More time than I would have liked has lapsed between my last posting and this one, but for good reason. The last few weeks have been wall to wall. I saw some great art, had some exciting writing sessions, and went into full production for my next full-length album. That combined with teaching and producing demos for my clients makes for a busy, happy KP.
I saw singer-songwriter Fay Wolf perform at the Hotel Cafe last week. She’s a chill, piano playing, very pretty young lady whose songs are quirky and melancholy. Her voice is clear and sexy. I’m guessing there is some musical theatre in her past. Her EP, Blankets, has only been out a couple months and she’s already had a few placements on Grey’s Anatomy. Her music is VERY film and TV placement friendly. Check out her website for more info.
My BFF Darryl Stephens opened a play called Boys In The Band last week which is a fascinating piece of theatre for several reasons. The play was written by in 1968 and apparently it was the first play to put gay characters on a stage. The play is set in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where six of Harold’s closest friends are throwing him a birthday party. Add a copious amount of alcohol & an ultra-straight, surprise visitor from the party host’s college days and mayhem ensues. I attended the preview before opening night and saw it again the following week with a friend from out of town. Honestly, the first time I saw it, I was NOT a fan of the writing. I couldn’t understand why anyone would write this story. Also, the actors hadn’t yet settled into their roles. I left depressed and exhausted. However, my 2nd experience of the play was an ENTIRELY different one. The actors took a lighter and more humorous approach to the play’s very dark and bitchy dialogue to great effect. This shift allowed me to see some good in the writing. -And though these characters depict only a small slice of all gays on the planet, these people DO exist. I know some of them! Historically in 1968, once the gay community adjusted to seeing themselves depicted onstage in this play, there was a serious backlash from those who didn’t like the WAY in which they were being represented. This reaction seems inevitable when a piece of art is created around a minority group. There is valid concern about further stereotyping the group and putting them into an even worse light. But I think it important to realize that these are but a FEW characters who happen to have certain habits or mannerisms which perhaps have very little to do with the minority group that they are part of. Maybe they act a certain way because they were abandoned by a family member, grew up in a super rich and highly conservative environment, etc. -But these backlashes obviously come from an emotional place and sometimes create an irrational or OVER reaction. Sometimes I think we all need to relax.
…forced segue into…Ticked Off Trannies, an indie feature film that my friend Willam Belli stars in, showing at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. To me, It’s obvious at first glance that this film is pure camp, in the style of a vintage John Waters film. The trailer is silly, yet highly provocative and I’d bet money that the selection committee for the festival was banking on this film creating controversy. -And they were right. A portion of transgender community was up in arms and picketing against the film & it’s inclusion in the Tribeca Film Festival. Picketing transgender activists expressed outrage at the films inaccurate & silly depiction of transgender people. -But the irony of it all is that every screening of the film is nearly sold out at the festival and its gotten tons more press than I’m guessing it actually deserves, including an article in the New York Times! I’ll be attending the festival in NYC so I’ll let you know how it goes!
Probably my favorite performance of the last few weeks was Laura Bell Bundy‘s spirited performance on the American Country Music Awards this Monday night! I had the pleasure of working with Laura Bell a few years ago when I co-music directed and vocal arranged the original LA production of an 80s rock musical called Rock Of Ages. Laura Bell was cast to play the lead. She was sweet, professional and a tour de force in the role. She went on to play the lead role in Legally Blonde, The Musical for which she won a Tony Nomination. Following her run as Elle Woods, she returned to her native roots and recorded a country album which got her a record deal with Mercury Nashville. Over the last few months, I began to notice Laura Bell’s new career gaining fast momentum. The music video for the first single, “Giddy On Up” was released, brilliantly choreographed by RJ Durell (the original choreographer for Rock Of Ages) and Nick Flores. The popularity of the video earned her a best video nomination and a featured performance at the ACM Awards. There are few things more inspiring than to see a talented, deserving friend become a star. I finally downloaded the entire CD this week, called Achin & Shakin, and what I really love about it is that it’s a gorgeously produced “classic” country album reminiscent of a Dolly Parton or Loretta Lynn album. It’s the kind of album that will stand the test of time. -And it reminds me that despite Taylor Swifts insistent claims, her album is not a country album, it’s a pop album with a dash of slide guitar.
In other news, a pop song I wrote with the uber-talented Ellis Miah was released on iTunes. It’s called Ascention (the artist – hopefully on purpose – chose the archaic, biblical spelling) and was recorded by Guilietta Russo. What’s most exciting is that the producer of the album is David Kershenbaum who is known for his production work with Janet Jackson, Bryan Adams, Joe Jackson, Supertramp, Cat Stevens, Tracy Chapman and Joe Jackson…the list is endless! The song and the album are available on iTunes…so check it out & buy it if you like it. It’s a songwriting favorite of mine.
-More news, but I’ll save some of it for next time. I will say that my new album should be finished by May 30th! If you are an independent artist, you understand that we have to create our own deadlines, manage our own projects…and PAY for them! I’m teaming up with a brilliant music manager named Rich Overton. Stay tuned for more info regarding the CDs release & concerts in LA and in NYC (August).
It’s going to be an incredibly busy and productive Summer. Let’s make 2010 the year of the artist. XOXO Kyle