Out rock musician in 2nd band
by Larry Nichols
Apr 23, 2014 | 0 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This is becoming a busy year so far for out rock singer and bass player Doug Pinnick. His longtime band, King’s X, is about to hit the road for another tour and his newest band, KXM, a side-project rock super-group featuring rock guitarist George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob) and powerhouse drummer Ray Luzier (Korn, Army of Anyone), recently released its debut album, which also debuted on Billboard’s Top 40. When Pinnick was asked about how his latest band came together, the answer wasn’t the kind of rock-star story we expected. “Ray was having a party at his house for his son, who had just turned 1, and we were all invited and hanging out,” he said. “George and Ray and I started talking. Ray had just built a new drum room to record in and George said, ‘Why don’t we just jam on some music?’ One thing led to another and we ended up making a record.” The resulting self-titled album melds the styles of the three very-different rock bands its individual members are from and Pinnick said that, so far, listeners are happy with it. “All the responses from fans and close friends, they just love the record,” he said. “They say it sounds original but it also sounds like all three of us. Me being in King’s X and being a singer and the bass player, there’s a signature sound we have, and me being a part of KXM, you can hear that.” The hope is that the band will take its new music on the road at some point, but Pinnick said commitments to their other bands come first. “This is just a side project,” he said. “We want it to go as far as it can go for sure, but all three us have our regular bands that we work with. The problem is all three of our bands are touring and we’ve got so much other stuff going on. But Ray’s band, Korn, they’re huge and always touring all over the world. That will be the bigger obstacle we’re going to have to get past: finding time around Ray’s schedule.” For the time being, Pinnick is hitting the road with King’s X, a band for which he has been playing bass and singing for more than 30 years. As an openly gay rock musician, Pinnick said he’s seen a lot of acceptance over the years, but he wishes the gay community would get more involved and visible in that genre of music. “It seems like the gay community does not embrace hard-rock music and it’s a frustrating thing,” he said. “Or if they do, you kind of stay in your closet. For me personally, everyone knows that I’m gay but I don’t talk about it a lot and no one asks me questions about it. So it’s sort of a silent thing in my world. But I have found a few gay people that have contacted me and told me that they have been inspired. A transgender person came to a show one time and I met her afterwards and she said she was going to kill herself. I did a speech in the middle of a song about believing in yourself and not letting people take that power away from you. And she said because of that, she decided to stay alive and she was working it out. I felt good that someone would hear that. I would like to be more vocal about it but I haven’t figured out the right way to do it. Being gay and living in the rock world and coming from a family that is homophobic, I would love to be able to stand up and make my point to the world that we do not choose this. This is who we are. Stop disapproving of our lives and understand who we are instead of just standing on the outside. I find that the world that I live in has a lot of straight people. When they find out that I’m gay, some of them say they deal with it but then they think about it for a second and say, ’We love you, Doug. We know you.’ When people get to know each other, those walls, they fall.” KXM’s debut album is available now. Doug Pinnick performs with King’s X 8 p.m. May 1 at Sellersville Theatre 1894, 24 W. Temple Ave., Sellersville. For more information or tickets, call 215-257-5858 or visit www.kingsxrocks.com or www.kxmband.com.
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Singing the timeless songs
by Gary M. Kramer
Apr 23, 2014 | 0 views | 0 0 comments | 0 0 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cabaret performer Karen Akers is a class act. Playful and yet regal, she is no diva. There is an intimacy and an affection when she sings, as well as heartfelt emotion. Akers has performed on Broadway — she was nominated for a Tony Award for her role in “Nine” — but she is arguably at her best in her one-woman shows. She will present her latest act, “Time Flies,” at the Prince Music Theater April 30-May 3. The show features classic and contemporary songs showcasing her alto’s vocal and emotional range. PGN: Karen, time flies, indeed! It’s been — gasp! — two decades since we spoke. You were performing at Odette’s in New Hope. But let’s not discuss the past. What can you tell me about your new show? KA: I’m still making changes and fussing with the show. I love the songs I am doing, one of which — “Those Were the Days” by Gene Raskin — I dedicate to the piano bar at Odette’s. It was originally a Russian song. I have sung parts of it in Russian, but I don’t in this show. PGN: “Time Flies” stems from the “American Songbook” series at Lincoln Center. Is there something specific — a genre, a composer, a lyricist — that you just gravitate to? KA: Oh honey, it can be so many different things. I’ve changed this particular collection of songs since I did it at Lincoln Center. I’ve replaced four to five songs with four to five songs I love more. I’m still opening with a Shel Silverstein song. It’s fun and not something people would expect me to sing, and we continue in that vein for a little. I do a Cyndi Lauper song. [Fun fact: Akers made the film “Vibes” with Lauper back in 1988.] I’ve been singing “Westwind” by Kurt Weill and Ogden Nash. It’s a lovely song, but I may replace it with “Le couleurs du temps” by Guy Beart, which won the equivalent of a French Grammy in the 1970s. We’re all subject to time’s vicissitudes. So I can pretty much pull in anything I want. PGN: What goes into your work creating a cabaret show? Do you think of a theme first or decide on particular songs and create a narrative around them? KA: It’s hard to do a one-person show because you want to include so much. It’s harder to get multiple songwriters and composers and have it be cohesive. In any show you have to take stock with yourself and figure out what it is you want to share with people and show them ... what direction you’d like to take them. It was always the song first, and the songs I wanted to do, but it’s become harder. Time is growing shorter, and there are certain things I feel I have to sing and want to sing. PGN: Such as? KA: “My Husband Makes Movies” [from “Nine”], which is a question of personal time flying. It’s hard to believe I first sang it 30 years ago. I do love that song, not only because I can feel myself back in that time, but I’m surprised the song has such a vibrant life inside me. You might think I’d tire of singing it, because it carries so much ... [Her voice trails off]. PGN: What appeals to you about a song that makes you want to perform it — and I say perform, not sing, because there is a distinction. You are “acting.” KA: Each of the songs is its own scene within the piece. It starts off more lighthearted and eases in. Then I move into more theatrical, literally acted pieces. I do two songs from “Next to Normal,” a pretty bloody amazing show. They are individual woman stories: “My Psychopharmacologist and I” and “I Miss the Mountains.” What I love about more contemporary songs is that they are not limited by conventions of the past and the categories that songs more or less fell into. They are not limited by subject matter either. Lyricists Brian Yorkey and Tom Kitt write about a woman who relies on her drugs and has to let go. It’s not necessarily about a woman missing her drugs, it’s a woman growing older and missing her youth, and making peace with all kinds of things. For me, it felt huge. PGN: How do you work on interpreting a song, especially one that is well-known, or familiar — e.g., from a Broadway show? KA: I don’t know who it was who taught it, but they say the two best words for an actor are, “What if”? What if this were me? And how would it feel? Truth looms large for me. I can’t sing something that I can’t feel is true. It could be superficial or deep, but it has to somehow ring true for me so I can share it wholeheartedly. PGN: There seems to be an emphasis these days on performing music with “American Idol” and “The Voice.” But I think in cabaret, you need to have a bit more finesse in how you sing. Can you discuss your thoughts on the evolution of cabaret over time, and why it endures? KA: That’s hard. I think it’s a question of being exposed to the music. Now things have almost gone too far. I don’t watch “The Voice,” but one of my sons loves it. Karen Akers performs “Time Flies” 8 p.m. April 30-May 3 at the Black Box Cabaret at the Prince Music Theater, Broad and Chestnut streets. For tickets and more information, visit http://princemusictheater.org/events/karen-akers.
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