Liv & Sandy

She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He came into this world at Brooklyn Hospital, lived all around Brooklyn winding up in Sheepshead Bay. One Sunday night in February 1964 he saw the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and it changed his life.

She went to a concert with her cousin and saw Prince or the ‘artist formally known as’ or, well you know who I’m talking about. She thought it was the, “coolest thing in the world.” She decided she wanted to be a famous singer or tennis player and although she wound up with Billie Jean King’s autograph she lost interest in tennis when she was 12. She sang in church and for weddings and funerals. She didn’t particularly enjoy the funeral dirges, but she found that the act of singing filled and fueled her heart.

He played saxophone in the school band. At 15 he formed a rock band. The band lacked a bass player so he bought a bass over on Atlantic Avenue and taught himself to play. What he discovered was he had talent, real musical ability.

He played with various bands around New York and wrote lots of songs. He did session work, produced music, even worked with Todd Rundgren. Then his family relocated to the country, to Germantown where he graduated from Germantown High School. Eventually he headed off to the west coast to change and explore his musical life.

She left Minnesota and went to college at Skidmore in Saratoga Springs. She studied theatre, acted in and wrote plays and musicals and of course, she sang. After graduation she moved to Los Angeles.

In L.A. she landed a job in TV working on “Star Trek, The Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine.” One day she figured it was time to get serious about her music and joined a songwriting group. At that first group meeting she met him. He was on stage singing one of his own songs. He is Sandy McKnight; she is Liv Cummins (pronounced Leeve).

He became her songwriting mentor; they became a team. They moved to Columbia County in 1994, then to Watervliet and eventually settled in Copake.
They became part of the music scene in the Albany-Saratoga area. Liv opened for Livingston Taylor at the Egg; Sandy began producing area bands. Liv cut a CD at the Clubhouse Recording Studio in Germantown and together they went on the road, a 25 city concert tour that garnered airplay on over 70 radio stations.

Back in New York, Liv said, “Let’s write a screenplay.” The result was a musical, “The Big One,” which got her accepted into NYU grad school. In the meantime Sandy began developing a sitcom titled “Perry” and an animated series, “Lily.” Sandy also wrote for VH-1 creating the Top 10 Countdown. It was here he gained a very important insight, “I learned TV was not inaccessible.”

Moving to Copake recently they came up with a unique entertainment idea. “We wanted an outlet, a space to do our work, our music and sketches and for other artists to do their work, too,” Liv explains. They discovered the Pleshakov Music Center in Hudson was open to new entertainment ideas. Vladimir Pleshakov told them, “This is exactly what we’ve been looking for.” A monthly variety show that’s a cross between the Ed Sullivan Show, Saturday Night Live and Monty Python; “Saturday Night Liv,” was born.

“Why this venue?” I ask.
“We do so many things it was limiting to just do music or theatre. We thought, what if we had a show where we could do everything,” Liv chimes.

“The Ed Sullivan Show was the last show with variety,” Sandy explains. “You might have dancing mice, a plate spinner, stand-up comics and the Beatles all on the same show. It was the whole spectrum of entertainment.”

Sandy, whose new CD, “Splunge” is about to be released, writes most of the comedy sketches and they perform their own music, but there are other acts too, jugglers, comics, musicians, singers. “We have a colorful cast of characters. It’s a place to take chances, it’s entertainment for all ages,” says Liv. “The idea is inclusion.” One of the comedy sketches in this month’s show is a portion of Sandy’s sitcom, “Perry.”

Liv and Sandy are talented, delightful and very funny people. Each has a quick sense of humor and comic timing that translates splendidly into their creative work and ultimately into “Saturday Night Liv.”

The June shows are Saturday the 22nd and Sunday the 23rd at the Pleshakov Music Center on Warren Street, Hudson.

Adults who remember the variety shows of the 1950’s will love “Saturday Night Liv,” as Sandy puts it, “it’s exposure to every kind of entertainment, when you experience it all you gain a point of reference. Kids don’t have that today and it’s important they experience it.”

We’ll talk next time From The Road.

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