What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the longstanding British new wave musical influences of the 1980s? The holy trinity of The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths? Of course, you’d be remiss if you left out Howard Jones. A vocal presence since the early 1980s when his first hit single “New Song” was in rotation on the radio and on MTV, Jones lived up to the promise of that track with a series of unforgettable singles. Songs such as “What is Love?,” “Things Can Only Get Better,” “Life in One Day,” “Everlasting Love,” and his biggest hit, “No One is to Blame,” established his lasting legacy. Not one to sit on his laurels, Jones continues to make music to this day, including songs heard in the 2016 Hugh Jackman film Eddie the Eagle. I recently spoke with Jones, who is currently on a U.S. concert tour, about his career and more.
It’s been five years since country diva Lorrie Morgan released a new studio album. If you’ve been waiting patiently, your persistence is about to be rewarded with not one, but two new albums from Morgan. The first, Letting You Go... Slow (Shanachie), is a fabulous mix of covers of classic tunes (“Ode To Billie Joe,” “Lay Lady Lay,” “Is it Raining at Your House?”) with newer selections (“Slow,” “Something About Trains,” the Morgan original “How Does it Feel”), that is a most welcome return. The second album, A Picture of Me (Goldenlane) takes an unusual approach to the greatest-hits concept with all-new recordings of some of Morgan’s most beloved songs, alongside cover versions of some of her personal favorites. I spoke with Morgan about the new albums and more before she embarked on a concert tour.
James Magruder is a busy man. In addition to teaching at Swarthmore College, Magruder’s 21st century output has included his 2009 debut novel Sugarless and the 2014 linked short story collection Let Me See It. His sexy and funny new novel, Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2016), takes readers back to 1983 on the campus of Yale University. The Helen Hadley Hall of the title is the dormitory that is site of a series of escapades, sexual and social, hilarious and heartbreaking, and all observed and reported by none other than the ghost of Helen Hadley herself. A playwright whose works have been performed on and off-Broadway and around the globe, Magruder was good enough to answer some interview questions after returning to the States following a trip to Italy.
Alan Cumming is a gay renaissance man. He sings, he dances, he writes, he acts – there doesn’t seem to be anything he can’t do. Few people can also claim the size and scope of his audience – from youngsters who know his voice from animated features such as Strange Magic and The Smurfs to adults who are fans of his work on television (“The Good Wife” and “Web Therapy”), on stage (Cabaret) and on film (Any Day Now, X-Men 2, and Burlesque). Cumming’s latest musical endeavor, the live recording Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs (Yellow Sound), is another chance to experience the man in all of his splendor. I spoke with Cumming about the disc and his career in February 2016.
The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips (Squares & Rebels, 2016), the sixth book by deaf gay poet Raymond Luczak, takes the inspiration for its title from a remark made by Oscar Wilde after the two met more than 130 years ago. In the book, separated into three sections, Luczak moves back and forth in time from the present day to Whitman’s lifetime, comparing and contrasting the life of a gay poet, then and now. Luczak, the author and editor of almost 20 books, most recently QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology, is a Pushcart Prize nominee whose work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals. Based in Minneapolis, Luczak is also editor of the respected queer fiction publication Jonathan, published by Sibling Rivalry Press. The Kiss of Walt Whitman Still On My Lips arrives on April 8, just in time for National Poetry Month.
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