Sunday, September 30, 2012

Love In Tune

Torsh Singers, Fanny Brice, Big Maybelle, Julie London, and Anita O'Day
Clockwise: Fanny Brice, Big Maybelle, Anita O'Day, and Julie London.

As I was looking for inspiration, I went to the music of some of my favorite lady singers, and that is when it hits me. Love. Has anything driven more songs than love? I didn't think so. So I went to some of my favorite lady singers, and wondered what they could offer. Well, they answered loud and strong, and allowed me to plenty of choices for tonight. I was lucky enough to pick my favorite singers, and then some of their wonderful performances to make it fantastic. Up first, I will go to a favorite of the blog, the elegant and sexy Julie London. So I picked a song with music by Victor Young and lyrics by Edward Heyman. Enjoy while Julie sings "When I Fall In Love".

I love the fact that you can find so much amazing music online, and that includes my nest singer, the talented Fanny Brice. For many, Brice is a character who earned an Academy Award for Barbra Streisand. In fact, Brice was a huge star in the 1910s thru to the early 1950s. Brice was a triple threat, known for her singing, comedy, and acting. She was often seen on Broadway, where she was often a headliner for the Ziegleld Follies. She also appeared in films, and was the star of "Baby Snooks", a hit on the radio from the late 1930s until heard passing in 1951. She also had a huge hit with the song "Mon Homme", a song originally composed by Jacques Charles, Channing Pollock, Albert Willemetz, and Maurice Yvain. Fanny recorded the English version, "My Man", in 1921. It was the song that Barbra Streisand delivered at the end of "'Funny Girl'. Here is Fanny's version.

I just adore Anita O'Day, and can't get enough of her. I just love her, and jumped at the chance to include her as well. Here O'Day sings a song with music by Walter Donaldson and lyrics by Gus Kahn. Listen to the beauty waiting to be found in "Love Me Or Leave Me".

I am also nuts about the amazing Big Maybelle. And that has nothing to do with the rather tragic life, as she is said to have fought her demons during her lifetime, with addiction issues. Her voice was just so delicious, so full and brimming with feeling. You can hear that in her version of the Blues classic, "Careless Love".

Hope you enjoyed the music!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Candy Apple Blue • Mistake EP

Candy Apple Blue • Mistake EP

Hoyt and Carly Emerick have been busy as of late, and have a new song ready for everyone to enjoy. "Mistake" is their latest, and the EP includes a demo version of the song, the album release, and a great Disco Remix! We can all relate, for who among us have not made a "Mistake" when in love?

You know what is the other great news? You can download it for FREE! Just click on the widget above, and it will bring you to Candy Apple Blue's Bandcamp account. To learn more about Hoyt and Carly, visit their official website. You can also 'follow' them on Twitter, or 'like' them on Facebook!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Linda Ronstadt • Heart Like A Wheel

Linde Ronstadt • Heart Like A Wheel

Just about 38 years ago, an amazing singer put out a album I still think is amazing. In November of 1974, Linda Ronstadt released 'Heart Like A Wheel', an amazing work of artistry that doesn't have a single song I skip over when I listen to it now, almost four decades later. It also supplied Ronstadt with two of her early trademark songs. But I will be the first to admit I wasn't paying much attention to Ms. Ronstadt at this point, instead concentrating my musical love on Barbra Streisand and Karen Carpenter. I caught on to Linda's charms with her 1977 release, 'Simple Dreams'. It was then I explored her back catalog, and found this exquisite jewel. You see, Ronstadt was still considered a Country singer at this point, although this album started her crossover, singing Pop and Pop every bit as good as she could sing country. If fact, some might say even better. In fact, the first single off the album owed as much to Rock and Blues as to any other genre. Here is "You're No Good", written by Clint Ballard, Jr. The song made it to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in February of 1975. Most of the instrumentation for the song was created by the late Andrew Gold, Linda's good friend.

The next single was written by Phil Everly, one of the talented Everly Brothers who had such great success in the late 1950s and early 1960s. In fact, "When Will I Be Loved" was a hit for the Everly Brothers in 1960, and the Rock-A-Billy song went to #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second single off 'Heart Like A Wheel' went to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on the Cashbox chart, an amazing follow-up for the first big hit.

While Capitol Records decided to release only two singles officially to radio, there were certainly other songs on the album that could have done well. I am not sure if that would include the title cut, although it is one of my favorites off the album. There is such a stunning honesty to "Heart Like A Wheel", a song written by Anna McGarrigle. The structure of the song is just gorgeous, and I could listen to it again and again. Anna and her sister Kate appear on the song, singing in harmony with Linda, as does the always amazing Emmylou Harris. Here is a fantastic live version of the song.

And while the final featured song was not officially released as a single, it was the B-Side for "You're No Good". So it did get airplay, and managed to hit the Country, Pop, and Adult Contemporary charts. It also earned Linda a nomination for a Grammy Award in the category of 'Best Country Vocal Performance Female'. Here is Linda singing a song written by the great Hank Williams, "I Can't Help It (If I'm Still In Love With You)". By the way, she won that Grammy!

And while I might not have been paying attention, certainly plenty of other folks were, for it went double Platinum in sales, and reached #1 on the Billboard album chart. And, along with the Grammy she won, Linda was also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance Female, losing to Janis Ian for "At Seventeen", and Album Of The Year, losing to Paul Simon's 'Still Crazy After All These Years'. You can purchase 'Heart Like A Wheel" on iTunes and Amazon. If you are a lover of music and don't already have it, you should. Almost 40 year later, it is still brilliant.

Jeremiah Clark • It's Gonna Be Alright

Jeremiah Clark

I first head of Jeremiah Clark through Tom Goss, and I even saw him playing with Tom back in 2009. Since then, Clark has two releases out, and I am proud to say both are in my iTunes. We all know I love a talented out and proud singer/songwriter! The latest release is Born & Raised, a highly personal acoustic journey. On it, the Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter shares a good bit of his heart on the nine tracks. There is a real purity to Clark's voice, a clarity of tone that is a joy to my ears. The album is filled with some amazing moments, but I think my favorite could be the fifth cut, "My Brightside". There is something wonderfully revealing, and insistent on the song that just made me listen three times in a row, never losing my smile. Give a listen and tell me what you think.

However, it is tough to find a song that could touch my heart more than the third song, "It's Gonna Be Alright". I'd read that Clark wrote the song about the experience of a friend battling cancer. That does hit home for me, a cancer survivor myself. There is a bold honesty, a journey explored here. I remember telling myself on more than one occasion that "It's Gonna Be Alright". Check out this live version of the song.

And there are several more tracks that immediately caught my attention. "4-3-2-1" has a different feel, yet maintains that honesty. And "Ghosts" offers a look those ghosts of memories, of former lovers whose shadows still live in our minds. And the simplicity and beauty of "My Final Hour" is just an acapella treat about a life well-lived. Throughout the album, I never lose the feeling Jeremiah is offering up his journey for us all to take a look, and realize how connected we all are. For more about Jeremiah Clark, visit his official website. You can purchase Born & Raised on Bandcamp.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Helen Kane • I'd Go Barefoot All Winter Long

Helen Kane

To celebrate the change of seasons, I was looking for a song that might give a nod to the fact that summer is gone, and autumn is upon us. Well, as I went through my iTunes, I came upon a delightful song that might not focus on the current season, it does play with the seasons in the most delightful way. "I'd Go Barefoot All Winter Long (If You'd Fall For Me In Spring)" is sung by the wonderful Helen Kane, whose voice became synonymous with Betty Boop, the eternal flapper. In fact, many think the character of Betty Boop was based on Kane, with her sultry appearance coupled to the little girl voice.  The song was written by Billy Moll and Joe Keden, and just perfect for her audience and the time. You see, it was recorded in 1930, in the thick of the Great Depression, and before Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President in 1932. The Stock Market had crashed, leaving many on the breadlines. Kane was there to entertain, to lift spirits, which she did so very well. And this is "I'd Go Barefoot All Winter Long (If You'd Fall For Me In The Spring)".

Hope you enjoyed it!

K Anderson • The Overthinker

K Anderson The Overthinker album cover

Don't be fooled by the picture above, for it proves that like some other things, plenty of yummy items can come in brown paper wrapping. And I learned that only recently, when I happened across a new talent who blows me away. And, oddly enough, I discovered it two years almost to the date of the release, showing I am not nearly as on top of things as I was hoping I was. But enough about me and my shortcomings. What I had managed to do was to happen across the music of this London-based singer/songwriter, and it was most certainly my lucky day. I was so infatuated by the album, The Overthinker, I went right back to the store to purchase his equally delightful EP, Foxes. And I learned of K. Anderson's preoccupation with the animal, which includes wearing a furry costume. In which he looked pretty damn good, I might add...

K Anderson

The first cut off The Overthinker is "This Changes Everything", a bluesy rocker that had me drooling ever more than the pictures of the sexy Brit. His throaty growl was perfectly showcased, showing K can bring it on with a soft touch, or turn up the volume and apply for the role as my next ex-boyfriend. Or any other position he would agree to...

The album has a certain charm, filled with a delightful mix of honesty, humor, plenty of rock. I was particularly fond of "Bulletproof Kids", "Shrug", "Foxes" and the delicious "Boys In Pearls". Really, I can't recommend this album any higher. If you would like to learn more about K Anderson, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter and 'like' him on Facebook. You can purchase The Overthinker on iTunes and Amazon. And while I so very excited about this new addition to my collection, I was even more excited when I heard from the artist himself, telling me new music would be coming soon. It is in moments like this when I think there just might be a God, and he has great taste in music. And men...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jake Walden • The Line

Jake Walden

Just thought as I have not featured Jake Walden on the blog lately, it was about time I did. And while I am hoping to relax and get my back better, I would post one of my favorite songs by the handsome and talented singer/songwriter. "The Line" can be found on Jake's debut album, Alive And Screaming. Released in 2008, the album effortlessly combines storytelling and music, as Jake's brusk voice slides up and down his range with ease. This is a wonderful live performance that also includes Tom Goss on guitar.

Just a little over a year ago, Jake released another disc of love, Same Something Different. While few thought it possible, the new release was even stronger than the first, seeming more personal, confessional. While Jake's voice hadn't changed, the vocals were even more nuanced, caressing your heart with a softer touch. Take, for example, the beautiful "Almost Brave", one of the many favorites available on the album.

For more about my buddy Jake, visit his official website. You can find Alive And Screaming on iTunes, CD Baby, and Amazon. You can also find Jake's latest, Same Something Different, on iTunes CD Baby, and Amazon.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Married • Lotte Lenya & Jack Gilford

Photo: Don Hunstein / Sony Music Archives

My back is acting up a bit, so I am going this weekend the posts were a bit slow, and I am still a bit out of sorts. So I am going to repost a little something first up two years ago, because I love the song and performers, and the sentiment of the post.

Sometimes I can be blown away when a song that is over 40 years old has such honesty it is still relevant today. Sometimes, it is so personal and real, the emotions touch the listener in just the same way, the message so timeless. Other times, the lyrics might touch you in a way not originally intended by the songwriters, but it happens. Take, for instance, a song from the John Kander and Fred Ebb music Cabaret. Married is a song sung by a mature couple discussing why they should get married in pre-War Germany, as the gentleman is of the Jewish faith, and the woman not. Interestingly enough, the song has music by John Kander, but the lyrics are by playwright Joe Masteroff, not Fred Ebb, Kander's usual writing partner. The song is rather simple, which is an important part of it's beauty.

Today, however, it hits quite a nerve with me as this country struggles with the idea of marriage equality. Some people don't seem to understand the the truth of the opening lyrics.

How the world can change,
it can change like that-
due to one little word:

See a palace rise
from a two room flat,
due to one little word:

And the old despair
that was often there,
suddenly ceases to be.
For you wake one day,
look around and say:
Somebody wonderful married me.

Here is a beautiful version by Lotte Lenya and Jack Gilford from the 1966 Broadway production. There is such joy and hope in Gilford's singing, while Lenya's is a bit more nuanced, a certain awareness creeps in. Perhaps it is because her first marriage to composer Kurt Weill ended during this period, many thinking it was becuase his needing to flee the country due to his own Jewish faith. They later remarried. The visuals are courtesy of the poster of the video.

There are many in this country who wish to deny a minority the joy of 'someone wonderful,' instead preferring to vote for a group of people to live in 'that old despair.' Sure, that might be a bit of an overstatement, but I can't help but think whenever I hear the argument against marriage equality that those making it, despite public opinion to the contrary, feel inherently better than others, and feel much more deserving of a public acknowledgment of their love and the legal rights that follow. When I hear it, I understand they are saying that I am, by definition, a second class citizen. That is where despair could come in. Instead, I'd prefer to fight the prejudice. Although I don't understand why the possibility of my finding love is so threatening to heterosexual love, because it shouldn't be. I've never tried to take anything from them, no matter how much they try to take from me.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Miss Sophie Tucker

Sophie Tucker

I have to admit, I first heard about Sophie Tucker from Bette Midler, telling those bawdy Sophie jokes as part of her act. But those jokes were enough to have me looking up who she was, and I have to say I was surprised. It seems Miss Sophie Tucker was a wonderful Russian Jew, big and bold and in your face. Thought to be too risque for the producers, they asked her to play the shows in blackface. She did, although she never loved it. In fact, it was arriving to play dates in New York City when the suitcase carrying her makeup go lost, and she went on as herself. The audiences still loved her, and she never put on the blackface again.

Sophie Tucker

Stylistically, she took much more from the Jazz singers of the day, making the performance big and bold. She began he career in vaudeville, traveling and doing all the shows she could. She took lessons from some of the best African American singers and songwriters, truly developing her craft. She practiced the unfortunately named art of "Coon Shouting", but I prefer to think it just singing Blues and Jazz. I will start with a clip of Sophie performing "Staying Young" on the Ed Sullivan Show. Sophie was 72 years old.

In 1926, Sophie had a wonderful recording of "Washing The Blues From My Soul". She certainly had her own style, wonderful to hear.

I love the big and bold woman she was, singing the 1928 recording of "I Know That My Baby's Cheatin' On Me". Notice how she turns it around, and proudly announces she cheating on him, too!

Sophie is perhaps best know for her 1927 recording of the great song, "Some Of these Days".

1944 in the film 'Follow The Boys,' Sophie does her bit for the boys in the Army and the Navy. Her bit is filled with sly double entendre and flirtation.

Hope you enjoyed hearing some of Sophie's music. You can purchase The Very Best of Sophie Tucker on iTunes and Amazon.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Amanda Lepore • Cotton Candy

Amanda Lepore I thought we could start out the morning with a bang - a big bang, really. Because when you are talking about Amanda Lepore, you are talking about a soul that doesn't do anything that doesn't define living large. The New Jersey native has been a model, fashion icon, a scion of Urban nightlife, performance artist, and, finally, a recording artist. Born Armand Lepore in the small down of Cedar Grove, New Jersey. In an interview, Lepore said she knew she was a woman trapped in a boys body for as long as she could remember. When Lepore was a teen, she started making outfits for transgender performers, in exchange for hormones. Before long, Lepore dropped out of school, and saw a doctor to begin proper hormone treatments, to assist in the transition from male to female. After marrying, and spending time as a suburban housewife, Lepore, now officially Amanda Lepore, moved to New York City, and began working selling cosmetics and discovering the nightlight of the City in the 1990s. While out, Lepore met photographer Dave LaChapelle, and the two began working together. It was not long before Lepore was gaining fame, and began expanding her career. In the new millennium, Lepore began performing in many different arenas, from performance art to collaborating with gay Hip-Hop artist Cazwell. In 2005, the first release was the EP Introducing Amanda Lepore. Soon she was featured on the soundtrack to Another Gay Movie, with the hit made famous by The Waitress', "I Know What Boys Want". Cazwell & Amanda Lepore Lepore took part in the True Colors Tour in 2007, along side stars like Margaret Cho and Cyndi Lauper. In 2009, Lepore released the single, "Cotton Candy". The song also appeared on the soundtrack of Another Gay Sequel. Amanda and the song delivers the delightful Pop candy confection with a coating of yummy and delicious retro New Wave packaging.
In 2010, Amanda released a collaboration with Cazwell, "Get Into It". Cazwell delivered the Rap, while Lepore cooed her way through the chorus, and posed through the video, proving to be part Betty Page, part Marilyn Monroe, and part Gypsy Rose Lee, bring pinup realness to the performance. In fact, Lepore and Cazwell teamed up once again, this time offering an homage the a great star in the song, "Marilyn". The video opens with a dreamy sound, a haunting lilt that almost recalls a Hitchcock soundtrack. When it finally delivers the Hop-Hop, you are ready to dance with Amanda!. You can purchase all these songs on the album, I...Amanda Lepore, on iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Amanda Lepore, "like" her on Facebook, or "follow" her on Twitter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stephen Leonard • Wanting It All

I only recently discovered the music of Chicago-based singer-songwriter Stephen Leonard, after he was mentioned by Tom Goss on Facebook. I went looking for his music, and have to say, I was impressed by the sound. His 2010 album, With A Pen, is great, and I have been enjoying it very much. So I was quite pleased when I saw last Friday, September 14, he released a new single. "Wanting It All" is a soulful ballad that starts off sounding like an acoustic take on a Motown classic, but then moves into an amazing classic-in-the-making. As Leonard makes to song soar, so does my heart, taking the ride with him.

You can purchase "Wanting It All" on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. You could also click on the song above, and buy it from Bandcamp. To find out more about Stephen Leonard, visit his official website. You can also 'like' him on Facebook, and 'follow' him on Twitter. I bought the single, and plan an playing it until a new album is available.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pet Shop Boys • Elysium

Pet Shop Boys - Elysium
Pet Shop Boys

The Pet Shop Boys have released "Elysium", a new album of original songs sure to keep their fans happy. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe continue to make quality recordings, constantly updating their sound to remain fresh twenty-eight years after the release of "West End Girls", their hit song that swept the radios and charts across the world. In between, they have also collaborated with iconic singers Dusty Springfield and Liza Minnelli on albums, delivering both ladies chart hits. The first release from the album was the music video for "Invisible" was released in early June of this year. This video is just extraordinary, and I couldn't stop watching it!

A few weeks later, "Winner" became the second music video. In early July, the music video was making the round, and seemed like a perfect compliment to the London Olympics being held in their homeland. It also happens to be a great song, and the music video is also fantastic.

Elysium is a wonderful listen, to be sure. You can purchase the 12-track collection of songs, plus the above two videos, as well as Track-by-track interview by comedian David Walliams with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe on both iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about the Pet Shop Boys, visit their official website.

Matt Gold • Ordinary

Matt Gold • Ordinary

I just recently saw a new video from out singer/songwriter Matt Gold, and was instantly drawn to his music. Gold makes piano-driven Pop, with strong melodies that linger long after the track has faded on the iPod. Drown Before You Swim is a 10-song collection, mixing up some sweet Pop melodies with some haunting Alt.Rock sounds, with some interesting rhythms thrown in. But before I go too far, here is the first single off the album, "Ordinary".

You can purchase the single "Ordinary" iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby. Gold, who lists photographer and former model among his credits, seems well-suited for his role as singer/songwriter. He's handsome and talented, and ready to impart his own experiences on the album. The lyrics have a soulful honesty, complementing the moody music. His voice is rich and full-throated, both when asking for the most as well as offering a more subtle whispered insight. From the opening bars of "Oh Joe" to the last few lifting notes from the piano on "Recovering", Gold doesn't stay true to any style, just to delivering music from the heart. I was particularly fond of the single, as well as the fourth track, "Mr. Cannonball", which takes the driving beat in an unexpected direction. I'm looking forward to listening to Drown Before You Swim many more times as I get to know Matt Gold just a little bit better.

Matt Gold - Down Before You Swim cover

You can purchase Down Before You Swim on iTunes and CD Baby. As I said, I am thrilled I have added this album to my collection, and will be spending much more time with Matt for years to come. To learn more about Matt Gold, visit his official website. You can also 'follow' him on Twitter, or 'like' him on Facebook.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jimi Hendrix • 1942 - 1970

Jimi Hendrix

On this day forty-two years ago, the world lost a great talent when Jimi Hendrix was discovered dead in the apartment of his girlfriend. To this day, many consider Hendrix to be the greatest electric guitar player that has ever lived, bar none. Remarkably, he gained this reputation with only three years in the spotlight, first garnering attention with a great performance at the 1967 Monterrey Pop Festival. Before that Jimi and his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, had success in Europe, but were virtually unknowns in his home country. But Monterrey changed that, and he followed that up with another great showing time and again, including an iconic show at the 1969 Woodstock Festival. I will start with a wonderful blues performance by Hendrix, not a live video, but one certainly worth hearing. The song had music by the great Booker T. Jones and lyrics by the amazing William Bell. It is "Born Under A Bad Sign", and I hope you love it as much as I do.

Now we can take a look at the live performances that have been captured of the talented musician and showman. "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" was written by Jimi, and appeared on the third and final album from The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Electric Ladylove. The song was originated as a studio jam with Hendrix playing with another great guitarist, Steve Winwood. The music was taken to another level, as only Hendrix could.

"Purple Haze" appeared on the 1967 album, Are You Experienced?, the first album from The Jimi Hendrix Experience. It was released as the second single off the album, and has gone on to reach iconic standing for many of the great minds of Rock music.

The next song was not written by Hendrix, although he so made the song his own, it is hard to really call it a cover. Stories say Hendrix kept returning to the studio over a three month period until he was satisfied, and Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower" appeared on the final album, Electric LadyLove.

As you can see and hear, Jimi Hendrix left a rich legacy behind, even though he left the world much too young. He was just 28 years old, with only three studio albums, although many lost recordings have surfaced and been repackaged time and time again in various compilations. You can purchase Experience Hendrix: The Best of The Jimi Hendrix on both iTunes and Amazon. But like many from that generation, Jimi found himself at the mercy of an addiction, found dead following a long night of partying. While the circumstances surrounding the discovery of his body have been long questioned, it doesn't change the fact that and inspired talented was no longer going to share his gifts with the world. Rest In Peace, Jimi.

SIRPAUL™ Releases "Glow" Remixes

SIRPAUL™ is ready to release the second single off the album, The Horse. At first glance with the cover above, you might be taken in by the angelic face of the sexy singer, but when you take another look at those muscled arms, you know there are more than prayers going on here. "Glow" begins with an ethereal look at love, but is soon taking the express lane with a driving beat and SIRPAUL's patented vocals, riding the beat, controlling the ride with the firm legs and soft hands of a seasoned equestrian. Give a listen to the single version of "Glow".

SIRPAUL has been making great music for years, he seems to be riding a high since releasing the wonderful Music & Me. You can purchase "Glow" and the accompanying five mixes on iTunes. From driving dance mixes to alternative radio edits, there is much to enjoy with that purchase. If you don't yet own The Horse, maybe it is time to settle into the saddle and see how it feels. You might want to give a test ride with the first single off the album, "Body Connection", featuring New York-based rapper Loco Ninja.

You can find The Horse on iTunes and Amazon. For more about SIRPAUL, visit his official website.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dark Monday • Doin' The Production Code

A Day In Hollywood A Night In The Ukraine A Day In Hollywood A Night In The Ukraine
A Day In Hollywood A Night In The Ukraine A Day In Hollywood Playbill

While going to college at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, I took an active role in the fledgling theater department, lead by the colorful department head Dr. Lynn Morrow. She would also plan yearly trips to New York City, when a group would go for a long weekend, and catch as many shows, both Broadway and off-Broadway, as the schedule would allow. We would all hop on the Bieber Bus and head into the city, where we'd stay at the Empire Hotel, not far from Lincoln Center. Back in those days, it was an inexpensive place to stay, not the chic haven it is now. I had the opportunity to see some great shows in those days, from Broadway shows, to smaller, more intimate plays at places like the Manhattan Theater Club and Circle In The Square. I remember seeing early productions of Mass Appeal, The Miss Firecracker Contest, and others. We also saw a show running on Broadway I knew nothing about. A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine was a show that opened with little fanfare, but was so full of charm and talent it was hard to not leave the theater feeling better than when you arrived. It was actually two one act musicals, the first set in the heyday of the Movie Musical, combining some classic songs with some new one that spoke to the eras of the 1930s and 1940s. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments from the first act was the cast going through the rules set up by the powers that be on the rules of making movies. It was known as the "Hollywood Production Code", only here it is a a tap dance number.

In truth, the entire first act was amazing. A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine opened on May 1, 1980 at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway. The original cast included Kate Draper, David Garrison, Niki Harris, Peggy Hewett, Stephen James, Frank Lazarus, Priscilla Lopez, and Albert Stephenson. The songwriters featured are some of the best in the business, like Jerry Herman and Richard A. Whiting, and original songs by Dick Vosburgh and Frank Lazarus. Since I couldn't find much on YouTube, I made this little clip to showcase the music in the opening act.

The second act was a brilliant recreation of a play by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, if it were ever cast to showcase the slapstick talents of the Marx Brothers. I remember laughing and cheering the whole time, not wanting it to end. I also admit to having a bit of a crush on David Garrison, who later went on to play neighbor Steve on Fox's Married...With Children. For music that mill most certainly keep you happy, you can find the original cast album for A Day In Hollywood/A Night In The Ukraine on iTunes and Amazon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Night Jam

Christopher Dallman Casey Stratton
Daniel Cartier Chris Garneau
Clockwise: Christopher Dallman; Casey Stratton; Chris Garneau; and Daniel Cartier.

While I generally tend to post particular themes, tonight I thought I would be a bit loose with that, and more just posting a couple of songs from singer/songwriters I love, and who I haven't had the opportunity to feature here lately. All four I proudly play on a regular basis, and will continue to do so. They all have a pensive, ethereal quality that really intrigues me. They are also indie musicians, with not a great deal of money to invest in music videos, so there might not be tons of special effects, but the music and talent are more than special enough. I will also add they are all very handsome, something that didn't ever escape me. I will begin with a video by Casey Stratton. The Michigan-based Stratton has a wonderful catalog of music, written from the time he was a student at Interlochen Arts Academy, through his period with Sony Music, to now when he is making the music he loves. This is a video he made for the song "The Dead Sea", written for the 2002 collection The Winter Children, and later featured on the Sony album Standing At The Sea.

For more about Casey Stratton, visit his official website. You can also find his music on iTunes and Amazon. The next singer/songwriter is another favorite of mine. Christopher Dallman has been a regular on my playlist since I purchased his 2004 debut, Race The Light. The is such a personal feeling to his songs, like we are reading his diaries. Dallman took a bit of a break after the album, but has been making some great music once again. Here is the video for "Over My Head", which was featured on the debut.

For more about Christopher Dallman, visit his official website. You can also find his music on iTunes and Amazon. I am not sure exactly when I stumble across the music of our next singer/songwriter. I can tell you that I am damn grateful I did. I think it was about the time of his wonderful 2004 album, Revival. It was before his magnificent You And Me Are We, released in 2006. But I have been hook since on his music, which feels like he is reaching down deep and baring his soul with every track. You can tell with a look at his video for "Diving Too Deep", off the album Redemption.

For more about Daniel Cartier, visit his official website. You can also find his music in his online store at the website, or Amazon. The final member of this group is one I think I have somehow managed to not include on this blog yet, as crazy as that sounds. I first encountered his music with the album Music For Tourists. I can best describe Garneau's music as quirky, folksy, and enchanting. I also love his 2009 album El Radio. Tonight I bring to you "Relief", a song off Music For Tourists which has a confessional feel, with truth coming straight from the heart.

For more about Chris Garneau, visit his official website. You can also find his music on iTunes and Amazon.

Sunday Morning with Coyote Grace

Coyote Grace
Coyote Grace & Eric Himan
Top: Michael Connolly, Ingrid Elizabeth and Joe Stevens of Coyote Grace. Bottom: Coyote Grace joined by Eric Himan.

Well, I have been dying to post this little gem in my Sunday morning series, and now is the time. I went to see Coyote Grace in Philadelphia when they played with my musical boyfriend, Eric Himan. They were wonderful and amazing. Although better known for their own rootsy blend of Rock and Folk, in this clip they were joined by Eric for this performance of the MaMuse song "Hallelujah". Just enjoy the hell out of it!

For more about Coyote Grace, visit their official website. You can find their music on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

An Evening With Miss Peggy Lee

Miss Peggy Lee

Norma Deloris Egstrom was born in Jamestown, North Dakota, the seventh of eight children. Her mother passed away when Norma was still a toddler, and it is said her stepmother treated her badly, and her father, an alcoholic, let it continue. While still young, Norma worked hard on her music, and used it to leave home as soon as she could. While still in high school, she would often sing on local radio stations, paying her little. A radio personality in Fargo, ND, changed her name to "Peggy Lee", and soon Miss Lee was off to Los Angeles. She was just seventeen years old. She played gigs in the area, and noticed if she would soften her voice from time to time, it would quiet the patrons in the club, wanting to hear the music. It is said that is how she developed she cool and sexy style. It seemed Miss Lee was getting noticed every time she sang. She went from singing in Palm Springs, California, to the most exclusive clubs in Chicago, Illinois. It was there she was noticed by Benny Goodman, and soon she was singing with Benny and his orchestra in the early 1940s.

Miss Peggy Lee

While with Goodman, she met and fell in love with guitarist Dave Barbour. Soon they left the band, and Barbour was working studio gigs, and Lee was at home, raising their daughter. Well, in theory she was. She was also writing songs, and soon was back in the studio, singing. And quickly, made her way to radio, and then television. In 1958, she released what would become her signature song, "Fever". Of course, Miss Lee had many hits through the years, so I will just feature some songs I could find on YouTube, and that I really loved. And I will start with a song with music by Dave Barbour and lyrics by Miss Peggy Lee, "You Was Right, Baby". It was written in 1944, during the early years they were together, the year after her daughter Nicki was born. Enjoy "You Was Right, Baby".

While Miss Lee was still singing with the Benny Goodman Orchestra, they would often cover great Blues and Jazz songs. One of those songs was "Why Don't You Do Right", written in 1936 by Kansas Joe McCoy. I was thrilled to find this clip of her singing "Why Don't You Do Right" from 1942, and hope you love it, too!

Fast forward 20 years, and we come to the next clip. It is 1962, and Miss Lee is promoting her latest album, Sugar 'N' Spice. On it, she recorded a song written in 1959 by Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh. Although "The Best Is Yet To Come" would become closely associated with a recording by Frank Sinatra, Miss Peggy Lee covered it and certainly made it her own.

In 1934, Harry Warren and lyricist Al Dubin wrote a song for the film Dames, featuring Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler. They introduced the world to "I Only Have Eyes For You", a song that went on to become a classic song. It was covered by many through the years, and in 1950, Miss Peggy Lee was filmed for a movie short, singing the song. Later, it was famously covered by The Flamingos in 1959, and again in 1975 by Art Garfunkel, when the single off his Breakaway album went to #1 for two weeks in the UK. But it 1950, it was covered by the delicious Miss Peggy Lee. And here she is, and I believe she is with her first husband, Dave Barbour.

Sadly, Miss Lee passed away on January 21, 2002. She was 81 years old.
To learn more about Miss Peggy Lee, visit her official website. You can purchase the album The Best of Miss Peggy Lee, a solid collection of some of her amazing songs, on iTunes and Amazon.

Jason Walker • A Lot of Changes

Jason Walker

Now I could sit around and listen to Jason Walker singing all freaking day. And, to be honest, I have. I have purchased most of his music - when I type in "jason walker" on iTunes, I have 67 entries, and it is just shy of 6 hours of musical joy for me. And yes, I have gone there. On more than one occasion. So I thought it would be sweet to welcome this Saturday with a sweet video of Jason making beautiful music, singing "Changes".

And while I am at it, I will offer another acoustic performance from Mr. Walker. This time, it is a song written by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen, from the score of a Broadway musical, Dreamgirls. Jason delivers "I Am Changing" as only he can, live and throbbing...with talent.

For more about Jason Walker, visit his official website. You can also checkout my two-part interview with Jason here and here. "Changes" was featured on Jason's 2010 album, Leave It All Behind. You can purchase it from iTunes or Amazon.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dance Hits of 1992

Madonna Michael Jackson Kriss Kross
En Vogue Clubland
Clockwise from top: Madonna; Michael Jackson; Kriss Kross; Clubland; and En Vogue.

While I was wondering what I would write about for this start of the weekend, I just didn't know. So I started thinking about some excuse or another, or a new angle. "So," I asked myself, "what was up 10 years ago? How about 20 years ago... Hey, wait a minute." I remembered that it was twenty years ago this month I moved out of New York City, ending a nearly 10 year run. You see, for the prior several years I was working freelance in the City, doing a variety of media-related gigs, from real estate slide show to trade shows to corporate sales meetings. For years, I always had the next gig booked, but told myself when I don't have a next job booked, that is time to head for the hills. So I packed up my apartment and returned to Delaware, with no real idea what was coming next, but whatever it was, it would be happening outside the city. So what was playing in the clubs and on Urban radio when all this was going on? Well, I will start with the fifth most popular dance track of 1992, which I seriously thought might be number one when I started looking. The song is "Jump" by Kriss Kross, the young boys who garnered a bunch of attention when they wore their clothes backwards. Well that might have made people look, but they kept watching as the boys made some magic with their music.

As we approach the 30th anniversary of Madonna's time in the music business, it is hard to imagine a time without her being a big presence on the music charts. And yes, I did say charts plural, for she has managed to cross over with Pop, Dance, and other categories through the years. But in 1992, she was really feeling her power as an agent provocateur, and she released an album and a book both called Erotica, and both were aptly named. Both projects saw Madonna not just toying with the fine line between art and sex, but completely blurring it. Whips, chains, leather, lace, bondage, nudity, and so much more came into the discussion, as you can see in the video for the first single off the album, "Erotica". The title cut was the fourth most popular dance song for the year.

No list of top songs from just about anytime in the last 50 years would be complete without the King of Pop, would it? I didn't think so either. So the third most popular dance track of 1992 was the devastatingly catchy "Black Or White", off Michael Jackson's Dangerous album. The song stormed up the Pop charts in 1991, and it wasn't long before everyone was trying their hand at remixes, and the song was playing in every club! Watch and enjoy the original video for "Black Or White".

I will be the first to admit when I read the name of the #2 song of the year, I was confused, not remembering it, nor the band playing it. I thought I remembered a club named Clubland, but not a group. So I had to look up Clubland, and discover they were a dance group comprised of Swedish producer Jan Ekholm, British musician Morgan King, and Jamaican/Swedish singer, Zemya Hamilton. In 1992, they had the #2 dance song on the charts, "Set Me Free".

So that only leaves us with one more song on this trip down memory lane. Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Terry Ellis had a chemistry and bravado that burned bright on the stage when they first arrived in 1990. You might know them better by the name they performed as, En Vogue. The ladies were beautiful and talented, and wore some of the greatest outfits. They had many hits, but the one we were listening to in the clubs in 1992 was the unforgettable "My Lovin'(You're Never Gonna Get It)", the top dance track of 1992. Give a listen, and hear just how irresistible En Vogue were.

Have a great weekend!

Candy Apple Blue • Select Game

Candy Apple Blue • Select Game

Candy Apple Blue have released a new video for a brand new song, "Select Game". The ElectroPop sound remains strong for Hoyt Emerick and sibling Carly, who are joined on this outing with a featured performance by Dave Greening. The song, featuring Carly on lead vocals, speaks to new love, when you are still trying to figure out what are the rules to the game. The song was written by Hoyt Emerick, Carly Emerick, and Dave Greening. Enjoy the video for "Select Game".

If you dig that as much as I did, you can get your own free download of the song for the cost of a single Tweet or Facebook Update. Just click here, sign in to Twitter, and you will have a great new song in your collection. To learn more about Hoyt and Carly, visit their official website. You can also 'follow' them on Twitter, or 'like' them on Facebook!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy Birthday, Cowboy!

Randy Jones

Randy Jones was born on this day in Raleigh, North Carolina. After completing high school, he went to North Carolina School of the Arts, and then, like many gay men are wont to do, set his sites on New York City in the early 1970s. While striving to find work as an actor and singer, Jones went to auditions held by Jacques Morali and his business partner, Henri Belolo. They had been writing and producing music featuring vocals by Victor Willis, using the group name Village People. Although some might have thought it unusual, the group was formed after the success of their first hit single, "San Fransisco (You Got Me)". In fact, Victor Willis and Filipe Rose, were the first on board, with three other men who were quickly replaced by, David Hodo, Glenn Hughes and, of course, Randy Jones.

The Very Best of Village People

The group shot to fame in the late 1970s, with iconic hits like "Y.M.C.A.", "In The Navy", "Can't Stop The Music", and "Macho Man" playing everywhere from the radio to the clubs. While their popularity waned in the early 1980s, they continued to perform on tours, and often playing fundraisers for AIDs charities and Pride functions. In 1991, founder Morali lost his battle with AIDs, but the group continued to do their good work. In 2007, Jones released a solo project, an album of dance music called Ticket To The World. The album featured covers of some of the great Pop hits of the last few decades, as well as some new music. I have to admit, I was unable to resist the urge, and it is a proud part of my music collection. Check out a sample of what you could find on the album.

In 2004, Jones married his partner of 20 years, Will Grega, in a ceremony in New York City. While it might not have carried any legal rights, it certainly carried great emotional and spiritual weight for the couple. To learn more about Randy Jones, visit his official website. You can also check out and purchase Ticket To The World on iTunes and Amazon.

Randy Jones  Ticket to the World Randy Jones

Bonnie Raitt • Nick Of Time

Bonnie Raitt Nick of Time album

Sometimes I just let the muse drag me to whatever I need to hear, and this post is a case in point for letting go. For whatever reason, I hit play so I could hear Bonnie Raitt's wonderful cover of the Del Shannon masterpiece, "Runaway". I was once again reminded what a brilliant blues artist Raitt is, and how great it was she was able to bring it to the radio with the release of her 1989 album, Nick of Time. While it had a softer feel, the Blues still come through her vocals, so rich. Nick of Time went on to be certified 5x Platinum in sales, and make it to #1 on the Billboard album chart. The first single off the album was "Thing Called Love", with made it to #11 on the US Rock chart, garnering Raitt more well-deserved attention than she had for several years. The song was written by the great John Hiatt.

The second single had a flavor all it's own. "Have A Heart" struck a delightful blend of Rock and Reggae that launched it to #43 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. The song, written by Bonnie Hayes, Had a playfulness that was both sweet and flirty. Enjoy "Have A Heart".

The third single, "Nick Of Time", found Raitt back in her wheelhouse. There is a strong Blues bassline, and a sultry vocal to bring the temperature up. So it was no a surprise at all to discover the song was written by the singer herself. The song made it to #92 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

For the fourth single, Raitt went back to Bonnie Hayes for another gem. "Love Letter" serves us the Blues with a sprinkling of Pop, just perfect for Raitt. She delivers some means vocals on it, sassy, bold and strong.

The album received much critical acclaim, and by the end of the year, Nick of Time was on top of many lists as the best album of the year. The accolades didn't stop there, as it was named Album Of The Year at the 1990 Grammy Awards, celebrating the releases of 1989. And it didn't stop there, for Bonnie also picked up the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the song "Nick Of Time", and Best Female Rock Vocal Performance for the album. For more about Bonnie Raitt, visit her official website. You can purchase a copy of Nick Of Time on iTunes and Amazon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tom Goss • Atlas Theater

CRW_4713.CRW CRW_4704.CRW

On Sunday, I wrote of my special night at the Atlas Theater in Washington, DC, but only half of it. It was my first show by Matt Alber, and it was great. But another amazing singer/songwriter was there as well, one I can' get enough of. Tom Goss was there to open for his friend, and offer us his own unique brand of Rock and Folk with a stirring set of old favorites as well as some new ones. Tom split his time between the guitar and the piano, but never before sharing some intimacies of the songwriting process, or maybe just a glimpse into his life.


Tom certainly put down the Rock when he gave the audience a rousing "Turn It Around", the title cut from the recent album of the same name. Before the song began, he spoke about the last time Matt and Tom were supposed to play in DC, for I had a ticket. Just couldn't get there with the State of Emergency keeping cars off the road... But nothing stopped me this time, and you can tell by this video.

Tom played another song off the album, Turn It Around. "Make Believe" is a rocking and rolling ball of fire, powered by love. And I have to believe Tom is powered by something special, for he gets his groove on, dancing around the stage during the song. Hopefully, I have able to capture a bit of the spirit of his performances.

I was just so damned happy he sang the next song, for I feel it has a great history for me. You see, when I first saw Tom several years ago, as he was singing this one, I realized I would be hooked for life. The lyrics are just so beautiful, so poetic, and so real, I knew I'd be buying his music when he was finished playing. That is when I discovered the song was called "Rise", and I purchased the EP of the same name. And his previous album, Naked Without, with the startling picture of Tom naked on the cover. Ah, but that is another album. Enjoy the always stunning "Rise".

When it came time for another favorite, Tom asked Matt Alber to join him on the stage to play the piano while Tom continued on the guitar. As Tom began to sing the song off the Back To Love album, he couldn't help but stop the song to offer just a bit more insight into the situation we were experiencing live. That Tom, he always seems to find it hard to NOT tell a good story. Thankfully, he does it so well. Like much of what he has ever done, as far as I am concerned. So here is Tom singing "Till The End", with a lovely helping hand from Matt Alber.

For more about Tom Goss, visit his official website. It is just been updated, so if you haven't for a bit, you should check it out now! You can purchase his album Turn It Around on iTunes and Amazon. It features the first two songs in the post. You can also purchase his latest, Lost Songs and Underdogs, on iTunes and Amazon.

Howard Jones • Human's Lib

Howard Jones

See, I still think one of my favorite musicians from the 1980s is Howard Jones, and I remember clearly the first time I heard the music. It was his first album, Human's Lib. The album was released in the Spring of 1984, when I was living in New York City. When I first saw the music video for "New Song", I know I had to run to my import store in the West Village, and get this album. It wasn't long before I had it in my collection, and a new obsession kicked in.


Like the best of albums, Human's Lib had a journey, with highs and lows, introspection and shouts of joy. Jones was on the forefront of an electronic/synth movement in music, having started on piano at age 7. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, he was writing his own music, and looking for a label. He was signed in 1983 by WEA in the UK and Elektra in the U.S. I loved his music, his songs, his joy, and his voice. And yes, I loved his look. He managed to bring New Wave to the table, with style and flair. And it all started with my first look at the music video for "New Song", which made it to #27 on the Billboard Hot 100.

After the joy of "New Song", the follow-up was anything but expected. I mean, who expected this cute Englishman to be asking the eternal question, "What Is Love?" Jones combines melancholy with yearning to bring the human condition into question. The video is beautifully shot, perfectly complementing a great song. "What Is Love?" also cracked the Billboard Hot 100, making it to #33.

Since I purchased it, I loved Human's Lib, start to finish. And I began to get tickets to any show that was near me. I think I saww Howard playing in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and several places in New York, including Radio City. Howard would be great, and bring Jeb Hoile, his full-time mime to round out the show. I would love when I heard the ethereal beginning of "Hide & Seek", the third single off the album. Though not released in the US, it did make it to #12 on the UK Singles Chart.

Just when You didn't think Howard could deliver yet a different sound, he releases the video for "Pearl In The Shell". Once again, this was not released in the US, but it met great success in the UK, making it to #7 on the Singles Chart. With horns blaring and drums beating, the song has a wonderful throwback quality, somehow bringing Memphis Soul into British New Wave to make some great Pop music. Enjoy "Pearl In The Shell".

You can still purchase Human's Lib on iTunes and Amazon. To learn more about Howard Jones, visit his official website. You can also follow him on Twitter or 'like' his Facebook page. You know, it has been a while, but I think I have a hankering to see Howard Jones live once again. Hope he comes to play near me soon!


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