Songwriters Willis and Warren Reveal Their Charm

Songwriters Willis and WarrenYou never know who will turn up on “What’s the Tee?,” the always entertaining podcast by RuPaul and Michelle Visage. To my delight, they welcomed songwriters on two occasions this year. Allee Willis appeared on Episode 223 (September 18, 2019), and Diane Warren on Episode 213 (July 10, 2019). I’m embarrassed to admit I had not known either writer played such a large role in popular music. Willis co-wrote a ton of well-known music, from “September” and “Boogie Wonderland” (Earth, Wind & Fire) to the Broadway music for The Color Purple and the theme song for Friends. Warren has written songs for dozens of artists, including Cher, Céline Dion, Aerosmith, Toni Braxton, Trisha Yearwood, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Whitney Houston… The list goes on and on. Continue reading →

Reevaluating the legacy of progressive rock

The rise and fall of progressive rockIn the introduction to his book “The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock,” David Weigel points out that rock critics have traditionally heaped praise on punk rock while disparaging progressive rock. I’ve noticed this tendency, too, over the years. Yes, prog rock could sometimes be pretentious and bloated. But you could equally criticize punk for being crude and simplistic. Weigel aims to correct this imbalance by telling the story of prog rock. Continue reading →

Horror Toronto: New One-Stop Source for All Things Horror

Horror Toronto logoAs the bewitching season of Halloween approaches, Toronto has a new online resource for all things horror, supernatural, and dark fantasy. Whether you’re a visitor or a local, Horror Toronto catalogs the city’s wealth of offerings from festivals to shopping to performers like the Diet Ghosts. Toronto has become a hidden gem for horror fans. One of the most iconic horror magazines, Rue Morgue, has its headquarters here. And Casa Loma’s annual Legends of Horror is perhaps the premier haunted attraction in North America. All of this activity needed a bigger profile, compiled in one place for easy access. And that’s why I created this one-stop source. Continue reading →

Licensing music for my new song–should I do it?

Microphone / Licensing TracksA couple of young performers I know—a singer and and a rapper—recently exposed me to the concept of licensing music tracks from a producer. I’m not talking about royalty-free music or beats, for which you pay a flat fee. No, these fully-realized tracks are governed by narrow limitations where the producer has complete control and the artist almost none. I want to talk about how these are usually a terrible idea for recording artists. Continue reading →