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Pride Tea w/ Sandra Bernhard

An actress, author, a fabulous singer and a straight up comedy legend, there isn’t a person in this world who doesn’t know the name…Sandra Bernhard.

First gaining fast attention in the late 1970s with her stand-up comedy routines, Ms. Bernhard would truly skyrocket to fame thanks to her iconic portrayal as kidnapper Masha in Martin Scorcese’s, The King of Comedy. The critically acclaimed role would not only begin to cement Bernhard’s place in Hollywood comedy history, but it would lead her to the recurring role of Nancy on Roseanne (sigh..), for which Bernhard would go on to play the first openly gay character on network television. 

A true LGBTQ icon in her own right, Sandra hasn’t stopped in her crusade to ensure that we are all treated equally, but most importantly that we respect our damn selves along the way. And just in time for Philly Pride Week, Ms, Bernhard will be taking to the TLA stage tomorrow night for a fun stop on her Sandemonium tour, which has been garnering some truly fabulous reviews thanks to the always on point–and certainly on time–comedy stylings of this truly legendary comedy diva. 

But before she lets loose for Philly(get those tickets right here), Ms. Bernhard stopped by Philly Mixtape for a delectable spot of Pride tea where she broke mugs about, well, it all because you show she is, kids and we love it. 

Take a sip alongside the incredible Sandra Bernhard below. 

Kicking off our little spill, how are you these days? Everything’s great! Very, very busy. Very productive. Lot of good things happening and sort of working around the times we’re living in……which can tend to be a little bit–ya know–draining and exhausting politically. I’m always trying to lift up the work I do with good entertainment. [I’ve been doing] a lot on my radio show, Sandyland on Sirius XM on radio Andy(Andy Cohen’s network) interviewing people and having really smart conversations. [That’s] also been a great platform for me to talk about whatever’s going on in my life day-to-day. It’s been a really good incubator to come up with new material for my live shows. So, it’s all happening! And of course, I’m very excited to come back to Philadelphia, I haven’t been back in a while. It’s a great classic American city! 

You’ve also been getting back to acting quite a bit as well. Break some mugs for everyone about your latest venture….I’m [in] Ryan Murphy’s new show Pose. It’s more of a dramatic role, I’m playing a nurse in the AIDS ward in the ’80s, which is the time frame [the show] takes place in. I’m really excited about this. It’s a time I can really relate to. I lost a lot of friends back during the AIDS crisis. It’s supposed to be a recurring role, so hopefully I’ll be back! 

Taking a serious sip for a moment, there’s so much sensitivity these days when it comes ro crossing lines with politics and comedy. How do you personally find the ways to balance it all out? I think there’s a happy medium in a way to balance it all out, which is what I’ve been able to do. It helps you stay fresh and imaginative so you’re not just falling back on the same thing you always fall back on. It kind of forces you to go into new areas of your imagination. It’s a good thing because you have to keep recreating your work as the years go by. 

It’s true what they say…reinvention is the key to life. Absolutely. It keeps it interesting. 

So, here we are, right in the kick off of Pride month! What words of wisdom would you say to all of those fabulous kids out there who are just finding their true selves and are ready to celebrate? I think the most important thing is to stay educated and go to college and experience everything that anybody would experience and not limit and define yourself to your sexuality. I think that’s what’s kept my life interesting is that I stayed open and got to spend time and meet people from all different walks of life and cultures. I think that when everything’s defined by your religion, gender or sexual preference, you sometimes cut off a lot of experiences that can really enrich you and help [you] become a more complete person. That’s always my best advice is to just keep things very open and throw yourself into a lot of conversations and different ways of seeing the world. 

Moving on to your fabulous stage show. How would you personally best describe it? My work is always very personal so [the show] is like taking a little road trip with Sandy through my day-to-day life! Some things are sort of fictionalized and I just kind of bounce all over the place. It’s kind of hard to describe because my shows are never like one idea. It’s very stream of consciousness–I go from one kind of thought and woven insights [mixed in with] music and songs that are very eclectic. It’s fast paced and at times its introspective. You get to know me and see the world through my lens. 

So, let’s talk music. Who’s rockin’ your world these days? A lot of the stuff that I’m listening to was recommended to me by my daughter who’s a sophomore in college. I don’t really listen to albums anymore because the way of listening to music is so different–I just pick up a song here and there–Childish Gambino, Fleet Foxes. I certainly try to stay on top of it! There’s a thousand new performers and so many great songs out there. 

I guess it certainly helps having a teenage daughter around! It is good because otherwise I end up listening to a lot of stuff I’ve been listening to for years. It’s kinda cool because she likes a lot of that stuff too, so we go back-and-forth. It’s a nice bonding experience. 

One last sip…what does the word “pride” mean to you? It’s having your own identity and being clear who you are as an individual. I think it’s always great to have the support of the crowd behind you and be part of a group. But I also think that you also have to break away and walk through life and navigate your way around wherever you are. Be able to stand on your own. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Music Tea w/The Values

If there’s one thing that Philly is absolutely fabulous for (besides cheesesteaks and Super Bowl rings, of course), it’s that its local entertainment scene is truly like no other.

Whether you’re a performance artist slaying in the FringeArts festival, a DJ serving up deep house at one of the many, many nightclubs around or a drag queen serving the runways of the Gayborhood, all walks of entertainment thrive on the City of Brotherly Love dance floor. 

Another performance genre that is certainly soaring in Philly (although some of you kids might not know how big it truly is), is that of the “basement” genre. Or, we can think of it as a small intimate musical gathering in the basement of your Mom’s house, designed for bands with a darker, edgier sound who’re built for more intimate crowds for their talents to be seen and their voices to be heard…and that they most certainly are. 

Thanks to venues like The Barbary and “house party” hot-spots like The Waiting Room and Hubris House, the basement genre is more alive than ever before, which is why Brooklyn based duo The Values are finding no trouble fitting into it all

With their eccentric mix of pop, indie and thunderous beats, The ValuesMason Taub (vocals) and Evan Zwisler(synths & the rest of it)–have not only made a name for themselves on their native NYC local entertainment scene, but right here in Philly while creating an ever-growing fan base that follows their every move.  With Ms. Taub’s dark, defining vocals on top of Zwisler’s pulsating production, these two certainly know how to serve up the heat while keeping it all light and groovy. 

Speaking of keeping things light and groovy, Mason and Evan stopped by Philly Mixtape for a spot of music tea, where they broke mugs about their humble beginnings, recording sessions and everything else in between….including their love for The Boss. Take a sip and enjoy! 

And for much, much more tea with The Values, check this out. 

Hey, guys! Thanks for stopping by the Philly Mixtape music tea table!! First up, spill for everyone about how The Values came to light…..Mason:When I met Evan in 2014, he was already working on the first iteration of The Values with some friends of his from college. He actually invited me to their first show that was happening the next day. We started dating and eventually I joined the band, and since then we’ve gone through lots of changes, learned a lot, and seem to have found our best sound yet as a duo. Evan: Every iteration of the band before this really didn’t feel right. I feel that when it’s just the two of us we have the freedom to really make and perform the music that’s in our heads. I’ve never been more excited to write new music.

Okay, let’s break some mugs about your unique sound. I’m feeling a lot of genres with it……a little EDM, a little new wave, and perhaps a touch of goth vibes? How would you kids best describe it? M:We usually put ourselves under the umbrella of synthpop, but there are lots of influences that we each bring to the table. My vocals certainly don’t sound like a lot of synthpop bands out there, and we slip in some rock and post-punk stuff in a few of the songs with Evan’s guitar. E:Sexy synth sounds that make you want to move your booty. Mason also writes amazing lyrics that are so vivid. It’s one of the reasons I love her so much.

Which musical artists inspire you both? M:I feel like the best way to answer this is with some of the music we listen to on the road: there’s a lot of Prince and Bruce Springsteen, LCD Soundsystem and Donna Summer. I also definitely find myself inspired by female pop artists like Janelle Monae, Grimes and Robyn. E:Recently it’s been a lot of Prince, I think he’s so bad ass. I think the sound design in Maggie Robert’s hit song ‘Alaska’ is really good and I think Lorde is just killing it, ‘Green Light’ is one of our favorites. Bruce Springsteen was the person who taught me what it means to be American and his music has helped get us home when we’re driving back from a road gig after one am. Other members of our One AM Club include: Sly Stone, Holy Ghost!, LCD Soundsystem, and Slyvan Esso.

You guys have also played quite a bit in Philly. Which venues have been your favorite places to rock out at so far? M:We’ve actually played a lot of Philly house shows, which is an incredible scene. We love Tralfamadore! In terms of above-ground venues, The Barbary also treated us really well. Shoutout to their bouncer Bear, who helped keep an eye on our mini pitbull and tour pup, Honey while we played! E:We love the house party scene in South Philly. In the coming months we’re going to play Tralfamadore, The Waiting Room, and Hubris House to name a few. There’s something about playing a basement packed with thirty or so other people all shoulder to shoulder that’s just electric.

What do you both think is the one thing that you think any new artist should keep in
mind when they first hit the scene? M:Things will change, whether that’s your lineup, your musical interests, whatever, and to be ready to handle that with as much grace as possible. E:Don’t be a dick. Most people are pretty nice so in addition to that I’d say that there are a ton of amazing bands in Philly so try to do something unique that you’re passionate about. People are super accepting and supportive in Philly so if it’s your dream to perform operatic baroque pop music performed acoustically with only your voice and a ukelele, go for it!!! People would rather watch you struggle to make something amazing, unique, and personal than have you do the same thing they’ve seen 100 times.

Spill a little about your recording sessions. What’s the general mood like? What do you do if there are any disagreements? That is, if there are any….M:We try to make recording fun for us, which isn’t too tricky because we’re both kind of music nerds. Some of the first recording sessions we ever did we had a bunch of friends over hanging out in the control room. Evan and I are pretty good at keeping the vibe upbeat and respecting each other’s ideas and trying things out when we’re recording or mixing. It’s just not productive for us to be at odds when there’s so much to do. E:The mood [is] good! We both love being in the studio so it was pretty great. I gotta give major props to Oliver Ignatius and Holy Fang recording. He really helped us get great synth sounds from his amazing collection of synths. We used an Oberheim Matrix 6 for a lot of the pad sounds on ‘Mass Destruction’ and it sounds fucking sick. Oliver knew exactly where to As far as disagreements go, there was only really one time I got upset. We were starting to record our cover of ‘Dancing in the Dark’ and Mason and Oliver decided to basically to scrap our demo and go for a much moodier take on the song. I felt kind of blindsided and was totally thrown off balance. I didn’t yell or scream like a psycho, but I wasn’t thrilled to change our demo which was working, but thank god we did. Pretty quickly into working on the new version I realized that what we’d been doing was pretty bland. We really wanted to drive home the ennui and frustration the lyrics conveyed. I trusted Mason and Oliver, I think they’re far better musicians than I am, and while there was friction I think the song was galvanized into something much stronger.

One last sip……..the one album that each of you simply cannot live without would be…..
M:This is a really tough question for me! Maybe….LCD Soundsystem’s Sound of Silver.
E:Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen. Great Album, great album artwork (love me some of that Brucey Booty)

Cover photo courtesy of Mixtape Media, LLC

Get down with their hot-to-headphones cover of “Dancing in the Dark” right here! 

 

 

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‘The Sound of Music’ Tea w/Jill-Christine Wiley

If there’s one thing that remains true in today’s rapidly changing (and a tad bit crazy) world, it’s that The Sound of Music will remain as timeless as they come. 

A huge Broadway smash thanks to the talents of the incredible Mary Martin and the legendary production prowess of playwrights Rodgers & Hammerstein, the show would also go on to find phenomenal success on the big screen as well (hey there, Ms. Julie Andrews), raking in $158 million in 1965, which adjusts to a whopping $1.3 billion in today’s dollars.

Let that pop culture fact just blow your mind for a moment….

Based on matriarch Maria von Trapp‘s autobiography, The Sound of Music, tells the tale of a rather sugary sweet story involving nuns, Nazis, seven ridiculously cute children, and of course, lots and lots of fabulous hills. However, there’s just something about that dear sweet music when it comes to this ever lasting show, and with such classic tunes as “Climb Every Mountain,” “My Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi” and “Sixteen Going on Seventeen,” you know you’re going to be more than ready when all of these numbers come alive inside the Merriam Theater beginning tomorrow night through this Sunday, April 29th. 

But perhaps even more grand than all of the Music magic that will be taking over the City of Brotherly Love this week, are the many, many talents of leading actress Jill-Christine Wiley–dancing! singing! acting!–and she was gracious enough to stop by the Philly Mixtape entertainment tea table to spill about it all before she dazzles the city with her take on the iconic role of Maria. 

Of course, it may come pretty easy for Jill being that she’s already has a portrayal of another cherished character on her impressive resume–that of Belle in the national tour of Beauty of the Beast. So, now that you’re completely convinced to take the whole entire family to go see The Sound of Music while it’s in Philly this week, get those tickets right here……

…………but first get to know the lovely Jill Christine-Wiley below as she breaks mugs about, well, it all

Hey, Jill, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with Philly Mixtape! Kicking off our little spill, how does it feel to be playing the iconic role of Maria in ‘The Sound of Music?” It’s truly been the most wonderful experience! Getting to step into Maria’s shoes each night is such a privilege. Of course there have been so many talented women who have portrayed this role, such as Mary Martin, having originated the role on Broadway, to Julie Andrews in the film, not to mention the two other incredibly talented women who have led this tour before me. I think it’s also important to remember that Maria was a real person – the first thing I did was go right to her autobiography. I wanted to “get to know her” as best I could. I’m not only storytelling on stage each night, I’m “truth-telling.”

How many times have you seen the original? I think, having grown up watching the film it’s safe to say that I’ve lost count. It’s been a few months (dare I say even more) since I last saw the film….when you’re “living” it each night, it isn’t the first film you go to watch while out on the road…maybe this summer I’ll watch it again for fun!

Moving onto the stage for a moment, what are some personal rituals you do to relax and dive into each show before every curtain call?  I have a pack of Daily Affirmation cards – each card as one word to serve as an “intention card.” Before each show, I will draw a card and use that word as my intention for that performance. Last night, I drew the word, “truth” so I use that performance to really focus in on being truthful. Having that word intention set each night really helps keep me grounded and focused in my show.

There’s simply no denying that we’re in some really truly tough times right now, so we need those future entertainers more than ever!! What words of wisdom would you give to any aspiring actor or actress who decided right this very second to step onto that stage for the very first time? Embrace the mistakes. As performers/artists, we are always evolving, and no work is ever a finished product. Try not to self-edit or judge your work too harshly. We are in an industry where we are always looking to better ourselves – keep working, keep learning, keep growing.

Okay, let’s spill about the show! What can Philly fans expect from this production of ‘The Sound of Music?’ This is a classic and, at the end of the night, you’re going to leave the theatre humming the tunes you all know and love. This story has so much depth, it’s a story for all ages. It’s about the love of family, love of music, finding new love, the political aspects and fighting for what’s right and what you believe in.

How would you sum up it all up in one word? CAPTIVATING!

One last sip…..who are some of your favorite music artists that you simply can’t live without?  I can’t seem to get enough of The Civil Wars, Sara Bareilles or Damien Rice. Pre-show tunes, I can always go for some Barbra Streisand, Nat “King” Cole, Whitney and of course my personal favorite, Celine Dion!

For much more tea with the fabulous Jill-Christine Wiley, check this out…..

……and to get your tickets to relive and revel in ‘The Sound of Music‘ while it’s here in town until this Sunday, follow those hills to the box office right here.

Cover photo courtesy of the Kimmel Center






 

 

 

 

 

CAPTIVATING!