Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Voice On Tour

The Voice On Tour

Didn't get enough of The Voice? Wanting to cheer for your favorite live and in person? Maybe get a chance to get an autograph, or tell one or more how much they meant to you? You might just get that chance, as the producers of The Voice have announced a tour of the Top 8 contestants. So far, I think there are six stops scheduled.

July 27th - Gibson Amphitheatre (Los Angeles, CA)
July 30th - MGM Grand Garden Arena (Las Vegas, NV)
Aug 2nd - Rosemont Theatre (Chicago, IL)
Aug 4th - Bank of America Pavilion (Boston, MA)
Aug 5th - Toyota Presents Oakdale Theatre (Wallingford, CT)
Aug 6th - Beacon Theatre (New York, NY)

So far, all the reports have been clear that the coaches will not be part of the tour. You can get tickets for the show nearest you by clicking here.

Groovy Theme Songs


I am never sure if they were groovy or not but I do remember these shows and the theme songs that go with them. The shows ran in the late 60s and early 70s, when I was growing up. I remember watching all of these shows with the family, and laughing so heartily.

My Mother The Car

Back when the family was still living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, we watched Jerry Van Dyke in My Mother The Car. The premise of the show was completely ridiculous, yet I still remember watching it in 1965/1966 for the sole season it was on. I mean, really, his mother was reincarnated as an antique car? Hey, I was just a child, and if the family laughed, I did too!

That Girl

I so clearly remember watching the show That Girl and thinking Marlo Thomas was the coolest, funniest woman alive, that it is hard to believe it went on the air 45 years ago. It premiered in 1966 and lasted until 1971, a mere five seasons. It seems like it was on so much longer than that. Yet through it all, Marlo was the coolest!

The Banana Splits

One of my favorite Saturday morning shows was the The Banana Splits! I loved them, both as the 'live' muppets, and as animated characters. It began in 1968 and lasted 2 seasons. But I was eight years old, so loved everything they did, from the slapstick to the driving their dune buggies!

The Courtship of Eddie's Father

I remember The Courtship of Eddie's Father as being just so damn charming. Again, I was young, and perhaps I saw it in reruns, but there is so much earnest love and happiness, it was irresistible. It premiered in 1969, and was on for just three seasons.

Hope you enjoyed walking down memory lane with me!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

And the First Voice of America Is...

The Voice Finals

Well, tonight is the night. The culmination of performances that started with Coaches Christina Aguilera, Blake Shelton, Adam Levine and Cee Lo Green making blind choices for their teams.

Vicci Martinez is one of the first of the contestants to sing with one of their musical favorites. She performs with Pat Monahan of the band Train, singing Drops of Jupiter.

Not sure it was a great song for Vicci, but they sing it nonetheless. However, Monahan was quite generous with the song, sharing it completely with Vicci. Seems Pat and Train are touring with Adam and Maroon 5 this summer. Cee Lo speaks to his charge, and gives a poignant testimony to his love and appreciation for her talent. That was just lovely. Well done, Cee Lo.

After the break, it is Javier's turn in the spotlight. He duets with legendary singer/songwriter Stevie Nicks. They perform Landslide, a song written and performed by Stevie while still a member of Fleetwood Mac.

There was a rough beginning, but soon Stevie had it under control, and you could see her orchestrating the entire performance. Javier was there to sing harmony, and support the star, that much was clear.

After a break, Beverly is going to sing with award-winning songwriter and frontman for OneRepbulic, Ryan Tedder. They sing the latest single from OneRepublic, Good Life.

That was an interesting pairing, sometimes shining, and other times the EMT were preparing. I'd have to say, I think Beverly is better than what that just showed. After the performance, Christina not only thanks Beverly, but also the boys up there, saying they were like the big brothers she never had. That was a sweet yet odd moment.

The final contestant to take to the stage is Dia. She will be performing with Blake's wife, Country superstar Miranda Lambert. They perform Lambert's The House That Built Me, a seriously beautiful song.

That is a lovely duet, and Lambert certainly shared it beautifully with young Dia. That is a strong moment, my favorite of the show so far. Blake is a bit choked up, having seen his wife and his student owning the stage and the moment.

After the break, we return to name the champion. We hear the top two are within two percent of one another. The top two are Dia Frampton and Javier Colon. Cee Lo and Christina are up on stage to escort Vicci and Beverly off. The scored well on iTunes, with Dia Frampton making it to #1, and Javier to #2. And the winner of the inaugural season of The Voice is... Javier Colon. Congratulations to all involved.

The Music of B.Slade™

BSlade Diesel Pre-Sell

On July 19, B.Slade™ will release his new album, Diesel. Formerly known by the moniker Tonex [or TON3X], B. Slade is a musical powerhouse, a virtual tour-de-force who, on top of his own career, wrote, developed and produced for many other artists in the Gospel and secular world. He won many awards for his work, as well as the respect of many. And recently, he came out, to much less fanfare than others. That, however, did not slow him down, and he has been creating music that is just amazing to me. And last night I placed my Pre-Order for his Diesel, and was able to download 2 tracks right away. There is the title track, an amalgamation of R&B, old-time Gospel, Hip-Hop and a touch of performance art. Check it out here in Diesel: The Concept Video.

You can pre-order the Diesel album here. You will also get the track Accept Me, an astoundingly honest account of his coming out process. Like the other track, Accept Me has amazing textures and layers, with some interesting playfulness in the rhythms. Give it a listen now.

Still not sold? Well, you should check out Dance Floor Arsonist - The Jaack5on Magic Mix Tape here. It is great fun, and a FREE DOWNLOAD! It has music both literally by as well as inspired by Michael and Janet Jackson. I also have A Brilliant Catastrophe (beta), which you can find here. Check it out - there are 20 full-length songs for just $10. I also have A Brilliant Catastrophe (alpha), which you can find here. It is yet another great collection for just $10. His Mighty Real 2011 is worth the price of admission. B.Slade is making some of the truly most inventive and imaginative music happening. And once again, I've given out way too much information about my own collection. But, I've got to say, the blog is Soundtrack to my Day, you know? It can be yours too, if you'd only click the link and buy it for yourself. You can also learn more about B.Slade at his official website here.

A Brilliant Catastrophe (beta) A Brilliant Catastrophe (alpha)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Voice Finalists Perform

The Voice Finalists
Clockwise: Vicci Martinez, Dia Frampton, Beverly McClellan and Javier Colon.

This is the final competition show, with the finalists taking the stage to sing for the win. But first, coaches Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Dee Lo Green and Blake Shelton take to the stage and sing Queen's amazing song Under Pressure.

Wow, that was kinda train-wrecky. Soon the finalists are being introduced by Carson, and he speaks to Dia, Beverly, Vicci and Javier. We discover they will be singing a duet with their coach, and an original song. Carson chats with Adam, Cee Lo, Christina, and Blake, who is looking a bit teary.

Javier is up first with the original song after the break. But first, we hear the Top 8 artists are going on tour this summer, so Nakia, Frenchie, Xenia and Casey will be joining the finalists. Check out the dates here. But Javier is there to perform the original song, Stitch By Stitch. The performance is dedicated to his wife and kids, but sounds to me a bit like something Bonnie Raitt rejected 20 years ago. It was pleasant enough, for adult contemporary radio. The coaches are all rather pleasant, with Blake and Adam both feeling the straight guy love for a man with a family. I'm a little lost by it, but hey, whatever... To vote for Javier, dial (855) 864-2301.

Dia and Blake are the first duo to take to the stage. They are going to deliver Tom Petty's Won't Back Down. Dia and Blake are in suits, like mini Blues Brothers. Both are playing their guitars. All the guys in the band are sporting sunglasses, yet Dia is not.

Representing Team Cee Lo, Vicci Martinez is up first, and performs Afraid To Sleep. I like the idea of the song, but ht eactual work is a bit too Bonnie-Tyler-meets-Jim-Steinman for me. But she sings the heck out of it, giving it a few soft moments, as well as the power only she can deliver. It was a bit over-wrought, a bit too late 80s for me. To vote for Vicci, dial (855) 864-2302.

Well, after the break, we learn that the next performance will be Pitbull featuring Ne-Yo to sing their hit, Give Me Everything. Rapper Pitbull is rubbing all over his dancers. Ne-Yo's dancers are all over him, but he is too busy trying to sing, which he does well, for the most part.

Before the break, Beverly and Dia are asked about the tour, and Dia wants to sing more Tom Petty, and Beverly wants to give us Etta James. And after the break, it is time for Beverly & Christina to duet, and they will sing Beautiful, Christina's hit.

In the rehearsals, the guitar is played by writer Linda Perry. They are going to do a very sweet acoustic version, which is nice. Ms. Perry is on stage with them. I think some of the beauty of the song is lost by the dueling voices.

After a break, we have Dia Frampton singing the original song Inventing Shadows. It certainly has the flavor of an Adele song, which is a wonderful thing. She is a bit tethered to the piano, playing and singing. It is a lovely performance, I am quite surprised. To vote for Dia, dial (855) 864-2303.

Adam and Javier get their chance to duet, and they will on a Michael Jackson song. They will be singing Man In The Mirror. It starts off a bit weak, with Adam hitting the notes, but rather demurely. It is surprising how little stage presence and charisma in on the stage for the first half of the song. Javier kind of picks it up, and Adam seems content with being his back up singer.

Brad Paisley comes out to perform his latest single, Don't Drink The Water, featuring coach Blake. Paisley comes out and is doing a great job, and is soon joined on stage by Blake, coming out of his revolving chair and seemingly towering over Paisley. To be fair, he towers over most of the world. Blake seems a tad lost up there with on instrument to play. But they do a great job, even if it is becoming the Blake Shelton Musical Show.

The final competitor for the night is Beverly, representing Team Xtina. She performs Lovesick, and all I can say is I bet they would be better in the studio, because it just falls flat, and even Beverly flailing on the piano couldn't save it. The judges are all kind, and concentrate how much they love her. To vote for Beverly, dial (855) 864-2304.

Vicci and Cee Lo are the last to duet, and they pick Love Is A Battlefield by the amazing Pat Benatar. And as I suspected, Cee Lo is pulling out the stops, and has kids dancing, live fire on the stage, and big bold costumes. Vicci sounds wonderful on it, and Cee Lo looks great. That, my friends, is a way to close the show.

A great show, but truly throws me off. I thought Vicci shined, but the song was just mediocre. Blake gave Dia the best song of the group, so I just don't know what to think. I look forward to seeing who America voted for Wednesday night at 8PM/7PM Central on NBC.

Who's That Girl, Guy?


Guy Sebastian seems to be making a dent in the US market lately. His latest single, Who's That Girl, is now available on iTunes in the US. You can find it here. It is a great song, and he is joined on the effort by Eve, who is quite good in the song and the video. The two also co-wrote the song for the singers Twenty-Ten album. It has been catching on with some of the radio stations here, so if you have a favorite station in your area, you might want to request it!

While there, I see you can also purchase the video and single for Never Hold You Down on iTunes as well. The song is off the Like It Like That album. It was written by Sebastian and David Ryan Harris.

For more about Guy Sebastian, you can check out his official website here. And if you like Who's That Girl, you can find it on iTunes here. For Never Hold You Down, you can get the single here, and the video here.

The Voice Finals Preview

The Voice Finalists
L to R: Vicci Martinez, Beverly McClellan, Javier Colon, and Dia Frampton.

The Voice is getting ready for the final competition and vote for the first season of the show, with performances starting tonight at 9PM/8PM Central time, and going for 2 hours. We will hear the four finalists perform an original song, and also duet with their coach. To prepare you, I thought I would remind everyone of the finalists, starting with my favorite, Vicci Martinez. Last week, she had, in my opinion, the strongest song of the night when she played the drums and sang Dog Days Are Over, the song of Florence + the Machine. She began a bit nervous, I thought, but quickly regrouped and took command of the stage.

My second favorite of the evening was a truly magical one. When I heard Beverly McClellan was going to sing BB King's The Thrill Is Gone, I was afraid. I haven't been a big Beverly fan this season - thought she at times missed the emotion of the song and used her own exuberance in its place. But on this one, she was right on with it all. So wonderful.

Next up was someone I felt had such potential during the auditions, and has fallen short for me since. Javier Colon was all charm with his smooth rendition of Cyndi Lauper's (and Rob Hyman of The Hooters) Time After Time. But his version of Coldplay's Fix You was far from that, as it was more rock than soul, yet lacking in bravado and emotion. Hopefully tonight he can go back to what worked so well at the beginning.

The final contestant baffles me a bit. Although I do think she has an awkward, quirky charm. However, when it comes time for her performances, she tends to just barely miss the mark, with phrasing that feels forced, or at least not organic. But you can check it out for yourself, and watch Dia Frampton perform REM's Losing My Religion.

Don't forget to tune in tonight to watch the performances and be prepared to vote for your favorite. The inaugural winner of The Voice will be crowned Wednesday night between 8 & 9PM, more than likely at around 8:50PM.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Dark Monday - I Heart NY

Lights of Broadway NYC

Way back when, New York introduced an ad campaign for tourism. It seemed like everything aligned when the now icon tune "I Love New York" is heard, made only better by some of the bets voices on Broadway. Not only did tourism boom once again, but the sales of simple logo for I<3NY was amazing.

Check out this version form 1982 - look at Liza, getting ready to go to Studio 54! And Cher! And so many others!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jason Walker Unplugged Pt 2

Jason Walker

In the first part of my interview with recording artist Jason Walker (posted here), we talked about his upbringing, his moment on Showtime At The Apollo, and his work with Junior Vasquez. Now we move on to his latest album, and the recently-released unplugged EP.

Leave It All Behind was his first pure Pop album. It sounded like a step away from the clubs. “Yes, and I wanted it to be. I found that many of the things I was writing about didn’t have anything to do with the dance floor, and didn’t warrant that kind of production. I didn’t want to make just another dance record - everyone and their mother was doing it. And it really wasn’t where my head was. I was without a label, and could finally call the shots, so that is exactly what I did,” he tells me proudly. “I made every decision and was responsible for every aspect of the record, which was a pain in the ass. I don’t think most people realize how much work goes into it. They think you decide to make an album, you record it and boom, it comes out. That is not really how it happens. It was something that I needed to do, and I learned a lot from it. And it was worth it.”

The songs seemed much more personal on the album. What was it like putting it together? “The thing was, when I was with the label,” he confesses, “I didn’t want to give them any of my material. So half of the album, I wrote myself.“ Could he tell us a little about those songs? “I felt that the things I was writing about, it turned out to be an accurate representation of where I was at the time, and how I wanted to be heard. I knew that some people were going to turn their nose up – the hard-core dance folks – they weren’t going to understand where I was. But I really didn’t care. At the end of the day, I am not just a dance artist, I am a singer. “

The new stripped-down, unplugged EP is yet another departure. Rather than exploring the muscularity of his voice, there is an exploration of nuance and restraint. “Well, I feel like with all the stuff I did with Junior, it was all about the power and the production,” he remembers. “It was so for the dance clubs. So when I left that situation, I just wanted to take a step away form the insanity and sing a song without all of the lights and the kick drums, the baselines and synthesizers.”

But that wasn’t the only reason. “My dad, he’d always say, ‘You know I love to hear you sing, I know you like dance music and it’s not really my thing, but when are you going to sing a slow song, when are you going to sing a ballad for me, because I love when you sing that.’

“Well, I found myself wanting to do that, after I found myself immersed in dance for so long, I just wanted to do other things. They were things that I used to do, that I have never forgotten how to do, but they weren’t in the forefront of my life anymore. I wanted to revisit that. I wanted to explore those again. So that is why the album not only happened last year, but especially why the 'Unplugged' EP happened, too.”

So how did the EP come about? “That is just a recorded rehearsal, one song after the other, no editing, no autotune, no anything,” he revealed. “I had no plan on releasing it. I did it at a friend’s studio in the city, and when I listened back to it, and let a few people listen, they all thought I should release it – put it out there. It is the other end of the spectrum. There is everything from This Is My Life and Flexible, so Hi N-R-G and so heavily produced, and there is this, where there has been almost nothing done – a little bit of vocal compression and a bit of reverb, that is it. And I felt like it was a natural progression of me as an artist.”

How did he feel without the driving drums and instrumentation he had for so many years? “I didn’t feel naked at all. In fact, I felt better and more comfortable than I ever felt in any nightclub. I know that sounds a little crazy, but it is the truth. When I let people listen I thought maybe people would identify with it. And maybe they’d like it.”

With those questions completed, my own curiosity got the best of me. Is there a song that he has yet to sing that has him wanting to give it is that Jason-spin? “I’ve always wanted to sing A Song For You from Donny Hathaway. I just always wanted to.“ What about his ‘guilty pleasure’ that might surprise his fans? “Do you know who one of my favorites is? Toni Childs is one of my favorite singers, she has such a unique voice, and I love that. She is such an individual. She had that big booming voice that not a lot of people are going to get, but I get it and I love it. That might be a surprise to some people.”

If Jason got first crack at any song from the last five years, which would it be? “Ha! I’ve always loved – this is gonna sound a little cheesy, but - I’ve always loved the song The Climb from Miley Cyrus. She just doesn’t know enough yet to sing that song. It’s like when LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood both sang How Do I Live. LeAnn Rimes was what, she had to be less than 20. [She was actually 15]. And Trisha Yearwood was a mature woman. I mean LeAnn’s version was vocally amazing, but when you listened to Trisha’s you just heard the maturity and the way she turned a phrase, and how she connected with the lyrics."

I’ve read that you performed at a Broadway Bares benefit. Is musical theater something that interests you, or was that just a one-off appearance? “Yeah, that was a couple of years ago. Well, it is funny, because I was singing at a benefit remembering the Paradise Garage. It was at Santos Party House and Quentin was playing, and they had asked me, Robert Owens and Barbara Tucker to perform. So I was going to perform during Quentin’s set. I was doing two songs. I was doing the Reverend Carl Bean’s Born This Way, not Lady GaGa’s, but the first one,” he retells with a wry smile in his voice. “And I was doing I Need Somebody To Love Tonight by Sylvester. Quentin was all about me doing that song. He said ‘you really gotta do this song by Sylvester. It’s obscure but it was prevalent during the times of the Paradise Garage.’ Well, when I was performing, the director for Broadway Bares was in the audience that night, and he asked me if I would sing that song in a portion of the show."

“I had never done anything remotely associated with Broadway,” he explained. “I was used to singing in dance clubs and blues bands, not anything even close to Broadway. It was a really good experience and I had a great time. The audiences were great and very receptive.” So would he be open to doing a Broadway show? “Sure! I don’t limit myself,” he said, laughing.

Is there anyone he’d like to work with, living or dead? “Oh, there are two. Rollo [Armstrong] from the band Faithless, who produced Christine W’s first album [Land of the Living], which is, in my opinion, the best Dance record ever made. And there is T-Bone Burnett. I would cut off an appendage to work with T-Bone Burnett because that man is a genius. I mean there are other people, like Red One and Babyface, who I’d like to work with. But those two, Rollo and T-Bone Burnett, oh,” he stops for a moment for a respectful breathe, “they are at the top of my list.”

Is there a favorite song he has written or likes to perform? “Uhm, you know what? No,” he told me matter of factly. “Honestly, honey, I never put a set list together or do an order. It just happens. Everything I write comes from a different place, and they all mean just as much to me as the others. There is no favorite.”

When should people start looking for tour dates so they can catch Jason Walker live and in person? “Over the next month or two. I have a few shows lined up in New York, but I am working on a few shows for the European market. So the next couple of months.“ I certainly can't wait until he is playing a show in my area.

I'd like to truly thank Jason Walker for taking the time to talk to me, and answer all my questions. After spending some time getting to know him, as much as I love his music, I am now every bit a fan of the man. Leave It All Behind, and the new EP, Live And Unplugged can be purchased on iTunes here and here, and here or here. Don't forget to check out Jason on his official website here. You can also be his friend on Twitter and/or FaceBook, and get the updates as they happen. And if you haven't already, please consider making an investment in your listening pleasure and check out Jason's Kickstarter page here. With a pledge of $10, $25, $50 or more, you can pre-order a new album, and get many other benefits you can read about on that page.

Idol Hands Sure Can Snap

Idol Swings
Leona Lewis, Will Young, Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken and Anthony Callea.

On this fine Sunday morning, I thought I would pull some great swing music from unexpected sources. Namely, the Idol programs from around the world. Well, there are representatives from American Idol, the UK's Pop Idol, Australian Idol, and the UK's X Factor. I picked some of my favorites from these series, at least the ones I could find clips on YouTube that might apply. And I could not think of a better way to start this post than with Anthony Callea swinging on Route 66. The song was written by Bobby Troupe, husband of torch singer Julie London. It was first made popular by the great Nat King Cole, but Anthony does an amazing job with it.

In the third season of the UK hit show X Factor, Simon Cowell and company introduced us to a beautiful young lady whose talent was soon heard 'round the world. After winning the season, Leona Lewis was soon releasing Bleeding Love, which topped the charts and earned Lewis fans world-wide. While on the show, she made it through Big Band week singing Summertime, the classic song by George Gershwin.

In late 2001, we were introduced to the series that started it all. Pop Idol crowned the first winner in February 2002. Will Young crooned his way into the hearts of the British public. And, I might add, they had good taste, for Will is so very talented. And he did a lovely version of We Are In Love, a song written and performed by Harry Connick, Jr, for his 1990 album of the same name.

In the second season of American Idol, we were introduced to North Carolina native Clay Aiken. He charmed the fans enough to stay out of the bottom three for the entire season, and finished in second behind winner and good friend Ruben Studdard. When it came time to perform as part of the Final Three, he did an incredible version of Mack The Knife, the famous song by Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht from their masterpiece, The Threepenny Opera.

The first season of American Idol ran during the summer of 2002, and in September,
winner Kelly Clarkson was crowned. Kelly waded through the musical waters with poise and panache, like when she blew everyone away with Stuff Like That There, the song by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans, originally sung by Betty Hutton in the 40s. Kelly took the song and made it her own.

Hope the music got you into the 'swing' of this fine Sunday!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Torch Singers
Clockwise from Top Left: Edith Piaf, Patsy Cline, Judy Garland, Dame Shirley Bassey, and Sarah Vaughan

We are back in that smokey club, listening to the ladies sing the blues about love and loss, and matters of the heart. They stand in a simple spotlight, where you can see the smoke wafting through the air. In the background, you hear the tinkling of glasses being raised, drunk from, and collected by the wait staff. There is a whisper that stays steady in the room. But when the really good torch singer comes out, a hush will fall over the room. She will dictate the feeling of the room, be it sadness, hurt, or desire. That never changes. A clear example of the power of the lady in charge is Sarah Vaughan. With her legendary jazz stylings, she delivers a light sweetness to Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington's "The Nearness of You". There is just a hint of longing, just enough to keep it interesting.

Born Virginia Patterson Hensley, if she wasn't one of the great torch singers of all time, then she would have been the perfect source of material for many a song. From her struggle in the music business because she didn't fit the standard of feminine beauty in the day, to dying in a tragic plane crash at the age of 30, Patsy Cline used her gorgeous voice to garner the success and respect due her talent. Her "Walking After Midnight" added just the right amount of strength to temper the plaintiff quality a lesser singer might fall victim to that trap.

The French knew here as "The Sparrow," or, en Francais, "Piaf." She was born Édith Giovanna Gassion in Paris. She has long been regarded as France's greatest popular singer of all time. One reason was the sheer emotion she would bring to the songs, especially the ballads. Take, for instance, "Je Ne Regrette Rien" can be translated as "No, I'm not sorry for anything." The song is sung in French, composed by Charles Dumont, with lyrics by Michel Vaucaire. It is most famously sung by the one and only Sparrow, Édith Piaf.

In 1964, Dame Shirley Bassey sang a song by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, from the musical 'The Roar of the Greasepaint—the Smell of the Crowd'. She was the first to record Who Can I Turn To?, although it would later be a hit in the US by Tony Bennett. She also performed the Hugh Martin and Timothy Gray song, "You'd Better Love Me".

When it comes to torch singers, it is tough to deny Judy Garland is up there with the best of them. When she was just 14, she filmed her first song for the movies, "You Made Me Love You". She didn't stop singing until she passed away 33 years later. Many of her great songs were about love - either looking for it, or having just lost it. She added her own touch of melancholia to Charlie Chaplin's "Smile" here.

Bartender, I'll have another round.

A Reggae Doctor Who


While there is no new Doctor Who until September, I thought it would be fun to share this version of the theme song, done by the reggae band The Simmertones. Perhaps it can tide us all over until we get to sigh even more at the sight of Matt Smith.

You can purchase it on iTunes here.

Instead of Doctor Who, BBC America offers another BBC show, Outcasts. It premiered last week, featuring the very handsome Jamie Bamber and the very sexy Eric Mabius. Bamber has been seen in such shows as Battlestar Galactica, Law & Order: UK and many guest roles on other US & UK series. Mabius has starred on such LGBT-friendly shows as Ugly Betty and The L Word.

Jamie Bamber &amp; Eric Mabius

So the show offers some prime beefcake, and has made promises to exploit it! I am giving it a chance, and hope it pays off. Thus far, I am intrigued. Here is the trailer for the show, which is on BBC America tonight at 9PM/8PM Central.

And, of course, it is followed by the glorious Graham Norton Show. He follows directly after Outcasts, at 10PM/9PM Central. He never fails to amuse me, and this particular group of David Tennant, Catherine Tate, Jon Richardson and Josh Groban on the couch. Graham is an out and proud gay Irishman, and a hilarious comedian.

To see the schedule and other shows that might catch your interest on BBC America, check out their official website here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

OUTMusic Humanitarian Songwriter of the Year

OUTMusic Awards - Silvina

In my final installment, I spotlight the award winning entry for Sonicbids OUTMusic Songwriter of the Year for the 7th Annual OUTmusic Awards. The Awards were given in New York City.

OUTMusic Awards - Silvina

The winner of the Sonicbids OUTMusic Awards Humanitarian Songwriter of the Year winner has quite the international feel. The beautiful Silvina was born in Argentina, and now lives in New Jersey. She topped the ballots for her gorgeous song, No Se Porque.

Now, I don't speak Spanish, and can barely remember the French I studied in school. But in her interviews, Silvina talked about the song as her offering of support to the homeless children and people in Latin America, and really, around the world. When I put the lyrics through Google Translate, this is what they come up with.

Pedro has seven years
but his feet are bare
No known fairy tales
only hurts his childhood

Where will the Kings
perhaps asleep as,
sometimes in the subway
sating their hunger on a walk, walk ...

Not because they do not know why
are you crying, are suffering,
silence is not because ...

Not because they do not know why,
hungry, cold
with so much sun, so wheat
Not because they do not know why
not because they do not know why ...

These are the dreams of his childhood
like paper boats
directs the wind direction
are nightmares at dawn

Where will the Magi
Maybe sleeping as
Sometimes in the subway
sating their hunger on a walk, walk, walk ...

Not because they do not know why
These lorando are suffering
not remain silent because

Not because they do not know why
hungry, cold
so much wheat sun
Not because they do not know why
Not because they do not know why

Even in a rough translation, the sentiment is beautiful indeed. You can find the single on iTunes here, and on here. For more about Silvina, check out her official FaceBook page here. You can also find her official website here. And don't forget to visit the official website of The Awards!

OUTstanding Video of the Year

OUTMusic Awards - Hunter Valentine

I am continuing the series to spotlight the award winning entry for OUTstanding Video of the Year for the 7th Annual OUTmusic Awards. The Awards were given in New York City.

Hunter Valentine pix

The winners of the OUTstanding Video of the Year hail from Canada, and can rock with the best of them out there. Revenge by Hunter Valentine took the award, and deservedly so. The Toronto-based trio rock it out while a young woman stalks her ex. But Kiyomi McCloskey, Laura Petracca and Adrienne Lloyd are on stage, laying down some rock like few do, combing the bravado of 80s hair bands with the skill and drive of some great 90s bands like Metallica and Soundgarden. Give their video a look.

You can find out more about Hunter Valentine at their official website here. You can purchase their latest album, Lessons From The Late Night, on iTunes here, and on here. It is an excellent rock collection you can buy for under $6.00! In the final installment, I will feature the winner in the OUTstanding Humanitarian Songwriter of the Year category. Can't wait! Don't forget to visit the official website of The Awards!

Gregory Douglass - Cover Art

I have been enjoying Gregory Douglass' Cover Art project. In fact, I have been enjoying it so much, I have been keeping it for myself lately. But that needs to change, and I need to share it with you all. Gregory describes the project as "where cover songs and visual art play nicely together." I've already posted two of his entries, his cover of Britney's Toxic here and of Adele's Set Fire To The Rain here.

Cover Art - Dog Days Are Over

The latest video entry for the project, Gregory tackles Florence + the Machine with their big song, Dog Days Are Over. After several years of following Gregory's talent, I don't know why I am still surprised by anything he does, yet somehow, he manages. His cover of the song is brash and bold, and so very Gregory. I love it. But then again, I love most of what Gregory does. Check this out, it is fantastic.

You can purchase the single on iTunes here, here, and on CD Baby here.

Cover Art - Teenage Dream

Gregory's rendition of Katy Perry Teenage Dream is not nearly as urgent and screechy as the original, and much smoother and more seductive than the GLEE version. His dreamy cover is accompanied by video and painted art done by Gregory himself.

You can purchase the single on iTunes here, here, and on CD Baby here.

Cover Art - Hallelujah

Gregory also offered up a beautiful version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. I will admit it is not the first time I've heard Gregory sing the song, and yet it moves me every time I do. I first heard it a couple of years ago, produced by SYD, who, as of late, is part of the band Hotels & Highways whose music I am quite enjoying. Here three more I am sharing with you.

You can purchase the single on iTunes here, here, and on CD Baby here. You can find his latest album, Lucid, on iTunes here, on here, and on CD Baby here.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Disney Does Jazz

Disney films

Once upon a time, in a cartoon far, far away, a man named Walt Disney took animation to new levels when he was producing feature length animated movie musicals, complete with new scores and some of the top musical talents of the day. Whether the films were telling classic fairy tales, or some original stories, they had a different spin than anyone else was bringing to animated films. That included the music, and the singers and musicians involved as well. Disney Studios employed some of the best, and often brought in some of the wonderful Jazz performers of the day. Check out one of the early examples of the Jazz influence at Disney with Cliff Edwards and the Hall Johnson Choir singing When I See An Elephant Fly from the 1941 film, Dumbo.

In 1955, the studio invited Miss Peggy Lee to appear as one of my favorite characters from Lady & the Tramp, Peg the Lhaso Apso. Like many of the characters from the movie, she has fallen in love with Tramp and sings He's A Tramp.

In 1967, Disney took a book by Rudyard Kipling and gave it that special something only Disney could bring. They brought in drummer and bandleader Phil Harris to sing The Bare Necessities from Jungle Book.

In the same movie, they hired Louis Prima to bring his New Orleans-style Swing to the table as King Louie, leader of the Apes. He sings I Wanna Be Like You, a real standout from the score of Jungle Book.

Finally, in the 1970 animated film, The Aristocats, just chock-full of amazing talent. When Scatman Crothers, Phil Harris, Robie Lester and friends get together to perform Ev'rybody Wants To Be A Cat, the whole joint is rockin' in one of the high points to an entertaining film.

For more about the Disney animated musicals, check out the official Disney website here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Finalists Announced for The Voice

The Voice Final 8
Top: Nakia, Frenchie Davis, Casey Weston & Xenia. Bottom: Vicci Martinez, Beverly McClellan, Javier Colon & Dia Frampton.

Tonight we have the first elimination episode for The Voice, an episode completely devoted to sending some contestants home, and selling commercial advertising time. Last night, I thought the contestants making it through to the finals would be Vicci Martinez, Beverly McClellan, Xenia and Javier Colon. I will stick by that, but have less faith in it now that I have had time to think it through. Honestly, it is a toss up between Xenia and Dia Frampton, and you never know who the American voters will be voting for, as American Idol has shown us on repeated occasions. Last night was a very good show, I will say that. There was no clunker of a performance, no real melt-down. In fact, several people stepped up their game.

After a speech by the President of the United States, we had Carson introducing the contestants, all eight who made it into the Top 100 on iTunes last night. They then came out to sing a mash of of two of George Michael's wonderful songs, Faith and Freedom '90.

The first team to announce which member will be in the finals is Team CeeLo. Will it be powerhouse Vicci that will represent the team, or will it be bluesy Nakia? Tehy start out with a sweet moment between Nakia and his boyfriend. There is also a moment for Vicci to talk about her late father. Cee Lo even wrote a poem for his team. He diided his points 52-49 for Nakia. With America's score added in, Vicci will be moving on, and Nakia will be going home. She scored big with America, to be sure. She had an amazing performance last night. When we return from a commercial break, Cee Lo has no time to rest, as he is performing his latest single, Bright Lights Bigger City.

The song was great fun, the wig he was wearing, well, maybe a bit less fun. First we learn that Gym Class Heroes were rehearsing nearby, and so Adam sang their song together, Stereo Hearts, just to show off a bit for his team. Then we are back to find out if it will be frontrunner Javier, or will sweet Casey pull another upset. Once again, Carson tries to drain every last tear out of the situation, when speaking to Casey and Javier. Adam's scores are 65-35 for Javier, and explains he needs to give Javier the chance because of his age. Rather bold of Adam, I must say. But it makes it obvious, and Javier takes America's vote as well. Here is Adam's song with Gym Class Heroes.

Next up Blake takes Dia and Xenia with him on the road, and they perform on Honey Bee with him. He introduces them to Brad Paisley, and gave them each a guitar. But soon they are back, and they are on stage to talk about the experience. Both are grateful to Blake, they just love him. Blake divided up his points 50-50. He loves them both. It is up to America. When we come back from the break, we learn that Dia wins by just 12 points.

Finally, it is tome for Team Christina. Will bold Beverly once again capture the vote, or will Frenchie prove to be as powerful as her vocals. Last night, Christina divided her points up 50-50, dead even. She is leaving it in America's hands. After yet another break, we find out Beverly is going to represent Team Christina. The final four are on stage, and are joined by the coaches. Next week, they will compete for the win.

New SIRPAUL Video Debuts


SIRPAUL™ conitnues his string of phenomenal videos with his latest release, Going Down In La-La Land. The song was written by Carly Emerick and Hoyt Emerick, and peroformed and produced by, SIRPAUL, as the title track from the film of the same name. The video was directed by Mark Odgers and it has amazingly fluid movement, especially considering there is footage of SIRPAUL cut with footage from the film. The film will be released soon, and is directed by the talented Casper Andreas. Take a watch!

Damn, doesn't SIRPAUL look fantastic! Another great song to add to my library. You can purchase the single on iTunes here. For more about SIRPAUL and his music, check out his official website here. For more about the movie, check out the official FaceBook page here. Keep an eye out, for it is starting to show up at festivals, including OUTFEST during LA Pride.

Rise Against Fight Bullying With "Make It Stop"

Rise Against - Make It Stop (September's Child)

The Punk Rockers from Rise Against have never fit the mold set aside for bands of their genre I remember. Tim McIlrath, Joe Principe and Zach Blair are "Straight Edge", and are joined by Brandon Barnes in the support of PETA, living vegetarian lives, and are never afraid to take a strong political stance with their music. I wouldn't be worried about them checking into the Chelsea Hotel any time soon. The boys have a new album out, Endgame, and it is really a hard-rocking album that shows a stunning use of melodic punk, reminding me of some great British Punk bands from the 80s like The Buzzcocks and The Jam.

Yesterday, they released the video for the latest single, Make It Stop (September's Children). The song takes an incredibly strong and vocal stand against bullying, and in particular, the bullying of LGBTQ kids. For the video, they take it take it to a new level, showing the kids who are victims of bullying with a choice to make. The song, and the band, use their voice to tell kids to stay strong, and the familiar refrain, "It gets better." I have to admit, when watching the video I had to wipe a tear or two from my eye. I thought it was exceptionally well done.

I thought it was sweet and touching the band included the names and ages of Tyler Clementi, Billy Lucas, Harrison Chase Brown, Cody J. Barker and Seth Walsh. The band worked in collaboration with the It Gets Better Project. For further information about Dan Savage's project, visit here. For more about the band, you can check out their official website here. You can purchase the album on iTunes here, and on here. You can purchase the video on iTunes here. I bought it, showing my support of a band showing our community and kids such great support as well.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Voice Semifinals

The Voice - The Coaches

The show opens with a recap of the results from Team Xtina and Team Blake, all to prepare us for Team CeeLo and Team Adam doing the same thing. We also hear we are going to hear Blake sing his new single, and Maroon 5 will do the same. But first, the results. Team CeeLo is up first, and the artist with the most votes is Vicci Martinez. Wow, that is impressive. Now it is up to Cee Lo Green to save one other member of his team. So, after a long speech, Cee Lo talks about each one, and he finally gets to choose one, Nakia.

Soon it is time for Team Adam to have their turn in the spotlight. Adam is not happy, but his team is now on the chopping block. Host Carson Daly makes the first choice known, and America votes for Javier Colon. So Adam blabbers on much like Cee Lo did. Then Adam surprises people by making his choice, and saves Casey Weston. He says he had a last-minute change of mind, and picks her over Jeff. So that is the final 8 contestants.

All will compete tonight, and the voiting will continue until 10AM Wednesday morning Eastern Standard Time. The producers will combine America's vote with the coaches scores, and one contestant from each team will be named on the results show Wednesday night. Interesting thoughts before the singing starts. two of the four winner's of America's choice were lesbians. The other two had no out LGBT people in the running. Three of the eight are out gay people. All three LGBT contestants survived the cuts this round, while eight 'straight' contestants went home. There is no real Country contestant left in the field. (Later, I am proved wrong when we hear Casey Weston has Country aspirations.) And two out of eight are males, the rest females; three out of four of America's choice were ladies.

The first semifinalist to take to the stage is Frenchie Davis from Team Xtina. She will be singing Madonna's Like A Prayer. Christina wants her to bring it to church, and gospel-fy it. Well, she does a nice job singing it, but I have to say I didn't hear the gospel in it. She certainly has the power and control.

Nakia is up next, singing Adam Lambert's Whatatya Want From Me? He was in Austin, Texas singing in blues bars, and now he is being asked to sing pop and rock ballads by his coach.

He starts the performance at the keyboard, and breaks the songs down in a more dramatic acoustic thing, only to shove back the bench and take command of the stage. It was a powerful performance, to be sure. Dia Frampton is up next, and she his going to perform REM's Losing My Religion. This week she will be playing the guitar, leaving the piano to someone else. She is expecting people to clap on her chorus.

While the judges were all very fond of her performance, I was less sold on it. I find Dia's voice to really grate on me during this song. She wasn't bad, just not that interesting. Casey Weston is going to take on the gargantuan force that is I Will Always Love You, the Dolly Parton song covered by Whitney Houston. Casey has dreams of Nashville, and leans more toward Dolly and Whitney.

The judges were once again all sunshine and lollipops, yet I was a little taken aback by her vibrato. I don't remember hearing it quite so saw-like before, poking at my eardrum. Next on the schedule, we will see Maroon 5, featuring Adam Levine, perform their new single, Moves Like Jagger, with an assist from Christina Aguilera.

Levine has such control over the stage and what is going on around him while he performs. Partially thought the song, Xtina joined the performance, but was hideously styled. Adam was looking great is his suit, but Xtina, pul-leeze, girl. Beverly McClellan is the next to take to the stage. Xtina tells her she will be singing BB King's The Thrill Is Gone. Beverly says it brings to mind the great Etta James.
Beverly starts out on the piano, with a quiet and subtle performance. She sings the crap out of that song, and gives what I think is her best performance to date. She delivered such a soulful rendition of the song, so far superior to any of her songs to date. Javier Colon is up and will be singing Coldplay's Fix You. Adam wants him to anchor it with the familiar for the first couple of phrases, then make it his own.

Although the crowd is going wild, I have to say I was not overly impressed by the performance. He seemed to be a bit swallowed up by the production of the song. They make a big thing him losing the hat and exposing his bald head. Adam says Javier has, "like, the best voice ever." I am not as sure. Next up, coach Blake Shelton performs his latest single, Honey Bee. They tease there will be two very special friends joining him on stage.

Blake is the current CMA Male Vocalist of the Year, and he shows why. He bravely walks out in the crowd, smiling while he does. And, what a great guy, he is joined on stage by his team, Dia and Xenia. Well done, Blake! I have been impressed with Blake this season, he seems really devoted to his team. And, after a commercial break, Xenia will be taking the stage for her own performance. She will be singing The Man Who Can't Be Moved by The Script.

She does a really nice job with the song, but there is an unfortunate part of the chorus that is just out of her range. She makes up for it with a striking and unique interpretation of the song. Her voice and phrasing are so lovely. I totally enjoy her performances. That leaves only Vicci Martinez to perform. She will perform Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine.

She is starting in front of a set of drum, and the opening is a bit flat to me, but once the chorus kicks in, and she starts beating those drums, she is incredible. She transforms that into the best performance of the night. With the drummers and music and the voice and the staging, that was just a powerful thing. Way to go, Vicci and Cee Lo.

Voting numbers:
Frenchie 1-855-864-2301
Nakia 1-855-864-2302
Dia 1-855-864-2303
Casey 1-855-864-2304
Beverly 1-855-864-2305
Javier 1-855-864-2306
Xenia 1-855-864-2307
Vicci 1-855-864-2308

So, if I was to pick the top 4, the top contestant from each team, really, it would be Beverly, Xenia, Vicci and, I guess Javier. Is that what will happen tomorrow night? I don't know.

Did Amy Say No To Rehab?

Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse
Amy Winehouse

There are few finer examples of of why a performer should be sober when they go onstage than this video of Amy Winehouse performing in Belgrade on the 18th of June. This is a comeback of sorts, since Amy has been reportedly in and out of rehabs for quite some time now.

And, after viewing the video, I can't see anything clean going on there. Certainly not Amy, nor that nasty weave she is sportin'. So disappointing, a complete waste of a talent.

The Voice is Back Tonight

The Voice - The Coaches
Left to Right: Cee Lo Green, Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera & Adam Levine.

Tonight we will learn the final four who will fill out the Top 8, as the voting for last week's teams, Team Adam and Team Cee Lo, come back. Who will be America's choice to survive? And who will be the coaches choice? I think it will be Vicci Martinez and Nakia making it through from Team Cee Lo, and Javier Colon and Jeff Jenkins through for Team Adam. However, I would put through Casey Weston instead of Jenkins, based on performance last week. But whomever gets through will be competing tonight for the Top 4, along with Dia Frampton and Xenia from Team Blake and Beverly McClellan and Frenchie Davis from Team Christina.

The Voice - The Teams

Just to give a little reminder of the last two weeks worth of shows, I thought I would post the Team songs that said a great deal about the teams. Let's start with Team Christina singing LaBelle's Lady Marmalade. Of course, Christina also sang the song with Pink, Lil' Kim & Mýa as part of the 2001 soundtrack for Moulin Rouge, so it comes as no surprise she pulled it out of the closet for her group of four lady-divas. Unfortunately, I thought the performance was a bit of a muddled mess.

That same show two weeks ago, coach Blake Shelton led his team of Dia Frampton, Xenia, Patrick Thomas and Jared Blake, for their number on the show. Team Blake sang the Maroon 5 hit This Love, much to the delight of Adam Levine. I was pleasantly surprised by this one, and thought Blake acquitted himself very well.

Last week, the other two teams took to the stage. Cee Lo Green was joined by Vicci Martinez, Nakia, Curtis Grimes, and Tori & Taylor Thompson when they performed Sly & the Family Stone's Everyday People. It was a great song, but it was quite the uneven performance, at least for me.

Finally, llast week marked the time when Team Adam performed the Lennon/McCartney classic, With A Little Help From My Friends. Javier Colon, Casey Weston, Jeff Jenkins and Devon Barley joined Adam for what was, in my book, a strong performance.

So tonight we shall see who stays from Teams Adam & CeeLo, and then watch the semifinals, when the remaining eight will be featured. Tonight, at 9PM/8PM Central, the fun begins on your local NBC station. Can't wait to see what they have in store for us this week. I will be doing a recap, and will also be appearing on Rickey's Secret Show later tonight.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Dark Monday - Spring Awakening Act II

Spring Awakening
Spring Awakening

For those who might not know, Spring Awakening is a musical adaptation of the controversial 1891 German play of the same title by Frank Wedekind. The play was opposed and often banned for it's realistic depiction of teenage children. I was drawn to the musical as it was the work of a musician whose work I really love, Duncan Sheik. For more background information, check out the post I did two weeks ago about the first Act of the musical here. At the opening of Act II, we find Melchior and Wendla after they have completed their intimacy, they muse as they sing The Guilty Ones.

Moritz has been tossed out by his family for his failure in school. He is wandering aimlessly, carrying a gun. He fights his feelings as he sings I Don't Do Sadness. He happens upon Ilse, the girl who was abused by her father. She is part of a free-living artist colony, and invites Moritz to join her. The high-strung boy is frightened and refuses. Ilse sings Blue Wind, and leaves, hurt. Moritz reconsiders and calls for her, but she doesn't hear. (This is a clip of Duncan Sheik performing the songs Blue Wind/I Don't Do Sadness in concert with Lauren Pritchard, who played Ilse on Broadway).

Feeling lost and alone, Moritz shoots himself with the gun. At his funeral, Melchior chastises Moritz' father for the pressure he applied to the boy, and then abandoning him. Back at school, the authorities are looking for a scapegoat so they don't have to admit they gave Moritz a failing grade even if he passed the test. They find the notes about sex Melchior had written for Moritz, and turn the blame on him. While Melchior knows he is not at fault, there's the moment you know you're Totally Fucked.

The school achieves their goal, and get Melchior blamed and expelled. That evening, a rather cynical Hanschen shares a special time with Ernst and they sing The Word of Your Body (Reprise).

Wendla is not feeling well, and her mother takes her to the doctor. He tells Wendla she is anemic, but tells her mother the truth, she is pregnant. Her mother confronts her, but Wendla is confused. She couldn't be with child, because her mother told her how women gets pregnant, and she didn't do that. She becomes angry to learn her mother didn't tell her the truth, but the only thing her mother is interested in is to find out who is the father. She tells her about her relationship with Melchior. Meanwhile, Melchior's mother is angry that he is being punished so severely, not believing the school officials. However, once his parents learn he is the father of Wendla's baby, they know he must go to reform school, not knowing about Wendla.

Spring Awakening

While at reform school, Melchior receives a note from Wendla he must wrestle away from other tough boys. He learns about her condition, and his impending fatherhood. He plots and executes an escape to go to Wendla. What he doesn't know is that Wendla was sent off to have a backroom abortion. Upon reaching town, he sends a message to Wendla to meet him at the cemetery. There, he finds Moritz grave, and he swears he and Wendla will be better parents to their child. He worries as she is late. Then he notices a new grave, and discovers it is hers. He is angered and distraught. He pulls out his knife to take his own life. Then the spirits of Wendla and Moritz come to him, and encourage him to fight on, to keep their spirits alive in the song Those You've Known.

Soon, Melchior is joined by Ilse and the kids of the town. The have come together to profess a desire to have a hopeful future. The sing The Song Of Purple Summer.

Curtain. Standing ovation. Tears. Cheers. Stomping. The brilliant young cast, remarkably youthful and talented, made brilliant theater. The show was nominated for 11 Tony Awards, and won 8 of them. I would have given them all eleven.

Spring Awakening

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jason Walker Unplugged Pt 1

Jason Walker

The opportunity to talk to Jason Walker about his music was something I could not possibly pass up. When the appointed time came, I have to say Jason was sweet and charming, and more than willing to talk about the music. So much so, I have to break the interview into two parts! I shall start from the beginning, like what music had he grown up with in Pittsburgh? “My mother had, and still has,” he told me proudly, “a record collection that would be the envy of many a DJ, and I grew up around really great music, like Motown, Disco and Pop music.”

It seems his mother could be credited for much of his current path. “I started singing when I was 4, and my mother put me in a church choir,” he explained. “I joined the choir and found that I loved Gospel music and lady singers, if you will.”

Does Jason feel like part of Pittsburgh is still with him? “I feel like my really young years are still with me, like the years when I’d blast Patti LaBelle from the dining room when my parents weren’t home,” he told me, laughing. ”And the neighbors would tell them “Oh, he was singing again…” I feel like I carry that with me all the time. I think a lot of the imprinting I did as an artist happened in Pittsburgh. I feel that is how I really started to learn how to sing.”

So what was the next step? “Once I started finding myself in high school, I started writing music, too. I was singing with a black group, at the time, there was some interest from some labels - we wrestled with them for a few years. Then there was some interest from Motown. But they just wanted me, not the group. I was kind of looking for a way out at the time, so that was a welcome exodus, if you will. Well, that ended up being a really, really bad deal. I remember my attorney at the time telling me “if you sign this, there is no way out for you. They’re wanting you to relinquish all rights to everything, but promising you next to nothing.” So I ended up not signing. I was living in Pittsburgh, immersed in the dance music and the club scene. I was just 18 when all this went down.”

I’d heard of his triumphant turn on the Harlem stage, and wondered how much winning on Showtime At The Apollo influence or change his career? “That show, that night, that performance, it really changed me. They say that the Apollo is a really harsh crowd, and I feel like that puts it lightly,” he recalled, laughing. “And if you can sing there, you can pretty much sing anywhere. If you can win that audience over, then you’re on the right path. That was definitely a life changing evening. My singing and winning is what prompted me to move to NY, because I felt it was where I had to be.“

And so the New York leg of the journey begins. Walker moved to the city, and was soon signed by legendary DJ/Producer/Music Impresario Junior Vasquez. It is with Vasquez that Walker’s first two albums, This Is My Life and Flexible, were born. I asked about the sound and energy of the music. “I was a big Junior fan before I moved to New York, so the thought that I got the chance to work with him was a big thrill for me. His music was kind of uninhibited, wild, and sometimes erratic. And I got to be a part of that. I thought I had a better chance of working with Peter Rauhofer or Danny Tenaglia than with Junior Vasquez. No one else was sounding like him. He paved the way for a lot of people, with that kind of sound."

What was it like working with the legendary DJ? “I feel like my music with him came in on the heels of when he was really, really big on the New York club scene. But he was still packing the really big places. The insanity that was Junior Vasquez was still, like – the city was still abuzz with him and everything he did.”

After the muscular vocals and driving sound of Junior Vasquez, Jason worked with Quentin Harris. With Harris, this work seemed to have a more personal touch. “Oh, yeah. I agree with you there. I have always considered myself to be a pretty well-rounded singer. I moved to NY because I wanted to do club music – that was my plan when I moved here. Just because an opportunity came along to work with Junior didn’t mean I didn’t want to do anything else, or wasn’t able to do anything else. An opportunity presented itself and I jumped on it. I jumped on it because I love that music and I thought Quentin was amazing. It was a thrill for me to do it. I guess I was a little burnt out with ‘All-things-Junior’, which could happen with anybody. I felt like dance music was moving in a different direction and I had come to know and admire a lot of producers I wanted to work with, and who wanted to work with me. And Quentin was one of them.”

“He remixed Foolish Mind Games, my second record with Junior,” Jason remembered. “That kinda sparked a relationship between he and I, and when he was doing his first album, No Politics, he asked me to be a part of it. That is were Can’t Stop happened. I remember him telling me, “OK, I have two ideas, we can record them both and whichever comes out better… He wanted to do a cover song with me, which I was fine with. It was either going to be You Belong To Me, which was originally by Carly Simon but Michael McDonald had done a great cover, or it would be Can’t Stop, by After 7. I always loved that song, and thought it could be a really hot contrast. So that is just the one we did first. When he heard how it came out, and saw the natural progression of the song, he said, ‘OK, this is the one are going to go with.’ So it went on his album and became a single off his album, and it further solidified our relationship, as far as working together. I feel it made our friendship grow stronger, cause he is a really good friend of mine. He is really underrated in the US, cause if you travel outside of the country, he is everywhere, all over the place.”

“But when we did that record together, then when he did the second album, Sacrifice, which I think came out last year, we ended up doing two songs together; a cover, Circles, by Atlantic Star, and an original composition of mine called Home. I wanted to work with other people. By that time, the partners split and Junior Vasquez Music dissolved. So I was free and clear to do whatever it is I wanted to do, which is how my latest album, Leave It All Behind, happened.

In the final half of the interview, I discuss Jason's latest album, Leave It All Behind, and the new EP, Live And Unplugged. Look for it next Sunday night, June 26. You can purchase Jason's music on iTunes here and here, and here or here. You won't regret it for a moment! Don't forget to check out Jason on his official website here.


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