Tag Archives: Airlift Productions Makes Music

“Anchors Away” ~ Airlift Mike Holiday Reflections

Original WDSU-Airlift Productions-Children’s Hospital ‘Healing House’ krewe ~ (L-R) Heath Allen, Brian Landry, Rich Lenz, Micheal Ziants at the Airlift Productions Studios

It’s kind of funny the way life works, huh? We no sooner make our mark – than someone else comes along and spray paints the wall!

Rich Lenz worked at WDSU-TV here in New Orleans from 1994-2007, first as Sports Reporter, then Director, then Anchor.

Today, he’s in Tulsa at KOTV while Fletcher, Scott & Adrianna sit in his old chair down on Howard Avenue.

Someone spray painted the wall.

I first connected with Rich at a parochial school basketball game in 2002 wherein our boys (his Cameron and my Ben) were having at it … btw, St. Angela Merici went down that afternoon to the boyz from St. Pius.

In any event, Rich and I that day found our kindred muse – the guitar, music, Beatles & recording – and within weeks, Rich was bringing his ax “Sugar” by the Airlift Studios to make music, with yours truly as his engineer and producer.

It all started out innocently enough, with boy-meets-girl, boy-gets-girl, boy-loses-girl, etc. tunes, but by 2004, things took a turn.

Gambit article about Rich Lenz, Micheal Ziants and our initial shot across the bow for the Children’s Hospital gang – “The Healing House”

Make that a ‘turn’ for the better. Together with WDSU’s Norman Robinson & Heath Allen, along with a host of others along the way, most notably Brian Landry, Marketing Director for the hospital, Jerry Christopher from N’awlins cover band ‘Bag of Donuts’ & saucy Swede Theresa Andersson, we’ve recorded many Children’s Miracle Network Telethon tunes together.


L-R.HeathAllen, TheresaAnderssonMichealZiantsRichLenzAirliftProductionsNOLA
L-R, Heath Allen, Theresa Andersson, Micheal Ziants, Rich Lenz – during a break from the original HEALING HOUSE sessions, Airlift Productions 2004

The songs & videos capture the Spirit of the hospital’s staff, have been warmly received by New Orleans TV viewers, and have directly helped to open pocketbooks and raise millions of dollars in support of our New Orleans Children’s Hospital.

But back to the wall, the spray paint … and that mother Katrina. After losing the family home to Hurricane Katrina (the breached London Avenue canal sent flood waters to their roof top), it wasn’t long before Rich & family took off for greener (drier?) pastures.

Of all the tunes Richie & I have recorded together, his country-fied opus to his Katrina-ventures, “I Ain’t Livin’ in the Bowl No More” is among my favorites.

Think Garth Brooks meets Al Yankovic! Crank-up the speakers on your digital device and give this little ditty a LISTEN here —-

“I Ain’t Livin’ In The Bowl No More” ~ Rich Lenz – aka ‘Sheet Rock & the Spore Boyz’

Its been said that comedy and tragedy are forever joined at the root, and no doubt the humor in this tune came from some pretty damn frustrating heartache. Katrina survivors, you feel me? In a musical sense, I helped to sort of talk Rich off the ledge.

I love Karen Bailey’s back-up vocals, and on the harmonica? Why, that’s none other than former N.O. Saints All-Pro Guard (now quite the photographer) Brad Edelman. Oh, you should have been along for these sessions.

So, the happy ending? Rich, Leslie, Cameron & Claire now reside in Tulsa, Oklahoma where Rich is going gangbusters, anchoring the wake-up show on KOTV to #1 ratings! I don’t know about happily ever after… but they sure are happy… now. And we miss them.

Rich Lenz, far right – along with his KOTV gang. Ironically and coincidentally still on Channel 6!

Around the beginning of each new year, it’s always time for reflection and giving thanks for the graces and kindness the Father Spirit has bestowed. And I certainly have been honored and blessed to have met and befriended this dude.

Upward and onward now into 2017!

Oh, and be wary of strangers in the night carrying cans of spray paint.


Airlift Mike on-camera shoot with Tim Weston of TLW Productions - 2004
Airlift Mike on-camera shoot with Tim Weston of TLW Productions – 2004

“We’ve worked with Mike for almost 15 years, both as voice over and on-camera talent in more than 50 films.  Not only is he a great guy and a super talent,  but he has the coolest recording studio in the South.” ~TIM WESTON, President TLW Productions, NOLA 


Airlift Productions ~ Audio Alchemy from NOLA since 1984

The Law, Sex & Guitars… Metaphors & More ~ Courtesy Airlift Productions

A TV Screenshot of New Orleans “Legal-Minute” Attorney Greg DiLeo, plying his trade via N’awlins flat screens all over town

If you live in or around metro New Orleans, his messages are everywhere and unmistakable.  As N’awlins “Legal Minute” attorney, Greg DiLeo – on TV, radio, even I-phone apps –  makes legal matters, well, um … matter!

But what many do not know is that this is one extremely talented and versatile dude! He can ‘pound the boards’ at local theaters on-stage, sing, play the guitar & harmonica … and even compose & write his own songs. Well!

Attorney by day, song writer & troubadour by night, Greg DiLeo  records his music at Airlift Productions

And one thing, among others, that separates me from the 1001 other VoiceOver dudes all over the internet is that I own and operate a REAL recording studio! And I know how to use it.

So, this past week Greg returned to the Airlift Productions Studios, along with a couple kindred spirits, to put the finishing touches on the salty, colorful, metaphor-filled, Leon-Redbone-ish “Mississippi River Bridge”.  A torch song it ain’t.

With an amazingly brilliant touch on the violin, NOCCA grad and local star Donald Surtain dropped by to drop his tracks.  Perhaps you caught Donald in the Academy Award winning “12 Years A Slave” playing the REAL violin beside Chewitel Ejiofor in a scene or two.

Violin Virtuoso Donald Surtain lays down his totally awesome violin tracks at Airlift Productions January 2015 (photo by: Ben Ziants)

In any event, Donald, who plays live with Greg around town, along with percussionist extraordinaire Michael Skinkus stopped by to add their two cents. Gee, I found myself googling and you-tubing the Cajon to find out exactly what in the heck this thing even was.

The Cajon (ka-HONE) is of African-Peruvian descent and could best be described as a drum kit ‘in-a-box’, and one plays it by sitting on it and banging on it. So, add a couple of cymbals for flourishing finishing touches and you’re good-to-go.

Enter Michael Skinkus on the Cajon ….

Percussionist Extraordinaire Michael Skinkus entertains on “MS River Bridge” at Airlift Productions, NOLA January 2015 (photo by: Ben Ziants)

Oh-kay now, take Greg DiLeo’s thought-provoking lyrics & melody + Greg’s penetrating vocals + Greg’s sizzling guitar + Donald Surtain’s velvet violin + Michael Skinkus’ toe-tapping Cajon & Cymbals and it all = 1 Amazingly Fun tune!

Crank-up the speakers on your designated digital device and LISTEN.  “Mississippi River Bridge” sounds like this —

** “Mississippi River Bridge” recorded at Airlift Productions **

Yes, TV-Radio Attorney by Day and Song Writer & Troubadour by Night Greg DiLeo continues to mystify and amaze us with his masterful microphone maneuvers.  Catch-up with more of his passion at his music web site here ~ Greg DiLeo Music

And tell ’em Airlift Mike sent you.

(L-R) Airlift’s Micheal Ziants, Violinist Donald Surtain, and Performer Greg DiLeo, along with his seriously serious ’bout bein’ serious face on … at the Airlift Productions Studios, NOLA January 2015 (photo by: Ben Ziants)

“Where the warmth of analogue lives … and the lightning speed of digital delivers” ~ Airlift Productions, NOLA