New Music From Faultlines, Travis Moser & Citizen Queen

 

Faultlines – Ashley Morgan and John Flanagan (photo: Steve Limones)

Something for everyone in this round-up of new music: country/folk, Broadway/cabaret, and diva R&B.

Folk duo Faultlines (comprised of Ashley Morgan and out artist John Flanagan) dropped their first original holiday single, Snowfall, this week. The cozy and warm song remembers spending the holidays with the ones you love.

The seasonal track takes the band back to its early stripped acoustic sound with minimal instrumentation, consisting of acoustic guitar, light electric guitar tones, and a cello by Artem Litovchenko.

“I always swore I wouldn’t write a Christmas song,” Flanagan shares from his Los Angeles home. “With its heavy religious overtones, I feared Christmas might be too heavy a topic for our diverse listeners.  I’ve since softened my opinions. Western culture celebrates Christmas as a season of giving, of geniality, of love.  That’s the feeling we tried to capture in Snowfall: a warm, safe space in a dark, cold season.”

The duo also recently released their third EP, Bittersweet Revival. The collection of upbeat songs and ballads draw inspiration from Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Joni Mitchell, and Brandi Carlile.

“Snowfall” is available on digital streaming sites here.


Cabaret artist Travis Moser recently released a new EP, So Many People: The Sondheim Sessions, which “explores the experience of 2020 and the effects of COVID-19 through the lens of the music and lyrics of Stephen Sondheim.”

The five-track EP, a collaboration with music director/pianist Drew Wutke, includes new takes on Sondheim tunes from Merrily We Roll Along, Follies, Dick Tracy, and Saturday Night.

“This collection of songs represents my feelings and emotions over the past 6 months through the lens of Stephen Sondheim,” shares Moser. “Family, friends, politics, self-identity, and love…Sondheim says it better than I ever could.”

The stripped-down collection of songs, created entirely by queer artists, was done as a homage to the albums of the great Julie Wilson. The EP is available on all digital download/streaming sites.


The all-girl group Citizen Queen drops its first original single, “Call Me Queen.”

Gays love talented, strong female singing groups, and this pop/R&B track is wrapped firmly in self-empowerment and swagger.

“These brilliant young women are exactly what a girl group should be in 2020,” says songwriter Justin Tranter, who co-wrote the song. “Diverse, inclusive, passionate, loving and truly dedicated to every detail of their craft. They don’t take their extraordinary vocal gifts for granted for one second.”

Dressed in stunning outfits embellished with Swarovski crystals, the music video showcases the girls’ powerful vocals and dance skills as they prepare their heist to reclaim their rightful crowns.

“Call Me Queen” is available on all digital sites now.

My Favorite Thing Today: Broadway Star Lee Roy Reams In Concert

Broadway star Lee Roy Reams

What a wonderful treat! My dear longtime friend, Broadway star and frequent ‘partner in crime’ Lee Roy Reams is part of the York Theatre Company’s terrific online cabaret series, Broadway’s Great American Songbook.

Hosted by 5-time Grammy Award nominee Michael Feinstein, the series has also included cabaret sets from Tony Award winners Ben Vereen and Lilias White as well as Broadway veterans Alton Fitzgerald White, Karen Mason and more.

Online performances premiere on Wednesday evenings continuing weekly through Wednesday evening, December 16, 2020.

The series culminates with a York Holiday Cabaret Gala on Monday evening, December 21, 2020 at 7:00PM.

Lee Roy’s career is the stuff that Broadway dreams are made of. Moving to New York City fresh out of college, he quickly began racking up major gigs singing and dancing on Broadway in the original cast of Bob Fosse’s Sweet Charity, Applause, Hello, Dolly! with Carol Channing, 42nd StreetBeauty and the Beast, The Producers and many more.

Lee Roy also directed the acclaimed 1995 revival of Hello, Dolly! with Channing (and me!) which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical.

Lee Roy asked me to handle the choreography duties for the post-Broadway national tour of Dolly! and since then we’ve staged the show together several times in major regional theatre companies across the country. Each time, it was just as Cornelius Hackl tells his Dolly! sidekick, “It’s an adventure, Barnaby!”

I won’t go on as I want you to hit the play button below and enjoy Lee Roy’s masterful storytelling as he sings his way through his incredible career. Authentic, earnest, captivating and magical – just a few of the superlatives that come to mind after watching this true artist weave his spell.

I was especially moved by the medley from Dolly! beginning at the 31:00 mark.

And can I say – I wish we all could look and sound so good at 78-years-old. #LikeAFineWine

Big applause for Alex Rybeck’s robust and artful musical direction and accompaniment as he does what he does so very well.

Enjoy.

New Music: Michael Longoria Wants To Kiss ‘Like They Do In The Movies’

Michael Longoria (image via Skollar PR)

Michael Longoria, best known for his star turn on Broadway as Frankie Valli in the Tony Award-winning musical Jersey Boys, releases his new album today, Like They Do In The Movies.

The collection of classic, romantic songs from movies also features the debut of an original song written by Longoria, “Kiss Me (Like They Do In The Movies).”

This is the out artist’s third studio album following Broadway Brick By Brick (2016) and Merry Christmas Darling (2018).

As a singer-songwriter, Longoria has performed his original songs at Joe’s Pub, The Cutting Room, CB’s Gallery, and Caroline’s on Broadway. The acclaimed artist has been nominated for Best Male Vocalist and Best Cabaret by The Glam Awards in 2016.

I had a chance to chat with the handsome actor/singer about his new album as well as the process that goes into creating a new project.

The Randy Report: You’ve written a terrific new song for the album – “Kiss Me (Like They Do In The Movies).” I expected a slow, romantic ballad, but instead, it’s a driving, urgent uptempo. What was the inspiration for the song?

Michael Longoria: The lyric pleads, “Kiss me like they do in the movies. Like you would in the last row, come on, let’s go. You have to show me now.” When I was recording these amazing movie love songs, I found myself wondering if this kind of love exists in real life. There is a sense of urgency in the beat, mixed with the sweeping strings characterize musically the internal conflict we have when we expect things to be like we have seen played out on film, but in reality, it doesn’t always happen as a screenwriter might dream up.

TRR: I understand you grew up on Mariachi music. How did that, as a musical foundation, form how you listen to or approach music?

ML: Because I didn’t speak Spanish, I had to learn Mariachi songs by hearing and emotion.  My parents would teach me how to pronounce the words and then explain the general idea.  The music and melody would reveal what the true meaning was without me knowing the words.  I somehow would know what to feel when belting out a classic Mariachi tune.

TRR: Is there a favorite song on the new album? 

ML: Besides “Kiss Me,” which is my favorite because it’s about my own life, I love singing “It Must Have Been Love” from the movie Pretty Woman.  It’s a heartbreaking song about being alone on Christmas after a breakup.

Michael Longoria releases his new album ‘Like They Do In The Movies’ (image via Skollar PR)

TRR: The song list for the new album is wide-ranging – how hard was it to whittle the list down? Was there a song you really wanted that didn’t make the album?

ML: So many songs didn’t make the album but were on the long list.  I wanted to record “Cruel Summer” from Karate Kid. I find that song so sexy in its tragedy.  Another breakup song with an upbeat arrangement.

TRR: Many of the songs on the album are so iconic and the performances by the original artists are embedded in our psyche (“Wind Beneath My Wings,” “I Will Always Love You,” “My Heart Will Go On”). Was it hard to disassociate the original? Or did the original serve as a springboard?

ML: I was originally discouraged from taking on “My Heart Will Go On” and “I Will Always Love You.” But once I started to dive deep into the lyrics and storyline, the songs became about my life.  That’s the sign of a great song.  A lyric that tells a human experience and a melody that colors the emotion of that experience. The singer brings breath and sound to these words and then that sound stays in your head.  It’s amazing how music can move the human spirit.

TRR: With years of experience on stage in long-running shows and concert work, do you approach studio recording projects differently? If so, how?

ML: Yes! When I’m recording a song it’s just me and an engineer after we record the band. I’m in a small sound box singing my feelings all alone with an amazing engineer recording my every breath. It’s a very intimate and emotional journey when you record like that.  When you listen to Like They Do In The Movies, you are hearing into my deepest emotions. It’s not a performance I’d give under pressure for a 2,000 seat theater. It’s more of a one on one singing just you and me vibe.

TRR: This is your third studio album. With that experience now, is there any advice ‘2019 Michael Longoria’ would tell ‘2016 Michael Longoria’ about recording an album?

ML: Keep writing! Tell your story. Someone will need to hear what you are going through and it will let them know they are not alone.

Like They Do In The Movies, produced by Grammy nominee and 12-time Emmy Award winner Michael Croiter, is available now in stores and online.

Longoria celebrates the new release with concerts in New York (last night at The Green Room 42), and in San Francisco on October 16 at Feinstein’s At The Nikko.

Follow Michael Longoria on Instagram here.

NYC: New Monthly Variety Show “Bazaaz! A Sequined Variety”

Rick Skye, who won the 2017 MAC Award for “Best Impersonation,” will star in and host Don’t Tell Mama’s new monthly variety show Bazaaz! A Sequined Variety.

Award-winning impersonations, guest performers, and Skye’s Kit Kat Boyz will all be featured in the new show, as well as Skye’s celebrated impersonation as Liza Minnelli singing in his own voice.

Bazaaz! A Sequined Variety will open on Friday, October 27 at 7:00PM.

Via press release:

Skye is well-known in London and New York for having written and performed in a series of outrageously comic, award-winning shows including The Flip Side of Neil Sedaka, which earned him a Bistro Award, A Slice O’Minnelli and The War of the Mama Roses. His show Its Madame with an E! played Atlantic City and Las Vegas and brought him to television where he appeared on Watch What Happens, Live! With Andy Cohen and Celebrity Apprentice as well as Fox & Friends and the WB. His most recent success was Judy and Liza Together Again which closed after an unprecedented seven-year run at Don’t Tell Mama’s and garnered two MAC Awards.

He has performed in many shows as Liza Minnelli in a number of hit shows that played internationally. He co-starred with Steven Brinberg in the London production of Barbra and Liza LIVE! which played the Dublin Gay Theater Festival and he toured with Liza LIVE! playing the New Players Theater in London and many spots in England. A Slice O’ Minnelli enjoyed successful seasons at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End, The Dublin and Edinburgh Festivals, and from cities New York to Chicago. Critics called Skye “Masterful…Astonishing…Brilliant (Chicago Sun Times) and the show earned him the 2006 MAC Award for Best Impersonation, the “Best Achievement in Performance” Award at the Dublin Theatre Festival and the Terrier Award at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Don’t Tell Mama’s is located at 343 West 46th Street in New York City. There is a $25.00 Cover/2 Drink Minimum (Cash only). Reservations can be made at www.donttellmamanyc.com.

Check out Skye’s “Liza” below.

Cabaret: New York Times Disses Debbie Harry

Photo by Michael Wilhoite for Café Carlyle

Debbie Harry is currently performing a sold-out residency at the Cafe Carlyle in New York City.

Sold-out or not, Stephen Holden of the New York Times was not impressed by the 69 year old punk rock legend’s cabaret act:

Making a grand entrance in a black leather jacket and tinted sunglasses, she was every inch the platinum-haired downtown bad girl and face of the seminal, still-extant post-punk band Blondie. She resembled a tabloid American Catherine Deneuve. Instead of a band, she brought with her a one-man computer-and-synthesizer sound machine in the person of Blondie’s current keyboardist, Matt Katz-Bohen, who also played a little piano and guitar.

Those hoping that Ms. Harry would sing Blondie hits like “Rapture,” “Heart of Glass” and “Call Me” were treated to a program of songs taken mostly from her uneven solo albums, whose musical styles ranged from poppy dance numbers like her minor 1986 hit, “French Kissin’, ” to more sophisticated ballads like “Imitation of a Kiss,” which she recorded with the Jazz Passengers.

[snip]

Nothing could camouflage Ms. Harry’s vocal difficulties. She was so consistently off-pitch that the songs nearly disappeared under her struggle to sing the notes. The show was the professional equivalent of a very shaky audition.

OUT’s Greg Garry felt differently:

At 69, this NYC legend’s voice still sounds strong and clear, with a slight husky tone but still able to hit those high notes, and these shows should take full advantage of that. Hopefully this will inspire her to record an album of torch songs. Then she can be the punk rock Peggy Lee. Comparisons aside, there’s only one Debbie Harry.