Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Summertime...and the Living Is Easy

janis joplin
janis joplin

I thought of this song as we are getting what might be the last heatwave of summer as the season draws to a close. So I reached back in the vault [otherwise known as YouTube], and found this version by Janis Joplin, who, in many ways, might be the poster child for livin' that ain't easy. And she certainly managed to put her own stamp on the song in this 1969 performance in Stockholm. Enjoy.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dark Monday - Patti Lupone: A Memoir

patti lupone,memoirs

Broadway diva Patti LuPone will be releasing her Patti LuPone: A Memoir on September 14th, according to Broadway.com.
The legendary Patti LuPone is one of the theatre's most beloved leading ladies. Now she lays it all bare, sharing the intimate story of her life both onstage and off--through the dizzying highs and darkest lows--with the humor and outspokenness that have become her trademarks.

With nearly 100 photographs, including an 8-page four-color insert, and illuminating details about the life of a working actor, from inspired costars and demanding directors to her distinct perspective on how she developed and honed her Tony Award-winning performances, Patti LuPone: A Memoir is as inspirational as it is entertaining. And though the title might say "a memoir," this is ultimately a love letter to the theatre by a unique American artist.

You can hear part of it in her own voice here. Here is a clip of her discussing her memoir.

Ms. LuPone has a rich history in the theater, singing in some of the best musicals to hit Broadway in the last few decades. Here she sings a duet with and other Broadway superstar, Audra McDonald. The amazing voices join to sing Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again.

Here she sings Being Alive from the Sondheim musical Company. The clean, clarion vocals are trademark LuPone, not to be mistaken with anyone singing today.

For more about Patti LuPone, check out her official website here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Theo Tams - Taking It All Back Tour

theo tams,toronto,canada
theo tams,toronto,canada
Top: Theo in Stouffville. Bottom: Me & Theo in Oshawa.

Well, I have been trying to make it to see Theo Tams performing live for some time now, and once I bought a ticket for the show on August 19th at the Lebovic Centre for Arts & Entertainment in Stouffville, Ontario, I knew it was finally on. As the time drew near, my excitement grew, despite the fact I had made the decision to drive up to Toronto by myself. So after working a partial day, I started up on the 18th, driving for 7.5 hours to Batavia, NY, where I stayed the night, just a few hours from Toronto. I woke up still excited, packed up the car and drove to Niagara Falls where I crossed the border with great ease. IT wasn't long before I was at the hotel in Markham, hoping to take a nap before heading to the show in Stouffville, about 35 minutes away. Well, I was just too excited, so there was no sleep to be had. instead I made sure I had all my cameras ready, fully charged and ready to go. I showered and put on my nicest clothing, and headed off, excited to finally be seeing Theo, and meeting some online friends as well.

theo tams,toronto,canada
Left to right: Sue, me, Theo, Melony & Cathy in Stouffville.

I drove to Stouffville, parked the car, and made my way to the theater. I was a bit early, and picked up my ticket and started wandering a bit. I noticed on the ticket it said no cameras or videos, so I certainly didn't want to drive 10+ hours to get myself tossed, and figured I would leave them in my bag. I soon ran into Sue, and chatted a bit, although I will admit I was so excited I was to the nervous/quiet stage. Soon we were joined by Melony & Cathy (with a 'C'), and we made our way into the theater. To our surprise, our seats were front-row-center, so close we could practically reach out and touch the instruments on the stage. As the audience filled in, my excitement only grew. I was quite the tight little ball of nerves by then. Soon, the lights dimmed and the opening act, the band StereoGoesStellar, came one. Well, not so much the band, as the lead singer/keyboardist, and he performed the first couple of songs solo before being joined by the rest of the band. Well, not so much the rest of the band as 3 outta 5 members for an acoustic set.

theo tams,toronto,canada,stereo goes stellar theo tams,toronto,canada,stereo goes stellar
StereoGoesStellar: Left: Mick & Jeremy. Right: Mick, Jeremy & Iain.

Lead singer/keyboardist Jeremy kicked it off with a couple of songs before being joined by Mick and Iain on the stage, and continuing to deliver a very nice acoustic version of their Pop/Rock music. The talented young men seemed at ease with the audience, who appreciated their efforts. I was especially fond of their songs Twenty-Two and Wish Upon A Plastic Star. You can sample some of their music on their website here. Their self-titled album is also available on iTunes here.

theo tams,toronto,canada

But, to be honest, I was there to see Theo, and spent much of their set glancing at the grand piano on the stage, knowing Theo would be playing it soon. And after a brief intermission, I thought I was gonna explode when the lights came up, and Theo Tams walked on stage. Looking quite dapper in his crisp white shirt and jeans, with an immediately engaging smile. He chats a bit, then starts playing. I felt a bit of a chill run up my spine, and I took grip of my seat, preparing myself to hear his voice, his music, something I have been dying to do for over a year. When he started, I felt myself exhale, as his voice was every bit as rich, beautiful, and textured as I had hoped for. As the show went on, he freely mixed his original material with some beautiful covers, from Tracy Chapman to Britney Spears. When he sang Lazy Lovers, I felt a tear falling , quickly intercepted by my hand. I certainly felt them well up again for his original song Broken.

Video courtesy of Sue Jackson from an earlier tour stop.

I have to admit it took a few songs before I remembered other people were there, and they had cameras. By the middle of the show, I grew bold and took my still camera out of the bag, and took a few pictures of my own.

theo tams,toronto,canada

He also had an easy charm with the audience, talking about his music, as well as telling amusing stories. His smile and laugh lit up the room, just as easily as some he touched my heart with songs. He spoke with great affection for Canadian songwriter Jann Arden when he sang her Good Mother.

Video courtesy of Sue Jackson.

He also spoke of the Taking It All Back Tour, the title not only a play on his debut, Giving It All Away, but also how he was doing that in his own life at present, taking back the power. Was nice to see him talking from the heart so readily. He was also enjoying his time with the boys from StereoGoesStellar, and how he 'hearts' them.

theo tams,toronto,canada

But it does always come back to the music for me, and Theo did not disappoint me at all - in fact I was impressed. At the piano, he was excellent. He has a clean yet deeply emotional style, one that is engaging to watch. whether singing a cover or an original song, remained expressive of the song, tied to the emotion. During the show, there were times I sat there smiling, and others I found myself dabbing my eye. While this wasn't a video playing for the show in Stouffville, the song Doesn't Make It Easier fell the latter.

Video Courtesy of Sue Jackson.

After the show, Sue, Cathy, Melony and myself went out to the lobby, where the boys from StereoGoesStellar and Theo were going to meet the audience. We were chatting away, waiting for the line to go down a bit, when I saw Theo point in our direction, and say my name and wave! Well, that certainly surprised me, and warmed my heart even more. Soon he came over, and I found myself still being a bit shy, even after he gave me a big hug. We chatted a bit, and I don't know if I was able to convey how happy I was to finally see him live, and how his music touched me. The ladies I was with, however, did tell me the smile on my face said it all. Here is Theo singing a cover of the Serena Ryder song Weak In The Knees.

Video Courtesy of Sue Jackson from 2009 tour.

This was the first of three shows I attended on my trip. Luckily for me, I managed to calm down for them, and get my video camera out. So I will be talking about them a bit more very soon. Until then, I hope you can enjoy my Tams-manian experience, as well as the great music I had the chance to experience first hand. For more information about Theo Tams, check out his official website here.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Being Human Season 2 Episode 6

Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6

Being Human premiere's episode 6 of the second season tonight on BBC America at 9PM/8PM Central. Previously, we are reminded Mitchell slept with Lucy, who brings out a wooden stake while she sleeps. As the episode opens, we learn a bit about Kemp, and why he has such a fervent drive to eliminate the supernatural - when the Pastor returned from church service, he found vampires killing his wife and daughter.

Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6 Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6
Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6

Lucy couldn't use the stake. When he wakes, he asks her to come back to bed, but she leaves. They decide they need to talk later, and they go their separate ways, and we hear the band Bat For Lashes singing Sleep Alone as Mitchell makes his way home, and Lucy seeks religious comfort.

Mitchell arrives home to Annie fighting with George as he talks of his plan to move out with Sam. Annie is not handling it well. Mitchell, on the other hand, is more interested in announcing he had sex, and torment George with the thought the wolf thought of wearing skinny jeans. Annie needs space, and pops out. She comes across a theater, and sees psychic Alan Cortez. George and Sam find an place to live, causing George a bit of panic. And Lucy finds Kemp to seek out absolution for her night with a vampire. As Annie was wandering around, we hear Rebekka Karijord singing The Noble Art of Letting Go.

Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6 Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6
Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6 Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6

Annie watches Alan Cortez, not believing the lameness of the act. She is surprised when an usher asks her to leave, and then realizes she is a ghost, and leading her to the other ghosts. When Annie speaks to Alan, he hears her. George is moving in with Sam, and she asks him to take part in her daughter Molly's school event, on the night of the full moon. He explains he has toboggan training that night. Cortez explains to Annie he has lost his gift, and he can't hear the ghosts anymore, at least until she came along. Mitchell and Lucy meet for coffee, and she is freaked out by his past, while he is sure he can change, with her help. He tells her he will call a meeting the next night at the funeral parlor to tell the others he is giving it all up for her. Lucy calls Kemp to tell him.

Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6 Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6
Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6

Annie happens on George packing for the move, and she cries. George explains he doesn't want to be in an "us vs them" situation for the rest of his life, afraid of the world. He wants to be a part of it and Annie understands. She goes back to Cortez, and is soon running the show. She helps a ghost named Jimmy get closure with his wife, and move on. Plans are in the works for Annie to join Alan on his tour. George has an interesting conversation with Molly while he struggles to assemble furniture. Back at the funeral home, Ivan allows a repairman in to check out a gas leak.

Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6
Being Human,Season 2,Episode 6

What do Lucy and Kemp have planned for the gathering of vampires? Who is Annie's unexpected guest, and will she help bring them some peace? Will George and Molly come to an understanding, or does she see deeper into his soul than he would care? Can Mitchell find the words to tell the gathering? Will Annie go on the road with Cortez? Will Ivan accept a leadership role with the vampires? At what point do they use the hauntingly beautiful Heysátan (Heima) by Sigur Rós - with out singer Jonsi? Listen here.

For the answers to those questions, tune in to BBC America tonight. You can find out more about Being Human online at their official website here.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Jason Walker - Leave It All Behind

jason walker

This past Tuesday, Jason Walker had a new release, Leave It All Behind, available for purchase on iTunes. To be honest, I didn't know much about him when I received a message from RJO Artists, but since they have represented some of my favorites, including Levi Kreis, Ari Gold, and Daniel Cartier, when Rich Overton speaks up, I tend to pay attention.And with Jason Walker, I am very glad I did. Not only is he a very handsome man, he is a gifted singer with a voice that glides easily from soft and subtle to bold and big. If George Micheal, Boy George and Taylor Dayne had a musical lovechild, it would be Jason Walker. He passes between Pop, R&B, and Dance styles with ease and grace.

jason walker

The album opens with the R&B power ballad I Am Changing, and Walker soars with the song to the heights normally reserved for Patti Labelle. That is followed up by the driving dance beat of the title cut, and Leave It All Behind takes no prisoners. Listen for yourself.

Walker then returns to R&B with Sad Eyes, a soulful song where he explores the emotional depth of his voice. Pop is on the menu next with Changes, a bold and building exploration of a relationship. Here is a clip of Wlker performing it live with Producer Rami Ramirez.

The Song In My Heart is a beautiful and soft ballad, brimming with love. More soulful pop follows with Something's Broken, an intimate and thoughtful number. Here is a clip of the song live.

With I Love You (The Story of Roberta & Fisher), Walker offers a driving story of life and the struggle to maintain it during the tough times. It builds beautifully, yet ends with a soft and gentle stroke. It is followed by the gentle and sexy Brazillian beat of Como Te Llamas, an intoxicating song begging to be sipped and savored. Quicksand is up next, a truly delightful pop/dance confection that is as infectious as can be, with giving Walker a chance to show off some amazing phrasing and that glorious voice. And then the musical journey comes to an end with a version of Sad Eyes (Live featuring Rami Ramirez), with Walker showing he is no studio wonder, singing the song live and strong, needing no autotune or special effects to deliver a note-perfect exploration of emotion.

So my thought is you really should go out and buy this album, and just let Jason Walker take you on a musical journey you won't regret. You can download it on iTunes here and on Amazon here. Both places will let you sample first, if you need more convincing. Let Jason Walker do it with his voice.And be ready to sit back and enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

REPOST - Great Cover from Tom, Stewart & Jake

Jake Walden, Tom Goss and Stewart Lewis toured together on the Rock The Folk OUT tour, performing separate sets as well as doing some together. They did a particularly nice cover of Coldplay's Yellow. The tour was sponsored by OUT magazine and Here! Tunes.

I caught the tour when they were in Philadelphia, and it was fantastic.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Toronto Weekend Preview

theo tams,toronto,august,2010
theo tams,august,2010,stouffville

Well, I am back from Toronto, 20+ hours of driving, 3 different shows by Theo Tams in the Toronto area, crossing the Allegheny Mountains to and from, and facing the metric system in Canada. I survived it all. Not only that, but had a fantastic time. And I give Sue and Theo all the credit that while there, I have not attacked by a single polar bear, raccoon, nor squirrel, as promised. I was pleased to meet Sue, Melony, Cathy (with a 'C'), Sandy, Jen, Pam, and others while there, as well as the esteemed Mr. Tams, who was sweet, lovely, funny, kind, charming, and above all, talented. While I get together my thoughts, pictures and videos, I thought I would share a quick video compilation I threw together to give you a little taste of of what I experienced, leaving me still smiling!

I hope you enjoyed the video, and will look forward to reading a more comprehensive look once I gt it all together. I certainly can't wait to tell you all about it!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Dark Monday - Red Hot + Blue 5

cole porter,red hot and blue,aids,90s

Twenty years ago, the album Red Hot + Blue was released. It featured the music of American musical theater legend Cole Porter and some of the top acts of the day, all to raise money and awareness for AIDS research. The album contained 20 cuts, and I found 17 videos for those cuts, and for the next several weeks, will be running them in this Monday night spot. This is the final installment of those videos. The album was thought of as a fundraising tool, it also allowed the artists involved great freedom with their interpretation of Porter's music, making for a wide variety of styles on the album. We shall go through the album in the order that is on my CD, which I did purchase at the time.

Singer Lisa Stansfield had used her own love of jazz and pop music to create a career with some hits, and also to join in the making of this great album. She sang Porter's Down In The Depths, written in 1936 for the Broadway musical Red, Hot And Blue, originally sung by the legendary Ethel Merman.

After topping the charts with the band Chic, Jody Watley went on to solo stardom with her own blend of Pop and Dance music. But for After You, Who?, she took a more classic approach, with a beautiful result. The song was written for the 1932 musical The Gay Divorcee, and sung by the incomparable Fred Astaire.

Jimmy Somerville topped the charts with the Bronski Beat and the Communards, and had a rather nice solo career as well. The out singer had no problem tackling Porter's From This Moment On. The song was originally heard in the MGM musical Kiss Me Kate, a classic Pop song. But Jimmy gave it a dance beat and made it his own, with his voice scaling the heights as only he could.

The Scottish New Wave band Aztec Camera had relatively little success in the US, that was not the case in the UK. They took part of the album, and ended up singing the final cut, Do I Love You?. The song was originally written for the musical DuBarry Was a Lady, where it was introduced by Ronald Graham and Ethel Merman. Aztec Camera too their own approach, and it became a wonderful closing number.

That is the end of the line for this series. I hope you enjoyed it.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Carole King - Tapestry

carole king,tapestry,1971
carole king,tapestry,1971

There are some albums I just feel inadequate to discuss, and Carole King's Tapestry is one of them. It is just plain amazing, and could be as close to perfection as it is possible to achieve. Released in 1971, the music just connected with so many hearts, the sales went through the roof. The album went to #1 on the Billboard album chart, and eventually sold over 11 million in the US, and over 25 million worldwide. Those are numbers few see in the Pop world now, let alone 39 years ago by a woman singer/songwriter.

carole king,tapestry,1971

Carole King started out as a songwriter, often pairing up with Gerry Goffin, whom she married. She started her career in the late 50s, and in 1960 had her first hit, Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?, sung by the Shirelles. She went on to co-write such hits as Some Kind of Wonderful, He Hit Me, Cryin' In The Rain, Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby, One Fine Day, Up On The Roof, Oh No, Not My Baby, Don't Bring Me Down and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. But it wasn't until 1970 that she started a recording career, releasing an album with little success. With her track record for making hit music, the studio gave her another chance, and in 1971, she released the great one, Tapestry. The first single was the beautiful and aching It's Too Late.

The B-Side of the song was one of my favorites, I Feel The Earth Move. It has great elements of Folk, Pop, and Rock, with a bit of the Blues thrown in for good measure.

The next single was the exceptional So Far Away. The song has such a strong sense of love displaced, of emotions frayed. Lightly produced, the emotional core of the song is emphasized more than the instrumentation, so you are listening to the singer communicate from the heart.

While not released as a official single, (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman was an amazing reworking of a song already known by another artist. Aretha Franklin practically owned the song, that is, until the writer took it back, and gave it her own spin. And it was magic.

King also took back the song Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? from the Shirelles, and again worked some magic. It went from uptempo Do Wop song to a heartbreaking ballad.

Carole King is still touring today, recently with James Taylor. A song she wrote that was on Tapestry, You've Got A Friend, was a pretty big hit for JT. To find out more about Carole King, check out her official website here. And if you don't already have Tapestry in your collection, got get it now!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Saturday Night Choir Singalong

While I am off following Theo Tams around Toronto, I thought I would bring back an older post I enjoyed. Here is the Columbus Gay Men's Chorus singing Elton John's Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting.

You can find out more about the chorus here.

Being Human Season 2 Episode 5

being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america

Tonight at 9PM/8PM Central on BBC America, Being Human returns with a new episode. This one really gives us some insight into Mitchell. 1969 - kinda like the hangover from the summer of love, at least for Mitchell. He wakes up blood-soaked, not even sure where he is. He wakes to the sounds of The Velvet underground featuring Nico singing Venus in Furs from their 1967 debut album.

He panicks when he hears a noise in another room, only to figure out it is Herrick, who leaves to pick up the car, while Mitchell must clear the scene of any evidence of the debauchery that has taken place. He cleans to the sounds of Herman's Hermits 1964 hit Something Good.

When he goes to leave, he sees the police interviewing the building, and slips into an apartment, taking the pretty young woman by surprise. When we cut back to the present day, the house is invaded by the police, who take Mitchell away, surprising his mystified flatmates.

being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america
being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america

Mitchell is taken to the police headquarters, where he meets with the current chief. He brings Mitchell the cell of a recidivist prisoner, one he would like Mitchell to take out, while he watches. Mitchell is less than impressed, and leaves. When he gets home, he finds George and Annie chatting, George speaking of his girlfriend Sam and their growing relationship. Mitchell mentions his relationship with Lucy. The boys leave, and there is an eye calling to Annie, a fellow ghost. Seems she wants Annie to babysit her child, also a ghost. Annie reluctantly agrees, but for only a few hours. We return to 1969, with Mitchell telling his prisoner way more than he should, obviously struggling with what his vampire life leads him to do.

being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america
being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america
being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america

In perhaps the scariest scene of the show, Mitchell runs in to Lucy outside the hospital, and something is definitely wrong. He can't stop smiling, and it is so very eerie. I mean, could dinner with Lucy cause a dark and brooding vampire to change this much? We hope not, because Lucy leaves Mitchell to chat with the evil religious zealot, and they obviously have plans afoot. Back at the flat, Annie is struggling with her ghostly charge, but George steps in to help her quiet him. They discuss their lives, and George's desire to have kids of his own.

being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america
being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america

In 1969, Mitchell's prisoner escapes, and retrieves a policeman to aide her cause. Unfortunately, it is Herrick, who seems to have discovered his fascination with uniforms. George meets Sam and her daughter at the schoolyard, trying his best to win over the daughter. Annie discovers the secret to watching the baby, and starts to really like having him around.

being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america
being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america being human,season 2,episode 5,bbc america

George starts talking to his flatmates about his plans, which include moving Sam and her daughter in with the vampire and ghost. Annie understands the desire to form a family - she'd like to adopt 'little Tim', but Mitchell will have none of it. He thinks George is rushing things, and it is a bad idea. And thinks Annie is going mad. He and George exchange words, and George decides he might have to move on. Will Annie keep Tim, or will his Mother return? Will George, Sam and Molly live happily ever after? Will the Constable leave Mitchell alone or did he just push too hard? Did Herrick make his kill his hostage? And who is making love to the sound of Jefferson Airplane's Somebody To Love?

Guess you will have to tune in to find out. You can find out more about Being Human online at their official website here.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Worth Another Listen • Hall & Oates

daryl hall,john oates,hall and oates,abandoned luncheonette
daryl hall,john oates,hall and oates,abandoned luncheonette

In 1973, a Philadelphia-based group released an album named Abandoned Luncheonette, but it made little noise on the music charts. But after a slight regrouping, Hall & Oates released a few of the songs the following year to great success. She's Gone made it to #60 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1975, but the artists and the label thought it should do better. So they released it in 1976, and fit in some PR stops, and the song made it to #7 on the chart. The song had this odd video, but it allows you to hear the brilliance of the song.

The first song that was part of the re-release was Sara Smile. The willowy ballad was beautifully structured, and Daryl Hall know exactly how sing it. His phrasing and musicality is perfectly suited for the song, bringing the Philly-soul back to the forefront. The song went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was eventually certified Gold.

Abandoned Luncheonette went on to be certified Platinum, and started the amazing sales record of Hall & Oates. There career took off, with many more hits to come. They had six #1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including Rich Girl, Kiss On My List, Private Eyes, I Can't Go For That (No Can Do), Maneater, and Out Of Touch. But I am sure I will post more on them later. For more on Hall & Oates, check out there official website here.


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