Friday, February 20, 2015

Date Night • Let's Fall In Love & Eden

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Tonight, I offer you up a bit of love for date night. The first is an Italian short by director Pappi Corsicato that seems to get some inspiration from Cole Porter. In 1928, the song "Let's Do It, Let's Fall in Love" premiered on the Broadway stage in the musical 'Paris'. As an instrumental version of the song plays in the background of the 3 minute film, two young men walk through a mall, sharing more than just a moment. Unfortunately, love is an emotion that doesn't always fly solo. Some are taught that fear goes with their love. This is 'Let's Fall in Love'.

Our next short film was written by Jason A. Rostovsky and directed by Sean Willis. Together, they also acted as producers for 'Eden'. The story takes place in the future, and looks at the relationship of Adam (Devon Graye) and Everett (Derek Stusynski), two young men trapped in a world where everyone is telling them there is something wrong with them. It is with the help of a nurse (Mary Mackey) that they learn love is the answer. This is 'Eden'.

Have a great weekend!

Faith Michaels ft Power Infiniti and Nina Flowers • Crooked

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Faith Michaels is based out of Key West, Florida, living the good life with gorgeous weather in a picturesque community while being featured in the top-rated drag show at Aqua Nightclub. She has also had quite the career in music, with her first hit, "Fetish", earning awards from festivals in Germany, and earning fans around the world. I guess that does make her the Queen of all media, doesn't it?

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Faith's latest release is "Crooked", a great new dance song that also features Power Infiniti and RuPaul's Drag Race alumni Nina Flowers, both great queens and DJs in their own right. Together, this royal group shares the ins and out of life in the court, while willing to point out that some queens might find their crown in "Crooked". This is the official music video for "Crooked" by Faith Michaels, featuring Power Infiniti and Nina Flowers.

For more about Faith Michaels, visit her official website. You can also check her out on social media, and 'follow' her on Twitter, and 'like' her on Facebook. "Crooked" can be found on Faith's latest release, 'Pop'. You can purchase 'Pop' from iTunes and Amazon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Dark Monday • Vivian Blaine • Adelaide's Lament

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On November 24, 1950, a new Broadway musical opened at the 46th Street Theater, and was an instant hit for theatergoers and critics alike. 'Guys and Dolls' had music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows. The story was based on "The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown" and "Blood Pressure", two short stories by Damon Runyon, as well as pulling a couple of characters from a few other of Runyon's works. It starred Robert Alda as Sky Masterson, Sam Levene as Nathan Detroit, Isabel Bigley as Sister Sarah Brown, and Vivian Blaine as Adelaide. The show was nominated for five Tony Awards, and won them all, including Best New Musical. 'Guys and Dolls' was selected as the winner of the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. However, because of writer Abe Burrows' troubles with the House Un-American Activities Committee, the gutless Trustees of Columbia University vetoed the selection, and no Pulitzer for Drama was awarded that year.

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Of the four leads from Broadway, Vivian Blaine was the only one to revive her performance. She joined Frank Sinatra, Marlon Brando, and Jean Simmons on screen, once again to good notices. Adelaide was a night club performer, and in a relationship with Nathan Detroit, hoping to get a ring. While thinking about it, she reads an article about the effects waiting for a proposal can take on a person. The song is "Adelaide's Lament", and it remains one of the most popular from the great score of 'Guys and Dolls'. This performance was recorded during the 1971 Tony Awards, when they offered highlights of previous years. There is a wonderful introduction by the late Jerry Orbach, who played Sky Masterson in a 1965 revival. This is Vivian Blaine singing "Adelaide's Lament" from 'Guys and Dolls'.

In 1983, Blaine became the first star to make a public service announcement for AIDS-related causes, including AIDS-Project Los Angeles. In fact, she donated the royalties from several recordings to the group. On December 9, 1995, Vivian Blaine died of congestive heart failure. She was 74 years old.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine 2015 • Spencer Day • Never My Love

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I know Valentine's weekend is coming to a close, but I just couldn't stop. But I do feel as though this might be a good place to stop it. Because Spencer Day is a lot of things, and a finisher might be one of them. For the moment I first heard him singing, I was finished. I was instantly a fan, and will be for as long as he makes music. That first song was "Till You Come to Me", off the album 'Vagabond'. Well, I have purchased a few more since then, and I only get more excited with each one. The latest, 'Daybreak', is a delicious combination of original songs and covers of great records from the 1960s, with just the right amount of Spencer in each one. "Never My Love" was written by American brother Donald and Richard Addrisi, and was best known from as a hit for The Association in 1967. This is the classic song as sung by Spencer Day.

"Never My Love" is featured on Spencer's latest album, 'Daybreak'. You can purchase 'Daybreak' from iTunes, Bandcamp, and Amazon. You can find out more about Spencer with a visit to his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter. And I hope you had a great Valentine's Weekend!

Valentine 2015 • Chadwick Johnson • Unchained Melody

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As part of my celebration of Valentine's Day, I am offering up some songs from some of my favorite artists. Luckily enough, I am able to pair up one of the greatest love songs ever with one of my favorite vocalists. "Unchained Melody" was written by Alex North and Hy Zaret in 1955. North had written the music for a prison movie, 'Unchained', which is how the song got the name. It was made famous by the recording made by the Righteous Brothers, a world-wide hit in 1965. Fast-forward 47 years, and Chadwick Johnson recorded the song as part of his 2012 release, 'Soul Rising'. I had been eagerly awaiting the release of the album since first finding Chadwick's music after falling in love with his recording of "Intoxicated". His voice is like magic to me, and I could listen to it all the time. Check it out for yourself with Chadwick Johnson singing "Unchained Melody".

I love Chadwick's voice, and can't stop listening to the album. To learn more about Chadwick Johnson, visit his official website. You can also follow him on Twitter, and "like" him on Facebook. You can purchase your own copy of 'Soul Rising' from iTunes or Amazon.

Valentine 2015 • Will Young • Love

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In my continuation of the Valentine's lovefest, I offer you a love song from the UK's Will Young. Will was, of course, the first winner of the UK's 'Pop Idol', the brand from which so many artists sprang from, like 'American Idol''s stars Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, and others. I was a fan early on, and continued to follow his music. In 2008, Will released 'Let It Go', which included the hits "Changes" and "Grace". And while it wasn't released as a single, I really liked the song "Love". It was the eighth track on the album. This is "Love".

In 2011, Will released the album 'Echos', which is really a great album. Unfortunately, it is not available to his fans in the United States, unless they follow my example, and order it as an export. One of my favorite songs off the album is "I Just Want A Lover", written by Will, Mima Stilwell, and Jim Eliot. And the music video is very cool.

To date, Will has released five studio albums, and every one has been certified at least Platinum in sales. His second, 'Friday's Child', was certified 5 X Platinum! "Love" can be found on Will's fourth album, and you can purchase 'Let It Go' from iTunes and Amazon. And while you cannot buy 'Echoes', you can purchase the music video in iTunes. To learn more about Will Young, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Valentine 2015 • Ian Shaw • Somewhere Towards Love

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As part of my celebration of Valentine's Day, I am offering up some songs from some of my favorite artists. Here I will include one I have discovered more recently, with the help of my friend J.D. Doyle of Queer Music Heritage. He recognized my love of Jazz music, and told me to check out the music of Welshman Ian Shaw. I am delighted he did. I fell in love, and could not get enough of his music. I must admit to buying several of his albums, including 'Somewhere Towards Love', a wonderful combination of classic songs and original material. I am very fond of the title track, and was doubly impressed to learn it was written by Shaw. His vocal stylings are so strong, and now I could say the same for his writing. This is the recording of Ian Shaw's "Somewhere Towards Love".

I am particularly fond of this album, as you can tell. But I do love them all, so you just need to check him out! To learn more about Ian Shaw, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter. You can download a copy of 'Somewhere Towards Love' from iTunes or Amazon.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Torch 2015 • Julie, Etta, Judy & Barbra

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Clockwise: Julie London, Etta James, Barbra Streisand, and Judy Garland. 

It is Valentine's Day, so how could I not choose some of my favorite voices to sing about love? I decided I wanted to go with some live performances, which ruled out a few of them, but that actually made my job easier. I will start with a favorite of mine, as I remember hearing her music while I was growing up. Julie London could be heard playing from stereo when I was young, for my Mother loved listening to her. To this day, it warms my heart to even hear her voice. This is Julie London singing "Let There Be Love", with music by Lionel Rand and lyrics by Ian Grant, published in 1940.

If you are feeling romantic, how can you not think about the great song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, and sung to perfection by Etta James? The song was written for the 1941 musical 'Orchestra Wives', and was performed in the film and on record by Glenn Miller and his orchestra, with vocals by Ray Eberle and Pat Friday. Nearly two decades later, it was recorded by James, and it became a hit for the singer. This is Etta James singing "At Last".

Next up, I picked a French popular song, with written by Léo Chauliac & Charles Trenet, first recorded by Trenet in 1943. "Que reste-t-il de nos amours?" was a hit in France, and used many times in soundtracks for French films. English-speaking audiences knew it was after new lyrics were written by Albert A. Beach, and it was introduced in 1957 by Keely Smith. That was when "I Wish You Love" became a world-wide hit, with many of the great singers recording their own version. I chose one by the great Judy Garland. She just had a way with songs that spoke to tortured romance, didn't she? This is Judy singing "I Wish You Love".

Finally, I thought I would offer one of my all-time favorites, Miss Barbra Joan Streisand. In a medley that features two spectacular songs, Barbra sand them at her 'Back to Brooklyn' concert recorded in 2012, when Streisand was 70 years old. And damn, she sounds and looks amazing! She is joined by handsome Chris Botti on trumpet on "What'll I Do", a song written in 1923 by the great Irving Berlin. For her second classic song, Barbra adds "My Funny Valentine", from the Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart musical 'Babes in Arms' from 1937. That song was also included on the 1967 release, 'Simply Streisand'. I just couldn't let Valentine's Day go by without including it on the blog. So this is Barbra Streisand singing "What'll I Do/My Funny Valentine" featuring Chris Botti.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine 2015 • Brendan Maclean • Only Boyfriend

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It seems I am not the only one celebrating the Valentine holiday. Aussie cutie Brendan Maclean wrote this song "Because no one ever writes decent Valentines for homos." And he may have a point. But then again, I don't care why he writes some of his songs, only that he keeps doing it. For "Only Boyfriend", Brendan collaborated with Lance Horne, and not just in the writing of the song. In his notes, Brendan explains that Lance played "...every bloody instrument." Well, "Except Cello: Andrew Nielson, And the dodgy drums: Brendan Maclean." Horne also joined in on the backing vocals, along with Megan Peabody and Jacob Langfelder. This is Brendan Maclean, joined by the handsome Lance Horne, with "Only Boyfriend".

You can get your free copy of "Only Boyfriend" from Bandcamp, all you must do is join Brendan's mailing list. To learn more about Brendan Maclean, 'follow' him on Twitter, or 'like' him on Facebook. For more about Lance Horne, you can find his official website, as well as accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

Valentine 2015 • Josh Zuckerman • Fall In Love Again

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As part of my celebration of Valentine's Day, I am featuring some of my favorite artists. One of them is definitely Josh Zuckerman, the New Jersey rocker whose sexy music has been in my iPod for me to enjoy since first discovering his first album, 'A New Sensation'. I thought I would share with you his music video for "Fall in Love Again", his 2009 single. I love the sparse arrangement of the song, and think Josh looks damn good in black and white. This is Josh with "Fall in Love Again".

To learn more about Josh Zuckerman, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook and 'follow' him on Twitter. "Fall in Love Again" can be found on Josh's 2009 release, 'Got Love'. You can purchase 'Got Love' from iTunes and Amazon.

Valentine 2015 • Nhojj • Love

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As part of my Valentine's Day celebration, I am offering up love songs from some of my favorite artists. If I were to make a list, Nhojj would certainly appear on it. It was a no brainer to say that his recording of "Love" would be appearing here. There is something so sweet, so sensual about the song, I find it impossible to resist. This is Nhojj singing "Love".

For more about Nhojj, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. "Love" can be found on the album 'Love Songs', released in 2009. 'Love Songs' can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon.

Valentine 2015 • Eric Himan • Everything to You

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As part of my celebration of Valentine's Day, I am offering up some songs from some of my favorite artists. That list would not be complete without the amazing Eric Himan, who not only has made me spend so much to buy his incredible music, but has also introduced me to many other artists when going to see him play live. Eric is just so talented, so sweet, and so damned handsome, it is hard not to cheer him on. Especially when he is making music like he has on the album 'Gracefully', which I think might be his best album to date. And the latest single is "Everything to You", a fantastic song I can't play enough. It is just so sweet, and so real, I'd like someone to feel that way about me. This is Eric Himan with the official music video for "Everything to You".

"Everything to You" can be found on his album 'Gracefully'. You can purchase 'Gracefully' from iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp. To learn more about Eric Himan visit his official website. There you can also check out his touring schedule, and when he will be playing in your neck of the woods. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine 2015 • Levi Kreis • Love Revolution

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As part of my Valentine's Day celebration, I am offering up love songs from some of my favorite artists. For me, Levi Kreis was the best thing to come out of 'The Apprentice'. I happened to be watching during season 4, and saw this independent artist featured on a task. I like him so much, I did some research, and soon had his album 'One of the Ones' in my collection. I've been hooked since. With every release, my collection became a little bit deeper. That includes his album released in 2013, 'Imagine Paradise'. It had a higher energy quotient than the previous albums, fusing R&B, Dance and Pop with a light touch. To help celebrate this holiday, I bring you "Love Revolution (Golishevsky Remix)" for your listening pleasure.

"Love Revolution" can be found on Levi's latest album. You can purchase 'Imagine Paradise' from iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. To learn more about Levi, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Valentine 2015 • Sir Ari Gold • Love Will Take Over

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As part of my Valentine's Day celebration, I am offering up love songs from some of my favorite artists. I have been a fan of Sir Ari Gold since the moment I saw the music video for "Wave of You" on LOGO, and he continues to keep me enthralled with fantastic albums and great music videos. Whether he is making energetic dance, sexy Pop, or touching ballads, Ari never fails to engage me. To help with the Valentine's celebration, I offer you his sexy song, "Love Will Take Over (JKriv Radio Mix)". Ari deftly combines Pop and Dance to keep me moving in my chair, wanting to dance with the sexy singer. This is the music video for "Love Will Take Over".

You can find "Love Will Take Over" on Ari's 2003 release, 'Space Under Sun'. You can purchase 'Space Under Sun' from iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. To learn more about Sir Ari Gold, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Valentine 2015 • Garrin Benfield • Be Love

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As part of my Valentine's Day celebration, I am offering up love songs from some of my favorite artists. I am a huge fan of Garrin Benfield's music, and have been since I purchased his 2004 album, 'Where Joy Kills Sorrow'. It was my introduction to him, and it still remains near and dear to my heart. There is something glorious about the last track on the album, "Be Love". As a singer, Garrin shows such great control, a perfect complement to his layered music. It reminds me why I fell in love with his music to start with. This is Garrin Benfield with "Be Love".

"Be Love" can be found on Garrin's fantastic album, 'Where Joy Kills Sorrow'. You can purchase the album from iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. To learn more about Garrin Benfield, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Valentine 2015 • Tom Goss • What We've Found

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As part of my celebration of Valentine's Day, I am offering up some songs from some of my favorite artists. It only seems right one of the first artists I present would be one of my favorites, and could be known as Mr. Love Song. Tom Goss certainly has a way to express his love in his music, often inspired by his husband, Mike. It seems once again Mike is his muse for the song and music video featuring "What We've Found", the latest off his album 'Waiting'. This song is so light, so bright, it seems like the perfect place to begin celebrating Valentine's Day. This is Tom Goss with the official music video for "What We've Found".

"What We've Found" can be found on Tom's latest release. You can purchase 'Wait' from iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. You can also buy the physical CD from Tom's online store. Tom mentioned his crowdfunding campaign, and if you'd like to learn more about it or become a backer, visit his Kickstarter page. If you'd like to learn more about Tom, visit his official website. You can also follow him on Twitter, or like him on Facebook. You can also subscribe to his YouTube channel.

Kenyth Mogan • Unlock Your Heart

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Handsome Kenyth Mogan.

I first discovered the music of Kenyth Mogan a little over a year ago, at the end of 2013. I loved it then, and continue to enjoy it now. So when I discovered he was releasing new music, I was eager to talk to him about it. As he was preparing to release the single "Unlock Your Heart", I got lucky, and was able to interview him. And since the song is being released today, I thought it was the perfect time to share it with you. I've marked my questions with S2MD, and made them italic. The important information, Kenyth's answers, are there for just for my readers!

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S2MD: What was your inspiration for "Unlock Your Heart"?
"Unlock Your Heart" was written by Matthew Hayes and Aaron Harris. I've always been a huge fan of the 80s singer Tiffany, and I first discovered the song because she sang background vocals on a version Matt recorded for a project he was working on in Nashville. From first listen, I fell in love with the song and over the years have built up a friendship with Matt, who has written many other amazing songs. When we started working on the project, I found out Aaron lived in San Francisco and was lucky enough to have him appear in the music video as the Scarecrow.

S2MD: How did you assemble your team to make this happen?
My manager Jeremy Sonney is really responsible for most of the assembly. He’s worked with Robb Padgent and Tanya Ihnen at KATR Pictures for years. They’ve done some great web series together including 'Vampire, Zombie, Werewolf' and 'The Ladies and the Gents'. I’ve had the opportunity to work with them a few times, and Jeremy thought they’d be perfect to produce the video. Robb is also an amazing composer who scores for film, so luckily music videos were something they were looking to try. The team was a blast to work with and the end product turned out so much more amazing than I ever could’ve hoped. At the time, the makeup artist Jenn McFetridge was actually my roommate, which worked out perfectly. Everyone else in the video are mutual friends and coworkers. As everything started to come together I began to see the scope of the project and became more and more worried that we wouldn’t be able to pull it off. Then, Ronnie slipped into the Tin Man costume that Shane Dzicek (who was also our cinematographer) had built and all that worry faded away.

S2MD: Is 'The Wizard of Oz' your favorite movie?
Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite movies of all-time. One of my best memories as a kid is being about four years old and watching it for the first time with my Mom. When the Wicked Witch appeared in the crystal ball mocking Dorothy I turned to her and said “She’s bad and needs a spanking!” My mother thought it was hysterical.

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From the video shoot of the "Unlock Your Heart" music video. 

S2MD: How was it working with Ronnie Kroell on the music video?
Ronnie is a sweetheart, which I really wasn’t expecting. He’s a beautiful out and proud gay man in Hollywood -- often such qualities are accompanied by an ego the size of Montana, but not with Ronnie. He’s genuinely one of the sweetest guys I have ever met and continues to be supportive of me and the video. He’s wonderful.

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Handsome Ronnie Kroell.

S2MD: Is the single and/or music video available for purchase?
The single will be available on iTunes as of February 13th, and the Video goes live on YouTube on Valentines Day!

S2MD: Can we expect more music to come in the near future?
Yes! I’ve actually already started working on the next project, which I hope to have ready by December. I’m working with some great producers including Gabe Lopez (Universal), Caleb Shultz (The Live Young Group), and Justine Kaye (Bombs Away Studios). I’ve also been writing a lot with my musical partner Phil Evans of The Roads Below, which is a new band out of Nashville. We’ve written about six songs together and I’m really proud of them. The album is still dance oriented, but there’s also a lot of rock influence. I can’t wait to share!

S2MD: Who is unlocking your heart this Valentine's Day? How are you celebrating it?
There’s a premiere party for the Unlock Your Heart video on February 13th at the Standard in Los Angeles, which was set up by Ronnie and his anti-bullying organization The Friend Movement, but after that I will most likely be celebrating the holiday curled up on my couch with my favorite Disney movies. Alas, I’m still waiting for Prince Charming.


I must say, I am surprised Kenyth and I both have the same plans for Valentine's Day. And we both are still in search of that special prince! From the 'Fall Apart' EP to this single, I just can't get enough of Kenyth's music. To learn more about Kenyth Mogan, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook. "Unlock Your Heart" can be purchased from iTunes and Amazon. To learn about Ronnie Kroell's The Friend Movement, visit the official website. You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Gavin James • At Last

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This morning I reviewed the latest from Irish singer/songwriter Gavin James, and mentioned I first discovered him via a clip of him singing "At Last", the classic song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the 1941 film, 'Orchestra Wives'. It was performed in the film and on record by Glenn Miller and his orchestra, with vocals by Ray Eberle and Pat Friday. The song is perhaps most closely identified with the outstanding recording made almost two decades later, when Etta James had a huge hit with the song in 1960. Fast-forward more an fifty more years, and I come across this YouTube video, and find myself another singer/songwriter with whom I form a bond. This is Gavin James singing "At Last" at a Tower Records in Dublin, Ireland.

I guess this is me getting an early start to the Valentine's Day festivities. To learn more about Gavin James, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. For more about his music, you can check out my thoughts on his first full-length album, 'Live at Whelans' from earlier.

Gavin James • Live at Whelans

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These days, it seems gingers are all the rage. That might be true, but I can tell you one thing, no matter the trends, I will stay true to this ginger. Gavin James is and out and proud singer/songwriter from Dublin, Ireland, a home to many good-looking redheads. I first discovered his music via his cover of Etta James' "At Last", which I still love. Right away, I searched for more music, but it was tough to find in the United States. Thankfully, that changed recently, with the release of the live collection, 'Live at Whelans'.

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Like I said, I was eagerly awaiting the opportunity to support Gavin James, so I purchased 'Live at Whelans'. I couldn't wait to load it in my iTunes and hit play. And that it something I have done time and time again since then. I just can't get enough. The album starts off with cheers and an acoustic guitar, followed by the beautiful voice of Gavin James, which floats through the air with a lightness and flutter, only to reveal a strength and passion. He sings "For You", a stunning song about unrequited love we all know far too well. That is followed by "Nervous", a song that still charms my heart. This is Gavin singing "Nervous".

There is something so real about "I Don't Know Why", and the love so palpable, I find it almost intoxicating. That time when you are approaching someone you care about, but feel th eneed to tell them how you feel. The next song is much more grounded, as you would expect from a song titled "Coming Home". You feel the emotions of missing someone you love, so real and hard. When the crowd joins him on the chorus, there is real power in those shared emotions. When I first saw the song name of the next entry, I was thinking it was a cover of the great song by Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler, "When The Sun Comes Out", but I quickly learned I was mistaken, it is another original by James, and it is a beauty. This is "Till The Sun Comes Up".

I love it when, in "Hole in My Heart", he takes a look at your relationship with an ex. We've all been there, and he captures it so well. With "22", James takes a wistful look at love, and of life when we were younger and life was simpler. The next song opens with a whistle, and the mood lightens a bit. "Great Escape" has a wonderful effervescence, and I can't help but smile as it plays. With "Ghost", James returns to a more ethereal feel, as two people look to find the spark again. The next track in the show is the second song I heard by James, and so it remains a favorite. "Say Hello" is also the title track on an EP released in 2012. While not the on this album, I found this video of Gavin singing the song live. I hope you, like me, find the joy of "Say Hello" essential.

I must admit, in the live version, with the audience singing almost the whole song with him, there is added joy to the song. You really should hear that version. It was the original closer for the show, but the audience demanded more, and James gave it to them. There is the delicate beauty of "Two Hearts", which builds with such power and strength, with a touch of heartbreak. I love that mix. Gavin makes an unusual choice when he ends the album with a cover. "The Book of Love" was written by out singer/songwriter Stephin Merritt, and originally sung by Merritt's band, The Magnetic Fields. This is Gavin James with "The Book of Love".

I must say, I love this album, It is easy to see why Gavin was signed by Capital Records here in the States, who I hope will make his music readily available here. They've done a great job with another guy form the UK, Sam Smith. While different artists, I can't help but be excited about the future of both artists. To learn more about Gavin James, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. You can purchase 'Live at Whelans' from iTunes and Amazon.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Robert Urban • Piéce en Forme de Habanera

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I've been a fan of Robert Urban's music for some time, and anyone who knows me well knows I do love me a yummy rocker. And Robert certainly fits into that category. I have been insane over his 2003 release 'Rock Widow', and mesmerized by 2000s 'Elegies'. His music is sometimes raucous, sometimes anthemic, and sometimes very personal, but always something I wanna listen to. So when I heard from Robert he had a new music video, I was thrilled to push play.

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In 1928, Maurice Ravel wrote his best known work, 'Boléro'. That was perhaps best known in pop culture when featured as a sexy soundtrack to Bo Derek's movie '10', and the amazing background to the brilliant perfect Ice Dancing performance by England's Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean. Twenty-one years before, he wrote another piece, this one for bass voice and piano. In 1907, Ravel wrote "Pièce en Forme de Habanera", a gorgeous and lush classical piece. Robert has re-imagined it, and it has been arranged for electric guitar and piano. This is the music video for "Piéce en Forme de Habanera", with Urban on electric guitar.

"Piéce en Forme de Habanera" was recorded as part of 'On Guitar', an instrumental album featuring Robert on electric guitar. At this point, it is only being streamed on Soundcloud here. Although it isn't available for purchase, you can find the rest of Robert's music on iTunes and Amazon. I have all the albums, and love when he rocks me out. If I were to pick a favorite, I'd go with 'Rock Widow', but you can't really go wrong with any of them. For more about Robert Urban, visit his official website. You can also 'friend' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter.

Valentine's Day • 35th Anniversary

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Valentine's Day will be celebrated this week, so I thought I would kick off the celebrations with this sweet and charming short by filmmaker Paul Bright. '35th Anniversary' features a charming couple who are about as real as can be. As they are celebrating more than three decades together, their is a comfort and familiarity that can't be missed. This is Paul Bright's '35th Anniversary'.

If you enjoyed this short film, please share it with your friends and family. I know I felt compelled to share it with you here. If you'd like, you can share it with the hashtag #LoveandHeartbreak. To see more of the work of Paul Bright, and his production company Paul Bright Films, visit the official website. You can also watch more on YouTube, and 'follow' him on Twitter and 'like' him on Facebook.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

David Raleigh • The Equation of Love

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On October 20th of 2014, I was lucky enough to be in the audience for David Raleigh's CD Release Party at The Cutting Room in Manhattan. I was joined by my sister, Kim, who rode the train with me from New Jersey to Penn Station, and then the easy walk to 32nd and Park Avenue. There we found the plush space, with a long line of fans equally eager to find a good seat to hear him performing songs from his new album, 'The Equation of Love'.

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It isn't really surprising that I had both my cameras with me, and decided to share by photographs and videos here with you all. Once we found a seat, and had a yummy meal, it was time for the show. I was delighted to hear David would be singing all the songs off the album, as they were on the track list. I was pleased to hear Nathan Leigh Jones was there, representing himself as producer of the album, as well as the co-writer with David on all eleven songs. The show started with the "Technicolor Dream", a beautiful ballad that draws a vivid picture of love. I hope you enjoy David Raleigh singing "Technicolor Dream".

The next song was the first single off the album, "Do It To Me". The song also had the first music video, and was featured on this blog last fall. You can check that out on the blog post here. Following that uptempo number, it was time to go back to the ballad, with David at the piano. There is such charm and love in "Minus You", and I find it had to resist. That is followed by another ballad, the lush and gorgeous "Paradise". This is David singing it live.

After a moment to recover, my senses came back down to earth as Raleigh prepared the next song, "Sweet Love". This is a wonderful uptempo song that can make you hungry, as well as warm your heart. It certainly made me rethink not ordering a dessert after dinner. For the next song, David brought out a dear friend, one who also happened to sing "Stay" with him on 'The Equation of Love'. Rhonda Ross came out to sing, and she was ready to go. This should come as no surprise, for the daughter of Diana Ross and Berry Gordy should be special. And she is. And so is David, as they both have great fun with the sexy Latin rhythms of "Stay".

It was time to change things up, so David slowed things down with the next song, "Maybe". The song has an inherent sweetness, with just the right amount of melancholy. Raleigh switches gears again, this time taking on a thoughtful quality of music with "Lost In Time". What does time really mean, and how does love affect it? Next up is "It's Only Love", an anthemic power ballad reminiscent of the work of Dianne Warren. I love this song.

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"Good Times" is up next, and strikes a note of nostalgia, in the sweetest of ways. It recalls a time before, and the music we listened to - it is amazing how music can bring us back to quickly. David ended the show just as he ended 'The Equation of Love', with the song "Thank You". The song is so earnest, so heartfelt, it always manages to touch my heart. This is David singing "Thank You".

After the show, we were all invited to the after party, and it was fun to go. I must admit, while I was standing there chatting with my sister, and in walked in Tony winner Billy Porter, I was impressed. and he looked fabulous, by the way. But soon it was time to go catch a train out of the city, so I collected my autographed copy of the album, and started walking to Penn Station. I had a great time, and couldn't wait to load 'The Equation of Love' on my iPod. You can to, for 'The Equation of Love' can be found on iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about David Raleigh, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dark Monday • Liza Minnelli is 'Stepping Out'

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I have to admit, when I was coming up with an idea for this Dark Monday post, it began with wanting to feature Liza Minnelli, for it has just been too long. Don't get me wrong - I listen to her all the time. Yes, I am a big fan. But it has been too long - about 7 months - since I have featured her on the blog. So tonight I feature a scene from the 1991 film, 'Stepping Out', where Liza, as the main character Mavis, sings the title song, written for her by the great team of John Kander and Fred Ebb. The show is based on a play of the same name that premiered in London in 1984, and later on Broadway in 1987. It was the story of a fading West End star who teaches a tap dancing class in a dingy church hall. It was thought of as a great vehicle for Minnelli, and the story was adapted to be based in Buffalo, New York, and the role of the teacher was beefed out a bit. And there was the addition of the song, Stepping Out". This is Liza singing the title song.

And while it hit the movies in a limited release, the film was not a financial success. This was surprising, as the cast was pretty impressive. Along with Liza, the credits included Shelley Winters, Julie Walters, Ellen Greene, Jane Krakowski, Bill Irwin, and Andrea Martin, among others. But as I say, any movie with Liza in it is worth seeing. But I have been a fan of Liza's since I saw her on Broadway, in 'The Act', which I saw on a high school trip. Since then, I have purchased her albums, seen her movies, you name it. I still would love to see her performing live again. And her recent album, 2010's 'Confessions', is so wonderful, I never tire of listening to it.

Aris • The New 'Pulse' of Kickstarter

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Aris Ziagos (Photo by Michael Sibler)

A little bit less than a year ago, I received an email that invited me to check out the music of Aris, a Brooklyn-based Electro-Rocker. I can tell you I am glad I accepted that invite, and not just because Aris is a handsome devil. 'Twilight Revival', his second full-length release, rocked me out and I haven't bee the same since. Song after song made me hoping it would never end. There was something bright, hopeful, and at times very sexy about the music Aris makes. Check it out for yourself with the official music video for "Twilight", a dance track with just the right amount of edge.

Needless to say, I was thrilled when heard Aris had started working on a follow-up to 'Twilight Revival'. He is calling the new album 'Pulse', and I like the way that sounds. And a great part of that sound is his voice, which manages to have a deliver each song perfectly, with a rough-hewn edge that draws me in deeper. As he prepares to go into the studio for 'Pulse', Aris has started a crowdfunding page to give us all the chance to be on board early for this project. I'll let Aris speak about it in his own words.

I have decided to be a part of it, and think you should too. If you like the music, you must step up and all your money to do the speaking for you, and place your vote to hear more great music from amazing LGBT artists. Whether you are signing up for a digital download, or a private house concert by Aris, supporting the artist is how we get to be sure they can continue to make more! To be a part of the project, visit the official Kickstarter page. To learn more about Aris, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, and 'like' him on Facebook. 'Twilight Revival' is available for purchase on iTunes and Amazon.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Teens Like Phil • Short Film

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I recently watched a short film, and was just so moved by it, I knew I'd have to share it with you all. 'Teens Like Phil' was written and directed by Dominic Haxton & David Rosler, with additional writer Cherise Pascual. In 20 minutes of film, we are told a complete story of a young LGBT teen, as he sees his family treat gays as disposable, and the world around him become increasingly violent and aggressive. Phil is trying to find his way in the world, with parents who would rather ignore a gay brother in need than reach out to him. His best friend, Adam, is struggling with abuse in his own home, leading him to lash out, hurting Phil in order to regain some power of his own. Quickly, tension and pain begin to escalate. This is 'Teens Like Phil'.

I thought Adam Donovan as Phil and Jake Robbins as Adam were particularly effective in their roles, showing a real depth to their characters. I thought this short was excellent, exposing the issue of discrimination and bullying is a layered issue, one that often needs to be dealt with on many levels. And that the world can do with more love, and less fear, hate and rage. That just might make the journey a little bit easier for 'Teens Like Phil'.


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