Dec 17, 2013

The Bowie Ball at Chicago's famous BERLIN!!

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

Heaven Malone & Stardust Present

It's time yet again for Chicago's Bowie Ball, where we celebrate the legend, the chameleon, and the man... David BowieLast year's Bowie Ball, held on Bowie's Birthday, coincided with the surprise announcement that after 10 years of silence, a brand new album titled "The Next Day" was being released. This year we have more exciting news. In September 2014, the exhibit David Bowie Is begins its exclusive U.S. run at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. So get into the spirit with us – glam it up, dress like a dandy and let’s love the alien with some glitter on top.

Featuring live performances by Chris Connelly & Robert Byrne as they play David Bowie. Bowiesque DJ sets by Bowie Ball Chicago founder, Heaven Malone with Juketastrophe & X[P]. Wander among the androgynous Bowie fashion LQQKS by Mister Wallace, Jojo Baby, Sissy Spastik & SpyderDupre. And get yourself glittered & glammed up byMedusa's Makeup glitter and glam makeover booth. Sponsored by the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Featuring live musical performances by

Bowiesque DJ Sets by

Androgynous Bowie LQQKS by
Mister Wallace
Jojo Baby
Sissy Spastik

Glitter & Glam Makeover Booth by

Win tickets to see David Bowie Is

Instagram and Tweet your photos of the night using #BowieBall @mcachicago for a chance to win David Bowie Is prizes. Heaven Malone will select the most creative photo for the grand prize, two tickets to see David Bowie Isat the MCA in September, 2014.

Sponsored by
The Museum of Contemporary Art )

954 W. Belmont Ave.
10pm - 4am
$2 PBR / $3 Berlin Bombs

+ + + + BIOGRAPHIES + + + +


CHRIS CONNELLY is a 30+ year veteran of the music business, having moved from his native Scotland in the 80's to pursue a career in gratuitous volume and outrage with technorednecks THE REVOLTING COCKS and MINISTRY.

Matt Walker of Morrissey and Chris were working together on one of Matt's songs when the seed was sewn to start a band dedicated to the music of DAVID BOWIE, the pair always having had a strong connection and affinity with his career, his changing, challenging sound and his aesthetic. A stellar band was assembled, all veterans in their own right with excellent pedigrees, and almost immediately rehearsals were well underway with songs from Bowie's canon that were being selected, played and played with. SONS OF THE SILENT AGE was a living, vital entity. It was decided to make the inaugural gig a benefit for a charity close to their hearts: PABLOVE, an organization that provides relief for pediatric cancer patients and their families. And so it came to be, on January 11th of 2013, SONS played their first show to a sold out crowd at METRO in Chicago.

The benefit was so successful that it went without saying they should keep the band moving and playing, exploring Bowie's music, and exploring his aesthetic, treating it the way perhaps he would himself, evolving, changing sonically and visually, with the aim of both thoroughly entertaining an audience, and challenging it at the same time.

SONS OF THE SILENT AGE boasts nine members culled from the absolute elite of Chicago musicians - diehard and dedicated souls who love the material and know it intimately, pouring their collective talents over Bowie's 40+ years and 30 albums of dazzling music, music that irrefutably changed the face of rock and an aesthetic so strong it will continue to spread ripples through our culture for ever. For more information:


From throwing Marilyn Manson’s absinthe fueled Mardi Gras party to having Justice spin a secret New Year’s Eve warehouse party, Heaven Malone has been influential in the Chicago underground music scene. Moving to Chicago from New Orleans in 2003, Heaven Malone quickly became immersed in Chicago’s industrial scene, producing events with classic acts such as Ministry, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and more. In 2005, as the electro scene started taking over the underground, Malone joined Kill Hannah’s Mat Devine in organizing the fashion & social collective known as Chicago Suicide Club. CSC’s notorious events soon became a reason people were moving to Chicago. CSC’s first event featured Peaches, followed over the years by Ladytron, Shiny Toy Guns, Jared Leto’s 30 Seconds to Mars, Marilyn Manson & culminating on New Year’s Eve 2009 with French electro pioneers Justice. 

In 2009, Heaven Malone founded the influential weekly indie-electro party "Disappear Here" at Angels & Kings. This notoriously decadent Bret Easton Ellis inspired party featured up and coming DJs & producers such as Le Castle Vania, Lucky Date & Midnight Conspiracy, along with the occasional celebrity up for sacrifice. Following Disappear Here in 2010, Malone maintained a monthly residency at Beauty Bar Chicago called Die Tonight, which featured The xx, Kids at the Bar, The Hood Internet & Ladytron. With every month acting as Halloween, Die Tonight had seen it’s fair share of zombies and beach babes, meat cleavers and swimming pools, superheroes and sleepovers with professional movie makeup artists to cover them with gore and blood. In 2011, Malone managed and DJed the exclusive VIP lounge hidden deep inside The House of Blues for Girls & Boys Chicago, the first spinoff of the famous party at Webster Hall in New York City. Switch of Major Lazer, Felix Da Housecat, Passion Pit & Chromeo were just a few to grace the stage.

Heaven has DJed in New York City at Girls & Boys NYC and the notorious TRASH! party at Webster Hall, Los Angeles at A-list celebrity poolside hangout, Nightswim at The Hollywood Roosevelt, the high energy electro parties Lose Control 3 & Lose Control 4 at SXSW in Austin, TX, Mardi Gras & Halloween in New Orleans, the indie dance party Tigerbeats and legendary electro party Hands and Knees at The Barbary in Philadelphia, the decade long running indie party Lipgloss in Denver, Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theater, New Year’s Eve at the W Hotel, & The "It’s So Miami" Lollapalooza Artist VIP Lounge at The Hard Rock Hotel for Lollapalooza 2013. For more information:

DAVID BOWIE IS, September 2014 - January 2015
This September, the MCA presents David Bowie is, the first international retrospective of the extraordinary career of David Bowie -- one of the most pioneering and influential performers of our time. More than 300 objects, including handwritten lyrics, original costumes, photography, set designs, album artwork, and rare performance material from the past five decades are brought together from the David Bowie Archive for the first time. The exhibition demonstrates how Bowie’s work has both influenced and been influenced by wider movements in art, design, theater, and contemporary culture and focuses on his creative processes, shifting style, and collaborative work with diverse designers in the fields of fashion, sound, graphics, theatre, and film. The exhibition’s multimedia design introduces advanced sound technology by Sennheiser, original animations, and video installations to create an immersive journey through Bowie’s artistic life. This exhibition was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

+ + LQQKS Performers + + 

Mister Wallace: My body is my canvas. Collaborating and referencing other(s) art I allow myself to be a vessel for ideas and my speciality is the performance of those ideas. My goal isn't to innovate the new. My goal is to re-member the past into a better present and in turn future. Art is my activism and my activism is my Art

Sissy Spastik is Chicago's high-fashion, androg, avant-garde queen. A self-taught makeup artist, Sissy's passions are drag, makeup and the art of transformation. Sissy can be seen at various Chicago venues hosting and performing at parties such as: Boom Boom Room, Twirl & Lqqks at Berlin Nightclub, DangerZone at Neo Nightclub and Neverland.

JoJo Baby is Chicago's own favorite nightlife entertainer. JoJo is inspired by many diverse pop icons: from Leigh Bowery to Jim Henson & Clive Barker. He is an expert hair stylist, makeup artist, doll maker, and costume maker. He has made numerous tv and film appearances and was featured in the Clive Barker documentary titled JoJo Baby.

Spyder Dupre the resident rebel-rouser: a androgynous performance artist who specializes in the fire arts, make-up design and sideshow performance.


Medusa's Make-Up is a Chicago based cosmetics company specializing in cruelty free highly pigmented makeup. Lora Chasteen and Pier Novikov a husband and wife team launched the progressive makeup line in 2006. Offering mineral pigments, glitters, lip sticks and glosses, the line is about glitz and glamour without animal testing. Available online 
and in boutiques around the world it has also been available seasonally in such chains as Urban Outfitters and Hot Topic. For more information go to

+ + STARDUST + + 

Stardust is a weekly gala taking place every Thursday at Berlin Nightclub. Curated by a who’s who of Chicago creatives, the night features a bevy of multimedia, music and fashion forward artists. Named Chicago Reader’s “Best LGBT Dance Party” in Best of Chicago 2012 & 2013, it caters to the community that supports it through collaboration and technique powered by art and purpose.  Stardust is the home of parties such as Twirl! (2nd Thursdays) and Total Therapy (last Thursday). Stardust beckons the inner Gothic night owl, Disco Metal Couture, Indie dancing queen, Italo Raving, Crunk Queer, Emo punk-rocking freak that you are. Curator Scott Cramer named “Best Party Promoter” in Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago 2011, 2012 & 2013.  Photos by ASL


Berlin Nightclub is a historic venue founded in 1983 as a place that celebrates diversity and has maintained its reputation as one of the most unique institutions in Chicago nightlife for over 30 years.  In it's early years, Berlin successfully mixed tattoos and transvestites, pinafores and platforms, dada and go-go, and everyone in-between. That spirit remains alive at today, as Berlin 2013 celebrates artistic expression and music on the fringe of club culture. Berlin was named ‘Best Nongay Gay Bar’, ‘Best Gay Bar’, ‘Best Anything Goes Club’, and ‘Runner up Best Lesbian Bar’ in the Chicago Reader’s Best of Chicago 2012 & 2013.  Thursday Night’s Stardust was named ‘Best LGBT Dance Party’ in Chicago Reader’s Best of 2012 & 2013, and host Scott Cramer was named ‘Best Party Promoter’ 2011, 2012 & 2013. Berlin’s dance parties are legendary and critically acclaimed - Rolling Stone, Spin Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Metromix, & many others have given Berlin and it’s events "Best Of Chicago" or Top 10 status during the past decade. Colorful bar staff, innovative DJs, outrageous hosts, & a magnificent mix of patrons make Berlin what it is today: a historic venue with a rich history. It has a bit of whimsy with a cutting edge... and it's consistently the most exciting late-night dance destination in the Windy City. Berlin Nightclub 954 W. Belmont Ave. Chicago, IL. 60657-4438 (773) 348-4975

Dec 12, 2013

Sam Sparro is spreading holiday love and cheer

Grab a mug or glass of your favorite holiday cheer, put on your dancing shoes and turn up Sam Sparro's addition to this season's collection of new pop songs.  Teaming up with Lexus for their "December To Remember" sales event, Sparro took their signature "music box" jingle and whipped that sucker into something that is pure Sam.  It has funk, synth and that awesome vocal.  But.."Wait!" you say.  "The commercial only gives a tease of the chorus".  'Tis true.  Only those of us who know Sparro's voice and/or saw his previews on Facebook and Twitter of behind-the-scenes stills and links to the ads on YouTube knew it was our favorite Aussie-English-Californian pop star.

Ah.  But on Tuesday 12/10 Lexus released the full music video and the complete track was posted to Sam's Soundcloud.  This morning Spotify added it to their catalog.  And it is another knock out of the park.  Infectious, fun and full of all those holiday sentiments.  This is one I want to hear on all the mall muzaks when I go do my shopping.  It's also a great addition for all those parties we'll be attending.  People will definitely be dancing to it for sure.

Learn more about Sam Sparro:


Aug 18, 2013

Katy vs Gaga - adding my spin to the heap

Ok so...everybody knows that both Katy Perry and Lady Gaga dropped new singles last week.  Katy teases her new era with a big gold truck and Gaga returns to the spotlight being all "artsy", paint splotched on her face.  Really?  Can we say "cheese" and "desperation" on both sides of this Pop Princess coin?

Probably my biggest problem with both these "artists" was that they both used to actually be artists with some genuine integrity.  Katy cut her teeth on Warped Tour and Stephanie played seedy clubs in the East Village.  Now they are just two desperate women locked into the corporate music game which they are losing.  Today the Lady appeared to be off her meds, taking some very nasty shots across Perez Hilton's bow...who's the bully now Mama Monster?  Katy seems to be laying low hoping to stay out of media and Gaga's crosshairs.

But apparently neither song has been released to the radio as I combed the 8/24 Billboard charts and find no evidence them on any of the charts.  So have the lights been doused on these girls?  Are their three years up?  Along with Beiber's it appears so.  No longer the sweethearts.  Even Bruno seems to be hanging on by a wing and a prayer.  Daft Punk got some much deserved recognition but trust it is not for Nile Rodgers' brilliant funk guitar licks on "Get Lucky" that it is still charting.  Only Pharell's pedigree (and weak ass vocals) got this one spinning.  Will it provide DP with cred they deserve and increase sales of "Random Access Memories"?  Probably not.

Katy and Gaga both made a choice to be either great musicians/artists or take the money and go for the "top".  In my opinion they both made the wrong choice.  Neither of these singles are that great.  Both have succumbed to the cookie-cutter song models.  For Stephanie's talent she should be putting out that cutting edge record, that risk taker by now.  She can write and I believe she can write far better than this song.  I feel like the new album will just be more of the same old same old as will Katy's.  The whole point of continuing in your art is to progress, to push the envelope and to take a risk.  Every band/solo artist I am a strong fan of has taken those risks. Sure some put out albums that tanked.  Some records took fans a while to come around forgive so to speak and then take off the blinders and listen with open ears and hearts.  As for "Roar" based on the number of live-feed performances I've seen of hers, again I'm scared to hear a non-studio version.  I don't think her voice can hold-up to the power this song needs and was given with a lot of electronic assistance.

So it's time to get back to "The Best Pop Music Not Spinning On the Radio".  I'll start with Young London who I got to see live for a second time, this one on Warped Tour and got to interview.  Talk about a passion for writing great pop-dance rock.  In the coming weeks I will get you a review of William Beckett's new album and introduce you to Atomic Tom, Simon Curtis and talk about the returns of the greats from Fueled by Raman...Fallout Boy, Gym Class Heroes and Panic at The Disco.


May 27, 2013

Best Pop on on the radio - Jukebox The Ghost

Welcome Summer and rolling down the window to blast music.  I don't know about you but this time of year with more hours of daylight, I like my music brighter too.  I wanna sing along and tap out a beat on the doorframe.  If I was one for taking the time to actually make playlists, I would have a Summer playlist.  But even if I did make that playlist, my car is just a little too old and doesn't have a way to plug in the "pod" so when I switch sweaters and cords out of the closet and dresser to make room for the tank tops and shorts, I do the same with my CDs. All that heavy Winter music gets slotted in the CD case and the Summer discs move into the console and glove box.

I learned about Juke Box the Ghost, a trio from Philly, when they opened for Bare Naked Ladies in November 2011.  Ben, Tommy and Jesse owned the stage and kept it together when Ed gave them their last night of tour present by dancing in nothing but a towel during their slow, romantic ballad.  No only did they perform the song without a hitch, when BNL brought them on stage to perform with them for the encore, all of Jukebox came out in towels.  This guys had some serious street cred.

Since then I've seen Jukebox The Ghost a few times.  I've interviewed Ben and Tommy.  These guys have real chops. Although all have college degrees, only Ben's is in music.   That doesn't matter though.  These guys know how to write, compose, arrange and perform.  Their sound is very signature and today, two years later, I still refer to it as "Raffi for grown ups" but I mean that in an extremely positive way.  Ben's piano combined with lyrics that tend to be tongue in cheek, make you smile separate JTG from the boring stuff on the radio.

Jukebox The Ghost have three great albums in their catalog and every one is as good as the one before it with the first one being really great.  You can buy them here or at their shows this Summer.   They will be touring with their idols Guster and others.  Jukebox The Ghost spends a lot of time on the road so make sure to check their site often.  I guarantee once you hear them, you will have them playing in your car, at the beach or backyard parties all Summer long.  What are you waiting for?  Go listen here!

May 18, 2013

Best pop...Daft Punk sets off chain reaction

Let's start with Daft Punk as pop.  Really?  Well yeah.  The first thing I think of when I think pop is the dance music. The next thing is a whole lot of strong hooks.  Daft Punk draws from the very heart and roots of disco.  In the 70's Donna Summer, George McCrae, The Village People, and Gloria Gaynor were blaring out of our car radios all the time.  4-on-the-floor was the beat of the day.  Daft Punk builds on those models then replaces old Moogs with all manner of current electronic manipulation.

It was no stretch for the French duo to call on geniuses Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers to work with them on "Get Lucky", the first single from the new album "Random Access Memories" which drops next week.  Now this is a track that will see radio play because Pharell is one of corporate radio's latest sweethearts.  But will it get more people listening to Daft Punk?  Will future tracks from the record see any attention?  That remains to be seen.  One thing I will project is that the album does make the Billboard Top5 in its first week due to the size of Daft Punk's fanbase.

But back to "Get Lucky".  On the surface I kind of wanted to hate it because it is just more of the same thing that is currently on terrestrial radio.  The lyrics have no meat or potatoes, just a lot of sexual fluff.  But then I realized when I'm dancing in a club I don't want some deep human condition message coming through the speakers.  I want to dance and "Get Lucky" will get people doing just that.  My other disappointment is Pharell's vocals.  Very thin.  I love all the signature DP elements and Nile's guitar line shines through bringing funk with a real pedigree.  But again, the vocal just gets lost.


Other artists started covering the song before it even hit the terrestrial airwaves.  Heck, it's an easy enough track to play with.  Thankfully it wasn't long before one of my favorite artists who already has Nile Rodgers collab cred grabbed this song by the hair at the back of its neck and dragged it kicking and screaming into his studio, beat the shit out of it and came out with THIS:

YES!! Sam Sparro needs to do a lot more of this.

So this week's recommendations for "best pop not on the radio"?  The entire Daft Punk catalog and Sam Sparro once again (and always).

Also watch Nile's episode of the "Random Access Memories" Collaborators Series here:

He states exactly what I started this post with "They went back to go forward". Nile is also working with La Roux on her new record. I adore this man.

Don't forget to order Daft Punk's new album next week or buy a digital download.  The robots will not disappoint.

May 4, 2013

The best pop music not on the radio - Cobra Starship

Yeah, I know...another band that actually did do some time on the Top40.  However, one that has disappeared as quickly.  Gabe and his new dance pop band came out of the gate with the theme song for Snakes On A Plane.  He also got some help from old friends The Academy Is..., Gym Class Heroes and The Sounds. Well, step back into the way-back machine here.  Gabe Saporta had fronted pop-punk band, Midtown, from 1998-2005.  Members of Cobra Starship all had 6-degrees of separation to Midtown.

The video for Snakes On A Plane (Bring It) also included cameos by Pete Wentz (Fallout Boy) and Sam Jackson himself.  These things help propel Cobra into the spotlight.  Combined with Gabe's great, if not quirky marketing of "his vision" the resulted in their first album and a whole lot of support from the Fueled By Ramen bunch, things took off.  Cobra Starship did their first tour as the opener for Gym Class.  They would later be added to one of TAI's headlining tour after spending the summer of 2007 with FOB on the Honda Civic Tour.

Today they have four albums to their credit and most of those tracks are great, if not a little cheesy, pop dance music and Cobra Starship owns every one of those songs and their sound.  In 2011 they worked with two of the biggest names in pop songwriting, Ryan Tedder and Kara DioGuardi.  Recorded or live, this band is a lot of fun and doesn't tend to take itself seriously while still loving what they are doing.

Although they're not super busy right now-college shows and remixes released last year, they still keep their blog and social networks up to date.  Hopefully we'll get some new music in the future.  But for now, there's plenty in the current catalog so check out their site, and their Facebook and or listen on Spotify.

Next week I go across the pond to introduce you to Miss Lilly Allen.  Moving through Spring and into the summer you will learn about Jukebox The Ghost, Atomic Tom and Young London.  So keep checking back. Happy Free Comic Book and Star Wars Day. May the 4th be with you.

Apr 20, 2013

Record Store Day - Best pop music not on the radio

With all my hipster friends and family getting in on all the vinyl deals today and all the hip folks buying limited edition CDs at their LOCAL RECORD STORE today I decided to wax a bit nostalgic.  My vinyl collection lives in two places...albums in the attic-I KNOW NOT GOOD!! Sorry.  And 45s...Yep still got 'em in my snazzy little carrying case purchased in the '70's, live in my bedroom.

Let's take a look at my library.  LPs I'm pretty progressive; Queen, Zeppelin, Ambrosia, The Beatles, Yes and Rick Wakeman, Cream, Chick Corea and Robin Trower.  The last two, all discs are imports.  I used to make regular runs to Merle's Record rack and dig through all the European releases.  Ok, so I guess I was a bit of hipster back then.  But then there's the 45s.  This stuff is all over the map.  The Carpenters, The Osmonds (don't judge), The Bee Gees, Carol King, Sir Elton John (but he wasn't a knight then), Blues Image (open Google for that one), The Beatles, Prelude (oh did I trip you up again?), Captain and Tennille, Richard Harris's version on "MacArthur Park", Michael Jackson, Chicago (of course everybody's prom song of the 70's), Guess Who, Simon & Garfunkel, Paul McCartney & Wings (Yep! more Sir Paul after the Beatles),  Patti Labelle (that song came out LONG before Moulin Rouge), Harry Chapin (kinda indie acoustic version of Nickelback-same melody just different lyrics) and Gunhill Road.  Gunhill Road.  Who the fuck are they you ask?  Ok, pretty much one-hit-wonders but we all should have at least one of those in our collections.

The other thing that I noticed as I was going through my stack was the number of labels and not imprints just single companies.  RCA was RCA and not a division of Sony. Epic also got swallowed by the Sony beheemoth.  Atlantic and Reprise were not part of Warner Music adn Island, A&M and Atco were not divisisions of Universal Music Group.  RCA absorbed Chelsea and then shelved it.   Rocket Records is now a completely different company.  Mercury moved from Chicago to the UK and became an imprint of Virgin.  RSO, MCA, and United Artists are now just memories.  Motown lost its identity when it moved to L.A. and today is just another major label juggernaut.

And what about 45s?  Do you even buy singles any more?  Ok, maybe on iTunes.  But what about hard-copy singles?  Although the cost of living has gone up, the cost of recorded music is still running about the same when you compare it to the wages (minimum) of the people who buy it.  The largest percentage of music purchased's demographic is still 14-25.  I started my record collection with babysitting money.  Then I made a buck an hour before midnight and $2 an hour after plus tips.  Albums cost $8.  A single was only a dollar and you got two songs.  Ok, most "B" sides sucked but sometimes they did make you really consider saving your money for the whole LP.  Today you still pay $1.29 for a single on iTunes but that's what you get...a single.  No more "B" sides.  I must say I do like the trend to EPs that at least get a little more music into circulation at a very reasonable price.

Finally, it seems that Record Store Day is something targeted to and participated in by the people who don't even turn on the radio any more.  There are no limited editions today from Beiber, Katy Perry, or Rhianna.  About the closest you're gonna get to mainstream is The Black Keys, Bon Jovi and Lincoln Park.  In other words, what little notice huge monopoly labels gave to RSD was still mainly to their alternative and indie listeners.  Sony, UMG and Warner are only interested in the kids that are buying at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, FYE and digitally.  But they don't really do much to entice them to pay for anything so the prices of tickets to pop concerts just go higher to fill in the revenue gaps.

So today was Record Store Day.  I hope you went and found your local store and supported it. I hope you continue to.  I don't want to see you whining or stomping your feet if they close their doors and you're stuck with censored versions at Wally-World or having to mail order everything.  Let's see if we can put "the man" out of business.  You know...even if you shop on-line, find a mom & pop.  See how often you can avoid the big guys.  Help people create jobs for themselves and for you.  If hard-copies of music become popular again, more distribution companies will be needed, small marketing firms.  Or maybe everything does go digital.  It's still going to need to be managed, distributed.  Buy a subscription to your favorite internet radio station.  Get involved in crowdfunding for competition to labels, radio stations and promoters.  Let's all figure this out together.


Apr 14, 2013

William Beckett and TAI - truly great pop

Ok, don't call me out yet.  Yes, The Academy Is... did get a little radio time back in '06-'07.  But come on...admit it, some of the best tracks, especially from Santi were only known to us fans or those we dragged to shows.  See...I'm right.  Alright, TAI did have some clunkers too..Fast Times At Barrington High was rather self-indulgent and was not the highest note this otherwise truly great pop band should have gone out on.  Let's just remember the good songs that William Beckett and Mike Cardin penned.

My sympathies to anyone who never got to see TAI live.  William is a great frontman and had a fantastic band behind him.  The Butcher killed a kit and Sisky Business on bass was not only a good musician but great comic relief.  Carden took his guitar job seriously but with a wink and a nod.  Even with different rhythms the chemistry always worked.  These guys could bring it whether in the blistering heat of an afternoon Warped Tour set or headlining a show in a 2000 body venue with light show and staging.  They always left us wanting more.

Then it all came to an end.  William went back to Chicago and mulled over his next move.  Try as he might he couldn't stop writing or singing.  But this guy was determined to do whatever "it" was going to be on his terms.  No selling out to labels who would demand he do music handed to him or even doing his own music within their perimeters.  So he started creating, on his own.  He was able to get studio time to engineer recordings that are full, rich with all the necessary instrumentation and effects.  He also had a plan.  Release the project as three EPs, each one a different chapter of a love story.  The sales of each would fund the creation of the next and hopefully generate money for touring.

Touring, that posed another problem.  There was no band.  There was one William Beckett, a MacBook Pro and an acoustic guitar.  This incredibly intelligent and talented artist figured it out.  Some songs are done straight up acoustic and others use backing tracks...and it works.

I had a bit of a wish come true when I actually met Mr. Beckett last year but it was better than my wish because I got to sit down and interview him for over a half hour.  William Beckett is indeed a quiet person off stage.  He watches and listens.  He is a walking encyclopedia of music of the second-half of the 20th Century.  He was the "smart kid" in high school and was determined to head east after graduation.  Beckett still has a number of Jersey artists in his list favorites.  He takes a little bit to warm up to strangers but if you find a topic he's passionate about he'll talk, sharing knowledge, facts and feelings.  The one question I never did get to ask him though, because I didn't notice it till we were wrapping the interview, is the meaning behind his ampersand tattoo.  However, it's easy to see that with William Beckett it's always "and" never an "or" or a "but".

After the interview I got to hear all of the first EP of the trilogy along with a couple of tracks from the second which had not been released at that point.  Especially after hearing it live and even now, my favorite song is still "Girl, You Shoulda Been A Drummer".   He also treated us to some of TAI's greatest hits.  Although a little subdued and matured, he still has very magnetic stage presence...still a great pop artist.  If you are going to Warped Tour this year make a point to catch his set on the Acoustic Basement stage all summer.   It will definitely be worth it.   Add William Beckett to your Spotify, Pandora and LastFM lists and but his EP's on iTunes.

p.s. I think my current Spotify choice will be next week's feature-Cobra Starship!

NY, NJ & CT, wanna see IAMX for FREE in NYC on 4/26?

The best new arts 'zine, FourCulture have 2 tickets up for grabs from woobox to the first stop of IAMX's "Animal Impulses" tour at Irving Plaza.  Chris will be premiering tracks from his new album "The Unified Field".  It's been quite a while since IAMX has done a U.S. tour.  Don't miss out.  I already have my ticket so I'd love to meet up with the winners at my favorite NYC venue to share a libation and some great, great music.

Fourculture will be giving away two pairs of tickets for IAMX’s April 263 show at Irving Plaza in NYC…wooot!
We were approached to give these tickets away so this is kind of a big deal…Fourculture got noticed!

The contest is set up on Facebook:  
It begins Wednesday, April 10 at 8 AM EST and ends Tuesday, April 16 at midnight.

Please help keep this contest in everyone’s face for the next week with RTs and shares!   

Thank you in advance!! 

Apr 6, 2013

Great pop that's not on the radio - La Roux

With Coachella coming up, now seems to be a good time to introduce you to La Roux.  The core group is vocalist, keyboardist, co-writer Elly Jackson and co-writer, co-producer Ben Langmaid.  These two do all the studio creations as a total team effort.  On the road Elly fronts a touring band that includes: Michael 'Mikey' Norris (on keyboard), Mickey O'Brien (keyboards and backing vocals) and William Bowerman (on drums).  La Roux hails from Brixton UK.

Elly did find a little time on the U.S. charts with "Bulletproof".  One of those little tastes corporate radio gives people to try to cover the game of convincing listeners that drek is good.  "Bulletproof" is a one of many great dance tracks and so it lent itself well to playing on the car radio while driving or in the clubs.  It's also a great platform for remixing.  So this catchy song hung around for a little while and seems to have caught the interest of some American listeners.  One of the best remixes was actually done by Skrillex.  La Roux also drew enough attention to land a Grammy in 2010.  It was more than well deserved in the Dance Music category.

My live experience with La Roux was at The Webster (Hartford) a few years ago.  First, the demographic of the artists' audience in my area was very  broad.  From 16-30 LGBT and straight 'typical' dance music fans then there was a small group of really jocky frat-boys.  Everyone got along and had a great time.  From the opening drum beat to the closing note everyone was dancing and singing along.  Elly's energy never lost any momentum and that awesome hairstyle was still intact at the end.  The part that impressed me the most is that she sings at the highest end of her range on almost every track and does so live too without a single cracked note and she does sing live-no lip-sync.  She and the band mesh perfectly which makes for a great performance and musical show.

Currently she is back in the studio with Ben and there is word that we will get a new album this year.  One of the collaborators on the record is one of my new favorite people, Nile Rodgers.  For more on La Roux visit from there you can link to their Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Blogger, etc.

Mar 31, 2013

Great pop music you won't hear on the radio-Sam Sparro

For my first recommendation I give you Sam Sparro.  Live, this man will send you out the door dancing, singing, and filled to the brim with all the joy that he can't contain.  He is a gentle soul with a fierce vision for his music.  He goes into his own studio, using his own instrumental and engineering talent and writes songs that make you feel.  For live performances he works with incredibly talented musicians and singers.  Personally I'm a huge fan of Vula who is this tiny vocal powerhouse.  Her textures and tones combined with Sam's are magical.  Plus the two of them just have so much fun together on stage.  Actually the whole band has a blast.  All of them are smiling the whole time.  Sam is infectious and the audience can't resist him.  They are all dancing by the end of the first song.

Before the new album "Return To Paradise", if you said Sam Sparro" most people would say, "Who?"  But you'd get a bit more recognition if you said "Black and Gold" from his self-titled debut album which was released on Universal Island in 2008.  Black and Gold became a club dance favorite.  "Sam Sparro" is very electronic and upbeat album for the most part.  One of the things I love about Sam is that he can tell a darker story but put it with a "happy" melody so people get a nice, easily digestible version of the message. It kind of seeps into the cracks and you come around later and see that there are things you need to process and become part of the solution.

In sophomore album "Return To Paradise" Sparro continues with that "joy infused" sound but also adds some funk to it.  As with most great new pop artists, he's been up against it in the U.S.  The album dropped in Europe months before its American release.  Two singles have been released; "Happiness" and "I Wish I Never Met You" which also included highly polished music videos.  Sam likes to play with his resemblance to 1940's and 50's matinee mobsters and heartthrobs in both videos.  There's definite nods to Ziegfield, Cagney, Selznick and Gable.

Sam has also had the opportunity to expand on the funk that has been running through him, working for a second time with fellow pop artist and friend Adam Lambert on his sophomore album resulting in the song "Shady".  Goofing around about improving the guitar line on the track they joked about tweeting funk legend Nile Rodgers to lay down some riffs.  The tweet was answered with a very enthusiastic response from Rodgers.  In the middle of the hectic schedule to master and release "Trespassing", Lambert jetted to NYC and spent a full day in Rodger's Manhattan studio overseeing the recording.  It would be eight months before all three musicians were able to come together on the same stage and perform the song live.  As one who was fortunate enough to be in the Hammerstein Ballroom that evening, trust me, it was THE BEST performance of that song to date.  The event also gave Sam some time to express his thoughts about working more with young people and the issues he and Lambert face in mainstream pop music due to their sexuality.  Both artists have been publicly out since before launching their music careers.

I've had the honor to not only interview Sam Sparro but to meet him.  He is one of the most intelligent, interesting, genuinely happy and humble people I know.  I've seen him perform for an audiences as small as about 75 to over 800.  He puts on a great show no matter who or how many he plays for.

For more on Sam Sparro visit  and friend him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter and add him to your Vevo playlist.  You can find Sam on Spotify and if you like what you hear you can purchase his music on iTunes and Amazon.  If he is touring in your area, definitely get out to one of his shows.  Trust me, you'll become a fan and an addict.

Mar 30, 2013

It's time for a make-over

Not Your Mom's... was born almost six years ago.  It was ignited by the return of music and, subsequently, art into my home.  I picked up a pen again in 2006 after many years of silence due to having the very soul sucked out of me by a situation I walked into voluntarily and stayed in for far too long.  Now art is back and my quill flies across page after page.  I've been introduced to so many wonderful, colorful, courageous people.  Among them are musicians who refuse to be beat down by the monopolies who work hard to silence them, to keep them out of the spotlight.  The Dark machine that chugs on gobbling up media to convince people that mediocre and downright bad is good.

Not Your Mom's is going on a journey.  It will start with pop music.  No, not the drek on the radio or TV.  The really great pop music that is actually thriving under the radar.  Their fanbases aren't gianormous.  They don't play arenas.  But you will definitely get your money's worth to see them perform LIVE.  And yes, it is LIVE, no lip-syncing, auto-tuned bullshit disguising a good looking person as a singer, instrumental musician and/or performance artist.  Nope.  This shit's the real-deal.  I'll introduce you to people like Sam Sparro, Ricky Rebel, Elly Jackson (La Roux) and William Beckett.  Bands like Honor Society, Gossip, and  Atomic Tom.  You'll learn their stories, hear their music and be directed where to buy it and when and where to see them perform.