All posts by Mark Sonder

- Chief Entertainment Officer at the 35 year old company award-winning music and event entertainment firm Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency - Author, "Event Entertainment and Production." - Lecturer in Tourism Studies, Master of Tourism Administration, School of Business, The George Washington University - Flotilla Commander, U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, Department of Homeland Security

And the cradle will no longer rock by Bob Lefsetz

And the cradle will no longer rock.

That’s my favorite Van Halen song. It sounds so alive, but Eddie Van Halen isn’t.

He paid his dues. You’ve got to be a virtuoso. When no one is watching, no one is paying attention, you’re on a mission.

And then they started knocking around town. Most bands fermented in their local burb and ultimately pulled up roots and moved to Hollywood. Van Halen started here. And you could see them all the time. At clubs like the Starwood or Gazzarri’s, which never featured stars, just those on the way up or those who would never make it. The stars played the Whisky, the Troubadour, the Roxy. You went to the Starwood and Gazzarri’s to rock, to hang with like-minded people, it was a niche, and few broke out of it.

So Gene Simmons decided to pony up for a demo. We knew because we heard it on KROQ. “Runnin’ With The Devil.”

But still, Van Halen was stuck in no-man’s land. Everybody in L.A. knew them, but no one outside Tinseltown did. One wondered if their moment was gonna pass.

And it was not an act that played nicely with others. As in it didn’t always fit. Van Halen were born to be headliners. I saw them opening for Nils Lofgren at the Santa Monica Civic before the first album came out. David Lee Roth resembled no one so much as Jim Dandy, of the execrable Black Oak Arkansas. A larger than life cartoon that was playing to the back row of the arena even though we were in a theatre. As for Eddie Van Halen’s guitar, it was so loud and I was so close that it all washed over me, I didn’t get it.

Until “Van Halen II.” When the clerks at Rhino Records were testifying how great Eddie was, and they didn’t like anybody unless they were obscure, and someone playing this kind of music? It perked up my ears.

So, they were always around.

I took a class with Jim Rissmiller, he’s gone now too, about concert promotion. He brought in Noel Monk, the band’s manager at the time, and Noel filled us in on “Diver Down,” which was imminent. But it was “1984” that broke the band wide, I mean to everybody.

And David Lee Roth thought he was the act, but it was always Eddie Van Halen, always. Van Halen could continue with a new lead singer, but not without Eddie. Van Halen was one of the very few bands that could succeed at the same level with a new lead singer, that’s testimony to Van Halen’s skills. Sammy Hagar has the pipes, but look at the venues Hagar’s playing now.

But back to “1984.” It was released on New Year’s Day, when at the time no one put out any music in January whatsoever. And it dominated the airwaves. “Jump” was in the jukebox at the Rainbow, it was played over and over that spring and summer, long after it had left the airwaves.

And of course Van Halen was supercharged by MTV. But somehow they truly bridged the gap. Most of the classic rockers, those with careers before the music television service, did performance videos, where they stood still, Van Halen jumped around, to the point where Eddie had to get his hips replaced.

Actually, my favorite track on “1984” is “I’ll Wait.” That was one of the album’s breakthroughs. Not only was Eddie a star on guitar, he mastered the keys too, he could add new sounds, he wanted to grow.

And Dave went on to sing about “California Girls” as the Van Halen brothers and Michael Anthony licked their wounds and then two years later, the newly configured Van Hagar came out with “5150.”

The hit was “Why Can’t This Be Love.” The work track, the one that came out in advance. And at first it was different, you didn’t quite get it, but then you couldn’t get enough of it, you played it over and over again.

It was still the vinyl era. I bought the LP the day it came out. And it’s very good. At this point its most famous, most played cut, is “Dreams,” which could never be done with Dave, but my favorite opens the second side, “Best of Both Worlds.” It was the riff and the dynamics. From loud to understated. I tingle as I listen right now. This wasn’t pure balls to the wall, it mixed in-your-face with subtle, twisting and turning along the way.

And if you watch the video live from New Haven, not only can you see Eddie play the notes effortlessly, you see him moving in time, dancing at the front of the stage and the effect is one of pure, unmitigated joy. Isn’t that the point, to let the sound elevate your mood, to take you to heaven right here on earth?

And Sammy’s manager, Ed Leffler lifted the band to new financial heights. They were true superstars. They continued while everyone else faded.

As for the ill-fated encore with Gary Cherone, let’s forget it, everyone else has.

But we can never forget what came before.

Van Halen hooked up with Ted Templeman and redid “Runnin’ With the Devil” and it was all over the radio in L.A.

Eddie Van Halen lived his life like there was no tomorrow. As did those caught up in the sound. To the point there are tons of old fans scraping by, they never expected the sound to die.

And it turned out the simple life wasn’t that simple. Once you made the record you went on the endless road, where you got high and got laid but it was never enough and you could not get off the treadmill and Eddie got further into drink to cope. It’s hard to be a hero when you’re shy and you’re not sure if people truly understand you.

As for Jamie cryin’…the bands did not want to get stuck, they were reaching for the brass ring, settling down to a traditional life was not in the cards, you made it or died trying, there was no safety net.

And Eddie could make covers his own, but it was always the originals that gripped you, you truly wanted to dance the night away. And when you did you were singing along at the top of your lungs, even if you couldn’t hear yourself, because you bonded with the sound, it was your sound, your life. We all wanted some. As for Junior’s grades…school didn’t help you in rock and roll, it was religion, not something you could learn in class, you were either bitten by the bug or you were not, and those of us who were needed heroes to put our faith in, like Eddie Van Halen.

So where have all the good times gone?

That’s what I want to know. They evaporated. Rod Stewart sold out and sang the Great American Songbook which a rock fan might have heard on the way up, but never wanted to hear again. We believed, we put our faith in you, you weren’t supposed to let us down. It was love with Van Halen. We were looking for something to fill the hole and Eddie always did.

Did Eddie finish what he started?

I guess he did, but it doesn’t feel that way. We expected him to pull through. We expected to see him on the boards again.

And Eddie forged his own path. You know if you see his original Frankenstein guitar. If you owned it you wouldn’t let it leave your bedroom, it appeared that fragile. But in Eddie’s hands not only was it solid, it emanated the elixir of life, that’s what music provides when it’s done right, and Van Halen did it right.

What can I tell you. Everybody on the inside knew Eddie was sick. But he was sick for so long it looked like he would always be with us. But now he’s not.

And Eddie had a reputation for being off-putting, but the truth was he was just gun-shy, that’s how you get when you’ve been ripped-off and pushed around so much, some people embrace stardom, others know to put it on a shelf, they know who they are, and they don’t want the accolades to change who they are.

And first and foremost Eddie Van Halen was a musician. He’d be silent and uncomfortable, but if you got him into conversation, if he trusted you, he’d light up, he’d talk a mile a minute about music, he was passionate. That’s the essence of a great artist, that passion, the quest, which has got more to do with the music than the fame, the fame is just a byproduct.

So we expect the classic rockers to die. After all, many are pushing eighty. But Eddie Van Halen came from the second generation, he didn’t make it in the sixties but the seventies, and he knew what came before, he’d digested the Beatles, unlike today’s rockers he knew about melody and song structure.

But we don’t expect anybody from the second generation to die yet, unless it’s an accident, or…

The Big C.

It knows no limits, no matter how rich you are, oftentimes no matter how healthy you eat and live, it can still get you, it can still bite you in the ass.

Now one of the great things about being a musician is if you do it right your work sustains. And the work of so many of the bands of the seventies and eighties has already been forgotten, but not Van Halen, never Van Halen.

And there will be no more Van Halen. Without Eddie you just can’t do it, no one can replace him. Didn’t we learn that with Dave, with his revolving door of axemen? You see it isn’t solely about skill, it’s something more than that, it’s inspiration. Being able to transcend what has come before and create something new. To the point where Eddie Van Halen has a place in the same cadre of guitarists as Clapton, Page and Beck. Like Jimi Hendrix before him, Eddie Van Halen tested the limits, came up with a new sound. Suddenly everybody was tapping, trying to re-create “Eruption.” But the key is to come up with it first, to innovate, to push the envelope for the thrill of it all.

And it wasn’t only guys who were fans, but girls too, which wasn’t always the case with these bands. And Eddie married America’s sweetheart and looked like he was living the life, but life is more complicated than that.

Janie got Eddie clean. She sat him on the couch and said he was going to do rehab her way. And it stuck. But you can use all the bullets in your arsenal and still not beat the Big C.

And now I don’t want to end this. I could write about Van Halen forever. And I have, many a time.

And there’s such exuberance in tracks like “And the Cradle Will Rock…”

And such gravitas in numbers like “Love Walks In.”

It’s a conundrum. Eddie could do more than one thing, it was fascinating to follow the evolution.

But now it’s done.

But on hot summer nights to come we’ll still have that mellifluous sound of his guitar coming out of dashboards, out of earbuds. Van Halen was the sound of life, how can Eddie be dead?

I’m in shock.

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One World: Together At Home, by Bob Lefsetz

It was not must see TV.

Bob Lefsetz

I thought the Stones were good, Mick Jagger sounded great, and then when the keyboard came in, I realized it was all prerecorded and massaged and I was disappointed.

Yes, “One World” was not live. And it played to the lowest common denominator, the supposed one world we all live in, whereas when music was in its heyday, it was us versus them.

Even during the heyday of MTV. MTV made music into a monoculture, you were either on the station or off. But Live Aid was a seminal event yet to be repeated. Because it was about those in the know versus those out of the loop. Live Aid did not need to be on every television outlet, just MTV, because that’s where the youth lived, where the heartbeat of music lived, it was a club for those who not only had a sense of humor but could be irreverent and make fun of the status quo. It was about testing limits. The VJs were our heroes.

Instead, Saturday night we got late night hosts in suits. Come on, are you wearing a suit and tie at home every day? Isn’t all the scuttlebutt about how people are wearing no pants, yet you dress up like it’s business as usual?

Sure, it was cool to see the first responders, they got their due. And I can’t argue with the $127 million they raised, but this show missed the mark.

First and foremost it was not promoted properly, you did not get the feeling you had to be there, had to watch, or you were gonna miss out.

I chalk that down to promotion. Funny how a business based on promotion doesn’t know how to do it, especially when it’s out of their comfort zone. MTV would give away a house, constantly embellish the brand, but there was no innovation in the promotion of this show. No regular member of the population featured because they raised the most money themselves, no engagement of the audience in an era where it’s all about the audience.

The Stones built their rep on calling themselves the World’s Greatest Rock & Roll Band to the point where it was nearly impossible to get a ticket. Whereas you knew you didn’t have to watch on Saturday night, because if anything good happened, you could replay it on YouTube the next day, just like with SNL, just like with everything in today’s world other than sports. Once again, MTV had this right, with its VMAs. You had to tune in because of the antics, you never knew what you might miss, you wanted to be able to be part of the discussion right away, whether it be about Pee Wee Herman opening the show after being arrested, or the give and take between RuPaul and Milton Berle. We live for these moments.

As for the two hour TV show… This is what network does best, condense the product, remove all the edges for consumption for a mainstream that does not exist. Either it’s an all day event that we have to sit on the couch for, or we’re just not interested. As for tape delay on the west coast…even the Grammys don’t do that anymore.

And hip-hop rules the world, but it was markedly absent here. You can get the Stones, but not Jay-Z, Kanye and Drake to perform? The show was safe, when music has always prospered when it’s dangerous.

We do not live in a one love world. As a matter of fact, we live in an incredibly fractious world. But this was not addressed, for fear of offending someone.

Meanwhile, John Oliver goes on HBO from his house, makes jokes about the lame cellphone signal of AT&T, his boss, and then proceeds to eviscerate Fox News and Donald Trump, there were no false equivalencies, he attacked the preacher who blew away the virus, picturing his private jet in the background…this is what music did in its heyday, shine a light on hypocrisy.

And when the acts don’t do it live, oh some did, but when you don’t, you lose credibility. Give Alicia Keys credit for appearing without makeup, everybody else was so busy massaging their image and their music as to be homogenized. As for the tattoos… It’s just like in the seventies, long hair no longer made you a dangerous outlaw and today neither do tattoos. Years ago, but not now. Now you look like a follower more than a leader. Leaders always do the opposite. Want to test the limits today…get no tattoos!

But they’re part of the image today, and it’s solely image.

And there was no metal… For a show that claimed to want to bring us all together, a lot of musical elements were left out.

It’s easy to pat yourself on the back, say you did a good thing. But people who make a difference do more. They push the envelope, they make people uncomfortable, they make people think. Hell, there wasn’t even a DJ on this show, would that have been too hard to include?

Just because you raised some money, that does not mean you’re immune from criticism. Next time, make it must see. Everybody plays live live, it’s done in real time, the edgy genres are included. It’s the mistakes that draw people to you. Everybody would accept a technical glitch, especially under these circumstances. But instead we got a seamless production that no one is talking about now that it’s over. Hell, I just checked the Spotify streams, and not one has broken six figures! Sure, it’s early, but this show was up Saturday night, and if there was a huge desire to experience it, those streams would be through the roof, they’d dominate the Top 50. But the Top 50 is still dominated by the Weeknd, strangely absent here. Even Dua Lipa, promoting a new album, was left out. Tones and I, still at number six, with one of the absolute biggest tracks of the year?

This could have been done so much better.

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Original Woodstock Poster hanging at the office of Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency

Woodstock, by Bob Lefsetz

Everybody was on the bill.

Back then there were two lanes, AM & FM, hits and album tracks.

Woodstock was a festival for the album tracks. An era that began with either “Sgt. Pepper” or “Rubber Soul,” depending on your viewpoint. Was your hair long or short? Were you for or against the war? These were lines of demarcation. And those who went to Woodstock were on the FM, long hair, against the war, peace side.

But no one knew the contingent was so big, NO ONE!

That was the essence of Woodstock, THAT EVERYBODY WENT!

I’m sick and tired of writers opining on Woodstock and getting it wrong.

No, I did not go to Woodstock, I was at a summer program in Chicago. But to tell you the truth, we never thought it would happen, it was too good to be true.

So everybody drives upstate and the straight press is overwhelmed.

Now, by this point there was an alternative press. “Rolling Stone” being the music bible. But even “Rolling Stone” didn’t gain mainstream credibility until its scoops on Patty Hearst, and that was five years later!

I’m trying to paint the picture for you. The counterculture was hiding in plain sight, but the establishment didn’t see it. And Woodstock was evidence of its humongous size, even its members were overwhelmed. It was a tribe. And from thereon forward, the younger generation ruled.

Oh, it’d been percolating since the early sixties. It was not like today,  your mom didn’t have to work, there was extra money, there were no homeless people. Money did not drive the culture, MUSIC DID! And the music was not mindless, not made for money, but a direct transcription from the players’ hearts to vinyl, which you purchased and ate up like manna from heaven.

And you didn’t only listen to hard rock, soft stuff resonated too. As evidenced by the inclusion of such disparate acts on the bill as the Incredible String Band and Jimi Hendrix. We were addicted to FM radio, we were addicted to the music.

And now we’ve got all these naysayers saying there were not enough black performers. You can’t look at the past through modern eyes. The truth was there was very little black music on FM radio. It was kinda like Bob Pittman saying that MTV was an AOR station. Sure, it switched, as did FM radio, but at the time, every act that was credible other than Bob Dylan was there, and the rumor was that he was gonna show up too.

Now we keep hearing from the musicians what a dump it was. About the delays. And the lack of infrastructure.

If you expect musicians to get it right, you expect them to be able to pick the single and understand the business, and these are very rare qualities. It was another gig.

But really it was about the audience, the fact that everybody showed up and there was peace.

There are school shootings today, but back then they shot the Kennedys, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and there were riots and Nixon ran on restoring law and order and then 400,000 kids show up and no one gets hurt? IMPOSSIBLE!

It’d be like having no security at the airport and no planes getting hijacked.

And speaking of killing the Kennedys, don’t compare Altamont to Woodstock. You can only do it once, you can only surprise people once, you can only make your point once, after that it’s a variation on a theme.

And that’s what the Stones did, in an ersatz fashion. Pushing their faux danger, hiring the Hells Angels for security. The band had no pulse on how America worked. And they were English. And although English bands appeared at Woodstock, it was quite definitely an American production.

Now you’ve got to know that Woodstock didn’t really blow up until the following April. With the three disc set and the movie. News doesn’t stick to your ribs like music.

You dropped the needle and you were there, but you weren’t. You reveled in the tunes, knew all the stage announcements.

And then the movie!

Oh, I’ve seen “Monterey Pop,” I’ve seen them all, and “Woodstock” is the best. Because first and foremost it’s a MOVIE! With interviews and special effects and you felt like you lived through the weekend, you didn’t want it to end, which is why it played through the summer and I saw it three times, some people even more.

That’s another thing that bugs me, the naysayers who say the music sucked. Come on, you ever been to a gig? The only time it’s perfect is when it’s on hard drive. Rock music is a feeling, an emotion, and when it resonates…

Kinda like when you listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival.

They were seen as a singles band, because their tracks were so good they crossed over to AM, and they were on a crappy label, Fantasy. Most people had never seen them. And then the trio hits the stage and…

Listen to the studio recordings, they’re slick, smooth, but rock music live is not like that, it’s rough, it’s got edges. Kinda like Creedence’s performance of “Born On The Bayou” at Woodstock.

John Fogerty is screaming. In tune, because he needs no help, this was back when you had to have a great voice to front a band.

And as you listen, your head starts to nod, because the music has penetrated your soul and turned you into a follower.

This is how it was back then, that’s how powerful the music was. It was not background, but positively FOREGROUND!

And when I heard Creedence’s performance of “Proud Mary” on Deep Tracks yesterday, I didn’t wince, I got into it. This is the concert experience, first and foremost it’s about the energy, delivering the music, production was unseen and irrelevant back then.

And sure, you can talk about tracks on the original three disc set not even being recorded at the festival, but that was irrelevant, here was this SOUND!

And the bands that said no to being included. Like the Band, and Mountain and Creedence. Thereafter everybody said yes. Because Woodstock turned Ten Years After into an arena act overnight. Arlo Guthrie, Joan Baez and John Sebastian got a second wind. Sly & the Family Stone crossed over to white people, now it was not only about the singles. Bottom line, if you played Woodstock you were a SUPERSTAR!

Do you know what it was like if you weren’t there?

Now you had to go to every rock festival thereafter, because of the fear of missing out. And none was ever as good. But boy, the music scene flipped, now it was all about FM and the album acts. Credit that to Woodstock.

So don’t talk about the business. Today’s festivals are nothing like Woodstock. They’re corrals to sell stuff and shoot selfies. It’s about the money. Woodstock was an experiment. What would happen if you got all the greatest bands together? Now we know what happened, fans came out of the woodwork to see them.

So yes, it was a moment in time. Never to be repeated. In the spring of ’70, students were shot at Kent State.

But the war eventually ended. And the youth and their protests helped make this happen. The youth are why Johnson didn’t run for another term and why Nixon kept trying to wind down the war. And even Nixon went out and talked to the protesters at the Jefferson Memorial. He may have been evil, he may have been tricky, but he had more of a heart and more of a sense of reality than Donald Trump.

That’s another point… Back then the youth were Democrats. There were no Republicans in the music scene. Sure, money mattered, but not as much as the music itself. Which spoke to the culture. The acts insisted on using the studios of their choice with their own engineers. Albums couldn’t be rejected. The covers were a big deal. It was not a product, but a STATEMENT!

And the story of the seventies was about ever bigger acts dominating. Hell, every show sold out, you couldn’t get a ticket. And when corporate rock got traction, it was all over, the audience tuned out and disco reigned and then the whole thing cratered.

And then we went to the monoculture known as MTV.

So what did we learn?

Woodstock was the cultural monolith it was considered to be and described as back then. Lack of shelter, lack of food, the inability to hear…that’s what boomers used to VIP say today. But back then there was no VIP. We were all equal. And then Reagan legitimized greed and we got income inequality and we can never recapture that spirit again.

We’ve gotten so far from the garden it’s nearly impossible to see it.

But the truth was music was the highest art form. Its profits built the Warner Cable system. Music made more money than movies. It was a juggernaut. Driven by the best and the brightest.

We didn’t want to work in government, never mind the bank. Our lives were experiments, we wanted to be the best we could be, the Army ended up ripping off our slogan. We wanted to follow our heroes, look to the Grateful Dead for example.

But in ’69 it was a choice. Not everybody was on the same page.

But by the following spring, when the youth were exposed to what really happened at Woodstock, they just could not get enough.

It was a giant victory lap, a consummation of the sixties, the straight and narrow disappeared and it was all about personal liberation. Funny how income inequality has enslaved today’s youth to play it safe, talk about going backwards.

And that’s why you see the Woodstock blowback. Most of the writers are pissed they missed it. They weren’t there or they weren’t old enough or they weren’t even born yet.

The sixties were something special.

And so was the music.

It was a can-do era. Against all odds, Woodstock happened. Credit those in charge, irrelevant of how disorganized and unprepared they were.

Today it’s all about finding scapegoats, the problem can’t be with yourself. And you play it straight for fear of falling behind. And we measure everything with money.

But back then we were all in it together.

You can get by with a little help from your friends.

Image Top: Original Woodstock Poster hanging in the office of Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency.

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To book Martha & The Vandellas call 202-369-1063 today!

2019 Music & Entertainment Legend Award goes to Ms. Martha Reeves

2019 Music & Entertainment Legend

Each year the Casino Entertainment Awards honors a Casino Entertainer for a lifetime of outstanding achievement in the Casino Entertainment Industry.


R&B Singer, Actress, Author and Politician

For more than five decades, Martha Reeves has reigned as one of the legendary stars to emerge from Motown. In this 60th Anniversary of Motown her top 40 hits with her iconic vocal group Martha and the Vandellas include the still relevant tunes “Come & Get These Memories,” “Heat Wave,” “Nowhere to Run,” “I’m Ready for Love,” “Jimmy Mack” and her signature, “Dancing in The Street,” which was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Ms. Reeves is a member of the Rock & Roll, Soul, Rhythm and Blues Music, Vocal Group and Alabama Music halls of fame. A former elected council woman for the City of Detroit, she has been an advocate on behalf of musicians, session singers and recording artists for better wages and royalties. More at

As her agent, Mark Sonder will be accompanying Ms. Reeves to receive this Lifetime Achievement Entertainment Award at the Casino Entertainment Awards Ceremony to be held in October at The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Congratulations Ms. Martha Reeves for all you have done for music, entertainment, and the betterment of the world!

To book Martha & The Vandellas, at their Award Winning 2019 Special Fee, contact:

Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency
– Recognized Leaders in Event Entertainment Services 2019 – United States
– The Innovation & Excellence Award for Best in Event Entertainment
– Best Places to Work in Events, nominated
+1-540-636-1640 / +1-202-369-1063 / +1-919-985-2740 / +1-747-333-6003

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Fundraisers: Boosting Attendance and Donations with Headline Entertainment

Fundraisers: Boosting Attendance and Donations with Headline Entertainment

Molly HatchetWhen the Golisano Children’s Hospital at The University of Rochester Medical Centre (New York), has a special fundraising event, who do they rely upon to send a great band who will bring in the VIPs and big donations? The award-winning nationwide firm Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency is the answer!

Coming off another fundraiser this past Saturday (July 14) at The Meadow Brook Theatre in (funny enough) Rochester, MI where the Entertainment Agency provided The Drifters to a SOLD OUT crowd paying between $85-$125 per ticket, Sonder Productions has chosen for the Rochester, NY engagement the Southern Classic Rock Band Molly Hatchet. This event will round out the month of July just prior to the band performing in Italy in August.

The Drifters 2018To boost your attendance at events engage headline entertainment from Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency. For the best in Motown, R&B, Classic Rock, and Latino music and entertainment.

Mark Sonder, MM, CSEP, VFC

Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency

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The Drifters 2018Nope, this is not the name of a band, but the way we do business here at Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency!

– All of the Christmas Shows we booked in 2017 with The Drifters were SOLD OUT!

– All of the shows of The Temptations Revue featuring Nate Evans as of January 17, 2018, were SOLD OUT!

The Temptations RevueGet onboard and hire these and other fine entertainment we carry from DJ Spinderella (from Salt-N-Pepato Tito Puente Jr. & His Orchestra, and Martha Reeves & The Vandellas, plus many others, are here for you!

Available for Performing Arts Centres, meetings, conventions, trade shows, casinos, and special events.

Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency 

Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency






Click HERE to view on the web.

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Case Study: How Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency Delivered Lee Greenwood for the U.S. Army Europe Ball

U.S. Army Europe BallCase Study

U.S. Army Birthday Ball in Europe

Date of event: Saturday, June 24, 2017
First contact with client: Friday, June 16, 2017

For the past 2 years, Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency has supplied the music and entertainment for the U.S. Army Birthday Ball in Washington DC.

This year Mark received a call from Frankfurt, Germany while he was out of town in New Jersey and New Hampshire for five days only 8 days before this very important celebration in Europe.

The 2017 U.S. Army Europe Ball “75 Years of Strong Europe!“ will take place on Saturday, 24 June at the Steigenberger Hotel in Frankfurt, Germany.

Lee Greenwood Proud to be an American God Bless The USAOur Mission / Client Request:
To get Lee Greenwood to record a short video message to everyone. The Client would like to play it and then have everyone join in to sing Lee’s hit “God Bless the USA“. They didn’t need anything that’s edited or fancy, just a straight-into-the-camera message all in one take. About 30 seconds long.

No big deal…right? Well…as it turned out Lee was on vacation with his family that week in Italy aboard a boat! Boats over there have little or no connectivity to the internet. Oh, and did we mention the event date is only 8 days away?

Over 32 Years of Experience:
As we’ve seen “everything” in our over 3 decades in this business, we were able to locate Lee and ask him to accomplish this task in record time all in one take for our men and women in uniform in Europe. Lastly, Lt. General Ben Hodges was going to be in attendance and this was an extra special surprise for him!

Resolution / Mission Accomplished:
Lee and his i-Phone to the rescue to create this video, which was a surprise and a huge success! G-d Bless the USA!

Lee Greenwood VideoView Video HERE or click the video at right.
Learner Outcome:
To make music and entertainment happen, call upon Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency.
Mark Sonder, MM, CSEP, FSO-CS

Note: Mark Sonder is a Flotilla Staff Officer of Communication Services with the U.S. Coast Guard Aux out of Ft. Macon, North Carolina.


For more information on Lee Greenwood, please CLICK HERE.

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Selfie Monopoly Photo Booth Station – Marrying Smiles & Memories

Selfie Monopoly Photo Booth Station Now Serving The Washington DC Metropolitan Area

Wedding at The Bellevue, Chantilly, VAFor the DMV (District of Columbia / Maryland / Virginia) areas there is a game changer now in the events industry with the arrival of Selfie Monopoly Photo Booth Station.

Selfie Monopoly Photo Booth Station, is an open air real-time social media photo booth providing hours of entertainment and fun for all types of events, both social and corporate.

It is easily operated by our attendant(s) and takes high-resolution pictures using our professional DSLR camera and premium lighting.

The World Bank Copa Cabana BrazilThe sleek design features a 32-inch interactive touch-screen for immediate uploading to social media – Facebook, Twitter, Text, and Email.

It can also record videos with audio so your guests can toast the Bride & Groom, give wishes to the Birthday Boy/Girl, or be used to record product endorsements and testimonials, as well as Animated GIFs (see top photo), creating instant smiles and lasting memories.

Selfie Monopoly expands corporate branding with your logo, company hashtag or website address, on each photo, while enjoying the reach each guest offers in spreading your brand across various platforms of the user’s social media.

Social media will now fuel face2face engagement, not detract from it by burying attendee faces in their phones. This Selfie Monopoly Photo Booth Station is a great icebreaker!

Guests who engage on social media at an event are more likely to continue their conversations after the event. This is more valuable than any number of traded business cards and fosters true networking, marketing, advertising and branding of your product and services.

Selfie Monopoly Photo Booth Station, a Division of Mark Sonder Productions Entertainment Agency

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The Grammy Telecast by Bob Lefsetz

The Grammy Telecast, by Bob Lefsetz

Bob LefsetzIt’s a mainstream show in a niche world, no wonder everybody is unhappy.

It’s no longer 1985, MTV does not rule and we do not live in a monoculture where everybody knows the same hits. The internet blew that paradigm apart, but the old media lions did not get the message. Recorded music lost half its value yet TV and film believe they’re immune. Thinking people respect their wares and execs are smart and the truth is we lived through the greatest disruption of our lifetimes and those in the arts still have not gotten the message.

The proletariat owns the arts. And when you try to falsely purvey to them they puke.

The truth is no one likes all the music sung on the Grammys.

And the show is playing to a theoretical audience that doesn’t exist. One in which we love everybody and everybody’s deserving of a trophy.

Whereas the truth is our nation has never been more divided in our lifetimes. And what music has done is to put its head in the sand. Selling the same sound over and over again. We’ve got the same damn spirit we had in 1969. The classic rockers are still traipsing the boards, country music is a pale imitation of what once was and rap has been ruling for so long, decades at this point, that one forgets that in the MTV era one sound replaced another every couple of years. Hair bands were replaced by grunge which was pushed aside by pop and hip-hop. Where’s the new sound today?

No wonder nobody cares.

But you’ve got a cheerleading media beholden to the labels so you’re told that music is healthy. Forget the business, music is on life support. Because the best and the brightest have abandoned it and everyone left in the building is solely about cash. Art is about speaking truth to power, where was the truth tonight?

Over on HBO, John Oliver was analyzing why Trump could get away with uttering falsehoods, why people believed them, what we could do about it.

And on CBS we had uneducated nitwits fawning over each other in duets as if we cared.

We don’t.

Trump is the biggest rock star extant today. Because he got everybody’s attention, and we live in an attention economy. Whereas most people avoid the Spotify Top 50 and you need a guidebook to listen to the music, you’ve got to be a history buff, it’s so self-referential.

Trump understands shock and awe. Something Andrew Loog Oldham and the Stones specialized in, remember when Mick and the boys were dangerous, and Alice Cooper perfected. The world was against Vince Furnier, except for his audience. And one of Vince’s big songs, after “Dead Babies” and “Under My Wheels,” never mind the angst of “I’m Eighteen,” was “Elected.” He made a joke of the ’72 election, which truly was. Who’s poking fun at the political shenanigans today?

Vince/Alice freaks out the public with a record shrouded in panties and today the goal is to sell your own panties or hoodies or perfume, anything the lemmings who listen will consume. What happened to art? Art is all about conception. Housing your album in a school desk, brilliant. Hooking up with Samsung, lowest common denominator.

Music is ripe for disruption. And said disruption will be something inimitable that appeals to everybody. A new sound that’s less niche and more mass. Kinda like Trump, a dividing line that got us all paying attention. The Donald, love ’em or hate ’em, but you can’t stop paying attention to him. And the truth is however much it might bug you, he won.

And CBS and the artists were afraid of the blowback. Imagine if someone did take a political stand, a swipe at the President on the show, it’d be front page news, it would spread like wildfire over the internet. Instead, Adele won another couple of awards. For an album that’s mediocre that wasn’t on streaming services. There you have the music industry in a nutshell. Mercenary, hocking second-rate products. Read the press and you’d think Adele was the next Beatles, listen to “25” and you were bored silly, you wanted to take it off. But we had to hear how great she was again and again again. The same way these same wankers told us Hillary was gonna win.

But no one can say no to being on the show. They think by reaching everybody they’ve won. When the truth is it just demonstrates they’re pawns in the game, tools of the system. Have a little self-respect. If duets were that popular they’d dominate the airwaves, and they don’t. And all the trappings, the dancers on stage, in what world does that really happen?

And the truth is TV is bad for you, your image, your career. This is not the grainy clips of yore, rather you’re broadcast in HD on the big screen and the end result is it makes you look small. Music is something you feel, and you feel it at the gig, not on TV. And first and foremost it’s something you listen to, but that paradigm left the building eons ago.

Who cares who wins these awards? Other than those on the undercard who are trolling for bio material, the truth is everybody forgets who won and the awards have no impact, kinda like awards shows themselves. Remember when we all live-tweeted, well, the music has stayed the same but we’ve moved on, we realize no one is listening, does anybody on stage realize most people watching really don’t care about them?

But we want something to care about, desperately. Give us some truth, sold with songs we can sing along to. We are your audience, not corporations. And no amount of hype will convince me any of the nominees were groundbreaking, one listen songs that will be repeated and listened to in the future. It’s all grist for the mill. Everybody’s shooting so low.

So you hated the show. Don’t feel so unique. EVERYBODY hated it. You stayed tuned in to see your favorite, but they were compromised and you winced. And what you want to do most is crank up your favorite tune and forget the whole thing.

The future will not be ruled by CBS, never mind the Grammys. Music has historically been the hottest of media, the fastest to react with the truth, via songs embodying the character of those singing them. Come on, is that new Katy Perry track disposable or what? Overworked, as they all are, with multiple writers and producers and beats, how about a bolt of inspiration transferred to wax that we can all relate to? Like Keith Richards dreaming of “Satisfaction,” singing it into a tape recorder by his bed and laying down the indelible riff that was inescapable way back when and still works today.

Art, especially music, is not about overlaboring, but pure inspiration, channeling the zeitgeist.

But there was no zeitgeist on television tonight, it was just a look in the rearview mirror.

And what scares me is today’s youth have never been alive when music pushed the needle, when it was ubiquitous, written by the artists channeling their truth.

We’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden.

And nowhere do I see a new Joni Mitchell, the woman who wrote that song.

I’ve been wowed by technology, astounded by politics and all the while…

Music has become a second-class citizen.

You ain’t gotta know how to sing, you ain’t gotta know how to play, you need to know how to capture lightning in a bottle and lay it down on tape. Some of the greatest records are poorly recorded. Many of the legendary players can’t read music. But they know art is about latching on to mood, laying down in sound that which you feel, so that others can resonate.

If you resonated with tonight’s show you must be Neil Portnow or Ken Ehrlich.

As for the rest of us, we were sitting there dumbfounded, if we were watching at all.

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New Year’s Eve Television by guest blogger Bob Lefsetz

New Year’s Eve Television

Who are these people??

Bob LefsetzIf you’re watching television in a linear fashion, using the clicker to bounce from station to station in real time…

You must be a baby boomer. Everybody else got the memo, that visual entertainment is an on demand medium. Something to be called up when you so desire. To the point that a lot of the detritus that flies by on the airwaves is unknown to most people. Like the talking heads on NBC’s year in review show.

How did I know it was NBC?

Because it was their talent and their talent only. I don’t get up early enough to watch the “Today Show,” but I am aware of the Savannah Guthrie/Matt Lauer shenanigans, and when I saw Al Roker too, I knew this was a branding exercise. Kinda sad if you think about it, kinda like the old football team getting back together and believing they’re still relevant, giving it one more college try before time passes them by.

But at least I knew who those people were. The rest of the commentators?

They looked like nothing so much as those people living in their parents’ basements bloviating for VH1. Remember when it was a badge of honor to appear on television? I do, but most of the younger generation does not. Used to be appearing on TV was for the chosen few, like a record deal, now there are so many outlets that everybody gets a chance, and almost nobody breaks through. America is about sales. And everybody on television is selling fame. Can’t anybody say no?

Equally as laughable were the countdown shows. The aforementioned NBC decided to go with a special edition of Seth Meyers’ late night program, the one with anemic ratings that almost no one watches. Howard Stern is the king of late night TV, and he’s on in the morning! But his show repeats all day long so those who care can catch up and in this bizarre media world it’s those who go on after eleven who get the ink, this is the same media that told us Hillary was gonna win, can we stop covering the irrelevant Jimmys?

And the hottest actress of today revealed herself to be an idiot. Never forget, actors read lines, at best they have chameleon-like abilities, assuming they’ve got any talent at all. But as bad as Jennifer Lawrence was, Seth Meyers’ interviewing skills were even worse. He was uptight. Conversation is a skill. Which the late night hosts seem to have forgotten, ever since David Letterman skewed these shows towards comedy. And Meyers’ opening news bits were funny, but a younger Seth Meyers would be poking fun at himself for doing the same SNL shtick more than a decade on.

So we flipped the channel to see Ryan Seacrest, he without personality, hosting an affair with fake enthusiasm featuring talent most of us had never heard of.

I live in a bubble. I watch almost no television. But when I get into a room with a bunch of people and even the young ‘uns don’t know the hit songs, I’m convinced the model is broken. Even the biggest musical acts are niche. We think we’re still living in the MTV era, when if you’re on that channel everybody knows your name, but today no one knows most of the names, but if you admit this you’re castigated as an out-of-it pariah, who made these people the hipster police? Wear your alienated personality, fly your oblivious freak flag high, you’ll find you’re with the masses, that media keeps shoveling this crap as if anybody cares when the truth is…

These shows were not made for you. Come on, if you can drive, if you’re of college age or above, and you’re home watching these countdown shows the joke is on you. They skew young, kids who are locked inside with no options are the audience. But having been taken prisoner last night…

The recognizable were not so. I kept arguing that couldn’t be Jenny McCarthy, until someone on screen mentioned her name. I kinda get the boob implants which kickstarted her career. I wish it weren’t so, but media is run by old geezers impressed by hooters so it got her a leg up. But what has she done to herself now? Was it the lip implants? The cheek implants? Trying to look beautiful, she became anonymous, kinda like those plastic surgery freaks Jennifer Grey and Leeza Gibbons before her. Own what you’ve got, you’re unique, it’s your identity. And if this is the game you’re playing, to fit the looks and mores of television, you’ve lost the plot.

And Kathie Lee… I couldn’t tell it was her either!

But back to Ryan Seacrest. At least Dick Clark built that edifice, he had a right to host it. But Ryan’s like a record exec who never owned his own label, who never had his own money at risk. We give you a pass in the U.S. if you sit atop something you created. But caretakers? No way! As for Carson Daly… He’s too old. Yes, I might be ageist, but it would be one thing if Carson had any talent to begin with, and he doesn’t!

And speaking of talent…

One act after another came out and lip-synched and looked small.

But they could not turn down the opportunity, the exposure.

I don’t know what comes first, a clarification of who is really a star or a willingness of performers to say no. I enjoyed Mike Posner, but his heartfelt song “I Took A Pill In Ibiza” went by in a blur leaving no one but me satisfied. Thomas Rhett did three songs, ably, but he looked like a two-dimensional cartoon character trying to sell us breakfast cereal.

I give props to Alicia Keys, for her anti-makeup stance. But a young woman in attendance said Alicia was very brave. Which got me to thinking, if you were not beautiful could you take this risk? But one thing’s for sure, Ms. Keys is the purveyor of second-rate material, another vaunted star who doesn’t shine so bright but is anointed by the media so we are supposed to believe.

At least Fifth Harmony makes no bones about appealing to the still-developing youngsters. As for Panic! At The Disco…where’s the panic? Another B level act trying to stay in the game.

Which brings us to Mariah Carey. The evening’s designated train-wreck.

She delivered, that’s what you can count on her for. She’s long surrendered the crown of talent, that famous voice and range. Too many times she’s sung poorly live or not at all, tracks being her friend and last night…

Was a new low.

This is where we are folks. When you drop the mic, not caring that the fakery is being revealed. This is Ashlee Simpson on steroids. Now the media-industrial complex just thinks we at home are brain dead and if you see the face and hear the record that is enough. Then again, these are the same networks that sell us singing shows that don’t mint stars. But all the contestants want to be Mariah Carey, and the woman herself…is a complete joke!

How much further down this path can we go? Where pretty faces who can’t sing front songs about nothing? Music has abdicated its power. Who amongst today’s purveyors could be nominated for a Nobel decades hence? Damned if I know.


The mainstream has become a sideshow.

That’s the story of 2016. How the puffed-up media that thought it ruled did not.

Fox News couldn’t kill Trump. It capitulated. And then its head, Roger Ailes, was ousted.

The “New York Times” assured us Hillary Clinton was gonna win, and then she didn’t.

And Viacom, the keeper of the TV hipster flame, continued to go down the tubes, most people believe it cannot be saved, Les Moonves didn’t want to merge it with CBS and be taken down the drain.

And “Rolling Stone” is now a pamphlet.

We are seeing a passing of the torch. From old media to new.

And the old media doesn’t like it.

The old media keeps excoriating Mark Zuckerberg, as if Americans were nincompoops who could not tell false from true and Facebook is more influential than any outlet with perceived gravitas. First and foremost, fake news did not sway the election, it just reinforced beliefs already extant. But I will say…people find Facebook more entertaining than television. It’s personalized, it’s about real people. I mean what would you even say to Jenny McCarthy? You got tons of people not to vaccinate their kids and now you’ve sliced and diced your face in a vain attempt to hold on to a smidge of stardom? And Ryan Seacrest is just a vessel, with no thoughts of his own. He’ll be anything you want him to be, just like the rest of today’s perceived “stars,” who care about fame more than art.

And what was up with those gloves? I kept hearing how cold it was in NYC but my Dark Sky app said it was 41, positively balmy for a New Year’s Eve. If you can’t even get the temperature right, why should I believe you on the real issues?

But the truth is no one’s home. No one’s in control. Not only are we not paying attention, those in charge don’t realize this. Advertisers keep pouring dollars into television because they don’t trust the online metrics yet the “Wall Street Journal” rates the commercials and I’ve seen almost none of them!

But if you’re pissed off about the above…

You’ve got the wrong perspective. We won. We killed the mainstream media. We stopped paying attention. We go online for our news and we want it immediately. We don’t want to be teased about what’s coming up, just give us the facts.

And the fact is next year there’s no way I’m staying home on New Year’s Eve.

I’m going out for dinner with friends and if the action fades I’ll turn the lights out, long before the ball drops.

Because I know and you know it can be New Year’s Eve any night of the year. We toppled Black Friday, everybody got the memo that Amazon is not only cheap every day, oftentimes it’s cheaper than the day after Thanksgiving!

We’ve become unmoored from convention. We have it our way every damn day.

And that’s great.

Now we’ve just got to clear some of the dead wood out of the way. It’ll happen. There will come a time when there will be no more of these shows.

And I can’t wait.

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