Monday, May 31, 2010

SIRPAUL on Music & Me

sirpaul,music and me,new release
sirpaul,music and me,new release
All photos by James Contrino

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 1, 2010, Music & Me, the latest release from SIRPAUL, will be available on iTunes. I was lucky enough to have the chance to interview him back in April, about his his career and inspriations that brought him to this point. As he was kind enough to send me an advance copy, I listened to it and loved it right away. All 12 tracks are delectable treats, just waiting to break out on the radio and be perfect for your iPod. The first single is the title track, and you can give it a listen to one of the remix versions now available on iTunes here.

Q: Your latest release, due out soon, Music & Me, seems to be a more mature, personal pop feel. To my ear, it seems an amalgam The title cut, which I love, is just a joyful exclamation. The beats and feel are brighter, and, dare I say, happier. How did it feel when you were writing it?

Happier! Honestly...that's just how I felt in general during the entire process of recording this new album! Making music for me is like an anti-depressant. It just puts me in such a healthy head space. My birthday was on January 5th. As a gift to myself I decided, this year I would be totally selfish and lock myself in the studio every free day I had that month. I wound up writing, recording, producing, engineering, mixing and editing the entire album of 12 songs, by myself, in 9 full days!! It just came pouring out of me and it is to me, the most accurate representation of who I am both personally and artistically. I'm so excited to share it with the world. The first single is going to be the title track Music & Me (Obra, Keven Maroda and Human Body already signed on to do remixes!!) I also just announced a remix contest for the song that starts today so if any of your readers want to give it a go, they can send an email to for more details!!

Q: Another of my favorite cuts on the album is Love Taboo with a great R&B feel. What inspired that?

I'm glad you like it! Love Taboo is totally a nod to George Michael's Faith-era music. I feel like he was touching on something that was so groundbreaking in the 80's yet that album still holds up very well today. This song is funny to me because it's about how men flirt with each other. Same sex couples can be so awkward when they go out because of the potential reaction even the slightest PDA can illicit so they tend to have a very specific way of behaving in public. It's very flirty and suggestive and they use a lot of innuendos and sneak around. I think the song captures the playfulness of that dynamic.

sirpaul,music and me,new release

Q: 'U' looks at a rather haunted feel of love. Which came first, the music or the lyrics?

The music came first. It funny that you chose the adjective 'haunted' because the track wouldn't leave me alone until I put words to it and finished it completely. I wanted to write a song about how being in love can make you act before thinking. When you fall in love for the first time it's so different than "having been in a relationship before"... It transforms you. It makes you feel both completely vulnerable and empowered at the same time. My favorite line in that song is "with you…I can be a Knight." That's how totally how my husband Paul makes me feel…

Q: Press Rewind is an interesting premise - getting over a bad romance by hitting rewind. What made you think of that?

It's funny how songs are so subjective. I can totally see how it can be interpreted that way! I was referring more to the point where you're so consumed by someone that the thought of wanting to be with them is completely consuming! You start to question if you should rewind, or erase and start over so you can get a clear sense of perspective...but you can't!

Q: Songs like Loser Lover and Mistaken make great dance songs. Does heartbreak lead to the dance floor?

I love to go out dancing! That's always be the first place I would go after a break up…straight to the club! I'm all about grabbing my friends and celebrating the beginning of the next chapter. For some reason I never think of break ups as a bad thing…if something isn't meant to be, move on. Life is way to short to stay in some shitty relationship. The universe rewards you for letting go of anything that you feel isn't good enough for you.

Q: Shine ends the album with a real positive and celebratory message. Did you know when you wrote it it would close the album?

No. I just knew that song was special because it made me feel something so strong inside. "Shine" was inspired by the movie Avatar. I had NO IDEA how much that movie was going to affect me. It brought out so many emotions I had pent up for a long time. The scene where the character Jake flies for the first time was such a metaphor for letting go and having faith in love. It was also about letting go of the negative stigma that's attached to being gay and just allowing yourself to exist, be yourself and ultimately…fly.

Q: What song best expresses the real SIRPAUL?

I can't pick one! I feel like this album is like a shattered mirror image of me. All these songs are fragments that reflect different aspects of my personality and I always bare my soul through my music. If you really pay attention to the words of my songs there's always a deeper meaning or some sort of hidden message. Sometimes I'm telling a completely fictitious story and sometimes it's like I'm telling the world my darkest secrets and finally letting them go. I also have a very twisted sense of humor, so sometimes I like to make music that contrasts the lyrics: like a really happy dance song that's secretly about being miserable.

sirpaul,music and me,new release

Q: What song left the strongest memory while recording?

Recording this entire album was the most amazing experience of my life. I had such a huge creative spurt and I was just completely immersed in the music. I allowed myself to lose track of space and time and just let the music flow freely. That's why I'd have to say Music & Me. It's my love song to Music.

Q: When you are in the studio, does the musician, singer, or producer take the lead role?

I primarily work completely by myself so when I'm in the studio, the Producer side of me totally takes the lead. It's like I'm possessed by it! I turn into this other person who is completely focused on the final product and doing whatever I need to do to get my music to be as accurately perceived as possible. After all, perception is reality, right?

That concludes my interview with SIRPAUL, and I hope he had as much fun answering the questions as I had asking them. I'll definitely be able to find out, as I already have my tickets to the show he is putting on June 26th in New York City. For more on this amazing singer/songwriter/producer, check out his official website here. And make sure you grab a copy of Music & Me, cause I know I will be hitting iTunes first thing Tuesday morning, so go ahead, and help support fantastic out indie musicians.

Eric Himan at the World Cafe Live!

eric himan,world cafe live,philadelphia
Eric Himan & me Wednesday night in Philly.

Eric Himan brought his acoustic solo show to Philadelphia last Wednesday night, although acoustic might be a misnomer. While he spend some time with the acoustic guitar, he also enlisted the sound of the piano and the electric guitar, mixing it up quite nicely for the show at the World Cafe Live.

eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010 eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010
eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010 eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010
eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010 eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010

Speaking of mixing it up, there was a great selection of songs from the early albums, as well as the latest solo album, Resonate, and the recently released Eric & the Adams EP. From I Ain't Done With You Yet from the 2002 release I Go On to rocking out the Himan/Jimmy Adams song Sugar You Ain't So Sweet, Eric was in top form and delivered a show that covered most genres and emotions. That includes adding new depth to the Grammy-winning song by Kings of Leon, Use Somebody.

eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010 eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010
eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010 eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010

So, if you get a chance, go see him live - it won't disappoint. Check out his tour schedule here. You can also buy his music from a variety of places, check it out here. I have it all, and have been loving it for years. I am also checking my schedule to see about catching Eric, Angel, and Jimmy live in July. Because I can't get enough of hearing gifted musicians playing live!

eric himan,world cafe live,may,2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Casey Stratton Live At The Wealthy Theatre

casey stratton,wealthy theater,live show

Despite the fact there is no birthday shoutout on the album (he did online, so I shall forgive him), I would highly recommend you purchase the latest offering from Michigan-based singer/songwriter Casey Stratton. Casey is in amazing voice for the live show, and he would almost have to be with the intricate and amazing songs he performs. Whether he is handling the beautiful aural landscapes of songs like Starry Night or Violet Room, or high-powered pop songs like For Reasons Unexplained or Blood, or listening to the moody selections like Opaline, you are feeling like you are sitting in a concert hall, listening to a master at work. Below you can find a preview video from the concert DVD that will be available later this summer. Casey is singing the song Slow Motion. You can also check out three songs out of the more than hour and a half of music with the widget below the video. Make sure you check out all three tracks!

<a href="">Broken Sky by Casey Stratton</a>

And, I might add, Mr. Stratton was looking quite fetching that night, as the pictures by photographer Terry Johnston would attest.

casey stratton,wealthy theater,live show
casey stratton,wealthy theater,live show
casey stratton,wealthy theater,live show
casey stratton,wealthy theater,live show
Photos by Terry Johnston

You can purchase a download copy of this amazing concert at Casey's online store, which you can find here. The 16-track offers some of my all-time favorites from Casey's catalog, sung with that amazing voice and backed by his own amazing keyboard skills. The package also comes with a 16-page scrapbook with great shots by Johnston from the concert, some featured above. What a perfect way to celebrate a holiday weekend!

Sunday Morning with J.R. Richards

JR Richards
jr richards,dishwalla,a beautiful end

With a voice that can break my heart, J.R. Richards is one of those str8 boys I find myself unable to not follow. I discovered him when he was singing lead for the band Dishwalla, a Southern California rock band with a distinctive sound. I found them early on, during the Pet Your Friends time, with songs as varied as Counting Blue Cars and Charlie Brown's Parents. The amazingly clear tone of his voice could handle the subtleties of pop, while talking on the aggression of rock. Yes, he is also easy on the eyes, but I am telling you, I hear that voice, close my eyes and transport.

jr richards,a beautiful end

In 2009 he struck out on his own with a solo venture, a gorgeous album called A Beautiful End. I love it, and in fact, reviewed it on the blog. One of many great songs on the album is Far End of the Black, and here he is performing it live in a radio station about a year ago.

In a separate performance also from last June, Richards takes on a song he co-wrote and sang while with Dishwalla. Opaline is a great song, and custom-made for that incredible voice of his.

For more about this talented man, check out his official website here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Rocks - Garrin Benfield

Garrin Benfield

I could listen to Garrin Benfield play guitar and be a happy man, but to listen to him sing, too, and I am in Nirvana [the sacred place, not the grunge band]. Add to the mix that he is very handsome, and this selection has nothing but win written all over it. The San Fransisco-based singer/songwriter is a remarkable talent, as proven in the 2002 appearance at Viva Variety. This is Crazy Love, a song that shows off some fine work on the guitar.

The next song from that same performance, Hungry Ghost, from the album Nowhere Is Brighter. For me, it showcases his haunting voice.

Garrin is an out and proud performer, noted before he starts singing the next song, What Do I Deserve?, he talks about the expectations of a gay musician, or at least the perceived limitations.

Last October, Garrin performed in Pawling, New York, and a fan taped this video. The song is Belly. It is a new song, not yet recorded. I really like it.

Children Go Where I Send Thee is an old African-American gospel song, and has been covered by many people thru the years. Here is a performance taped in San Fransisco's Cafe du Nord in 2008.

In my opinion, Garrin rocks with every song he plays. For more on Garrin Benfield, check out his official website here.

No Doctor Who Tonight - the 11 Doctors

doctor who,eleven doctors
(Top) L-R: William Hartnell, Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker
(Middle) L-R: Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy
(Bottom) L-R: Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith

There is no new Doctor Who scheduled for this evening, but it will be retuning next Saturday night, June 5th, with a new episode. So, to amuse myself and hopefully a few of the readers, I thought I would remind everyone of the history of Doctors and the actors who have played him throughout time. I have been a fan for some time, perhaps longer than I care to admit, despite the fact that I shall admit it.
  1. First Doctor, William Hartnell, 1963–1966
  2. Second Doctor, Patrick Troughton, 1966–1969
  3. Third Doctor, Jon Pertwee, 1970–1974
  4. Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, 1974–1981
  5. Fifth Doctor, Peter Davison, 1981–1984
  6. Sixth Doctor, Colin Baker, 1984–1986
  7. Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, 1987–1989, 1996
  8. Eighth Doctor, Paul McGann, 1996
  9. Ninth Doctor, Christopher Eccleston, 2005
  10. Tenth Doctor, David Tennant, 2005–2010
  11. Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, 2010
My first memory of watching Doctor Who was Jon Pertwee, who held the role from 1970-74. I would watch the show with my Mother, who would watch it all the time. Now, she doesn't really have any interest in watching it, but I still do!

My favorite Doctor is most likely Christopher Eccleston, who I thought was smart, handsome and kinda moody, which I really liked. I also had a fondness for the quirkiness of Tom Baker, the dashing Peter Davison, and the striking Paul McGann. Thus far, I have really enjoyed what Matt Smith is doing with the role. And if being to give a list like that doesn't qualify me for supreme geekdom, I don't know what would.

Friday, May 28, 2010

When Old Favorites Become Medleys - Westlife

Top & bottom, left to right: Shane, Kian, Nicky & Mark

I come right out and admit I have an addiction to this band, one that I once thought would pass with time, yet that has not been the case at all. Mark Feehily, Shane Filan, Kian Egan and Nicky Byrne, four Irish lads, as well as former member Brian McFadden, managed to captivate much of the world market, save the US, as well as my affections. I fully own up to having all their albums, as well as their concert DVDs, and I revel in the sheer Pop of their sound. One of the men responsible for their career is Simon Cowell, who signed them for the label, and has been instrumental in many of the decisions since. For the first 10 years of their careers, they were constantly working, either on tour or working on the next album. Having seen the DVDs, I can tell you Cowell doesn't stray far outside that box, for a formula quickly set in. That included taking up about 10 minutes of the concert with a medley of classic hit songs, easily warming the hearts of the parents and grandparents bringing their children to see the immensely popular group. And today is Mark's birthday!


Take, for instance, the 2008 Back Home Tour, which concluded with a fantastic two-night stand in Croke Park outside of Dublin, after which the boys took a well-deserved year off. The medley ran just under 10 minutes, and included the songs Sexy Back, Blame It On The Boogie, Get Down On It, I'm Your Man, and Let Me Entertain You by original artists Justin Timberlake, The Jackson 5, Kool & The Gang, Wham! and Robbie Williams. The selections span the generations, are all up-beat, fun songs, and are rather fun to watch. It also gives Kian and Nicky a chance to take the lead vocal role, something rarely done in the studio.

In 2005 they embarked on the Number Ones Tour, which included a 10 minute medley of its own. The songs included in this one were Disco Inferno, Pretty Woman, I Feel Fine, Don´t Stop Til You Get Enough and Footlose, by original artists Earth, Wind & Fire, Roy Orbison, Beatles, Michael Jackson, and Kenny Loggins. Again, one could see these songs by these artists more appealing to the custodians of the youngsters wanting to go to the concert, making them very popular segments of the show.

Hey, don't get me wrong, I enjoy the medleys - after all, I fall into the target age range - and think the boys do them well. They have a great deal of fun with them, fueled by their own energy, as well as that of the screaming crowds. I just think there is a laziness to them, and that the boys might be capable of doing a show without them. However, the songs do bring back great memories, and I fall for it every time. And while I have no idea if I will see them live as they don't tour the States, the DVDs does give me a chance to pretend I've had the honor of doing that.

Five on the 5th - Reminder for June

five on the fifth

We are coming up on another of Stephen Chapman's fantastic and fun Five on the 5th posts, and I know some have said they would like to partake in the world-wide fun, so perhaps a reminder is in order [Michael Rivers & Wonder Man, take note!]. Here is the official reminder on the website:

As we will be on holiday on the 5th June, here is plenty of notice about the next "5 on the fifth". It may well turn out a little disjointed, but I will try my best to update my blog as we navigate around the USA.

Anyway... as usual, everyone is welcome to take part. You can either take 5 random pictures of anything that happens to you on the 5th of June (or the days leading up to it) or perhaps go for my suggested theme. This month, the theme is...Looking Up.

I hope that you will be inspired take part and tell your friends about it. Don't forget to add a comment on my blog on the 5th with your name, location and link where the pictures can be found. Remember to mention my blog on your own blog so that your visitors get to see the other contributions.

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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Then And Now - Kylie Minogue

kylie minogue
kylie minogue
Top: Kylie in 1988, bottom: Kylie today.

In 1988 in the US, no one had a clue who Kylie Minogue was, although that was set to change when an oldie buy goodie, Locomotion, was released and caught fire. Originally released in Australia in 1987, the fresh-faced appeal of Kylie was hard to miss. We learned she was a soap star back home, and made the move to the recording studio, for music was her true love. And the single was finally released around the world, topping charts in all the hemispheres.

Fast-forward 22 years, and soon we will be hearing the latest release from Kylie, All the Lovers. Minogue is looking a tad more mature, perhaps, but defying the more than two decades that have passed. The music has changed up, too, allowing the freshly scrubbed virginal teen queen to show sensual side of the woman.

At no time were Minogue's womanly wiles more on display than with her 2001 single, Can't Get You Out of My Head, a pop/dance song that again soared to the top of the charts. The hypnotizing music and the hooky lyrics were matched in the video to a sexy siren wrapped in a sheath of linen that barely covered the essentials, but got the job done.

For more about Kylie or her July release, Aphrodite, check out her official website here. Twenty-two years later, still going strong - and maybe stronger - than ever. And to hear her music, stop in any gay bar in the world...

American Idol in 60 Seconds - Finale

jim cantiello,american idol in 60 seconds

MTV's American Idol expert Jim Cantiello is here with the final American Idol in 60 Seconds for 2010. He gives a quick overview of the 2 hour grand finale, with some funny tidbits along the way. And, yes, I am ignoring the results. Enjoy.

To find Jim on the web, click here!

Paolo Nutini Sings Live

paolo nutini

I am a fan of Paolo Nutini, the handsome Scot who put out one of my favorite albums of 2009. Sunny Side Up is a great collection of songs, reminding me more of (Irishman) Van Morrison than the Popster his first album led me to believe he was. Here he performs the song Ten Out of Ten in a compilation from a variety of live shows.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tonight - Seeing Eric Himan Live

eric himan,world cafe live
eric himan,world cafe live

I am a big fan of Eric Himan - I try to see him whenever I can. I missed him last year - I was in New Jersey babysitting my niece and nephew - and this is the longest I have gone without seeing him for several years.

So, yes, I am passing up watching the selection of the next American Idol - I will most likely post who won when I get home - but will gladly miss it to see this charismatic and talented man. I am going to the World Cafe Live, one of my favorite spots in Philadelphia. So, I figured while I am enjoying myself, I will remind everyone why you should buy your tickets to see Eric Himan if he is playing anywhere new you! The following clip is from a show in Pittsburgh, where he is playing one of my favorites, A Good, Good Cry, from his All For Show album.

For more on Eric Himan, check out his website here. And I am serious, if he is in your area, go see him. Buy his music, you won't regret it.

World Wide Love - Leona Lewis

leona lewis,xfactor
leona lewis,xfactor

After winning the third season of Simon Cowell's X-Factor in the UK, the gorgeous Leona Lewis took on the world and won with a hit single, Bleeding Love. After winning the show in 2006, Cowell saddled her with the same winning single as Kelly Clarkson, A Moment Like This, a song that had been pretty much played out with non-stop radio-play in 2002/2003. But her first single off the debut album, Spirit, went straight to the top of charts around the globe.

The good news for whomever wins this season of American Idol is that it is possible to parlay a start in reality programing to a thriving career - ask Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Chris Daughtry, Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino and a handful of other contestants on American Idol. However, the sad news is few could name more than three of the runner's up, with eight hanging out there somewhere. But you never know, win and you could start out their career with a hit like Bleeding Love!

Jim Cantiello - Instant Idol Reaction - Finals

jim cantiello,mtv,instant reaction,american idol,season 9

MTV's Jim Cantiello is never shy about giving his impression of the performances on American Idol, nor, it seems, about his thoughts on European musical tastes. So check out what he has to say!

To check out Jim on the web, visit the MTV site here.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

AI9 Final: Taking it to the Nokia

Originally written for Rickey.Org.

Crystal Bowersox versus Lee DeWyze, the night has arrived, and not without the accordant fanfare. Fox has been putting the Idols to work, including singing 'Take Me Out To The Ballgame' to be used on their broadcast. They did all this, as well as rehearse three songs, a contestant favorite from the season, producer Simon Fuller's choice, and a 'magic rainbow' single to be used as a coronation song, although the one last year written by Kara was dropped so fast you'd think it was on fire, not even being performed for the duration of the tour.

While Simon was making the rounds, he let everyone know he thought Lee was going to win, although Simon's track record has not been without missteps - picking David Archuleta and Adam Lambert in the last two years, not to mention his obvious disdain for Season 5 winner Taylor Hicks. With three out of the last four predictions being incorrect, one could easily discount him, or think he was due for a correct answer.

The show starts off with a series of mug shots of Idol hopefuls, coming to rest on those of Lee and Crystal. We cut to the judges reactions to their performances, and then to Crusty on a dark stage, before the lights come up to reveal the Nokia audience, with 7,000 people in the audience cheering away. He points out they are both 24 years of age, both auditioned in Chicago, and both want to win.

When introducing the judges, Crusty also points out it is Simon's last week on the show, which brings out strong support and a sly smile from Simon. He then introduces Lee and Crystal, who enter from the back of the audience, touching hands as they go. Crystal, who looks fantastic, is carrying a microphone, which is knocked out of her hand along the way. Lee doesn't seem to have one, unless he wisely tucked it in a pocket. They make it to the stage, and Crusty asks their thoughts, and both notice the large crowd. A coin was tossed following the last results show to determine the order of singing.

We then find out Lee is singing first. He returned to the week of Idol Gives Back for his inspirational song, Simon & Garfunkel's The Boxer. His performances is similar to the first, although the mix seemed a bit off, and he was being overpowered by the orchestra. Randy thought it lacked energy and life, while Ellen thought it was better than the first time. Simon points out it lacked passion,

Crystal returned to the Top 11, and Billboard Number 1's to sing Me and Bobby McGee, the Janis Joplin favorite. She is killing it, again. In great voice, and in top form. The judges are loving it, all clearly loving her performance.

Yay, a commercial for the GaGa episode of GLEE!

Simon Fuller picked Everybody Hurts, the anthemic song written and performed by R.E.M. Originally released in 1993, Michael Stipe's aching delivery is still etched in the minds of many. This one just barely makes it in the the twenty year window. Once again, it is Lee and his guitar center stage, with the orchestra in the shadows. The choir joins him at the end, and we see it is a beautiful song. Randy mentions some pitchy moments, and Randy points out it was too bad he pulls back rather than deliver the emotion, while Kara thinks he is so emotionally available. Simon thinks it all nerves, and wants a big performance for the final song.

Fuller decided Crystal should sing Black Velvet, sung most famously by Canadian Alannah Myles in 1989. Really, Mr. Fuller, couldn't pick a song from the last twenty years? Crystal starts at the top of the staircase and just nails the song, and looks gorgeous doing it. The judges love it, and Simon is very impressed. Crystal is clearly in the zone tonight, and is taking no prisoners.

Lee's original single is Beautiful Day, the U2 song. For the most part, he was being swallowed alive by the song. Randy struggles to come up with the positive, and mentions the big notes in the chorus. Ellen talks about him taking in the energy of the crowd. Kara points out he was drowning in the song, but he has grown so much. And he has the most commercial voice. Simon says some nice things about him personally, but ignores the performance. That says a lot.

Crystal's original single is Up to the Mountain, a song by Patty Griffin. Crystal is on a stool center stage, just a girl with a guitar, and starts the song alone. After a bit, the choir sneaks out, backing her nicely. She is working the heck out of the song, pouring it with rich emotion. That was exquisite. Randy thought it was incredible. Ellen thinks she is so, so good. Kara thought she blossomed, and was amazing. Crystal interrupts and to offer Simon her thoughts and wish him her best, and he answered with it being the performance of the night, and it was outstanding.
Crusty introduces the recap, and then brings out Will Young, singing Leave Right Now, live on the stage. He sings it beautifully.

Well, I thought Crystal won this night going away. Lee seemed to have suffered with his nerves, and swallowed his performance, while Crystal let it go and gave it to the audience. She pretty much mopped the floor with him. However, did Crystal win the season? I guess that is up to the voters!

American Idol Finals Tonight

american idol,season 9,top 3 american idol,season 9,top 3

Tonight is the final performance episode of American Idol Season 9. The final two, singer/songwriter Crystal Bowersox and rocker Lee DeWyze, will take to the stage at the Nokia Theater and sing for the title. It is also the final chance for Simon Cowell to critique the contestants, before he returns with the US version of X-Factor.

What would I like to see this evening? I'd love to see a performance that brings me outta my chair and away from my keyboard to my feet to cheer. That is what one always hopes for, sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. Since both are more guitar/rock influenced performers, I would hope we could get at least one killer song, sorta like delivered in the following clip, the amazing Wes Carr. In 2008, he took to the stage and delivered a performance that took control of the stage and the camera, lighting up the bright stage with an explosion of talent, energy, confidence and swagger.

It is performances like this that makes me order CDs from these kids, and I can tell you I ordered my Wes Carr album, The Way The World Looks, from Australia, and we will see if Lee or Crystal can convince me to do the same for them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dark Monday - Barbra Streisand Sings Show Tunes

Timeless Concert

This week, I thought I would try something different. Here are some performances from the last couple of decades of the lady herself, Barbra Streisand, singing some Broadway Show Tunes live. We start off with Something Wonderful/Being Alive from the 2001 concert Timeless. Something Wonderful is from the musical The King & I, written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II. Being Alive is by the incredible Stephen Sondheim from the show Company.

1994 HBO Special

This clip is from the 1994 HBO Special filmed in Las Vegas. The songs are Stephen Sondheim's I'm Still Here from Follies, Everybody Says Don't from Anyone Can Whistle, also by Sondheim, and the classic Don't Rain On My Parade by Jules Stein from Funny Girl.

One Voice

While there might be a million versions of this out there, few can top Streisand singing Send In The Clowns, another Sondheim song, this one from A Little Night Music. This is the One Voice concert tour in 2006.

Also from the 2006 tour, Streisand sang two songs from Funny Girl that were part of the Broadway show, one made it to the movie, the other did not. Funny Girl was part of both, and is absolutely gorgeous. Then there was The Music That Makes Me Dance...

barbra streisand

And how can you not include My Man from the motion picture Funny Girl? Yes, it wasn't part of the Broadway show - having replaced the original song, The Music That Makes Me Dance. Originally sung by Fanny Brice herself, it was used in the movie. This is the song as part of the 1975 television special Funny Girl to Funny Lady.

Then And Now - Swing Out Sister

swing out sister
swing out sister
Top: Swing Out Sister in the late 80s. Bottom: Them today.

In 1986, a quartet emerged from the UK, a trio and their producer, with a single that shot up the charts around the world. Swing Out Sister was made up of Andy Connell, Martin Jackson, and Corinne Drewery, along with producer Paul Staveley O'Duffy. Their first album for their label, It's Better To Travel, made it to #40 on the US album chart, mainly on the strength of the first single, Breakout. The single was on top of the charts across the globe, including reaching #6 on the Billboard Singles chart, as well as #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart.

While working on the second album, drummer Jackson left the band, leaving the core to just Connell and Drewery. The duo have remained together throughout the years, maintaining a fanbase around the world, although their popularity waned in the US. Still, they released their most recent album in 2008, a jazz-flavored soul offering, Beautiful Mess. While none of the singles charted in the US, the album did top the US Jazz chart when it was released. And I really like the second single, Something Every Day. Check out the video, and notice how great they look, 22 years later.

You can find more about Swing Out Sister on their official website here.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Movie - Theft

theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
Top: Cover of Theft. Bottom: Lead Actors Patrick Henderson (left) & Matthew Burnett (right).

This Silly Bunny Production is another film by director Paul Bright, a favorite of mine. I have previous reviewed two other films by the writer/director and sometimes star, Angora Ranch and Aaron...Albeit A Sex Hero. In fact, both Aaron and Theft also share the lead actor, Matthew Burnett. In the Behind The Scenes footage, we learned the film was originally titled Theft of the Drag Queen's Wig.

theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson

The comedy is set in the fictional town of Liberty Hills, Texas, where we meet Daddy Jack, owner of the local gay bar, The Golden Door. He is seen as a rallying point, allowing a place for people to congregate, and to raise money for many worthwhile causes. While being celebrated for his charitable work, he passes away, and leave the bar to the guy who takes care of the place, Guy Simms. Guy, played by the adorable Matthew Burnett, sweeps and mops the place, and takes care of things for the performer, included the Sister Hosanna, who parodies local evangelist Sister Susannah, played to perfection by Cynthia Schiebel. David La Duca uses a deft hand to play Sister Hosanna, delivering on stage comedy and musical numbers with a broad comedy, yet also a softer touch with the off-stage moments.

theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson

While Sister Hosanna seems intent on rabble-rousing against the Golden Door crowd, Guy meets a young drifter, Alex, played with sexy abandon by Patrick Henderson. Soon after his arrival, Guy spies Alex making a mural on a town side, which prompts Susannah to kick into high gear, and have Guy arrested. Alex discovers he has feelings for Guy, and goes to visit Susannah to negotiate a deal to post bail for Guy. Alex and Guy talk, and it turns out Alex is Daddy Jack's nephew. The romance continues forward, despite the whirlwind of activity that surround them.

theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson
theft,silly bunny pictures,paul bright,matthew burnett,patrick henderson

While Alex is being approached by a gallery owner about his art, Guy is struggling with his new-found love as well as the pressures of running a bar that has become a source of political and legal issues for the conservative town. Tensions build as the town struggles, and a fire is set. But it is a the delightful character of Margaret, played lusciously by Peggy Mae Binn, who spends most of the movie silenced by the incessant babbling of her 'friends' who step up and and offers words of wisdom that change everything. Will there be more surprises revealed? Who will be jailed? And will Guy be free to enjoy his time with Alex? You'll have to buy the movie to find out. And don't miss the musical performances of Hedda Layne, a gifted singer who appears in the club as well as over the closing credits with style and elan. Check out the movie trailer here:

Like the other films of writer/director Paul Bright, it is a joy to see a story involving everyday gay men not from the meccas of New York, San Fransisco or Los Angeles. He is working on a much smaller budget, but gets the most out of his acting company. I am very happy to add this to my library, as well as to support a gay independent filmmaker who offers a view of life I can identify with. Theft is a Silly Bunny Production, and you can check out other films by Silly Bunny Productions here. You can also find them on FaceBook here, so stop by and add them as a friend. Theft is distributed by Water Bearer Films, which has this and many other great movies. Check them out here. I am really looking forward to seeing Altitude Falling, Bright's latest movie, which is to be released soon.


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