Variety’s Power of Women event; honoree speeches

“When I first started out female comedy writers were treated like cappuccino machines.”

At Variety’s Power of Women event Tina Fey gave a speech about the power of surrounding yourself with other women, not only about looking up at women in positions of leadership but to other women where you can use your knowledge and privilege and lift other women up.

She goes on to talk about the power of stories and reading and the impact stories can have on you as a kid. She talks about her work with Reading is Fundamental and what that program meant to her as a kid. It’s a really great speech and worth a listen.

There’s great speeches from other women on YouTube from this event like Emily Blunt, Amy Poehler, Alicia Keys, Padma Lakshmi & Viola Davis. Listen to Tina’s and go from there.

Music: Good Kisser by Lake Street Dive

The lead singer from Lake Street Dive, Rachael Price, has this deep, soulful voice that I just adore. The band’s music is sort of this multi-genre that bridges Blue-eyed Soul and Jazz with a southern sound. And it’s divine.

Good Kisser, one of the newest songs from Lake Street Dive has this kind of f-u attitude about a break-up and it’s upbeat and fun. It definitely makes me dance around a little every time I listen.

I first heard Lake Street Dive in this live video from a Boston sidewalk where the band played a really amazing cover of “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5.

Shakey Graves on Audiotree Live

Audiotree is an artist discovery platform with a YouTube channel where they regularly have an artist record several songs for them live. In 2014 they featured an artist named Shakey Graves, a singer-songwriter with a guitar, a suitcase drum and a tambourine. A little like Bert from Mary Poppins, he can be a one man band when he needs to be.

I don’t know how long after they did this first series of songs with him I discovered them, maybe 2015? But I go back to this little series of videos pretty often. I find this series recorded with Audiotree one of the best introductions to Shakey Graves. You can see his charisma in the way he plays to the camera as he sings and though I haven’t seen him live (yet) I feel like you get a pretty good feel for what that might be like. Not only does his stage name have this good Southern Gothic vibe to it, so does his music. I find it almost always puts me in a better mood — at least the upbeat songs do.

Below is the series of videos he did in this first set. My favorite song from this set is the first one, “Roll the Bones”.

A year or so after this set of videos was recorded, Shakey Graves did a second set for Audiotree, which you can see below.  From this one my favorite is the third song, “Where a Boy Once Stood”.




MisCast 2018 — Robbie Fairchild “The Music and the Mirror” from A CHORUS LINE

Every year the MCC Theater in NYC puts on the MisCast Gala where a handful of Broadway actors perform something from a role for which they’d never be cast. Usually this is something as simple as gender swapped performance. There’s playlists of these performances on YouTube for the last few years. This year’s playlist hasn’t been compiled yet but the videos are up on the MCC Theater channel if you want to look through them all. There’s an amazing standout video of James Monroe Iglehart singing “Satisfied” from Hamilton. Which I do love it but it’s not my favorite.

As the title of this post gives away, my favorite from this year’s performances is “The Music and the Mirror” by Robbie Fairchild. He takes Cassie’s big dance sequence and makes it his own and I LOVE IT. The original Zach, Bobby LuPone performs Zach’s lines from the audience, which is pretty awesome.

I have a long standing soft-spot for A Chorus Line since watching it years and years ago with my grandmother. She was the sort of grandma who always let me watch things that were way to adult for me, but they were always these really great performances pieces like Dirty Dancing or A Chorus Line, where she knew I’d be way more into the dancing than the story. Which I was.

And this performance is no exception. Watch and enjoy and then go back and watch some of the other performances. There’s more than a few hours of enjoyment to be had, I believe there are MisCast playlists going back to 2009 on YouTube.

Music: Tank and the Bangas; NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

I think you have to have been living under a rock not to know what the NPR Music Tiny Desk Concerts art. So you don’t need me to explain how good they can be to find new music or to see good indie musicians do what they do in an intimate setting. And the setlist isn’t tight or too defined, the musicians can talk or riff or whatever makes them feel the music or connected to the small audience in the office at the time. I’m not an NPR fan and I don’t watch every new Tiny Desk video when it goes up, but every now and again something will catch my eye.

Last year’s winner of the Tiny Desk Contest was a band called Tank and the Bangas. The video went up pretty much a year ago yesterday and it’s 20+ minutes of good fun. Their music is hip hop soul with a big voice and really hefty lyrics. I fell in love pretty much immediately, listened to all the songs I could find and then sent the video out to all of my friends.

They were in town for a Tedx youth conference recently and I’m kicking myself for not knowing. I would’ve loved the chance to see them perform in person. But I’ll settle for watching this video over again a few more times.

Music: Secret for the Mad by dodie

I’m very much not the demographic for Dodie Clark’s YouTube career, or even probably her music. But I find her honest and charming and her music utterly delightful. I appreciate her communication about her struggles with mental illness and her ability to put them on camera. I love the lyrics to her songs because they feel like they come from a real place and were I a younger adult, I’d likely find them highly applicable to my own feelings. Instead of sort of wistfully nostalgic. Actually I find myself somewhere between the two on most days and dodie’s sweet, soft voice is a good remedy for when you find yourself more wistfully nostalgic than tragically and seemingly unceasingly young. (For me, anyway.)

Music: Rolling in the Deep by Adele (Cover by Scary Pockets with Sarah Dugas)

As big of a fan as I am of music, I’m not the sort of person that hates on covers. Obviously I’ve recommended at least one here before. But lest that not accurately portray my love of covers, let me make it clear here and now. I LOVE covers, even bad ones, even cheesy ones. I love hearing someone else’s take on music I know really, really well. Sometimes they bring a sound to the music that I find interesting, sometimes they change the music in a way that brings out lyrics I hadn’t noticed before, sometimes it’s just a new way for me to fall in love with the song all over again. Sure, not ever cover is great and I might just listen to it once and pass by. But sometimes I might decide that I like the cover better than original. It’s all good in the cover game.

So then let me tell you how much I love Scary Pockets. They’re a funk band doing what Scott Bradlee did with Postmodern Jukebox (if you ask who? um… go figure that out and come back to me). They’re taking popular songs and make funk covers out of them. And listen, if you’re not into funk music, or maybe if you’re not sure if you like funk music, Scary Pockets is a good way to check it out. I mean some of the ‘funk’ is questionably true funk, but listen… they’re doing good at what they’re doing.
Plus, they’re giving all these great voices a chance to shine by not having one official Scary Pockets vocalist. 
Their most recent video is Rolling in the Deep by Adele, but funkified. The singer, Sarah Dugas, has an amazing voice and does the song justice. It’s worth a listen. 
HOWEVER, that’s not what I want to leave you with. While that’s good and shows you where they are now, I want to show you one of the ones I love the very most. Darren Chriss (of Team Starkid and Glee fame) has sang for them a few times. And the below is my favorite, a cover of Wonderwall by Oasis. Give it a listen and then check out the rest of what Scary Pockets has for you. If YouTube isn’t your thing, they’re on iTunes and Google Play and Spotify too. 

Music: New Rules x Are You That Somebody? by Pentatonix

I’m happy to see new music from Pentatonix that isn’t Christmas, or personal projects. Not that they’re not all extremely talented on their own, but after Ari left, I wondered what new music from them might look like. Their cover for Havana is good, but this new song is a little bit of a return to some of their older sounds – new music mixed with an old beat. It also helps that I really, really dig New Rules from Dua Lipa right now. Putting the beat from Aaliyah’s Are You That Somebody? just hits me where my teen-self lived, knee-deep in R&B. This is real good.

First We Feast: Hot Ones with Charlize Theron

If you’ve never watched Hot Ones before, you’re missing out on a great interview show. In it the host, Sean Evans, interviews a celebrity while they both take down ten chicken wings made with hot sauces of increasing intensity on the Scoville scale. Between each wing, Sean asks questions of his guests that are usually a little unique (like the format) and always entertaining. It also doesn’t rely on 10-15 minutes of a guest plugging their latest project like on so many night time talk shows. Even at the end when Sean offers his guests a moment to plug whatever it is they want to — rarely do the guests actually do so in a way that feels played out.

The video below is the most recent episode where Charlize Theron takes the heat (like a champ) and is as charming and personable as I’d hoped she’d be. If you’ve never watched an episode, start with this one. Then, you’ve got more than a 100 episodes to watch back if you like the style.


Chime; Dessa and the Science of Love

With the release of Dessa’s new album, Chime, stories and videos of her process in writing the songs on it have been making the rounds. As a bit of a science nerd, she investigated the impact of love on the brain. Comparing her brain’s reactions to images of an ex she couldn’t quite shake feelings for and another person, she was able to see exactly where in the brain her feelings for this person lived. She talks about it more in the video below.

I love Dessa’s music, the lyrics in her songs deal not just with love but life. I’ve been listening to Chime for the past week or so and while I’ve not as in love with it as I have been with previous albums, I am thoroughly enjoying it.