Arts & Culture

 “Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood” filmmaker Matt Tyrnauer’s affectionate documentary opening Aug. 17 at the Ritz at the Bourse profiles Scott Bowers, a pimp for stars in Hollywood’s Golden Age who wanted same-sex sex. His client list reportedly included Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and many others.

Agnes Martin: The Untroubled Mind/Works from the Daniel W. Dietrich II Collection
Philadelphia Museum of Art presents paintings and drawings exploring the ideas that shaped Martin’s minimalist art, through Oct. 14, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100.

Ann Travers
The author hosts a reading and discussion of her latest book, “The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution,” 5:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 14 at Giovanni’s Room, 345 S. 12th St.; 215-923-2960.

Biting Wit and Brazen Folly: British Satirical Prints, 1780s–1830s
Philadelphia Museum of Art’s display on the appeal of caricature in Georgian England and the ways in which those images teased and provoked audiences, through Aug. 22, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100.

Cirque du Soleil’s VOLTA
The new Big Top production by the international acrobatic circus-arts company performs through Aug. 19 at Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, 100 Station Ave., Oaks; 484-754-3976.

Design in Revolution: A 1960s Odyssey
Philadelphia Museum of Art’s exhibition of pop art and psychedelia from the civil-rights and antiwar movements through Sept. 9, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100.

Experiments in Motion: Photographs from the Collection
Philadelphia Museum of Art presents a photographic exhibition where artists stop, extend and rearrange time for their own creative ends, through Aug. 19, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100.

Face to Face: Art by Women
The William Way LGBT Community Center hosts an exhibition of works by queer female artists living in Philadelphia, through Aug. 31, 1315 Spruce St.; 215-732-2220.  

Face to Face: Portraits of Artists
Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition exploring how photographers helped craft the public personas of their creative subjects in this stunning collection of rare photographs from the museum’s collection, through Oct. 14, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100.

IN THE PUBLIC EYE: Philadelphia’s LGBTQ Community and the Media
The William Way LGBT Community Center hosts an archival and photographic exhibition examining the relationship between the mainstream press and the community, through Aug. 31 in the John J. Wilcox Jr. exhibit space, 1315 Spruce St.; 215-732-2220.  

Josh Blue
The comedian seen on “Last Comic Standing” performs Aug. 16-18 at Helium Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom St.; 215-496-9001.

Kevin Nealon
The former SNL cast member performs Aug. 9-11 at Helium Comedy Club, 2031 Sansom St.; 215-496-9001.

Modern Times: American Art 1910–1950
Philadelphia Museum of Art presents an exhibition of American art epitomizing the early 20th century, through Sept. 3, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100.

Rachel Rose: Wil-o-Wisp/The Future Fields Commission
Philadelphia Museum of Art presents contemporary video installations that ruminate on our image-saturated culture and histories of the past, through Aug. 19, 26th Street and the Parkway; 215-763-8100.

Serena J. Bishop
The out author hosts a reading and signing of her latest novel, “Beards,” 6:30-7 p.m. Aug. 11 at Giovanni’s Room, 345 S. 12th St.; 215-923-2960.

We (Too) Are Philly Poetry Festival
A free summer poetry festival featuring poets from Philadelphia and beyond, 7 p.m. Aug. 11 at Norris Square Park, 2100 N. Howard St.; https://raquelsalasrivera.com/we-too-are-philly/.

311 & The Offspring: Never-Ending Summer Tour
The alt-rock bands perform 7 p.m. Aug. 10 at Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, 601 N. Columbus Blvd.; 215-922-1011.

Dead Letter Office: A Tribute to R.E.M.
The tribute band performs 8:30 p.m. Aug. 10 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St.; 215-222-1400.

Counting Crows
The alternative-rock band performs 6:30 p.m. Aug. 11 at BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, N.J.; 609-365-1300.

Jason Mraz
The singer performs 8 p.m. Aug. 11 at The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215-546-7900.

Gladys Knight & The O’Jays
The classic R&B singers perform 8 p.m. Aug. 12
at The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215-546-7900.

Nancy Wilson of Heart
The rock guitarist performs with her new band 7:30 p.m. Aug. 12 at Xcite Center in Parx Casino, 2999 Street Road, Bensalem;
888-588-7279.

American Idol Live
Singers from the latest season of the hit TV show perform 7 p.m. Aug. 14 at Tower Theater, 69th and Ludlow streets; 610-352-2887.

Pentatonix
The vocal pop group performs 8 p.m. Aug. 14 at BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, N.J.; 609-365-1300.

Breaking Benjamin and Five Finger Death Punch
The hard-rock bands perform 6 p.m. Aug. 15 at BB&T Pavilion, 1 Harbour Blvd., Camden, N.J.; 609-365-1300.

CAKE and Ben Folds
The alternative rockers perform 7 p.m. Aug. 16 at The Mann Center, 5201 Parkside Ave.; 215-546-7900.

Happy Bear
The bear happy hour runs 5-9 p.m. Aug. 10 at Tabu, 200 S. 12th St.; 215-964-9675.
Mimi Imfurst Presents Drag Diva Brunch
Mimi Imfurst, Bev, Vinchelle, Sutton Fearce and special guests perform 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 11 at Punch Line Philly, 33 E. Laurel St.; 215-606-6555.

Paula’s Drag Kitchen
Paula Deen White’s monthly drag show with her friends, 9 p.m. Aug. 16 at L’Etage, Sixth and Bainbridge streets; 215-592-0656.

La Maison Rose
A burlesque tribute to Aerosmith 10 p.m. Aug. 16 at Franky Bradley’s, 1320 Chancellor St.; 215-735-0735.

Peek-a-Boo Revue: Summer Vacation
The acclaimed Philly burlesque group performs 8 p.m. Aug. 17 at Franky Bradley’s, 1320 Chancellor St.; 215-735-0735.
Chaslyn Sweetwood
The cabaret singer performs 8 p.m. Aug. 10 at The Rrazz Room, 385 W. Bridge St., New Hope; 888-596-1027.

Jennie McNulty
The out comedian performs 8 p.m. Aug. 11 at The Rrazz Room, 385 W. Bridge St., New Hope; 888-596-1027.

North by Northwest
The classic Hitchcock film is screened 1:30 p.m. Aug. 12 and 7:30 p.m. Aug.13 at the Colonial Theatre, 227 Bridge St., Phoenixville; 610-917-1228.

    Are you bored with your brunch routine?
    Well, you’re in luck.
    Modern Indian restaurant Veda recently unveiled a new brunch menu that brings some exciting twists to the brunch scene in Center City.  
    But first, we have to talk about the drinks, because what is brunch without a cocktail? The Veda mimosa ($8) adds cranberry juice and sea salt to this brunch staple. Then there’s the Back to the Roots cocktail ($13). We were skeptical at first, because beet juice and gin form the basis of this drink, which we couldn’t imagine being a viable combination. But the honey, ginger and star anise, and the cracked black pepper along the rim of the glass, make for a bold concoction that satisfies.
    Back to the food: The most Western of the brunch fare we tried was the Masala omelet ($9), served with a side of crisp naan bread. It was tasty as vegetable omelets go, but we were slightly disappointed that the dish didn’t have a more pronounced level of Indian spice. It turns out you can ask for a higher level of spice when you order; we just got served the tamest level available, which was still a nice diversion from the ordinary.
    The samosa chaat ($7) offered a more traditional level of spice and flavor, as well as unexpected decadence. The familiar fried potato turnover is drenched in yogurt, tamarind chutney, tomatoes and mint, giving the dish a luxurious texture and complex flavors. We ended up spooning the excess chutney onto our omelet, which made it perfect.
    Veda’s take on shrimp tacos ($9) was another nice surprise. Phulka, a slightly thicker Indian version of a tortilla, played well with the spicy fried shrimp, which had an equally hearty and satisfying hush-puppy-like density to its batter. The cachumber salad and sweet chili aoli that garnish the taco bring a pleasant acidity that pulls everything together.   
    If you have room for dessert, the kulfi with poached blueberries ($7) is a refreshing way to cool down, as the Indian ice-cream dish tempers its sweetness, allowing the fruit to take center stage.  
    If you are looking for something to make your weekend mornings more colorful and flavorful, Veda has plenty of delights to spice up your brunch.

Veda
1920 Chestnut St.
267-519-2001
http://vedaphilly.com
Mon.-Thur.: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5-10 p.m.
Fri.-Sat.: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5-10:30 p.m.
Sun.: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. & 5-9:30 p.m.

    Comedy has taken Jennie McNulty all over the world, whether it’s been performing for soldiers in Afghanistan and Europe or appearing in commercials and shows for Logo TV, NBC or the TLC networks. Between acting and live gigs, she also hosts the “Walking Funny” podcast and is a feature writer and contributor for Lesbian.com.
    We caught up with McNulty while she was performing on an Olivia Cruise to talk about her travels, her work outside comedy and what people can expect when she performs Aug. 11 at The Rrazz Room in New Hope.
 
PGN: What are some of your favorite places to perform?
JM: Why New Hope, of course! I spent six full seasons working nightly in Provincetown, so New Hope feels like a second home for me, and I love being there. This Riverboat gig with Olivia and any of those resort and cruise places are amazing. The military gigs in Iraq and Afghanistan were the most rewarding I’ve ever done. There’s always something cool about everywhere — except Ohio. Never Ohio. It’s full of Buckeyes! I’m kidding — but as a University of Michigan grad, I’m contractually obligated to say that.

PGN: Do you think standup comedy has become more splintered as a scene, where performers only cater to people most like them, and do you think that is a good thing for the art form?
JM: Well, I think the splintering of the country is what’s really bad. Hopefully, comics will remain true to themselves and continue to speak their own truths. They will just, unfortunately, not get booked in certain areas — or not get a good reception. I think most comics just write what they know; the good ones anyway. But laughter is so important and our particular art form has been a release for people for centuries. We just toured Lyon, France, on the Olivia trip and they have a famous puppet called Guignol who was part of a children’s puppet show. Like a lot of kids’ comedy, it also served as a message to the adults of the past and allowed them to laugh at the people in power without, you know, getting beheaded.

PGN: Do you think openly LGBT comedians have it easier in terms of finding an audience and success than they did 10 or 20 years ago?
JM: Absolutely. First of all, society in general is more accepting. And now there are not only more outlets and venues with the Internet and “gay nights” at comedy clubs, it’s also more accepted in the mainstream clubs — maybe not everywhere, but in the bigger cities anyway. Back when I started, you couldn’t just send someone a link to your work. You had to hire someone to chisel hieroglyphics in stone of your jokes and deliver them by an ox-pulled wagon.

PGN: How has performing in other countries influenced your worldview?
JM: I know where a lot more places are. I am not exactly a geographical whiz. But now I have first-hand examples of things I had already thought to be true. I see how long our country’s history isn’t. I see how much better we have it here. Which, again, I knew intellectually but to see it first-hand can be enlightening. Some people in some places work so very, very hard for so little, and some of us here seem to lack the work ethic we once had. We worked really hard to create and innovate and make our lives easy — and now we take the easy for granted. It’s like once we earned our “We’re No. 1” foam finger, we forgot we had to work to keep it. I have been saying since the election how I just cannot understand the hypocrisy of the GOP and their supporters. How they can claim to be the keepers of “family values” and ... I don’t even need to finish that sentence for your readers.

PGN: Do you think the social climate in the United States in 2018 is making things more difficult and hostile towards comedians and performers who have jokes that are political in nature?
JM: Yes and no. If you’re a gay comic bashing the idiot-in-chief, you might get applause breaks from a gay crowd. But, even in gay crowds, some people are so tired of it, so over the constant negativity, they come to the show to get away from that. I know, for me, never before have I watched more CNN than ESPN in my life. So, yes, I have more “political humor” than I used to, but still, not that much — mainly because it’s so negative. Even if you’re getting a laugh about it, you’re getting a laugh about a negative subject. I’ve never liked mean-spirited comedy. I like to point out the absurdities in our own behaviors, but in a playful way. But, for those comics who are primarily political, it’s probably harder because we are so divided right now — viciously so. A joke that in the past may have gotten an eye roll or a minimally raised hackle from someone of the opposing view now can start a fight. A lot of people just can’t take a joke anymore.

PGN: Do you have any projects coming up that fans should be on the lookout for?
JM: Yes! Please come find me on Facebook and walk with me. My show, “Walking Funny,” is live on Facebook on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6 p.m. Eastern. So, clean the clothes and junk off your treadmills and walk with me and whoever it is I’m interviewing. It’s just enjoying a nice chat with a friend. And, if you do like exercise, get your steps with me.

Jennie McNulty performs 8 p.m. Aug. 11 at The Rrazz Room, 385 W. Bridge St., New Hope. For more information or tickets, call 888-596-1027 or visit www.jenniemcnulty.com.

    From mid-August to early September, Rehoboth Beach is a resort town with a wild lineup of events.
    First up, on Aug. 12, is the 8th Annual CAMP Rehoboth Bachelor Auction. Professional auctioneer Lorne Crawford will keep the bidding rolling for the roster of bachelors donating their time and talents to raise money for the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center.
    The auction takes place from 5-7 p.m. (at Aqua Grill, 57 Baltimore Ave.) with CAMP Rehoboth board president Chris Beagle and emcee and drag-queen extraordinaire Fancie P. Charmington assisting in the fun.
    This year’s impressive lineup will again feature a bachelorette, several of Aqua’s finest servers and local gents modeling swimsuits. Winning bidders will receive gift certificates to one of Rehoboth’s finest restaurants. It’s fast, it’s fun and here’s a teaser: Don’t miss the opening.
    With hazy, lazy, crazy beach days on tap, Poodle Beach at the far southern end of the Rehoboth boardwalk offers gorgeous scenery of sand, surf and otherwise. There are boardwalk treats such as fried chicken from Gus & Gus, ice cream from Starkey’s and arcade action at Playland.
   After a day on the sand, visitors can freshen up and head into town for the entertainment. The Purple Parrot, Blue Moon, Murphs, Café Azafran, Rigby’s Shorebreak and more offer live entertainment by local luminaries John Francis Flynn, Holly Lane, Bettanroo, the Girlfriends, Viki Dee, Matt Kenworthy and more. Dance parties abound at Restaurant G, Diego’s Hideaway and The Swell.
    For anyone bringing a pup or two to the beach, Diego’s Hideaway offers Yappy Hours 3-8 p.m. daily. The dogs have treats and water bowls while their humans have cocktails and everybody socializes.
    On Labor Day weekend, the sizzling summer culminates in the party of the year. Sundance, a two-night event held annually by CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, typically hosts more than 1,500 people at the extravaganza Saturday and Sunday night.
 This 31st annual event, titled “Sundance 2018—Rainbow XXXI: In the Name of Love” takes place Sept. 1-2 at the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. That normally staid location will be decorated to the hilt with flowing fabric, bright colors, rainbow attitudes and a magnificent ambiance.
    On Saturday evening, amid bright lights, music, gourmet refreshments and an open bar, a silent live auction will feature more than 600 items, typically filled with spectacular trips, original artwork and jewelry. Come for the food, drink and bidding fun, plus the spectacle of bidding wars and happy warriors walking away with their loot.
    On the second night of Sundance, the room becomes a hot NYC-style dance club, with stunning lighting effects by legendary designer Paul Turner with DJ/Remixer Joe Gauthreaux’s signature club sound. New this year is a Disco Twilight Tea with famed Studio 54 and The Saint DJ Robbie Leslie. You can dance from 7:30-9:30 p.m. to nostalgic disco hits and keep going until 2 a.m. with the high-energy dance party. For the price of one ticket, enjoy two dance events and an amazing party.
    As if that’s not enough activity for a weekend, on Sunday afternoon comes the annual drag volleyball game on Poodle Beach. Thousands of onlookers gather to watch the two longtime volleyball squads, mostly but not exclusively men, make their costumed entrances.
    What began as a volleyball pick-up game on Poodle Beach in 1988 has turned into a Labor Day tradition. This year, might we expect political satire as the athlete-drag queens play and perform to a diverse crowd? These volleyball players can rock the court as athletes and spike the ball in their spiked heels.
    It’s really something to see in the afternoon before cleaning up and heading back to the Convention Center for the dance party.
    The annual CAMP Rehoboth Sundance is one of the highlights of the summer season. Tickets for the auction, the dance or both are available at camprehoboth.com. The bachelor auction has no cover and, of course, watching volleyball on the beach, like the best things in life, is free.

    The compelling new documentary, “McQueen” opening at the Landmark Ritz Five on Aug. 10, recounts the rollercoaster life and career of the late, great, out gay designer Lee Alexander McQueen. In five chapters, co-directors Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui trace the subject’s humble origins and phenomenal rise to the top of the fashion industry. According to revealing interviews with family members, collaborators and boyfriends, McQueen was passionate, focused and romantic — and not afraid to shock. One naughty runway show, titled “The Highland Rape,” generated headlines for featuring nudity, violence against women and pubic hair. His mantra was, “Be as different as you can,” and as “McQueen” illustrates, his daring paid off handsomely. He secured a job as chief designer at Givenchy (where he treated his staff like equals) while also designing his eponymous line. His risqué shows, prominently featured in the doc, were spectacles. Watch as two robots “paint” Shalom Harlow modeling a white dress, or his Voss show, featuring one-way mirrors and moths, and try not to be wowed. “McQueen” will also wow viewers who want to marvel at the outrageous couture and extraordinary silhouettes. The filmmakers address the designer’s personal demons: He became unhappy as a celebrity, and the pressure to achieve — along with drug use, surgeries (to look thinner) and even an HIV diagnosis — took a toll on his life. Lonely and depressed, he eventually took his life. While “McQueen” may be a mix of hagiography and cautionary tale, the film — like the designer’s shows — generates real emotions.

A Southern gal, out performer Mary Gauthier has lived a life worthy of a country song: family strife, drugs, alcohol, good food and music from the soul. In 1998, her second album “Drag Queens in Limousines,” won the 1st Annual Independent Music Award for Folk/Singer-Songwriter Song. That same year she was also nominated for the Boston Music Awards’ Best New Artist of the Year and won for Best New Country Artist.

Since then, she has carved out an amazing career replete with numerous awards and had her songs recorded by several notable artists, including Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Candi Staton and, for any parrot heads out there, Jimmy Buffet.

In addition, her music has been featured in several TV shows, like the hit “Nashville,” Masterpiece Theatre’s Case Histories and two cable shows, “Banshee” on Showtime and “Injustice” on HBO.

Her latest album, “Riffle and Rosary Beads,” was nominated for Album of the Year by The Americana Music Association and might be the one that has the biggest impact yet.  

PGN: You have such a lovely lilt to your voice; where are you from?
MG: I was born and raised in Louisiana, in an area that was part of the deep, deep South. I came to Nashville in 2001 to pursue music.

PGN: Tell me a little about the family.
MG: It’s a big, long damn story. I never met my birth mother. I was born in and remained at St. Vincent’s Women and Infants Asylum until I was adopted when I was a year old. There was a lot of trauma experienced along the way. I left home at 15, with a drug and alcohol addiction because of the orphanage and the adoption and what I would call disordered attachment. I’ve always been gay; I’ve always been out. I got clean and sober when I was 27. So I’ve been in recovery for 28 years now. After I got clean, I started writing songs. Before that, I was in the restaurant business. I worked my way up and was the part-owner of a couple of restaurants in Boston. I walked away from all that when I was 40 to come to Nashville and become a professional songwriter. That’s the quick version — there’s all kinds of shit that went on in between. I’ve used songs and music to help me understand my own soul. Now I use that power of music to help veterans and other people who are dealing with quite a bit of trauma.

PGN: You’ve been working with soldiers to heal through music.
MG: Yes, I’ve been taking what I’ve learned about healing through music and have been able to apply it in a new way to other people’s lives who have been through some real challenges. Our veterans are really struggling, so I’m on the road with this album “Riffles and Rosary Beads,” a collection of songs cowritten with veterans.

PGN: When did you work in the restaurant business?
MG: My whole life, but in the late ’90s, I moved to Boston to go to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts. I opened a Cajun restaurant in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, Dixie Kitchen, and was co-owner of several restaurants for about 15 years.

PGN: What was the best and worst part of owning a restaurant?
MG: It’s physically exhausting — you work 10-12 hours a day on your feet. The joy was being able to cook for people and show love through food, making people happy with a good meal. That was wonderful; I really liked that part. I didn’t like the responsibility of having so many employees and being in charge of other people’s lives and livelihood.

PGN: How did you make the transition to music from the restaurant business?
MG: I got arrested for drunk driving on the opening night of one of my restaurants. That finally was enough to get me to get — and stay — clean. I started writing songs in recovery, and music started taking more precedence in my life, and I decided to go into songwriting full-time. I wrote my first song at 35.

PGN: What was the first thing that made you feel like, Wow, I really have something here?
MG: I was nominated for and won the Boston Music Award for Best New Artist for my first album, so that was pretty wild. It made me feel like I should keep going — like I had a shot at this. It’s what made me realize I should get out of the restaurant business and concentrate on the music. It was very validating.

PGN: What were some of the subjects of that first album?
MG: The one I still use as a teaching tool is a song called “Goddamn HIV,” which was about a gay man living with HIV, told from his perspective. It was a country album and dealt with some issues not usually heard in country music.

PGN: And you’ve always been an out artist?
MG: I’ve always been an out everything; I was never in.

PGN: Who was your first love?
MG: Oh, I don’t know. I had so many problems with drugs and alcohol as a kid, I don’t remember — it was too messy. I nearly died from addiction. I OD’d and was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. It was terrifying, but didn’t stop me — I still abused until the night I was arrested for drunk driving. That’s when I put it down for good. It was my second arrest, and that did it. It was July 13, 1990, and I’ve been sober since.


PGN: Congratulations! So, are you single or partnered?
MG: I have a girlfriend. Her name is Jaimee Harris. She’s an amazing musician. [Suzi’s note: A quick Google search reveals that Harris is poised to be the “next queen of Americana-Folk.”]

PGN: Are you going to sing together?
MG: We’re working on it. It’s a relatively new situation, but yeah, I think that’s going to happen.

PGN: So your newest album “Riffles and Rosary Beads” is pretty remarkable. Tell me a little about the project and how you got involved.
MG: I was invited to participate in a project called “Songwriting With Soldiers,” which pairs professional songwriters with soldiers and vets. They paired me with two women who had been in combat, and right away I was drawn in. As soon as you listen to a soldier’s story, if you don’t love them, there’s something wrong with your heart. Those human beings have been through so much. If you sit and listen to them, it’s impossible to explain. You have to bear witness. It’s a powerful thing to listen to a soldier’s story.

PGN: What do you think are some of the misconceptions people have about soldiers?
MG: One of the things is that we stereotype our military. I was guilty of that too. I thought they were mostly right-wing, Republican straight white dudes who were homophobic Trump voters. When I agreed to do the project, I assumed I’d be entering a very conservative right-wing environment, but I was wrong. Our military as it stands today is 55-percent Democrat. A lot of them are very young and open-minded. Many of them are just like you and me — a lot of LGBT soldiers, a lot of African-American and Hispanic soldiers, a lot of female soldiers. Our military is incredibly diverse.

PGN: The statistics about soldiers are alarming.
MG: Every day, on average, 22 veterans commit suicide. That number does not include drug overdoses or car wrecks or any of the more-inventive ways somebody might less obviously choose to die. I think this program lets them know that their stories are important and that by telling their stories honestly and openly, they are helping other people. All 11 songs on the album are cowritten with and for wounded veterans. Songwriting saved me. It’s what I think the best songs do — help articulate the ineffable, make the invisible visible, create resonance so that people don’t feel alone. So far, we have not lost a single soldier who has participated in this program.

PGN: Switching gears — a crazy concert moment?
MG: One time, playing the [Grand Ole] Opry, a guy stood up and shouted, “God Bless America” at me. I just kept going.

PGN: The last time you were really angry?
MG: I’m angry every day at the politics in our country right now. I had to wake up today to see fucking Trump demanding Sessions fire Mueller. I have to turn it off because I get so angry. You’ll notice that was my first f-bomb for the day. It enrages me, and I have to be careful how much I consume because we live in an incredibly scary time for LGBT people.

PGN: What advice would you give to yourself at 20?
MG: I’d tell my 20-year-old self to relax — it’s all going to be OK. I’d also tell her to lay off the booze and dope; it’s not gonna fix the problem. n

The Philadelphia Folk Festival is the longest continuously running outdoor musical festival of its kind in North America. The lineup of artist and workshops runs Aug. 16-19. For more information and tickets, go to www.pfs.org/philadelphia-folk-festival.

Indigo Girls

Live with the University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra

Rounder

It’s hard to imagine even the most ardent folk purists objecting to this iconic out acoustic Grammy-winning duo with an orchestra backing them live in front of a packed house. This new double-live album by the Indigo Girls is a delightful sonic chapter to add to an already-impressive career.

The idea for these performances, recorded in 2017 in front of a sold-out show,  originated in 2012 when the Girls melded their folk sound with grand classical instrumentation and arrangements for a series of special shows across the country. Now with 50 of these performances under their belts over the last six years, fans who couldn’t make it to those symphonic shows can finally hear the results.

It’s no surprise that the Indigo Girls’ catalog, for the most part, adapts well to grand symphonic interpretation, especially on their more-somber and low-key tunes where lush strings arrangements lend songs like “Virginia Woolf,” “Sugar Tongue” and “Love of Our Lives” new levels of gravitas and depth. The orchestration especially gives a heightened sense of drama and complexity to some of the more-epic songs such as “Chickenman” and “Ghost.” By the time you get to closing songs “Go” and “Closer to Fine,” you’re either in love with the added bombast the orchestra brings or numbed by the enthusiastic embellishments that a horn section brings to the party. Either way, this recording should be a welcome addition to any Indigo Girls fan’s collection.

Shea Diamond

Seen It All

Asylum Records

      Transgender singer-songwriter Diamond pulls out all the stylistic stops on her debut EP, a confident and soulful collection blending R&B, folk and rock music.

With influences ranging from Diana Ross and Tina Turner to Dolly Parton, Diamond has a remarkable and versatile voice. The short blast of songs on the release does a fantastic job of covering an impressive emotional spectrum, ranging from the slow burn of the neo-soul inspired “American Pie” to the folksy electric blues of “Good Pressure.” But Diamond also knows how to turn it up with the playfully funky and infectious “Keisha Complexion.” If you can find a better sweaty rump-shaker of a song, buy it. 

If you ever wonder what a collaboration of Lenny Kravitz and Angie Stone would sound like, Diamond is the answer. If she can do this much with a handful of songs, we’d love to see what she does with a full-length album.

Bebe Rexha

Expectations

Warner Bros.

Having penned hits for the likes of Rihanna, Eminem, Nick Jonas, Iggy Azalea and Selena Gomez, as well as a couple of solo EPs under her belt, this pop artist and singer-songwriter obviously has enough juice and talent to warrant her own full-length debut album.

Overflowing with the predictable catchy beats and synth melodies, this album lays the foundation for her highly processed, ethereal, siren-like vocals. It’s mostly formulaic and comes across as a high-end knock-off of Shakira or Katy Perry at times, but one thing that does help this album stand out is a healthy infusion of real flesh-and-blood instrumentation, mostly acoustic and electric guitars, that inject some much-needed soul and backbone into tracks like “Ferrari,” “I’m A Mess” and the standout track, “Don’t Get Any Closer.” “Grace” and “Pillow” are also winning songs on an album relying more on piano and strings than drum machines. 

Guest stars show up to give the album some crossover potential, with Florida Georgia Line giving pop-country flavor to “Meant to Be” and Tory Lanez keeping one foot planted in hip-hop on the laconic, syrupy, trap-music-drenched track “Steady.”

“Expectations” is an aptly titled album that rarely strays from the sound that is selling like hotcakes if you are a young, attractive singer competing for fleeting attention in 2018. It’ll be interesting to see whether Rexha has the will and the skills to separate herself from the crowded pop pack on future releases. 

I’m not a big drinker and never have been, but I vaguely remember a few tipsy nights with friends in the late ’90s with all of us drunkenly singing at the top of our lungs, “How did you get in? Nobody’s supposed to be here! I’ve tried that love thing for the last tiiiiime!”

Everybody who knows me knows that I am more than a little enamored with our upstairs geographic neighbor. Being a comedian, I get to spend a considerable amount of time in Canada every year. If you’ve never been there, I suggest you visit, you know … before these ham-fisted Trump tariffs mess it up for everybody.

SOME GUYS HAVE ALL THE LUCK AND GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN: The pairing of rock icon Rod Stewart and pop icon Cyndi Lauper was such a success with concertgoers last summer that they’ve decided to hit the road together again. Catch this dynamic duo 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at Boardwalk Hall, 2301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, N.J. For more information or tickets, call 609-348-7000.

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