Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Garrin Benfield Live In New York

Garrin Benfield
Photos by James M. Graham

Saturday, May 14, 2011, I was joined by my friends James and Brian to see the amazing Garrin Benfield performing at Sullivan Hall in Manhattan. I've been a fan of Benfield's for several years, and only got the first chance to see him live the end of last year. I will not miss a show if I can help it, cause his music just invigorates me, washes me clean of burdens and transports me to a place I love to be. Before the show, I was able to convince James, a photographer, to take pictures for me, and so I have far better pictures than I would ever manage on my own. Thank you James! (You can find his blog here & website here)And that left my hands free to be working the video camera, and have some treats for my readers. Treats like Rock N' Roll, a new song from The Wave Organ Song album. Here he is joined on stage by his sister, Claudia.

Originally, I was planning on doing an elaborate write up on what a great album The Wave Organ Song is cause, well, it is. Garrin has a way of communicating on a highly personal level with his music that might be jarring, only somehow, it isn't. He's not telling stories with his songs, he is sharing a piece of his life. His music and lyrics weave a tapestry not meant to be admired in a museum, but instead lived with in your home, sometimes wrapped around you to keep you warm. A perfect example would be another song from the new album, Colors In You.

One of the reasons I picked to go to the show was because it was a birthday present to myself. It was the perfect gift - music that I love, a live show with dear friends. And I get to receive presents like this, hearing Garrin perform an amazing cover of the late Alex Chilton's introspective song, Thirteen, which can be found on the new album.

Well, let me start off by saying whether it is an advent of my age, the music I listen to, r whatever, but when I hear a musician really start to jam live, it is as close as I get to having sex in a public place any more. When Garrin had completed his cover of John Lennon's Give Peace A Chance, I felt as thought I needed a cigarette, even though I had given up that habit 4 months before. Yep, I was breathing a little heavy, felt a little drain and just a tad sweaty. It really was that good. Here's Give Peace A Loop, what do you think?

It was an outstanding evening, made even better by great company. Afterwards, Brian, James and I went to get something to eat, and revel in the music of the evening. James thought that any evening that including great covers of Alex Chilton and John Lennon had to be great, and Brian sat there smiling and laughing, basking in the afterglow of wonderful music and company. You can find The Wave Organ Song on iTunes for $9.99 here, or on Amazon.com for $8.99 here. For more about Garrin Benfield, check out his official website here. Garrin is out on tour in California now, so if you have the chance, go. To check out his tour schedule, go here. And buy his music. You won't regret it.

Garrin Benfield
Photos by James M. Graham

Personal Jesus 2011

Depeche Mode
Depeche Mode

Depeche Mode are getting ready to release Personal Jesus 2011, remixes of the 1989 hit from the Violator album.

I have to admit, I am still partial to the original version of the song. But I was a huge DM fan, and still am.

Listen to Siouxsie & the Banshees

Siouxsie & the Banshees

It's hard for me to know what song Siouxsie & the Banshees are most know for in the US, as they really didn't have much success in this market. They made a bit of a splash as part of the Neo-Punk/New Wave movement, showing the early signs of Goth tendencies with The Cure. Formed in 1976, vocalist Siouxsie Sioux and bassist Steven Severin were initially part of the burgeoning English punk rock scene. Siouxsie's look was bold, androgynous, and highly stylized, almost the Goth Ziggy Stardust. Soon the flavor of the band was moving in a Post-Punk direction, one that was a harbinger of sorts for the New Wave movement. I leaned of them through my fandom of The Cure. In fact, lead singer Robert Smith at one time had an affiliation with the band. At the first public gig the band played, the drummer was John Simon Ritchie. Mr. Ritchie later became known by the name he used in his other band, Sid Vicious. The other band? The Sex Pistols. I think the first song I remember hearing was Spellbound, a 1981 single. I seem to remember it getting some play in the clubs and on college radio. It was off the album Juju.

While Robert Smith was playing with The Banshees in 1983, they released a cover of the Beatles' song Dear Prudence. It was a big hit fro them in the UK, and I remember it getting lots of play on college and edgy rock radio stations. I don't remember there being a video for it, but here is Siouxsie performing it on the British television show Top Of The Pops.

One of my favorite songs was released in 1984. The band had an interesting album, Hyæna, and the amazingly layered song, Dazzle. The lyrics were smart and evocative, and delivered with just the right amount of, well, everything.

Their biggest hit in the US came in 1991 with their poppiest single to date, Kiss Them For Me. It made it to #23 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #8 on the Dance Tracks chart, and #1 on the Modern Rock chart. From the album Superstition, this is Kiss Them For Me.

By 1999, the band had been pretty much seen the direction of the music change dramatically. It was decided to put an end to the band. However, in 2003 they reunited for a tour, and much of their music was remastered and re-released in that same period. Siouxsie went on to be a part of The Creatures, and has had a solo career as well. Her 2007 album MantaRay was met with critical praise. For more about Siouxsie and the Banshees, check out their official webstore here. You can find more about Siouxsie at her official website here.

Siouxsie & the Banshees

Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Music - The Warrior & Goodbye To You

Scandal featuring Patty Smyth
Scandal featuring Patty Smyth

A bunch of New Yorkers got together to for a band in 1981, and named it Scandal. Fronted by vocalist Patty Smyth, the band went through continual changes in the line-up, including a very brief period with guitarist Jon Bon Jovi. But in 1982 they released the Scandal EP that included Goodbye To You, which became a hit on the radio.

As the band continued to morph with a succession of players, they released a full-length album in 1984, The Warrior. The title track was their biggest hit, shooting up to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100. It showcased the strength and beauty of Smyth's voice.

Soon after the release and tour of The Warrior, Scandal disintegrated from the inside out. Later on, Smyth was rumored to have been offered the lead vocals of Van Halen, as she was good friends with then Mrs. Eddie Van Halen, Valerie Bertinelli. She declined the offer. In 1997, Patty Smyth married tennis bad-boy and fellow New Yorker John McEnroe. Since 2000, Scandal has gotten back together to play some tour dates, and reportedly is working on new material for release. It was originally scheduled for 2010, but has yet to become public, at least to my knowledge.

Patty Smyth & John McEnroe

Happy Memorial Day - Tender Comrade

For a Memorial Day Special, I offer Billy Bragg singing his Tender Comrade. The poignant and touching song first appeared on his Worker's Playtime album. Celebrate the men and women, gay and straight, who have fought to promote the rights and freedoms of ALL the people, not just the select few.

Here are the lovely lyrics:

What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade
When we lay down our weary guns
When we return home to our wives and families
And look into the eyes of our sons
What will you say of the bond we had, tender comrade
Will you say that we were brave
As the shells fell all around us
Or that we wept and cried for our mothers
And cursed our fathers
For forgetting that all men are brothers

Will you say that we were heroes
Or that fear of dying among strangers
Tore our innocence and false shame away
And from that moment on deep in my heart I knew
That I would only give my life for love

Brothers in arms in each other arms
Was the only time that I was not afraid
What will you do when the war is over, tender comrade
When we cast off these khaki clothes
And go our separate ways
What will you say of the bond we had
Tender comrade

Summer Music - Vacation

Paul Lekakis

The insanely gorgeous Paul Lekakis dons a speedo and once again captures my attention with this stirring dance hit, (I Need A) Vacation. The song was released in 2006. As soon as I knew about it, I had to buy it. I am a big Paul Lekakis fan. Once I saw the video, I was amazed, cause there has to be a painting in an attic somewhere. Watch this video and tell me if you are thinking like me, and he don't look like no 40-year-old man...

I used the term once again because he had first commanded my attention when I heard his first hit song almost 20 years before! I can't tell you how many times I have danced to Boom Boom (Let's Go Back To My Room), both out in the clubs in New York when it was released in 1987, or when I cranked it up at home, cause I went out and bought his album, Tattoo It. For the 20th anniversary, he made a new video for it. I don't think there was a video the first time around.

Tattoo It was the only album Lekakis made, at least that I am aware of. After the hit, Lekakis pursued some acting work, which kept him busy. Sometime in the 90s, he not only came out as a gay man, but also announced he was HIV Positive. He did much work promoting HIV and AIDS Awareness, both on stage with the roles he took, and when he was performing at Pride events throughout the country. For more about Paul Lekakis, check out his official website here.

Paul Lekakis

Summer Music - Hanging On The Telephone & Picture This


In 1978, a band named Blondie shook the world when they released the album Parallel Lines. It was their third release, and while the first two found success in the UK, it was this one that rocketed to success in the US, making the name for the band. While it was the third single, Heart of Glass, that topped the charts, the first two singles were getting noticed by college radio on the strength of the Punk pedigree of the band. The second single was one of my favorites from the album, Hanging On The Telephone.

The first single was the lovely Picture This. Well, it was as lovely and sweet as Debbie Harry was going to get. I later believed it was the inspiration for the writers of the Golden Girls when they wrote about Sophia telling stories...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Summer Music - Life On A Chain & Velcro Shoes

Pete Yorn

In a quasi-celebration for the 10-year anniversary of when I first fell for Pete Yorn, I thought I would play a song I played non-stop after I purchased musicforthemorningafter, bought solely because the great title, and, well, he was just so friggin' cute. I think he'd make a hot boyfriend, if he wasn't so damned straight. Here is Pete singing one of my all-time favorites, Life On A Chain.

But, before I let it go with just the old song, I thought I would also post a quick one from his latest album, the self-titled one. I really like it, and thought a great somng for this summer could be Velcro Shoes

Summer Music - Here Comes The Summer & Teenage Kicks

The Undertones
The undertones

As I've said before, there is something about the 70s Punk bands that gives me a rush of summer. Of course, in this song by Ireland's The Undertones, it is evident. So here they are, with the amazing Feargal Sharkey on lead vocals, The Undertones and Here Comes The Summer.

As this was such a short, yet delectable nugget, I thought I would share one other by The Undertones. This is Teenage Kicks. I listen, and I still just love them.

Summer Music - Come Away With Me

Norah Jones

The stunningly beautiful Norah Jones took the music world by storm in 2002, when her debut album sold over 20 million copies. She ending up winning 5 Grammy Awards in her first trip to the show. She certainly had the pedigree to do well in the industry, the daughter of Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar and concert producer Sue Jones. But her simple, unassuming vocals produced those amazing results for they spoke with an honesty to her audience. Here is the title track from the debut album, Come Away With Me. I just seems perfect for this Sunday morning.

One of the singles released from the first album was Don't Know Why. The song had this wonderful feel to it, and was delivered perfectly by Jones.

For more about Norah Jones, check out her official website here. Her music is available anywhere you buy music, and you can't go wrong with anything you select.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer Music - Holiday & Lucky Star


This is a holiday weekend, isn't it? So I thought it would be incomplete to have anything up next other than one of my all-time favorite Madonna songs. Here is Holiday!

My other favorite song from the period would be Lucky Star, and the video is just too amazing to not watch again. And again. And again. So, I can't figure out why these two songs have not been covered by some of my singer/songwriters, but then I realize it was before most of them were born... Enjoy.

Happy Birthday Mark Feehily!

Mark Feehily

Salutations on the day to Westlife hottie Mark Feehily. I will admit I was a fan of his tall, dark and handsome self before he came out publicly in 2005 and announced his relationship with the adorable Kevin McDaid. Check him out singing first on this version of I Don't Wanna Fight from the 1999 debut album, Westlife.

While I admit to liking the way he looks, it is also about the way he sounds. He has a great tone, and really nice control of his voice. He often sings the more soulful parts of the songs, for that just sits well with him. To further celebrate, we're gonna listen to Moon River, a bonus track form the UK release of the Allow Us To Be Frank album in 2004. There was no video shot for it, but I think his vocal is beautiful.

So, Mr. Feehily, I wish you a very happy birthday, and many more to come.

Mark Feehily

Summer Music - Orgasm Addict


While not implicitly about summer, I have often found the joyous nature of some of the 70s punk bands to be a natural for the summer. The Buzzcocks, for example, are one of those bands. Here is a celebration of youth and hormones on Orgasm Addict.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Summer Music - Summertime

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin

For my Friday night entry for the holiday weekend, I thought I would go all kinds of classic on your music-lovin'-asses. Here is Janis Joplin & Summertime

RIP Jeff Conaway

Photobucket Jeff Conaway Jeff Conaway
Jeff Conaway

Actor Jeff Conaway passed away this morning after a long hospitalization. He was just 60 years old. After having early success on television with a role in Taxi, and on Broadway and film as Kenickie in Grease, Conaway saw the promise of success go away as he spent way more time chasing his demons than his career.

Conaway first played Kenickie as a replacement on Broadway, garnering strong reviews for his performance. He once again played the role when the 1978 movie was brought to the silver screen, but the character's big song, Greased Lightnin', was taken away and given to Danny Zuko, played by mega-star John Travolta. This left the Kenickie role pretty much as comic fodder in the movie.

Cast of Taxi

He appeared in the television hit Taxi, playing Bobby Wheeler, the beautiful-but-not-so-bright actor/taxi driver. The show was smart and funny, with an escellent cast that included Judd Hirsch, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Tony Danza, Christopher Lloyd, Andy Kaufman, and Carol Kane. He started working on the show just after filming Grease, and stayed with it until he was fired in 1982. It was said that his demons were already haunting him at this point. Hopefully now he will find some peace.

Summer Music - Hot Child In The City


It is Friday morning, and I know some are getting revved up about the holiday weekend. This one puts me in mind of my time in New York City. Here is Nick Gilder & Hot Child In The City.

Jim Cantiello's Gleecap - New York

Jim Cantiello's Gleecap
Jim Cantiello's Gleecap

Jim Cantiello of MTV had weekly Glee-Caps that I enjoyed, but, oddly enough, wasn't smart enough to share. Well, until now, that is! Watch as Jim gives his thoughts on the Glee Season Finale!

Tags: MTV Shows

MTV's Idol in 60 Seconds

The brilliant & crazy Jim Cantiello sums up the season in a minute as only he can. I don't know how he does it, but even after all these years of following him, he still makes me laugh out loud!

Tags: MTV Shows

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Summer Music - Summertime Blues

Eddie Cochran

After a season of American Idol, I need to take a step back and enjoy the holiday weekend. So I thought I would just do a couple of fun posts that celebrated the season, and didn't need much explanation. Here is Eddie Cochran & Summertime Blues.

Summer Music - I Heard A Rumor


After a season of American Idol, I need to take a step back and enjoy the holiday weekend. So I thought I would just do a couple of fun posts that celebrated the season, and didn't need much explanation. Here is Bananarama & I Heard A Rumor.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

And the 2011 American Idol Is...

Lauren Alaina & Scotty McCreery

After all the auditions, the drama of the Hollywood and the semifinal rounds, and 12 weeks of finalists being sent home by the voting public, it is at last time to crown a new American Idol. In the tradition of Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jordin Sparks, David Cook, Kris Allen and Lee DeWyze, tonight will end with either Scotty McCreery or Lauren Alaina joining that list. But before we learn who will wear the crown, we will be entertained by stars old and new who will look to create ratings magic tonight.

Steven Tyler, Ryan Seacrest, Jennifer Lopez and Randy Jackson

The show starts off with a mercifully short recap of last night, and a minimum of jabbering. It seems there were 122 million votes cast last night, and nearly 750 million cast this season. The Top 13 sing the first group number of the night, Lady GaGa's Born This Way. James is the first to perform solo, joining Judas Priest on the stage for a bit of Living After Midnight. James shares the lead vocals with Rob Halford.

They follow that up with Breaking The Law, and I seem to remember there was some sort of deal that James was going to duet with Steven Tyler. But it was fantastic seeing Halford, the first out Heavy Metal singer/musician on the music scene. Speaking of which, next we have Jacob putting that 'Lusky Stank' on a gospel hit, Kirk Franklin's I Smile. Soon they were joined by a surprise guest, Gladys Knight, which seemed to give Jacob reason to take it up a notch. I could've lost Jacob & Kirk, and let Gladys have the stage. She's an Idol to me!

After the break, resident 'artiste' Casey struggles with the opening notes for Queen's Fat Bottomed Girl before it became a duet with Jack Black. Quickly, it is once again official, I don't get it. I just want it to stop. No, please don't... Ugh, too late. He scatted all over that stage.

Next up we have the seven ladies of Idol, minus Lauren. They sing a medley of Beyoncé hits, starting with Single Ladies. All the ladies get a chance to solo, and then they are joined by Beyoncé, working the wind machines better than anyone should. She sings Crazy In Love, and I try to figure out why she and the ladies didn't utilize the moment to do the girl empowerment song, Rule The World (Girls).

After trying to sell more tickets for the tour this summer, it was time to make fun of Steven Tyler. They show the arc of his story, from loose cannon to behaved child. Laughs galore. Next up, Haley comes out to sing with Tony Bennett. They sing the jazz great written by Irving Berlin, Steppin' Out With My Baby. Tony sounds fantastic as he is about to turn 85, although he did manage to lose the lyrics. Thankfully, he found them.

TLC come out to perform next. Well, T-Boz and Chili come out. They were introduced by Lil Jon and the ladies of the top 13 had their backs for the number.

Live Like You Were Dying Scotty shares the stage with Tim McGraw for his big song. This goes better than one would expect. But I have to say, thank heaven's Tim is so pretty. He was also willing to stand back and pose pretty while Scotty went over the top. Teach him something, Tim.

Now we have the tribute to the odd acts of the audition process. It is announced by a Crusty wannabe, something scary indeed. That is followed by a number by Marc Anthony, who is joined on stage by the stupendous Sheila E! And soon, Mrs. Anthony is dancing with him on stage. There is enough salsa to go around! Have no idea if this is the right song or not, but watch Marc Anthony.

Soon, Casey and James chat about their shocking eliminations, only to be put in their place by Pia. Don't worry, it will all be forgotten soon... Next up, the guys of the Top 13 come out to perform the songs of Tom Jones, starting with Stefano singing Kiss, Paul singing She's A Lady, James with What's New Pussycat, Scotty on Green, Green Grass of Home, Jacob with Love Me Tonight, and Casey with Delilah. They are then joined on stage by Tom himself, singing It's Not Unusual. At 70, Tom is over three-times their age, and he takes over the stage. He owned them boys...

There is a last chance for the Ford Commercial, and to sing another Carrie Underwood song - you know, the last Country Idol to take Nashville by storm... They do a nice little bit with teachers who have influenced the kids, and both Scotty and Lauren invite a teacher, courtesy of Ford. They also surprise them with a car! And Ford will be offering money for educational programs! Hooray! To keep the excitement going, Crusty introduces Lady GaGa, there to sing her latest single, The Edge of Glory. GaGa is singing atop a giant rock formation, and dancing with a beautiful half-naked boy, writhing on the precipice. Of propriety, that is. This number worked. Not for a family show, but for me.

Lauren is up next, and she is singing Carrie's scorching song, Before He Cheats. We all know what is coming up next.
Carrie comes out to sing with Lauren. And we all remember why she won - Carrie's voice is exceptional.

Then there is a cute bit with the others teasing the youngsters about how young they are. It is mercifully short. Then they bring Beyoncé back out to sing One Plus One, her latest single. It is a lovely, expressive ballad. After another break, Crusty introduces the star of Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark, Reeve Carney, to be joined by Bono and The Edge to perform Rise Above.

And, with just 6 minutes left, they bring out Steven Tyler to sing Aerosmith's iconic hit, Dream On. He is amazing on it. So good!

So, with less than just 6 minutes left, the time has come. And, finally, the work of the night. Crusty finally announce that Scotty McCreery is the winner of American Idol. He thanks God and Lauren Alaina, and sings the lame song they had for him, falling apart on the way. Surprisingly enough, the show ends on time. Congratulations Scotty,

Scotty McCreery

Wes Carr Debuts New Video

Wes Carr
Wes Carr Wes Carr

Australian singer/songwriter/rocker Wes Carr debuted a new single, and I am really liking it. Been A Long Time beings with an almost acoustic feel, and then breaks into a chorus that reminds me of some of the great music by one of my all-time favorite bands from Down Under, Crowded House. If this is any indication of the music he is making, I can't wait for the album! Here is Been A Long Time.

For more about Wes Carr, check out his official website here. You can also find him on Twitter here and FaceBook here.

Jedward - Lipstick

Jedward - Lipstick

Irish music manager Louis first spotted the Irish twins John and Edward Grimes, you could see the smoke funneling out of his ears and his mind went into overdrive on the 2009 edition of the UK show, The X Factor. The boys were handsome, young, and rather energetic. Their talent, well, it fell more in line with entertaining that actually singing. But they perform with such joy, such zeal, it is kinda infectious, just making you smile. Well, at least they make me smile. Their first single was a duet which brought Vanilla Ice out of retirement, Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby). Their first album, Planet Jedward, was certified platinum in Ireland, and #17 on the UK album charts. As they are about to release a second album, they have the single for the album, Lipstick. They caused quite the sensation when the song was entered and won their country's Eurovision content, and went on to represent Ireland in Germany. They placed 8th, beating out some highly touted entries from England and France. Here is a video for Lipstick.

they brought their energy, their tall blond quiffs, and their absolute desire to entertain and were rewarded. At Eurovision, they also were named winners of the Marcel Bezençon Artistic Award, as voted on by the commentators.

Just the other night, they performed for President and Mrs. Obama as they were visiting Ireland. Also playing that night was another of Louis' acts, Westlife. I am sure they both put on quite the show.

Jedward - Lipstick


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