, Bill Evans, Stephen Jay Gould

My quirkiest inherited trait:

I sometimes answer the phone with a British-accented "Hello."

My favorite sandwich, plus fixings:

A Reuben with real sauerkraut

One word my mother would use to describe me:


Celebrity crush:

Sally Kellerman

The oldest thing in my refrigerator is:

A jar of diced garlic

When I was 10, I wanted to be:

A pro baseball player

Exercise I hate most:

Any Czerny exercise for piano

I'm deathly afraid of:

Waking up to discover that everything and everyone I know was just a dream.

If I was auditioning for "American Idol," my song would be:

"My Old Flame" imitating Spike Jones imitating Peter Lorre.

The first band I saw in concert (when and where):

Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band when I was 8 years old at an outdoor concert in Rochester, N.Y.

The best concert I've ever seen:

Witold Lutoslawski conducting the premiere of his 4th Symphony with the L.A. Philharmonic

TV marathon I could watch all day and why:

"Northern Exposure" because the characters are so well-conceived.

Favorite Pittsburgh-area landmark.

Driving into town from the Fort Pitt Tunnel at night

Saturday mornings you'll find me:

Teaching piano lessons in my studio.

Best new gadget I've tried recently.

Amazon Kindle

The person I'm most often mistaken for:

Someone's rabbi

The worst advice I ever received:

A guidance counselor in my high school telling me not to graduate early because these "were the best years of my life."

In high school, I was:

Anxious to get on with my life.

The most famous person I ever became friends with:

Henry Hillman

The movie that always makes me cry:

"Cinema Paradiso"

My most treasured fashion accessory is:

A production jacket from Warner Bros. Studios for writing music for the "Batman: Animated Series" TV show

What you'll always find in my glove compartment:

Power bars

My most embarrassing junk food:

Peanut butter-filled pretzels

If I wasn't a musician, I'd be:

A teacher looking for a job.

The last book I read:

"The Adventures of Curious George" (I have a 3-year old son.)

My favorite Pittsburgh pizza:

Maisie's, out here in Ross

Movie I could watch every time it appears on cable:

"Enter Laughing"

My favorite website:

KDKA school closings site

My most memorable fashion mistake:

While playing viola in a string quartet at a wedding, I forgot my black socks and had to tuck the end of my tux pants into my shoes.

If I could live my life as someone else, it would be:


My childhood nickname was:


My favorite "bad" movie is:

"Chopper Chicks In Zombietown"

My first job:

Piano teacher ($2 per lesson)

My worst job:

Sorter of dirty laundry at a hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D.

My favorite cable channel:

Comedy Central

The song that always gets me out on the dance floor and why:

"Blame It On My Youth" because it's slow and I can't really dance.

Life would be better without:

Extremists on both ends of the spectrum.

If I could tour with any two bands, they would be:

Frank Zappa and James Taylor.

I never travel without my:

Bose noise-canceling headphones.

People would be surprised to know that I:

Can fingerspell (my sister is deaf).

Daniel May.
With touches of swagger and grace this seasoned soulful singer-songwriter delivers an album full of melodic twists and turns. From the jail-bustin’ freedom of “Lights Out in Tupelo to the edgy southern blues rock of 'It Ain't You' and the beautiful flamenco touch of 'Enjoy', every song is succinct with style, story and soul, while the album maintains a wonderful sense of continuity. Daniel May's voice ranges from a leathery Clint Eastwood rasp to warm, rich baritone, but both are like listening to a good friend sharing a few stories. Producer Anthony Newett captures the spirit of each song brilliantly.