Kevin Wong - Woe (2010)
That song is called "Woe" and is from the latest CD by Canadian artist Kevin Wong. The album is called "The Pink in the Grey" and this show is called OutRadio. I'm JD Doyle and I love to share the music from new releases by GLBT artists. I've got two interviews on this segment to do just that. The second one is with Avi Wisnia to talk about his latest CD, called "Something New," so I hope you stick around for that. But first I want to dig right into Kevin Wong's album, and I started with the basic question, asking him to tell me about it.
Kevin Wong: "The Pink in the Grey" is my second independent release. It's entirely self-written except for one song, which is a Billy Joel cover, entirely self-produced, for the first time, and I feel like it's the first musical work that really speaks to what I'm about musically, as well as what my experiences have been with gay dating, love and loss.
How do you describe your music?
KW: I think it's ultimately pop, but it tends to be pop crossed in with a lot of other older influences. I'm really heavily influenced by Billy Joel, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and Elton John, and I think those main four influences, as well as other smatterings of kind of contemporary pop make their way into my music, so they kind of inform it from a rock standpoint or a soul standpoint or an r&b standpoint. I think lyrically it's pretty frank, sometimes a little bit flippant, but generally I try to be a little bit honest and exposed with it.
And tell me about the album itself overall?
KW: The album is well first an exploration into my own experience with self-production so before with other projects I found that when I worked with other producers they didn't always share my vision musically, in particular, so I thought I would give it a go this time, so because of that it's the most reflective of what I want to create and how I actually sound when you hear me live. The album ends up sequenced from beginning to end in kind of a bitter retrospective in the beginning about a bunch of lost relationships, and as I go through it I kind of come to terms with the loss of that relationship, and then I end up in something new by the end, and it kind of ends with looking forward with hope.
What song from the CD seems to be getting the most audience reaction?
KW: There's about three, I think, "Falling Balloons" immediately seemed to get a lot of reactions from people, probably because it's one of the simplest, catchiest songs that I've written. "Out of Reach" has gotten a fair bit of reaction from radio promoters and people who look for kind of marketable pop rock. And then "Shine," the last track is one of the most popular songs and for whatever reason it's my number one downloaded song on iTunes now.
Any theories on that?
KW: Ah, I'm not really sure. Maybe people like fact that it has "Conclusion" as the subtitle? They figure they would just skip to the end, like the end of a book, or just the snippets on iTunes are the catchy part of the song, I suppose.
That must be a challenge on these music sites to pick thirty seconds and grab people.
KW: Yes, with some of them, because they work through kind of the independent distributor, you really don't get to pick your thirty seconds either Amazon, iTunes, I didn't really get the chance to pick. They kind of just jump into about minute into the song and assume they hit the chorus, if there is one. But I kind of cross my fingers and hope that it wouldn't be a very bazaar part of the song.
I've played clips online where they never got to the vocals.
KW: Yeah, exactly.
I believe "Falling Balloons" is the first single? How did you choose "falling balloons" for the first single?
KW: I kind of sent various songs out to a kind of cross-section I suppose my version of a focus, and for whatever reason that was the one that was most positively met with, maybe because it's a mid-tempo, so it goes down easy. It's catchy enough, and I think maybe people, everybody seemed to respond to that one the most strong, so I went with that.
Kevin Wong - Falling Balloons (2010)
And that was Kevin Wong's song "Falling Balloons," from his new CD "The Pink In The Grey," and I wanted to hear about the title of the album.
KW: The title of the album, "The Pink in the Grey," is ultimately about the juxtaposition of, well, queer into the straight. For the most part the music industry is quite hetero-normative, quite heterosexual in nature, so the pink is a symbol for that, and also a symbol for music in my life in general because this album kind of came out of me really, really needing to go back into music again, because I needed more of an outlet. So it was the pink in the kind of grey of that. And it's also kind of about my boyfriend, in that he kind of keeps my life more interesting. I would say he constantly challenges me and moves me forward.
Is this the first recording where you had lyrically gay material?
KW: It's not, although I think it's probably the first recording where it's been so in-your-face that nobody could ambiguously or hetero-normatively interpret it in a different way. On my first album there was a gay love duet, between me and the guy I actually was in love with at the time, but somehow people managed to gloss over it and assume it was two guys together singing about their respective women. So in many ways I guess it's the first time it's been frankly about gay love.
And did you get any resistance from anyone about you wanting to do it this way. Did people advise you against gay material, for example?
KW: Surprisingly, no, actually, partly maybe because it was self-produced but the people I worked with externally, fellow musicians, people who I sent working tracks to for feedback, my mastering engineer, and even live promoters for the most part have been really, really good. Surprisingly I've been invited to play Caravan in Toronto, and even they haven't said anything other than just be who you are. Everyone's been very supportive; in fact, my parents have kind of come to the place where they think it might be more of a carving out of a niche because of all the growing preponderance of openly out gay artists now.
It's a sign of changing times.
KW: I think so. I don't think ten years ago Adam Lambert probably could have existed with the sales that he has now.
No, certainly not. I have an artist friend (Mark Islam, "The Recent Past," 1998) who had his debut album, I don't know, 15 years ago, and he put a song on it that was very, very queer, and it says "I'm here, I'm queer, get used to it" in the lyrics, and he said he did that on that album to get that issue out of the way.
KW: I think with mine I didn't want to shy away from it, because for one thing, I didn't know if someone younger or someone even not necessarily younger but someone who was not at the same stage of actualization or, you know, facing up with their sexuality, might benefit from me talking openly. And also it's kind of impossible for me to write from personal experience and then change all the lyrics into a she, because then it doesn't feel honest when I sing it. So I don't think there was any other way to write at this point.
Here's a bit of another out song from the CD, called "Out of Reach"
Kevin Wong - Out of Reach (2010)
One that struck me was "Legion of the Broken," can you talk about that one?
KW: "Legion of the Broken" was probably written during my most bitter period. I had just gone through two kind of consecutive relationships that weren't really relationships, that ended quite badly, one of whom I'd been in love with for three to four years, and then the second one was I almost ended up becoming the third man, in a situation like that, and so I had a kind of bitter retrospective on the entire community as a whole at the time, so "Legion of the Broken" kind of came out of that, where I kind of asked myself, I wonder if monogamy is even possible? You know, you get into the age-old debate as to whether it should be or whether it's right, or whether you're just falling into certain normative conventions. And so the song is kind of written from the perspective of someone who is flippantly but bitterly looking back on the fact that they've been cheated on, yet they can't seem to quite let go, and that's kind of where the song came out of.
Kevin Wong - Legion of the Broken (2010)
Are there any other songs on the album that have really interesting stories that you'd want to talk about?
KW: Well, there's "Mr. Secrets" which is not intended to be a blasting of every closet case in the world it was really more my response to one person that I met, in my second year of law school, who I admit I had quite a bit of a crush on, and had a dalliance with, and it turned out that this person in addition to being a closet case, despite knowing full well that he was gay since the age of 13, was a pathological liar, and may or may not have had a tendency to spit out lies, for no good reason, even when it wouldn't do him any benefit. So that song was written about him, although I actually wrote the song and then hid it for two years because we were still friends, for quite a while and it was only when we had our final falling out that I brought "Mr. Secrets" back out, and produced it and added it to this album, although I doubt that he'll ever hear it.
Kevin Wong - Mr. Secrets (2010)
Could you talk about the song "Denial"?
KW: Oh, yeah, "Denial" was written about my first year in law school. I had finished the first album, and instead of promoting it I kind of just kind of went straight into law school and I figured for a while, that's it, I'm done with music, I will now be a professional and a grown-up. And it obviously didn't really work out. But I found that when I got into law school that instead of it being this kind of higher learning school of higher thought, it turned out to be this collection of young, very immature individuals who were constantly competing and comparing and pretending to be people who they really weren't. And so the first verse is written about them. It seems like I am surrounded by a hundred people wearing business suits and playing games, because that is what it really felt like at the time. And then the second verse was written about someone similar to the people I met in law school, who a good friend of mine was dating at the time I don't think he knows that, and I hope he doesn't, because I like him now. I think at the time he was just trying way to hard. And that was how I got from the second verse to the third verse, where I realize that a lot of the traits that I hate about superficiality in other people, are really traits I don't like in myself.
Kevin Wong - Denial (2010)
Again, that was the song "Denial" and the album "The Pink in the Grey" is by Kevin Wong, and you can find out more about him at kevinwongmusic.com.
Avi Wisnia - More Than Me (2010)
The song is called "More Than Me" and the artist is Avi Wisnia, and that's spelled a-v-i w-i-s-n-i-a, and his latest CD is one I've been waiting for. I got to hear a preview copy of it last fall, and I've been more than ready for it. It's called "Something New," and I tracked him down to tell me about the album.
Avi Wisnia: The new album is called "Something New" and I think it really represents not only something new for me, being that it is my debut album, and the first time I'm really putting my songs out there with all the arrangements and the orchestration that I had in mind. But I also think that it represents something new for people that are into singer/songwriters and used to that genre. I think that it presents something a little unexpected. I think each track on this album is something different than the last, and gives you something unexpected, even if you're listening to the song, and it also fuses a lot of different genres, from jazz to pop to bossa nova to folk to Americana, so it really represents something new, in a lot of ways.
How would you describe your musical style?
AW: That is certainly a difficult question, for any artist, and I've tried to hone it down over the years and I think I've settled on defining it as Ben Folds meets Nora Jones, if they had a love child in Brazil. And my music does cover a lot of genres. I hop around from pop to folk to jazz to Americana to bossa nova and I certainly like to incorporate all those things and fuse them, not only from song to song, but in a lot of songs, I'll also fuse those genres together.
I noticed Amazon has your EP under folk music and your CD under jazz.
AW: Yeah, and that also speaks to the different production styles that we also did, because on the EP there are some of those songs, some of my oldest songs, that are also on the album, but the EP we actually recorded in the synagogue of my father, who is a Rabbi, and being that he's a Rabbi we had some connections to the space in the synagogue, and this large sanctuary with great acoustics and great piano, so we went in there and we really recorded on the fly. We did seven tracks in two days, and with just a stripped down trio, and so you really capture that live feel. And it does kind of feel more folky and acoustic. But with this new album, my debut album, "Something New," I really wanted to take advantage of getting into a studio and being able to realize these larger arrangements, and really being able to utilize the tools of the studio and these wonderful musicians that I was able to work with. And so what you hear is a fuller version of some of these songs, as well as some experimenting with some new songs that you wouldn't be able to do really in a live setting or in one take.
What song from the album gets the most audience reaction?
AW: I can safely say that the song that takes the audience by surprise the most, and I love watching this reaction when I play it is definitely my cover of TLC's "No Scrubs." And it's so funny to watch people, the reaction on their faces and then they get it. They realize what it is and then they realize that I've kind of turned it on its head and I'm doing this jazz version, and then they start singing along. And it's to see. I've played the song for audiences of all different demographics, and that's been really great to see. When you get a reaction, when you are doing something unexpected, that really takes them by surprise, that's the best for me, that's my goal, to give the audience something that they are not expecting and something entertaining and something that they can really enjoy.
Well, you really made that a gay song.
AW: Yes, for sure, and I think that for people that know me and know that I'm out, it makes sense. And for people that don't know me, that can get it and think it's tongue in cheek, I think it's part of being unexpected. I think we can all relate to the idea that there are some guys that are trying to holler at us, that are just not right for us, or won't leave us alone, or are just kind of beneath our standards. I think everybody can relate to that for sure.
And this is the song that really got my attention when I first heard the album last year, and I just love it. Avi Wisnia and "No Scrubs"
Avi Wisnia - No Scrubs (2010)
Do you consider yourself a jazz artist?
There are certainly people out there who could run me out of the room
with the chops that they have. I certainly am a jazz appreciator, and
I've listened to artists like Stan Getz and Chet Baker and they've definitely
influenced my writing. But I wouldn't say I'm a jazz artist at all. My
focus in writing a song is not to limit myself by genre, but I'm certainly
interested in the song craft and the kind of storytelling that comes across
in a lot of folk music and pop music, but I love the improvisation that
jazz allows for, so I think that you definitely hear that in a lot of
songs too, that jazz color
AW: That is an interesting question. I think that you come across it maybe more in the lounge and cabaret world, but it certainly is across the board hard to find you're hard pressed to find openly gay artists in general. And it's interesting when you talk about jazz vocalist cause a lot of the jazz standards are very hetero-centric. They're love songs that talk about a person of the opposite sex quite blatantly. So if you're going to change that song, and you're going to be changing a classic that everybody knows, you're sort of putting yourself out there on a pedestal more, which for as outspoken as some artists are, some are really hesitant to do that. But there's no reason that any song can't be rewritten and there's no reason that anybody can't be open with who they are making the music that they love.
Oh, yes, talk about the song "New Year"
AW: "New Year" is one of the songs that mean the most to me, and every time I sing it kind of takes me back to the place, the time when I was writing it. I got this idea around the time of January first. Funny that we always make these new year's resolutions that we're going to change, starting January first. It's kind of arbitrary. It could be any day. Any day could be your day to start things new and to have a fresh start and to see things in a new light.
If someone just reads the title they might think this is a holiday song, but really it's not new year, it's new beginning.
AW: Right, and I think that it's very appropriate as a new year's song because it is a song about new beginnings and things can always get better and we can always change either our perspective or our situation at any time.
Avi Wisnia - New Year (2010)
Please tell me about the song "I Wish I Could Stop Writing Songs About You"
AW: Ah, yes, the song with the longest title. That song is a breakup song that I tried desperately not to write. I had gone through a very rough break up with a boyfriend of mine. It had been ending for a long time, and I found myself, after we had ended the relationship, at first unable to write anything just kind of so torn up about everything I couldn't even make any music, and they when I finally got to the phase when I was able to sit down at the piano and start writing again, I found that I wasn't able to stop, and that everything I wrote, every song happened to be about him and the relationship, and I got tired of it after a while, I got to come up with something else, and one day I sat down and this song just kind of came out. This is a song about trying not to write a song about the breakup, and I just kind of ran with it, and it's nice that a lot of people come up to me after my shows and say that this is a song that resonates for them the most.
Avi Wisnia - I Wish I Could Stop Writing Songs About You (2010)
We've been talking with Avi Wisnia, about his new CD "Something New," and you can find out more about him at aviwisnia.com. And I've been saving this next song by him to close the segment, because I just love it. And do yourself a favor and watch the video for it. It is so, so clever. The song is called "Rabbit Hole" and I just had to hear about it.
AW: "Rabbit Hole" was one of those songs that you know, some songs you really have to work at, you have to sit down and figure it out, and there are parts that get you stuck, for days or months or years. This song just came to me one night, to the point where I couldn't fall asleep, I kept jumping out of bed and writing the next line, and writing the next verse, and it just kind of wrote itself. And I love the idea of writing a song from the perspective of being stuck in a relationship and sort of trying to get out, and the metaphor of kind of being stuck in this small, enclosed space, with the person that you love, and you kind of can't stand them but also you don't want to leave them. You don't want to leave the comfort of your little rabbit hole. And I really kind of ran with that metaphor in the song.
I love your video for that song; it is so, so clever.
AW: Thank you, thank you, the video was a collaboration between me and some good friends of mine, my friends who directed the video, Seth Kroll and Alan Cohen, and we had a really great time with the shoot, and then of course they did the little green screen magic, which was a lot of fun to make, so I hope that comes across when people watch it.
Avi Wisnia - Rabbit Hole (2010)
Linq - Oh, Bully (2010)
That song was called "Oh, Bully," and I think that's a powerful song. It was inspired by the suicide of Carl Walker-Hoover, an 11-year old victim of anti-gay bullying. And I was not at surprised that it came out of an artist going just by the name Linq. This is JD Doyle and welcome to Part 2 of OutRadio for September. Diane Lincoln just goes by Linq and her music challenges the world around her, and I've got a feeling she just can't help it. That's one of the qualities that resulted in her being voted the Musical Artist for 2009 at the Stonewall Society's Pride in the Arts Awards last Spring. In fact, I got to announce her winning that at the broadcast ceremony. She released four full-length albums since her first one in 2004, and I was pleased to talk with her. Her latest CD is called "Rx and the Side Effects" and I started by asking her to tell me about it.
Linq: I was an independent pharmacist for my entire career, and I owned my own pharmacy, and at some point in time it was just no longer fun for me. I didn't like the way health care was changing, and I was feeling like a pawn in a game that I didn't want to play any longer. So I sold the pharmacy and wrote some scathing songs about health care from an insider's point of view.
When you perform live what song of yours gets the most audience reaction?
LInq: On the new album?
Linq: "Change the Picture." "Change the Picture" came to me after I read about the savage beating of a black gay musician in New York City by the name of Kevin Aviance, and he was attacked by four young men. And I was trying to understand in my head somehow why they thought it was okay to jump a total stranger just because he appeared to be different from them. And that song is really what I came up with.
Linq - Change the Picture (2009)
What gets the most attention from the new album when you perform it?
Linq: "Prescription Chaos." That's the lead track on the album, and everybody seems to really understand what I'm trying to convey there because the pharmaceutical industry has kind of morphed from being an industry that's really working on cures and what's best for the American public to being an aggressive marketing machine.
Linq - Prescription Chaos (2009)
Why was it important to you to do an album about health care?
Linq: I was no longer happy within the profession that I had chosen for my career. I really felt that there was a shift in focus by the pharmaceutical industry, and by the health insurance industry from patient care and patient concerns to being able to make more money, and it just seemed to shift to a bottom-line oriented focus.
So you put it to music.
Linq: I did, scathing songs about health care from an insider's point of view.
Linq, I gather is a nickname?
Linq: It is, some of my close friends called me Linq since probably junior high school, my last name is Lincoln.
It's a good nickname.
Linq: Yeah, and I spelled it with a Q because I'm queer, so it worked.
Perfect. Please tell me about the song "Diversity Dance."
Linq: Every five years a local farm I guess I'll call it, some of it is communally owned, and then there are individually owned homes within the area, and they have an anniversary party every five years. It was started back in 1973 by a group of eight gay men who moved into the area from the city because they wanted to live in a place where they could be safe and at the same time be themselves, and not have to hide. And it's a weekend-long party, over Labor Day weekend, and as part of the festivities they have a talent show, and people are encouraged to contribute and I wanted to write a special song. And "Diversity Dance" is my contribution to that. It really catches the flavor of the party, because there are probably 200 people there, and it's a very diverse crowd. There's multi-generational, several different ethnicities, gay, straight, transgendered, and it's just a very welcoming, warm place to be, and I think I captured that with the song.
Linq - Diversity Dance (2009)
From your 2006 album "Fast Moving Dream," tell me about the song "Who I Need to Be"
Linq: That's really pretty biographical, the relationship between my mother and me. She never fully accepted me as I am, and spent basically her whole life trying to mold me into the person that she wanted me to be, and I just couldn't do that, and that song really I think tells the story pretty well.
Linq - Who I Need To Be (2006)
And, going back even farther, from your debut from 2004, "Journey," talk about the song "Don't You Understand"
Linq: "Don't You Understand" I've been actively involved working on marriage equality behind the scenes in Massachusetts, which is where I'm from, since before the lawsuit was even filed in April of 2001, and so I was following that very closely. And during the first constitutional convention at the statehouse I was just struck by the media that I was watching, with the so-called people of faith standing on one corner holding up their hateful signs and yelling hateful things, and then seeing the lesbian couples across the street, holding each other, crying. And it was just such a crazy scene that it prompted that song, and "Don't You Understand" is really just specifically about how can people not see that marriage equality is about love, and it's about civil rights, and it's not about religion at all, and it seemed that everything I saw in the attempt to shut down the passage of marriage equality was all religious-based, and I had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that people just didn't get that distinction, that it really was all about civil rights.
Linq - Don't You Understand (2004)
I didn't mention earlier that Linq's latest album, "Rx and the Side Effects" was produced by June Millington, who is a women's music icon. So I couldn't resist asking Linq if it was a little bit intimidating performing next to June Millington.
Linq: Not anymore, but it started out that way. The first time that I went into the studio with her I was scared to death. She was just going to record five demos that I had ready to go, and it was quite an experience. But I have to say she's done a very good job moving me forward form the luminous dream stage that I was in when I walked in, and now I think I could walk into anyone's recording studio and record just fine, because they have a great program at the Institute for the Musical Arts. She's the artistic director there and that's where I've done all of my recording
Is there any song that you're just burning to tell me about?
Ah, "Open Hearts and Open Minds," from "Fast Moving Dreams."
When I sold my pharmacy, I turned the space into a bookstore / cyber café
/ card gift store, because I wanted to stay in touch with the community.
And about a month or so after the grand opening of the bookstore, an anonymous
letter was published in a local newspaper, in which the anonymous writer
suggested to the community that they might not want to support the new
bookstore because some of their hard-earned money might go into the gay
and lesbian cause. And when I found out about the letter, it was from
a straight friend, who called me up all upset, she'd be crying, and wanted
my permission to write a letter to the editor, and I didn't know what
she was talking about. So that made her even more upset, because she didn't
want to be the one to tell me, but when she read me the letter about three
hours later "Open Hearts and Open Minds" was finished.
It sounds like of irresponsible of the newspaper to print an anonymous letter.
Linq: Well, you know, a lot of people were upset by that, cause it really was anonymous. They honestly did not know who it was, and I think they learned a valuable lesson. I doubt that that will ever happen again. And incidentally when I wrote the letter to the editor I sent them a little note along with it. I said, please do not edit this, because it was a little bit long, but I didn't want anything to be taken out of context, so I told them that they needed to print it in its entirety if they were going to print it. And they did, and at the end of the letter there was this little box, from the editor, and it said, "congratulations, Miss Lincoln, this is the gutsiest letter that I've ever seen published." And it was especially satisfying coming from him, because he was quite elderly, and he'd been in newspaper publishing for years and years and years. He acknowledged that several of my friends had also written in, in favor of the bookstore. And they basically shut it down, because they received so many letters, they just shut the whole thing down.
That's a good story.
Linq: Well, I'm an emotional writer. I'm sure you can tell my all of the different songs that I've sent to you over time, that when I see something that affects me emotionally I find it very easy to write about it.
Linq - Open Hearts and Open Minds (2006)
"Open Hearts and Open Minds" from Linq's CD "Fast Moving Dream," from 2006. And you can find out more about all of her releases at linqmusic.com, and Linq is appropriately spelled l-i-n-q.
Up next, I love a song that grabs you from the get-go, like this one.
Mama's Black Sheep - Landmarks of a Fool (2010)
That was a bit of "Landmarks of a Fool" from the new CD "Unmarked Highway," by Mama's Black Sheep. And Mama's Black Sheep are the duo of Laura Cerulli and Ashland Miller. Each of them have strong music credentials. Laura has recorded for years in the band Sonia & Disappear Fear, and I've seen her, she's a fearless musician. And Ashland Miler was for many years half of the duo CommonbonD. But together they are now Mama's Black Sheep, so I got them on the phone and talked with Laura first, and asked her to tell me about the new album.
Laura Cerulli: "Unmarked Highway" is the debut CD for Mama's Black Sheep. It's our first effort together and Ashland and I have recorded many albums previously in other groups and on our own individually, but this is our first effort together. And it took us about eight or nine months to finish it, and we're really thrilled with the final outcome and how everything kind of came together over time.
How did you come up with the name of the album?
LC: The name of the album is actually from a lyric in one of the songs off the album. The song is "I Am Here" and there's a lyric in there about "Unmarked Highway", as "we're driving down this unmarked highway," so we ended up pulling it from there. We had lots of different ideas out on paper and kind of toiled over them for a week or so, figuring which one we were going to go with, and that one won out
Is there an overall message for the album?
LC: I don't know about an overall message but it's kind of a big representation of love and life, from many different perspectives. I would say it's that.
Is there a particular song you want to talk about?
LC: "Possibilities" is one of the songs I often talk about at a live show. "Possibilities" is about a blind date, and usually when you hear people's blind date stories they're terrible things of what happened, you know, the most awful situation of their life, etc, etc, so I decided we needed a blind date song with a happy ending. And so I wrote one, and even though it's fictional I think it helps balance out the good and evil on the planet.
Mama's Black Sleep - Possibilities (2010)
That was a bit of the song "Possibilities." My regular listeners know that when doing an interview I like to dig into the artist's musical past, and while that's not my intent, I sometimes catch them off guard. That's what happened when I asked Laura about this next song. I happen to have a demo CD she had pressed in 2002, when she was going by the name Cerulean Grove, and my favorite track from it was called "She."
LC: "She"? Wow. "She" is kind of a song I wrote about an ex, who was not a very nice person and I just kind of wanted I was just venting, essentially, that's me, kind of venting about her yeah, she was kind of a little person. (laughs)
I do my homework.
LC: Yeah, you do.
Cerulean Groove - She (2002)
I next got Ashland Miller on the phone, and like Laura she also has a musical history before Mama's Black Sheep, so I first asked her to bring me up to date a little.
Ashland Miller: CommonbonD is no longer a duo, and I've since then been the Ashland Miller Band for three and a half years, and then after that I joined Laura, with Mama's Black Sheep. So CommonbonD we put out, I believe, seven albums, and I put out a solo one by myself, as Laura was saying earlier, and this album is our first debut one together.
Is there a song CommonbonD is most known for?
AM: Yeah, probably "ainnobodybiniss but their own" which is translated "ain't nobody's business but their own"
CommonbonD - Ainnobodybiniss (1994)
That was "Ainnobodybiniss" from the 1994 CommonbonD album "Super Elastic Acoustic Plastic," and an extended live version can also be found on their greatest hits album "Ten," from 2003.
Is there any song on the Mama's Black Sheep album that you want to talk about in particular?
AM: Yeah, I do, actually. There's a song on there called 'Better With You" and, you know the big craze of 'life is good' bumper stickers, and seeing this all the time we play at the beach every month and, seeing all this and I'm thinking, yeah, life is good, but sometimes it gets better. And sometimes it's because of a person, or a kitty or puppy or whatever it is, it's better because of something changing in your life, and so I wrote a song kind of wrapped around that idea of yeah, life is good but it's better with you.
Mama's Black Sheep - Better With You (2010)
This is JD Doyle and I thank you for checking out this segment of OutRadio, and I thank Linq, and Laura and Ashland of Mama's Black Sheep for the interviews. You can find out more about that group, logically, at mamasblacksheep.com and I'm closing with my favorite track from their album "Unmarked Highway." It's called "Think About You."
Mama's Black Sheep - Think About You (2010)
Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes - Freedom (2009)
Welcome to Part 3 of OutRadio for September. This is JD Doyle and that was "Freedom." It's by Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes and is from his album called "House of Joy." I wanted a powerful song to start off this segment, and for me that one was not a hard choice.
Last fall the organization Equality Across America sponsored the National Equality March on Washington DC and in conjunction released a CD, and Roger's song can be found on that release, along with two more I want to share with you. The first is by Sean Chapin and is called "Our Time Has Come."
Chapin - Our Time Has Come (2009)
Following Sean Chapin was Toby Madigan and the song "Stand For Love." And I've got another song by Toby I just love. This time he and Rob Ray are billed as the band Naked Peasants, which is also the title of their new CD. And no, darn it, they are not naked on the cover. But this song I think is outstanding. It's called "Mr. Teacher."
Naked Peasants - Mr. Teacher (2010)
And here's another very affirmative song. It's from Kristie Stremel's 2006 album "Ten Years," and the name of the song is "It's Not a Phase."
Stremel - It's Not a Phase (2006)
And that was Mara Levi and a track I love, called "Homo Song" from her 2006 album "What Are You?" In 1992 Alison Farrell released an album called "Tomboy." Here's the title track and another with a title that just appeals to me.
Farrell - Tomboy (1992)
The other track by Alison Farrell was of course called "I Like Being a Dyke." After Alison I played "Pretty Woman," the first female cover version I've heard of that Roy Orbison song. It was part of a demo CD by the Average Dyke Band. They are mostly a cover band in San Francisco and have not released any recordings, though I got them to send me that demo.
In 1974 there was a musical that was an Off-Broadway hit, and got a lot of attention, for its open sexuality and for also including gay and lesbian subject matter. The show was "Let My People Come," and in it openly gay artist Larry Paulette sang one of the ballads, called "Take Me Home With You." I was very pleased this month to discover an updated version of the song. It's by Vincent DiGeronimo.
DiGeronimo - Take Me Home With You (2010)
After Vincent DiGeronimo you heard Dan Holguin, and his first single, called "Now I Only." If this next song sounds like the 70s, well, it should. Doug Howell recorded the song "I Wanna Spend Time With You" for his 1975 album "Bluer Than It's Ever Been." And that was just one of several contemporary Christian albums he released in the 70s and 80s, and then he took a big break from recording, and subsequently came out of the closet. He recently sent me his first recording in 25 years. It's called "Jimmy & Me" and it features mostly lesser known songs written by Jimmy Webb. So you're going to hear the 1975 track "I Wanna Spend Time With You" and then Doug Howell's cover of the Jimmy Webb standard "All I Know."
Howell - I Wanna Spend Time With You (1975)
Again, that was Doug Howell. Last fall I got a little addicted to the British TV show X-Factor, which I could watch online, as I had heard about one of their contestants who was supposed to be incredible. Well, I think he is, and over 13 million people have watched the youtube video of his audition song, "With a Little Help From My Friends." Here's Danyl Johnson.
Danyl Johnson - With a Little Help From My Friends (2009)
I encourage you to track down the video as well, as just hearing it does in no way do justice to his performance. All of the judges stood up, including Simon Cowell, and he said it was the best audition song he had heard in all the years he's been doing the show. Later in the season Danyl Johnson came out as bisexual, which of course is what gets him on this show. He's not released any recordings yet, but I hope he does soon.
Now, regarding the X-Factor competition, alas, well, you know how these shows go, he was an early favorite but did not win when the season was over. That honor went to a young singer named Joe McElderry, who I also thought was terrific, and oh yeah, very charming and cute, and he set off my Gaydar. That turned out to be correct, as after the season he came out as gay, which was front page news in the all the papers there. His first single, which he had sung during the competition, reached #1 on the UK charts. Here's Joe McElderry and "The Climb."
Joe McElderry - The Climb (2010)