General Hospital's Wally Kurth and the Kurth & Taylor Band
It never ceases to amaze me just how talented the actors of daytime truly are. It’s not only that they are able to engage us day after day as the characters they play on their respective shows, many possess multi-talents as song writers, musicians, singers, dancers, writers, directors and producers. Case in point. General Hospital’s Wally Kurth. By day, he’s the mild-mannered Ned Ashton of Port Charles -- a man with music in his heart who has been rather unlucky in love. His most recent romantic entanglement, Kristina (played by Jamie Ray Newman), sister to a former lover, Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn), met an untimely demise this past summer.
Luckily for Soapdom, however, Ned and Kristina were together again as Wally Kurth and Jamie Ray Newman performed for fans of General Hospital at GH Fan Weekend 2002 in Studio City, CA. Then, Kurth & Taylor took the stage, albeit a little light in the band member department, but with just as big a sound as ever, and rocked the house.
The warm summer breeze rustled the bushes of the outdoor venue, just the other side of the pool at Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City, California. The event? The Kurth & Taylor concert, a GH Fan Weekend mainstay for the past several years. The fans were seated. The gazebo, tonight’s stage, was lit. The equipment was tested. But, the guest star, Jamie Ray Newman was running late. Wally Kurth (Ned, GH), leader of the Kurth & Taylor band, took the microphone to chat with the fans until Newman was ready to go on.
“I’ve just past my 11th anniversary on General Hospital,” he announced, after the applause died down. He marveled at how long Kurth & Taylor have been doing the Fan Weekend. “We started at a coffee shop over in the other hotel in Beverly Hills,” he said. “That had to be like 1995. And before that, I guess I just came to these events!”
“Yeah,” the fans in the audience echoed in unison. Many had been attending the GH fan weekend just as long as Kurth has been on GH! “Time really flies when you’re having a blast,” Kurth declared! He explained that Jamie Ray was late in arriving, and was just now rehearsing with the guitarist. After getting word that she was about as ready as she was going to be, Kurth introduced his former co-star, Jamie Ray Newman (Kristina, GH) to a raucous round of applause. The character of Kristina had just been written off the show, and aired in her last scenes mere days ago.
Newman took the stage and sang a touching rendition of “Since I Fell for You.” “I got my heart broke on the show,” she explained. “So, (tonight) all my songs are love songs!”
Next up was a duet with Kurth. The song? “You Made Me Love You,” sung in character as Kristina to Mr. Ashton. It was obvious the two shared a special bond. “I was sad when they killed Kristina off,” said Kurth after the duet ended. “I was really sad to see her die. She came to the show and was, for me, a breath of fresh air.”
“This was the best year of my life,” said Newman. “And a lot of that is thanks to you, Wally Kurth! I love you!”
As Newman headed to the rear of the audience for a photo session and to mingle with fans, the Kurth & Taylor band took the stage. In prior years, the band consisted of at least four members, if not more. Tonight, there were only three! “You don’t see the whole band here tonight,” explained Christian Taylor, “but I have a feeling you are going to hear them!”
For the first time, Kurth & Taylor performed with pre-recorded a sound track, including the drums and percussion. (Drummer, Jim Bloodgood did not perform live this night.) The band for the evening consisted of Wally Kurth, Christian Taylor, and lead guitarist, Pat McCormick. They launched into the new song “Freedom,” from their latest CD of the same name (available for purchase at KurthandTaylor.com). Wow, do these guys rock! Song after song, they never disappointed. The bobbing heads and tapping feet of the fans was testament to that! It was all I could do to keep the camera still!
At a break in the music Taylor explained the reason behind the pre-recorded sound track. Back in 1987 when he first met Kurth, he had been working on a project for a major recording artist. Said artist wanted a pre-recorded sound track to enhance his live performances. Said artist approved a $600,000 piece of equipment to accomplish this and Taylor assisted in the production of the pre-recorded tracks. Taylor was careful not to mention any names because back then, artists were getting sued if it was discovered that they weren’t playing live. But then, Taylor blew said artists’ cover when he exclaimed, “It was really fun working with all the original Thriller tracks!” Kurth burst out laughing and said, “Well, I guess we know who said artist was!”
The upshot of the whole story came down to this. In 1987 it cost Michael Jackson, um, I mean “said artist” $600,000 to have pre-recorded music accompany and enhance his performance. In 2002, for Kurth & Taylor, the equipment only cost about $1,000 bucks! Ain’t technology grand?
Suddenly, a fellow GH cast member called out from the audience: “I LOVE Wally Kurth!” he bellowed. The fans laughed and Kurth replied, “I’d like you to meet my new boyfriend, Coltin Scott (Nikolas, GH)!”
Next, Kurth & Taylor played their Emmy Award-winning song, “Barefoot Ballet.” They shared with the audience that this was actually the first song they ever submitted for Emmy consideration, after performing about 13 other songs on GH previously.
“We just wised up this year,” laughed Taylor. “We missed out on 13 Emmys. Instead of the joy of winning one,” he said, “we feel like we lost 13! We’re the next Susan Lucci!”
They also offered a special photo opp to anyone who wanted to pay a few bucks to be photographed with them and their Emmy, all for a good cause, The Kurth & Taylor Foundation, benefiting various children’s organizations. “One of our greatest accomplishments as a band,” notes the Kurth & Taylor website, “is the work we’ve done to help children.”
Interestingly, Taylor was not available to accept his Emmy award on the night in question. He was working in a scene on General Hospital! “He was one of the groomsmen in Eddie’s wedding,” said Kurth. Those scenes were shot the same night as the Emmys.
For more on the Kurth & Taylor band and to purchase their Freedom CD and others, visit http://www.kurthandtaylor.com
GH Fan Weekend 2002 - The Boxing Match!
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