Tracy Newman and the Reinforcements

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Tracy Newman grew up in Los Angeles. She started playing guitar as a young teen, usually sitting on the diving board of her family’s pool, strumming for hours each day. Back then she was mostly influenced by the Kingston Trio, because she could actually play some of their songs, especially “Tom Dooley” which had, and still has, only two chords.

After high school, Tracy wanted to be a folksinger, but her parents insisted she go to college. She went to the U of A in Tucson and quickly dug up the “folk” community. Soon she stopped attending college and was playing on street corners for money.
Understandably, this freaked out her mother who flew to Tucson and dragged her back to LA for “help.” The therapist, an elderly man in a suit and tie, kept nodding off during Tracy’s sessions. I guess he couldn’t relate to an upper middle class teenage girl who just wanted to be a folksinger. It’s taken Tracy a while to get back to her dream.

In the early 70s, she joined an improvisation class taught by Gary Austin, which became The Groundlings.   Tracy is a founding member, and besides being in the show, she began teaching and directing there. Her sister, Laraine Newman was the first Groundling to be discovered there by Lorne Michaels for Saturday Night Live. Others include Phil Hartmann, Jon Lovitz, Julia Sweeney, Will Ferrell, Will Forte, Kristen Wigg, Chris Kattan, Taran Killam.  And other notable Groundling alumni – Paul “Pee Wee Herman” Reubens, Kathy Griffin, Lisa Kudrowm Melissa McCarthy and Jillian Bell.

It was at the Groundlings that Tracy met her future TV writing partner, Jonathan Stark. They started on Cheers, and worked on many shows, including Bob (Bob Newhart), The Nanny, Ellen, The Drew Carey Show and Hiller and Diller (Richard Lewis and Kevin Nealon.)
three photos of Tracy Newman, with writing partner Jonathan Stark, winning the Emmy with Ellen Degeneres, laughing it up with Jim BelushiIn 1997, they won the Emmy and the prestigious Peabody Award for writing the ground-breaking “coming out” episode of Ellen. In 2001, they created the ABC comedy, According to Jim, which recently completed it’s eighth and final season of production. Tracy has been writing songs all along and is once again performing full-time. She has three CDs:  “A Place in the Sun,” “I Just See You” and “I Can Swing Forever,” (which is for children.)  Her current band is made up of Gene Lippmann (guitar and vocal), John Cartwright (bass), Paula Fong (vocal), Doug Knoll (drums) and Cary DiNigris (guitar.) The music is essentially acoustic folk. They do a funny, moving and memorable show.

at 69 years old Tracy Newman decided to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. That was a couple of years ago with A PLACE IN THE SUN, and now comes this delightful follow-up. I say delightful, because this is a collection of wonderful story songs, nothing heavy, just plain life episodes that we can all associate with. The inner booklet states; ‘Sing-along songbook’ and it’s apt. The musical arrangements vary from twangy country to lightly swinging jazz and retro pop with such fine studio cats as Robbie Turner (pedal steel, Dobro), Pat McGrath (guitars), Russ Pahl (Dobro, pedal steel, banjo), Dave Francis (upright bass), Jason Roller (fiddle, guitar), Dennis Wage (piano) and Terry Landry (sax). Yes, I have to say that ‘delightful’ sums this up just about right.

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