Sunday, February 28, 2010

Broadway Backwards 5

Thanks for, we can catch some of the highlights of Broadway Backwards 5, held last Monday, February 22 in the Vivian Beaumont Theater at the Lincoln Center. Some of Broadway's brightest stars came out for the fundraiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York. Florence Henderson hosted the event, as well as offered her singing talents. Henderson also brought Marion Ross and Eve Plumb [Jan showed up!] to join in the fun. The theory behind the evening is the performers cross the gender lines originally intended for the songs, but retain the lyrics. So, you ladies singing the songs usually reserved for the men, so they are singing about women, and visa versa. Blurring the lines of gender and sexual identity is not only fun for the audience, I am sure it must be a blast for the performers to have the chance to sing songs they never thought they'd be able to, at least on stage. One of these years, I am gonna have to make the trip up to NYC and see this!

They are most certainly causes worth the star power that came out to offer their time and talents. You can donate to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids by clicking here. You can offer your support to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center by clicking here. Both are truly worthy causes, and have a reputation for taking good care of the community. I am sure they would appreciate any support that could be offered.

Matt Morris Album on Sale

When Everything Breaks Open, the debut album from the talented and adorable Matt Morris is still available on for just $5.00, for a limited time. It was worth the money and then some, so if you can get it, I would highly advise it. To buy it, click here. I reviewed the album here, so you know I am serious. The latest single off the album will be Live Forever, which has topped some recent online polls, including topping Sophie's Challenge for an impressive 9 weeks, and on the verge of 10, and entering into the Hall of Fame there. You can also check him out at his official website here.

Sunday Morning with Daniel Boys

I could think of nothing more delightful than waking up on a lazy Sunday morning with Daniel Boys. Since that is not happening any time soon, some videos will have to do. Daniel is an actor/singer from the UK, who I have caught on BBC America, and became an instant fan. He recently completely a long run in Avenue Q on London's West End, as well as supporting John Barrowman on a couple of tours. I ordered his album, So Close, complete with an autograph, and love it! You can now buy So Close on iTunes here in the States, just click here. I think Daniel is handsome and talented, and an out and proud gay man who I will gladly support when I can. I truly hope to get the chance to see him perform live at some point. Perhaps he will perform on this side of the Atlantic, or I will get the chance to catch him with another favorite, John Barrowman. I am not sure I would be able to contain myself!

The first clip was from a show at the Royal Albert Hall in Glasgow, and is a cut from the album. "Everything" [inexplicably "Everything Is Beautiful" on iTunes] is a song which has truly grown on me, written by Michael Bublé, Alan Chang & Amy Foster-Gilles. I wasn't a fan of Bublé's version, but once I got beyond that, discovered I liked Daniel's very much. And it never hurts to have an introduction from the sexy John Barrowman. This is Daniel Boys singing "Everything".

The song "Better Than I" appeared on the animated feature 'Joseph: King of Dreams'. The animation is a variation of the Biblical story of Joseph and his coat of many colors. I truly love Daniel's take on it. As with much of his music, there is such a sweetness and honesty, it is hard for me to resist. The song bounds back and forth between being a prayer, and self exploration. This is Daniel singing "Better Than I".

You can check out Daniel on , his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter. To purchase Daniel's album 'So Close', you can find it on iTunes and Amazon.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Josh Groban

Today, Josh Groban turns 29 years old, which is just amazing to me. So young, yet sings with such beauty, grace, and dimension. He is one artist who I feel the need to rush out and buy his latest offering the moment it is available. I haven't seen him live yet, however, for I fear the screaming herds I have seen on some concert footage on YouTube. When I go to see a performer, I wanna be able to hear them, not people screaming... That is one of the reasons I would like to see him on Broadway, the audiences etiquette is so different. But it does seem to have settled down some, so there is always hope. Anyway, to celebrate his birthday, I am putting him to work - singing! The first clip is from his Evening In New York City, and features a song from his first album. Alla Luci Del Sole is a beautiful song, sung in Italian.

Josh wrote Remember When It Rained, and here he accompanies himself on piano. Just such a lovely version.

One of the early hits from the second album, Awake, Broken Vow, here he performs with Chris Botti. It is from the Evening in New York City DVD, and there is a lovely pared back feel to it.

Botti had a show in Boston, and invited a couple of friends to sing with him band. Here they play The Shape of My Heart with Josh and Sting on vocals on the song from Sting's Ten Summoner's Tales album from 1993. I am surprised just how well their voices blend and make for something truly special.

You can find more about Josh Groban on the web here, and on Twitter here.

Schoolhouse Rocks Civics

Between 1973 and 1980, 37 exceptional installments of children's television were produced and televised, and I remember loving every minute of it, despite not being a child myself at the time. In spots running only three minutes, these cartoons taught lessons in grammar, history, science, math and other subjects.

In part two of this Saturday morning feature, we move on to civics. Once again, I learned so much from these clever bits, and I'm Just A Bill is another song I sing because I can. It is irresistible, I tell you.

I'm Just A Bill

The Great American Melting Pot

Sufferin' Till Suffrage

Friday, February 26, 2010

Worth Another Listen - Rose Royce

In the early 70s, there was a new movement in music brewing, and it was percolating on the West Coast. Up steps a group based out of Los Angeles, Total Concept Unlimited, made up by Henry Garner, Terry Santiel, Duke Jobe, Michael Moore, Kenny Copeland, Kenji Brown, Freddie Dunn, and Michael Nash. They were discovered by Motown great Edwin Starr, who brought them back to the label. Soon they were playing with a new name, The Undisputed Truth. While touring, they ran across a vocalist, Rose Norwalt, and soon added her to the group. Soon the band was working on an album, and the soundtrack to a movie, Car Wash. Before anything was released, they changed the name one more time, this time to Rose Royce. In 1976 they released the first single, the movie theme song, and it went to #1 Pop and R&B charts.

In early 1978, they released one of my favorite songs, Wishing On A Star. The gorgeous ballad about a dream to reunite with a lost love is just fantastic. One of my favorite versions is by British hitmaker Paul Weller on his Studio 150 album.

Their third single was I Wanna To Get Next To You, a slow and soulful ballad exploring the pain of unrequited love. It was not Rose on the vocals, but instead one of the men, who often split the lead spot. It went to #10 on the pop chart, and #3 on the R&B chart. Sadly, it was their last trip to the top on the US charts, but garnered much success in the UK and Europe, where they continue to tour and play gigs to strong fans.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Four Asked To 'Leave Right Now'

Both the ladies and the gentlemen have had their chance in the spotlight, and now we shall see what the voters have to say. Will they be sending home the weaker performances, or will personality and looks play a part in the four who are getting the tickets home tonight? Will it be someone the producers made sure we got to know very well, or someone we have barely met? Will the voters take for granted what the judges said about some of the contestants who cracked under the pressure of the first show?

Seacrest comes on to say over 20 million votes were cast, and both Allison Iraheta and Kris Allen will be performing on the show. Crusty babbles on with the judges, and we see Kara's hubby, perhaps to preempt the lawsuit producers fear. The Top 24 sing American Boy, a song made popular by the glorious Estelle with help from Kanye West. Well, the arrangement is just with side of elevator music, but it wasn't that bad. Not that good, but could have been worse.

The results begin, Siobhan is safe. Haeley is glittery and safe. Michelle is safe. Katelyn is also safe, leaving Katie and Janell. Randy cannot say who is safe and who will be going, It is Janell who will be singing her way out the door. They return from commercial to introduce Allison Iraheta, who placed fourth last season, to sing her new single, Scars. It is a pleasant song, not a great one. She is amusing with Crusty, who never figured out how to talk to the girl.

More results, and Paige is safe. Next up is Lacey. and she is surprisingly safe. Lilly is safe, and finally breathes. Crystal is there, looking nervous, but is safe, leaving Ashley and Didi. To drag it out, Crusty asks Ellen how the person leaving should cope. Didi is safe, and Ashley is leaving us tonight. Again, we have to hear a person just told few people liked hearing them sing a song give it another shot as their last chance in the public eye - hey, history proves that point.We won't hear from most of the people who make the finals, let alone the semi-finalists.

After a break, they mock Tyler - which seems odd, since he does a fine job on his own. They start with Big Mike, and he is safe. John Park is next, and safe. The 'intimidating' Aaron is safe. Todrick is next, safe. This leaves Tim and Joe. Could this be the first surprise? Tim is safe, and Joe is going home. Apparently, cute does beat talent. What a shame.

Reigning AI Champion Kris Allen comes out to talk about his recent trip to Haiti, and perform the Beatles song, Let It Be. It was nice.

Casey is safe, although they refuse to let go of the Kara thing. Jermaine is next, and is safe. Lee is also safe, as is Andrew. That leaves Alex and Tyler. Alex looks nervous as all get out, and Tyler is leaving. And Tyler thinks the the judges didn't tell him he sucked soon enough. All four get a single goodbye package, to Leave Right Now, sung by Will Young, the first winner of Pop Idol in the UK, thus making him the Daddy of all Idols. I like Will's music, and his latest video is a hoot! Check out my post on him here. Then Tyler sings out, only to be cut short, much like his stay on the show.

I can't tell what that means. The worst performances did not go home, although there is some question about personalities. But Tyler was the only person who was given extended screen time to catch a flight home, so perhaps his personality did not catch on with the voters.

Worth Another Listen - Five Stairsteps

Sometimes a great song is so perfect and timeless, you can't resist it. Such is the case with O-o-h Child. The song has a great message, a beautiful melody, and sung to perfection by the Five Stairsteps, a Chicago-based Burke family; Alohe, Clarence, James, Dennis, Keni, and Cubie. They started performing in 1965, and released their hit in 1970. The song of love and hope is every bit as special as any recorded at the time.

It is interesting looking at some of their videos, as the look very much defined the period. Take, for instance, a look at the 1966 clip of their song You Waited Too Long. Indicative of the period, they are dressed in suits and dresses, unlike the previous clip, when they are all hippied-out, truly a sign of passing to a new decade and a new era in human relations.

In the next clip, sot the same as the last, you can definitely pick up why they were referred to as the 'first family of soul' in Chicago. The harmonies are rich and gorgeous, the emotions heart-felt. Here is the 1966 song, World of Fantasy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Idol Season 9 Top 24 - Men

This recap is written and originally published on Rickey.Org, which also features videos and more from American Idol.

Tonight, the twelve men of American Idol Season 9 take to the stage, hoping to impress the judges and the audience to secure a slot in the top 20. The women sang last night, an evening filled more with yawns than anything else. Here's to hoping the men watched and paid attention to what worked and what didn't, and are prepared to put on a show. Also, might be nice to hear some music from this millennium.

Simon starts the night by threatening the men, saying he saw nerves, and if they forget the lyrics, their careers are over. Nice, try to make the boys buckle so they don't outshine the girls...

Todrick Hall, a 24-year-old from Texas, sings Since U Been Gone, the Kelly Clarkson song. He has changed it up to be a clubby dance/jazz number. Sadly, doesn't have the vocals to make it work. His mid-range is good, but the top and bottom suffer. Ellen liked it and him, and Randy et al says he destroyed the song, taking it too far. So, they are looking for a luke warm medium point for the arrangements. Sixteen-year-old Aaron Kelly from Pennsylvania will hope to not repeat the final audition, where he forgot the lyrics. He sings Here Comes Goodbye, the country song written by Season 6 finalist Chris Sligh for Rascal Flatts. There were some very pitchy moments in that performance, but for the most part, the judges ignore his missed notes and tell him he will be around for a long time, and needs more confidence. I just keep saying 'when Archie met Taylor Swift.'

The 27-year-old church singer from from Indiana, Jermaine Sellers, performs Get Here written by Brenda Russell and sung by Oleta Adams in 1990. Wow, is he overworking that song, hitting a note that isn't very pleasing to my ears. I don't care if it was right or not. The judges were not impressed, and then remind everyone about the diva behavior. And he did a Patti LaBelle performance. Not a good night for Jermaine... Last minute replacement Tim Urban, a 20-year-old from Texas has gotten nearly no screen time, is cute as a button. We shall see what he brings. He sings Apologize by One Republic. Ouch, the high notes are not his friend. Why choose a song not in your range? The judges were not kind. Nor should they be. Pretty don't cut it.

Twenty-year-old California student Joe Munoz sings the Jason Mraz song You and I Both, and sounds pretty good, although the voice showed signs of nerves. He has a serious vibrato. Judges liked him, save Simon, who thought he was 'limp.' Nice, Simon. Tyler Grady, a 20-year-old Pennsylvania native who sings American Woman by the Canadian Band The Guess Who. Yikes, this is not good. The vocals were very weak. Randy bring up the style-over-substance thing, which rings so damn true. I am having Constantine flashbacks. When will he sing the Partridge Family song?

Illinois singer Lee DeWyze is 23 years old, was a sales clerk back at home. His rough-hewn vocals are featured in Snow Patrols Chasing Cars, and he has a tough time staying on key. How does he managed throaty and nasal at the same time? Ellen, Randy and Kara were disappointed, but Simon thought he was the best of the night. Well, so far, that isn't saying that much. John Park is also from Illinois. The 21-year-old starts out with a flirtation with Shania Twain, and then breaks into God Bless The Child, written and performed by the great Billie Holiday. It starts out rough, but gains some speed. But I am still yawning. Where is the soul?

Floridian Michael Lynche, the pumped up 26-year-old father-to-be, sings the Maroon 5 song This Love. It is a little manic, and little bar band, but tonight that makes it seem special. Was kinda like Hootie for the new millennium.

Nineteen-year-old Texan Alex Lambert has had no screen time, and now we know why. He sings Wonderful World by James Morrison, the British soul singer, and he performs with no charisma, and lots of fear. He is a bundle of nerves. He missed with the falsetto, but the mid range was good. I liked moments of that song. The judges like him, even if he bombed. He has some charm with Ryan, which is more than some can say on this dreadful night.

He let the ponytail down but kept his shirt on, and is singing Bryan Adams. Casey James, the boy of Kara's dreams. The 27-year-old Texan sings Heaven, a song he keeps acoustic and sweet, while the judges clown in front of him. But he is actually singing well, and pulling this off. The judges are looking at him, and Kara calls him eye candy and ear candy. California native Andrew Garcia is a 24-year-old stay-at-home-dad, and his intro is very emotional. He sings Fall Out Boy's Sugar, We're Going Down. He pulls it off, but it is anticlimactic to me. The judges love him, although unimpressed by the performance. I'm underwhelmed.

Tonight, well, that wasn't good. If I was to pick my favorite for the night, I was say Casey James, by default. As for who is going home, I have no clue, there are so many possibilities. I'd say Casey, Lee, Andrew, Aaron, and Joe are safe, and more than likely Tyler. The rest, I hope Alex gets another shot. I would think Tim is definitely going home, and who joins him is anyone's guess.

New Video - Theo Tams

This rather impressive young man did something out of the ordinary, which is to release a video for his current single, Wait For You from his debut Give It All Away, not with a story-heavy video of him lip syncing to the song, he instead has a video of just him and a piano, performing live, moving me greatly. Theo Tams, whose talent I already appreciated greatly, stepped it up, and made me love the song even more.

After watching this many times over, I still can't get enough. And I curse Theo under my breath, thinking I will have to go to Canada to see him performing live, which means I will have to cross the border and tell a guard I am going to see a boy singing who is more than half my age. And I might have to scream for him like I was a teenage girl at a Jonas Brothers concert. I hope the Canadians will be ready for me.

For more about Theo Tams, check out his official website here, his MySpace here, and his Twitter here. Damn, I love this video.

Worth Another Listen - Rosanne Cash

The daughter of legendary Country star Johnny Cash, Rosanne owned the 80s in Country music. During the decade, she released 17 songs which appeared in the Top 20 on the Country charts, including an incredible 10 that reached #1. The song that started the parade is still one of my favorites, Seven Year Ache. Released early in 1981, the perfectly written piece came from her own pen, showing much talent. It was the first single off her second album, and proved not only to be a Country hit, but also reached #22 on the Pop chart. This is a video of Rosanne singing it live, and it just wow's me.

Her fourth #1 came in 1985, off the fourth album Rhythm And Romance. It also showed some crossover power, getting to #16 on the Adult Contemporary chart. I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me has a gorgeous melody and smart lyrics, again written by Cash, and co-written by then-husband Rodney Crowell.

In 1988, Runaway Train became the ninth #1 song of the decade, the fourth off King's Record Shop. The song was written by John Stewart was a member of the legendary Kingston Trio as well as being a prolific songwriter, with songs like The Monkee's Daydream Believer to his credit.

Rosanne continued to record great music, until undergoing brain surgery in 2007. After taking some time for recovery, she is back to work, including working on The List, the 2009 release that was made up of songs from the list of the Top 100 Country songs given to her be her late father. One of my favorite songs is 500 Miles (Away From Home), a song copyrighted in 1961. I love the version by the Kingston Trio and also Peter, Paul & Mary. The Hooters also did a killer version of which I am quite fond. Well, here is Rosanne's version of the great song.

For more about Rosanne Cash, check out her website here. She is a talented, beautiful, and courageous lady, with so much great music shared with the world.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

American Idol Season 9 - Top 12 Women

As I sit and wait for this season’s American Idol to finally get started, that familiar buzz starts taking hold. The excitement at getting to know some new talent is a wonderful thing. You never know, on Idol sometimes you will find it, and sometimes you won’t. But it is the process that can be so exciting and exasperating. Will we find someone to watch for the season, or maybe even long after? Thursday night, 2 girls and 2 boys will be leaving, and one hopes it isn't your favorite.

Oddly enough, it is also nice to see Ryan again. I am sure that will pass quickly. He introduces the girls, and waves at the boys before introducing the judges, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and in her first live show, Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen releases the tape of Simon groping her, and like many things on Idol, it goes on just a bit too long.

First up is Paige Miles, who talks about wiping snot from kids noses, and singing with the King of Pop’s background singers. She chooses to sing a 1973 rock song, All Right Now, by the British band Free. Lead singer Paul Rodgers wailed on that song, and is tough to top. I was rather unimpressive, ended with the big note. Simon loves her, not the song. Randy, Kara and Ellen basically agree with mixed results. Next up will be Ashley Rodriguez. She is a 22-year-old student and a huge Jordin Sparks fan, and singing a 2009 song of another diva, Leona Lewis, with Happy. She struggles a bit with the opening, a bit too low for her, and seems at her most comfortable when she is wailing on the notes heavy. Kara starts, pointing out there were highs and lows of the performance. I mean, do you really wanna name check two singers crowned on Simon’s reality shows right off the bat?

Up third is Janell Wheeler, a 24-year-old wine salesperson from Florida. She sings What About Love by the band Heart. Wow, taking on Ann Wilson, that is brave. This is not working out for her. She flies in and out of tune throughout the chorus, and even on the perceived glory notes. Randy leads the opinions, and was mixed, thought the song was bad choice. Ellen liked her the best, the others all disliked the song choice. Soon we have Denver’s Lilly Scott, a struggling artist who lived out of her car prior to American Idol. She is singing Fixing A Hole by the Beatles from the 1967 Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Interesting choice. She is the first to bring out a guitar. She gives it her own quirky spin, and does rather nicely. I like her. Ellen kicks off the reviews with a rave, which keep on coming. Apparently, this is the start of a Beatles parade, as the next two ladies will also be pulling from that catalog.

Nineteen-year-old Iowa native Katelyn Epperly is on next and sings Oh Darling from the Abbey Road album. She does rather decently, although Simon likes her but thinks it was a bit of a mess. She gets props from Kara and Randy, and from Ellen, too. Somehow, the whole things turn, and it is all about Kara, who calls herself a bitch. Judges, this is a show about the singers, remember? Haeley Vaughn is a 16-year-old from Colorado, and was very excited to get her nose pierced. Woohoo. She is singing I Want to Hold Your Hand, from 1963. She is big voiced, but slips all over between on key and off. She mixes up the song a bit and plays her guitar, which was nice, but hitting all the notes would be nicer. Kara leads by pointing out there were some issues, but the personality is so big. Randy and Ellen agree, but Simon calls it a mess, and she was like a wind-up doll.

She of the brilliant red hair, Lacey Brown is a 24-year-old singer from Texas. She chose to sing Landslide by Fleetwood Mac. Yikes, this isn’t working for me. There are all kinds of quirk and key issues going on there. It gets better, but not great. It was rough for me. Randy thinks it was the wrong song and pitchy. Ellen thinks she is better than that performance. Simon thought it was depressing to think he had to listen to the whole thing. Kara resorts to the fact she is pretty [Paula flashback!]. Ooooh, Katie gets her first pimping. Michelle Delamore is a 22-year-old Miami-based singer/retail sales rep, and a gorgeous girl. She performs Fallin’ by Alicia Keys. Alicia had a hit with it in 2001, and Michelle changes it up some, adding a bit more jazz flavors, but maintains the diva side as well. Ellen says it is fantastic but push harder. Simon liked it, but felt it was karaoke. Kara says she lacks believability. Randy wants risks. Of course, they shoot down risks usually, but they always want them.

Didi Benami is a 23-year-old from Tennessee but now lives in Los Angeles. She sang Kara’s song, her highlight, aside from tears. She sings The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson. Wow, another quirky indie/folk girl. There were a few rough spots, but basically it was good. Simon thought the song was dreary. They all think it was nice, but lacking. Glass-blowing apprentice Siobhan Magnus sings Wicked Game by Chris Isaak, a great artist. She does an interesting job, and it is sung well, kind of nice in a night of wailing diva wannabees. Kara brings out the quirk card, but thinks she is in the moment. Randy wants big songs and big voices. I’m shocked. Ellen loved it. Simon is not as enthused. And a tad confused. I like that.

Only two more ladies remaining, and they are both highly anticipated. Both had a lot of screen time during Hollywood week. Ryan reminds us on Thursday, people will be going home. Subliminal message is but not these two, people, be real!

Twenty-four-year-old Crystal Bowersox is a singer/songwriter from Ohio, as well as a mother of an infant. She sings Alanis Morrissette’s Hand In My Pocket from 1995. She nails it, complete with the guitar/harmonica instrumentation. Randy loves her. So does Ellen. Simon thinks she can do much better. Kara loves her, but thinks she has greatness to deliver. That leaves 17-year-old Katie Stevens, who has seen more pimping by the producers than anyone this season. They really seem to like her. She is a high school student from Connecticut, and helps out with her Grandmother. She sings Feeling Good, which Seacrest attributes to Michael Bublé, and he already gets on my nerves. Come on, that is not even the best version of that song. There is Nina Simone and Muse, for God’s sake. Well, big-voiced Katie does a nice job. Ellen loved it, but wants her to be cute and younger. Simon agrees. It was a big pageant-like. Kara is stunned she was so pitchy, but adores her. Randy felt she was pushing so hard, it was going sharp. She agrees with the judges.

So, if I was to guess who was safe from this group, it would be tough to say. Lilly would be my choice for best of the evening. Katie, Crystal, Siobhan, Lilly, Michelle, Haeley, and Katelyn are definitely safe, as, I would guess, is Didi. That leaves Paige Miles, Ashley Rodriguez, Janell Wheeler, and Lacey Brown to fight it out on the bottom. There will be two girls leaving on Thursday night, and it will be interesting to see how the voting goes.

Duets - Dolly & Bette

In 2000, Bette Midler had a short-lived television series, Bette. In the third episode, she had Dolly Parton guest star, and they performed Patty Griffin's Moses was performed as a duet on the show, with Parton also playing the guitar. The harmony is magnificent. I'd like to thank Rich Overton of RJO Artists Relations and Management for tweeting about this clip. You can follow him at @RJOArtists.

American Idol Tonight

American Idol judges Randy Jackson, Ellen Degeneres, Simon Cowell, host Ryan Seacrest, and Kara Dioguardi.

So, tonight begins my season 9 coverage, in conjuncture with Rickey.Org. The Top 12 Ladies sing tonight, with the Top 12 Men taking their turn tomorrow night. I will be writing my recap as the show goes on, and will have it as soon after the show as possible. It will be posted here and at Rickey's. You can watch the show on your local Fox station from 8-10 PM tonight.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Dark Monday - Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

The 1953 movie was everything a movie was supposed to be: sexy, musical, sparkly, with one of the gayest scenes of all the 50s movies ever. Starring sex goddess Marilyn Monroe and the evocative Jane Russell, I couldn't resist watching it on Sunday morning, and knew I wanted to do this post. It was based on a novel by Anita Loos, who later went on to write the story for the 1949 Broadway musical starring the irrepressible Carol Channing. The film combines the music of songwriting teams Hoagy Carmichael & Harold Adamson and Jule Styne & Leo Robin. The songs by Styne and Robin are from the Broadway show, while the songs by Carmichael and Adamson were written especially for the film.

The story is a classic one - two best friends/show girls, Lorelei Lee and Dorothy Shaw, take a cruise to find themselves new men, in Lorelei's case, a wealthy one. Hilarity and musical numbers ensue. It starts with Dorothy and Lorelei [Russell and Monroe, respectively] singing how they are just Two Little Girls From Little Rock.

Two Little Girls From Little Rock

Before leaving on the trip to Paris, Russell & Monroe say Bye Bye Baby to their friends and loved ones, along with everyone else on the cruise.

In a scene that I think could be the gayest ever, Jane Russell sings Ain't There Anyone Here For Love with a background of buff Olympic gymnasts in nude-colored Speedos exercising, wrestling, and posing to the music. Oh, daddies!

In When Love Goes Wrong, Russell and Monroe expound the pain of lost love in a Paris cafe with a blues song, complete with children cheering them on.

Having been disappointed by her fiancee, Monroe performs a song tailored to her character's heart, Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend. Some might thing this looks remarkably like a Madonna video, but I feel the need to point out this was shot before Madge was even born.

Russell does her best Lorelei Lee drag to fool the French court that she is Monroe, complete with a reprise of Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend. She does it up!

The journey complete, the ladies have met their goals. Fifties musicals always have tidy endings!

The End

Happy Birthday Miss Ginger Grant

Top: Miss Ginger Grant prepares for Shear Genius. Bottom: Boy G finds a place for David Dust to eat when he visits.

Today is the birthday of the wonderful blogger and friend, Ginger. You can check her out on The Fabulous Blog of Miss Ginger Grant here. Both times I have met Ginger, I have felt kinda like Maryanne...

Miss Ginger does so much, from raising money for the community in Houston, to participating in Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and you can read about it all on her blog. Meanwhile, I offer this very special birthday celebration to both Ginger and Boy G.

No, really, our birthday wish will be the following clip, with Liza Minnelli, Michael Feinstein and Billy Stritch performing Time After Time. Happy Birthday, Ginger!

Monday Morning - Fleetwood Mac

From the 1975 self-titled album, which was actually the bands tenth studio effort, Monday Morning is a song written by Lindsey Buckingham about the tumultuous relationship between Stevie Nicks and himself, the basis for many of the greatest songs performed by the band. It was written pre-band, when Lindsey and Stevie were performing as Buckingham-Nicks. The clip is a fan video of the band, set to a 1977 live recording and Keith Robert Wessel's pictures from a 1978 concert. Enjoy.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday Nite with Patsy Cline

I have covered Patsy before, but she has so much great music and the mellow mood of a Sunday night certainly points to something like her music so here we go. Her voice is glorious and special, and was silenced way too young when a plane she was riding in ran into a mountain. But she did manage to leave quite a wealth of music, sung with a pure and noble voice who could put a smile as well as rip your heart out of your chest, at times in the same song. Before she died, Cline only record three studio albums, and yet leaves a rich legacy of hits that are still played on the radio today. One of those songs is Crazy, the song penned by Willie Nelson, a crossover hit for Patsy in 1961, #2 on the US Country chart, #9 on the US Singles chart, and #2 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Walking After Midnight started off 1957 right for Patsy, placing #2 on the Country chart, and #12 on the Pop Single chart. The depth of her voice is so clear on this song.

Blue Moon of Kentucky proved Patsy wasn't just the queen of ballads. Written by Bluegrass great Bill Munroe, it showcased the strength and breathe of Cline's talent.

She's Got You was a hit in 1961, #1 on the Country chart, and #3 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The heartache of the other woman is explicitly portrayed to perfection in Cline's voice.

Patsy Cline died in 1963, leaving countless great songs and hits. One can only imagine if she were to have lived, what a great catalog we would have.

Sunday Morning Wake Up w/Garrin Benfield

He is a longtime favorite of mine, with his California-cool stylings never failing to lift my heart and my mind. Garrin Benfield is a native of San Fransisco, combining the West Coast rock with folk flavors marinated in stew of cool jazz. First up is Where Joy Kills Sorrow, the title song from his 2004 album, the first of his to find it's way into my collection, and certainly not the last. In fact, I have them all. Hopefully this gorgeous song will nudge your eyes open just a little bit more than they were before.

And perhaps Give Peace A Loop can step up the waking process up a little, and give you a chance to sway a bit in your chair. There is a Haight-Ashbury feel, as Garrin offers some really wonderful guitar playing, and layers his live performance with the aid of a loop machine, giving a really full and hypnotic sound to a man at a microphone playing his guitar.

If you really need to wake up, there is I Let You Go, a country-spiced toe-tapper, and I defy anyone to listen and not need to get up and move. The song is from the Garrin Benfield Band album August Live, and it is a prized piece of my music collection. You can find out more about Garrin at his website or on MySpace. For now, relish in this video.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Worth Another Look - Great Moments on Ice

Watching the Winter Olympics from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I can't help but think back to the many athletes I have seen, including the incredible Torvill & Dean. Jayne Torvill worked as a clerk in an insurance office, and Christopher Dean was a police constable Nottinghamshire, they became partners on the ice in 1975, competing in their first event in 1976. They finished fifth in the 1980 Winder Olympics, and people began to take notice. But it was a spectacular program at the 1984 Olympics that made them stand above the rest, which you can see at David Dust's blog here. After the Olympics, they turned pro, and here is a clip of them winning the 1985 World Professional Championship. Christopher looks particularly dashing.

In 1996, Rudy Galindo came outta nowhere to take the US Men's Figure Skating Championship with a thrilling performance. Something that added to the event was knowing Rudy was openly gay, and living with HIV. He continued to skate professionally until 2007, when he retired. He is still an inspiration to many.

Brian Boitano was part of the Battle of the Brians, his constant competition with Canadian skater Brian Orser. While rumors have swirled about Boitano, Orser was outed in 1998 by a spurned former lover who went to the newspapers. They often skated against one another, and it was Boitano who won the Olympic gold in 1988. He skated professionally for some time, and now has his own cooking show on the Food Network, What Would Brian Make?.

In 1994, the strikingly handsome Alexei Urmanov from Russia took the world and Olympic Gold by storm with his bold jumps and flair for the dramatic. He never skated without gloves, and his costumes were certainly making a statement. I have to admit I was surprise he married [a girl] in 2004, and they are the parents of twins. Sigh, there goes another crush...

Is there a female skater gay men have identified with and adored more than Michelle Kwan? Here was a beautiful girl, so good at what she does, but just never seemed to be able to get what she wanted. She skated in two Olympics, and scored the silver and bronze medals, but never the coveted gold. She was adored by so many, but was left in tears when the finals totals were counted. Michelle, I love you!

Schoolhouse Rocks Math & Science

Between 1973 and 1980, 37 exceptional installments of children's television were produced and televised, and I remember loving every minute of it, despite not being a child myself at the time. In spots running only three minutes, these cartoons taught lessons in grammar, history, science, math and other subjects.

In the first installment of this Saturday morning feature, we have Math & Science. With an amazing song like Energy Blues Schoolhouse Rock proved to be not only clever, but they were also long before their time.

Figure Eight

My Hero, Zero

Energy Blues

Friday, February 19, 2010

Musical Muppets

In 1969, Jim Henson was a man with some fabric, faux fur, and a dream. But his puppets made an appearance on the PBS show Sesame Street, and success never seemed far away. From that show, to The Muppet Show, to the Muppet Movie, people found the creatures enchanting, from lovable Kermit the Frog to diva-licious Miss Piggy.

The creations of Henson, named because of their hybrid nature of marionettes and puppets, have gone on bravely despite the passing of their creator in 1990. The company carried on with the support of his family until it was sold to Disney in 2004. There is talk of a new Muppet Movie, which is sure to offer up some chances for some great new music. I remember the first song I really remember a Muppet singing, Kermit the Frog's beautiful and haunting It's Not Easy Being Green.

There have been some fun moments, too. Enjoy them!

Bohemian Rhapsody

Ode To Joy

Classical Chicken

Worth Another Listen - Gang of Four

Hailing from Leeds in the UK, Jon King, Andy Gill, Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham came together in the late 70s, making a punk sound so raw and pure. Soon they were putting their own spin on it, adding in some soul and reggae and coming closer to the early post-punk New Wave sound, only keeping a raw edge. And that pretty much captures the debut single in 1978, Damaged Goods. It is punk rock, with a touch of Leeds on it.

By 1982, they had moved away from the post-punk rawness to move closer to the New Wave action, although not all the way. They certainly incorporated more 'soul' into their music, but maintaining the instrumentation and attitude of their punk rock roots. That mix made Love A Man In A Uniform a club hit, earning #27 on the US Dance chart.

In 1983, they had moved further down that evolutionary path, as less strident synthesizers took over for the brash guitars, and a more romantic feel dominated the single Is It Love? come up to #9 on the Dance chart.

While touring to support their latest effort, the band started having issues, before deciding to call it a day. They tried regrouping in the 90s, with little success. They come back together in 2004, recording new visions of their early songs. The line up of the band has changed, but they still play occasional gigs at festivals and the like. For more information, check out their website here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Aussie Rocker Wes Carr

Here is Australian rocker Wes Carr, a sampling of his music. I caught the Gold certified second single from his debut album, Feels Like Woah, and I was hooked. I went back and checked out the Platinum certified first release, You, and that was it, I had to get the CD, The Way The World Looks, imported. Later, with the help of Lucy from the Wes Carr Hub, I also got The Way The World Looks/Under The Influence 2 Disc Set. So there we go. Enjoy some Wes Carr.

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