By Heidi Baumstark
Music man Anthony Krizan was the mastermind behind the Middleburg Film Festival 2018 Impact Award concert honoring songwriter Grammy award-winning and multi-Oscar-nominated songwriter Diane Warren on Saturday, Oct. 20. Warren was honored for using the power of the pen in her songwriting to raise awareness about social issues and her ability to connect people through her music. Her songs are featured in more than 100 motion pictures.
Why did you lend your talents and time to a film festival in Virginia’s horse country miles from your Sonic Boom Studio in central New Jersey?
I got a text from Diane’s [Warren] publicist and he needed a musical director for her Impact Award event Saturday night. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I’m a record producer, song writer and guitarist, and had to change gears and be versatile with all 11 songs we performed. Since this was a film festival, all the music was in movies. Songs ranged from urban, country, ‘80s pop and rock; songs from Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Cher and Faith Hill—very women-empowering songs. Diane’s music is super pop and urban; she’s like the wizard behind the curtain when it comes to her musical talent.
Describe your experience pulling a band together and crafting the musical arrangements for 11 songs.
Ray Costa from Costa Communications hired me to be the musical director. I had two weeks to put a band together and get rehearsals in. I’m a perfectionist so I wanted everything to be just right. And Diane was great; she said, ‘Make it your own—do your thing!’
The band consisted of Krizan as Musical Director, Guitar, Background Vocals; Marisa Corvo, Lead Vocals; Muddy Shews, Bass Guitar; Chuggy Carter, Percussion; Eitan Levine, Keyboards; Lou Petto, Drums;
Julie Baldassare, Background Vocals; and Tracy Sousa, Background Vocals.
Singer Marisa Corvo gave a stunning performance that night as lead vocalist. What is her background?
Marisa was on American Idol, Season 11 [Jan. 18, 2012 with judges Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson and Steven Tyler]. She’s just got a great voice and gave a wonderful performance Saturday night. I specifically chose Marisa; she’s got energy and a great personality. She’s from New York and once I told her about this opportunity, she dropped everything to come, including her vacation plans in Aspen so she could make this festival. And Diane loved her and took to Marisa right away.
What are some films your songs can be heard in?
Some of the films were Deal with Burt Reynolds; The Replacements; Space Jam (Michael Jordan) Danny (a short film); All in Time [Krizan was in the film as a street performer]; and TV shows.
What inspired you to go into the music industry?
It all started when I was 8-years-old riding in the back seat of our family car heading to Canada. We stopped at a small gift shop and my dad bought me this little Native American bongo drum with animal hide. And my mom always played music—soul music and Led Zeppelin. I started playing gigs at 11-years-old.
What is one highlight from your career in which you are most proud of?
My style is rock, blues and soul. My Dust and Bone album was released in January 2017.
Would you come to the Middleburg Film Festival again, possibly assuming a musical director role again on a recurring basis, building on the success of this year’s event?
Yes, I’d love to come again. From the feedback I heard, people said they never saw a rock show with classic huge songs at earlier Middleburg festivals. One lady said she’s been coming for six years and this was the best thing she’d seen. People have already asked, ‘So what are we going to do next year?’ I’d love to be part of the festival next year and come back to play at other events in the area, too.
It was great to meet Sheila Johnson, the CEO and founder of Salamander Resort & Spa. She’s so cool and down to earth. She was up on the stage with us and Diane, rocking out to our version of Cher’s ‘Turn Back Time,’ the encore. After the last song, she wanted to keep it going. I was 100 percent game, but I was told we had to clear the room and stage for the next film being featured. I was about to get the band to break into ‘Respect’ by Aretha [Franklin]. And I hear Sheila can sing, too. I hope I can make it up to her next time around.
As one of the premier songwriters and producers in the New York area, Anthony Krizan’s fame rose in 1994 as lead guitarist for the successful jamband, Spin Doctors. He also co-wrote the band’s third album, You’ve Gotta Believe in Something; that album provided the theme song for Michael J. Fox’s hit TV show, Spin City. Five of his songs made the Spin Doctors’ greatest hits collection, including “Miss America,” which was adapted for Howard Stern’s book released under the same name. His time with the Spin Doctors included appearances on the The David Letterman Show and The Jay Leno Show and a stint touring with The Rolling Stones during the Voodoo Lounge Tour. A prolific songwriter, he writes both for himself and others. He wrote “Stand By My Woman” which is a song made popular by Lenny Kravitz. .
More information on the Middleburg Film Festival can be found at www.middleburgfilm.org.
This article first appeared in the November 2018 issue of Middleburg Life.