“Feeling” good: an interview with Pam Tillis

Pam Tillis is country music royalty. The daughter of country music legend Mel Tillis, Pam has had her own lengthy career as a singer/songwriter with hits including “Maybe It Was Memphis”, “Cleopatra, Queen of Denial”, “Spilled Perfume” and, of course, “Mi Vida Loca (My Crazy Life)”. Looking for a Feeling (Stellar Cat), Pam’s 11th studio album and first solo album in more than a dozen years, is the kind of comeback we’ve been waiting for. A compelling combination of modern and traditional country tunes, featuring outstanding originals including the title track, “Burning Star”, “Karma” and “Last Summer’s Wine”, as well […]

Three (cock)ring circus

Queer filmmaker/performance artist Rachel Mason gets personal with her new documentary “Circus of Books” (Netflix/Future Clown), debuting on Netflix in late April 2020. The daughter of Karen and Barry Mason, the straight, married couple who owned and operated the titular legendary XXX adult emporium in WeHo (shuttered in early 2018) and a short-lived Silverlake location, Rachel has crafted a revelatory, warts and all family portrait, that is equally emotional and informative. Journalist Karen and movie special effects designer/inventor (and UCLA classmate of Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek) Barry, the unlikely proprietors of Circus of Books, didn’t set out to become […]

Family affairs

 Extraordinary singer/songwriter Eliza Gilkyson knows a thing or two about good genes. Her father, Terry Gilkyson, was also a singer and songwriter with a fascinating career. In addition to writing hit songs for others, he sang on The Weavers’ hit “On Top of Old Smokey” and was nominated for an Oscar for writing the song “The Bare Necessities” from Disney’s 1967 animated feature The Jungle Book. Eliza’s brother Tony is also a musician and was a member of the important L.A. bands X and Lone Justice. Eliza herself has been a recording artist (under her own name) for more than […]

It’s the power of drag to the rescue in We’re Here

Say what you will about RuPaul, but he certainly deserves credit for bringing the art of drag into the mainstream. Yes, there have been drag performers in the past who had some fame from nightclubs and the occasional TV appearance, but RuPaul really helped make drag acceptable and accessible to people who otherwise may not have had the opportunity to see a drag show. RuPaul’s Drag Race has also been instrumental in bringing drag out into the open on television where a man in drag was usually straight and the drag was used as a derogatory punchline. Now shows like […]

The Show Must Go On: Where We Stand at Baltimore Center Stage

“A Man—a member of our community—comes before us. He knows he has wronged us but asks that we show him mercy. He starts to tell us his story…” So begins the story of Where We Stand, the extraordinary new work by playwright Donnetta Lavinia Grays which is currently streaming online via Baltimore Center Stage through April 26th. Where We Stand tells the story of a man stripped of companionship, and how just one kind stranger can tip the scales. This brand-new fable of penance is a supernatural tale of loneliness seduced by kindness, and asks audiences “what do we owe […]

Through the “Years”: an interview with Lauren Wood

There are a variety of ways in which you may have encountered the music of out singer/songwriter Lauren Wood over the years. Perhaps it was when she was still going by Ilene Rappaport in the late 1960s band Rebecca and the Sunnybrook Farmers (great name, right?). Maybe it was a few years later when, along with her cousin, the in-demand violist Novi Novog, and bass player Ernie Eremita she was known as Chunky in the trio Chunky, Novi & Ernie. Chances are the way you will recognize Lauren Wood, as she came to be known on her first two solo […]

The whole story: an interview with The Half of It writer/director Alice Wu

In 2004, a few years after Ang Lee’s The Wedding Banquet and a few years before Awkwafina’s The Farewell, lesbian filmmaker Alice Wu’s acclaimed indie film debut Saving Face introduced audiences to one of our first out queer Asian female characters, Wil (played by Michelle Krusiec). The movie closely examined Wil’s relationship with her very traditional mother played by award-winning actress Joan Chen (The Last Emperor, Twin Peaks). A hit on the festival and art house circuits, Saving Face was also a wonderful introduction to a promising filmmaker. As Wu elucidates in the following interview, much happened between the release […]

Safety in (small) numbers

Social distancing can be a challenge if you are in a band. It probably gets somewhat easier for musical duos and (possibly) trios. Tennis, married couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley, have a habit of social distancing when it comes to writing their songs on long boat trips as they are known to do. For two people in the habit of keeping their distance from other folks, the timeless pop songs on Swimmer (Mutually Detrimental/Thirty Tigers) have a universal appeal. The evocative and suitably titled opener “I’ll Haunt You” lingers long after it ends. “Need Your Love” picks up the […]

Love story: an interview with award-winning actress and singer Linda Lavin

Award-winning theater and television veteran vet Linda Lavin isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Not that we would ever want her to. At almost 83 years of age, Lavin has just released a marvelous new album, Love Notes (Club 44), on which she performs a number of classics from the American songbook, as well as the new Joel Lindsey and Wayne Haun composition “Stars Would Fall”. Additionally, Lavin has been appearing regularly on TV shows such as Mom, The Santa Clarita Diet and Madam Secretary, to mention just a few. She is also scheduled to appear in the new […]

Doing the bunny hop

Screenwriter/director/actor Taika Waititi (Marvel box office blockbuster “Thor: Ragnarok”) won an Oscar for his adapted screenplay for “Jojo Rabbit” (Fox Searchlight/20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), based on the novel “Caging Skies” by Christine Leunens. In its exaggerated irreverence, Waititi’s mind-bending film, about a Nazi youth’s imaginary friendship with Hitler, is both anti-hate and pro-peace. It’s an unabashed tribute to classic comedy geniuses that came before, including Mel Brooks (remember “Springtime For Hitler”?) and Monty Python. “Jojo Rabbit” arrived in theaters, and now on home video, as neo-Nazism is on the rise worldwide. It’s a sharp poke in the ribs, alternately […]