Interview: Vinny Marini Sits On Our Couch

butt-joinThe Blues Foundation has announced a new CEO, replacing Jay Sieleman starting in October 2015. The Foundation is in better shape than when jay took over, both financially and in popularity, that is a good thing, thanks Jay.

Ms. Barbara B. Newman now has the reigns, and what can we expect from her, where is her focus?
Well our 
guest has scooped her, and Paul Benjamin, for a live music on the couch session in two weeks. September 8th you will have the opportunity to listen, call in and otherwise add positive input into the show.
We want to thank Vinny Marini for taking some time to chat about what we can expect and he hopes that all of you turn out and participate in the event.

 So Vinny Marini, host of Music on the Couch, Musician’s You Should Know. I think you now need to add ‘And Other Affiliated Movers & Shakers’ to the title.
In the past you have had PR reps, producers, club owners and other music officials, now you go and scoop up the new CEO for the Blues Foundation, Barbara Ballin Newman.
How did you manage this?

VinnyVinny Marini: LOL, as they say, it was simple. I asked. About a month back I asked a member of the Board Of Directors if they would assist in making it happen. Then, once Paul Benjamin was announced as Chair, I reached out to him and made my proposal. He was interested, but we had to wait for Barbara to be approved by the board (I want to make it perfectly clear, I had no foreknowledge of Barbara’s selection by the committee). Last weekend in San Francisco, when the Board approved her, she was asked about appearing on the show and immediately said yes. Then it was just coming up with a date she and Paul could both accommodate.

B411: Yeah my Mom always said, “you don’t know till ya ask”, a perfect example right here. 
This interaction between people sounds so much more like the blues world that we know, accessibility being the key and people helping people toward the same goal.
Yes, a cosmic polar shift from the previous times and leadership. I like it.
She has an impressive business background and her music base sounds equally impressive.

VM: Without rehashing her resume, I believe Barbara’s background in the non-profit and financial management world will advance the Blues Foundation, bringing new membership and spreading the word further than before, allowing the Blues to “Thrive” – to borrow your favorite word! Add to that a history of membership in other music organizations and concert production, and being Executive Director of a Synagogue with all the responsibilities that entails, yes, she is a selection I believe all members of the Blues Foundation should cheer.

  So what can we expect you to ask her? I mean is it gonna be a ‘friendly’ like in soccer, or softball interview or will you go into some serious issues that confront her and the genre as we move forward? Yes allowing for her newness I don’t expect her to be able to analyze and break down the entire scheme of the blues universe, but on the other hand I am sure she has some ideas and directions she is wanting to move to.

VM: My hope is that we can talk about her background more go beyond the press release for a better understanding of the woman and then discuss her thoughts for the future. Let’s not forget, Paul Benjamin, the new Chair, who has been involved with the Blues and the Blues Foundation for years is also going to be on The Couch that evening.
The Board is as responsible for the overall vision and direction of the Foundation. As you pointed out, Barbara will not have even begun her new position, which occurs on October 1
st. She will spend the month of September working with outgoing President/CEO Jay Sieleman (who will be my guest on my August 31st show, by the way – ( ) getting up to speed.
Do I expect Barbara to be able to share her entire vision; I do not. But I will explore why she took the position and what she sees as the major items to tackle over the coming years, whether they be about the growth of the organization or the issues that the membership see as needing attention. There were 30 candidates interviewed for this position, the vetting process was rigorous, I am sure Barbara knows some of the issues she is going to face. She is a smart woman. As far as the interview itself, not ‘softball’ nor will it be a Democrat on Fox News.

 Sounds fair enough, remember you will be graded for this interview by everyone who listens and others so bring your ‘A’ game.  If I might be direct for a moment, there is a thread that I started on a Facebook Group that asked for thoughts on where the BF should go, and or ideas that the new leadership should consider. It has been well received with over 200 replies by artists and fans there are some solid questions and ideas there. That might be a spot to visit in preparation for her appearance.

VM: As you are aware, I have been a part of this thread. I will certainly be using some of the thoughts shared there during my talk with Barbara and Paul. There are some interesting ideas on the thread and some folks also pointed out some frustrations with The Blues Foundation that, I believe, need to be addressed moving forward. As always there are some personal gripes and those will be ignored as far as my research material is concerned. I also hope some of those who have expressed suggestions and frustrations will call in during the show.

You said you would be taking phone calls from listeners, this is great. Also emails if one cannot be there. I think this is what separates what you are doing from the others in the field.
 How do you plan on controlling the questions, since there is a chance of some potential volatility there?

500x500HIVM: First, thanks for pointing out that Music On The Couch is Live, Uncut & Uncensored. It has always been important to me to let my guests talk and not color their opinions by pre-recording and editing.

As far as controlling the phone calls, there is a delay that would allow me to dump a caller who becomes abusive. I expect anyone who takes the time to call in to be respectful to my guests, on any of my shows, particularly this one, and will certainly not tolerate abuse or volatility. So many people use the world Framily when speaking about our Blues World, and framilies do not always agree on things, but I believe that treating each other with respect will move us forward quicker than rudeness.

If someone cannot be there live, they can send their question or comment to [email protected] – The phone number for the show is 347-633-9400.

This will happen two weeks from today – Tuesday, September 8 at 9:00pm CDT. Do you have a link to go to for the live show?
Anything else we can look forward to from you? since we got ya pinned dwon here.

VM: The link for the Live Stream on Tuesday September 8th will be: (

If you can’t listen Live, the show will be archived along with all my other shows at!internet-radio/cfa5.

Of course, I am gearing up for my IBC Shows. Three preview shows this year and then the Live Shows from fuBAR on the second floor of The Rum Boogie Café during The IBC Week. 7 Shows, one on Tuesday evening and then two a day, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday, and everyone who is in Memphis are invited to come up and visit. My page is already up at!2016-ibc/cusc – you can find the schedule of shows and more there.

If you are reading this and you won your local challenge, please send me an email at [email protected] and include the name of your society and which category you are representing Band, Solo/Duo, Youth Showcase and even Best Self-Produced CD.

Thank you Chefjimi for allowing me to share all this news with your incredible fan base… As you stated above “people helping people toward the same goal” – the key to keeping the Blues Alive AND Thriving! Have fun in Europe, have room in your luggage for me?

B411: Ahh no sorry, need room for MC outfits and shoes. Thanks for stopping by on our couch, break a leg.

Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
© 2015
Where Blues Thrives
Photos: Provided by guest

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