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Interview: Tina Scariano of FEELS LIKE HOME at The Green Room 42 on July 25th

"I always feel like I fill up my container and I can't go any further. And then I reach the end and I go, 'You know what? I think I want to go further.'"

Interview: Tina Scariano of FEELS LIKE HOME at The Green Room 42 on July 25th

As this article goes to press, Tina Scariano is preparing for a big night... a really big night. One year ago, the singing-songwriting renaissance woman (in modern parlance: multi-hyphenate) debuted a concert at her artistic home out in New Jersey. That concert is now a one-woman show, tailor-made for cabaret rooms, concert halls, and coffee houses anywhere that people like to congregate and listen to classic rock music by classic rock women (and one man) with classic rock messages. That's right, Tina Scariano is a devotee of the music of the Seventies, and tonight at 8 pm she will debut the show born out of that Jersey-an concert, FEELS LIKE HOME. The good people of Northport, Long Island, will be hearing the uniquely-voiced vocalist as she puts her individual spin on the songs of Simon, and Stevie, while she croons some Carole, and jams to Joni. Oh, and there is the beacon of light that always guides her to her musical center, the legendary Linda of Blue Bayou.

Interview: Tina Scariano of FEELS LIKE HOME at The Green Room 42 on July 25th Never fear, New Yorkers, for though Tina's performance at The John W. Engeman Theater is mere hours away (8 pm July 23rd), Scariano can be found right here in Manhattan in two days time at The Green Room 42, when she plays her first-ever solo show, right here in our own home town. And if this writer's recommendation isn't enough to convince you to get a ticket, there is a sizzle reel embedded in this article from the OG concert from whence cometh what is sure to be an amazing night of music.

Before Tina's opening nights here in New York, I sat down for a pleasant half-hour to talk about the strong women of her life, why the Seventies songs resonate with her, and what happens when a naturalized New Yorker gets pigeon bombed.

This interview has been edited for space and content.

Hi, this is Tina.

Hi Tina, it's Stephen Mosher.

Hey, Stephen, how's It going?

I'm fine. How are you today?

I'm doing great, and so happy to talk to you!

I'm so glad that you were free to talk to me. Where are you right now?

I'm in New York, up in Harlem. I've stayed throughout the whole pandemic and just been in the city.

You braved the pandemic in New York City?

I did, yeah, I did.

We did the same thing.

Yeah, you did... where are you at?

We're down in Hell's Kitchen.

Oh, nice.

We are New Yorkers, not by birth, but in heart, and here we stay, baby.

Yes, that's exactly how I feel too. I was like, "You can't get me out of here." (Laughing)

How long have you been here in the city?

I've been back about seven years.

So we were naturalized New Yorkers.

Yeah, almost... almost to the 10-year mark.

You've heard that too, huh?

Yes. Yes. Have you made it? Have you made your ten years?

Twenty-eight years for us.

Oh, you're like double platinum.

Let me ask you, did you hear this one? When I moved here, somebody told me that when you get to 10 years, you can call yourself a New Yorker... but during that first 10 years, every time that a pigeon shits on you, you get to take a year off.

(Laughing) Okay. I love that. I love that. Ok, then, I think I can take one year off, then.

(Laughing) So... you have your first show back in the city coming up.

Yes! I am so excited. I did a trial run of this show last fall out of the Holmdel Theatre Company in New Jersey, and then we workshopped it, and I built it into this more focused program, and I've got two shows scheduled for the city.

So why did you pick the theater out in New Jersey to test the waters?

It's become a sort of home base. The executive producer out there, Colleen Cook, is a good friend of mine and I worked with her, we became really good friends, and I was putting out these guitar videos over quarantine and Colleen was like, "Hey, we're thinking about maybe having an outdoor concert, would you do our first trial run of that? Would you put together a concert and come out here with an outside, socially distant, COVID-safe show?" And I was like, "Sure, I'll be the Guinea Pig for that!" So I wrote something, put it together, and that's how it was born.

That's a nice compliment, to be the first person asked.

Yeah! I know, it was a huge compliment. It was like low stakes for everybody (Laughing) except for me, of course. She was like, "Let's just try it and see, no pressure." (Laughing) And now she's got a whole series of outdoor concerts that she does out there.

How did you feel after testing the waters, after your first show?

Oh my gosh. I felt great. The response could not have been better. I think we were all craving that sort of unity and shared experience at that point - this was last September - so to be in a space where we're creating music, we're creating art, and it was just me and my guitar up on a platform outside... so we had quite a gathering and it was great. I felt really inspired and really ready to write this next sort of incarnation of the show.

So the show has gone through some changes since you tested it out.

Yeah. It's gone through some pretty big changes, it's gotten much more focused - before it was a little bit of everything. I had some original songs that I wrote about the quarantine, and I was doing some Disney stuff and Broadway stuff, but really focused on sort of the music of sixties and seventies folk-rock, and I really wanted to take that and turn that into a very focused program. So now it's really... Linda Ronstadt is my sort of guidepost in the show and I've added in music from Stevie Nicks and Joni Mitchell, and Carole King, and I really want to celebrate (mostly) the women of that folk-rock music movement, in this show. So that's why we settled on Feels Like Home and sixties, seventies folk-rock.

What is it about that era that draws you in?

Oh my gosh. I think, mostly, because I grew up listening to that music. I grew up on Peter Paul and Mary, I grew up on Carole King, and the music is so timeless, it doesn't age, it never goes away. It stays the same; the movements that they were writing these songs for back in the sixties and seventies still hold true today. The love songs hold true - they're songs that you can sing in any decade and they hold strong.

Is this music that your family introduced to you or is it music that you stumbled on as a young person?

A little bit of both. My dad was a huge oldies fan, he always had the oldies station on, so we were growing up with all the top sixties music. And my mom was a huge Beatles fan, Carole King fan, and she was playing all that. I found like-minded people in Billings, Montana, and I was introduced to Joni Mitchell: I remember going over to a friend's house and their mom would play Joni Mitchell at the kitchen table and we'd all eat spaghetti and sing Joni Mitchell songs together. I just fell in love with her, especially the Blue album.

As a songwriter, are you greatly influenced by this music as well?

Absolutely, yes. I'm still pretty new to the songwriting, a lot of my songwriting is parody kind of stuff, so I'm taking things that are already written... but I'm starting to dabble in singer-songwriter stuff and it's very much influenced by these women.

I see you're also doing some James Taylor, amongst all these great women of folk-rock.

Oh my gosh, I had to have James Taylor in there... I have a whole section about Carly Simon, and I feel like I cannot talk about Carly Simon without talking about James Taylor... and I can't talk about James Taylor without talking about Carole King. So, with all the women that are in my show, that sort of interlooped with him personally and professionally, I had to talk about him in the show and I've got "Fire and Rain" in the first act and "Feels Like Home" with a little talk about him. But he's James Taylor, he's iconic. I had to have a little bit of James in there, cause he kind of ties together my gals that I talk about.

They were all so interconnected. I don't know if you've ever had the chance to look at the record album for In The Pocket but if you were ever to pick up the record album - the inner sleeve has all the lyrics on one side, and on the other side is a photograph of James and Carly with their friends and Joni Mitchell is in there. And James sang background on one of the songs on Tapestry - they're all connected.

I love that. I'm also part of a band called A BAND CALLED HONALEE - it's a Peter Paul and Mary tribute band, and we talk a lot about how the singer-songwriters of that time all knew each other. They were playing each other's music, they were sharing each other's music, passing it along, and they were all friends and interconnected. The Mamas and The Papas and Gordon Lightfoot, whole troupes of people were sharing each other's music. So that's kind of what this show feels like: getting all those friends back together and sharing their music again.

Do you feel lonely, up on the stage all by yourself, doing this show about a bunch of singer-songwriters that were a family?

It could but I actually decided to add a band for this incarnation of the show! I've now got a drummer, a lead guitar player and I'm also going to be on guitar for a few songs, and I've got a bass player - it's an incredible band behind me. So I won't be too lonely.

This is your first solo show, isn't it?

It is.

What took you so long?

I don't know ... that's a great question. That's a really great question. I think it was the pandemic that really pushed me into gear to get this going. I was able to really pause, stop, look at my life, see what I wanted to do. And I always had this music in my life and it was always something that I fell back on, loved, and used for fun... then it started getting a little bit more noticed. And I learned guitar (mostly) during the pandemic, which sort of jump-started the whole show because otherwise, I wouldn't have been able to accompany myself last fall. Being able to play the guitar and accompany myself... I wouldn't have had that time or that focus, had there not been a stay-at-home order. So I really have to thank the pandemic for, or really lightened the fire.

Something good usually comes out of something terrible.

Agreed, absolutely agreed. Yes. Silver linings.

So now that you have made this leap into live performing, as a multihyphenate, who does so many other things, do you think that this is going to take the front burner, or are you going to continue to focus on the styling and your work as a managing director and the podcast?

I'm going to keep all my hyphens... I actually am no longer the managing director, for Out of The Box Theatrics. It was a wonderful job, but I decided to because I was focusing on this show and the podcast and my makeup business - those are going to be my three main hyphenates - and my goal in life has always been to support myself through creative endeavors and I finally have been able to make that happen. Everything that I make income with is a creative source, and this show is just like icing on the cake. So I'm hoping to take this on the road. I hope to get it out to Middle America, back home to Montana, I would love to take it on tour, and I'm working with my manager, Kristen Ernst to make that happen.

If you go out on the road, would you do it with the band or would you go back to doing it with just you and the guitar?

I'd love to have the band with me, I would hope that they'd all be with me. I toured before with a small band, with my folk band, and it's such a special experience and I would love to do it again. And I think it really enriches the whole performance and the whole experience, to have more instruments with you. And it's less lonely! (Laughing)

Tell me about Obsessed With The Best. How did that start?

Interview: Tina Scariano of FEELS LIKE HOME at The Green Room 42 on July 25th That, again, is a pandemic baby! My very good friend and former roommate, Alex Ferrara, and I were finding ourselves chit-chatting over text message, and Facetiming, and we've always been each other's touchstones as far as you know, "What are you doing to keep yourself healthy and happy? What products are you using? What are you listening to?" and we were like, "Maybe someone else would want to listen to us talk." So we said, "We're going to go on Instagram live this week," and we each picked three things that are bringing us joy. We'd start right after the pots stopped banging for the seven o'clock heroes, we'd bang our pots, and then we'd start the Instagram live and we'd say, "Okay, here are my three products, or three things that have brought me joy this week, during this pandemic." We got this little following, it really took off; then we were approached by a producer who said, "Would you also consider turning this into a podcast?" We said, sure. So we were like, "We have no idea what we're doing." We just dove headfirst into it and now we're heading into season three of Obsessed With The Best. We have a focus on beauty, wellness, and inspirational women. So it's very female-focused, very much what makes the modern woman thrive, what makes her life easier, better, more fun, and joyful.

Who are your top three inspirational women?

My mother, hands down, number one inspirational woman. (Laughing) Joni Mitchell - I love her, her music, her voice. And.... oh gosh... ok... top three.... ok... I'd have to say my Nana, my mom's mom. she is 91 years old and she always has a smile on her face and she's got the most positive attitude. I always ask her how she is and she always says, "Well, I'm still here."

That's a good way to live. So what was the learning curve like, going from somebody who knew nothing about podcasting to having a podcast with 43 episodes?

It's been a huge learning curve, but we've had an amazing producing team, Alan Waters, and his wife, Rachel at DimlyWit Productions. They have walked us through the entire process; they have done all of the grunt work for us, getting this setup. Podcasting is supersaturated right now, so we are trying to find a way to stand out in a market that is so saturated, but it's been fairly successful. We've gotten a lot of really awesome feedback, and we've got some really wonderful guests lined up for season three and we've had a lot of amazing guests already on season two. That's our main focus: to get these women's voices uplifted and out there.

You have a really unique sound to your voice that fits the folk-rock vibe, but you also do a lot of musical theater. How do you find a temperate place for your voice to blend in, in musical theater, where it needs to be unified, and then stand out in your own work where it needs to be unique?

Interview: Tina Scariano of FEELS LIKE HOME at The Green Room 42 on July 25th That's a wonderful question. And thank you for what you said about my voice. I have a degree in musical theater and I'll say ... I feel a kinship to Linda Ronstadt because she was always told that she could sing anything. She had this huge range and she sang rock, and folk, and musical theater, and all these things. I got a lot of feedback about my voice, my whole life, my whole career, and I was always trying to fit into a certain slot in musical theater. And because I have these different colors of my voice, it was very hard to find that one lane in musical theater, and this kind of music was a place where I didn't have to put on any sort of other layer - it just was what my voice was. And once I leaned into that, this whole other life opened up, of music and shows and creative opportunities. So now that I've been leaning into that, I've found that I'm less inclined to lean towards musical theater because I'm being celebrated in this other lane. I'm no longer trying to fit into some small box, I'm able to create my own rules and my own show. I finally feel like I found my voice and I'm able to celebrate it on my own terms.

I think that a lot of people who started out believing that acting was the track they wanted to take reach a point where they walk away from that because they're telling someone else's story, and they'd rather tell their own.

Exactly. Yes. Yes! And I wanted that ownership, that ownership to tell my own story.

So even though you're leaning more into telling your own story, you're not possibly going to give up any opportunities to play Christina Crawford, are you?

Oh, never, never, oh my gosh. That is one of my favorite roles ever. I will die playing that role. I will always always be playing Christina: as long as Christina Crawford will have me, I'll be there.

I haven't had a chance to see Mommie Dearest, The Musical, and I know that Christina wrote it. Has she approached it from a straight point of view or has it gone the camp direction?

It's so unlike the movie; it's completely unrecognizable from the movie. It is much more from Christina's point of view, cause she didn't have any rights with the movie. She was not involved in the movie and it was really disappointing to her how it ended up turning out - she really felt like her story wasn't told, it wasn't the side of the child who had been abused. So the musical really is from the child's point of view, from the victim's point of view, of child abuse. I hate to disappoint the fans out there, but there is no talk of wire hangers at all. And that was intentional. It was very intentional because she wanted to stay as far away from the campiness as she could. It's a very touching, beautiful story. And David Nelhs has done an incredible job with the music; it's really heartbreaking.

There are those fans of the book that would say that the movie bears no resemblance to what Christina wrote?

Yes. I think that's true, but when you talk to Christina, she's such a fascinating woman, she's such a strong, resilient, smart, witty, sharp lady. I wish people would go and read the book or listen to the audiobook because it's so much more than that movie. And yes, we all love the movie and we love Faye Dunaway in it, it's ridiculous. But the actual story of what happened to her is quite remarkable and extraordinary, and for her to survive that life is worth telling that story. And I think her musical is much closer to doing that than the movie.

You're very influenced by strong women - would you call yourself a feminist?

Absolutely. Yes. Yes, totally.

My household has really been enjoying the TV show Mrs. America on Netflix. Have you had a chance to look at it?

I have and Alex and I have actually talked about it on the podcast. We are both huge Gloria Steinem fans and we are obsessed with that show. It is so well done. And I also like that style and fashion of the seventies, I couldn't get enough of it, so that was kind of my dream show during quarantine.

I was thinking, when I was reading the description of your show, how much of it reminds me of the soundtrack that I'm getting out of Mrs. America?

Oh, yeah, for sure.

I want to shift gears and ask you about the makeup. How did you get into makeup styling and how much does it inform what you talk about on the podcast, which is all about beauty and self-care?

Interview: Tina Scariano of FEELS LIKE HOME at The Green Room 42 on July 25th My mom was a makeup artist - she was a makeup artist for Estee Lauder, and it's always been in my life, I've always been around makeup. Of course, being an actor, I was always doing my own makeup for shows, and I was always sort of the go-to gal, in High School, my friends would always ask me to come do their hair and makeup for prom. So I was always doing it on the side, for fun - I think I was somebody that they trusted, I never really realized that I could make a living off of it. Then, I was doing a show off-Broadway a few years ago and a girl in my cast said, "Can you do my eyes tonight? And can you do my eyebrows tomorrow? Can you just do my makeup?" And I was doing her makeup every night and she goes, "You should really consider doing this as a job." And I was like, "Oh my gosh, there's no way, I don't have any qualifications, I don't know what I'm doing," and she was like, "You actually DO know what you're doing." I looked into it and I got a certification, just so knew what I was doing was correct. And then I sort of put it out there. I was like, "If anyone wants their makeup done..." and it blew up. I am now a full-time makeup artist, and it's been the most joyful experience. I love it. It's a job where you make people feel good and you make people feel better and happy and confident. And that totally translates over into the podcast because I'm always meeting new people, a lot of new women, I also style men and folks of all genders, and I'm inspired by these people and hearing their stories. And I'm trying out new products and hearing about new experiences and things that I can bring to the podcast. It's all intertwined and it's this really magical, beautiful circle of beauty and wellness.

Put me in the picture of the way it feels to be a successful multihyphenate in 2021.

Interview: Tina Scariano of FEELS LIKE HOME at The Green Room 42 on July 25th Well, that's loaded because I'm racked with self-doubt constantly - I'm thinking, "Oh my gosh, I'm not doing enough," or "Am I successful?" and the thing that helps me ground myself is to look back on all of my accomplishments and go, "Okay, you know what? I did this and I did this and I did this... I'm doing pretty well." And to think back to where I was three years ago, this life would be a dream... so it feels really scary to have gotten this far but I also feel very accomplished, and I talk about it - I'm in therapy and I love therapy and I talk about it all the time in the podcast, and a lot of the time I talk about my therapist expanding the container, and I always feel like I fill up my container and I can't go any further. And then I reach the end and I go, "You know what? I think I want to go farther." So I know that I want to grow. I want to take this show further. I want to take the podcast further. I want to take my makeup further. So I'm excited and I'm nervous, but it's a really awesome place to be, just standing on the precipice of possibility.

Tina Scariano FEELS LIKE HOME plays The Green Room 42 on July 25th at 7 pm. For information and tickets visit The Green Room 42 website HERE.

Tina Scariano has a website HERE and a YouTube channel HERE.

This article features photos by Shani Hadjian WEBSITE and Michael Kushner WEBSITE

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From This Author - Stephen Mosher

Stephen Mosher is the author of The Sweater Book (a collection of his photography featuring celebrated artists from the entertainment communities of New York, Los Angeles, and London), Lived In Cra... (read more about this author)

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