Public News All the news that is fit to print Tue, 03 Jul 2018 20:10:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 PN #51 Burlesque Beauties and Circus Capers: Houston Artist Brings Burlesque Circus to Town /2018/01/17/pn-51-burlesque-beauties-and-circus-capers-houston-artist-brings-burlesque-circus-to-town/ /2018/01/17/pn-51-burlesque-beauties-and-circus-capers-houston-artist-brings-burlesque-circus-to-town/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 21:30:24 +0000 /?p=57 Burlesque Beauties and Circus Capers: Houston Artist Brings Burlesque Circus to Town


The Bayou City Burlesque & Circus Arts Festival takes over Warehouse Live, January 20th

Acrobats from San Francisco! Burlesque from Montreal! Trapeze from Austin! And a chorus line of “H-Town Clowns”! You don’t have to be a jet setter with an unlimited budget to catch them all in one night, you just have to be in Houston this January. The international Bayou City Burlesque & Circus Arts Festival will be returning to Houston, January 20th. The festival brings together two timeless and titillating performance styles to give the audience a one-of-a-kind experience. The event’s world-renowned acts range from Vegas style burlesque to bizarre sideshow stunts to death-defying aerialist that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

The Bayou City Burlesque and Circus Festival, BCBC Festival for short, is now in it’s fourth year. The festival has developed a reputation for featuring top-notch talent thanks to Houston’s own internationally award-winning burlesque performer, standup comic, and festival producer- KiKi Maroon. Maroon’s life as a touring performer has given her a unique advantage when curating talent, “I get hired to perform all over the world, from tiny bars and massive theaters, meeting new artist every day. I’ll see an act and know instantly, I need to bring that to Houston!” Maroon considers the festival a year-in-review, “It’s a living yearbook. My showgirl, circus, freak-show melting pot.”

Every major city has their own burlesque festival, the most distinguished events being held in Las Vegas, New Orleans, and New York City. Maroon and her team intend on making Houston’s event just as renowned. To accomplish this, they’ve booked over 40 local and touring artists including:

-Vivacious Miss Audacious: The Hula Hoop Hottie (Grand Rapids, MI) Burlesque and circus collide with the hooping strip tease that’s been featured at The Ibiza Burlesque Festival, Amsterdam Burlesque Awards, and Toulouse Fest (France).

-Meezee: The Klown Prince (San Francisco, CA) proving that clowns can be sexy, Meezee is a chair-stacking acrobat who has performed with Vau de Vire Society, The Hubba Hubba Revue, The Theatre Bizarre.

-Brian “BC” Carrion: The One Man Band (Houston, TX) Musician, songwriter, and vocalist known for his electro-soul hooks and dance floor antics, fresh off his 6 month Europe/Asia tour.

-Sugar Vixen:  The Rock star of Burlesque (Montreal, Canada), who’s fiery energy has put her on stages around the world, even sharing the stage with burlesque legend Dita Von Teese.

The festival has grown every year. Can this show compete with last year’s record breaking event?
Burlesque has been teasing and tantalizing  the American shores since the 1840’s and still is going strong. The art of seduction combined with the beauty, confidence and charisma of each girl is cemented in the performances of the past yet highlights the uniqueness and personality of those who dawn the crown and own the stage with each performance. Letting audiences know who they are little by little and keep them wanting more.


Kiki Maroon [photo by Alyssa Holub]
KIKI took time out of her busy schedule to answer a few question for us to get to know a little nit more about here and her production

PN: What do you enjoy most about being a Burlesque performer?

KIKI: I love to travel! Before becoming a producer, I looked into a career as a flight attendant. I want to see the world and being a standup comic and burlesque performer has allowed me to do just that.

PN: What are you thinking pre-show and during the show?

KIKI: Pre-show my mind is like a laser beam. Everything else fades away and nothing but the performance matters. We are running around like glittery chickens, franticly trying to get the show ready having meetings with the sound and light guys, getting dressed, fixing last minute costume emergencies, and squeezing in a last minute rehearsal. The real talent is slinking on stage looking calm and sultry when you’ve spent the previous 4 hours in a manic state! But once you’re on stage, it all floats away. It’s the only time I feel completely present. There are no to-do list, no inner dialog, nothing exist but the moment. I think it’s why I have such an intense relationship with my audience. They give me something I’ve never had before and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude each and every time.

PN: Where have you performed so far?

KIKI: I’ve performed all over the country, too many places to name! My favorite show would probably be The Hubba Hubba Revue in San Francisco. Internationally, I’ve performed in Milan, Rio de Janeiro, and Tokyo. Tokyo was INSANE! I am making it a personal goal to get booked there again in 2018. Burlesque is fairly new there, but they are so passionate about it!

PN: Where else would you like to perform?

KIKI: On top of being a burlesque performer, I am a standup comic and storyteller. My (current) number one goal is to get my story-telling show into The Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s the world’s largest arts festival and looks just amazing!

PN: What are your career goals?

KIKI: I love burlesque, but I’m heavily pursuing comedy right now. One of my comedy mentors summed it up best; “You’re used to be naked, now you’re learning to be exposed”. My goal is to keep my monthly burlesque show, KiKi Maroon’s Burly Q Lounge, running in Houston while touring comedy clubs and festivals around the country. It’s kind of hard. There isn’t really a ‘burlesque performer, standup comic, producer, podcaster’ path to follow. I’m just trying to find my own way.

PN: What is your opinion about ‘live’ entertainment and performance?

KIKI: There’s nothing like live entertainment. The performers feed off the audience, the audience feeds off the performers, and that energy exchange makes each show a completely unique experience. I think it’s difficult to get people out these days; Netflix has thousands of hours of entertainment that you never have to leave your house for! BUT, once people come to their first show, they almost always become regulars.

Kiki Maroon at the Improv [Ocanas Photography]
PN: What do you think determines the success of a stage performer?

KIKI: If you really want to make it in entertainment, you need drive. You have to want it more than anything. Dance can be learned, stage fright can be overcome, and marketing can be polished. But no one is going to do it for you. Social media has made it so that there are no gatekeepers. No bigwig you have to impress to be a full time performer. But with that freedom comes a huge cost. You are now expected to do everything. You are your own web designer, booking agent, and marketing department. You can bitch that it takes time away from your creative process or you can wake up earlier and get to work!

PN: What’s the basic concept for the show?

KIKI: The BCBC Festival is my biggest show of the year. We open applications and hundreds of performers from around the world submit for a chance to perform in Houston! After watching literally hundreds of hours of burlesque and circus acts, we narrow it down and bring Houston a one-night-only, world-class show.

PN: Tell me a bit about how you chose the cast and what their acts are like.

KIKI: The selection process is intense. The first viewing of acts, we separate the acts into styles. I like to showcase a little bit of everything so things get categorized into “Class Burlesque”, “Aerial Circus”, “Ground Work”, “Sideshow”, and “Comedic Burlesque”. After that, we re-watch every single video and rate them with in their category. From there, we select to top of each style and start to work on the set list and show flow. It takes about a month for us to finalize the set list each year.

PN: As burlesque performers in 2017, have there been any recent events that you think has kicked feminist discourse up a notch?

KIKI: I don’t think that being burlesque performers has given us views any different than anyone else.

PN: What inspired you to start Burlesque?

KIKI: I was originally a costume designer. I worked for theaters, including The Alley and Cirque du Soleil, as well as free-lance to individual artist. I began making burlesque costumes for performers in Austin and started to bring them to Houston for small events. It looked like so much fun, I started performing my self! I still make my own costumes but haven’t worked in theater in years. Burlesque and standup comedy took over my life and I couldn’t be happier about it.

PN: What are the standout moments for you from your  shows so far?

KIKI: I will never forget walking out on stage at the very first BCBC Festival. It’s now in its fourth year, so while I always work hard to make it amazing, it’s established. The first year, it was a giant gamble. I had only produced small bar shows before that, the audiences being between 20-150 people.

The BCBC Festival was my first time producing on a main stage.  I had no idea if we cold fill that room, I was TERRIFIED that no one would come and I’d be $15,000 in debt. But I worked my butt off and we sold out! I will never forget walking out on that stage and seeing the sea of people. I had a live mic in my hand and the very first words out of my mouth were a teary-eyed, “F**K…. There’s a lot of you here.”

I don’t know if anything I achieve will ever feel as good as that!

Naomi Goodwin (Wynter Harlow)

The Public News wanted to get a feel for what it was like to dance for KiKi at one of her shows so we sat down with Naomi Goodwin (Wynter Harlow) to see what all the hype is about …

PN: What got you into burlesque dancing?

NG: I have wanted to get into this for a good 6 years. When I saw that Kiki Maroon was looking for showgirls, I knew I had to take a chance and apply! Being a part of such an amazing community of strong, uplifting people, who want to see one another succeed is what gave me the push to do my first act! Once I debuted, I was hooked! 2018, I plan to do another act.

PN: What’s your idea of sexy as burlesque has evolved so much in the modern times?

NG: I think sexy is what you just feel with each time on stage. Burlesque has always been classic and tasteful- and to have a variety of women, all shapes/sizes, and different ideas in dance- to me, being comfortable in your own skin, and the confidence that is projected- that is sexy!

PN: Who was an inspiration to you?

PN: Oh my! There are so many out there who inspire me.  Kiki is one for sure- not just because she’s my showgirl boss, But because she runs a tight ship. She has amazing ideas, and knows what she’s doing- and her shows, her followers are the proof of what magic she produces!

Another inspiration to me- Chola Magnolia.  She exudes sexy, and if you have never seen her perform- you must!  She is the one I watch- her confidence, her energy- how she works her audience. Her energy just draws you in until the very end! Chola is an amazing burlesque performer.

PN: What’s the main thing you want to bring attention to while dancing?

NG; My goal, is to involve our audience. they are what makes a performers energy bigger- so having that connection is so important.

PN: What are you goals for your future in burlesque?

NG: Work on more performances!! My debut in October told me a lot. I fell in love with being so connected to the audience, and being on stage. Everyone was super supportive and the energy that I received back- that meant so much to me!

PN: Do you have a message for young women who are looking to perform as you do?

NG: Do it! My thoughts are, if you never go for something that you want to do, or try- you will never know what could be. I wished I did so much more earlier on. But I’m doing it now and loving every moment being part of Burly Q Lounge. The bonds I’ve made and the support from one another is beyond amazing!

PN: Is there any drawbacks or challenges in the burlesque world?

NG: I can’t really say there is any personally. I have seen nothing but love in this community for one another.

PN: What was your best experience in this field of entertainment?

NG: Right now I can say ALL OF IT! I’m having an awesome time, and loving every show! 🙂

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PN #51 White Christmas, America’s Favorite Christmas Movie /2018/01/17/pn-51-white-christmas-americas-favorite-christmas-movie/ /2018/01/17/pn-51-white-christmas-americas-favorite-christmas-movie/#respond Wed, 17 Jan 2018 16:12:21 +0000 /?p=80 White Christmas – America’s Favorite Christmas Movie

by Mark Crampton

  I doubt there is an American of ANY age or any background who does not watch the classic 1954 holiday movie White Christmas during the holiday season.  I think it is even ahead of the 1964 animated Burl Ives chldrens’ classic movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in all-age popularity! .  

  Which is something, since this holiday classic starts out with a bunch of muddy, sad, lonely and homesick WW II GI’s at a USO show in war-ravaged Europe! .

  Nevertheless, I know that MY whole immediate family – four adult children with two spouses and one fiancée, four grandchildren, and the ex – and I all watched it together at OUR family gathering last Christmas, and watch it every year!

   What many people don’t know, is that for various causes, “White Christmas” the song was almost NOT written and White Christmas the movie was almost NOT filmed!

 The White Christmas saga all started in 1935, on the set of the Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers’ movie Top Hat .  Irving Berlin wrote the melody as a prospect to use in a future Astaire film – but the movie’s director didn’t like it, so the melody was canned at that time.

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, RoseMary Clooney

  On to New Year’s Day 1940, where Berlin was visiting a friend in Banning, California.  When he awoke to snow on the desert that morning, Berlin immediately penned the first words to “White Christmas” because of his surprise!

  Berlin then combined the unwanted melody with his new words, and pitched it as a stand-alone holiday song to business partner Bing Crosby.  Crosby himself had no particular emotion for the song, he just felt they could sell it easily!

  Truly, the song “White Christmas” was actually FIRST heard by the public in 1941 on Bing Crosby’s Christmas Day Radio Show (just three weeks after Pearl Harbor), to great public acclaim and requests for radio play.  

  [NOTE:  The ONLY copy of the recording from that program is owned by Crosby’s estate, and has only been released once – for a 2011 TV Special.]  

  “White Christmas” was next heard in the 1942 Crosby-Fred Astaire-Berlin movie Holiday Inn , for which it won an Academy Award for Best Original Song – although it was neither new, nor original to the movie!

  In Holiday Inn’s original script, co-star Marjorie Reynolds sang the song as a solo, but it was changed to a duet with Crosby, though her voice was in truth dubbed by singer Martha Mears.  Mears was the off-screen singing voice for numerous female Hollywood actresses:  Reynolds, Rita Hayworth, Lucille Ball – come on, surely you didn’t think SHE could really sing, did you? – Claudette Colbert, Loretta Young, Hedy Lamarr, Veronica Lake and Eva Gabor, among others. .

  Holiday Inn was the first of a three-movie contract package to feature Irving Berlin songs (both new and old).  Berlin was NEVER beyond re-treading songs for new productions, as particularly proven in the second Crosby-Astaire-Berlin movie, the poorly-received 1946 Blue Skies .

 In fact, several of the songs for White Christmas (suitably revised by Berlin) came from OTHER movies:  “Snow” from Call Me Madam, “What Can You Do With a General?” from Stars on My Shoulders (never produced), “Abraham” (as an instrumental) also from Holiday Inn, and, of course, the title song!

  So White Christmas, the third Crosby-Astaire-Berlin installment, was slated to begin filming in 1951 – except that Fred Astaire did not like the script of his part as side-kick Phil Davis, and spurned it!  

  In Holiday Inn, Crosby and Astaire shared top billing over the female stars and had fairly equal parts/screen time, while in Blue Skies Astaire had top billing and the lion’s share of screen time.

  But in the original White Christmas script, Astaire had second billing and much less screen time to Crosby, and NO solo song-and-dance scenes – so Astaire refused to do it and left the project!  

  Right after Astaire left the project, Crosby’s wife Dixie Lee passed away, and he too dropped out.  After burying his wife and spending time with his children, Crosby returned to the studio.  

  Production on White Christmas finally resumed in 1953, and Astaire’s part was offered to hoofer Donald O’Conner – who had just come off as male co-star in the successful Gene Kelley movie Singing in the Rain, and who had previously co-starred with Crosby in 1938’s Sing You Sinners .

  Unfortunately, O’Connor became seriously ill right as filming started (ironically, an illness he had contacted from ‘Francis the talking Equus mulus’ – YOU look it up! – his co-star in 7 movies), and he in turn had to drop out of the production.

  With two (or maybe three, counting Crosby’s original departure) strikes against the movie, Astaire’s part was then offered to Danny Kaye, an up-coming actor, singer, dancer, comedian, and musician – although at that time, he not as popular as either Astaire or O’Conner.

  Regardless, the studio was desperate to salvage the movie, enough to pay Kaye’s asking price of $200,000 cash up front and pledge 10% of the movie’s net to him, and production resumed in September 53 – two years late!

[NOTE:   In 2017 dollars Kaye’s cash payment was equivalent to almost $2 Million, and the movie netted $12 million ‘54 dollars its FIRST year – which made his take OVER $12 million in 2017 dollars.]  

  As Producers/Partners Crosby and Berlin each got nothing up front and a MERE 20% of the movie’s net profits, after the studio got 50% and Kaye got his 10%.  [NOTE:   Which in 2017 dollars was almost $25 million each JUST the first year – poor them!  And just think about 60-plus years of residuals!]

  Personally, I think the studio made the best decision for the movie’s success in finally casting Kaye as Phil Davis.  

  I think Astaire absolutely was NOT right for the character of Phil – too urbane and cold (okay, I always loved his dancing, but, too, I always perceived Astaire as what he so often portrayed – TOTALLY upper class snobbish and patronizing – in his roles!)  He just wasn’t RIGHT for Phil!

  And while O’Connor surely COULD have pulled the part off with his trademark puppyish clowning, I still don’t think he was just exactly RIGHT, either!

  To me Kaye just brought a feeling to the character of Phil that worked!  He played Phil with heart and warmth, and was funny without being as clownish or cartoonish as he was in many of his starring roles .

  [NOTE:  I just wonder, though, how Gene Kelly would have done as Phil?]

  Rosemary Clooney was chosen as White Christmas’s female lead, and since she was strictly a chanteuse, not a dancer, she only performed (extremely!) simple dance steps with Crosby or as part of a show ensemble.  Her single major dance number (repeated twice) was a song/dance duet with Vera-Ellen, who, if you pay attention, was dancing the lead.

  In contrast, Vera-Ellen, the second female lead, was one of the most sought after dancers in Hollywood , having previously partnered in earlier movies with Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Danny Kaye, and Donald O’Connor, all before White Christmas.  Vera-Ellen had several song/dance duets and several more show ensemble dance scenes.  

  Regrettably, while Vera-Ellen had a delightful speaking voice, her singing was notoriously dreadful!  Her singing was dubbed in EVERY movie she appeared in – by Trudy Stevens in this movie.

  [NOTE:  This movie was one of the last films Vera-Ellen made – she made one more British production, and three TV show appearances, then retired.  Of course, her retirement may have been because she married Victor Rothschild, the RICHEST man in the world!]

     The “Sisters” song and dance routine performed by Clooney and Vera-Ellen was Clooney’s only major duet song/dance number, although there was just a short bit of it repeated in another scene.  But, because of Vera-Ellen’s voice, for that song Clooney double-tracked the recording and sang both sisters’ parts.

  Of course, who can NOT laugh at Crosby and Kaye’s comedy act when they substituted for the missing sisters and lip-synched to their record? .

  Or the final stage song/dance with Crosby, Kaye, Clooney and Vera-Ellan .

  As for the movie’s soundtrack, there was never an OFFICIAL White Christmas soundtrack released!  Crosby was signed to Decca Records, who controlled the soundtrack rights, but Clooney was tightly contracted to rival Columbia.  

  [NOTE:  the recording company ‘wars’ of the late 1040s-early ‘50s were one of the issues that led to the downfall of big bands and swing music – see my earlier article on the New Swing Music Movement of the 1980s.]

  Columbia DID bend enough to allow Clooney to make the movie, but refused to release her to make a soundtrack album with Crosby for Decca.  So she recorded “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” late in ‘54 for Columbia, singing all the songs – no matter WHO sang them in the movie!  The “Sisters” duet was sung by Clooney and her real sister Betty Clooney (a recording star in her own right, but not in Rosemary’s class!)  Her album was a moderate commercial success.

  Crosby himself never released a soundtrack for the movie, but Decca did release “Selections from Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” without Crosby’s active participation.  Peggy Lee sang Clooney’s parts on this album.

  Berlin was big enough – even bigger than Crosby at the time – that NO recording company dared tell him NO or cross him – so his name was on both releases from the rival companies!

  What Crosby DID finally release was the 1947 re-recording of his original 1942 “White Christmas”, which is still the version heard today.  The ‘42 master tape was too damaged to copy further, so Crosby assembled ALL the original participants – the Trotter Orchestra and the Darby Singers to replace it.  He faithfully duplicated the original recording session – with TWO exceptions – the ‘47 version added FLUTES and a CELESTA.

  White Christmas was the first movie ever to be filmed in Paramount’s VistaVision with color by Technicolor, which became industry standard.

  Unfortunately, the movie was also the first to use the new Perspecta directional sound system – which was actually monaural, panned to left, center and right speakers – and NOT in stereo.  The Perspecta system was a FLOP!  This recording made it impossible to later remix the films’ soundtrack in either stereo or SuroundSound 5.1.  

 Plus, all the original recordings were destroyed in a fire, with only one Hi-Fi Mono master (made for the international markets), and a ‘working master’ that also had all the dialogue, sound effects and stage directions.  These were combined by Criterion for current releases.

  In 1961 Paramount re-released White Christmas for another theatrical run, and in 2000 the movie was finally released on DVD, and in 2010 on Blu-ray.

  “White Christmas” the song is listed as the biggest-selling single song of ALL TIME, EVER, WORLDWIDE, with over 50 million copies sold!  And it is also the most recorded Christmas song of ALL TIME, EVER, WORLDWIDE, with over 500 known recorded versions.

  Oh, let me end with a bit of trivia – EVERYONE knows the lyrics Crosby sang:


I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

Just like the ones I used to know

Where the treetops glisten and children listen

To hear sleigh bells in the snow


I’m dreaming of a white Christmas

With every Christmas card I write

“May your days be merry and bright

And may all your Christmases be white

BUT – these are ACTUALLY the second and third verses!  Berlins FIRST verse was NOT used in the movie.  Remember, he wrote it in California.  It goes like this:

The sun is shining, the grass is green,

The orange and palm trees sway.

There’s never been such a day

in Beverly Hills, L.A.

But it’s December the twenty-fourth –

And I am longing to be up North –

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PN #50 Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox /2017/11/25/pn-50-scott-bradlees-postmodern-jukebox/ /2017/11/25/pn-50-scott-bradlees-postmodern-jukebox/#respond Sat, 25 Nov 2017 23:20:13 +0000 /?p=70 Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox

by Mark Crampton

I ran across Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox, as I so often find new and (sometimes) curious music interests, while surfing on YouTube Music. That day, I was specifically searching for covers of modern rock/pop in Jazz, Blues, or Swing style (remember – I do NOT particularly like modern rock/pop and find the radio dial generally to be a wasteland!)

Boys and girls, I hit the freakin’ JACKPOT when I stumbled across Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox (PMJ)! Bradlee leads what he calls a “music collective” – more than just a company or team or stable or even association of musicians, more than just shows on the concert circuits, PMJ is essentially a family of musicians, singers and dancers!

Bradlee said his intention is to bridge a gap – to take modern(ish) rock/pop style songs and fundamentally transform them into some other style of music.

Because people who don’t like a particular music group or singer question ALL that groups’ music!
They may not like a good song just because THAT group is playing it, not actually dislike the song itself! So, perhaps someone didn’t like the song in its original form by the original recorders, but will like the way PMJ covered it in an entirely different style.
[NOTE: Which is, incidentally, pretty much how I feel about much modern music!  I mean, for some examples, I really cannot stand Steely Dan, Lady Gaga, Celene
Dion, Bruno Mars, Wheezer, Backstreet Boys, Myley Cyrus (well, who CAN stand her?) – yet PMJ has done covers of songs from all of these that I DO really like!]

Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked

At the most recent count, PMJ’s YouTube channel has over 3.1 Million subscribers (including yours truly!) with over 800 Million – that’s Million with a very big M in both cases! – collective views since the beginning!
PMJ started back in 2009 when Bradlee and a group of friends (Chris Anderson – upright bass; Ben Golder-Novick – sax; Brandee Younger – harp; and Emma Walker – vocalist) began shooting self-made low-budget music videos in the living room of his tiny NY basement apartment.

In 2010 PMJ released their first video to YouTube, a cover of Lady Gaga’s “Papparizzi” However, PMJ’s big break really came on November 24 th , 2011, thanks to the local public discord caused by the Canadian band Nickleback being booked to play the Thanksgiving Halftime show at Detroit’s Ford Field – there was actually a petition that raised over 55,000 signatures to stop them from playing because they weren’t American and it was an American sport on an American holiday!
Bradlee quickly filmed and released – on Thanksgiving morning BEFORE the disputed halftime show (which, yes, Nickleback DID go on and play) the video “A Motown Tribute to Nickleback” – playing one of the maligned groups’ songs in 60s Motown style – which pulled over 1.5 million views the first week on YouTube!
[NOTE: PMJ later recorded an entire album – 7 songs – of Nickleback covers!
After sampling each of them separately – I just ordered the album on Amazon. I had really only liked ONE of these songs as originally done by Nickleback!]

After the success of this video, PMJ began releasing other videos recorded over the previous year or so, with other artists who drifted in and out of Bradlee’s apartment, to YouTube, as well as ramping up current/future recording efforts!

The next video was Macklemore and Lewis’ “Thrift Shop” with Robyn Adele Anderson singing, done in “Vintage Grandpa Style” – drums, electric piano, upright bass.

Puddles Pity Party

Singer Lorde gave her approval and recognition to PMJ’s initial cover of “Royals” by Puddles Pity Party Since then, several other PMJ singers have also made covers of “Royals” in different styles.
[NOTE: Many original artists – and, obviously, their record companies – have given nods of approval – and even appreciation – of PMJ covering their music.]

Cosmopolitan magazine requested PMJ come to their NYC office to film a musical tribute to 2013 – incidentally, this mash-up was set up and filmed in one take – no do–overs! Meghan Trainor’s funk hit “All About That Bass” was PMJ’s next hit, with Kate Davis singing while playing upright bass in 40s Jazz style, with only piano and drums accompanying. [NOTE: this song is now the official finale of all PMJ’s shows on tour.]

Four of my favorite singers are PMJ members, here together in another video take on “All About That Bass” :
Haley Reinhart ; Morgan James ; Ariana Savalas (yes, “Kojak”s daughter! If you don’t know who he is, ask someone else!); and Casey Abrams (from Austin!)
And some videos from each of them individually: Haley Reinhart doing a Marilyn Monroe-styled cover of “Oops I did it Again” ; Morgan James doing a 60s Beach Boys Surf cover of “Barbie Girl” ; and “Roxanne” as soul ; Ariana Savalas doing a Bob Fosse-styled jazz cover of “Single Ladies” ; Casey Abrams doing a classic blues cover of “Sweet Child ‘O Mine”. ; Robyn Adele Anderson doing a 50s Do-Wop cover of “I Kissed a Girl”, 20s ragtime covers of “YMCA” (with tap dancer), “My Hump”, and “Call Me Maybe”

How about:
“Toxic” covered as a 30s style Torch song
“Dancing in the Dark” in 50s Do-Wop Diner style
“Stacey’s Mom”, “Careless Whisper” (with Dave
Koz) and “Thriller” (complete with zombie tap
dancers!) all covered in 20s/30s Hot Jazz style.
“Gangster’s Paradise” and “Wiggle” in 20’s Chicago Jazz style.

So, perhaps you are jaded with the lack of selection on local radio stations – or you just don’t like the music being played – get out of your rut – try something different – give something new by PMJ a listen.
Currently, there are two separate PMJ tours, Europe and America. At times, there have been up to four tours going on at the same time. Bradlee says that every show is different, that he himself never knows who will appear when or where on tour. He explains it in the FAQ section of the website

Singers, dancers and musicians move in and out of PMJ, for family commitments, solo careers, on and off-Broadway stage shows, returning for specific videos, shows and tours.
The PMJ 2017 American tour will play at Austin City Limits Live at Moody Theatre on December 3rd and at the Tobin Center for Performing Arts in San Antonio, Texas on December 4th
Postscript: I am already working on another article – The burlesque music/comedy duo The Skivvies . Lauren Molina (also a member of PMJ) and Nick Cearley perform on stage clad ONLY in underwear – as do all their guests: and !

What do you think?

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PN #50 MC BBQ & Southern Kitchen /2017/11/25/mc-bbq-southern-kitchen/ /2017/11/25/mc-bbq-southern-kitchen/#respond Sat, 25 Nov 2017 22:50:08 +0000 /?p=63 MC BBQ & Southern Kitchen

by Matt Vernon

When Lawrence Fogarty was 14 years old his parents were members of a country club. They took Lawrence there to hang out. One day, he saw the chef do a cooking demonstration class. Young Lawrence was enamored and caught the cooking bug (he says it’s similar to the acting bug, but more delicious). He asked to go every week, he even asked his parents to drop him off early so he could spend more time learning. He asked to help and would back up the chef, grabbing pots, pans, whatever was needed. Lawrence was grateful someone so skilled and masterful would take the time and effort to show and help others how to cook so well. Later, his parents bought him a Wok and he practiced cooking at home.

Lawrence attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He told me he moved to California for school because San Francisco at the time was producing a flurry of Culinary talent. After graduation, he moved back to Texas to put his passion and education to good use. Unfortunately, even trained chefs can’t find work right away. He started serving tables at Ruggles and Neiman Marcus; working hard and was eventually promoted to management. He worked under other chefs when he started in this business and learned what styles and approaches he liked and which he did not.

Chef Lawrence Fogarty


Chef Lawrence became executive chef at Main Street America in 2012, when they expanded their operation and put in a kitchen. He gave me a tour. His kitchen still sparkles. His staff is friendly and knowledgeable. His food is delicious and the presentation is always on point.

Main Street America decided to add a cooking school awhile back and was looking around for another chef to fill the spot. Chef Lawrence said he was not their first choice because he was already busy with the restaurant and catering, but when the other chef failed to show, Chef Lawrence stood up to the challenge. He told me he loves hosting the cooking classes. Main Course cooking school is held 6 nights a week in a beautiful facility inside Main Street America. It can hold up to 24 people per class. He says the classes are fun, interactive and of course, everyone enjoys eating the fruit of their labor. He teaches how to cook 3 courses and that these dinners with class last about 2 ½ to 3 hours. His “students” sit together, cook, talk and share common interests. Friendships are formed around food. People make lifelong relationships when they break bread together. I think it’s cool, that he was inspired by a chef that shared talent with him and now he takes the time to share his talent with others who have the same passion and that cooking bug. For those of you that love cooking you can find out more about his cooking classes at

MC BBQ and MC Cooking school inside Mainstreet America was flooded during Hurricane Harvey. Both businesses were forced to close for reconstruction. The cooking school is set to open soon and Chef Lawrence is very eager to start working with new students in his brand new classroom to teach them how to make cooking fun, exciting and how to eat delicious hand crafted great food at home. Check him out, schedule your next class and have fun cooking

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PN #50 The Toy Box Dilemma /2017/11/25/pn-50-the-toy-box-dilemma/ /2017/11/25/pn-50-the-toy-box-dilemma/#respond Sat, 25 Nov 2017 16:34:42 +0000 /?p=88 The Toy Box Dilemma

by Parish Conkling


Let’s try a thought experiment.

Imagine that you are a Kindergarten teacher. You have roughly thirty students between the ages of five and six, from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, and with various levels of maturity. You suspect that a few may have some learning difficulties, but it is too early to come to a concrete decision. For some time now, these students have been interacting with the toys in the centers and with each other in a more or less peaceful fashion. Over the past few weeks, however, a few of the children have begun using one of the toys in a way which leads to other children being harmed. You have spoken to the children about the correct way to use the toy, and have explained the dangers of using the toy incorrectly, yet the problem persists and other children in the classroom are now being harmed by the toy on a near daily basis. This is the only toy that is being misused in this way and after more injuries, you decide that you should remove the toy from the classroom until the children are able to use it responsibly.

You are immediately inundated with calls from parents challenging this decision. They insist that their children are able to use the toy properly, and should not be punished due to the actions of others. You explain that you are trying to ensure the safety of all the children in the classroom, and are open to suggestions on how best to achieve this goal. After some back and forth, three solutions appear as the most popular:

1) Remove the toy entirely as the potential for harm is too great.
2) Allow all the children the opportunity to have their own toy which causes harm if used incorrectly, with the understanding that if they use it to harm another, they may be harmed in return.
3) Identify which children seem to be unable to use the toy safely and either keep them away from the toy altogether, or allow them to use the toy only under supervision.

None of these options are problem free. The first calls for a complete prohibition of the toy until it can be used properly by all the children. The second calls for an increase in access and availability to the toy, under the assumption that by making the children aware of the possibility of retributive harm, we will eliminate the threat. The third calls for increased vetting of the children who will be allowed the use the toy which will take up more of your time and resources and will likely be a lengthy process. There may be other, better options that have yet to be made clear, but for now this is what you are faced with. In our scenario we are fortunate since the one thing all concerned agree with is that the present situation is problematic and a solution needs to be discovered.

I will now leave the toys and tots to their teacher and reveal what you likely expected all along, that our thought experiment is related to an issue that is likely to cause an emotional reaction that may stand in the way of a rational, reasoned response, that of gun control. Though we may feel emotionally vested when discussing gun control, we likely have no such interest in a group of imaginary children and their problematic toy. This is the benefit of a thought experiment. It removes our personal involvement in a specific topic and allows us to view it more objectively. Of course dangerous toys and parents may be easier to deal with than legislative changes, if I done my job, we should all at least agree that the conversation is long overdue.

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PN #50 Letter Rip: RIP Houston Press? /2017/11/25/pn-50-letter-rip-rip-houston-press/ /2017/11/25/pn-50-letter-rip-rip-houston-press/#respond Sat, 25 Nov 2017 16:30:12 +0000 /?p=86 Dear Readers,

Some of us remember where we were or what we were doing when certain events occurred in our lifetime. Something like 9-11 or the shooting death of John Lennon or even Kurt Cobain’s suicide.

For me, I remember the death of the original incarnation of the Public News in 1998. Now nearly 20 years later, the junior arts and entertainment newspaper, the Houston Press, folded its print product fired its staff and withered to become just another website covering Houston.

I have read the comments from a stunned collection of readers of the Press. Dismay and disbelief flooded Twitter like blood on the sidewalk after a Chicago street killing. If the Press is to continue in a digital (read: website) format, they have a huge learning curve to navigate. The sole editor of the Press, Margaret Downling, is going to find it very hard to do the work of ten editors, on a daily basis on a shoestring budget. Can it be done? Of course it can, but still there are things that have not been thought through. For example, the free press exists via advertising. We all understand that. But what happens when readers chose to use ad blocking on their web browsers? Ouch! What do you think readers do when your website is so hard to launch or navigate? Yep, that’s right, they go elsewhere for their news.

Another alternative newspaper disappeared without even saying goodbye two years ago. The Free Press Houston (stylized FPH) shuttered their print edition in 2015, even ceasing their flipbook edition on Speaking with Omar Afra, FPH‘s publisher, he cited that the average reader of the FPH was 26 years old and did not pick up print copies nor read their flipbooks on issuu. Although I am twice the age of FPH’s target audience, I still read the FPH up to the day they disappeared. Nowadays for some odd reason I can never get their website to load on my smartphone. Even after waiting 10 minutes for the site to load, I gave up. I had better things to do with my time. Sorry Omar.

So what is the answer? Did the Houston Press and the Free Press Houston have to cease publication of their print issues? Not really. In the case of FPH, it was a choice. For the Press it was inevitable. The Press had been bleeding readers since 2005 when their circulation was 105,000 copies per week. Last year the Press cited 42,000 copies per week. The powers that be at the corporate level waited too long to save the paper and the jobs that went with it.
The Public News is jumping into this vacumn produced by the folding of the Houston Press. The Public News is going to be a print newspaper. Public News is also courting former writers of the Houston Press. So, if you had a favorite writer in the Press, look here in the near future to see if they have joined with us.
In the meantime, I’m going to be busier than ever.

Letters to the editor can be emailed to us at:
or snail mailed to us at:
PO Box 7491 The Woodlands, Texas 77387 

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Public News #50 /2017/11/24/public-news-50/ /2017/11/24/public-news-50/#respond Fri, 24 Nov 2017 23:39:18 +0000 /?p=54 Public News #50
Something to enjoy after you recuperate from your Black Friday injuries. Much to read here, so sit back and devour.
Matt Vernon? has the cover story on the late great MC BBQ and Southern Kitchen (damn you Harvey)
Mark Crampton? talks about Scott Bradlee’s PostModern Jukebox with video links galore.
Arvin Vohra? discusses the framework, or lack thereof, to college education.
David Ambriz? is our featured “Ask the Chef”
Nick Rama? takes us on a tour of the best that Tomball restaurants have to offer.
New writer Parish Conkling? frames an interesting argument about Toys?
Margie Taylor? and Sherry Morgan are always offering news and openings.
Plus we bid a sad adieu to the passing of the print Houston Press.
and more in 24 pages (that will be growing now that we start printing this newspaper next issue)

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Public News #49 /2017/11/06/public-news-49/ /2017/11/06/public-news-49/#respond Mon, 06 Nov 2017 20:51:25 +0000 /?p=49



A bit late this week as we are getting ready for our print debut on November 29th!
This edition of the Public News is formatted to the new size that our printer will deliver.
Inside Nick Rama discusses the most recent BBQ showdown. Robert Castro interviews Clay Melton, Mark Crampton shares his thoughts on the Swing Revival of the 90’s. Matt Vernon introduces the Runaway Plate drive-through. Ken Petty answers more letters in his Letter Rip Column, Movie reviews, Music venue listing and news. 24 pages.
So, enjoy this new issue of the Public News

or download direct here.

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Public News #48 /2017/09/11/public-news-48/ /2017/09/11/public-news-48/#respond Mon, 11 Sep 2017 17:34:37 +0000 /?p=45 The Hurricane Harvey issue…

Public News #48

download here

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Public News #46 /2017/08/15/public-news-46/ /2017/08/15/public-news-46/#respond Tue, 15 Aug 2017 20:09:15 +0000 /?p=37 Public News #46 is live.
Inside you will learn about the things that go bump in the night in Tomball
Bart Pearston writes about School Daze
Robert Castro interviewed IIOIOIOII
Mark Crampton shares his experience with Celtica
Ken Petty ponders why Churches don’t want to help others.
Matt Vernon shares Le Pam’s story
Events, Music and an expanded Film Section

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