Wednesday, March 31, 2010

AI9 Yes, We Have No Benami

Today, the internet is abuzz with theories and results that will be played out live tonight on American Idol. Will Didi be leaving tonight, making it three ladies in a row? Wasn't this supposed to be the year of the ladies? Could the men outnumber the men 2 to 1 next week? That hasn't happened since season 4, and Carrie did go on to win Will Tim be leaving, despite Simon's claim his smile will keep him around for next week? Or will it be Andrew, a favorite theory of some who believe the eliminations have been predictable, and it is time to shake it up. And will the judges think about using the save this early in the competition.

On the show tonight they have Ruben Studdard, the season 2 champion. Wow, he has dropped a whole bunch of weight. Have to say, his voice is not as smooth as it once was. He is going out on the road this summer with Clay Aiken, that would be an interesting crowd...

The Ford video, the actually used Kung Fu Fighting. No, they really did. Big Mike gets his butt kicked. We touch on Crystal's scattered piano lessons, Big Mike's fake hair, and Andrew's mother.

Now, the lights are dimmed, and the results begin. Crusty starts with Lee, who thinks that was his own best performance. Simon thinks last night he made himself a contender. And he is safe. Casey is next. He is safe. Aaron is up next, leaving Katie and Siobhan to be up for the seat. We hear a whole lot about the judges, about twisted love, but little about Aaron. No matter, he is safe. Crusty let's Siobhan defend her performance. For Katie, they discuss the whole thing with the judges, and we find that Katie is in the bottom 3, and Siobhan is safe.

Justin Bieber is in the audience, and helps to introduce Usher, his mentor. Usher is dancing well, but is sounding out of breath for the singing. He is joined onstage by a big production number. An extravaganza. Complete with Will.I.Am.

Didi is up first, and Crusty wants to know if she will return to the guitar. She is not that secure playing on stage, and is told she is in the bottom 3. Big Mike is up next, and Ellen talks about the subtlety and softness of the performance. Crusty plays with him, and Big Mike picks him up and scares him. He is safe. Crystal is safe, leaving Andrew and Tim to fill the final spot in the bottom 3. Tim explains he isn't an idiot, and he understands. Andrew is safe, and Tim is in the bottom. The person going back to the seats is Katie, safe for another week.

Making his debut on the Idol stage, we get P Diddy, bathed in a bright light, his girls dancing ahead of him. The song is very auto-tuned, very Diddy. And they bring out the strobe, just to give me sensory overload. Diddy takes a victory lap, and the crowd goes wild.

After a commercial, we are back for the final result, and it is Didi Benami. Wow, three girls in a row. She is going to sing Rhiannon. She is good, but not great. The kids give her a standing ovation, but the audience does not. They go to Simon for the answer, and he says they are not saving her. And we see her exit reel. She holds it together, while I saw the chance of a meltdown. And I get no points in the pools. And in the proclaimed 'Year of the Girl', we get to the Top 9 next week - rumored to be Beatles related - with three ladies and six men remaining. Time for some testosterone to be sent away, I would imagine. All the men better be on their toes.

New Single - Theo Tams - Manhattan Blue

Theo Tams

This past Monday, Theo Tams released a new single, Manhattan Blue. While there is no official video yet, here is a live performance - I love this version of the song. The 'acoustic jazz' feel showcases his wonderful tone and amazing phrasing. The single is from his debut album, Give It All Away, and it can be found on here.

Theo has another show at The Supermarket in Toronto, tonight, Wednesday March 31, at 9:30PM EST. You can catch it online at Wednesday Goes POP! on MySpace here.

Love Resurrection - Alison Moyet

alison moyet alison moyet
alison moyet

I love her so very much, her voice is just incredible. So, in getting ready to celebrate Easter, I thought it a perfect time to post her resurrection song, Love Resurrection. Fresh off her success with Yazoo [better known as Yaz here in the Sates], Alison released Alf, an incredible solo debut. This was the first single, released in 1984. It made it to #10 on the UK single chart, and broke into the Top 100 on the US Chart. I remember seeing this video and running out to buy the album!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

AI9 Baby, Baby, Where Has Our Soul Gone?

This recap was originally written for

Backstage with Crusty. He makes Simon kiss Ellen, and then runs away screaming on to the stage. OK, maybe he wasn't screaming, but he did go to the stage with the screaming fans. He makes the audience scream out their favorite.

It is R&B and Soul night, and Usher is the mentor, and we are reminded he is the #1 artist from the last decade. They tell us he is the consummate performer, and he says he is here to help these talented people be better.

Siobhan Magnus - Through The Fire - Chaka Khan (1984)
Usher thinks she has an incredible voice, and has a great chance at a recording career. She starts off sounding great, but breaks a bit in the chorus, it is just a hair out of her range. She goes for her big note, more than once really. It is an uneven performance, not her best. All the judges thought it was her weakest performance, and Simon also said he is getting bored with the scream at the end. There is big discussions with the judges to make sure everyone knows the judges love her and think she should stay despite that performance. We get a backstage cam view of the kids in the greenroom, and Siobhan walking through dejected and Big Mike going to console her after tough reviews from the judges. Toughen up, girl, they weren't that tough!

Casey James - Hold On, I'm Coming - Sam & Dave (1966)
Usher really likes Casey, his voice and his confidence. He thinks Casey is one to keep an eye on, win or lose. Casey looks good as he takes the stage, and sounds great, loving every minute of it. He is on fire, That was fantastic. The crowd is going crazy. The boy judges loved him, the girls not so much, think it was a little safe. The cam catches Casey offstage, elated with his performance. He loves that song!

Mike Lynche - Ready For Love - India.Arie (2001)
Usher likes him, but wants him to connect with the audience more. Cause boys playing guitars get the chicks. Ask Usher. He starts soft, and in the bridge strengthens his vocals into the chorus. It builds to a big note, which he kinda swallows a bit. Too bad, it was his best performance to date. The judges loved it. Simon points out he didn't sound karaoke tonight. Usher loved it, too. The cam is near giddy, talking about being in the moment.

Didi Benami - What Becomes of the Brokenhearted - Jimmy Ruffin (1966)
An emotional song for an emotional young lady. She cried after singing it for Usher, and Usher thinks the honesty. It is an interesting performance, but seeming to lack the soul and R&B vibe and emotion that is the basis for the evening. She gets bold at the end, but to me, her voice is often flat. The judges are not loving it at all. Simon and Kara think she has lost her way. She picked the song because she loves it, and Crusty spends an inordinate amount of time not getting the answer he wants, and I lose interest. Let the girl alone, Crusty! The cam catches Didi going in the greenroom,

Tim Urban - Sweet Love - Anita Baker (1985)
Wow, if there was a song/singer mismatch, this would be it. I saw this, and thought 'Damn, does he want to leave?' There was this odd homoerotic moment for Usher and Tim, with Usher trying to keep Tim in the moment, singing from the heart, not the throat. He starts on the steps, and this is not terrible, but not great. Very Lite-FM. Actually, the last 30 seconds weren't bad. The judges hated it, and Tim smiles and laughs. Simon thinks as long as he smiles, his is getting through. Tim laughs again because he thought they picked on everything, but never thought his smile would be among those things. Into the backstage cam, he says they were nicer than he thought they would be, so it could be worse.

Andrew Garcia - Forever - Chris Brown (2008)
Usher sees Andrew overthinking, overworking everything, and tells him to take a breath. He likes the result. The first half of the song still seems tense and tentative, but then he works it out a bit, but ultimately it is still kinda boring. I still feel as if he is chasing that lost moment. The judges loved it, disagreeing with me. Simon does think he is a bit boring, and brings Andrews mama up to give Simon a talking to. The backstage cam is all about Mom.

Katie Stevens - Chain of Fools - Aretha Franklin (1967)
He likes her energy and her voice, and offers her performance tips. She is singing very well. She is in great voice. A tad on the karaoke side for me, almost a tribute band, and the judges think she is sounding better, but there is a disconnect, before it degenerates into a battle of the judges with Katie as an audience member. Nice. Are we voting for our favorite judge or singer? On the backstage cam, Katie gets big hugs from Big Mike and the boys, telling her she was great.

Lee DeWyze - Treat Her Like A Lady - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose (1971)
Usher digs him, and thinks he needs to figure out how to take that moment onstage. The first line or two of the song are off, but he pulls it together. One of the reasons he drives me crazy is he only seems to invest in the loud moments, and in the softer moments, drops off the words and swallows the notes. He is 1996 rocker, using growl at the expense of nuance. I thought it was a bit uneven. The judges, however, love him, and toss everyone else under the bus. With the backstage cam, we see Lee basking in the glory of the reviews, and choking up about his life changing.

There is a Glee commercial, reminding us in two weeks, they return. Yay!

Crystal Bowersox - Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Knight & the Pips (1973)
Usher loves her - thinks she is a sweetheart, and will be great. Crystal is on the piano. The first note or two sound a little nervous, but that soon fades away, and she is singing big and strong. She gets up from the piano, and takes centerstage, and goes to town. The judges adore her, and Simon, a tad less impressed with the performance, warns her to not lose who she is by listening to Kara. She assures him she would never do anything she wasn't comfortable doing. After the commercial, we get the backstage cam she talks about taking a risk, proving to be multi-faceted.

Aaron Kelly - Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers (1971)
Usher loves Aaron, thinks the song is great for him. The beginning is a little rough, very nasal and sharp. He had nailed that for Usher, is it nerves? He clears it up as he sings. Aaron is strong on intensity, but a little lacking in understanding, I think. He ends strongly, although the judges are are rather temped in their praise, all liking him, but no one loving him. And, sadly, he gets no backstage cam.

In the recap video, Lee gets the best edit, and I notice Aaron sounds a bit less nasal in rehearsal. On the whole, the show featuring R&B and Soul was a little lacking in the latter. Siobhan had soul, but her performance wasn't strong. I thought Casey was soulful and strong. Big Mike was good, but a tad lacking. For me, Didi, Tim, and Andrew lacked soul in their performances, choosing structure over content. Katie came off as someone 'acting' rather than being soulful. Lee went for rock and eschewed the soul, but Crystal brought back the soul. Aaron seemed a bit nervous, which stole some of the soul from the song.

For me tonight, Casey and Crystal had the strongest performances. And the two strongest audience responses were for Casey and Lee, so I would suspect those three are safe. And, most likely, Aaron. For the bottom three, I think we shall see Didi, Tim, and someone else. Tough to say, could be Andrew, but his mama might have saved him some. Could be Siobhan, but I would think her fanbase is strong enough to keep her out of the bottom. Could be Casey or Mike, buried in the beginning. And Katie touched the bottom last week, and could visit again. Odds are that it will be Tim's time to go, as two ladies have already left, it is time for a young man to join them.

Five on the 5th - Reminder

five on the fifth

We are coming up on another of Stephen Chapman's fantastic and fun Five on the 5th posts, and I know some have said they would like to partake in the world-wide fun, so perhaps a reminder is in order.

5 on the fifth: You take 5 photographs on the 5th of the month (or the days leading up to the 5th) - post a comment on Stephen's blog with your name, location and link to the site containing your photos and Stephen updates the blog entry with your information. Remember to mention his blog on your own site so that your visitors get to see the other contributions.

To visit the entries from last month, click here. Check into Stephen's blog on the first of the month, where he will post the subject of the month's study, which you can accept for decide to go in another direction. Stephen's blog is located here. He is always looking for suggest for the next topic, so stop by and let him know your thoughts.

Welcome To The Club, Ricky Martin

ricky martin
ricky martin

I would imagine I am going to be one of thousands of blogs who will be featuring Ricky Martin today. Some will be kind and celebratory, while others will be smug and unkind. Count me among the celebrating bloggers who are happy to welcome Ricky to the club, and grateful he felt confident enough in his own life to make the announcement now. I am going to run a few excepts from the personal statement found on his website. He started out talking about writing his memoirs, and needing to get to the truth of his life. Then it got disappointing, for the advice he was being given.
Many people told me: "Ricky it's not important", "it's not worth it", "all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse", "many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature". Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.
These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed.

What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment. The word "happiness" takes on a new meaning for me as of today. It has been a very intense process. Every word that I write in this letter is born out of love, acceptance, detachment and real contentment. Writing this is a solid step towards my inner peace and vital part of my evolution.

I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.


That, my friends, was a well-thought and written coming out. It let the reader in on some of the pressures, and why he made the decision. I remember being there, and how frightened and alone I was. I was in college, surrounded by people, and still isolated. Of course I knew I was gay before I came out, but figuring how to do it was tough. And I didn't have packs of photographers following me everywhere. The honesty in his message, that is a beautiful and sexy thing. The smug and mean reaction by many when the news broke? Not pretty nor hot in the slightest. That said, welcome to the LGBT community, Ricky, and get used to it. We still seem to have a hard time sticking together and supporting one another. As loath as I am to admit it, as a group we tend to be reenacting Mart Crowley's Boys In The Band far more often than we are Craig Lucas' Longtime Companion. After seeing the disrespect of this and the coming out of Sean Hayes, I have to wonder why anyone would want to come out.

So here are some music videos done by the incomparable Ricky Martin. Indeed, I am a longtime fan, and it is just another reason to post some more videos. Enjoy.

Maria from 1995

Nobody Wants To Be Lonely from 2001

Jaleo from 2003

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dark Monday - Liza With A Z

liza minnelli,liza with a z
liza minnelli,liza with a z

In 1972, an amazing amalgam of talent came together for a TV special. The show, Liza With A Z, was actually a live concert created for television, starring the irrepressible Liza Minnelli, written and co-produced by Fred Ebb, and directed, choreographed and co-produced by the legendary Bob Fosse. The show went on to win four Emmy awards, 2 for Choreography and Direction for Fosse, one for John Kander & Fred Ebb for Music and Lyrics, and one for the show as Outstanding Variety Program. The concert was staged with filming in mind, and was stamped all over with Fosse's imprint. There was no real story to speak of, more of a live concert, with eleven production numbers. Here are four of them.


God Bless The Child

Bye Bye Blackbird

It Was A Good Time

You can purchase the DVD of the complete show from for just $23.49 by clicking here.

Happy Birthday Jay Brannan

Jay Brannan
Jay Brannan

On March 29, 1982, a baby boy was born in Texas. That child grew up wanting to be an actor, but also played the guitar. His first movie was Shortbus, which also included him singing the song 'Soda Shop,' the point of interest for many of his early his fans. Brannan utilized MySpace and YouTube to keep his fanbase strong and growing, releasing self-shot videos that captured his clean vocals and guitar. His own videos are often informal mini-concerts, just a boy, his guitar, and a webcam. I have seen Jay twice in concert, in Philly and in Annapolis. Like many of the artists I cover here, he is just phenomenal live - the Philly concert with him and Aiden James was outta this world. To celebrate his birthday, I thought I would pick out some of my favorite YouTube clips, and put them here. For today, I will eschew the 'official' videos and just lay it down, Jay-style. Just a word of warning, these videos are uncensored, and Jay has no problem dropping the f-bomb.


Both Hands (Ani Difranco cover)

String-A-Long Song

Body's A Temple

Visit Jay at his official website here. Perhaps the best birthday present would be buying his music. Well, I have already purchased all that he has put out, so I will have to settle for a hearty 'Happy Birthday, Jay!'

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Worth Another Listen - Kate Bush

kate bush,80s music,hounds of love
kate bush,80s music,hounds of love kate bush,80s music,hounds of love

Discovered as a 16-year-old by Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, and by 1978 she had her first hit single, Wuthering Heights, thus becoming the first woman to have written and performed her song to reach the top spot on the British charts. Her big entrance into the American market was the 1985 release Hounds of Love, which gave her the one and only appearance in the US Top 40. That song was Running Up That Hill, with a quirky video that played non-stop on MTV when it used to have VJs [Video Jockeys] and still have 'music' in the title. The song reached #30 on the UP Pop chart.

All the subsequent releases from the album didn't make it to the chart, but the esoteric style and chameleon-like changes in her looks never let the public cozy up to her. She was also tough to categorize, being called everything from Neo-Punk to Art Rock. But her music was still incredibly good, including the song Cloudbusting, one of her truly memorable songs.

The title cut was another great song. She opened the door for many of the ladies who followed her, being taken serious as a smart and vibrant artist who could do more than stand there and sing pretty. She maintained an active involvement in the creation of her music, videos and live performances.

After the 1993 release of The Red Shoes, Bush stepped out of the business for many years, and raised her children. But she did finally return with the 2005 release Aerial, which made it to #3 in the UK, and #48 in the US. She is reported to be still writing music and interested in putting out another album. We can only hope. For more on Kate Bush, check out her official website here.

New Follower - Kallie

new follower,kallie

I'd like to welcome Kallie to the Soundtrack family. She hails from Colorado, and has her own blog, Beware the Moxiesaurus. There you can read about her "love of dinosaurs, fuzzy creatures, a full moon, pop punk, pineapple and police mysteries." Stop by and give her a big hug hello.

To welcome Kallie, I thought I would use the traditional greeting, a music video, this time out being one of my favorite Blondie songs, Call Me. The song was a hit in 1980, helped out by the inclusion in the soundtrack for the Richard Gere movie American Gigolo. Hard to believe that was 30 years ago.

Sunday Morning with Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram

an american tale,somewhere out there

In 1986, Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment [Steven Spielberg's production company] released the animated feature An American Tail. The theme song was sung by Linda Ronstadt and James Ingram, whose voices blended beautifully. So, I thought, why not run it as a song to ease into the day on Sunday?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

30 Minutes with Theo Tams

Theo Tams
theo tams

The video below will begin playing once it has completed loading.

Last Wednesday, and again this Wednesday night, Canadian singer Theo Tams performed live in Toronto at a space called The Supermarket. As the regulars here know, I am a big fan of Theo. In my humble opinion, he is clearly the most talented man to come out of the Idol franchise in North America. Obviously, fans of some of the others might disagree, but I think Theo has the voice, musicianship, and interpretive skills that are unmatched. So I am posting a video from the most recent show, and thought I would share them with my readers.

The video of Theo starts at about 02:30 and runs for 30 minutes. I've watched several times, and just love it. Theo plays Wait For You, his last single. Then he plays Broken, a song from an out-of-print EP he made in 2005, and one of my new favorite songs. Then comes a lovely version of Regina Spektor's Samson. Then there is These Clean Walls, an achingly beautiful new song written by Theo recently. That is followed by an Theo-tastic version of Lady GaGa's Bad Romance. Then comes the first single he co-wrote from his debut, Lazy Lovers. He ends with a cover of Missy Higgins' Where I Stood, a haunting version that actually brought a tear to my eye when I first heard it.

There is a commercial at the beginning, and then it goes to the concert. Once that is over, you can use the slider below the video to move to 02:30 and see Theo starting the show. Once you see Theo, you can click on the full screen button on the right below the video, sit back and enjoy.

Watch this show and more at

You can order your copy of Give It All Away from Amazon here. It is an import, so it costs a more than usual, but I bought it and thought it is worth every penny. For my money, it is one of the best Idol debuts, certainly in North America, and possibly the world. Of course, your mileage might vary, but for me, Theo is the real deal. You can follow Theo on Twitter here. This morning on Twitter, Theo announced his next single will be Manhattan Blue! So, my Canadian friends, time to start making the requests to your favorite radio stations.

iFriends - Miss Kitty Bradshaw

kitty bradshaw

Miss Kitty Bradshaw, who some refer to as the Queen of All Social Media, has recently announced the launch of a her acclaimed website here. Miss Kitty is a friend of mine, and I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek or two as she prepared for the relaunch. If you haven't checked out Miss Kitty's site, you really should. The site chronicles the life of the Los Angeles native now living in New York. She reviews music, restaurants, movies and theater, as well as discussing life. And her fascination with fashion and her search for a great pair of shoes.

Here is Miss Kitty's thoughts on the relaunch:

After months of research, planning and development, The Kitty Bradshaw, one of New York’s premiere online personalities has relaunched her website.

The new website delivers timely, well-organized information to a diverse audience. It is easier to navigate and allows greater interaction with the public. On the site, users will be able to find both informative and humorous content on Kitty Bradshaw’s New York Life from a California Perspective.

The website includes a number of new features including KittyTube, HOTKitty 96 Radio, a live Events Feed and subscription content. From now on, users can subscribe to “Your Quarterly Kitty Newsletter”. This newsletter will keep readers updated on all things New York, events, people, places, and things.

In the next weeks and months, The Kitty Bradshaw will continue to improve her website by announcing new contests, events, and much, much more. The Kitty Bradshaw invites you to come back often to check out the latest developments.

We hope you enjoy our new website and find it useful and informative. Your suggestions and ideas are welcome - please contact us at

If you get the chance, stop by and say 'hi' here. Just be careful, cause Miss Kitty Bradshaw can be addictive. You can also check out her links to her FaceBook page, Twitter, and Linked In.

Saturday Wake Up with Doris Day

doris day

Could there be a nicer way to wake up than with Doris Day singing her trademark song, Que Sera Sera? Nope, didn't think so.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Friday Night Party - Howard Jones

Howard Jones Howard Jones

One of my favorite acts to see back in the 80s, Howard Jones was a great concert. As I just mentioned his new single yesterday and ordered his new album, I have been in a Howard kinda mood, so I thought I would give you a Friday Night Party with some Howard Jones live. So crank the volume up, and take back the 80s! The first clip is a recent show with Ringo Starr playing the drums for Howard as he sings one of his first hit songs, Things Can Only Get Better.

In this next clip, we have him singing Hide & Seek at Wembley Arena from the Live Aid concert in 1985. Live Aid was such a huge show, and it was great Howard got some air time during it. I was happy!

Another of my favorite songs is Like To Get To Know You Well. This clips is from 2007 when Howard appeared on Swedish Television for reasons of which I have no clue. All I know is when the announcer is speaking at the beginning, I could not take my eyes off her breasts. That said, Howard is looking good once he takes to the stage.

I know I saw him at least twice on this tour, because I remember the costume. This was the Dreams Into Action Tour in 1985. The clip is from Montreux Rock & Pop Festival taking place in Switzerland. The song, Life In One Day, was a huge hit for Howard, and one he always delivered in concert. God, I loved his hair! I was jealous, and I had some pretty big hair of my own.

For more on Howard, check out his official website here. And you can check out my post on his latest single here.

American Idol in 60 Seconds - Top 11

MTV News reporter Jim Cantiello gives his brief, yet clever thoughts on the Top Eleven of American Idol. Whether you agree with Jim or not, you gotta laugh.

Worth Another Listen - Animotion

animotion,80s music
animotion,80s music
Top: Original Animotion, bottom: Animotion version 2.

In 1984, four members of the recently defunct band Red Zone decided to keep working together. Lead singer Astrid Plane, keyboardist Paul Antonelli, bassist Charles Ottavio, and drummer Frenchy O'Brien formed the New Wave band Animotion. They added lead singer/guitarist Bill Wadhams as well as lead guitarist Don Kirkpatrick. The sound was guitar-driven synthesizers, with Plane and Wadhams sharing the vocals. They released their self-titled debut album in late '84. The following year, a single from the album, Obsession, brought the band international success and became the band's first Billboard Hot 100 Top Ten single, landing at #6.

The follow-up single, Let Him Go, also made it into the Top 40, making it to #39. Again there was the patented New Wave sound, with the Synth creating the rhythm, and Plane singing the duet with Wadham.

After an unsuccessful album in 1986, Plane married bassist Ottavio and left the band, as did Wadham in 1987. Actress/dancer/singer Cynthia Rhodes, known for the film Dirty Dancing (and in 1989 would marry 80s giant Richard Marx), replaced Plane as female lead, and Paul Engemann took over the male lead. The recorded a second self-titled album, and had a hit with Room To Move in 1989. The popularity of the song was helped by it's appearance in the film My Step-Mother Is An Alien. The song rose to #9 on the US Pop chart.

Unfortunately, this did not help the album become a success, and the band broke up shortly thereafter. In 2001, the original line-up reunited for a radio concert in Los Angeles, and have been playing together off and on since. To find out more about the band, click here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Music - Howard Jones

Howard Jones
Howard Jones
Howard Jones then [top] and now [bottom].

The song is Soon You'll Go, by Howard Jones, who had a string of hits in the 80s. The song was released on October 26, 2009. It is really just a beautiful song from the Ordinary Heroes album which I just purchased on

You can catch up with Howard Jones on his official website. You can order the CD in the US here. You can also purchase the album on iTunes and Amazon.

Worth Another Listen - Robbie Nevil

With a self-titled debut album in 1986, Robbie Nevil broke onto the music scene with a bit bang in the for a a single that took him to #2 on the Billboard Pop chart, C'est La Vie. The Los Angeles native had been playing in band in the late 70s and early 80s, as well as writing music that was covered by groups like the Pointer Sisters, El Debarge and Earth, Wind & Fire. But the single, with it's hooky chorus and sexy drive, flew up the charts and made him an artist to keep an eye on. And like his music, I thought Robbie was a sexy beast.

The second single, Dominoes, also broke into the Top 20 with a #14 on the Pop chart, as well as making inroads on the Dance charts and in the clubs across the country.

Wot's It To Ya was the third single, and it to made it on to the charts, topping out at #10 on the Billboard Pop chart. It was another song with a catchy chorus that hooked listeners and the more it played on the radio, the more it sold.

Being busy as a songwriter and producer for other artist's, Nevil had a four-year wait before his next album, A Place Like This. The first single, out in 1989 prior to the album release, went to #34 on the Pop chart, somewhat disappointing after the Top 20 feast from the first album. Back on Holiday didn't have the legs of the other songs, but still did decently. The landscape of music was changing, ushering in the Seattle-based grunge of Nirvana and Pearl Jam, leaving the slick pop of Nevil behind.

Just Like You was the second release from the third album, Day 1. The 1991 release knocked on the door of the Top 20, coming up to #25, and marked the last time Nevil was on the charts.

Since then, Nevil has been working as a songwriter, producer and musician for some of the top acts in the business. As well as working with the top pop acts like Destiny's Child, he started working with Disney acts like High School Musical, as well as artists Destiny's Child, David Archuleta and Jordin Sparks. However, C'est La Vie remains one of my favorites from that period of music.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

AI9 Teen Dreams Broken

Last night, the contestants made their last argument for making the tour. Today, the talk about the show has been that Paige is going home. Practically every voice has been saying it. And that makes me nervous, cause when the collective response is so unanimous, there is a strong chance it might be wrong. Of course, there is the chance for the judge's save, which I would seriously doubt will come into play.

After an introduction of the judges, Crusty announces the group number will be Wham's Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go. A fountain full of brightly painted balls while the Idols singing Our Time Now, that is our Ford video for today. We also found out Casey had a bit of rehearsal mishap, Siobhan has zombie friends, Katie's father drinks to escape the results episode, and Mike wears a baby bjorn.... Now, on to the results.

Siobhan is up first. She is, of course, safe, much to the glee of the bleeding zombies. Next up is Lee and Casey. And after the vote, we get to move on to Tim and Paige. Tim would not do it over again, and Paige thinks she had a poor performance, and lost herself. Paige is in the bottom three, as is Tim. And Lee and Casey are left standing for the commercial. And when we return, we will see Miley Cyrus.

Next week, Usher will be the mentor for R&B/Soul Week. And Crusty introduces Miley at the piano to sing. Oh, my, she is a bit pitchy tonight. Bet she is happy the judges won't be critiquing her. She is singing her latest single When I Look At You. Afterwards, she chats with Crusty, and says she thought Tim was great, and the judges got it wrong, she loved the knee-slide, and a little Ephron. LOL

We come back, there is a bit about the Idol Gives Back push, and find out Lee and Casey were safe, even if we weren't told that before. Aaron is the first up, and he is safe. Didi is next, who confesses her frustration with the judging, and Ellen basically says, 'Not me, it is them!' And Didi is safe. Big Mike is safe, and happy about it. Crystal is also safe. Finally, it is Katie and Andrew, and Anderw is getting a chance to talk it out about the criticism, and wants to keep his acoustic sound. The person in the bottom three is Katie, and Andrew is safe.

The person who is immediately safe is Katie - which is odd to me. Why make her be in the bottom for 90 seconds? Anyway, we go to a commercial break, and will see Demi Lovato and Joe Jonas perform. We come back, and the kids are screaming for Demi and Joe, singing Make A Wave. Not surprising, Demi clearly outsings the solo Jonai, and after they are done, Crusty chats with them, and kills more time.

For the final results, we discover the person leaving is Paige Miles, and Tim is safe and going on tour. Of course, the judges can save her, but seems unlikely. And Simon kills the drama, and says they will not use the judges save, and she will sing her way home. So, we go to the video, and I guess she will sing out. She sings Alright Now to the credits.

Str8 Boys Need Love Too - Old Friends

Left to right: Brian and James.

Don't ask me why, but I have decided the soundtrack to this post would be the music of Sacha Sacket, if for no other reason than I like it and think James might as well, so don't ask questions and just hit play and read.


Along with going to see Million Dollar Quartet, I was hoping to meet up with some old friends. I met Brian in the 80s when we were both doing freelance work for industrial trade shows, and we got along well from the start. We did many a job, along with another friend, Mal. Soon after he moved to the city, James joined out little group, having stumbled upon us and not running in shear terror. Hey, in those hectic times on jobs, that was all it took. Both were married when I met them, although I didn't hold it against them. Back in those days, I tended to be surrounded by breeders, and I was OK with that.

Anyway, I was trying to set up a chance to see these boys for the first time in a very long time. I am thinking it was 1994, as a matter of fact. So I got on the NJ Transit train to Penn Station going a bit too far into my head, and whipped out the iPod Touch to play some music to get back into my heart, and outta the other place. So with Theo Tams' Wait For You playing, I thought back and was able to think about some great times we had working on some jobs that were not exceedingly pleasant, save for the company we kept. Christopher Dallman's Never Was finished out the train ride, keeping me happy.

At 1:50PM, the train pulled into Penn Station, and I made my way to the surface. I still wasn't sure what was going to happen, so I called James and it turns out he was within a block of the station, and soon I was crossing the street to see him. I got a hug and a kiss, and we were off to meet Brian at a deli a couple of blocks away. Amazingly enough, within a few words, I was talking to James like 15 years hadn't passed us by, such a warm connection established. Sure, we had crap to catch up about, like how he has gone on to establish a career as a photographer and will soon have his work published. And how the silver has crept into his hair, but he is good with it, cause the ladies seem to like it. He can still make me laugh.

We made it to the deli, and saw Brian sitting there, looking not much different than the last time I had seen him. Aside from trying to figure out how long my hair was last time I had seen them, I spent much of the time laughing and enjoying myself. We walked to the High Line on 23rd, and walked down to 14th, I think. Then we headed over to the Hudson and walked along it. The city seems so different then when I lived there. We ended up at the Hippie Barge, at least that is what Brian called it, and had a beer and a lot more talk. I got a clearer vision of what Brian is up to, representing artists, like James. Alas, soon Brian had to leave, and James and I moved on to a rather nice bar, more beer and a bunch more conversation and laughs. And soon it was time for James to be heading out, and me to find my way up to Broadway, to catch a show.

I had a great time, and can't wait to see them again. Catching up is a helluva lot of fun. Maybe Mal and Helen will join us next time. But until then, you can learn a bit more about James by visiting his blog here.

Live Music - Double Trouble

Two of my favorite musicians kicked off a West Coast tour last night in Los Angeles, and I am sad I was 3,000 miles away. My fingers are still crossed they will be coming my way sometime soon. Christopher Dallman and Aiden James have dates remaining in San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.

Christopher Dallman singing Right On Time

Aiden James singing Snapshot

If you are nearby, get the hell there and buy a ticket. You'd have to be crazy not to see these talented me perform live. If you do, report back, I'd love to hear what you thought!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

AI9 Not Everyone Can Handle The Climb

Front row: Katie Stevens, Lee Dewyze, and Paige Miles. Second row: Andrew Garcia, Casey James, Crystal Bowersox, and Aaron Kelly. Top row: Tim Urban, Mike Lynche,Siobhan Magnus and Didi Benami.

This recap was originally written to appear on Rickey.Org.

What started as a Teen Idol theme morphed into an iTunes #1 theme, but either way Miley Cyrus is the mentor. The judges chat, Simon half-hearted apologizes to Kara, and Crusty spends too much time looking down Simon's shirt. And Simon explains leaving tonight means missing out on the money from the tour, and it will be devastating to their career. The video package comes on for the mentor, talking about her conquering all-media, and the seventeen-year-old is excited about being a mentor.

Lee Dewyze, The Letter [1967 song by The Boxtops, with recently deceased lead singer Alex Chilton] Lee puts a bluesy spin on the rock standard. He is more on key than usual, but still has a tough time holding notes. It is not something that would be released as contemporary music, but he was less pitchy than normal. I would say that was his best performance to date, but could use a bit less aimless on the stage. The judges are doing backflips, save for Simon. Paige Miles, Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now) [1984 song by Phil Collins] Miley calls her out as pitchy, but really likes her. Wow, on the open, she is a pitchy mess. She seems very nervous. But she recovers midway through the song, and belts it out. Randy hates it, Ellen thinks she is pretty, Kara thinks it is the worst of the season, and Simon tries to be nice, but thinks she is gone. She handles it well. Tim Urban, Crazy Little Thing Called Love [1980 song by Queen] One can't help but think this is a mistake, and what could save Paige. And Miley thinks he is great and gives him two thumbs up. Wow, he stays in tune and slides on the floor. The judges take him to task, and tell him he has no chance to win, and is silly and irrelevant. Hey, judges, it was not pitchy, gotta give him something.

Aaron Kelly, I Don't Want To Miss A Thing [1998 song by Aerosmith written by Diane Warren] We get to Aaron, and we discover he has laryngitis and tonsillitis, and a huge crush on Miley, who thinks he has an incredible voice. He gives the rock power ballad a country feel. Wow, he is making this work. Sure, there are a couple of odd notes, but considering the diagnoses, I am impressed. The judges are loving him, letting him go on the lightly flawed vocals. Crusty pulls out the Archie reference. Crystal Bowersox, Me and Bobby McGee ]1971 song by Janis Joplin, written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster] Miley loves her, and gives her a few suggestions that are actually good. Crystal listened, and sounded great. Great vocals. Again, however, I don't know how she works in today's music. The judges are crazy about it, but Ellen wants a bit more personality to shine through, and bit of connection to the audience, and Crusty sits on the carpet with her to try his best to help. Michael Lynche, When A Man Loves A Woman [1966 song by Percy Sledge] Miley loves Big Mike, and Crusty calls him the resident Casanova. He does a nice job, rather unexciting for me, and tended to go a bit sharp on the notes. He is getting good, but safe reviews. The term loungy comes up. I have thought that from the start.

Andrew Garcia, I Heard It Through The Grapevine [1967 song by Smokey Robinson & the Miracles] With Miley, he struggled with the lyrics. Wow, he is being swallowed alive by the song, and losing pitch. This is just not a good thing at all. Randy says it wasn't good, Ellen tends to agree. Kara and Simon think it was not good at all. Simon even realized he sucked the soul out of the song. Good news, Glee is on in three weeks. And Rachel is singing Madonna, I am happy. Katie Stevens, Big Girls Don't Cry [2006 song by Fergie] The seventeen-year-olds chat a bit, but there doesn't seem to be a great deal of warmth. I wasn't a big fan of the original, but think this is fine. Randy liked it, but saw the pitchiness. Ellen loved it, so did Kara, although she also thought there was 'mad pitch issues' and Simon thinks there is marked improvement, but still sees country in her future. Mixed reviews, but should make it through.

Casey James, Power of Love [1985 hit for Huey Lewis and the News] Casey automatically insults Miley but saying he was a fan of her father, not her. She mentions the eye contact, and he gets it. And he gets a hug. Casey is singing well, adding a but os southern blues to the song. I think he rocked it. Not quite as good as Crystal, but very good. The judges are gushing over him. Randy, Ellen and Kara loved it, and Simon hated it. Didi Benami, You're No Good [1975 hit for Linda Ronstadt, originally recorded by Betty Everett in 1963] I love the Ronstadt version, and remember it dearly, so this scares me a bit. She talks to Miley about nerves, and I can't think but hearing that before going on can't be good. Crusty mispronounces her name and laughs. This is not starting well. The key is wrong, and is kinda cabaret, to quote Simon. Randy didn't love it. Ellen was disappointed. Kara thought it was overly dramatic, and Simon wasn't happy. She wanted to try something different, and have some fun. Siobhan Magnus, Superstition [1972 song for Stevie Wonder] Siobhan is sporting some wild hair, so we can only imagine this will be something wild from her. She is singing it really well, but again, sounds dated, not timely. I could do without the screaming note every time. The overuse makes it very unspecial. Well, Miley gives her the thumbs-up from the audience. The judges, save Simon, loved her, and he thinks she wasn't relevant and everyone is lagging behind Crystal.

OK, I think the bottom three are clear, Paige, Tim and Andrew. Any of them might be going home, although I would suspect Paige or Andrew. But none of those three would be a shock. A couple will be skating by because of the failure of others. Yes, I am speaking to you, Didi, Katie, Big Mike and Lee. I would think Siobhan, Crystal, Aaron and Casey are safe tonight, and preparing for next week.

New Music - Say It Twice

They are a five-member power Alternative Rock band based in Los Angeles. They have played with +44, We The Kings, All Time Low, Hoobastank, Metro Station, Bamboozle, Warped Tour and others. In 2007, they were named to Alternative Press Magazine’s top 8 unsigned acts in the US. Their first album, Jetset Trends, helped the band become the top selling unsigned artist on in 2007. They have had over 1.5 million plays on MySpace. And today, they have released a new self-titled EP, available on iTunes. And you can get it here.

Say It Twice are guitarist Matt Eustace, singer/pianist John Schaefer, drummer Phillip Derochemont, bassist Carlos Cacciamani and guitarist Matt Farmer. The EP was produced by John Paul Wisner, who has worked with some of the top rock bands out there today. I really like this band, and think this should be on my radio. They avoid the EMO clichés prevalent today in order to get to their emotions. They remind me of some of my favorite bands from the late 80s/early 90s, who managed to take a genre and make their own sound and put their signature on it. Their style and sound are defined, and coupled with strong musicianship and smart lyrics, Say It Twice are certainly a band to keep an eye on.

The EP opens with The Road You Know, a song with driving guitars and an undeniable hook. Scheduled to be the first single, the video is in the works, and should be released soon. I think it is my favorite track. They follow that with Love Learn, which takes a percussion-intensive beat to a crescendo with fine style. Speed of the Drum deceptively leads off with a few bars of piano, quickly adding in the drums and guitar to add a nice layered punch. Getaway is the fourth track, and you can listen to a live performance of it below. The EP ends with Lies, another track I really like. The layered chorus helps the song build nicely before a nuanced conclusion. This completes all five songs, and I like them all.

This is a follow up to Jetset Trends, the 2007 release which put the band on the map with the online success. The new music shows a growth and maturity, a tighter focus on the sound. They signed with Authentik Artists, on board to promote the artists. But making music like this, the band is doing a fine job promoting themselves. If you like your rock served with a touch of pop sensibilities, you need to listen to the new music. You can check them out on MySpace here, or on PureVolume here. Check out the music, go to iTunes and buy it, and then sign on to Twitter and tell them how much you enjoy it. You can find them here. And once the video for The Road You Know is released, I'll hope to post it!

Happy Birthday, Kim

My sister Kim & I through the years. I am sure her children will have a good chuckle about this. And yes, my hair really has gone through some changes over the years.

Picture locations are Smyrna, Brooklyn, Clayton, Brooklyn, Brooklyn.

Happy birthday, Kim!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dark Monday - Million Dollar Quartet

On Saturday night, I went to see Million Dollar Quartet, a show I have been dying to see for some time, since reading about it touring in the Midwest. One of the reasons I was aware of it is I am a big fan of Levi Kreis, an amazingly talented singer/songwriter whose albums are part of my collection, and have been wanting to see him performing live, and heard he was doing this show. It is story of a fabled night in Memphis, when four great stars, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis were in the studio with Sun Records founder Sam Phillips on December 4, 1956.

The show opens with Carl Perkins, played by Robert Britton Lyons, arriving at the studio and playing Blue Suede Shoes. Lyons does well, but I have to admit although I know some of Perkins music, I know nothing of him otherwise, so it was easy to buy into the characterization offered by Lyons. He was joined by Johnny Cash, played by Lance Guest, who does a really nice job with the role. His voice is perfect to play Cash, whose subdued personality Guest portrayed very well. Next Jerry Lee Lewis explodes on the stage. Lewis, a bit of a bumpkin from rural Mississippi with tons of swagger, is played incredibly well by Levi Kreis. Next up we have Elvis Presley, with Eddie Clendening playing him. As Elvis was a caricature of himself for much of his career, Clendening is in the unenviable position of playing a man larger than life, while still seeming human. With Presley comes Dyanne, Elvis' date, played by Elizabeth Stanley. She seems more of a plot device than a real person, although Stanley imbues her with more nuance than I suspect is on the page. And, finally, there is Sam Phillips, founder and driving force behind Sun Records. Phillips, played by Hunter Foster, is a vivacious character, at times strong businessman, while at other times has the finger on the pulse of the music public.

If I was to fault anything in this extremely entertaining show, it would be the book, which is a bit on the weak side. It seems there is so much more to tackle, yet the storyline is somewhat light, more present to tie the songs together than to give a greater understanding of the characters. What it might lack in depth, it certainly captures the charm of the characters and scene. What the actors have, they play well, so I think they are more than capable of more. But there is also the music, that glorious music. The score includes Blue Suede Shoes, Real Wild Child, Matchbox, Who Do You Love, Folsom Prison Blues, Sixteen Ton, Long Tall Sally, Peace In The Valley, I Walk The Line, and so much more.

Before I continue on, I should make sure you know this. If you are anywhere near the Nederlander Theater - 208 W. 41st ST, NYC - get there right now. Buy a ticket, and just try to sit in it quietly, cause it ain't happening. You will move, bop and groove, and eventually, no matter how hard you fight it, you will be on your feet screaming for more. From stirring solos to intricate four-part-harmonies, your heart will skip a beat with the every hint of more music.

All the actors are good, but Levi really stood out with me. His character is really made up of the boldest strokes, and Levi uses it well to paint a vivid and glorious picture of Jerry Lee Lewis. In an impressive move, all the actors play their own instruments, and again Levi shines, from his sitting at the upright piano playing for the others to his laying back with his outstretched arms never missing a note, he captures the kinetic and barnstorming charisma of Jerry Lee Lewis to a 'T'. In fact, his performance alone would be worth the price of a ticket, but there is also other stellar turns on that stage, so get your ticket and be ready to rock!

After the show, I made my poor defenseless sister and brother-in-law wait outside, because I had waited years to see Levi Kreis, and I wasn't going to let this go. He was, of course, the last actor to come out of the theater, and he was so kind and gracious to my slightly babbling fool gig. He signed my program and stopped for a picture. [see below] I told him how much I enjoyed the show and his performance. And that I am a fan, and even wrote about him on my blog. He was kind enough to say he had heard about Soundtrack to my Day, his publicist had sent him links! That certainly made my night!


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