Friday, April 30, 2010

Worth Another Listen - Lou Rawls

lou rawls

Armed with one of the most magical voices ever, the Chicago-born singer had a recording career that spanned more than four decades. Yet it is beyond my comprehension he had only one Top 10 hit, although he placed several others in the Top 40. He started singing in high school, singing in a group with classmate and immortal singer Same Cooke. After singing with a couple of groups, he enlisted in the service and served with honor, leaving the Army with the rank of sergeant. He went back on the road, again hooking up with Cooke, until he was once again sidelined, this time by a terrible automobile accident.

lou rawls

But that did not sideline him for long, and soon he was back singing, including laying down background vocals for Cooke on Bring It On Home To Me. He was eventually signed on his own, and started putting out records in 1962. Frank Sinatra once said that Rawls was "the classiest singing and silkiest chops in the singing game." It was in the 1970s that he achieved his greatest success, using those silky chops to sing You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.

The song made it to #2 on the Pop chart, and #1 on the R&B and Easy Listening charts. The year was 1976, and Rawls was on top of his game. Two years later, Rawls released Lady Love, which made it to #24 on the Pop chart.

Lou's first hit was Love Is A Hurting Thing, which he sang to #13 on the Pop chart, and scored his first #1 on the R&B chart. It perfectly captured his soulful side, while showing off his smooth style.

Rawls would often cover the song he sang on with old friend Cooke, Bring It On Home To Me. His version was different than Cooke's, but again his easy style and superlative vocals proved to be a great match for the song.

Rawls passed away in 2006, at the age of 72. He left a rich legacy of great work, incredible talent, and total class.

American Idol in 60 Seconds - April 29, 2010

MTV's Jim Cantiello with his weekly feature, American Idol in 60 Seconds. He dishes on Shania Twain, the judges, the Ford commercial, and Mamasox.

Worth Another Listen - Billy Joel

billy joel

Before he was marrying supermodels and putting out chart-topping albums, Billy Joel was the Piano Man, combining classic Pop with a jazz twist. As I am in New York to see Christopher Dallman tonight, I thought I would share one of my favorite Billy Joel songs, New York State of Mind. The song appeared on the 1976 album Turnstiles, arguably his best album. Yes, 1973's Piano Man had Captain Jack on it, but it was also saddled with the title track. Both, by the way, are in my collection.

Also on the album was the first cut, Say Goodbye To Hollywood, the uptempo song announcing his intention to leave California and return to New York, the state in which he was born. He moved there after signing with Columbia records, and found he missed the tempo and feel of the East Coast.

Prelude/Angry Young Man could also be found on the album, which included some complex and layered music that was exiting, combining Pop and Classical sounds to make for an incredible song. It was also very much a 'story song', something Joel became known for.

For more on Billy Joel, you can check out his official website here.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Live Show with Christopher Dallman

Christopher Dallman

Tonight, I am at a live show of Christopher Dallman [website here] at the Rockwood Music Hall, and I hope to reporting back on how spectacular it was very soon. Until then, I will leave you with a couple of performances by Christopher caught on tape. The first is Right On Time, from his debut album, Race The Light. I bought it several years ago, and have been a fan of the man since.

Dallman also released an EP of his own takes on the music of Britney Spears, called Sad Britney. It is really incredible, a collection I still listen to all the time. This is Gimme More.

And, finally, Dallman released Never Was, an EP with original tunes written by this talented man. If you don't have it already, you really should buy it now. This song from that EP is called Ghosts.

The show starts at 9PM, and I cannot wait. It will be the first time I've seen him performing live, and it should be fantastic!

Mikey Wax - Free Album Download

Singer/songwriter Mikey Wax has recorded an acoustic album and is making it available to the cost of a single Tweet, or a post on FaceBook. That's right. You heard me, or at least read me. If you click here, and click on the box for a Tweet, a Facebook post, or to join the mailing list, you will download the album for free. It is a 6-song EP, The Traveler. I am a fan of Mikey's music, and in case you don't remember him, this is a one of my favorite clips of him, singing La Vie En Rose.

New Follower - Raspberry Beret

new follower,raspberry beret new follower,raspberry beret
Raspberry Beret, and a picture of her with Wes Carr.

I'd like to welcome a new follower, who is also kinda an old friend, even though we've never met. The internets make things all kinds of confusing, don't they? Anyway, Raspberry Beret is a smart and bright Aussie gal, with a love for "music, lollies and cocktails that contain mint and lime." Sounds like our kinda gal, don't it? Anyway, she is also a fan of Wes Carr, the brilliant Aussie rocker I have featured here several times. In fact, while I whined about not being able to get his latest album on Twitter, she stepped right up not only to tell me where to buy, but where to order it at the best price! Who can ask for more than that! After all, shopping in a distant continent is only made easier with friends like her. She has her own music blog, called Rock Around The Clock. Check it out here.

Now, it only seems appropriate to welcome her with a bit of Australian joy, the man himself, Wes Carr, singing When We Were Kings (Acoustic). This is a cut from the album she helped me get in, The Way The World Looks. It is a great album, and a cool song.

Enjoy, and give Raspberry Beret a big welcome!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

AI9 Which Vampire Saw The Light of Day

The top six performed last night, using the music of Shania Twain as a platform to stardom. Tonight, the show starts off with a montage of backstage and performance clips. Then Crusty emerges from the back of the audience and tells us 33 million votes were placed last night. And tonight we will see live performances by Rascal Flatts and Shakira, as well as performances by Sons of Sylvia and Lady Antebellum. So, there will be far more guests than contestants tonight. Par for the course.

To fit it all in, they go right to Rascal Flatts, and the lead singer defines the word nasal. After the song, he lap dances Crusty, and panic ensues. I had to laugh. Then we move to behind the scenes footage of the Ford video, where the idols will be portraying vampires - except for the victim, Big Mike. Is that a clue to what is to come? Mike staves off the vampires with an extra-garlic pizza, and drives off into the sunset.

Next up, the Idols get to check out a voice-over session for the movie Shrek Forever After, followed by a special screening, all the Idols wearing the 3D glasses. Afterwards, they talked about how much they loved it. The movie opens May 21st.

So, Crusty places the contestants in three groups of two: Siobhan far left, Aaron in the center, Big Mike near right, Lee far left, Casey near right and Crystal in the center. Crusty totes Siobhan to the near right, and announces her, Mike and Casey are the bottom three. Most experts said they thought Big Mike was leaving tonight, but it is still surprising to see Casey and Siobhan there with him.

Next up, the Sons of Sylvia are introduced by Carrie Underwood - they are normally her backing band. Tonight, they are young, pretty and hip - and stepping out on their own. Good for them. Crusty announced next week Harry Connick, Jr. will be the mentor, and the theme was the songs of Sinatra. Wow.

Lady Antebellum are up next, singing Need You Now. My 9-year-old niece was excitedly singing along. Excellent song - has been certified triple Platinum - good for them! Then Shakira takes to the stage, and performs with minimal intrusion by Rascal Flatts. Shakira misquotes Roosevelt, Crusty laughs, and we move on.

So, we move on to the elimination, and we find out Big Mike is safe! Shocker! This leaves Casey and Siobhan, and I am saddened, for I am a Casey fan and will miss him. What? Siobhan is going home? Really? Now that surprises me greatly, and I must say, she handles it well. She sings 'Think!' and does a great job, and hugs her family, and, finally, Simon. I am sure few saw this coming.

Casey Stratton - Hostages - Buy It!

casey stratton,hostages

Singer/songwriter Casey Stratton has a new release of original material, an 10-song collection with the strong imprint of the talented man behind it. Hostages kicks off with Illumination, an amazing song with a tempo and drive that propels you forward into the song. Check it out.

<a href="">Illumination by Casey Stratton</a>

Don't Shadow Me is a struggle with emotions, be they creative or romantic entanglements, and the need to have some room to breathe. It is followed by Is It Really Worth It?, has the feel of a ballad, one with searching at its heart. The title track picks up the tempo, yet retains a feel for the meandering self-exploration, what seems, at times, like a darker journey. Hover maintains the tempo, but brightens the mood, in a sense the journey home following the last song. Where It Begins has a joyous tone, soft and lilting. It feels very different than the next track, Indifferent. It is the expression of realization the relationship is over, when you understand your lover was indifferent, and you understand you have been, too. Me And You is as much atmospheric as you can find. The song starts to lay, with Casey singing over himself in the bridge, seemingly searching for the answer. Picking the tempo back up, Full of Expectations stands up to the general wisdom, wanting to not allow the world to jade the view of the singer.

<a href="">Full of Expectations by Casey Stratton</a>

The final track on the list is Submit To The Darkness. With the percussion driving the song to belie the wailing guitar, and chorus which adds the choral background, bringing with a a darkness that pleads with the uninitiated to join in the dance. I was surprised with what must be a bonus track, not listed on the songlist. Goddess opens with a harmonic simplicity, and that moves into a haunting cycle of to celebrate the feminine Deity, and the song continues to build. At just under 14 minutes, Goddess explores the obvious religious as well as the maternal which can rejuvenate to spirit when the masculine side of life takes too strong a hold on life.

As with most of Casey's work, Hostages is a personal expression, an exploration of journeys both taken and yet to be realized. There is a maturity in his music, and an honesty in the performance. Hostages is available online at Bandcamp here. For a minimum price of $12.99, this hour-long music path can be yours. So buy it now!

Chad Cavanaugh - We Got Love - Buy It!

chad cavanaugh,we got love

I was trying to come up with a clever and smart way to describe an overall feel of We Got Love, the new album by San Diego singer/songwriter Chad Cavanaugh. The closest I came was thinking it was Southern Californian Ska - an island beat combined with a bit of rap, all firmly entrenched in a rock base. Confused? You wouldn't be if you listened to the album instead of me. There is a fresh feeling to the collection, driven rhythmically by the acoustic guitar, and the vocals of Cavanaugh. It starts off with the title track, which obviously is written from the heart, and just oozes with joy and, well, love.

Long Desert Road starts with the guitar but it is driven by Cavanaugh's relentless vocal, part army marching chant, part love song, a soldier using what he can to get home. The Stranger is a ballad, or the closest you will find from this artist. It is a deep and searching self-reflection, a song of insecurities boiling over. Next up, Don't Require No Shoes, takes a look at the easy and relaxed place a strong relationship can bring you. There are times when you just wanna hang out with the person you care for, cause love doesn't require no jacket or shoes. Best Start Livin' comes very close to reminding me of The Specials, using the ska tempos while aching for more. In this case, it is demanding the listener to stop and smell the roses, only not in a literal sense. Bumper Stickers is a cool song, reminding me of a young Dylan, coming close to a rap that drives the beat. It is demanding people put their money where their mouth is - no big talk acceptable without the walk to back it up. 'You're actions speaking louder than your bumper stickers.' Yeah, that one works for me. Daddy's Little Girl took me back, really surprised me. I assumed this was going to be a sweet song coming from this proud stay-at-home father/rock star, but instead it goes darker and deeper, tackling the problem of drug abuse in the world, I am sure a father's worse nightmare.

3AM Vampire offers a slight nod to Twilight, but that ain't what it is all about. It is a return to the ska beats and vocals. I took it as the odd ramblings of the singer/songwriter on a schedule that keeps him up late at night. Whether the vampire queen is a a groupie or him being stalked by his profession, I am not sure. But I love the song! Peace? is a beautiful love song to humanity. Gotta love a song that promotes respect, education, and love to achieve peace. 'Peace and humanity go hand-in-hand.' The final cut on the album is Daydream, and has a slight country feel, which dissipates with Cavanaugh's vocals. With the addition of the lovely vocals by Lindsay White, the chorus achieves a dreamy mode, those of dreams lost and memories dark, and dreams still held dear. Somehow, they manage to make it all something beautiful.

We Got Love is available for purchase on CD Baby, here. I bought it, and am glad I did. If you like the taste you have here with the two videos, I am sure you will too.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tonight The Twain Shall Meet

This post was originally written for Rickey.Org.

It is Shania Twain night on Idol, featuring the music of the guest mentor stopping by to offer advice to the contestants as they sing songs she has written and performed. Paint salesman, high school student, glass blower, mother, father, and construction worker. That is how Crusty describes the lives of the remaining contestants, saying they will be changed forever. Well, that remains to be seen, Crusty, cause it is not like Idol has made 42 stars of the first 8 Top six, have they? While they were household names for the weeks they were on the show, and even extending to their perspective tours, since then, there are several who have been long forgotten. Sure, Idol gives them a chance, but it becomes up to the kids if they can take advantage of the opportunity.

Shania remembers Lee from the Chicago auditions, and he is singing You're Still The One, She convinces him to hold back on the guitar, and open the song simply with just voice and piano. Wow, that was a rough start, vocally. When he tries to reach for notes without screaming, he often misses, landing flat. The audience is loving what he does with the song, and Randy admits to him being pitchy at the beginning, but pulled it together. Ellen doesn't care about the pitchy, she loved it. Kara noticed him smiling, and feels that means he understood it was a love song. Huh. Simon tries to mention some odd facial expressions, but Kara won't let him speak. Big Mike steps up to the plate, stinging It Only Hurts When I'm Breathing. Shania loves this song, and tells him to really feel it. He changes it up, taking it to an R&B ballad, taking the falsetto a little oddly, but starts sounding a bit rehearsed by the end. The judges, however, don't see it that way, thinking he totally connected and brought Luther Vandross to the stage. Simon thought it was a little 'wet', what I interpret as a bit overdone and dewey-eyed.

Casey takes his turn, singing Don't. Casey is excited about singing a song, realizing he let his guitar take over recent performances. Shania senses a lack of confidence, but thinks he can do it. Wow, I think Casey is nailing this. This is particularly good. That was really fantastic. The judges are thinking it is his best to date, and Simon makes him give Shania a kiss. She tells him he nailed it, she is so proud. Crystal is stiffing on stage in a cute dress chatting with Crusty. She says No One Needs To Know Right Now is a message to her boyfriend. Shania tells her to lighten up, it is a happy song. That was a funny moment. Crystal is singing rather well, but it goes a big odd in the middle. The falsetto isn't great, and there is a weird stop/stop thing happening. She pulls it back down by the end, and gets the falsetto under control. The judges love her, it is not her best, but they adore everything she does. Simon didn't like it, felt Crystal lacked conviction, and felt the song was forgettable. They point out Crystal's boyfriend, and make Crystal blush.

Of course Aaron would take on the big song, It's In The Way You Love Me, and Shania immediately notices he is preoccupied, and to just let go. Wow, another one who wonders off the rails a bit, struggling with the flat side of notes, but hits the big note at the end. The judges are all very nice to him, seemingly oblivious to the first half of the song. Interesting. Siobhan goes for Shania's big hit, Any Man Of Mine, a perfect choice for her. Wow, this is not as good as I thought it would be. Siobhan is a little out of breath, but ends with the hallmark big finish, and I am surprised. Thought it was good, but that it could have been great. The judges love it, but Simon thought the 'scream' sounded like she was giving birth.

Crusty wraps it up, and cuts to the recap video. He thanks the judges, the band, and Shania. For the results show, they have Rascal Flats, Lady Antebellum, and a few more acts, including Shakira. Wow. My favorite performance of the night was Casey, and my least favorite was Lee. I, however, expect that to mean nothing. I would not be surprised to see Aaron and Michael in bottom two. It is a gut reaction, and I could be totally wrong. What do you think?

ROCKFACE - Derek & the Darling - Buy It!

derek and the darling,rock face,cover

Come on, we all do it. The sound of a plaintive guitar wails on the radio, Richie Sambora from just about any 'it's all the girls fault' songs from the 8os or 90s, when you hear the first strums from the amazing fingers of The Edge, or hear the first chords from any of those great Janet songs from Rhythm Nation, or even when you heard the songs from the first Daughtry album. You almost feel the muscles in your face tighten involuntarily, your lips and teeth part as you just out your jaw, you turn your head to the side, and it starts to keep time with the beat, bobbing back and forth. That, my friends, is the start of you making your very own ROCKFACE. Add a whole bunch of talent, good looks and a touch of humor, and you see how Derek Nicoletto and Sammi Garett make their ROCKFACE.

Or you can buy their debut EP, which starts off with the amazing Hustler With A Rescue Plan. As you can tell from the video, it is all kinds of hooky and catchy, sounding like something that should be playing on my radio in a regular rotation. The second track is You, a rock song with anthemic overtones, only pulled back by the personal nature of the song. Sammi sings the lead on this one. Track number three throws me off, in a fantastic way. Suddenly is a synth-based song, tugging memories of Yaz at their height, yet maintains a current sound and feel, more homage than reproduction. Next on the list is Lucky Lola, an interesting melange of styles, incorporating classic rock, a bit of Pop with R&B stylings, and a strong portion of alternative rock catered by the strong vocals from Sammi. Alabaster Sky is the final cut, with Derek singing an acoustic lullaby, and about halfway through, the strings kick in, offering further testament to a greater level of Pop music, lifting a strong song to greatness.

derek and the darling,rock face,sammi garett,derek nicoletto

All in all, I can't tell you how much I love this EP. I knew I loved Derek's voice as a rock singer - his vocals in Telling On Trixie were amazing - and wasn't sure about him in a new project. Well, those worries were nothing more than wasted energy. He is, of course, fantastic, and the incorporation of Sammi's voice often borders on genius. While the tonality of their voices is very different, they blend so well together. So I say run, don't walk, or at least click away, and get ROCKFACE from iTunes here. Buy it now!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Dark Monday - Seth's Broadway Chatterbox With Ace Young

seth rudetsky,chatterbox,broadway,ace young

Seems Ace Young has been a busy boy while working in his second Broadway show in 18 months. First, he appears on Seth's Broadway Chatterbox, a weekly radio show/web video featuring Seth Rudetsky, one of the brightest and funniest minds commenting on Broadway these days. The video is from, one of the more interesting and informative theater sites on the web. Ace, currently playing Berger in Hair at the Al Hirschfeld theater, stopped by to talk to Rudetsky, who does his broadcast from Don't Tell Mama, a piano bar in the theater district. I remember going there in the 80s, when it would have some of the more talented and interesting cabaret shows in the city.

seth rudetsky,chatterbox,broadway,ace young

Ace talks about his background, from growing up in Boulder, Colorado, to living in Los Angeles, the American Idol experience, to auditioning for his current role in Hair. Now that BroadwayWorld is posting the interviews, I hope to bring Seth to the blog more often. He is insightful and so funny.

Young also took the time to pose with some eco-friendly products, totally in keeping with the organic life of Hair. The spread appeared in Time Out magazine.

seth rudetsky,chatterbox,broadway,ace young
seth rudetsky,chatterbox,broadway,ace young seth rudetsky,chatterbox,broadway,ace young seth rudetsky,chatterbox,broadway,ace young seth rudetsky,chatterbox,broadway,ace young

To check out Ace Young's non-theater music, visit his website here. I will admit I am a fan of Ace, and have seen him on several occasions. I hope to make it to see him in Hair, where is is rumored to be signed on to get naked 8-times a week through October.

Happy Birthday Behr!

Happy Birthday, my dear Behr!

I thought the best way to honor the day is with a song, and even if you didn't love the song, you'd love the video! But I hope you enjoy both.

For Behr, Colton Ford singing The Way You Love Me, The Blue Door Edit.

Worth Another Listen - Paula Cole

paula cole,90s
paula cole,90s

When the WB ruled the television of the teenagers, the soundtrack from those shows was ruling the radio. One of those shows was Dawson's Creek, with a future Mrs Tom Cruise in the cast as well as several young actors who continue to be a presence in television and movies today, told the tale of high school kids from Cape Cod and their journey to maturity. The theme song was from a bright new talent on the singer/songwriter front, Paula Cole. She was best known for her moody acoustic folk, with an atmospheric quality. The show debuted in 1998, A year after Cole had her first hit on the radio, Where Have All The Cowboys Gone.

From 1998 to 2003, Cole scored the credits for Dawson's Creek, her haunting vocals underscoring the teen longing that was the basis for the show. The song was I Don't Want To Wait.

Cole has released four studio albums, the small label Harbinger in 1994, 1996's This Fire, featuring the above hits, and Amen in 1999. In 1998, she won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Cole took time away from the industry, to have and raise her daughter. She moved to the Columbia label, and released Courage in 2007, and there is rumored to new album this year. For more on Paula Cole, check out her official website here.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Night with Anthony Callea

anthony callea,whitney houston tour,2010
anthony callea,whitney houston tour,2010

In March, Anthony Callea opened for Whitney Houston for the Australian leg of her world tour. Reports were flying left and right about the issues with Ms. Houston's performance, from fans who were highly disappointed to those who thought she did well. What never varied were the reviews for Anthony's performance, which were steadfastly excellent. I am not a bit surprised, for Anthony has never failed to impress me in the fan videos of his concerts, or the DVD I purchased. I happened across some videos of Anthony from the tour, singing a few new songs, possibly from a new album, due out later this year.

My All

I'll Be The One

Can You Feel It

Just a warning to Australian and US postal workers - when it is available, I will be buying the album, so please hurry that shipment along, OK? And Sony, how about sharing the love, and letting Anthony's music hit the US airwaves? And maybe, just maybe, perform a couple of shows in North America? And, if you really wanna be brave, have him do a show or two with another of the Sony clients, Theo Tams, and make this man damn near giddy. Sure, I understand Sony Australia is separate from Sony US and Sony Canada, but it really isn't, right? I know I won't be the only one who would appreciate it. For more on Anthony Callea, check out his official website here.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Saturday Rocks - American Music Club

american music club

I innocently made a smart-ass comment on my friend James Graham's FaceBook page - cause that is what I do best - and the next thing you know, James, a photographer, and I were emailing and then on the phone, chatting about music. He was regaling me with tales of American Music Club, one of his favorite bands. According to James, a very pretty str8 boy, the lead singer, Mark Eitzel, would hit on him all the time. Eitzel, it would be fair to say, is an out and proud man, apparently with a penchant for hitting on pretty men. Who can blame him?

american music club

Before I got distracted by my own story, I was talking about chatting with James, an amazingly talented photographer soon to be releasing the first book of his photographs, first via FaceBook, then by email, and finally, on the phone. It started with a FB quote by James from Pink Floyd's Roger Waters referring to Vera Lynn, which I misread as Vera Ellen, and the conversation moved is the usual odd way with me and James, involving emailed pictures, and as the conversation moved to music, we ended up discussing American Music Club, one of James' favorite bands. Yes, following our train of though can be a confusing and confounding thing. I remembered them, but couldn't find any music, so James shared some with me. I think I had Everclear album, and specifically remembered the single Rise. The band was together from 1982 to 1994, but then reunited in 2003. The music was this amalgam of pre-EMO, post-Punk, post-New Wave, pre-Grunge rock that was, and still is, fairly amazing. It maintains a moodiness and presents such strong atmospherics, it just pulls me in every time. Eitzel was the driving force behind the San Francisco-based band, as well as guitarist Vudi, whose wonderful work always stamped the work with his handiwork.

american music club

The band released nine album, from 1985's The Restless Stranger, to 2008's The Golden Age. To be honest, I am not familiar with the last two albums, as I hadn't realized they reunited until James told me. But part of our discussion was about the amazing work the band did in the 80s and 90s, and how the seeming sullenness of Eitzel inspired such great music, and elevated him to the likes of an American Morrissey, which was meant as a high compliment from both James and myself. Eitzel's lyrics can be so disarmingly probing, poetry that can cause you to startle, they hit so close to home. Rather than blather on too much more, here are a selection of their songs, so go ahead, and give a listen.

1987 Outside This Bar

1991 Rise

1993 Gratitude Walks

2008 All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco

It is funny, but I am listening to Everclear as I write this. For an album released almost 19 years ago, it certainly maintains a connection to my soul, and sounds fresh and not the slightest bit dated. Hope you enjoyed the music, but if not, I certainly know James and I did. You can find more about American Music Club at their official website here. James has a blog, you can read it here. Don't bother asking him questions about me, I am sure he will lie, and make me sound much more interesting than I am. He is sweet that way. He's from the south.

New Followers - Paul, Lee & Alex & SIRPAUL Exclusive

new follower,paul new follower,archy and mehitabel
Left: Paul Peterson Right: Archy & Mehitabel

There are times I just feel I can never catch up, and lately, that is where I have been. I've been meaning to post the about these new followers all week long, because it is not often I have three handsome men wanting to follow me anywhere. Damn, even I had to roll my eyes at that one. So, back to the point, I am pleased to welcome some new members. First, a big hello to Paul Peterson. Unfortunately, aside from seeing he is a rather handsome man, I don't have much information, so I hope to get to know him in the comments soon. I'd also like to welcome the two-for-one package of Archy and Mehitabel, otherwise known as the devilishly handsome Lee Waters and Alexander Horwitz. I am a huge fan of their music, always eager to hear what they have coming next, as well as to listen to the EPs I have in my collection. If you haven't already, you should check out getupkategetup, their latest offering, here. You can check out my review of that EP here. Their official website is here.

Well, I was trying to figure out what I should use as a welcome for the new followers, and thought it might be too cheesy to welcome Archy and Mehitabel with their own video, and I don't have a new one, so I would go in a different direction. It just so happens SIRPAUL just released the title track from his upcoming CD, Music & Me, so I thought I would let everyone hear it. If you like it, feel free to stop by either SIRPAUL's website here or the YouTube page and leave a comment to tell him.

sirpaul,new picture,music and me

Buy A Book Saturday

brandon ford

Last night on Twitter, I was informed by the handsome and talented Brandon Ford (pictured above) that today was Buy-A-Book-Saturday. Before you run off thinking this was just self-promotion on his part, I have to say it was quite an interesting reading list Brandon offered. So, I figured, I'd share it. Click on the title to check it out on Amazon.

LEATHER MAIDEN by Joe R. Lansdale


THE GIRL NEXT DOOR by Jack Ketchum

PAY PHONE by Brandon Ford - which I purchased & hope to read soon!

I'll toss in another from my own list, which I just finished: Rockstarlet by Stewart Lewis. It is a great story of a gay musician in the 'str8' world of music labels.

And I would be remiss if I didn't mention another writer in our midst - Eric Arvin. You can check out some of his books on Amazon here. He also has a blog, Daventry Blue, here.

You can also check out Brandon's blog, Sleepless Nights, here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Doctor Who - Preview The Beast Below

doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2
doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2
Top: Matt Smith returns as The Doctor, and Karen Gillan as Amy.

The second episode of the fifth series of Doctor Who is on BBC America Saturday night at 9PM/8PM Central. And don't worry, I don't plan on giving away any spoilers for those who plan on watching with me. Below you will find some screen captures from the episode, as well as a few of the dramatic points in the storyline.

doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2

The Doctor and Amy explore space with the TARDIS, and happen upon the flying UK far in the future. While making a quick check of the situation, The Doctor keys in on an unhappy young girl, and decides to check it out.

doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2

In this future world we see these machines in glass boxes, an odd variation on the old mechanical fortune tellers, which change their facial expression as the situation warrants. Fans know this cannot be good.

doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2

While checking out the ship, The Doctor runs across a masked stranger, who stops him to ask questions and offer assistance. Can The Doctor and Amy save the UK?

doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2

Both the stranger and The Doctor have a strange fascination for placing glasses of water on the floor. Will we learn who the stranger is and why she is helping the Doctor? Can they sort out the what is needed to help with the pain felt on this floating British Isle?

doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2

The Doctor contemplates the problems while on the deck of the space UK, trying his best to come up with not only the answer, but also pinpoint the problem. We also get a chance to get a more in depth look at the inside of the new TARDIS, an upgrade [according to the script] from the old one.

doctor who,matt smith,season 5,episode 2

I have to admit I am really enjoying the latest Doctor, Matt Smith. He brings a different look and feel to the character, separating himself nicely from previous series star David Tennant, yet not so much it is disconcerting. Karen Gillan also is a welcome addition, bringing a brashness found in Donna Noble, and a quiet sensuality found in Rose Tyler. It will be interesting to see if some older characters, like Captain Jack, Rose, Donna or Martha Jones, one of my favorite companions, will be brought back at all. You can find out more out the show and the schedule by checking out the Doctor Who on BBC America website here.

Then And Now - Josh Groban

josh groban,ally mcbeal
josh groban

As old Hollywood lore has it - OK, he's not old enough for it to be old lore, but it sounds good, so leave me alone - Josh Groban was introduced to producer David Foster when he was 17, and Foster was impressed. Within a year, Foster started creating a bit of a buzz about the boy, using him as a stand-in for Andreas Bocelli for the 1999 Grammy Awards rehearsals, and singing a song on young British phenomenon Charlotte Church, and singing For Always on the soundtrack to the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence. By 2001 there was much chatter about the young man, but few in the US had really heard what he had to offer. Enter David E. Kelley, the writer/director/producer of hit television shows, including the hot Ally McBeal, starring Calista Flockhart. Kelley wrote a role specifically for the young Groban, a gangly and ungainly high school senior going to his prom with his lawyer. And much like the storyline predicted, once Josh started singing, the audience stood up and took notice. Here he sings You're Still You, which would later be included on his first album. A nod must be made to KC of KC & the Sunshine Band, who played during the scene building up to Josh's song.

That appearance was so successful - reportedly the network received thousands of emails requesting Groban's return, and Kelley was eager to do just that. The character returned to sing at a memorial service, choosing to sing another song from the debut album, To Where You Are.

Within six months, Foster had the debut on the streets, with the thought of the performance still fresh in the minds of people across the nation. And while he got little play on pop radio, the music did make it to adult contemporary stations, landing two songs in the Top 10 on the AC chart. That album went on to sell over 5 million copies, in part due to the successful appearance on shows like Ally McBeal, Oprah Winfrey, and a PBS Special. He went on to have two more studio albums, together selling almost 14 million copies in the US alone. Those numbers, together with a Christmas album that sold over 2 million, and a few DVDs of live performances, has assured Groban's place as an incredibly successful performer. Most recently, he released a DVD of a PBS Soundstage concert, and as well as the obvious maturity the 10 years have made in his looks, there is also growth in the voice, which was pretty damn amazing to start with. Here he performs the title cut from his third studio album, Awake.

These clips show the progression from a thin and lanky 18-year-old to an assured and handsome 28-year-old. I remember seeing him on that PBS Special, and immediately running out and buying the CD and DVD. And I have been a fan ever since. For more on Josh, check out his official website here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Birthday Kathy


As today is my sister Kathy's birthday, I thought I might do something a little different than normal. When I was a kid growing up, I remember listening to her soul music - Motown, with Diana Ross and the Supremes, Jerry Butler and the Temptations, I also remember some of the early formation of my musical tastes with her 'rock' selection. But first, here are a few pictures.

eric himan,kathy,mandy,world cafe live
kathy,me,eric himan,world cafe live
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Top: Kathy, Eric Himan & Mandy. 2nd Row: Kathy, Eileen, Margie & me. 3rd Row: Kathy and her grandson, Reed. Bottom: Her dogs, Bear & Tigger.

So, part her record collection was Blood, Sweat & Tears - the voice of David-Clayton Thomas was so very distinctive. I remember listening to the album time and time again, grooving to Lucretia McEvil, And When I Die, and, of course, Spinning Wheel.

Another band I recall listening to is Sugarloaf. They rocked a little harder than Blood, Sweat & Tears, who had more of a rock/jazz fusion going on. Sugarloaf, however, were a rock/pop band, and I loved them. Here is Green Eyed Lady.

Kathy or her daughter Mandy will often go to shows with me, as you can attest to the picture above with Eric Himan, or with my cousins Margie & Eileen, both pictures taken at Eric shows at the World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. She also accompanied me to the recent show of Aiden James. But way back when, when I was very young, I remember her putting her records on and just loving the sounds I was hearing. Little did any of us know at a future date, I would have a blog about music, and those sounds were still inspiring me today. Happy Birthday, Kathy!

AI In 60 Seconds April 22

MTV's Jim Cantiello is back with this week's American Idol in 60 Seconds.

Then And Now - Boyzone

boyzone,stephen gately,ronan keating
L to R: Ronan Keating, Stephen Gately, Keith Duffy, Shane Lynch, Mikey Graham.

After an exhaustive audition process in 1993, manager Louis Walsh assembled Keith Duffy, Mikey Graham, Ronan Keating, Shane Lynch and Stephen Gately to form Boyzone. The group was Louis' Irish answer to Take That, the UK boyband featuring Robbie Williams that was tearing up the charts. They didn't release their first album until 1995 One of the songs from that first album was Father And Son, a song written and recorded in 1970 by Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam. It was the fourth single from their debut, all of which went #1 in Ireland, and were in the Top 3 on the UK Pop chart.

Where We Belong was the third album release for Boyzone in 1998. The fourth single off the album, No Matter What, was written by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman for the musical Whistle Down The Wind. It topped the Pop charts in both Ireland and the UK.

As with many groups, even the overwhelming success did not manage to keep them together. In 1999, Gately announced he was gay and had a boyfriend, Keating recorded a solo album and a song featured in the movie Notting Hill, and other tensions were mounting behind the scenes of a big tour. In January of 2000, they announced they were breaking up the group.

boyzone,stephen gately,ronan keating
L to R: Ronan, Keith, Stephen, Mikey and Shane.

In 2007, they announced they were reforming the group, and working together again. They started appearing in public together, and in 2008, they toured together and started working on a new album. They released the videos and singles Love You Anyway and Better. The later included the first depiction of Stephen with a same sex partner. They were recording in 2009, but on October 10, 2008, Stephen Gately was found dead by his lover in a vacation home. The other boys came together, all deeply saddened by his passing. The decided to remain together and complete the album they started, using the vocals Gately had laid down. In March of 2010, they released Brother, dedicated to 'Steo'. The first single, Gave It All Away, was written by Mika and included his vocals, and the video featured the remaining boys penning final goodbyes to him. The second single, Love Is A Hurricane, features the remaining boys in varying degrees of undress. It also happens to be a good song.

For more on Boyzone, check out their official website here.


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