Tag Archives: beyonce

Clinton aims high in campaign’s final days

Hillary Clinton aimed to hit high notes in the campaign’s final days, hoping an uplifting message would wash away voters’ disgust with the grueling presidential contest. Donald Trump denounced what he called a “rigged” electoral system and told supporters he would never quit, charging into new and dangerous rhetorical territory for a presidential candidate — although not for the first time.

Clinton preached at a black church in north Philadelphia on Sunday, telling the congregation that Tuesday’s election was a moment to choose “hopes over fear, unity over division and love over hate.” She promised to continue the policies of President Barack Obama and accused the Trump of trying to destroy Obama’s legacy.

“I personally believe we have come too far to turn back now,” she said. “If we come together with the common vision, common faith, we will find common ground.”

During the campaign’s final days, candidates embarked on one their last tours of battleground states, presenting their closing arguments to weary voters deeply divided along racial, economic and gender lines.

With national polls showing her retaining an edge, Clinton enlisted allies and A-listers for help at stops in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Hampshire. She planned to campaign with Cavaliers star LeBron James in Cleveland, and rally voters in Manchester with Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father whose indictment of Trump delivered emotional high point for Democrats.

For his campaign’s final days, Trump planned a marathon on the campaign trail, with stops in five states, including Minnesota, Michigan and Pennsylvania — states that have long proven unfriendly territory for Republican presidential candidates. But buoyed by a late surge of momentum, Trump’s campaign believes its loyal, white working-class voters will deliver an upset on Tuesday.

“Our secret weapon is the American people who are saying, ‘Enough is enough,’” vice presidential candidate Mike Pence said on Fox News Sunday.’

Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told reporters Sunday that Trump planned to keep up the breakneck campaign pace during the campaign’s final days and right up through Election Day. After voting in New York tomorrow, Trump was expected to return to Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina and New Hampshire later in the day, Conway said.

Tension is running high in the final days. Trump was rushed off stage Saturday night at rally in Reno, Nevada, after someone near the stage had shouted “Gun!,” according to the Secret Service. The agency said a search revealed no weapon.

Trump returned a few minutes later to resume his remarks and declared, “We will never be stopped.”

The Republican candidate’s son and top campaign adviser later retweeted the false rumor that the incident was an “assassination attempt,” and a supporter at a subsequent rally in Denver repeated the suggestion.

Asked about the misinformation, Conway did not apologize, but said Trump’s son was acting out of worry: “It’s pretty rattling to think of what may have happened to your father. So, I will excuse him that,” Conway told CNN on Sunday.

The Clinton campaign says it is focusing on securing its firewall in the West and upper Midwest. Clinton started her day with the largely African-American congregation of Mount Airy Church of God in Christ in Philadelphia. And President Barack Obama planned rallied in Ann Arbor, Michigan, today before joining Clinton for a rally in Philadelphia featuring Bruce Springsteen.

Critical in both states is African American turnout. Black clergy were taking to the pulpits in a “Souls to the Poll” campaign to energize black voters, after early vote data shows some signs of diminished turnout from Obama’s two elections.

Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told NBC’s Meet the Press that the campaign believes if Clinton wins Nevada and Michigan, she “is going to be the next president of the United States.”

Clinton faced dark skies, intense rain and strong wind in Florida on Saturday before appearing in Pennsylvania with pop singer Katy Perry. The Democratic nominee was preparing to campaign Sunday with basketball superstar Lebron James, having shared the stage Friday night with music diva Beyoncé and hip hop mogul husband Jay Z.

“Tonight, I want to hear you roar,” a smiling Clinton said before introducing Perry for a Saturday night performance in Philadelphia.

Perry, who hugged Clinton while wearing a purple cape bearing the words, “I’m with Madam President,” shouted, “In three days, let’s make history!”

At least 41 million Americans across 48 states have already cast ballots four days before Election Day, according to an Associated Press analysis. That’s significantly than were cast early in 2012.

Peoples reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Jill Colvin in Wilmington, North Carolina, Kathleen Hennessey in Washington and David Eggert in Holland, Michigan, contributed to this report.



Wisconsin Sound #8


At the end of September the Oshkosh-born/Milwaukee-based acoustic folk band Dead Horses released their new album Cartoon Moon. The beautiful and thoughtful 10-track project was recorded at Cartoon Moon Studios in Nashville with former Wilco and Uncle Tupelo drummer Ken Coomer. Last month they hit the road on a 10-state, 14-date tour in support of Mandolin Orange. I spoke with lead singer Sarah Vos during the band’s day off in Charleston, South Carolina.

Dead Horses
Dead Horses

We are going to go to the beach and see the ocean today. I haven’t seen the Atlantic for quite some time so I’m pretty excited.

How has the road been?

It’s awesome because we’re playing all these new cities and they’re pretty nice rooms, and really, really receptive crowds. So it’s been a blast.

How was it returning to Nashville where the new album was recorded?

There was a cool coming around with that it being almost exactly a year later. It was really fun. Our producer Ken Coomer came out to the show with his wife and his son and we got to hang out with him backstage. It felt very special. I’m a big fan of Nashville. It’s going to be a main stop for us for touring in the future. We’ve started to make friends down there.

It was a good show?

It was a great show, one of our best in Nashville. We’ve done the Americana Music Festival in Nashville, so that was pretty cool. We got to play at The Station Inn,  which is kind of a historic bluegrass venue.  To do that as part of the festival was really neat. You have all these dreams and goals, as soon as you reach one goal you kind of got your eye on the next one and you never quite make it to the horizon. But I always try to remind the guys in the band that we should be celebrating because we are very blessed.

I read that Cartoon Moon is the record that you really want people to hear. What sets it apart and what makes it so special for you?

I think it’s a patient record. It shows how we have matured through the years. I feel that it’s crafted a lot more, it’s more deliberate than other things we’ve done. That’s something that I want to continue to do as we keep making records. Because you know in the industry they talk about how bands don’t make as much money from records anymore.

But when I look at the way music has affected me and the reasons that I even wanted to be a musician, it was growing up and listening to records. To this day I’m always searching for new things to listen to and I love that. Recording it was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I love having this very focused project that was collaboration between the members of the band and the producer and the sound engineer.  

Have you been writing new songs while you’ve been on tour or performing any new material?

Dead Horses live at Anodyne Coffee. [PHOTO - DeWook Photography]
Dead Horses live at Anodyne Coffee. [PHOTO – DeWook Photography]
Usually when I write it’s pretty private, at least when I start the songs. But at the Nashville show I was very inspired by all the things that we’ve seen touring and the people we’ve met. Traveling right now across the country during such a crazy time in politics and things that are happening in the country, I’ve been telling the audiences at every show that I think regardless of where you stand, a lot of people feel pretty disheartened by the state of things. But we’ve been meeting such compassionate and wonderful people everywhere. So I’ve been trying to remind people at all the shows that it’s going to be ok. Don’t lose hope because things are going to work out.

But yeah, I always write a lot, I journal a lot, and a lot of times I just write down little snippets of things. Or even just word combinations that strike my fancy. As far as actual songs I’m not sure exactly how the new record that we’re beginning to dream up is going to go, but I just feel very confident that everything that we need is already there. I can’t wait to make another one.

Click here to listen to Dead Horses on WUWM.


In the fall of 2004 I saw Jill Scott in concert at the Chicago Theatre. That performance remains the most emotionally resonant live music experience of my life. The songstress regaled us with poignant stories in between beautiful songs performed with a full band and mini orchestra. My friend and I were brought to tears and compelled to call our loved ones immediately after the show.

'Ode 2 a Luv Affair' artwork
‘Ode 2 a Luv Affair’ artwork

Listening to the latest record by Milwaukee R&B singer B~Free (Britney Farr-Freeman) reminds me of that autumn night in Chicago. Ode 2 A Luv Affair is B-Free’s second studio album. It takes listeners on a journey through the trials and tribulations of love. The recording process was challenging for a couple of reasons. Freeman, who also works as an educator, contracted a throat illness from one of her students that required surgery.

“It was difficult for me to allow myself to be as comfortable in that space as I once was. There were a lot of moments of rawness and vulnerability that I wasn’t quite ready to deal with. For example, when I was recording ‘The Vow’ I was pretty much crying the whole time,” Freeman tells me.

I first saw B~Free at Linneman’s Riverwest Inn last year when she shared a bill with Klassik, who was being backed by Foreign Goods. Freeman is now a member of Foreign Goods, which she credits with allowing her to be more comfortable collaborating and playing in front of larger audiences. Last week she was joined by her bandmates at Turner Hall to see Esperanza Spalding, an experience as affecting for her as the Jill Scott concert was for me in 2004.

B-Free [PHOTO - Mahdi Gransberry]
B-Free [PHOTO – Mahdi Gransberry]
“It was absolutely phenomenal,” says Freeman. “I was so inspired and moved emotionally and musically. It made me sincerely question my own existence. It was so deep without even trying to be. She conveys such a strong message about finding your own path and putting everything that you’ve been taught or forced to believe to the wayside. That’s always something that I’ve been aiming towards in my own life and artistry. I want to be able to wield that same power with whatever I put out into the world.”

The response to Ode 2 A Luv Affair has been positive, albeit a few detailed critiques on the album’s iTunes page. She is in the early stages of developing her next record, but before that she will go into the studio with Foreign Goods to record their first album this winter.

“It’s our goal to have it be a project that highlights everyone’s talents. There will definitely be some rap on there, some jazz, some harmonies, vocals, R&B, just a mixture of everything that we do. So we’re excited and we’re gearing up for the process,” says Freeman.

Tonight you can see B~Free with Foreign Goods for free at Club Garibaldi for a live broadcast of 91.7 WMSE’s Local/Live. Erin Wolf and Cal Roach will talk to B~Free and take audience questions in between a live performance. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the segment runs from 6 to 7 p.m. If you can’t make the show you can tune in at 91.7FM or go online wmse.org.


Unbeknownst to many Wisconsin music fans, Milwaukee has a storied jazz history. The scene has gone through its ups and downs and is currently experiencing a resurgence. One of those reasons was the temporary closing of the Jazz Estate.

Jazz Estate exterior
Jazz Estate exterior

The historic East Side haunt became the focal point of the Milwaukee jazz scene in the 2000s. When it closed its doors last year a few venues began hosting live jazz. After much anticipation and a few delays, the Estate officially reopens tonight.

In November 2015 the Jazz Estate was sold to John Dye, owner and operator of Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge since 2008. I spoke with Dye at his acclaimed South Side lounge while they were hosting a Jazz Estate cocktail preview.

“It’s always been one of the places in Milwaukee that I’ve been interested in, but they approached me,” says Dye of his new business venture.

“We’re going to do some really nice versions of classic cocktails from the ‘70s and ‘80s, ones that nobody really touches. They’re good drinks, but they’re just a little uninspired,” says Dye. You might say he’s done the same thing with the Estate.

Opened in 1977, the building fell into disrepair over the years. The Estate’s reopening was originally slated for July, but more renovations were required than anticipated. Given his dedication to preserving history, Dye took his time to do it right. Last week I attended the club’s soft opening and I’m happy to report he’s done just that.

Jazz Estate interior
Jazz Estate interior

As soon as I walked into the Estate there was a “new club smell.” It’s as if Dye’s team polished every inch of the club and then added a few of their own flourishes, like the tin ceiling in the front room and the house drum kit. The vintage looking lights and register give the bar a Bryant’s vibe. The seating and sightlines in the back area are improved as well. And the acoustics are excellent.

The Jazz Estate will feature live music on Thursdays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m., with cover ranging from $5 to $12 in the first month. There is no cover for the grand opening Thursday night. DJs and pre-recorded old school soul and jazz will play the other nights at the Estate, which is better than ever.Click here for more information and to view their calendar.


Soul Low at Cactus Club
Soul Low at Cactus Club

In my second feature for WiG I wrote about the young Milwaukee pop rockers of Soul Low. The success of their debut record (Uneasy) and acclaim for their latest effort (Nosebleeds) has put them in an exclusive category of Wisconsin music, alongside only a few other bands. One of those is The Violent Femmes. With lead singer Jake Balistreri’s quivering falsetto so similar to the Femme’s Gordon Gano, it was just a matter of time before the Soul Low boys paid homage to their Milwaukee music ancestors by covering “Blister in the Sun,” the Femmes’ biggest hit. I had heard the song was in Soul Low’s repertoire, but hadn’t experienced it live until last Friday night at Cactus Club. It was Night One of Gloss Records’ Halloween Spooktacular. Soul Low — half of whom were dressed as Power Rangers — closed their set with the rollicking, fine-tuned cover.

161027_vddp_posterPerforming right before Soul Low at Cactus Club  was Rio Turbo, Milwaukee’s premier trash pop dance party. Joey Turbo  dressed in neon orange hunter regalia — and his Turbette dancers debuted three new songs to kick off their set. “No He Can’t” is an instant hit, with a driving beat that my feet couldn’t deny. “Ballad” is a trippy, airy track that made me think of The Flaming Lips, with Turbo sounding a bit like Wayne Coyne. Rio Turbo also debuted their sick new neon sign, which sat on the table in front of DJ SPACE BAR, the latest edition to the Turbo lineup.

Also on Friday I announced the Beyonce + Jay Z vs. Rihanna + Drake dance party at Company Brewing on Saturday, November 26. I’m producing this event with my girlfriend and visual artist Kristina Rolander, which Rio Turbo will be making a special appearance at. The event also includes an all-star lineup of DJs (Bizzon, Annalog, Optimist, Turtle Sooup), host Lex Allen, cocktail specials and an original photo backdrop by Kristina.  Click here for more information and to RSVP.


Artwork by Janice Vogt
Artwork by Janice Vogt

Experimental hip-hop artist WebsterX has released his first song of the year, “Blue Streak.” Since putting out his debut project Desperate Youth in 2013, the most high profile member of the New Age Narcissism collective released some major “loosies” (singles not attached to a larger project) with 2014’s “doomsday (feat. siren),” 2015’s “Lately” and “Kinfolk (feat. Allan Kingdom).” Not to mention, last fall’s excellent 3-track, Radiohead-inspired collaboration with Q the Sun entitled KidX.

Thankfully for fans, the Four Giants produced “Blue Streak” does not continue the “loosie” trend. It is the first single from what will be WebsterX’s debut studio album. Upon the song’s release WebsterX also announced that he agreed to a distribution deal with Chicago-based label Closed Sessions. The outfit was responsible for helping the early career development of Chicago rappers like Vic Mensa and Chance the Rapper. WebsterX will maintain 100% ownership of his masters and will benefit from the label’s influence and reach. Click here to listen to “Blue Streak.”

"Hold Me Down" artwork by Jessica Yimenez
“Hold Me Down” artwork by Jessica Yimenez

Milwaukee bassist, New Age Narcissism member and music scene all-star Bo Triplex released a new single as part of the Nightmare on Center Street II playlist. “Hold Me Down” is from Bo Triplex and His Beautiful Band’s forthcoming EP deux, which has an early February release date. Bo says of the track, “‘Hold Me Down’ is a clash of worlds. Bo has been captured by those he came to defeat and though they taunt him so he refuses to give up. For he knows y’all are holding him down. Special thanks to Beathouse Music Inc. and Yessica Jimenez for the art.” Click here to listen to “Hold Me Down.”

“For the 3rd single from their upcoming full length, Marathon (11.11.16), smooth hip-hop group AUTOMatic brings the classic early 90’s R&B vibes with their certified slow jam, “You Don’t Love Me.” Emcee APRIME explores what it’s like to be caught in the trap of a love/hate relationship – something all of us have been in at least once in our life. Producer Trellmatic’s production is top notch and he adds updated drums to the retro groove. This one is for everybody that grew up with the Quiet Storm radio show playing in the background, late at night.” Click here to listen to “You Don’t Love Me.”


Last WiG issue’s featured artist IshDARR released the first video (“Locals” directed by Damien Blue) from his latest project Broken Hearts & Bankrolls, which has received over 4 million streams in its first 3 weeks. Metal band Hot Coffin spent a late night making a freaky video in The Oriental Theatre for their song “Whistle, Hawk & Spit,” which was directed and edited by Jed Schlegelmilch. Burlington-native Chris Vos’ wildly successful LA-based blues rock band The Record Company released a lighthearted, hula hoop-centric video for their hit “Rita Mae Young.” Also, local chill wave rockers No No Yeah Okay put out an eerie Ryan Bilinski directed video for “Great Scott” from their debut EP Dual.

Bigger Than Life: Bounce queen Big Freedia returns to PrideFest

With a large, well-manicured hand in multiple realms, Big Freedia is on her way to becoming (drag) queen of all media.

Musically, Freedia can be credited with introducing the hip-hop/house hybrid bounce music to the public and increasing its familiarity in the mainstream. In print, her memoir, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva!, puts her life experiences into words. Watching her reality TV show Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, we witness her trials, tribulations and triumphs. And with a role in the film Heart, Baby, an upcoming release about an imprisoned boxer who turns down a chance at freedom if he participates in the 1984 Olympics, Big Freedia will further increase her already considerable profile.

To be clear: It’s Big Freedia’s world, we just bounce in it. Big Freedia will perform at Milwaukee PrideFest on June 11, but before then, she talked to WiG about the new heights she’s risen to in recent years.

Freedia, since the time I first interviewed you in 2011, much has happened in your career, beginning with the way you brought bounce music into the mainstream. What do you think about about the reception bounce music received and what do you think about the future of the musical genre?

Well, I definitely think it’s grown. It has definitely been accepted around the world and I’m super excited about that. That people allow me to come to their hometowns and be myself and represent the culture of music that I represent, and New Orleans, especially.

(Bounce music) will continue to grow. The sounds are getting bigger; it’s elevating. More artists want to work with and incorporate bounce music in their music. I’m very excited about the way things are going and where they can go.

As you’ve said, you’re “one busy queen.” One of your biggest gigs is your reality show, Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce, which will debut its fifth season on Fuse. What’s the best thing about having your own show?

I’m blessed to have my own show and to have a platform to speak on a lot of different things that are happening around the world. To have a platform for my music and a home for New Orleans; a show that represents our culture, what happens in New Orleans and what happens with me when I am on the road.

What are you most excited about in season five of Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce?

I’m most excited to see the roller coaster that I’m going to be on. Where I’m going, where I’m traveling, what’s going to be (happening) in the season. Figuring out at that point in my life what’s happening next. It’s a lot of hard work and determination. I put forth my best effort and present to the world what’s going on in my life and (that of) all the people around me.

What can you tell me about the movie you made earlier this year?

The movie is called Heart, Baby. It’s about a boxer who was in jail. I’m one of the featured actors and I’m totally excited about that. I’m ready to step into the acting world some more. I’m such a diverse artist and I’m able to be creative on a whole lot of levels.

What part do you play?

I’m one of the queens in jail who was the “mother” of the girls in jail.

You also wrote a book, Big Freedia: God Save the Queen Diva!, with your publicist Nicole Balin. What was that experience like for you?

It brought back a lot of emotions. I had to revisit a lot of things from childhood to currently now. It was a fun experience to jog my memory for all the things that have happened — or at least to my best recollection. It was an exciting and hard process for me. We only had a certain amount of time to get our draft in and finish the book. We were on a tight schedule. Lots of hours of talking on the phone to Nicole, and then her coming to New Orleans and meeting and going to the places where I grew up. It was interesting to tell my life story in that period of time the best I could. Then to have a finished product was really amazing.

Earlier this year, Beyonce tapped you to be a part of her song “Formation.”

Oh my God!

What was the experience of working with Queen Bey like for you?

I died at home and came back to life when I got the phone call. It was so major for me and for New Orleans and my career. I was blown away when I got the phone call.

What did it mean to you that she knows who you are?

We’d been in contact before I did the song. She’s been aware of who I am and what I represent and my music. She’s been following me. She was a fan first.

In June, you are performing at Pridefest in Milwaukee. What can fans expect from a Big Freedia Pride show?

They can expect me to bring lots of energy and love and asses together. It’s going to be an amazing show. We’re going to bring it as we usually bring it. We’re coming to have a happy time at Pride. We’ll be doing some of the new stuff off the album and debuting a few of the new singles off the album. They will get to hear some of the new sound of Big Freedia.

We’ve lost some big name musical acts this year, including David Bowie and Prince. Have you performed or do you plan to perform any of their songs when you play Milwaukee PrideFest or other shows?

I haven’t gotten that far yet. I have so many other things in front of me. But I did do a dedication to Prince at my show at Jazz Fest in New Orleans. It started raining right when I was singing “Purple Rain.” I couldn’t have asked for a better performance at a better time. In the future I’ll definitely be dedicating some stuff to both of them.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to end on a serious note and ask you to say something about the controversy surrounding North Carolina’s House Bill 2, also known as the “bathroom bill.”

I just think it’s a bunch of bullshit. There were drag queens way before my time and they will continue after. They’re (Republicans) making a big mockery out of nothing. People just want to be able to govern us with everything. They should just let people live and be free to choose whatever bathroom they choose (for) whatever their preferred gender may be.

I’m definitely going to continue to support those people. I will be at Hopscotch Music Festival (in Raleigh, North Carolina, Sept. 8 to 10) and letting them know that there are people there giving them moral support. I will be the artist that goes there and lets them know that. Fuck what the Governor says. Do you and be you and just live!

Beyonce slays at tour opening, gives no insight into ‘Lemonade’

Whether scorned woman or confident seductress, Beyonce moved seamlessly between the two on the opening night of her Formation World Tour in Miami, offering no insight into the rumors of marital infidelity fueled by Lemonade, her latest album.

Queen B came out swinging April 27 in an oversized black western hat and bodysuit, trading her normal stilettos for military-style combat boots. She opened the show with “Formation” and had the crowd in a frenzy as she moved to her latest anthem “Sorry,” noticeable scorn in her tone as she sang, “Tonight, I regret the night I put that ring on.”

Both songs were from Lemonade, which she released days earlier in an HBO special with full visuals. Much of the album appeared to tie into Beyonce’s life, and lines like “Are you cheating on me?” raised questions of whether her husband, Jay Z, had been unfaithful.

Her opening anthems were fueled by red lights and hot fireballs shooting into the night sky to punctuate her rage — and the angrier she got, the more excited the crowd grew. At one point, Beyonce donned a sequined bodysuit studded with red flames as she sang about her plans to “smack that trick” as a tempestuous lightning storm raged on a screen behind her and later a red, she-devil-esque number.

Just when you thought she was in full-on fury, she switched to the overtly sexual “Rocket” and “Drunk in Love,” a song seemingly about her once hot and heavy marriage. She drew from an older song, “Me, Myself and I,” to remind the crowd “I’m going to be my own best friend,” and brought two girls from the audience who had perfected the choreography to the much-mimicked “Single Ladies.”

She moved so skillfully between vulnerable and in control, that it was impossible to tell what was real and how much was artistic posturing.

Beyonce did not mention her husband — aside from a quick thank you at the end — and said little about Lemonade, noting only that her favorite song was “All Night,” a slow number that starts, “I’ve found the truth beneath your lies.” There was no mention of the presumed other woman, the much-discussed “Becky with the good hair.”

Noticeably absent from the two-hour concert were the political undertones of her Super Bowl halftime show earlier this year, where Beyonce’s dancers donned berets, sported Afros and wore all black, similar to the style of the Black Panther party.

Police unions urged officers not to volunteer or work at her shows and criticized what they called her “anti-police” messages. The police presence at the Miami show seemed normal, and media reports have revealed that security sign-ups for her upcoming Tampa show have not been an issue.

She also did a quick cover of the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams,” cast her stage in purple to honor Prince during a costume change while “Purple Rain” played and dedicated her final number “Halo” to the late star as fireworks shot into the night sky.

“Prince, thank you for your beautiful music. … He’s an artist that inspired all of us,” she said.

In perhaps the most meaningful moment, Beyonce said her daughter reminded her on the way to rehearsal that “when I was a little girl and I dreamed, I dreamed of this day right now. … You’re witnessing my dream coming true right now.”

Later, a montage of Jay Z holding the couple’s newborn child in the hospital played as she sang — a reminder that the last time she toured, she headlined with her husband. The April 27 show also included a snippet from Jay’s grandmother’s 90th birthday telling the crowd she turned life’s lemons into lemonade.

And Beyonce — whatever state her personal life and marriage is in — appears to be doing the same. Her commanding performance of “Freedom” served as reminder to the world that she “breaks chains all by myself. I’m gonna keep running because a runner don’t quit on herself,” she sang as her dancers splashed about an onstage pool. She carried that theme into “Survivor,” encouraging those in the crowd who had “survived anything in your life, I want you to celebrate with me tonight.”

And, just to keep everyone guessing, she gave a shout-out to her husband at the end.

“I want to dedicate this song to my beautiful husband,” she said. “I love you so much.”


Some police unions push boycott of Beyonce concerts, music

Police unions are criticizing Beyonce in the wake of her Super Bowl halftime act and new video, calling for a boycott because they think her work contains “anti-police” messages.

Unions in Miami and Tampa in Florida and also in Nashville, Tennessee, are either calling for officers to boycott her music or urging them not volunteer to work at her shows.

Javier Ortiz, president of the Miami union, said this week that “Beyonce used this year’s Super Bowl to divide Americans by promoting the Black Panthers and her anti-police message shows how she does not support law enforcement.”

The Super Bowl halftime show — seen by an estimated 112 million people — drew praise from her fans and consternation from some critics.

It was a display of unapologetic blackness and political activism. Beyonce’s dancers donned berets, sported Afros and wore all black, similar to the style of the Black Panther party that was founded 50 years ago in the Bay area —  the location of the Super Bowl. At one point during their routine, the dancers formed an “X” on the field, which some people took as a tribute to slain black activist Malcolm X.

Tampa Police Benevolent Association President Vincent Gericitano posted a statement on the group’s website saying it was “disgusted” with the Super Bowl show and “equally disgusted” with her new music video.

The video for “Formation” invokes the Hurricane Katrina tragedy in New Orleans and includes a shot of the singer lying atop a police cruiser overtaken by floodwater. It also references the Black Lives Matter movement with police standing in riot gear and the words “stop shooting us” spray-painted on a wall.

The tour kicks off with a sold-out show in Miami on April 27. Two days later, the tour arrives in Tampa.

Tampa Police spokeswoman Andrea Davis said there is no indication that officers are not taking the extra-duty, voluntary shifts to provide security for the concert.

“This has been blown way out of proportion,” she said.

Tampa Police tweeted a GIF of Beyonce with the statement: “What?! (at)TampaPD officers have been in (hash)formation for days signing up to keep the (hash)Beehive safe! (hash)Truth (hash)Fact”

Miami Police spokesman Lt. Freddie Cruz said the extra-duty shifts for the concert will be “open for officers to sign up. Whether they sign up, it’s up to them.”

In Nashville, that chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police asked members to not volunteer for Beyonce’s concert there in May.

Bob Ludwig has won 10 Grammys in 10 years. You’ve probably never heard of him.

His role is at the finish line of an album — helping it sound as perfect as possible before it’s available to the masses.

He’s won 10 Grammys, including consecutive wins for Album of the Year from 2013 to 2015. And he’s collaborated with contemporary leaders like Pharrell and Daft Punk to iconic acts like Led Zeppelin and Bruce Springsteen.

Bob Ludwig is one of the most important figures in music, though you may not know his name. He earned some airtime when Beck won Album of the Year for Morning Phase at last year’s Grammy Awards, where Ludwig appeared onstage as a winner, too, for working as the mastering engineer on the album.

“I’ve spent more time mastering that record than any other record I’ve ever mastered almost by a long shot. He wouldn’t let that record go. He kept remixing it and remixing it,” Ludwig says. “Twice on a weekend I worked until midnight with him, on the phone, emailing, going back and forth. …We had a lot of time invested in that record.”

Ludwig also won the Grammy in 2014 with Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories and a year before for Mumford & Sons’ Babel.

He’s nominated for Album of the Year at the Feb. 15 awards for producing Alabama Shakes’ Sound & Color. The album also earned Ludwig a nomination for best engineered album, non-classical.

The 71-year-old, who plays trumpet and piano, worked under the late Phil Ramone at A&R Recording Studios. Ludwig masters about 150 to 200 albums a year, and his Portland, Maine-based Gateway Mastering includes eight employees — the newest team member started at the company more than a decade ago.

“Not much turn over,” Ludwig says with a light laugh.

In this recent interview with The Associated Press, Ludwig talked about the Grammys, working with A-list artists and more.

What’s the difference between the mixing and the mastering engineers?

The mixing engineer has the harder job because they track a multitrack recording for a pop record and mix it down into stereo, and that’s very difficult to do … And then mastering engineers, when the mixes are done, the question is, “Does it sound as good as it possibly can?” … “Are the mixes flowing into one another properly?” … I guess what I do is I imagine how it could sound and I know what knobs to move to make it sound like it does in my head.

Can you master an entire album in a day?

Yes. Or at least I can get my first go at it, and then we send it to the artist and the managers and the record label and everybody listens and makes comments. …There’s things that you just need to have feedback from the artist to see what their vision is. That’s what mastering really is — to bring the artist’s vision to the public. …Let’s say the average time is two days on a project when it’s all said and done.

How involved are you with the artists?

Artists very often attend sessions. Like, before the collapse of the record industry we would have three out of five days attended, and now with the record industry being a shadow of what it used to be, the budgets aren’t what they used to be, we probably get attended one out of five days. …Someone like Bruce Springsteen, when he’s doing one of his major albums, he’ll always come up and it’s part of a completion process for him to come up and listen to the (album) here and make comments.

Who’s come to your studio in the last few years?

Jim James from My Morning Jacket, Jeff Tweedy and sometimes his son Spencer come for Wilco or his solo records. …Thomas from Daft Punk was here.

Did he have his helmet on?

He didn’t (laughs). … He was here several times for that record (Random Access Memories). That was a record that — God bless them — they just wanted to make it as perfect as possible and they spared no expense making that record. …He was really particular. …Even though we spent so much time on that record, the thing I noticed is the music has such positive vibrations, and I really mean that. I always feel great at the end of one of those sessions.

At last year’s Grammys, you competed against yourself for album of the year with Pharrell and Beck’s albums. Which did you want to win?

In that particular case, Pharrell’s album was fantastic, there’s no question about it, but for me, Beck’s record was like a masterpiece. …I would stack that record against any pop record that was ever made.

Were you surprised that he won album of the year?

I was completely surprised. I thought Beyoncé had a lock on it.

Sam Smith tops MTV’s 2014 ‘best artist ‘ list

This year’s breakthrough new singer, Sam Smith, went from an artist to watch to MTV’s best artist of 2014 and beat out megastars like Beyonce and Taylor Swift.

The 22-year-old Smith, who is openly gay, performed his soulful song “Stay With Me” at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards from his debut album In the Lonely Hour.

But Smith could not beat Iggy Azalea’s catchy hit song “Fancy,” which topped the list for MTV’s best songs of 2014 and whose video was nominated for four awards at the VMAs. MTV’s best movie of 2014 was The LEGO Movie, a kid flick featuring the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Arnett and Elizabeth Banks.

MTV executives select the lists based on influence and pop culture impact. 

Michelle Visage does drag, Yiddish and motherhood

Fans of RuPaul’s Drag Race know Michelle Visage as the mama hen at the judges’ table. She dispenses wisdom like a buxom, dolled-up Pez dispenser — and you’d better listen, because this woman knows what she’s talking about. Her career began as one-third of the 1980s girl group Seduction (“Two to Make It Right”), which became her entré into world of drag balls and club culture. A dear friend of RuPaul, Visage took her rightful place at the Drag Race judge’s table during the program’s third season.

I spoke with Visage in April 2014 about her career, her affiliation with RuPaul and her role as the host of RuPaul’s Drag Race tour.

Gregg Shapiro: You and RuPaul go way back. What’s the secret to your friendship?

Michelle Visage: Honesty. So many people keep so many things from each other. And not just honesty, but love and acceptance. I have kids and I see what they go through. They say they’re best friends and they’re so fickle. The next day they’re best friends with somebody else. Truly loving somebody (means) knowing all their faults, but loving them completely and wholly.

Who’s been your favorite judge so far?

Honestly, I don’t have one. There have so many great ones. Let me tell you why they’re so great: They love the show! They literally ask to be on the show. 

Beyonce is often referenced on the show. What would it mean to you to have Queen Bee sitting beside you at the judges’ table?

Being in radio for a thousand years, like I was, I’ve gotten to interview Beyonce like four or five times. She’s a Virgo, like me, so we have the same energy. I absolutely get her, love her, adore her. She has never been anything but humble and amazing. There’s something about Beyonce that these queens literally live for. What I love about her is she’s loaded beyond belief, but she’s remained this real girl from Texas who loves being a mom, loves being a wife. 

What do you enjoy most about being out on the road for RuPaul’s Drag Race tour?

I love the queens and spending time with them. I get to know them personally, on a different level. Ivy Winters is one I got to know better on the tour. It’s (also) about seeing the fans and seeing how much they love our show and seeing how RuPaul has touched these children in their lives and how it allows them to be free. Also getting to meet a lot of the parents who love and accept their children for who they are. It’s very moving for me. That’s what I like the most. 

You recently said the Yiddish word schmatta on an episode.

I was adopted into a Jewish family. Oddly enough I don’t hear a lot of Jewish names in Milwaukee. My in-laws live in Lake Geneva. 

The Milwaukee suburb of Whitefish Bay is referred to as Gefilte Fish Bay.

(Big laugh) I absolutely love it! My whole family’s from Brooklyn, so you get caught up in all the Yiddish. Ru literally has a book that he uses called Yiddish For Dummies. He’s obsessed with all things Jewish and Yiddish, so he’ll try to work a Yiddish phrase in here and there. I’ll drop schmatte and mishpucha and things like that. 

Just as there is an art to doing drag, there is also an art to giving constructive criticism. What’s your process when it comes to offering criticism?

I just let it rip. I can see when somebody’s sensitive or somebody’s ready to break down, so I know when to go all the way or when to hold back. I want everybody to know when I say what I say, why I’m saying it. We don’t get the whole explanation all the time on TV, but I guarantee when I say it to them, they understand why I’m saying what I’m saying.

What was the most useful criticism you ever received?

When I was maybe 18 or 19 years old, from my friend Max, who was one of the gays that I used to hang out with down on the piers in New York City. I was really in the gay scene for the past two or three years and I was really acting like a flamboyant gay man. I was no longer a straight woman. He sat me down and said, “Girl, I love you. You’re my daughter. But please, I beg of you, I need you to stop acting like a (gay person). You have your own identity and it needs to flourish because you are so talented. You need to move on, upward and forward. Fly.”

On stage

RuPaul’s Drag Race tour appears at Turner Hall Ballroom on April 29. For more, go to 414-286-3663 or visit pabsttheater.org.

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Beyonce, Jane Lynch, Condoleezza Rice featured in Girl Scouts ‘Ban Bossy” video

Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg and the Girl Scouts recently declared a campaign to “Ban Bossy,” complete with Beyonce, Jane Lynch and Condoleezza Rice on video, a website full of tips and thousands of fans who pledged to stamp out that B word for girls.

But the effort is also being questioned on a variety of fronts, including its focus on a word that not everyone considers damaging, and for encouraging a behavior that not everybody believes equals leadership, as Ban Bossy contends.

Harold Koplewicz, who heads the nonprofit Child Mind Institute, went in search of evidence that the word “bossy” discourages girls from becoming leaders. He asked first-graders and sixth-graders at Hunter College Elementary School for gifted children how they feel about it.

Save for a couple of “outliers,” he found that most didn’t love the term bossy, “but they didn’t love the word leader, either.” The kids also told him that acting bossy carries a high risk of not being liked. “They thought that being liked was better than being a leader,” Koplewicz said.

The Ban Bossy campaign cites a study by the Girl Scout Research Institute in which girls reported being twice as likely as boys to worry that leadership roles would make them seem bossy. The fear of being seen as bossy is put forth as a primary reason girls resist such roles.

Alicia Clark, a Washington, D.C., psychologist whose specialties include parenting and couples counseling, lauded the campaign’s suggested alternatives to bossy and ideas for fostering leadership in girls, but she sees a broader sense of social anxiety at play.

“Girls experience fears and inhibitions about social acceptance more acutely, in the form of stress,” she said. In some cases, “Mean, bossy girls, as my 13-year-old daughter describes them, are closer to being bullies than they are leaders. And we know that bullies fundamentally feel insecure, hate themselves for it and assert themselves over other insecure people as a way of garnering a sense of control and dominance. This is not leadership. This is intimidation.”

Caroline Price, a 17-year-old high school junior in Andover, Mass., loved Sandberg’s book, “Lean In,” and admires many of the women who have jumped on Ban Bossy. “But to me bossy isn’t the same as leadership. Bossy people aren’t people you want to follow. Leaders inspire us to be better versions of ourselves. Bossy means `my way or the highway.’ Leadership is when someone listens and encourages others around them,” she said.

Sometimes, Price added, “leaders aren’t just the loudest – the bossiest. There are different kinds of leaders – and some lead more quietly, or by consensus or by example and so on.”

Like critics of Sandberg’s Lean In movement urging working women to strive for leadership positions, the backlash against Ban Bossy is multifaceted.

Some detractors think girls and women of the bossy ilk should “own” the word rather than demand to be free of it, not unlike the way “queer” has been reclaimed as celebratory among many people who are LGBTQ, for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning their sexual identities.

Sandberg, Rice and other celebrity supporters of Ban Bossy recall how being called bossy made them feel diminished as kids and dinged their self-esteem, but what about kids who are not bossy, but are bossed around?

“The people who are bossy, sometimes they have an attitude,” said Rose Wladis, 11, a Girl Scout and fifth-grader in New York (not at Hunter). “I think being a leader is kind of showing people what to do, but being nice about it and encouraging people and, like, setting an example for them. But bossiness is just telling someone what to do.”

Koplewicz said research shows teen girls are more likely than boys to have symptoms of mental health issues, some related to low self-esteem. Yet girls also tend to do better than boys in school, getting better grades and earning degrees in higher numbers. Despite their academic success, women hold only a fraction of top executive positions, a point “Lean In” emphasizes.

But were female executives seen as bossy growing up, and did they suffer under the weight of the word? “At the moment there is no direct research that categorizes the word bossy as dangerous,” said Koplewicz, who generally supports Sandberg’s campaign to promote female leadership but not so much the focus on the lone word.

The focus wasn’t lost on Hillary Rodham Clinton. She spoke to a gathering of book publishers Wednesday about a memoir she’s working on covering her years as U.S. secretary of state. Clinton threw out “Bossy Pantsuit” as a possible title, riffing on Tina Fey’s best-selling “Bossypants,” then she paused and earned laughs for her punch line: “We can no longer say one of those words.”

Maura Ciammetti, 26, works for a small technology company in suburban Philadelphia. She said being called bossy at times in college and work situations allowed her to “step back and assess how I am approaching a situation. Was I too forceful? Am I listening to my peers? Am I looking at the big picture? Why is this person challenging me with this label?”

Instead of banning the word, Ciammetti said, what “if we taught girls how to deal with their peers calling them names and other situations of adversity.”

Julia Angelen Joy, 42, a Girl Scout troop leader and mother of four in Boise, Idaho, works in public relations and marketing, where lots of women dominate and where she has encountered many a bossy female boss. She calls them “chictators.” She can’t get behind the Ban Bossy project.

“Bossy can mean two things – a strong leader or a domineering nag. Using the word in a campaign is a double-edge sword,” Joy said.

Joy, who is president of “FemCity Boise,” part of the national Femfessionals business network for women, said she was a bossy teen and has two bossy girls. When her 16-year-old was 11, mom forced her to write a letter of apology to her school principal and others for participating in a “mean girl situation” of intimidation and control against other girls.

“I told her as a woman, as a mother, as a sister, as a wife, none of this is acceptable,” said Joy, who suggests a tweak to the Ban Bossy rallying cry: “How about Ban Bossy, support kindness.”

As Joy sees it, and it’s likely Sandberg would agree (she declined an interview with The Associated Press): “There’s a middle to all of this. The middle is a little bit of restraint and a little bit of kindness. We want that for all of our children, male or female.”

On the Web …


The video: 


Pollstar: Top 20 concert tours in North America

The Top 20 Concert Tours ranks artists by average box office gross per city and includes the average ticket price for shows in North America. The previous week’s ranking is in parentheses. The list is based on data provided to the trade publication Pollstar by concert promoters and venue managers.

1. (1) Beyonce; $1,798,401; $126.05.

2. (2) Justin Timberlake; $1,624,445; $114.53.

3. (3) Pink; $1,420,674; $86.06.

4. (4) Kanye West; $1,060,913; $88.69.

5. (7) Michael Buble; $916,988; $85.98.

6. (6) Drake; $889,265; $76.24.

7. (8) Trans-Siberian Orchestra; $715,752; $54.20.

8. (13) Keith Urban; $580,065; $64.61.

9. (12) Alejandro Fernandez; $515,315; $93.71.

10. (10) Zac Brown Band; $499,467; $61.14.

11. (14) John Mayer; $454,733; $61.84.

12. (16) Selena Gomez; $408,902; $48.05.

13. (17) Macklemore & Ryan Lewis; $336,662; $40.56.

14. (18) John Legend; $228,076; $69.13.

15. (19) Jeff Dunham; $218,164; $47.36.

16. (20) Florida Georgia Line; $205,530; $31.85.

17. (21) Hillsong United; $203,470; $27.24.

18. (22) Widespread Panic; $194,913; $48.19.

19. (NEW) Paramore; $175,501; $37.17.

20. (NEW) The Fresh Beat Band; $162,420; $40.14.