Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pia Performs! Well, it's about Time After Time

It's been way too long since we've heard one of Kenny Poo's favorite babes, Pia Toscano, sing anything besides the Star Spangled Banner, so as you can imagine I couldn't wait to check out the raven haired beauty's recent guest appearance in the Viper Room with longtime friend and recording artist Jared Lee.

She didn't disappoint!

After a very warm, heartfelt intro by Jared, Pia came out with a shy smile, said thank you and started right in with Cindy Lauper's Time After Time (Pia clearly likes songs about Time). I was wondering if she might have to shake off a huge mound of rust from being locked in Interscope's dungeon for the past year, but as soon as the beautiful voice got started it was clear she was right back on the saddle again without a hitch.

Anyway, the two of them really sounded great together, and Pia only grew more confident as the song went on. It's a beautiful duet, and the reviews online have all been stellar. By the end, it appeared the little taste of performing had Pia chomping at the bit to just dive into a big, long set, but, alas, not This Time (pun intended).

So, hopefully with the buzz of a new movie coming (Grace Unplugged), and possibly an appearance or two on Glee, Pia might just get her long awaited album released after all. At least let's hope so!

Check out the beautiful duet for yourself below, and let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

49 Years After "I Have A Dream" We Now Have a Nightmare

You know a speech about social issues and cultural wars is special when it's just as inspirational to a white, 45 year-old politically conservative Jew as it is to blacks, women, liberals, feminists, libertarians, atheists and Christians. 49 years ago to the day, such a message was delivered that truly resonates for all, regardless of race, creed, religion or political orientation, to act upon the good which lies within us rather than follow our darkest, most selfish base instincts with the goal being to bring people together with dignity, freedom, liberty and justice for all.

Sadly, the positive message of "I Have A Dream" has in many ways been lost and scattered by the sands of time over the past 49 years. Today's culture of hyper-partisanship, self-righteous indignation, and broad-stroke condemnation to the prescribed, party-line orthodoxy of the left/right talking points is in many ways more viscous and intolerant than ever.

Are conservatives really all just ignorant bigots, hate mongers and Fascists?

Are progressives really all just useful idiots, hate mongers and Communists?

Well, if you pay heed to the politicians, news columnists, television talking heads, social media rants, etc. you certainly get the feeling that's how our culture has devolved since MLK's speech in Washington. Think about the last time you read, saw or heard two intelligent people with differing points of view have a rational discussion without the screaming, flame-throwing rhetoric?

Everything from social issues to economic strategies is now divided into the most polarized, virulent extreme positions possible, then packaged, marketed and distributed to the masses in order to create a raging culture so filled with anger and hate that each side not only wants to defeat the enemy at the polls, they want to destroy their opponent's beliefs from the face of the earth. Nothing can be learned from those who think or believe differently these days, they're all just stupid, worthless and evil practitioners who must be vanquished without a second thought.

Look, I understand when you have strong beliefs you want to advance them. You want your ideas to be heard, your philosophies to be accepted and your theories to be adopted. However, before you go ahead and apply your snap judgements to others, before you dehumanize those who don't agree with you, try stopping for a moment, watching this speech, and try imagining how you could approach the people you disagree with differently.

So sayeth Kenny Poo.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Stevie Ray Vaughan 10/03/54 – 8/27/90

On this day in 1990 we lost the greatest guitar prodigy to ever live at the tender age of 35. As a tribute to the man, allow me to share the greatest guitar performance of all time from the greatest guitarist of all time. Stevie Ray just shredded the blues in this incredible, otherworldly live performance of Texas Flood.

RIP Stevie Ray.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Oh My! What a Sexy New Bridge!

Last night at The Americana, Haley Reinhart performed the two songs she's indicated are top contenders for her next single: Oh My! and Undone. Haley's never been shy about making it clear which one she prefers (Oh My!), and last night she did her best to drive home that point by botching the lyrics and just going through the motions of Undone. It was the first time she'd ever performed the song live, and, based on how unenthused she seemed to be, I'd say likely the last.

My guess: Interscope "powers that be" forced her to perform it against her will, Haley was none to happy about it, and it showed (see video below).

It's an interesting dynamic, really. Despite helping co-write Undone (likely at gunpoint) for her album, Haley has made it perfectly clear that she's really not into that song (neither am I, for the record). It's a somber, somewhat cheesy pop-ballad about the trauma of an emotional breakup, and that just ain't what our girl is about. She's Haley Fucking Reinhart, the torch singing jazz phenom with a rocker soul, not some whiny pop-ballad princess crying about relationship issues!

The blessing/curse for Haley, though, is that Undone is her most popular song amongst teenage girls - and record labels drool over teenage girls. They are by far the most fanatical of fans, and virtually drive the entire pop music industry by themselves.  

Oh My!, on the other hand, is a very adult themed, sexually charged track centered around Haley having powerful orgasms in the sticky summer heat. The music has a Motown vibe with a somewhat distorted horn barrage and heavily echoed vocals.  The overall sound is themed after the James Bond movies of the 1960's. There's also a rap interlude by BoB... BUT WAIT!! Maybe NOT!  HA! Haley substitutes the rap bridge with a new bridge she penned with her dad after BoB fucked her over at Lollapalooza! (see video below)

I think this new bridge of Haley's is pretty damn good. Adding more haunting music and vocal stylings fits much better into the flow of the track than that idiot mercenary rapper ever did. The lyrics also fit Haley and the song much better, so my hope is that she'll get a chance to use this version as a single should they release it to radio.

Oh, and fuck you, BoB!!

Of course, as my readers know by now, I'm not a real big fan of Oh My!, either.  For my tastes, it's overproduced, distracting, and the music can't be replicated live so it always requires soundtrack. I'd much rather see Spiderweb, Let's Run Away, Now That You're Here or Hit The Ground Running as her next single, but since I will not be getting my way on that I'd choose Oh My! over Undone. At least it's somewhat uptempo, fun, light, offers a pretty good hook and has the sex appeal.

Anyway, hopefully she gets a 2nd single, period. The album sales weren't sensational, and STILL no tour is booked as of this posting, so it's certainly not a given. Let's hope that it all comes together, and, more importantly, that Haley is able to book a gig in SE FL so Kenny Poo can see her perform live again!

What say you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Open Letter to Haley Reinhart: All That Jazz

"Pssst...Jazz is your calling, Haley. Follow your destiny."

Dear Haley,

As you may or may not know, I've been obsessively following your musical odyssey ever since being captivated by your Season 10 American Idol audition of Oh Darlin' over 18 months ago. Since then, I've watched every performance and interview you've given, saw you perform live in South Florida (where you famously signed my flask), follow your twitter, subscribe to your website, and have bought every stitch of music you've ever made available for purchase.

Along the way, one of the things I've admired about you is your tremendous artistic versatility. There is virtually no genre I'm aware of that you can't perform beautifully. Hell, now we even know you can rap! That said, this blessing could also become a curse from a career perspective if you're not careful, because while it's obviously a blessing to be multi-talented, it can also create a "jack-of-all-trades" curse if it prevents you from dedicating yourself to a specific music path.

Your album, Listen Up!, which is an absolutely fantastic compilation, follows this pattern of  performing a variety of different sounds rather than settling on a specific theme or genre. A little Motown here, a little disco there, a little reggae here, a little rock there, a little pop ballad here, a little soul there, and all beautifully done, but it might have helped your label/management team promote your album if you had narrowed the genres. Ambiguity is extremely difficult to market, and we see that in how your promo has been all over the place, targeting demographics ranging from tweenage girls to middle aged men. Too much of everything to everybody spreads your resources thin, and can confuse both the customer and the retailer. When consumers are confused they tend not to buy.

So, if the goal is to make great music that sells well, and still stays true to who you are as a person and an artist, what direction would be best for you to go?

Well, we know that being the daughter of parents with their own 60's/70's cover band, your heart will always lie in classic rock. While I absolutely love your rock sound (Spiderweb, You Oughta Know, What Is And What Should Never Be, House Of the Rising Sun, etc.), I don't believe it allows you to maximize your incredible tone, phrasing, instincts and vocal abilities in general. It's somewhat limiting. Also, there aren't many doors open for rock music in today's radio market. So, for these reasons, I think it would be the wrong path to choose in establishing yourself as an artist.

You could also take a run at being a diva pop princess, with big, sappy ballads and some synth-driven dance tracks that appeal to the teens. However, while this format certainly sells well, you've always chafed at the idea of being identified this way as an artist. You have an old soul, and have made no secret that's not who you are or the kind of music you want to make. Hell, you appear to need a barf bag when discussing your own pop ballad, Undone, during interviews, and often seem to struggle connecting emotionally with it when performing live. Just not a natural fit. As far as mixing dance club tracks, just NO on so many levels I won't even get into it. So, obviously, you should NOT go the a pop-tart route, either.

Which leads us to your one, true calling: Jazz. Look, just like Pavarotti was naturally gifted to be an opera singer, you're similarly gifted as a jazz singer. You've said yourself that from the first time you opened your mouth to sing some jazz phrasing in high school the whole class stopped dead in their tracks, jaws agape.

Building on that, you went on to perform the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland after winning a national jazz competition. You studied and performed jazz in college, and then took your jazz talents to the Idol stage and received standing ovations performing jazz duets with Casey Abrams and Tony Bennett. After Idol, you subsequently recorded two more jazzy duets with Casey, releasing the gorgeous holiday single Baby It's Cold Outside, followed by a jazzed up cover of Hit The Road Jack on Casey's new album.

Of course, the piece-De-resistance came when you hit New Orleans and spontaneously performed God Bless The Child with the great Irvin Mayfield Jr. at his club in the French Quarter. It was caught on video by Casey, and was such a brilliant performance it garnered well over 100k views on YouTube. You blew away Irvin so powerfully that night he was compelled to invite you to perform with his band at his star-studded, Carnegie Hall show in October.

You must know deep down inside how gifted you are in this genre. It can't be tought, it can't be learned, it's just a blessing from above, and you would achieve greatness by giving it your full attention. I am absolutely convinced you could become known as one of the true legends of jazz, while at the same time staying true to the music your dad wisely forced you to sing as a tween when you wanted nothing to do with it.

Follow your head, follow your gut, follow your instincts, and follow destiny, for you were created to become a jazz singer who would help revive the genre to popularity levels unseen for generations. You are the sexy torch singer who must carry the jazz torch, and carry it to the loftiest levels, providing music pleasure and inspiration to millions.

Go for it, Haley!

Luv ya,
Kenny Poo

Haley's brilliant performance of God Bless The Child in New Orleans with Grammy winning Irvin Mayfield Jr. on trumpet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Honey, I'm Home!

No matter how nice the vacation may be, it's always so nice to be home again. We had a great 10 days away visiting my Buffalo family, and, despite warnings that two driving days each way with the kiddies would drive us insane, it was actually a very enjoyable and relaxing drive with some spectacular scenery..

As far as the time in WNY, it had far less family drama than I feared (thank God). We always love spending time up at my mother's home in Wilson overlooking Lake Ontario, and on this trip we also split time at my sister's home in Amherst where the kiddies all played and slept together for a couple days. 

Highlight of the trip: Going to a Buffalo Bills preseason game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The wife and kids got their first opportunity to see my hometown house-of-worship in all its drinking, grilling, tailgating glory. Game itself sucked, but being surrounded by about 50k other drunk Buffalo fans was priceless, and an invaluable lesson to my children on how to live a meaningful life.

Lowlight of the trip: The drive home from the stadium. I gave the keys to my wife since I was roughly 50x over the legal limit, and "shockingly" got in a fight with her over how she was driving. I thought she wasn't merging into traffic properly, a profanity laced screaming match ensued, and I (of course) ended up having to apologize for drunken overreacting when we got back. Actually, since this was the only time we got into an argument over the entire 10-day span I'd say we did pretty damn well!

Best Souvenir: The beer in  Buffalo is incredibly cheap and good, so I brought back a case of Molson XXX (7.3%) and a case of OV (Old Vienna), neither of which is available in South Florida.

Most Played Music: Joss Stone (Soul Sessions #2), John Mayer (Born and Raised), Crystal Bowersox (Idol Collection, Farmer's Daughter, Once Upon a Time) Haley Reinhart (Idol Collection, Listen Up!), Casey Abrams (Casey Abrams), Allman Brothers (Greatest Hits), James Taylor (Greatest Hits), John Coltrane (Lush Life), Neil Diamond (Greatest Hits), Jimmy Buffett (entire collection), Adele (21), Rene Marie (Black Laced Freudian Slip, Vertigo), Keith Whitley (Greatest Hits), Phillip Phillips (Idol Collection), Zac Brown (Foundation) and The Doors (Greatest Hits).

The Diet. Obviously, I wasn't gonna lose any weight on this trip, but I was thrilled to see I only put on 3lbs (now 230lbs). With the ridonkulous amount of booze and fattening food I consumed on this journey I had budgeted a 7lb gain, so this is really a pretty big win for me. Now, I'm back on the diet again and loading up for the big push to 199lbs.

OK, back to work now, peeps...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Truckin' off to Buffalo

I'll be truckin' off to Buffalo in the morning (literally, loading up the family truckster and truckin' off to Buffalo), so this post will be a holding place until I get back next Tuesday. Please feel free to leave comments with thoughts or updates on my interests (read my blog description if you forgot what my interests are), and I'll check in and reply when possible.

In the meantime, belly up and have some drinks with me in mind.

~Kenny Poo

Friday, August 3, 2012

UPDATE! Haley Reinhart RAPPED Lollapalooza!

CORRECTION: Initial reports on twitter had Haley announcing Oh My! was her next single. These were incorrect. Haley actually said she HOPES Oh My! becomes her next single, which means my dream of Spiderweb is still alive!

BTW, I saw her rap and it was very cute! Obviously she's not  gonna make a career out of it, but I give her huge props for having the stones to get up there and let it fly. One of the things I love about her is her willingness to take risks, and she got some nice press for it. Good on you, Haley!


Reports are in, and apparently Haley killed Lolla! Set list is incredible! Haley herself rapped the BoB part of Oh My!. How fucking hot is that? She also announced that Oh My! would indeed be her next single, which I'm cool with knowing she can promote it by performing the rap herself.

Also, the song that's gonna be the death of me, Spiderweb. Damn, I get wood just thinking about Haley rocking that killer tune. I'm absolutely aching inside that I couldn't have been there, but divorce, death and dismemberment awaited if I did.

Actually, seems like a small price to pay in retrospect.

Here's the set list. Still no vids as of this typing.

1. Wasted Tears
2. Hit The Ground Running
3. Free
4. Walking On Heaven
5. Oh My!
6. Spiderweb
7. Keep Coming Back
8. House Of The Rising Sun

~Kenny Poo


It's Lollapalooza time!

Very excited that my twitter girlfriend Haley Reinhart will be jumping onto the biggest live stage of her career today, and one that's about as far away from the Idol bubble as an artist can possible get. There will be over 5 bazillion young people (half a gazillion) festing about, and I venture to guess that 90% of them have never heard of Haley Reinhart, so this is the ultimate showcase for her post-Idol career.

I have absolutely no doubt that she'll crush it.

Haley will be given a side stage, and won't be featured on the official Lolla video stream, but I think that's probably a good thing. Let her sneak up on attendees as a hot new artist creating an undercurrent of buzz instead of getting badmouthed as some American Idol chick receiving preferential treatment.

Her set will be 50 minutes long, and will feature her full band PLUS family! Perhaps they'll bust out "I Woke Up In Love This Morning" by the Partridge Family? Ha! Maybe not, but I actually think that would be a great idea sometime.

Anyway, with 50 minutes of stage time Haley should be able to rock out 8-10 songs, and rumored to be included in that list is "Spiderweb" (co-written and produced by David Hodges). As many of you already know, I'm completely addicted to that song, and pray Interscope shocks the world by releasing it as her next single. This will be the first time she's performed it live, and it's perfect for Lolla's rocker crowd.

One of the big questions regarding her set list is whether "Oh My!(feat. Bob)" will be included. She's never performed it live before, and BoB is scheduled for Lolla, so there is a possibility this could happen. Rumors have been mixed on the possibilities, so we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

So, in closing, allow me to wish the hot, sexy, awesome, incredible, fantastic, golden-voiced goddess the best of success today. I'll most definitely be cheering you on from afar, babay!!!

Daily Weigh-in

This will be my final Daily Weigh-in Update until next Wednesday, as we will be heading out on a 9-day family truckster vacation to my hometown of Buffalo, NY. The good news is I managed to drop another lb before the inevitable fattening myself up again while being away.

Here's the numbers:

SW = Starting Weight
CW = Current Weight
TWL = Total Weight Loss
DM = Daily Move (+/-)
TW = Target Weight
WLR = Weight Loss Remaining

Friday, 8/03/12:
SW: 238 lbs
CW: 226 lbs
TWL: -12 lbs
DM: -1 lbs
TW: 199 lbs
WLR: 27 lbs

Thursday, August 2, 2012

ALBUM REVIEW: Joss Stone "Soul Sessions, Vol. 2"

Let's see, should I give the intellectual review where I deliberately break down every nuance of every song on the album, give detailed historic references for comparison purposes, and then add a lengthy diatribe about the likely significance the record will have upon the music industry and society as a whole?

Or, should I say fuck that shit and just say what I think without trying to impress anyone?

Let's go with the latter, because if there's one thing I love about Joss Stone's new album "Soul Sessions #2" is that it's completely devoid of gratuitous over-singing pretension or extraneous studio production.

In other words, this album has SOUL, and a lot of it, baby!

Thing is, there is no music style I enjoy more than soul. By definition it's the most authentic of all genres, and I have very little tolerance for bullshit posers in music or in life. It's also got a nice groove you can dance to, heartfelt belting you can cry to, and a timeless quality that never sounds dated.

With that, no singer in the world today, male or female, old or young, has more soul than Joss Stone. When performing live, she pours her heart into her music so deeply she nearly BLEEDS on stage. No "showbiz" bullshit, no posing for audience effect, just a phenomenal singing talent who gets lost getting down to her music, and as a result takes you right down into it with her.

I'm not going to pick favorites on this album because there are too many great ones to choose from, but right away you can tell "While You're Out Looking For Sugar" has the groove to become a smash hit. Of course, many songs are in that get-on-your-feet-and-dance mode with another standout being "First Taste of Hurt", and if you're a fan of "Emotion" by the Bee-Gees (like me) than you'll love "Pillow Talk".

Examples of down-and-dirty power soul, the kind that makes you reach for a hanky, get down on your knees, and scream out "Sing it, sister! Sing it!" would be "Nothing Takes The Place Of You" and "I Don't Wanna Be With Nobody But You". So, so powerful.

She also adds some rocking-it-out soul, with two of the highlights being "The High Road" and "Give More Power To The People". Both just soar, and make your fist pump in the air while belting along with her.

My musical fantasy would be a US tour with my twitter girlfriend, the sultry Haley Reinhart, opening for Joss. Now THAT would be one hot as hell show.

KENNY POO album rating for Soul Sessions: Volume 2: 5 out of 5 stars, and, quite frankly, it's among the best albums I've ever heard. I don't just recommend it, I actually insist that you buy it and then thank me later.

Daily Weigh-in

FINALLY broke the 228lb barrier. Been stuck on that number so long I figured the scale was glued to it, but, this morning when I stepped on that fucker it mercifully relented and flashed 227.

Here's the totals:

SW = Starting Weight
CW = Current Weight
TWL = Total Weight Loss
DM = Daily Move (+/-)
TW = Target Weight
WLR = Weight Loss Remaining

Thursday, 8/02/12:
SW: 238 lbs
CW: 227 lbs
TWL: -11 lbs
DM: -1 lbs
TW: 199 lbs
WLR: 28 lbs

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Great Bright Morning... Or Else!

OK, so every morning during the week Great Bright Morning by Casey Abrams is the first song I listen to when I wake up. This morning, I didn't get around to it for some reason and boy did I ever pay the price.

As I'm preparing to leave the house for work, I remembered that I needed to empty out last night's dirty chicken wing oil from the deep frier (I cater as a side business). In doing so, I proceeded to dump the entire gallon of used frier oil all over the kitchen floor.

Well, it took me about 30 minutes to clean up that fucking Exxon Valdez, so now I'm running really late for work. I run to the car and head on off to the office.

As I'm on Blue Tooth describing this disaster to my wife, suddenly I realize my pants got splattered with some oil and I stink like a fried chicken wing oil slick.


Just then, BAM! I hit a crater in the road and spill coffee all over my shirt and pants.

Double Fuck!!

Now, I'm a rancid potpourri of dirty chicken wing grease with travel mug coffee, and look like a failed modern art experiment. So, I text the office letting them know I'm gonna be another half hour, and stop at Wal-Mart to buy new pants and a polo shirt.

As I pull in, my iPhone rings. I assume it's my wife, and answer without looking at the caller ID. WRONG! It was a guy I was friends with years ago calling me out of the blue to tell me all about his miserable, never-ending, War-Of-The-Roses, divorce/custody battle that's now in it's 3rd year of litigation.

Triple Fuck!!!

Finally,  I get to work, change into my new clothes, and try going about the rest of my day as normally as possible.

Moral of the story: ALWAYS listen to Great Bright Morning by Casey Abrams when you wake up, because the consequences can be dire. Listen now, while you still have a a chance!