Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GLEE Redux - Special Education

Elaine Paige as Evita Mike   the Mechanics
Train Dirty Dancing cover
The Zutons Florence and the Machine
Clockwise from top left: Elaine Paige, Mike + the Mechanics, Dirty Dancing, Florence and the Machine, the Zutons, and Train.

Once again I am recapping the latest episode of Glee, only using the videos of the original songs rather than the covers. Hope you enjoy.

As Mr. Shue discusses his thoughts on sectionals with Miss Pillsbury, she basically calls him out on his lack of vision. He seems to get it. But first, he tells Puck to go get another member for the squad, since they are down one. Puck talks to the football team, who are less than impressed. He ends up locked in a port-a-potty all night long. He decides he needs to mix it up - there is some talent he has been ignoring. Finn and Rachel will not be singing solos. Sam and Quinn will be doing that this time. Brittany will be dancing the lead with Mike Chang, and her boyfriend Arnie gives her his 'magic' comb, to help her confidence. Kurt gets to babysit a parakeet and a chance to audition for a solo.

As Rachel breaks down about not having a lead, and Santana kicks her while she hissy fits - and tells her about having sex with Finn last year. She is approached by Puck, who is being nice to Jews since the potty incident. She notices his steroid-induced muscles. Tina tells Arnie that Brittany is cheating with Mike, and while he defends her, the thought is out there. Kurt comes to Rachel for a bit of advice on preparing for the solo audition, and the two start to bond in a way they never have before. She helps Kurt prepare with the song Don't Cry For Me Argentina, sung by Elaine Paige in the original London production of Evita.

Kurt makes it to the auditions, and doesn't make the cut to the next round. Blaine explains he was trying a bit hard, and the Warblers are all about the team, about assimilating, not about being an individual. When everyone gets to sectionals, Kurt and Rachel share another moment at the snack bar, and hug. Backstage, Arnie and Tina are not happy, and the New Directions seem to be at one another's throats. Mr. Shue has to yell at them to get them back on track. And tells them to come together, and act like ladies and gentleman, to support each other, and the other teams. The Warren Township Hipsters perform Mike + the Mechanics song, The Living Years, in the style of, well, The New Directions!

Blaine, Kurt and the Warblers sing Hey Soul Sister by Train. Of course, Blaine is singing lead.

It is time for the New Directions to perform. Before they go on, Brittany and Arnie have a discussion, and he finds out she didn't stray, she just lost the lucky comb. Soon, it is time for Sam & Quinn to sing (I've Had) The Time of My Life, the theme from Dirty Dancing sung by Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley.

Santana sings the Zutons song Valerie while Brittany and Mike dance the lead.

The competition is over, and the competition declares a tie between the New Directions and the Warblers - they will both go to Regional Championships! Upon returning to the school, Mr. Shue talks to Miss Pillsbury, and she tells him she is no longer a single woman, but a Dentist's wife. Rachel talks to Finn, and admits she tried to have sex with Puck to even the score, but he wouldn't. Finn loses it, and breaks up with her. The kids meet with Mr. Shue in the Glee room, and Rachel is offered the solo to her. She declines, giving it to 'the unsung heroes,' Mercedes and Tina. The step up and sing Florence & the Machine's song Dog Days Are Over.

There is lots of hugging when it is done, except for Rachel and Finn. End scene.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dark Monday - Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz
Wizard of Oz
Wizard of Oz

While I am taking my own trip to Oz - seeing Levi Kreis, Eric Himan and Jason Antone with my good friend Tom Goss - I thought I would share this favorite, 'The Wizard of Oz'. While in high school, I appeared in a production of the musical, playing a variety of roles, from one of the Lollipop Guild to Tibia, the dancing skeleton who served the Wicked Witch - the show didn't have flying monkeys, what can I say.

Wizard of Oz - Smyrna High School
Me as Tibia in 1978

Well, this was based on the movie, within the limits of high school theater, but the basics of the story remained the same. The 1939 film featured Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, Bert Lahr and Frank Morgan, with Billie Burke and Margaret Hamilton. It is a tale of a young Dorothy Gale, your typical teenager, unhappy with the life she was living. It was the usual angst of the age, where she had no control over what was going on around her, and wasn't taken very seriously. Before she ran away, she sings the signature song of the musical, "Over The Rainbow".

Dorothy and her dog Toto decide to run away from home, but get caught up in a twister, which blows a window out of the frames and knocks her out. When she stirs, she finds herself no longer in the black and white world of Kansas, but in the amazing technicolor world. She meets the natives, the Munchkins, as well as Glinda the Good Witch, who informs Dorothy her house has killed the Wicked Witch of the East. This, however, is great news for the Munchkins, who sing to her a welcome in "The Munchkin Parade".

Glinda sends her off to see the Wizard of Oz, as Dorothy wants to return to Kansas. She must follow the yellow brick road, and along the way she meets a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion, each looking for something and have a song to prove it. Here is the Scarecrow singing "If I Only Had A Brain".

One by one, Dorothy and Toto meet them all, and are soon prepared to venture to Oz. So they sing "We're Off To See The Wizard", dancing down the yellow brick road.

Well, rather than bore you with the rest of the story that I have to think everyone knows, I thought I would add a few other clips that were kind of interesting, like one about the casting of Dorothy. While the role made Judy Garland a superstar, she was not the first choice of the studio.

Margaret Hamilton scared the bejeezus outta me when I was a kid, her stern and terrifying looks, and that cackle! Interestingly enough, she was not the first choice of the director. Here is the background information.

For those who might be interested, here is some background information on Billie Burke, better known as Glinda, the Good Witch.

Such a wonderful movie, I still find myself watching it all these years later. And those flying monkeys, well, they still scare me a bit!

Five on the 5th - Reminder for December

five on the fifth

I received notice from Stephen Chapman about the upcoming installment of Five on the 5th. So I just wanted to take a moment to let everyone know, with plenty of advance notice so everyone can take advantage of the opportunity!

It's almost time for the next "5 on the fifth". As usual, everyone is welcome to take part. You can either take 5 random pictures of something that happens to you on the 5th of December (or the days leading up to it) or perhaps go for my suggested theme. This month, the theme is FACES.

So, there you go! This coming Sunday, December 5, will be the latest Five on the 5th, so get the cameras out and ready to get some pictures next week!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Morning with Cat Stevens

Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens

I just thought this was a perfect way to start my Sunday, and hope you like it too. It is Cat Stevens singing live. The British-born singer/songwriter had some incredibly beautiful music during his reign at the top of the charts in the 70s, before retiring from the music business in 1978. Born Steven Demetre Georgiou, he had tremendous record sales. Here are a couple of sweet, Sunday-morning songs taken from several shows. I'll start with Morning Has Broken, taken from a performance in 1973.

Not only was he a fine musician with a wonderful voice, he also was very pretty to look at, as you can see in the pictures above and the videos on this post. The next one up is the stunning Where Do The Children Play? This was taken from a performance in 1976.

For the final video of this Sunday morning, I'd like to offer up the incredible and iconic Moon Shadow. The song is stunning in its simplicity, yet so very beautiful. This was a performance in 1971.

After suffering with tuberculosis in 1969, Stevens was taken to the hospital. It was said he was near-death, having avoided medical care. But it was during his time recovering that he began to question his own life, his faith. He started to make significant changes in his life. One of those changes was looking at his spiritual life, which led him to eventually convert to Islam in 1977, taking the new name of Yusuf Islam. This eventually led him to his musical retirement the following year, trying to simplify his life. I hope listening to these songs have helped to simplify your day!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saturday Night Live with Rick Astley

Rick Astley
Rick Astley
Rick Astley
Through the years: In the 80s, the early 90s, and recently.

Heard non-stop on the radio in the late 80s and early 90s, Rick Astley stepped away from his career in 1993 while he was still on the charts. His early hits were blends of Pop, Dance and R&B music, an earnest UK-Blue-eyed soul that was a hit worldwide. His first single, Never Gonna Give You Up, literally topped the charts all around the world. The album earned double-platinum status in the US. Here he is in a performance from 2005.

In 1991, Astley released his third album, Free.
Cry For Help was the first single, and it made it into the Top 10 in both the US & UK Pop charts. The soulful ballad also made it to #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart. Here he is in a 1991 performance.

The second single from his debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody, followed Never Gonna Give You Up to the heights on the charts, making it to the Top 5 on most charts worldwide, save the US, where it was never officially released. Here is a performance of the song recorded in London in 1987, the young man just experiencing his fame.

In 2005, Astley released Portrait, an absolutely gorgeous collection of love songs from years gone by. With a mellow acoustic feel, it beautifully showcased Astley's deep, rich voice, and his ability to connect to the material. This performance of Love Story was recorded in 2006.

In 1988, Rick released his second album, Hold Me In Your Arms. The album recorded gold-level in sales in the US, and platinum in the UK. The first single off the album, She Wants To Dance With Me, continued Astley's string of Top 10 hits, scoring a #6 on both the UK & US singles charts, and topping the US Adult Contemporary chart.

For more on Rick Astley, check out his official website here. Earlier this year, Astley released a new single, Lights Out. The Pop single shows Astley's voice to be as strong as ever. The video showed him to be as handsome as ever, looking great after all these years. You can purchase the song on iTunes here. You can watch the video here.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special

Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special T. Rex
Seely Dan Doobie Brothers
Golden Earring Redbone
Clockwise, from Top right: Midnight Special, T. Rex, Doobie Brothers, Redbone, Golden Earring, and Steely Dan.

Way back in the olden days, there was a show on every Friday night called Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special. It was fantastic, as it not only featured live music, it often put the spotlight on rock bands, many of which were being overshadowed by the pop music of the day.

T. Rex was a British Glam Rock band, one of the premiere of it's kind in the 70s. Marc Bolan was the frontman, and his wild antics, great voice and strong musicianship made him on of the top rock singers of the time. In 1973, the band had a runaway hit with Get It On, which went to #1 in the UK and Ireland, and #10 on the US Hot 100 chart. In 1977, just two weeks shy of his 30th birthday, Bolan was killed in a car accident just a mile from his home, ending the reign of the band. But they did appear on the Midnight Special in 1973, performing Get It On.

American band Steely Dan ruled the charts in the 70s and 80s, the unique blend of rock and jazz playing well on radio. In 1973 they appeared on Midnight Special performing their second single, Reelin' In The Years, which hit #11 on the US Hot 100 Chart. I covered their success with the album Aja here.

The Doobie Brothers formed in 1970, playing an inseresting blend of rock and soul on the California scene. From 1970 to 1987, the band lineup change with some regularity, with anywhere between four to eight members. They were five strong when they played the Midnight Special in 1973, where they performed their #11 hit, Listen To The Music, from their platinum-selling album Toulouse Street.

Golden Earring were a Dutch rock band formed in 1961, a group of teenagers wanting to play Pop Rock music. Like many others on the rock scene, by 1968 they had moved to a more psychedelic rock sound, and they started having some international success. In 1973, the band had great success with the song Radar Love, which made it to the top of the charts across the globe. In 1974, they had their chance to play the Midnight Special.

Redbone was an American rock band who celebrated their native American ancestry often in their music. They came together in Los Angeles in 1969, combining rock, R&B, Cajun and Native American influences in their music, making for a truly unique sound. In 1974, they performed their gold-selling single Come And Get Your Love, which went to #5 on the US Hot 100 singles chart.

The show debuted on TV in 1973, and continued on for eight years until it went off the air in 1981. It gave a platform to some of the top rack acts of the day, every Friday night following Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show. The announcer for the show was Wolfman Jack, a world-famous radio disc jockey with a gravelly voice who became known for his programs with rock and pop in the 70s and 80s.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

That's What Friends Are For 2010

 photo bef9a35a-d2db-4981-8d09-bd2481c13728_zps6a284fe7.jpg
 photo 0cbf5d0c-c041-449f-b076-f54eb0d989f4_zps9afc64c2.jpg  photo bcc7df40-345c-43a2-8af8-d073d4973dff_zps49e2b138.jpg
L to R: Alan Cumming, David Raleigh, Billy Porter & Ari Gold.

On the 25th anniversary of the Dionne Warwick (and friends) hit song, "That's What Friends Are For", David Raleigh, Alan Cumming, Billy Porter and blog favorite Ari Gold came together to remake it to raise money for the Ali Forney Center, a New York City shelter for homeless GLBT youth. David is a New York City-based singer/songwriter and piano player, and Cumming is an Emmy nominated and Tony Award winning actor and producer, Porter is a very successful Broadway performer and singer, and Gold is and independent Pop sensation. The song was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, who have written so many great songs. Together, the group of men make magic here, and once I heard it, I just wanted have it on my iPod. Now I do! Here is the video for the song, produced by Nathan Leigh Jones and directed by Michael Akers.

The proceeds from each download go to Ali Forney Center, so go iTunes to purchase it. To find out more about the Center, check out their official website.

Thanks to Queers On The Verge

While I am at it, I just thought I would say thank you to Queers On The Verge for making Soundtrack to my Day a featured blog on their website this week. It was a wonderful and pleasant surprise. They area a user-driven gay film, video, new media, and music video entertainment company.

Queers on the Verge

You should check them out here. There is all minds of links and material to check out.

A Season of Thanks

It is Thanksgiving morning, and it I have many reasons to pause and give thanks. I will start with my remarkable friends and family, who have been there to support me. For the next few days I will be seeing many of them, and just hope they all know, whether I am seeing them this holiday or not, that I appreciate the love care they have given over the years. And a special welcome to Jaxson, who arrived on schedule the day before Thanksgiving.

I also have so much appreciation for all the talent that make this blog possible. From the artists of yesteryear to the artists of today, with no music, there would be no 'Soundtrack.' But I'd like to offer a special thanks for all the independent artists who have been so kind and supportive of the blog. It really means a lot to a hear from you, and to think I might be doing something right. But, even more importantly, thank you for making music that inspires me to write the posts.

A huge thanks goes to you, the readers of the blog. I started it just about 18 months ago, and had no idea what I was going to do, and if anyone would be interested in what I had to say. I just noticed on the page that there have been over 292,000 hits, something I find mind boggling.

Another huge thank you to other bloggers who have inspire me, support me, and recognize the music on the blog. From the 2010 Bloggie Awards to the blogs who have reposted articles in support of the artists, I truly appreciate all you do.

And, finally, I am thankful to those who have come on the blog to comment about finding a new artist or a new song. That means more to me than just about anything. This is a labor of love, and when someone takes the time to say something about a new artist, it definitely propels me to continue to bring to light the amazing talents of new or little known musicians who should be heard. As much as I love the music of the 70s, 80s and 90s, it is the music being made today that truly gets me excited.

So, while I get to spend some time with visiting family through the weekend, the posting might be a bit on the light side, but just remember, I am grateful to you all.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Derek Nicoletto!

Telling On Trixie
Telling On Trixie

Tomorrow is not only Thanksgiving, it is also the birthday of one of my delightful musical crushes. It started when I heard his voice singing lead for Telling On Trixie, and I saw the video for Orion's Light and the next thing I knew, I was searching the internet learn about them. As anyone who reads this blog can tell, I love all kinds of music, but I loves me some rock. TOT made some cool rock. The music was hot, and Derek's vocals just elevated the sound to a different level.

When I discovered Derek was an out and proud frontman, I was doubly delighted. In my younger years, I discovered rock crowds are not the most welcoming crowds, so this was big for me. I jumped on board with TOT, and wrote to Derek, to express my appreciation. He was very sweet in his reply. I've never looked back. I was wad when I got the tweet that TOT broke up, but stayed in touch with Derek. I was thrilled when he started a new project, Derek & the Darling. I was near giddy when I saw the first video, shot by the amazing Julian Rad, for Hustler With A Rescue Plan.

DATD Hustler with a Rescue Plan Music Video from Julian Rad on Vimeo.

Alas, that group soon came to an end, but once again, I stayed in touch. And I have gotten so excited when I heard Derek was planning to go back in the studio to start a solo project. OK, so maybe near-giddy is a better explanation. To try to speed up the process a bit, Derek is looking to raise some funding for studio time, and started a Kickstater page. You can find it here. It is easier to let Derek explain it all to you.

Like other similar projects, it is not about just donating money, but also getting back on your investment. You can give what you can afford, and in return, you can get a return, be it an autographed copy of the album, invites to the release party, included in the liner notes, or a private house concert. The list is on the Kind Ghosts page here or by clicking on the Kickstarter widget belo.

I've said it before, and I'll continue to say it. If you like good music, music that really talks to you, that nourishes your soul, you should support it. I try as much as I can, even more so in these tough economic times. I don't listen to the radio much any more - if I hear another tween/tween wannabe warbling I just might scream. I find the music I want to hear, and support those artists. I try to go to as many shows as I can, buy their music, buy their t-shirts, whatever. If I can help them make more music, it means I will have something to listen to, and I won't be forced to hear the shrill garbage the studios put out. Sure, it isn't all bad, but most of it is. For every Miley Cyrus or Justin Bieber, there are amazing artists like Derek, Eric Himan, Levi Kreis, Tom Goss, Christopher Dallman, Aiden James, Casey Stratton, Andy Moore, and so many more. These are the artists who really need our support, and who have mine.

It Gets Better - Vice President Joe Biden

VP Joe Biden

Much can be said about Vice President Joseph Biden, Jr., but not much we Delawareans haven't already heard. You see, one of the things you can say about the man is that he is still, at heart, the same man elected Senator a couple of decades ago. For his supporters, he is a breathe of fresh air of honesty and forthright talk, and to his detractors, he can be seen as a loose cannon, a man who speaks with charm, but can be unpredictable. I've had the pleasure of voting for the man on many occasions, for he has been my Senator since before I was able to vote, up until 2008, when he became the Vice President to President Barack Obama. Biden has long been known for his liberal views on social issues, including equality for all. So it is not surprising he has made his own entry for the It Gets Better campaign. This proud Delawarean decided it was something I wanted and needed to run.

Again, after years of the LGBT community being either ignored or being used as a punching bag, I find it simply wonderful that we can now say the President, Vice President and Secretary of State have recorded and posted personalized messages of support to the youth of the community. For me, this is significant progress, and while we might not be all the to equality, it sure beats the hell outta where we've been in prior administrations.

If you are someone, or know someone who might be feeling the effects of prejudice and bullying, here is the website for The Trevor Project. They have set up a hotline that can be reached at (866)488-7386. Share the number with those how you think might benefit, because the teenage years are hard enough without the additional issues discovering you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.

trevor project,lgbt youth

GLEE Redux - Furt

Wonderful Town
Rosemary Clooney
Bruno Mars
Top to Bottom: Bernstein's Wonderful Town, Rosemary Clooney, and Bruno Mars.

Once again I am recapping the latest episode of Glee, only using the videos of the original songs rather than the covers. Hope you enjoy.

This episode opens with a disheveled Kurt being escorted to Finn's locker by their respective parent, who announce they are marrying. Kurt is excited, Finn less so. They are not the only wedding on the scene, Sue is getting married. To Sue. After all, no one else could be a match for her, right?

After a discussion with Finn at the locker about the wedding plans, Kurt is intimidated once again by Karovsky, his bully/stalker. Mr. Shue sees it, and takes Kurt to the principal - Sue - who explains she can't do anything until Kurt is hurt. After explaining how this has made him feel, Kurt points out to Sue he feels her calling him 'Lady' is a form of bullying. Good for him!

Sue's mother shows up to help with the wedding. She has spent the last several years chasing Nazis around the globe. She is Sue Senior! Sue is getting a taste of her own medicine!They go over the wedding plans, and she says she will sing at the wedding.

The girls get together and Rachel explains how their boyfriends need to take on Karovsky, to protect Kurt from his bullying. In the locker room, the boys, save Finn, take him on until the Bieste interrupts. Sam grows to be a hero in the blink of an eye.

Sue's mother practices the song she plans to sing, Ohio from the musical Wonderful Town. They discuss why she abandoned her kids, to chase the Nazis around the world, leaving Sue to take care of her handi-capable sister, Jean.

While Kurt tries to teach his dad, Burt Hummel, and Finn to dance,Karvosky ventures by, and makes a limp-wrist to Kurt, which makes Burt crazy. He goes after him. They meet with Principal Sue, who tosses Karovsky out of the school.

Santana helps Finn get ready for the wedding. She wants to come clean about their having sex, and Finn says no, he won't hurt Rachel, he loves her. To start off the wedding, the kids sing I Think I Wanna Marry You by Bruno Mars.

During the wedding, both Burt and Carol talk about their wonderful boys, and what they mean to them even at their wedding. During the reception, Mr. Shue sings the song Sway. The song, written by Mexican composer and bandleader Pablo Beltrán Ruiz, was originally made famous by Dean Martin, but I love Rosemary Clooney's version.

Best man speech, and Finn makes me cry when he tells Kurt he has taught him more about being a man than anything else. They are Furt - Finn & Kurt - and he just wants to step up and help from now on. And everyone dances to the Bruno Mars song Just The Way You Are, including a spotlight couple, Furt.

Jean and her mother talk for Sue's wedding rehearsal. Sue tells her mother she is a bully, since whenever they talk, she always feels worse about herself. Next,we find ourselves in Principal Sue's office to discover the school board has backed Karovsky, and he is coming back to school. The newly married couple are not happy, and neither is Principal Sue, who resigns her position in protest of this decision, and the fact that the office smells bad. So, a decision is made, and Kurt goes to the Glee room to tell everyone. He is leaving the school to escape the bullying. Although the boys offer to protect him, he knows he must go, even if it means he will be competing against his friends at regional championships. He will be teaming with his new buddy, Blaine.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Great Music - Dudley Saunders

Dudley Saunders

Shame on me for just discovering the music of Dudley Saunders. The Kentucky native has been performing is own brand of folk music since the early 90s, after perfecting his edgy style in performance art and film. With his history in storytelling, it is no surprise he should evolve into a folk artist, one who manages to take the formula of classic folk and put his own particular spin on it, bringing the form to something new and sounding fresh. His voice is brilliantly crisp and strong, never failing to hit the notes, each phrase developed in tone and content. As an out artist, he sings about issues that range from highly personal to larger themes, often intertwining the two.

Dudley Saunders

When I put on the emergency lane, the most recent release, I had no idea what to expect. The 13-song album has rather unassuming packaging, so I slipped the disk in and hit play. Opening with Look For Me, it kicks off with a simple acoustic sound of guitar and drums, though it is quickly enriched by the addition of Dudley's vocals and more instrumentation. The song moves easily between painting a strong picture and adding a bit of haunted mist to the image during the chorus. Give a listen to a live performance of the song here.

Lyrically, the album unfolds like a classic American novel, more Steinbeck in content and Fitzgerald in tone, maybe even a bit of Isherwood during the later 'American' years. He tells the story of the people that inhabit Saunders' world, at times revealing the sordid underbelly of society with a loving eye, yet no romanticized view. The characters are real, certainly not well-off, and at times struggling. Their behaviors, from prostitute to addict, takes varying levels of danger and failure to act safely. Take, for example, the second cut on the album, Love Song For Jeffrey Dahmer. Written and sung from the perspective of the serial killer, it is at once lovely and yet disturbing. Sonically, it is a lovely song, but the lyrics tell a distractingly ugly tale. The Rain on 8th Avenue shifts the tone a bit, more to the impressionistic than real. But the prose-like lyrics, almost Ezra Pound-like, tell the tale of the hookers working 8th Avenue in the rain. Take Me Back Home Again picks up the tempo of the album, mirroring the characters desire to not be lonely. Well, you are getting the idea.

The stories might have a gritty realism to them, scenes from an urban life, but it wasn't told from a foreboding place, more from the point of view of the subject of the song. Saunders paints a rather evocative picture with a loving and deft hand, yet never takes it to a romantic level. I am kinda reminded of some of the great songs of Lou Reed and his chronicles of the people in his Greenwich Villages in the 70s and 80s. But Dudley's voice is more in the vein of a Chris Isaak, for me is a male version of Joni Mitchell. The vocals go beyond the role of narrator, elevated to another instrument that helps define the mood and tenor of songs. Here is The Winding Sheet, the 9th track from the album, and the official music video. The vocals are more evocative of 60 folk balladeers like Pete Seger or Noel 'Paul' Stookey, telling the story with a painters touch, not that of a documentarian.

So by the end of the album, Dudley Saunders had brought me into his world, in quite the stunning fashion; I hung on his every word. This man is amazingly talented. He lives in Los Angeles now, but I certainly hope I have the opportunity to see him perform live sometime, because I think it would be an amazing treat. I read that he is finishing up work on a new album, so perhaps a tour might be in the offing to support it in 2011. And, in case you didn't notice the pictures above, is really quite the hot daddy. You can check him out at his official website here. And you should check it out, for it has some interesting interactive things going on, and it evolves on a monthly basis.

I will leave you with another example of Dudley's music. The Undoing (Everyday) is a cut from a prior album, The Billy White Acre Sessions. It is a bit less impressionist and more lyrical in nature, and more linear in storyline as it showcases the everyday struggles of many people fighting addictions.

In 2009, the emergency lane was named Best Album by the OUTMusic organization. Having just experienced, I know exactly why. You can check it out for yourself on iTunes here, on Amazon here, or at CD Baby here. It could tide you over quite nicely until his new album is available. i know I can't wait!

Billboard Top 5 - 1990

1990 Billboard Top 10

I'll be honest, I changed my source for the Billboard Top 5 songs because the songs that were in the last one just didn't make sense to me. This new source, well, it makes more sense, at least for the most part. I can tell you that 20 years ago, three of these top 5 were part of my record collection, and songs I listened to on a regular basis. That could not be said of the former source material, so rightly or wrongly, I am switching it up. And might have to revisit at least 1989, if I get a chance, cause that list, well it was causing me to struggle a bit.

Twenty years ago, I was working my but off in New York City as a freelancer, working long hours when I was in town, and traveling a great deal for the projects. I spent a lot of that time listening to my Walkman or Diskman, whichever I had at that time. Music was definitely starting to shift, as New Wave was fading, Pop was on a bit of a resurgence, but there was a new rock sound that was bubbling up from the Pacific Northwest, which was just coming together as we entered the new decade. Seattle was the home of Grunge music, and the scene was alive there, but not yet hit the rest of the country or really starting to hit the charts - yet. In 1990, the #5 song of the year was a fantastic R&B song from the amazing Janet Jackson, sister to the King of Pop. Escapade was the third single from Janet's breathtaking album Rhythm Nation 1814, which you can rest assured is in my collection. It was also the third single to hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 from the album, and it had a great video. Here it is.

Starting in the 60s, drag balls were held and the competition was fierce betwixt and between a variety of 'fashion houses' in the gay community in New York City. The majority of the balls were held in Harlem, and the competitors were the drag queens (and occasionally drag kings). The houses were African American and Latino American, and they competed in what were essentially fashion shows, trying to capture the 'realness' of certain looks. The events are best chronicled by a great documentary released in 1991, Paris Is Burning. Out of these competitions came a strong style of dancing that emphasized and magnified expectations of femininity. The dance was called Voguing, and was said to be established and perfected by Benny Ninja of the House of Ninja. Ninja has become best known for his participation on Tyra Bankss' show America's Next Top Model, which has been employing drag queens to teach women how to be models for the last 7 or so years. And it was on the skirts of the Harlem drag queens that Madonna rode to the #4 song of the year when she released Vogue.

In 1990, Mariah burst on to the music scene with the release of of her eponymous debut album on the Columbia label. The album was held controlled closely by the President and CEO of the label, Tommy Mottola. It was later discovered that his interest might have been more than just artistic integrity, as Carey and he would marry in 1993. But the first single from the album, Vision of Love, quickly soared up the charts on the strength of Mariah's amazing voice and vocal histrionics. Her popularity grew quickly, although if I were being honest, and at the risk of having my gay card pulled [once again], I have to admit I have never been a big fan of Ms. Carey's, as I found her vocals to be rather over the top and self-indulgent. But Vision of Love was the first of tree straight singles that were certified as Gold selling singles for the up-and-coming star.

The #2 spot belongs to a rather stunning Irish lass, whose style and ability to speak her mind angered people from the Pope to Frank Sinatra. But when she sang Nothing Compares 2U, Sinéad O'Connor had the world stopping and listening to her. The video for the song featured to singer shot in a tight close up, with her beautiful big eyes and closely cropped hair, kept the world's attention at the beginning of the year. O'Coonor took a little-known B-side written by Prince and made it the second ranked song of 1990. Here is the video for Nothing Compares 2U.

I have to admit that I just don't remember the #1 song of 1990, even after checking out the video. Nor do I really remember the singer, Stevie B. But the top song of the year was named Because I Love You (The Postman Song) and sung by the aforementioned Stevie B. And I just don't know what else to say about it, save that it could be my least favorite #1 since I started doing this lists. So here is the video.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Week From Tonight

Levi Kreis Eric Himan Jason Antone
Left to right: Levi Kreis, Eric Himan and Jason Antone.

In just one week from now, I will be so excited, I am sure I will be tough to be around me. I am going to drive down to Vienna, Virginia, just outside of Washington, DC, to see Levi Kreis, Eric Himan and Jason Antone performing at Jammin' Java on the next stop for the SideXSide Tour. And if luck is with me, will be attending with Tom Goss. This is the third of five stops currently planned for the tour, reuniting old friends Kreis and Himan following Levi's triumphant run on Broadway, including his winning a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Jerry Lee Lewis in Million Dollar Quartet. Last week, the trio went international, and had a great show in Montreal. I know it was a good one, for I knew some people in the audience, and they were glad to have made the trip to see the show. Theo Tams and his manager Dom Denny went to the show, and gave some rave reviews.

Levi Kreis released his first album in 2005, and I have been a fan since. His soulful music is as strong as his musical talent, as the singer/songwriter toured around delivering great performances that got him noticed. He has released four album; One of the Ones (2005), The Gospel According To Levi (2007), Bygones (2008), and Where I Belong (2009). As someone who has all four in my collection, I would highly recommend you have as much of his music in yours as you can, as soon as you can. You can be the judge, as this is We're Okay from The Gospel According to Levi.

I have been catching Eric Himan in concert for the last several years, and each show leaves me wanting more. He certainly has more than enough material from which to choose, as he has released eight albums and one EP since the self-titled album was released in 2000. And there is also the debut EP for Eric & the Adams, which appeared last winter. Again, I can say my Eric collection is complete, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Here is a sample, There's Gotta Be Something, found both as a bonus tack from the 2008 release, Resonate, and the title cut from the 2007 EP.

I'll be honest and say I didn't know much about Jason Antone before preparing for this tour, but that speaks more about how much good music is out there than the artist himself. As much as I want to believe I know all, I am constantly proving that not to be true. Jason has been working hard for the last few years, and has had a couple of songs make it on to the Billboard charts. His first release, To The Limit, made the first waves on the LOGO charts, making it to #6. In 2009, he released the album Start To Move, a 13-song collection of dance and pop music. The lead cut off the album, Ooh Ooh Ooh, made it to #3 on the Billboard Breakout chart. Here is the video.

There are two remaining stops for the tour, and I plan to attend one of them. On December 6, the trio will be playing the Baltimore Theater Project in Baltimore, Maryland. On January 3, 2011, the boys will kick off the new year with a show at the Wold Cafe Live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and I will be there along with some family and friends.

For more on these artists, check out their websites by clicking on their names below:

Jason Antone
Eric Himan
Levi Kreis

Mark Munroe - Secrets And Lies

Mark Munroe Secrets & Lies Cover - Mark Munroe

Mark Munroe is a young Toronto-based sing/songwriter/model/actor who just released a single now available on iTunes. Secrets And Lies is a synth-driven pop ditty, reminding me of the early Depeche Mode or maybe Berlin's music. It is going to be part of a soon-to-be-released album, 'The Life That I Designed'. Will be interesting to checkout once it arrives.

Mark also is part of the band I M Munroe, which is made up of his brother Ian and himself, hence the name, I M Munroe. In the past couple of years he has appeared in several videos for other artists, as well as some TV programs and movies. Mark had a leading role in the 2008 movie "Stiff Luv". He played Beaver, the handsome man in the white shirt in the following clip.

Among his credits is an appearance on the program 1 Girls 5 Gays, an MTV program shot in Canada. Since he isn't the girl, I think I can presume he is one of the gays. You can discover more about Mark by checking out his official website here. You can purchase the single on iTunes by clicking here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Aiden James on WSTW Hometown Heroes

Aiden James @ WSTW
Aiden James
Aiden James & Mark Rogers

Here in Delaware, we are lucky enough to have a radio station, WSTW, 93.7 on the FM dial, which features a weekly Sunday night broadcast that spotlights local musicians on air. The host, Mark Rogers, does a great job interacting with the performers, and allowing them a comfortable place to showcase their music. He performed a then untitled song, since gaining a title - Crashing Down. As is always the case, Aiden is in amazing voice for the performance.

Aiden is in the studio working on a new album. In order to get this accomplished, he is looking for some assistance in getting it the funding. Like so many of the independent musicians, he has set up a page where you can give money, and in return, you will be getting something as well, depending on the amount you give. That site is here. You can donate anywhere from $5 to the sky's the limit. Check out this new song Aiden has written, and might very well end up on the new album. It is On My Sleeve.

With a donation of $25 or more, you will get an autographed advance copy of the album. For a donation of $50, you will receive that as well as a signed copy of his album On The Run. For $75, you will get the above, a signed tour poster, and your name will be on the guest list at a show of your choice. Well, you get the idea, you money will get you something in return. Check it out here! If more encouragement might help, how about this amazing video for the title single On The Run?

I know I post about this from time to time - but I think it is important to support the great talent we have in the LGBT community. It is an investment in my future happiness, because it means I will be getting more great music in my life. Singer/songwriters like Aiden need our support, like buying their music and attending their shows, to make a living, and put out the next album. Whether you buy the music on iTunes, CDBaby or the artists' website, or buying the CD at the live show, it is all good. Or maybe a tour t-shirt is more your thing? If you are going to buy the album anyway, why not put your money upfront and get yourself an autographed copy?

And, did I mention how great it feels to support the performers? To know you've had a hand in helping great music being made is a great feeling. I may not be able to play an musical instrument or carry a tune, but I can support those that can. And you know what? You can too! In fact, you can do it now, right here.

Sunday Morning with Jason Walker

jason walker

A few months ago, I reviewed the new album by Jason Walker, a truly amazing singer. You can check it out here. He has a voice that mesmerizes, mystifies, and hypnotizes me. He often releases dance music perfect for the clubs, but I thought I would focus on some beautiful ballads more suitable for a Sunday morning, the music you could listen to while snuggling in bed, fixing breakfast, or reading the Sunday New York Times. Only problem is, it might distract you from what you are doing. Take, for example, his cover of the signature song of the great Etta James, At Last. He just lets it go, and sings his heart out.

The next song is a performance from his CD Release Party in New York City this summer, a song from the album. I Love You (The Story of Roberta & Fisher) is a gorgeous song that showcases the amazing range and flexibility of his voice.

With a beautiful Brazilian beat in the background, Jason brings a cool and sexy vibe to Como Te Llamas.

For more about Jason Walker, check out his official website here. Go there an listen to some more of his music, and find the links to all the places you can find him.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Night Live at S2MD

Jimmy Somerville Andy Bell of Erasure
Clockwise from Top Left: SIRPAUL, Ari Gold, Andy Bell, and Jimmy Somerville.

It is Saturday night, and I thought I would bring out some of my favorite out performers singing great dance songs live, and showing talent that is hard to deny. The first up is a performance I was there for, that I experienced live and in person myself, and I have to say, I loved every minute of it. This is the glorious and beautiful SIRPAUL singing Music & Me/Physical Attraction at his CD Release party earlier this year.

The music of Ari Gold has been blowing me away for a couple of years. I have not managed to get to a live performance yet, but there is still hope. After all, a chance to see the stunning performer in all his live glory is something that I can't get out of my mind. Here Ari sings Love Will Take Over at a show in the Hamptons. There is both a sweetness and a sexy quality to the performance.

One of my favorite all-time performers is the gifted and brilliant Jimmy Somerville. Whether he was with the Bronski Beat, the Communards, or singing solo, I have loved his music. I last saw Jimmy performing in New York when he was apart of The Communards, but if I got a chance to see him again, I would be there without thinking twice. His voice is every bit as mind-blowing live as it is on record, if you can believe that. This is Jimmy singing You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real).

Andy Bell is the singer for Erasure, where he is paired with Vince Clarke, a man who is no stranger to talented cohorts. Clarke was an original member of Depeche Mode, and left to work with the outrageously talented Alison Moyet. But he has spent most of his career working with Andy, so that must mean something. Bell has a fantastic voice, as can be seen here in a live performance of A Little Respect.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did putting it together. I was dancing in front of my computer!


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