Currently viewing the tag: "music"

There’s no mistaking when Mario Frangoulis takes the stage. The only thing that is crisper than his clothes is his remarkable voice. A sterling tenor that has taken this singer-actor to some of the world’s greatest stages and allowed him to perform in opera, classical theater and popular West End musicals. Born in Africa and raised in Greece, Frangoulis was trained at London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he was discovered by legendary Broadway creator Sir Cameron Mackintosh. His “Mario Frangoulis: Sing Me An Angel” tour launches on Saturday, March 25th at the Sanders Theatre at Harvard University in Cambridge. The concert starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are still available. (https://www.mariofrangoulis.com/concerts)

 

STYLEBOSTON: Classical performers, particularly tenors, are known for being put together (tux, tails), but traditionally haven’t been known as fashion-forward trendsetters (those tux, tails). And then there’s you. You have made headlines for your “style.” Where does your sense of style come from? 

MARIO: I have always cared about fashion and how it is influenced by the various changes in our society, the political climate, the style of music and the arts. In so many ways, styling itself gives an “identity” to an artist, “signature” clothes, and one’s own style. I have been extremely lucky to meet great designers at such a young age in my life and career. Donna Karan, for example, dressed me on my first album “Sometimes I Dream.” Valentino designed my first tuxedos early on in my career and let me launch his Red Label tuxedos. Giorgio Armani designed all of the suits, costumes and clothes for the movie “De Lovely” starring Kevin Klein and Ashley Judd in which I wore a great Shakespearean period costume designed by Armani himself! He was also a very cool person to meet. Lately I have been dressed exclusively by Ermenegildo Zegna.

 

STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite designer? A favorite piece in your wardrobe?

MARIO: I had the chance to meet the unique Ralph Lauren at an exclusive party at Bloomingdales and I have to admit that his casual-wear clothes are the best! Very comfortable and all time classic. I have many jackets by Ralph Lauren that I also wear with jeans for press conferences and casual smart occasions. One of my very favorite designers these days is Tom Ford. His tuxedos are incredible —especially the great thick and old-fashioned but contemporary lapels. Tom Ford’s tuxedo has to be my favorite piece in my entire wardrobe!

 

STYLEBOSTON: Just as you have made an impression for your style, you are known for your versatility on stage. Do you prefer traditional opera over Broadway or West End musicals? How does traditional Greek music fit into your repertoire?

MARIO: Opera is my first love. West End musicals, however, especially “Les Miserables” was my first big adventure on stage. The costumes were actually designed by the Greek-Cypriot English costume and Tony Award-winning designer Andreane Neofitou. Playing Marius, the romantic lead, gives me so much theatrical and stage experience.

As you said in your question, I truly enjoy being versatile on stage, and this really represents who I am. I enjoy being different in every role I play: from Raoul in “The Phantom of the Opera” to Tony in “West Side Story” at Teatro Alla Scala to the King in “The King and I” and so many leading roles in ancient Greek drama, like “Prometheus Bound,” a Titan who defies the gods and gives fire to mankind, acts for which he is subjected to perpetual punishment. Achilles was a great role for me in the ancient theatre in Epidaurus in the year of the Olympic games in 2004. It was the first time this great Ancient Greek play was presented after 2,500 years. It is a trilogy by the great dramatist Aeschylus and was so full of great adventures, heroic battles and fate itself which one cannot escape from. Dionysus, however in “The Bacchae” was the most challenging of all roles. Dionysus, the protagonist of Euripides, “Bacchae,” is one big contradiction. The character embodies many of the dualities that we see throughout the play. First of all, in some ways he represents both human and god. Dionysus definitely has all the powers of a god. He summons earthquakes, lightning, and has a knack for getting into people’s heads, driving them insane!

Another interesting duality is that Dionysus is foreign and Greek at the same time. He was born in Greece, but his religion, for some reason, first spread in Asia. Another contradiction is that Dionysus in some ways represents both male and female. Yes, he is a male god, but the mortal form he takes is said to be quite effeminate. Dionysus also had a strange birth. The play itself is full of dualities and that is what I love about it!

Perhaps the play is trying to say that everything that exists is also its opposite at the very same time—more specifically, that we as human beings are inherently contradicted. We’re all both rational and irrational. All humans are animals, but there’s also something special that undeniably separates us from the rest of Earth’s living creatures.

Though we all (or at least most of us) belong to one gender or another, there are things about all of us that don’t quite fit into the role that society prescribes to specific sexes. Even though everybody is from somewhere, we’re all a foreigner somewhere else. Sometimes we even become foreigners in our own homes. Lastly, even though we’re certainly mortal, maybe, just maybe, some part of us is eternal and divine. It seems to us, that in the character of Dionysus, Euripides captured many of the amazing contradictions that make up every human being.

Mario & Justin Hayward

In music and in theater, I must be flexible, adapting to what’s happening around me, and experimenting with new and unique combinations of music and acting skills—this also translates to my sense of personal style. Life is a mosaic of experiences that make up who we are—there is no one “right” way to do anything…everything I do has to do with my truth, my feelings and my identity. That is why Greek music is always part of my repertoire—not only because of the beauty of the language, but also because it is core to who I am and my identity as a human being. I can’t imagine a performance without Greek music…my style is the same way… in everything I do I strive for simplicity… I was trained to respect simplicity in my voice/singing, I was raised to admire simplicity in my personal life, and my aesthetic reflects this value.

 

STYLEBOSTON: Do you have a favorite stage to perform on or favorite venue to perform in? A favorite performer to appear with? Or, symphony to perform with? (No pressure to say Symphony Hall or the Boston Pops…)

MARIO: I love Keith Lockhart and the Boston Pops! Symphony Hall in Boston is an amazing venue and acoustically one of the best in the world. We did an “epic” show there in 2012 that aired on public television across the country and I will never forget it. I have performed in Boston many times. It is one of my favorite cities to perform in. I love the combination of history with young energy (all the students). It has a European feel to it, and it is next to the ocean, which is so beautiful. Of course performing in venues like Milan’s La Scala and my favorite Herod Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens is tough competition! But Boston is certainly up there!

I have had the pleasure of performing with such a huge range of talented artists—from Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to Justin Hayward and Klaus Meine to Lara Fabian and Sarah Brightman to Natalie Cole, Tina Arena and Smokey Robinson. The list goes on and on!

What I have enjoyed so much about Boston are the fantastic young and talented musicians, many of them from Berklee College of Music. I have a passion for supporting young musicians and I love to walk the halls at night when we are rehearsing and feel the energy of all of that great young talent ready to take over the world.

 

STYLEBOSTON: How did it come to be that Boston was the first location on this US tour?

 MARIO: We have been talking with my team for a while about returning to one of my favorite venues in Boston—the Sanders Theatre at Harvard. That theatre is amazing and the acoustics are fantastic. We’ve always performed great shows on that stage full of amazing positive energy. I always get so much energy and love from this city and have many friends here who I can call my family. We decided that since WGBH has been such a supporter over the years, and we got a great date to start the 2017 concert series here, why not “come home” to Boston?

 

STYLEBOSTON: Do you have any favorite haunts, places or stops in Boston? 

MARIO: Of course I love to walk around the Boston Common and Newbury Street; Harvard Square and brunch at the Charles Hotel is always a great favorite! Lobster and crab at Legal Sea Foods on the Harbor is great as well. There is a long list and it, of course, includes Symphony Hall, and also Harvard Yard. I love to walk in Boston. Bostonians have a certain casual sophistication that makes me feel very at ease.

 

 

 

 

Matt NathansonThe talented Matt Nathanson is an American singer-songwriter, whose work is a blend of folk and a bit of rock. Originally from Lexington, MA but now a resident of San Franscisco, he has an amazing voice and plays acoustic (sometimes a 12-string) electric guitar, both solo and with a full band. You might recognize him with his platinum selling song, “Come On Get Higher.”

The 43 year-old singer-songwriter released his 8th album, Last of the Great Pretenders, on July 16th, 2013 and was his 3rd album with Vanguard Records. His first single, “Mission Bells” was released on March 11th on San Fran radio station KFOG. This album debuted at #16 on the Billboard Top 200.

His songs have been featured on TV shows such as: “NCIS”, “One Tree Hill”, “Private Practice”, “Women’s Murder Club”, “Big Shots”, “Scrubs”, “The Vampire Diaries”, “Life Unexpected”, “The Bachelor” and more.

Matt is currently touring with his band, which features Aaron Tap (acoustic & electric guitar), Victor Indrizzo (drums), Chris Reynolds (drums, engineer and synthesizer), Jake Sinclair (bass, drums, guitar, mixing, producer, programming, background vocals), and Mike Viola (bass, guitar, keyboards, producer, background vocals).

He tours and opens for Train this summer so Boston fans, don’t miss him! at Xfinity Center on June 20, 2015.

clapton is god originalMy husband David proposed to me during an Eric Clapton song and one of our sons was conceived to a Clapton song. Am I over sharing here? Probably, but I’m not going to tell you which of his songs or which of my sons. I will tell you that Clapton has been our soundtrack from the beginning and although we have seen him many times in the states, seeing him in London at the Royal Albert Hall has long been on our bucket list. Eric was going to celebrate his 70th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his first performance at the Royal Albert by playing there once again. Touted by the press and “sources in the know” that this would be his last concert, we had to be there and if we were going to be there it would have to be the last night of the series.  We weren’t the only Americans to have come in for the concert; many Yanks we met were in London for the same reason. We all had our own Clapton stories and we all shared the same questions: how is he going to sound, what will it be like inside the Royal Albert Hall, and will this be the last time he preforms as a headliner?

clapton on stageWhen Eric took the stage I was immediately struck by how he looked.  He appeared thinner, grayer, and okay I’ll say it…. older. But that thought flew out of my head the second he started to rock, as his guitar playing remains unequaled and his voice sounded strong and right. Is the Royal Albert Hall gorgeous? YES. It’s like being inside a decadent crimson and gold jewelry box with an amazing sound system. Was it all worth it? YES! I prayed to hear “Bell Bottom Blues” or “White Room” but got acoustic “Layla” and “Tears In Heaven” instead, my least favorite songs of the night.  I like my “Layla” in its original version, all glorious angst on a Stratocaster with the haunting instrumental. “Tears” is just too sad and I don’t know how he plays it knowing its genesis, making it the perfect song for this girl to run to the bar.  Overall the set list didn’t seem to disappoint the crowd and hearing “Can’t Find My Way Home” live and in that venue was almost a religious experience for me. Moving quickly from song to song, shifting eras and playing selections from both his solo catalog and magic he created with the band, the concert was a dream that went to fast.

clapton on stage 2One of the many things I enjoy about seeing Clapton live is that he doesn’t really talk to the audience, doesn’t preach his politics, and doesn’t waste your time together yipping when he could be playing.  Eric tells his story thru his music and what he choses to play. He didn’t say much to the crowd but did comment on how grueling the series of concerts have been on him. His closing song “High Time We Went” was also telling and he and his band seemed to linger longer than what you would expect as they took their bows. Was May 23, 2015 Eric Clapton’s last concert as a headliner? Probably.  Is Clapton still God? YES.

Tove-Lo-Talking BodyTove Lo might have caught your ear this time last year with her slow building hit, “Habits (Stay High)”, an ode to marijuana self-medicating. I’m all for some green but the track just didn’t tickle my fancy. So I took no interest in this artist with the odd name, who reminded me of another emo, indie pop Lorde – no thank you. Well, I’m owning my bad judgement because I was wrong and if you were at this year’s Boston Calling you might have caught Tove Lo tearing up the stage. What changed my opinion on Tove Lo? Her second single, “Talking Body”. Released in January of this year, the track has gained popularity on top 40 radio over the last few months and I guarantee it will have your feet moving this summer. The lyrical content and musical composition seamlessly flow together to create a mid-tempo bass, heavy groove with the sexiest, catchiest hook you’ve ever heard. After hearing “Talking Body” I listened to the rest of her album and was not disappointed. Check the track below and get your summer groove on.

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music:Bear's DenWith so many alternative bands in this world, it’s hard to find one that fits all your criteria, especially when it comes to folk. Look no further because Bear’s Den brings you just that. Originally out of West London, this British alternative folk band not only brings you soothing music but also brings the comfort of bands like The Lumineers and more.

2012 was one of their first tours on the road with Ben Howard, The Staves and Nathaniel Rateliff but their big break was touring alongside Mumford & Sons as headliners. They also toured alongside Australian singer/songwriter Matt Corby in October of 2013. Soon after, Bear’s Den received the Deezer Award from the PRS for Music Foundation in June 2014 and landed the chance to participate in the CMJ Music Marathon in NYC.

After years of releasing EP’s, their debut album, Islands released on Communion Records in October 2014.  The label was founded in 2006 by Bear’s Den member Kevin Jones, Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons and producer Ian Grimble.

From their new album, Island, the song to listen to is “Above the Clouds of Pompeii.” Its smooth sounds of the country side provokes the thought of just letting go and being free. If you are a Mumford & Sons fan, then Bear’s Den is for you so relax and take the journey with this talented band. Featured in television shows such as Reign, The Royals, Parenthood and more, you’ll want to see them live. Check out when they’re coming to your home town.

If you are a huge Mumford & Sons fan, then this band is just for you. Relax and take the journey with this talented band. Featured in many TV shows such as Reign, The Royals, Parenthood and more. You’ll want to see them live. Check out when they’re coming to your home town.

Music-The Runaway Club
You’ve heard of synth, indie, pop, and chill wave, but what about 80’s synth/pop mix? Step into the 80’s world with me as we explore this amazing solo band called The Runaway Club. Alan Poettcker, from Vancouver, British Columbia brings his active pop punk mix into his new album.

Since he was in high school, Alan loved everything music, from pop to discovering the synth. Coming from a musical family he started listening to bands like Brand New and Taking Back Sunday, which made him want to yell into the mic, thus starting his musical career. Alongside yelling into the mic, he also learned how to play bass guitar in middle school. Not only is he writing songs for his solo project, but he’s also a member of Chilliwack (British Columbia) based band called These Kids Wear Crowns.

Working on his album, “The Runaway Club” he likes to write geeky songs, play with certain tunes, and doesn’t really care in the end how it sounds. No pressure at all, just fun. His favorite song off the album is ‘Downhill from Here.’ He stated that it’s the only song that has actual drums at the end, where all his other songs are drum machines. It’s a song that builds the feeling of an open field with sounds. This works by freeing oneself from all things fear, because in the end you might as well live your life to the fullest. No regrets, which is why this song makes perfect sense.

Even though The Runaway Club isn’t planning on touring anytime soon, you can find the album on Spotify, Bandcamp, ITunes and more. Each track on this album has its own form of ‘dance until you drop’ catchiness and mature level to it. The smart kind of lyrics. Stop and listen to this album, and really understand where Alan’s mind is coming from. Because without lyrics, the beat wouldn’t mean much.

magicParis, Texas and Chicagoland is Where It All Starts for this band. Magic Man is a five-piece, major label, synth rock band from Boston. Formed in 2010, they released their first EP You Are Here in September 2013, followed by their first major full-length release, Before The Waves on July 8, 2014. In February 2014, their song Paris debuted at #39 on the alternative charts and in March 2014, Alt Nation debuted Paris at #1 on the Alt 18 countdown. Also in March, they decided it was time to take things to the next level and perform at the well-known Austin, Texas festival (SXSW) alongside other bands such as Smallpools, Grouplove, New Politics and more. Shortly after opening for these bands, they embarked on their west coast US tour, headlining for the first time alongside Panic! At The Disco and Walk the Moon.

If you’ve listened to these guys, you’re probably familiar with their Passion Pit vibe. They released their first music video (PARIS), which debuted on VH1’s Mid Morning Buzz with Nick Lachey, and in a few days they sold out their first concert in NYC. Signed to Columbia Records, this band is a must see.

Happy to say that I’m friends with such a talented band. Make sure to see them this year as they headline a show near you.

Conv W-Andris-lead photo

All eyes are on the energetic – and telegenic  — Andris Nelsons when he bounds across the stage of Boston Symphony Hall to take his place at the conductor’s podium, his sheer physicality a performance unto itself. At 35 years old, Nelsons is one of the youngest and most electrifying conductors on the international scene today and the youngest music director to lead the BSO in more than 100 years. He might also be the only one to have ever been a student of martial arts. Prior to his arrival in Boston, the Latvia native was music director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), where he earned critical acclaim. Born in Riga to a family of musicians, Nelsons began his career as a trumpeter in the Latvian National Opera Orchestra before studying to be conductor. He is married to the internationally renowned soprano Kristine Opolais, who joined him on stage for his first opening night leading the storied Boston Symphony Orchestra.

AS A YOUNG CONDUCTOR, WHAT DID THE BOSTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA MEAN TO YOU? WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST IMPRESSIONS?

As a music student growing up in Latvia, I was aware of the leading position of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (BSO), one of the world’s greatest orchestras. I followed the careers of several BSO‘s legendary music directors, especially Serge Koussevitzky, Charles Munch, Erich Leinsdorf, and Seiji Ozawa, and more recently, James Levine. I remember listening to many BSO recordings and feeling overwhelmed by the extraordinary performances.  I never imagined that I would become this orchestra’s music director!

WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST SURPRISE ABOUT BOSTON AUDIENCES FOR YOU SO FAR?

The enthusiasm that the Boston audiences has shown to me, has touched me deeply. I have always heard that the Boston audiences were passionate music lovers—and it is very true!  They also are generous in expressing pride and love for the orchestra. The BSO has been a great inspiration and joy for many of our patrons. My hope is to do all I can to continue to inspire them to ever greater levels of satisfaction and reward.

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IS THE ORCHESTRA DIFFERENT TODAY THAN WHEN YOU FIRST GUEST-CONDUCTED IN 2011?

I don’t know that I can speak to how different the orchestra is today than it was in 2011.  When I conducted the orchestra for the first time in March 2011, I was overwhelmed by the beauty and power the orchestra displayed in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony.  It is a very difficult piece of music, but we developed quickly a good connection and were able to make incredible music together. My joy nearly four years later comes from getting to know the orchestra better. I enjoy meeting and getting to know each individual musician, knowing them by name. This helps us work better together and make some great music.

WE’RE IN THE AGE OF “NEW” MEDIA. DID YOUR TRAINING AS A MUSICIAN AND A CONDUCTOR PREPARE YOU FOR YOUR NEW ROLE AS HOLOGRAM AT SYMPHONY HALL?

I have never participated in the creation of a hologram before, so it was fun to see how they created the 3D image. It’s both strange and exciting to stand next to your own talking and moving hologram – and I was happy to see that I have lost some weight since recording the image last July! I hope our wonderful patrons enjoyed this technology, and that the hologram and overall exhibit communicated some interesting and new information, especially to newcomers to the BSO.

IS THE ROLE OF CONDUCTOR OF A WORLD-CLASS ORCHESTRA OF THE 21’ST CENTURY DIFFERENT THAN IT WAS FOR YOUR HISTORIC COUNTERPARTS?

I would say that it is a faster moving world today, of course it is, and this pace applies to all aspects of modern life! However, in contrast, the fundamental role of the conductor has not changed so much at all on the podium. This profession is still based on personal communication and it rather stands the test of time in this sense. It’s such a magical and of historic profession.

BOSTON HAS A REPUTATION FOR BEING A FAIRLY TRADITIONAL CITY. CAN YOU GIVE US A PREVIEW OF ANY EXCITING, NEW WORK YOU’LL BE INTRODUCING?

The Boston Symphony Orchestra has always presented many new interesting compositions with major composers as Bartok, Hindemith, Stravinsky, Babbitt, Birtwistle, Carter, and Saariaho, and many others, and also significant premieres.  So there is no doubt that with the great repertoire that we all love so deeply—music of Brahms, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, etc.—we will also explore works by new composers and go back to some of the works of the 20th and 21st centuries that have made the recent history of classical music.  Sophia Gubaidulina’s Offertorium is a great example of bringing back a late 20th century work that is now considered a masterpiece of our field—and Baiba Skride’s recent performances captured the extraordinary sound of Ms. Gubaidulina’s composition. This season we’ve also programmed works by Boston composers Gunther Schuller, John Harbison, and Michael Gandolfi, as well as works by Australian composer Brett Dean and my Latvian compatriot Eriks Esenvalds. Our audiences have responded very enthusiastically to what we have performed so far. We will continue to explore new works and bring the very best of music to our wonderful patrons.

For further information about the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a complete spring schedule, visit Boston Symphony or click here for complete programs, ticket information, photos, press documents, and artist bios.

dabin bloodless

This track blew me away on so many levels, the first being that I did not believe it was the bass heavy, synthesizer enthusiast and producer Dabin, whom I discovered via Pandora last summer. The track is unlike any of his previous work, which tended to be on the heavier side of the electronic music spectrum. Dabin brings his signature electro style to Bloodless with impeccable melodic instrumentation, but with a softer touch. It is filled with screaming synthesizers, hand claps, ominous horns and an interchangeable bass line that gives you enough time to let it all out on the dance floor, take a break and start all over again. The composition of the track, combined with breathy vocals provided by guest feature Sarah Lee – not to be confused with the cake – conjoin in an effortless, electro dance production. I give Dabin’s new sound five stars and look forward to hearing more from this illusive DJ. His newest track was just featured as a premier on the popular Euro based UKF, which could be a real sign to rising recognition. Give Bloodless a listen below and see if you agree.

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Katharine McPheeDid you sit through the endless red carpet coverage?  I did.  I’m pretty sure I lost some IQ points and all I wanted to do was feed Giuliana Rancic a sandwich, but I powered through it.  Ryan Seacrest just needs to embrace his vertical challenge and start standing on a phone book because when he interviews people like Taylor Swift or Nicole Kidman, he looks like a 12 year-old.  It’s so awkward.  Kat McPhee looked like a deer in the headlights when she was interviewed by Seacrest.  I mean they KNOW each other right?  Why was she so weird?  I’m thinking it’s because she forgot to wash her hair.

Ariana Grande & Big SeanAriana Grande was interviewed with her new guy Big Sean and he was her biggest accessory. The level of cuteness was pretty high on the nausea scale, I mean she wanted everyone to know “this is my man and you can’t have him”. Look girl, if you want a man that will take your inevitable breakup and use it to write a marginally interesting song that will be played on radio stations everywhere, then you do you. I look at this and I think about my ex that I brought to my sister’s wedding. He’s in the pictures and I wish he wasn’t. I feel like when Ariana looks back at these pics after the public breakup, she will wish she hadn’t hung all over him like a cheap suit.

I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination, but here are my picks from the red carpet.

BEST: Taylor Swift, Chrissy Teigan, Jessie J and Gwen Stefani.

WORST: Rihanna (WHAT WAS THAT?) Iggy Azalea’s hair crown, Kim Kardashian’s bedazzled robe and Keith Urban’s ponytail.

New England Patriots will be on stage? What!! I had no idea. I was hoping for a Grammy Gronking, but Edelman and Butler did pretty well with a well-played interception joke.

Kanye West put on his best sweats to Auto-Tune his way through a crappy song. Someone please explain Kanye and his “art” to me, because I don’t get it.

MadonnaMadonna as a matador. I don’t think I need to say anymore do I? I love her, she does no wrong, haters to the left. She kept it classy on the red carpet as well…

Keith Urban has a ponytail? Stop. Just stop.

I felt the song with Paul McCartney, Kanye and Rihanna was all over the place. Matching black suits? Is it me or did Rihanna show NO skin this evening? Something is wrong in the world somewhere. The song is good, but I just can’t listen to Kanye sing. Mostly because he can’t. And Paul just looks so out of place. And constantly surprised.

The Grammy’s were far too long and peppered with performances that truly sucked (Usher singing Stevie Wonder) and performances that delivered (Madonna, Beyonce and Tom Jones) but it’s the one time where I will sit in front of the TV for hours on end that doesn’t involve Netflix.

Madonna-Rebel-Heart-thatgrapejuiceAm I biased because I owned the Immaculate Collection at age 5? Probably. That really is beside the point though because Madonna is back in full force with her new album Rebel Heart. After what was being called the “madonnagate” (her whole upcoming album leaked online in demo version and she was NOT happy) – Madonna decided to release five official versions of the leaked tracks on iTunes to hold her fans over until the full set is released in March. One of those tracks is called “Devil Pray” an acoustic bass-heavy ode to self-medication. Or is it? At first listen you might think, okay girl sit down, it’s not cool to sing about drugs when you’re in your mid 50’s (I for one think it’s great, light up that J Madge). The interpretation of “Devil Pray” is up for debate, but I think the song speaks to people coming together as one, an unstoppable force for the devil to reckon with, rather than self-medicating with drugs alone – which doesn’t get you too far. Either way, the track is fun to sing, and the hypnotic bassline should have you bopping around happily. Listen below and see what YOU think Madge is talking about with “Devil Pray.”

Catch the queen live this year at the Grammy’s, the “Unapologetic Bitch” singer should have an interesting performance for us all to say the least.

 

It’s a brand new year. And if one of your resolutions is to be a truly well rounded culture vulture, you’re in luck. We looked ahead to the first quarter of 2015, assembling a flock of diverse art outings that range from glossy, big-budget Broadway tours to edgier fringe theater, photographic exhibitions from pioneering artists to curious installations from under-the-radar names. This year, spread your wings — and open your mind — to encompass a greater swath of all that Boston’s impressive arts scene has to offer.

BREAD & PUPPET THEATER

BreadPuppet Mark Dannenhauer

Born within the 60s counter-culture movement, this Vermont-based theater troupe is known for its avant-garde use of progressive politicking puppetry: think oversized effigies of animals, Wall Street fat cats, and Uncle Sam used alongside song and dance to create curious — okay, often strange — spectacles that comment on everything from international wars to nuclear power. Bread & Puppet Theater’s run at the Cyclorama will feature two live shows: “Captain Boycott” and “The Nothing is Not Ready Circus,” both of which tackle themes of populist uprising. No matter where you fall on the left-right spectrum, you have to love such wonderfully wacky yet interminably heartfelt art.

Bread and Puppet Nothing is not Ready Circus
BreadPuppet3-Photo-Mark Dannenhauer

WHERE: Cyclorama at Boston Center for the Arts

WHEN: January 24 — February 1

 

MOTOWN THE MUSICAL

Motown the Musical

Not all jukebox musicals are created equal. And “Motown” has met with mixed reviews since its Broadway premiere in 2013, with some critics irked by its overstuffed songbook of 60+ recognizable hits — many reduced to only partial versions. But the story of Berry Gordy’s Detroit-based Motown record label, famous for churning out era-defining records by black artists like Diana Ross, The Four Tops, and the Jackson 5, feels especially relevant in 2015, when the popular music industry is finally beginning to have important conversations about cultural appropriation. (It’s been a bad year for Iggy Azalea.) Don’t want to think that hard? Kick back and enjoy the tunes. There’s a lot.

WHERE: Boston Opera House

WHEN: January 27 — February 15

 

GORDON PARKS: BACK TO FORT SCOTT

Born in 1912 in the small Midwest city of Fort Scott, Kansas, Gordon Parks had a childhood of hardships: from the death of his mother, who left behind 15 struggling children, to the pervasive racial discrimination that accompanied life for an African-American man. But in 1948, he became the first African-American photographer to be hired full-time by “LIFE” magazine, and soon after returned home to capture a visual essay that reconnects the shutterbug artist to his hometown — full of pleasant memories, and many painful ones too.

WHERE: Museum of Fine Arts

WHEN: January 17 — September 13

Monstercat AcensionFractal has been a favorite of mine after continually catching my ear with his electro house tracks via Monstercat Records. Itvara takes the number one spot in my book. It’s a great track for both the underground and mainstream music listeners to enjoy. Why? The beat is effortless and the breathy lyrics are a great addition to the euphoric atmosphere of the track. It gives you that authentic electro house sound with a mainstream twist; the lyrics. What makes my heart really flutter is the ebb and flow of buzzing synthesizers mixed with funky guitar twangs. The sounds are very different and blend beautifully together. Itvara is a magical electric creation that takes you into a floaty bass-happy playground. It’s always fun to get a little weird…Fractal should bring out your best parent-dancing moves on the floor and get your tush moving on the treadmill at the gym with this track. Give it a listen below – you can even download it for free, legally if you really like it. I love Monstercat!

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Alex ClareThere’s that one song that you’ve heard, that stays in your head. It starts off with a little synth and eventually warps full speed into dubstep that makes even Skrillex think twice. The lyrics make you want to cry but at the same time fills you with joy. “It feels like I am just too close to love you,” a British voice sings as the baseline drops. The song is “Too Close,” and the voice is British singer-songwriter Alex Clare, from South East London, UK. “Too Close” hit #4 on the UK charts and the US at #68 in March 2012 with his album, “The Lateness Of The Hour.” Also making the greatest appearance in a commercial for Internet Explorer 9 in the US. TV shows have placed this song in almost every possible spot, which was a huge wake up call for Clare.

Signed to Island Records UK and Universal Republic Records in the US, Clare has really made a name for himself. If you’ve never seen him live and up close, here is your chance. He will be at the House of Blues Boston on Monday December 22, 2014. Bringing you the upbeat tempo that cheers you up for the holiday spirit.

 

In medieval times, knights fought the battle between good and evil, light and darkness, right and wrong…today, some young, modern-day knights are facing an even tougher battle.

CALLIE THE CONQUEROR

Callie Herschfield is a tiny wisp of a thing, standing less than five feet tall and weighing only 80 pounds. The 14 year old from Scituate has a soft voice and sweet smile, but don’t let this fool you; she is one tough young lady.

“She’s a warrior,” said Donna Green.

Callie’s “warrior” status isn’t because she’s dressed a little bad-ass this day in a black Aerosmith T-shirt, jeans and black boots, or because she’s wearing funky, oversized aviator sunglasses. It isn’t even because she casually strapped on a helmet and climbed on a big — really big — motorcycle with her dad Ken.

Callie is a warrior because she kicked cancer’s butt — at a place called Magical Moon Farm.

THE FARM

magicalmoon4

Magical Moon is a 160-year-old farm on five acres of land in Marshfield. Quite literally, it is a magical place where wind chimes echo down the stone path to the butterfly garden and fairy figurines peak out from among the flowers.  It’s where massive sunflowers tower over the chicken coop and a lone peacock deigns to live among the many hens and roosters there.

magicalmoon3Adding to the mystical scene, towards the back of the farm, up a small incline are twelve brightly colored chairs in a semi-circle in front of a fire pit. The wooden chairs have high backs reminiscent of medieval times – sort of a Knights of the Round Table, but through a child’s eyes.

The property was once a sea captain’s home, then a boarding home, before becoming an auction house, but in it’s latest adaptation, the farm, with its organic gardens and whimsical air, is a haven for children facing cancer; a place where they can feel strong, empowered, and not alone. [huge_it_slider id=”5″]

 

GREEN ACRES

magical1Donna Green, famed illustrator of an edition of the children’s book classic, The Velveteen Rabbit, bought the property 15 years ago. She was looking for a big barn in which to store her books, what she found when she first saw the place was a huge four-story barn and an even bigger vision of what she must do with the property.

“The property had an essence when I first came here,” she said.  “I saw it completely done with orchards and gardens, animals and fun things for kids to do. I envisioned children learning about healthy ways to become survivors of life-threatening diseases and conditions.”

Her vision was to bring sick children here and give them something else to focus on: gardening, writing, music, good food, the arts and learning ways to survive.

She would also invite the child to take on a mission, a project to make the world a better place. The project would help the child focus on something other than chemo, radiation and hair loss. The goal: knighthood and finding their inner strength.

So, Green began digging, and planting and growing: sunflowers here, tomatoes there, and a child’s spirit in the center of it all…beginning with Alison.magical2

ALISON THE AWESOME

Alison was the child of one of Green’s friends, and the first “knight” of Magical Moon Farm. She was 19 years old and battling leukemia.

“She was a beautiful artist,” said Green. “She felt like my own daughter, I felt like my own soul was inside of her.”

Alison was the inspiration for a beautiful butterfly garden on the farm. Her picture stands at the gate, in her memory. Alison the Awesome became an Angel Knight in 2008.

CALLIE THE CONQUEROR?

“I wasn’t really into it, I didn’t care. I was…not really happy.”

Not exactly a magical reaction to the farm, but an honest one on the part of a sick kid. Callie, then 10 years old, was in the midst of chemotherapy, had no hair and was brought to a farm where she didn’t know anyone.

Slowly, she became part of it. She started working with Green on painting the things she loved. She adored sea life and Green sent her to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on Cape Cod to go below with scientists and learn about endangered sea life. Callie got to feed a sea turtle and that was the subject of her first painting.  Since that time she’s painted numerous others. She always gravitated to the animals at the farm. “She has a way with animals that is magical,” said Green.

“I would just go there and there would be other people to hang out with, other kids who would make you feel better,” said Callie. “Some of them were sick, some of them were just there. Everyone knows what’s going on but they’re all here to support you.”

Callie’s dad Ken noticed a big transformation in his daughter after she started going to Magical Moon.

“She was young and quiet, (then) I think she got more confident,” he said.

And that is why Callie and her family support Magical Moon Farm, by riding a motorcycle.

THE RIDE

magical5On a hot Sunday afternoon, too hot for the end of September, 200 bikers gathered in an Elks Lodge parking lot in Weymouth to take part in a special ride to raise money for the Magical Moon Foundation. Despite 80-degree temperatures, many wore jeans and leather. Black was the popular color and multiple tattoos the norm. On the outside, this looked like one tough crowd, on the inside though, it was all mush. The ride took them past the magical farm they were supporting, where the children waited on the side of the road to cheer them.

Green said the kids at her farm often times feel like misfit toys. “Bikers can be misfit toys too,” said Green. “These big, tough bikers in leather had tears in their eyes.”

Callie the Conqueror rode tall and proud behind her father on that very big bike. She rode to celebrate four years cancer free and also for the other kids at Magical Moon Farm, facing what she faced and hoping to beat it too.

Green has lost some of her knights; you can see the sadness deep in her eyes, but instead of focusing on the sorrow, Green turns it around and teaches her knights-in-training to be strong and to be survivors.

“I focus on the positive, that’s what I tell the children, ‘Focus on the positive, detach from negativity and turn every challenge into an opportunity,’” said Green.

“Yes, it’s difficult, but it’s all about living — it’s not about dying.”

Learn more about The Magical Moon Farm

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