Beat Radio: Real Love, A Lifeline to Healing


Beat Radio's Real Love album is a cohesive and vulnerable look into psychological patterns that inform behavior with the urgency to change that only a wise punk rock dad could create. 

Brian Sendowitz, the singer-songwriter behind Beat Radio, has a passion for writing songs that have been a twenty-year quest while working and raising a large family. His openness to express himself through music and choice to revisit a collaboration with multiinstrumentalist producer Phil A Jimenez made this album stand out in a considerable discography.

Real Love is broken into three distinct movements: realization, awareness, and action toward healing, with the order of song titles supporting that assumption. His breakthrough emotionally opened the door to vulnerability while diving deep to heal and face narratives amassed in a lifetime without awareness. The end result is a moving journal-like entry in an album format. 

The music production and details are well-placed, creating a steady awareness, just the right amount of reflection, and a hopeful resonance. The thoughtful placement of harmonies, moody accents, and orchestrated layering of violins, horns, guitar, bass, banjo, and synth form a continuous pulse of percussion that overlaps with adept drumming. Sendowitz's earnest vocals have an emotional reach, especially highlighted in choruses, while emulating a mantra of change and self-actualization. Each repetition becomes a nuanced way to see faults, regrets, and shame and grapple with unsettling emotions. No longer are those emotions veiled but raw and tenderly articulated, unfolding to the listener.

The subject of familial trauma with the terms; prodigal son, family name, and blood in my veins describes the expectations and projections from others. Our DNA is predetermined, but narratives we internalize are coping mechanisms designed and imprinted as our own, questioning; who is the authentic self shaped within a family dynamic? 

Sendowitz writes about this schism in the first three songs using urgent percussion-heavy beats. "Projection Spells" portrays the rote strategies devised to cope /and I've been conjuring protection spells/ to keep the ghosts away/. Kicking it up with a high-speed and vibrant rock in "Disassociation Blues," where the manic moment and truth collide with confusion. The pace slows down in "Radioactive," the muffled snare drums and layered horns, thick with an eerie atmosphere, wheel him metaphorically radioactive; he reacts without intention while repelling himself to those he loves to his detriment. / You're radioactive / You're out of control /.

The following group of songs grapples with concern about long-term marriage and the steady foundation of love; can it withstand change and grow? Fluctuating between a slower, more acoustic mix of strings and haunting synths. The violins and banjo move forward in "Real Love" with a repetitive mantra of hope / we got a real love / sometimes it's not enough / no matter what it takes / I'm never giving up/. A continuous drumbeat and folk guitar strum unfold in "Weightless" about surrendering to the damage done. The beautiful chorus of aspirations grows to bring it home / It's so hard to let things go / maybe we can take it slow / I miss all the dreams we had / maybe we can take it slow / I can't make it on my own /. "Family Name" is a contemplative reminder to pause, breathe, and forgive oneself during the refrain of soft harmonies /Oh O Ohoo / conjuring a self-regulating sigh of healing. With a steady upward thrashing drumbeat, the moody pop "Harder to Pretend" employs dense synth instrumentals and guitar melody hooks woven into a slew of lyrical questions / do you think we're going to make it through /?

The final movement is an effort at healing with a supporting cast highlighting that "it takes a village" to heal. Sendowitz refers to his creation myth in "Solid Ground," which portrays cognitive dissonance, an altering of reality to cope. In it, Katherine's Froggots' vocals gently mimic Sendowitz's proclamations. / I was afraid if I let go of the story that I knew/. "Lowland" beautifully stages his vocals with gorgeous music and the full-bodied sound of love affirmations. The finale, "We Rise From The Fire," is a rousing uplighting sequence of distorted, fuzzy guitar riffs to mark the birth of self-motivation and actualization / I lost my way/ I tried so hard to not become the thing I hate /, but It's not too late / and I can show you / that I can see you / The elongated note at the song's end reflects the continuing path to move forward to heal. 


Killen It at Mercury Lounge 2/08/18

                                       Art Credit: Dave Singley 

Jack Killen's EP Release show at Mercury Lounge was an experience with live music that I rarely have without being an insanely devoted fan. State the obvious, Killen it!! Holy shit did I just see this. I rarely see music and do no research, which makes me a total Killen newbie.

The crowded room had just enough space to hold a beer and move your arms in the air. Starting with hearing what sounded like a gaming soundtrack on the keyboard, I was giddy staring at the unlikely frontman Jack Killen with his hard-hitting band. He is adorably uncool in a cool way, which had me imagine how Andy Kaufman might appropriate a rockstar. Whatever, you just gotta love him!

Jack Killen’s affection and inclusiveness with his audience are a delight to witness. While playing the keyboard and singing, he nods and opens his arms to affirm his solidarity with his devoted fans. They chanted while fist-pumping these words / I'm going renegade, renegade / and money money money / with repetitive conviction. The comradery at the Mercury felt like a small-scale Pogues show.

Killen and his band play with ease and familiarity. Making music together is just second nature. Alex Forbes's fast guitar darts around the manic keyboard while Mike Henry on bass and energizer drummer Joey Campanella bring on the punch. The spontaneity continued with the finale as Henry switched to saxophone with stand-in guitarist Rikky Walsh. The blinding strobes added to the never-ending climax of intensity, making this Thursday night the ultimate party power-rock experience.

"I’m not Folk,” claimed Jack Killen; he continued, "there is no Folk in NYC.....you go live upstate, I’m staying here."  But with lyrics like / it makes me want to SCREAM / I'm tired of being broke in the land of money / he finds his voice in topical dissent. In his unfolky way, Jack and the band party and protest Killen style.

EP: Black Sneakers on Concrete 
Jack Killen: keys / vocals
Alex Forbes: electric guitar
Mike Henry: bass / saxophone
Joey Campanella: drums
Ricky Walsh: electric guitar


Sixteen Jackies; a talented band going somewhere

Sixteen Jackies are an infectious four-piece band going somewhere. For the past two years, they've built a reputation in their home base of Philly and surrounding areas. Presented by PopGun last Thursday at Elsewhere in Brooklyn, Sixteen Jackies played between two formidable bands, Ackerman and Oh Malô.

They played a seven-song set from their new and old EP. On display were catchy instrumental hooks, guitar leads that mimic electro-synth, thick basslines, and drums that float between raw and polished mixed with a little grime. Joey DeMarco's high-range dreamy pop vocals produce a surreal mixup of genres when he adds yelps and unworldly sounds. His campy showmanship was in full gear creating a flirtatious connection as he moved around the stage, singing freaky but substantive lyrics. He delivered them tongue and cheek with a wink / I was in a movie / and the movie was bad /. Especially endearing is when DeMarco thanks the audience between songs.

Sixteen Jackies memorable live sets will bring them back to New York sooner than later, and I'm all in.

Sixteen Jackies: Joey DeMarco (Vox, Guitar), Jeremiah Bull (Guitar, Keys), Ian Staley (Drums, Keys), Tim Davis (Bass)


Max Vernon's Musical, The View UpStairs is an Unfiltered View of LGBTQ History

The View Upstairs set at Lynn Redgrave Theater

The Lynn Redgrave Theater was transformed back in 1973 into the gay bar, the UpStairs Lounge. Forty-four years earlier, a fatal attack of arson took the lives of thirty-two individuals and injured fifteen others. The UpStairs Lounge was home, a paradise of sorts, a haven for queens, queers, hustlers, and the unwanted and marginalized; it replaced the homes, families, and churches where their “kind” were no longer welcome.

Max Vernon’s passionate and inquisitive nature propelled him to write the book, lyrics, and music for the musical The View UpStairs. Directed by Scott Ebersol, the play is a snippet of time when a young gay fashion designer named Wes, played by Jeremy Pope, buys an abandoned space in 2017 that once was the UpStairs Lounge. There, he meets the ghosts/patrons as they surprisingly appear in retro 70’s attire among the inventive cheap yet chic decor of the lounge in its heyday. They enthusiastically swirl around the bar and sing about a place they call home / I think I found some kind of paradise / no angel wings / or fairy dust / just a rush of lust / but it’s alright. /

Vernon’s editorial style turns the future inside out by presenting it through the perspective of the gay community forty-four years earlier. Their wisdom is refreshing, and their reactions to Wes’ virtual world of selfies, branding, likes, and hashtags are hilarious and provocative. Wes tries to brag about the future as he sings /ain’t it great how far we’ve come since 1973 / the future is great there / you are what you own / if I could take you back with me / your mind will be blown /.

Throughout the play, the ghosts teach Wes many lessons and remind him of the rights he takes for granted. He, in turn, is perplexed by the hiding, hustling, and sex lives of his ghost hosts; as they live their lives in the shadows. The trajectory of their futures is altered by rejection and limited choices. Wes' new love interest, Patrick played by Taylor Frey, explains why he became a runaway /father sent him away / with a plan / fry the fairy out of him / and he’ll come back a man / more or less / the doctor guaranteed success /.

The show tackles many issues through the lens of LGBTQ history, including Trump’s election, and achieves a cutting edge. Hanging like a dark cloud over the theater is impending death, with Aids just around the corner and the future of arson. / how the eighties came killed all your friends / you just don't know it yet /. Weighing heavily and interspersed between dancing and song is the anxiety and fear of new laws that undermine all the rights gained in recent years.

I fell in love with the talented, diverse, and lovable cast. The staging created a viable interaction as some audience members sat in the lounge among the actors who worked the aisles. The fabulous Queen den mother, Willie, played by Nathan Lee Graham, delightfully shares his earned wisdom. His over-the-top personality is the comedic relief and connection to the show's heart as it offsets the dark content. Another significant aspect of the script is the invisible patron, Dale, played by Ben Mayne. He is rejected by his peers and exposes the flaws in their community, much like any other.

The beautiful score, effervescent cast, sequence, glitz, and glam can’t camouflage the issues facing the LGBTQ community. But what a way to tackle these matters proudly, singing and dancing into the future. This timely musical celebrates and honors the lives of the patrons of the UpStairs Lounge in all their colorful and unfiltered glory and paves the way for the fight ahead.

The View UpStairs


Big Hands Rhythm and Blues Band at Rockwood Stage 2

The brisk electric set by the accomplished musicians that make up Big Hands Rhythm and Blues Band finished at breakneck speed. I was fortunate to hear them play at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 at 11 pm on Friday. Osei Essed posted that there would be some howling, traditional blues standards, and originals. That was enough to count me in and invite my cousin, who loves live music.

The band is a great outfit and a joyous side project. Osei possessed deep vocals as he howled the Willie Dixon song “Easy Baby.” His voice whisked us in and captured our inner blues spirit but would worry any throat doctor. Joined by a tight, spirited band, who finished the set before we could come up for air! Yes, there were soul and blues traditions, with some Jazz slipping through via the piano/keyboardist. They ended the set with a lively all-out urgent roar of the Beatles tune “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.”

Members of the Big Hand Rhythm and Blues Band: Simon Kafka from Elle King's band on lead guitar, Osei Essed from (The Woes) on lead vocals and guitar, Zach Jones Music (Sting, Elle King, A Great Big World) on drums, Chris Kuffner (Ingrid Michaelson and currently with A Great Big World) on bass Todd Caldwell (Crosby Still and Nash), on organ and piano.


César Alvarez’s new musical NOISE, at AUPAC

Yesterday I was thrilled to see the workshop production of César Alvarez’s new musical, NOISE, at Adelphi University Performing Arts Center. The Larson Legacy Concert (in association with the American Theater Wing showcases some of the annual recipients of the Jonathan Larson Grant given to rising musical theater composers and lyricists.

NOISE is an interactive theater experience where the actors and the audience are united to hear the “noise.” A unique aspect of the production was the random changing order of the play, accomplished by choosing numbers pulled from a bag, making each performance entirely different. With every new random number, actors had to rearrange audience members on the stage and scramble to get props and move sets. The actors were really on their game.

Inspired by Noise: The Political Economy of Music, the nonfiction book by French economist and scholar Jacques Attali. César uses his concepts to inform the structure and language of the play. Through the history of music, he engages how society creates systems to organize, divide and separate people from experiencing, hearing, and appreciating the noise.

The actors moved, stomped, sang, and spoke while engaging the audience to confront our presumptions and judgments that inform all our decisions. The message was cerebral, while the messengers (the actors) were funny, animated, engaging, and full of life.

César Alvarez is a composer/lyricist/librettist whose musical FUTURITY received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. César also received the 2016 Jonathan Larson Award.


The Most Beautiful Rock Music I Never Heard

Cover art for the album Five Years Later by Robe McCleery

“The sound resonates beauty, truth, fierceness, and love without compromise” ~ Dan Bell, friend.

I accidentally heard some extraordinary music. It is the most beautiful rock music I never heard. I made it my goal to find “the band” and was completely blown away by the story that unfolded when I finally met Robe in person.  I am writing this review with his permission. My mission is to bring this beautiful work into the universe and off a dusty shelf. ~ OCM

Creating music was his gift and a lifeline for expression rather than a commodity for sale. In 2000, he completed a diary in the format of a thirteen-song rock soliloquy, recorded on tape in his bedroom, basement and bathroom over three years.

“It has been five years since I was diagnosed with type one insulin-dependent diabetes. I am broken with illness. Simply said, this record is a compilation of my life over the past five years.” This is how the liner notes began for the album Five Years Later by the fictitious band The Daisy Chains.

At age eighteen, Rob McCleery’s opus was completed primarily as a solo project in the sanctuary of his parent’s middle-class home. The mastered CD was packaged as The Daisy Chains with many contributors while "only a few friends actually helped out."

"The "band" also really didn't exist, I just wanted it to look as though it was a band. Right around the time I finished the record, I realized how personal it was to me and didn't feel comfortable having anyone listen to it. I felt exposed. So I stuck it on the shelf and forgot about it." ~ Robe

Five Years Later is a whole concept album produced in the form of a movie script. The album’s first track begins five years after McCleery's diagnosis, and songs two through thirteen explain how he got there. While some songs express his feelings about societal issues, most are a confessional dialogue where the reference to I, you, me, are interchangeable, as he counsels his broken ego through the medium of his former stronger and healthier self.

His small bedroom was ground zero in the process of creation. Words emerged like a tumultuous stream of expression from a microphone to tape to form the first recordings, one of which is the song “Gunshy.” McCleery usually composed on the piano first and later fleshed out the mix with a wide array of instruments. He had an innate ability as a musician, but he embarked on the recording process as a novice. Obsessed with learning and a desire for perfection, he utilized every recording technique he thought would do the work justice.

McCleery captured the music zeitgeist of the 90’s rock genre but had the instinct to meld hard rock, flavor it with folk and pop, and splice it with old country traditions. Five Years Later has hard-hitting guitar licks, slamming screeching reverb, twangy strings, catchy melodies, piano arrangements, and a variety of percussion, all of which reflect the multi-instrumentalist dexterity of McCleery’s raw talent. Adding to his acumen was a newly found enthusiasm for jazz which he devoted to only one track titled “Dark Blue.”  

The signature imprint on this album is McCleery’s vocal style;  His fractured bedroom vocals, raspy intimate whispers, and tortured screams draw the listener into a private space. It captures vulnerability, fierce intensity, and tenderness.

“Five Years Later,” the first song, comes on like a roar, with screeching guitar reverb and a mix of hardcore nineties rock. What’s unusual is McCleery has combined his tortured screams with fragile vocals. Together It works to express his anger, frustration, and need to gain control over his life circumstances. “Believe It” is a song motivated by McCleery’s protective instincts and the distress he feels over a girl who’s a victim of parental sexual abuse. The repetitive melody and volume build with layers of intensity while he mixes buzzing bee vibrations and grunt-like noises to depict the father.

Three outstanding songs recount a throwback to early country western stylings. Each song has a semblance of twang in a chord or the high-pitched bend of a guitar string while combining catchy melodies with maudlin topics.  “Gunshy” has the most acoustic folk sound on the album with its sweet singalong hooks and campfire-like strum, singing / I’m not really gunshy anymore / I got my head blown off /. While “Beautiful Mondays” falls into the category of epic Monday songs, woven with seductive country strings and rock-centric guitar licks as McCleery's voice encompasses the saddest whispers and passionate outcries. He assures himself / I think you’re perfect / as perfect as you can be /.  “Yours in Utter Sickness” is a synopsis of the onset of his diabetes diagnosis and hospitalization. McCleery contemplates a suicide note to, / sign my name away /.  He reflects on all the things he loves, like / all my beautiful flowers /nothing could take them away / and imagines how thoughtfully he’ll compose his letter / with the sweetest words I know /. The lyrics are heartbreaking, but I found myself singing / this mother fucker kills me / with enthusiastic zeal to a breakout melody.

Five Years Later has orchestral rock arrangements and sound effects that broaden the contextual listening experience. The confessional country flair of “Landing” adds a lush fluttering flute in the backdrop. “M.F.O.C,” a more traditional rock ballad, uses an echo on the vocal tracks as he mourns the demise of his former self / I cherish you more and more with every day /. The eerie field recordings create a whirlwind of confusion in “Kitten and the Dog Bite,” while the chorus / I don’t want to be the last one here, in this sugar-coated deal, / highlights the struggle and universal pain of divorce. To emphasize feeling small, like a vulnerable kitten, he sings through a World War II Japanese radio tower mic. He feels disconnected, and states / I used to be a winner / as the orchestrated movements peak and metaphorically fade out.

McCleery understood the pulse of the quintessential rock song, adding the essentials without being formulaic. Starting with a gently picked guitar melody, “Reason to Move On” soars with epic guitar runs and an explosive crescendo.  “Orange” continues in that vein with an unforgettable harmony-laced chorus  / where are you / where are you dad / is McCleery’s take on parental neglect. Tapping into a Nirvana-like force, the chorus in “I’m Not a Feather”/ I’m not a feather / you can’t push me around / gains muscle to depict his resolve to recover what he has lost.

The final eight-minute track, “Completely Confused / A Lesson in Love,” makes every heart-wrenching minute count. Starting with a tortured wail of emotion, he surrenders to a self-soothing mantra repeating, / everything you needed / is everything I had / if anything I needed / everything you had /. A beautiful piano passage accompanies a haunting lyric /someone help me escape /.

I found this recording accidentally uploaded fifteen years later on a few platforms with no information and just a sepia-toned picture of a nonexistent band. Every part of my being welcomed this into my heart. It is the truest form of art. For Rob McCleery, it was his only option to do what he loved and wrap himself in music.

This epic rock music was buried on a dusty shelf, a closed chapter in the life of a young man whose dreams were stolen by the necessity for insulin. He was trapped in a vicious cycle of jobs that offered health insurance. He was stymied by a disease that took away his spontaneity, delayed his independence, and altered his music trajectory. With every passing year, his insulin became more and more unaffordable, making the prospect of touring a taxing possibility. He did give it a try.

“I did get a group together, and we played about 60 shows. We sold about 500 copies of the record (which is exactly how many I had mass produced)” ~ Robe        

The Daisy Chains Five Years Later by Robe McCleery Bandcamp
Free download or contribute what you wish


Max Vernon Brings His Observational Style to The View UpStairs

Performances begin for The View UpStairs on February 15th for the new musical written by Max Vernon at the Lynn Redgrave Theater. This contemporary American theater production will highlight Max Vernon’s observational style. His insightful intellectual curiosity reflects nuance and the dual complexities of modern-day life. Vernon is passionately inquisitive about societal issues and expresses his concerns with many words. His songs of content always hit just the right note.

The View UpStairs is a provocative new musical that pulls you inside the UpStairs Lounge, a vibrant ‘70s gay bar in the French Quarter of New Orleans. This forgotten community comes to life in all its gritty, glam rock glory when a young fashion designer from 2017 buys the abandoned space, setting off an exhilarating journey of seduction and self-exploration that spans two generations of queer history. Inspired by one of the most significant yet all-but-ignored attacks against the LGBTQ community, The View UpStairs examines what has been gained and lost in the fight for equality and how the past can help guide us all through an uncertain future.

For more information and tickets, The View Upstairs


SOBO Blues Band @ the Parkside Lounge

SOBO Blues Band from Israel played at the Parkside Lounge last Saturday, January 28th, as a first stop and warm-up to their final destination, the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Their style of playing is what I call "happy blues." They exude the purest form of pleasure in music collaboration while celebrating the American art form they treasure and proclaim is universal.

Assaf Gansman, the bass player with deeply soulful vocals, is also the band's master of ceremonies. Daniel Kriman shreds on electric resonator slide guitar and harmonica, creating the group's signature sound. With the first beat of drummer Eden Bahar, I knew I was in for a treat. He is classically trained, but unlike other players of that ilk, he brings grit to the mix.

Together they generate love from the stage. Shout out today; they made it to the finals, sending their brand of love in the form of blues to Memphis.

SOBO was founded in 1995 in Jerusalem by the songwriting team Assaf Ganzman and Daniel Kriman. Ganzman is also co-owner of the legendary Mike's Place live music bars and restaurants in Israel. Two years ago, the team was joined by 24-year-old Eden Bahar, considered one of the best percussionists in Israel.

SOBO Blues Band from Israel played at the
Willpilot Productions and Jack Baxter present SOBO Blues Band live in New York City.

SOBO on bandcamp
#Blues #Memphis #MikesPlace #ParksideLounge #resonatorslideguitar #JackBaxter #BluesByTheBeach #SariSinger #StrengthToStrength


Arkansas’ Adam Faucett; Soulful Poetry in Song

I saw Adam Faucett live last month and bought his 2014 release Blind Water Finds Blind Water. Yes, I’m old school and like to support directly. Since 2006 with a little break, I’ve been writing about under-the-radar music. I’m late to Adam Faucett, he was just not on my radar but is now, thanks to a friend and musician I admire who treasures him. I am also from the east coast, and references to rock piles, sleeping Opossum, and old train lots are not common jargon for me, but each song speaks to me through the universality of love, breakup, hurt regret, and fine storytelling.

Adam Faucett has one of the greatest voices I’ve ever heard. His smooth high notes and diaphragm-defying fervent belts possess soul, grit, and beauty. Best of all, they are delivered with his Arkansas accent. Blending finger-picking on electric guitar with bass and drums. These contemplative songs are the perfect mix of Southern soul, rock and roll, and folk. The only track in a different direction is “Killer on Staten Island”; It is eerie, gorgeous, and highlights the piano.

His songwriting applies snippets of memory retrieved and blended into a poetic narrative with references to small-town America. Faucett weaves dreams, hopes, memories, and predictions as complicated expectations. A paragraph recited in full in the song "The Poet" inscribed by the local Oracle on the bar bathroom wall.  Faucett cites the famous mystic to make themes realized in the song "Edgar Cayce" / your dreams have swallowed me whole /.  And a descriptive narrative using the word (I remember) travels through the song "Opossum," imparting some folk wisdom; / all that truly love you / been traveling with you always / well I hope your right /.

I can feel the heartache and regrets and can smell the bar, and picture its dark, oppressive, dimly lit interior on the first track “Day Drinker” / Nobody / nowhere is gonna outdrink me / It’s so lonesome in the afternoon / when you’re the only one / with nothing to do /.

While vocals express longing in "Walking Home Late" / Walking home late /with you on my mind / because all that I have is you on my mind / the music simulates a pulse like a heartbeat stressing the aloneness of the moment. The instrumentation in “Melonie” is musically masculine, combining guitar, bass, and a persistent war-like drumbeat, emphasizing regrets about an affair that went wrong as he sings / Melonie I don’t want to hold hands / get killed by your ex-old man / but no more /. And the unintended fallout / We did / we did him wrong / he was our brother in song /.

I love the two songs about different Arkansas towns. "Benton” constructs the memories of youth re-visiting the old rockpile and reflects on the dreams left behind / the flowers walk away / from the grave of my young dreams / just easier that way / just easier that way /. While “Sparkman” is about a regretful longing through the prism of a man thinking he might regain a relationship that has gone terribly wrong.

Ending with “Rock Ain’t Gold’ where Faucett depicts the act of digging and searching to represent all dreams not actualized. / Struck gold now the sun won’t rise / been a digging for most of my life/ trade it all for a little bit of life / rich comes at the bottom of the mine /.

This music was a gift to me, like folklore passed along from one friend to another. In today’s music climate, people only hear parts of a whole my suggestion is to listen to the entire body of work and buy the whole damn thing.

Looking forward to his next record said to be released in 2017.

Adam Faucett – Guitar and Vocals
Jonny D – Bass

Will Boyd – Drums