Thursday, February 23, 2017

Baby Dee is Coming to Town!!!!

Friends! Please accept my apologies for the recent radio silence.... I will work on doing better, especially in these distressingly troubling times, at maintaining communication. The Book of Face and the Tweeter and the 'Gram are excellent tools for reaching out and connecting with your audience, old and new, but it can get really overwhelming to us old heads who still blog and read entire emails. While I am pretty masterful at expressing intricate concepts in 140 characters and square imagery, I am a musical poet. I like descriptive language and full sentences. If you have read this far, I am guessing you're in that crazy boat of folks who like to read as well!!!!

So.....I am extremely excited to announce a wonderful event I have worked VERY hard to put together these last few months. My beautiful friend Baby Dee is coming to sing and play accordion for us with Allysen Callery, at The Funhouse at Mr Smalls, and ALL the proceeds from the door got to benefit Proud Haven, a new LBGTQIA youth shelter. I am very excited to say I am co-presenting this wonderful evening with the newly formed Steel City Sisters, a local mission house of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The evening is sponsored by the Positive Health Clinic. I will open the evening and sing with my friend Howie Alexander, a fellow instructor with whom I work at Afro-American Music Institute, and then......

The GLORIOUS AND WONDERFUL BABY DEE will enchant us with her incredible songs! She and I toured together with the Bindlestiff Family Circkus in 1996 and I must say, I fell quite in love with her everything. She moved away to Holland some years ago and I was mightily afeared she would never return, but return she has and with a new record on Tin Angel Records called "I Am A Stick". So I sincerely hope to see your beautiful face in person at the Funhouse at Mr Smalls next Wednesday March 1. Doors at 7, show at 8 and tickets are $15 suggested donation.

Here is the interview Bill O'Driscoll from Pittsburgh City Paper did of Baby Dee last week!
http://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/short-list-feb-22-mar-1/Content?oid=2059596

I must repeat myself, my friends, please come support this wonderful event, on Wednesday March 1, 2017 at the Funhouse at Mr Smalls in Millvale!
Buy tickets here: http://www.ticketfly.com/event/1424870-evening-baby-dee-phat-man-millvale/
Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/348067445592242/
I want to sing to you!  And I want you to hear my old friend, she is so beautiful and her music so hauntingly ethereal!

Also, this Saturday February 25, I will be making an appearance at the Anti-Valentines Hafla Bellydance party at Bodiography Center for Movement at 5824 Forbes Ave, in Squirrel Hill, 6:30 - 9:30 pm! I will be singing for the beautiful sword dancer Angela Mitchell! $10 admission goes to benefit Animal Friends! Many wonderful dancers will be there!
More info:
https://www.facebook.com/events/246459549104065/

And for my final thought today, here is a video of me singing at the Winter Moe Down at Maureen's Jazz Cellar in Nyack, NY. I went up the first weekend of January to sit in with the musicians who came to pay homage to the late, great and truly missed vocalist Maureen Budway. Her brother Dave and his wife Brianne opened a club to honor his sister and I was honored to attend the evening. I sat in with Mike Murray, Jeff Grubbs and Tom Wendt and we played "You Are Special" written by Mr. Fred Rogers.


Stay strong friends, there is much hate and much bigotry happening right now, hold your friends and family close and stay strong against the bigotry. We shall overcome. Write your congressperson and stalk your senator. 

Cogitationally and constituently yours,
Phat Man Dee

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Tomorrow last day to donate to Social Justice Disco on IndieGogo!

Dearest of friends, it has been a hard year.... and as much as I understand all who say "can't wait till this year is done" I think to myself, "but you don't know how much worse it could become...." I do know, that I am deeply grateful for all the incredible people I have in my life, my fellow artists, my audience, my friends and family.... and I am not willing to see them abused by those who voted for our President-elect. That is why I am focusing on producing music with Liz Berlin, she and I have been working on this album and we've been on the radio and also some podcasts; meanwhile we've been teaching our students and doing our shows and just trying to spend time with our families and hold them close during the holidays. 

Our campaign through indiegogo ends at midnight tomorrow, Friday, Dec 30, 2016, and we may not make our goal. We have made enough to cover cost of pressing the cd's, but not really enough to pay the musicians what they are really worth, cover studio time, or have a decent marketing budget of any kind. If you could please send this out on your social media, directly to any friend or family, we would deeply appreciate it. 


Here is the link, please share it, please support it. We need you to help us make this music happen. Donations are tax deductible. https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/social-justice-disco-by-phat-man-dee-liz-berlin--2#/

With our fundraiser ending tomorrow, it is clearer than ever that we absolutely must get this recording into the world. To quote the activists of ACT UP "Silence = Death". We also feel Eldridge Cleaver words also ring very true today, "If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.” Mahatma Gandhi's "Be the change you wish to see in the world"speaks to us as well...all of these inspire us as artists and musicians to create the music we wish to hear in the world, music from us who shall not be silent in the face of oppression, but will inspire us all to get up and dance for a world we wish to live in. In biblical times, the armies would send forth the musicians first, when Joshuay brought down the walls of Jericho, he did so blowing  ram's horn.... while we haven't worked a ram's horn into any of the arrangements yet, if we get enough to cover the horn players.... ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!!!! 

We must all stand together against all forms of oppression, environmental devastation, racism, xenophobia, sexism, homophobia, ableism, all of it is part of the same thing and we must fix it for the sake of our world and everyone trying to live freely in it. 
Thank you for everything, please help us make this final last push! 
Some video for you!
Liz and Mandee editing "Your Racist Friend" at Mr Smalls Recording Studio!


Mandee and Liz and Mark F Strickland on WNJR on T Mitchell Bell's show "Acoustic Songs" :


Then later the same night as the appearance on WNJR with T Mitchell Bell, Mandee and Liz sing "Hallelujah" at the Funhouse at Mr. Smalls 


If you missed the show itself, here's a link to the playlist from my favorite parts: 

One love and thank you for being part of this process, we appreciate you so much!!!!!!
Mandee


PPS Love yinz. I really do. 


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

I am thankful for you!

Friends, as we enter into the final month of 2016 I am taking a moment to breathe. I had it tattooed on my hand, many years ago, that word, "BREATHE" so I would always remember as a vocalist to breathe. When you don't breathe, you strain your vocal folds, and you can't sing without breath. Without breath, there is no song and there is no life. So, I am breathing and thinking of you. If you are reading this on my google groups email list, if you get this on my blog, or my Phat Man Dee facebook page, or if you listen to my random stream of consciousness ravings on twitter and instagram, or on my blog on the Pittsburgh Jazz Network.... thank you. Thank you for reading it and caring about me and my work as an artist. You are the reason I do this. You are the reason I don't lay down and just stay there watching Star Trek re-runs and Doctor Who Christmas specials and listen to Louis Armstrong, Nina Simone and just rage into the night alone with a bowl of curried pierogies in a room filled with jasmine incense..... Some days it's very hard to get up and function and do the gig and sing the thing, but I know there are people out there who want to hear me sing that next song, and I am so grateful that you are one of them. I am working hard to maintain clarity and keep beaming out joy. I invite you to be part of that which I am creating and be a light in the darkness that shines forth with a message of radical inclusion, equity, love and extreme tolerance! Now more than ever we need to stand up and be heard that we are one people and we are Jewish, we are Muslim, we are Christian, we are Pagans, we are Druids, we are SubGenius, we are Indigenous people with traditions and heritage as meaningful as any and all of these, and we are also agnostic. We are Black, White, Yellow, Brown, and also we are Straight, Lesbian, we are Gay, we are Bisexual, we are Transgender, we are Intersex and Asexual. We are old, we are young, we are abled and disabled, and we are all human and have basic human rights and in this country basic Constitutional rights. But we needed to fight for those rights before we got them, and we need to defend them and we must not be afraid. So in the spirit of fighting white supremacy and fascism, I am liberally applying multi ethnic holiday jazz combined with the power of beautiful women dancing and I am creating an evening I really hope you attend. 

Saturday December 10, 2016

I shall croon and belt seasonal classics to accompany the performances of Pittsburgh’s most delightful darlings of dance, Macabre NoirLita D’VargasHakan Dances and The Hamer Sisters - Maria and Christine! 
Dancing dreidels! Candy cane wielding elves! Extreme burlesque Grinch over dramatizations! 
Live music provided by members of the Cultural District - Carlos Peña, Jesse PrentissJeremy PapayMiguel Sague III and Langston Kelly

The Funhouse is the small new venue inside of Mr Smalls at 400 Lincoln Ave, Millvale, PA
Doors 8 pm, Show at 9 pm, 21 and over

Tickets $15 for general admission and $25 for VIP guaranteed seating close to the stage, includes a  a special holiday gift! 
Make it an entire evening with dinner and snacks, locals beers on tap and effervescently refreshing cocktails! 
Free hugs for the holiday from ME after the show! 

I even made a promo video!

Tickets available now:
Facebook event page: 

 Right now I am also building, with my old friend Liz Berlin, a recording project "Social Justice Disco: Songs to Fight Fascists By"! 
We really need your help to make it the way we truly envision it, we want to pay the musicians and we have to pay the studio time and we want to promote it to the absolute best of our abilities, and we just need some help. We have been blessed that we have raised 10% of our goal so far, but we need alot more and we hoped that between the two of us, with our extensive fan bases, if everyone chipped in just a little bit, we could fund this, but we need help financially and also with spreading the word. We went on Lynn Cullen Show this week to sing some of the songs from it and also talk about why it is such an important project for us to complete. Check out the video! 

HERE IS THE LINK TO OUR FUNDRAISER PLEASE HALP!!!!!!!! 

Recently we had a terrifying upset..... I didn't take for granted that Secretary Clinton would defeat Donald Trump. But I hoped. I hoped there were more of us then there are of them.... and there are. Almost 2 million of us. So that gives me hope. In addition to my work creating events and live performances, I am still teaching at both Afro American Music Institute and the We Rock Workshop. I am also still singing with my old friend Pastor Deryck Tines and the Lemington Gospel Chorale. I will be singing in the choir on Saturday December 3, at Bethlehem Baptist located at 716 Walnut Street, McKeesport. Here are the details, tickets are $10, the event is from 6-9 p.m. and we will be recording a set of immensely powerful music. The choir is about 45 members strong and the median age is 75. You will not want to miss this! VIP tickets available as well for $35, for more information: https://www.facebook.com/events/290798784615795/

Have a blessed thanksgiving and hold in your hearts and be ready to act in defense of those who need it, I have friends out in North Dakota right now and I am terrified for them but then I have friends here in Pittsburgh and I am terrified for them as well, so you and I, we must all stay strong and be ready to use music and rhythm, words and action to be our swords and shields in the face of hatred and injustice.
 
Much love, 
Phat Man Dee

Monday, November 7, 2016

So about that fascist running for office....

I will admit to having slight panic attacks when I hear the orange cheeto dusted eugenics spouting, nuclear winter promising mad man speak. I will admit to laying awake, wondering who else he is tweeting angrily at from his bed, the one he shares with his immigrant wife, at that totally random sleepless moment in the middle of any given random evening. I also will own the fact that for the life of me, I cannot understand how so many people can have so much hate and intolerance for refugees, immigrants, women, people of color, LBGTQ folk....that they could allow someone who has absolutely nothing substantive to say except hate to take the nomination of the same political party which once freed the slaves.....but here we are. I am here, you are there, and amazingly this internet and technology allows us to communicate and be in community with each other all over this beautiful earth.  So, I have been working with intent and at a somewhat feverish pitch over here at Phat Man Dee Productions, in collaboration with my old friend, the talented and beautiful musician Liz Berlin. She is a founder and current member of Rusted Root. We have been producing an album called "Social Justice Disco : Songs to Fight Fascists By". For she is like me, worried about the world we are creating right now, she, unlike me, is a platinum record selling artist..... but I have hopes. Whether or not this album gets me there, is not as important to me as making sure the songs are heard. We are choosing to use our music to foster extreme tolerance, unity and to be used a danceable tool with which one may rhythmically and melodically fight fascists. We have assembled a force of musicians who are united with us in this mission. We have about 8 songs tracked and another 6 to go. I cannot wait for you to hear it in it's completion.

We have released one track so far and it is "Fourth Reich Arising" you can check out the brand new music video online:


You may purchase this song on CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/phatmandee5

If you REALLY want to help us make this album and be part of the community who is standing up and saying we are going to help this world through music, love and tolerance, I humbly ask you support and share our fundraiser:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/social-justice-disco-by-phat-man-dee-liz-berlin--2/

We have 3 weeks left on this campaign, it is tax deductible and we have studio time booked in mid December, when Liz gets back from Rusted Root tour. It's pretty intense working with her, it's kind of like being in an art tornado. She is one of the hardest working artists I have ever been blessed to collaborate with.

Here is a great article written by Scott Mervis at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/music/2016/10/27/Local-Scene-in-Music-Phat-Man-Dee-and-Liz-Berlin-bring-April-Fool-s-Joke-to-life/stories/201610270017

It has been featured on the radio shows by Mike Canton of the Soul Show on WYEP in Pittsburgh, listen here:
https://www.mixcloud.com/soulshowmike/tss-110516-the-soul-show-11516-new-robert-glasper-and-more/

Also on Desolation Angel radio in New Orleans, listen here:
http://desolationangel.podbean.com

And on Hell's Kitchen with John Hell on Radio Valencia in San Francisco:
http://hellskitchenradio.blogspot.com/2016/10/hells-kitchen-radio-279-trick-and-treat.html?spref=tw&m=1

I hope you like the song, I hope you support the album and help us make this a reality.
photo from our first performance of "Social Justice Disco" at the Funhouse at Mr Smalls.
Don't say no to these faces. We want to sing to you and we really need your help to do it.
Thank you for believing in me to this point. I believe in you. Let's show the world together who we are, and demonstrate that we won't let the bullies win. Please support our project and please, for the love of everything holy on God's and the Goddess's good green earth, vote.

Love, faith, hope,
Mandee

Friday, October 21, 2016

"A Rogue's Gallery of Fabulous Phreaks" at Spirit! Also, we're making a Social Justice Disco album!

Phriends! It's terrifying out there! I suggest you come on in and get phreaky with some prophessionals! 

This Sunday October 23, 2016
9 PM at This Sunday at Spirit in Lawrenceville
242 51st Street, Pittsburgh, PA
with:
Phat Man Dee (that's me!) with The Cultural District featuring:
Carlos Peña, Miguel Sague III and Langston Kelly
also showcasing:
and my dear sweet husband's old fashioned future rawk band
$7 before 10pm; $10 after


On Sunday October 29, 2016 I will be singing with Pastor Deryck Tines and the Lemington Gospel Chorale at Ebenezer Baptist Church, 2001 Wylie Ave, Pittsburgh, PA
Here's is a picture I shot of Pastor Tines when we sang at Monumental Baptist last month! 
Look at that man's smile! You should hear him sing! 

And I am thrilled to announce that one of my facebook April Fool's Day joke is ACTUALLY COMING TRUE!
Here is a small sampling of the jokes I made on April Fool's Day this year on my facebook page:

“OMG OMG OMG SO EXCITED!!! The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust just called me and said they ACCEPTED my proposal to host Isaly's chipped ham wrestling at PPG Wintergarten during the Three Rivers Arts Festival! Slippy the Clown (aka David Gruen) will be doing color commentary as I square off with Bill Peduto!!!!” 

and “What an incredible day! Tom Savini just called me and said he was asked to do special effects for me in a new documentary zombie bio pic about me playing the role of Zoe Saldana playing Nina Simone in a new musical production called "I've Got You Under My Skins”!!!!” 

and “Very excited to announce that Wendy Bell has agreed to wrestle me in Ramen noodles for a spectacular gala event and fundraiser, and all the money raised will be donated to Whaats Up Pittsburgh!!!” 

AND finally : “I am so excited to announce mine and Liz Berlin's new social justice disco album!!! We will be reworking Woody Guthrie's classic works like "All You Fascists Are Bound for Hell" and Anne Feeney's "Have You been to jail for justice?" into high energy dance anthems, backed by the fusion force of Rusted Root and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra!”

WHICH ONE DO YOU THINK IS COMING TRUE????? If you guessed me wrestling with Wendy Bell in a pool of Ramen Noodles....YOU WOULD BE VERY WRONG.....In fact, Liz Berlin and I have been working on a new recording project, not with Rusted Root or the Pittsburgh Symphony, but with each other! She and I have been friends for many years and I have been working for her non profit Creative Life Support for several years now as a vocal coach with students from the Allegheny County foster care system. When I tagged her in the facebook post, she was like "you know that sounds like a cool thing, we should do it!!!" and that is one of the many reasons I adore her, she could be doing a million zillion things at once, building a theater, touring with her platinum selling band, taking her side project to SXSW, teaching kids, raising her own kid, running a staff of interns who are learning the music business and she's just like "oh yeah, that sounds awesome, sure we'll do that too!" and so we've been in the studio at Mr Small's Recording and Mastering Studio in the Northside, working with some of my musicians and some of hers and we are really excited to announce that we will be digitally releasing one of them, "Fourth Reich Arising" on Halloween, Monday October 31, 2016 at the Acousticafé Open Stage at the Funhouse at Mr Smalls. We will be featured performers that night and we will do 3 selections from our new project "Social Justice Disco, Songs to Fight Fascists By"! I will send another email to my list soon about how to buy the first new single when it's released that day, and as well about the IndieGogo campaign we will be running to help us cover the expenses of recording it. It's gonna be an amazing project and I want you to know about it, but I also wanted you to have a little time to plan to come to the single release event and celebrate with us if you can make it! 
The Funhouse at Mr Smalls is located at 400 Lincoln Ave, Millville, PA 
No cover, sign up to perform between 6-7 pm
We'll go on somewhere in there....I don't know when, come here some local musicians and celebrate our magical musical scene! 
Here's a nice picture we shot the last time we sang together on the opening weekend of The Funhouse at Mr Smalls! 
Seriously, how can you say no to these faces???? You can't. You can try, but it's not recommended. We're making songs to fight fascists by. You know you want in.... I will tell you how, soon.....

I also wish to thank you if you voted the Pittsburgh City Paper's Best of Pittsburgh Readers' Poll this year, I was voted in by the readership as #1 Best Local Jazz/ Blues Act in Pittsburgh. I am deeply humbled and will do my best to live up to the belief you have in me. I am still learning, still studying the great musical legacy we are blessed to have in Pittsburgh, rich with incredible jazz musicians and I will continue my journey to be worth of their company and musicianship. 
photo by Edward Pinto, shot at the Best of Pittsburgh City Paper party 2016! 

Stay safe, stay loved, it's crazy out there. Don't be afraid. Make sure to vote. Ferreals. In the words of my friends at B-PEP "WE VOTE IN EACH AND EVERY ELECTION, NUMBERS COUNT!" 
If you wish to get more involved in assisting with Election Protection and bearing witness at the polls, please call 1-866-687-8683 

Much love, much respect, I am always yours, Phat Man Dee

Friday, September 2, 2016

"Oh it's a long long while....

from May to December.... but the daze grow short, when you reach September"
And the sweet lyrics of Maxwell Anderson mean as much today as when Kurt Weill put them to music in 1938. My favorite version will always be Billy Eckstein's.  Here is a link to hear his incredible performance:
https://youtu.be/baP_cFd8j4E

For me.... I hope I get some precious daze with you sometime soon.
My shows that I have lined up are very exciting and I am thrilled to share them with you!

Sunday September 11, 2016, doors at 12 pm, show at 1 pm 
James Street Speakeasy and Gastropub, 422 Foreland St, Pittsburgh 
Get your tickets before they sell out! I am simply thrilled to be part of this wonderful event and can't wait to croon on stage with these legendary performers! Come cheer on our Golden Legend Champion Challenge 2016 program participants as they compete for the title of Golden Legend Champion! More about the organization: Golden Legend Champion Challenge is the ultimate show and competition hybrid that brings Living Legends of burlesque and up-and-coming burlesque performers together in a mentoring program that benefits all involved. Each of the selected proteges will be paired with a Legend from whom to receive one-on-one mentoring in preparation for the challenge. Legends are presented with the opportunity to help mold and nurture emerging burlesque performers. Each pair has the chance to bond in a way unique to Golden Legends, with the end goal of enhancing performance skills and making lifelong friendships worth their weight in gold. 

Age Limit: 21+   Tickets: $25 general admission - $90 reserved table for 4 - $150 Golden Reserved VIP Table for 4 with many perks! 


Friday September 16, 2016, 5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. 
623 Smithfield Street, downtown, Pittsburgh

I am so excited to be singing with my band The Cultural District, Carlos Peña (guitar), Dwayne Dolphin (bass) and Miguel Sague III (conga/vox) as part of the opening reception for the juried exhibition of the ReNEW Festival! This exhibit features works by 21 artists from Southwestern PA that incorporate creative reuse or themes of sustainability or transformation. The artworks in the exhibit were selected by jurors Eric Crosby, Richard Armstrong Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Carnegie Museum of Art; DS Kinsel, Artist / Co-Founder of BOOM Concepts; and Kilolo Luckett, Art Historian + Cultural Producer. This incredible month long festival is taking place all over Pittsburgh and at multiple venues, please check out the website and check out all the amazing experiences this art extravaganza has to offer! More info: http://www.renewfestival.com 

Saturday September 24, 2016 at 7:30 p.m.
Mad Hatter Tea Party with 3rd Street Bellydance
220 3rd Street, Carnegie, PA
Tickets $15 or $10 if you are in costume, kids free! 

I am thrilled to be part of this delightful evening of bellydance and music with friends all the way from Connecticut, North Carolina, and Ohio! Live music by the mesmerizing Ancien! Vocal Diva Phat Man Dee will dazzle! AND Performances by Eliot SnaithThe Tribe of EosEllie OlinJennifer Senn’s CattyWhomp Tribe with guest Margaret CampbellKari and Banafsaji, Joanna Abeland 3rd Street Belly Dance, and more!!

Friday October 7, 2016 at 7 p.m. 
Wintergarden at 1 PPG Place

I shall be emceeing this phenomenal event curated by my dear friend Karen Page, the fashion and costuming instructor at CAPA High School! Celebrate radical fashions at this high energy showcase of garments, accessories and jewelry inspired by creative reuse of materials, sustainable practices and transformative processes. This showcase of designs by local artists includes fashions by fiber artists, fashion designers, and also CAPA students who were inspired by Drap-Art visiting artist Dolo Navas while she was residency at their school. Music and refreshments. Family-friendly. 
http://renewfestival.com/event/fashion-extravaganza/


Saturday October 15, 2016 at 10 p.m. 
James Street Speakyeasy and Gastropub 
422 Foreland St, Northside, Pittsburgh 
Join us for a unique night of music! Your favorite local Pittsburgh burlesque and drag performers... SING for YOU! Plus a few musical guest surprises, and live musicians. 
Fierce! VIP front-row tables for 4 (only 4 available) 
Tables for 4 (only eight availble) 
General admission $10 at the door 
Featured Guest: Eileen Galvin from Cols OH 
Local HEADLINER: Phat Man Dee!!! 
Also Featuring: Members of the Velvet Hearts Pittsburgh... Corvida Bleux Holly DeVyne Eden Ivy Luscious D Vita Valentina Viva Valezz! and your host Devon Orel And our friends: Lynn Brigham Georgia Bea Cummings Lita D'Vargas Shaneful Desires of Hot Metal Hardware Gerra Cassandra Meloy Moon: Variety Artist Vyrus V Ixen Arla White and Honey Merlot from Columbus! with the The Ukulele Cowboy Society! (And I don't want to give too much away, but I should mention the organizer of this event Viva Valezz, has a giant oyster shell stage prop that she dances in front of, made by the magical props designer and historical victorian restoration carpenter Ed Pinto, and I have a set of waves made by him as well, and so far they have never been on stage together as part of the same act.... but when you get Viva, Mandee and some sea themed burlesque props in one room together at one time, amazing things could happen!!!!) 

So that is what I have on the books currently. I am working on a couple projects, making another Unity Concert with my fellow artist/ activist co-conspirators, working on creating "Phat Man Dee's Phantom Pop Up Jazz Club and Jam Session", working on a couple different recording projects, a social justice disco album with my old friend and mentor Liz Berlin, working on making a jazz standards album with my mentors Dr Johnson and Howard Alexander.  I am also still editing video from Europe and I have alot more video I have shot since then, so I am just kind of working my way through it.... I am also still teaching voice to young students at the Afro-American Music Institute (AAMI) , and my classes meet every Saturday at 2 p.m. at the school We are located at 7131 Hamilton Ave. in the Homewood section of Pittsburgh, and you can register your child for my class, or yourself for the adult singing class led by Dr Johnson, or an instrument class with any one of our incredible faculty by calling 412-241-6775. More info can be found on our website: http://afroamericanmusic.org/

I might be hitting you all up, my wonderful fans and friends, for some support.... I recently became sponsored through Fractured Atlas, so donations made through any fundraiser I do will be tax deductible. I am still kind of deciding what project to raise $$ for, it will probably be the recording projects, since I spent all my $$ I had been saving on renovations to help my mama move into my house. She just retired from her position as a special needs instructor at the Chinle school on the Navajo Nation and she came back to Pittsburgh last week. As soon as I get this work completed, she is moving in with Tommy and I, so I am really happy about that but I spent all my recording budget on fixing some floors so we can install a stairlift for her. So, don't get mad if I start the fundraising thingy again. I will do it as a "Pre Sale" support the new records (listen to me, next I'll revert to calling them albums and think we're doing a release party at the NRM or something!) However, I probably won't need nearly as much as I did to go to Europe, so hopefully it won't be too painful. Speaking of Europe, young Alistair McQueen and I completed another video from our jounrney last year, it's me solo singing "Streets of London" on the Westminster Bridge.


Love you, be kind to each other. We are one people, on one earth, and this is the life we are living, right now.  Yours in peace, Mandee

Thursday, June 16, 2016

N3D Festival on the Hilltop! Gospel! Summer festivals! Music, music, music!

Hello friends.... are you doing ok? Are you hanging in there? It's not safe out there for a lot of people. Well, in reality, it hasn't been safe for a lot of people for a really long time.... but recent events have proven just how unsafe it really is. I have been in LBGTQ spaces for a long time. I have been in African American and Latino spaces for along time. I have been going to gay bars since I was 16 years old and found out Zak's on 4th Ave and Pegasus had all ages nights. I started openly identifying as bisexual when I was still in high school. I got beat up by yinzers and neo Nazi skinheads back then too.... And while I have had more boyfriends than girlfriends, and I did eventually marry a hetro man who doubles as an Amoeba,  I never ever forgot or ever wanted to be too far away from my LBGTQ bothers and sisters. 
Image by Billy Hileman of Planet Queer, a Gay newspaper in the 90's in Pittsburgh, this photo from 1993
My first Pride march was 1993 when I marched with Ted Hoover and Art Manion of Pittsburgh Queer Theater and back then our Pittsburgh Pride parade was hundreds of people, marching for equality through Shadyside to a small community picnic in the park. Since then we have had so very many  wonderful changes.... Gay marriage is legal in Pennsylvania. Anti discrimination laws are popping up all over,  and it has been very easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. Pittsburgh Pride is now a celebration of thousands with food trucks and bars setting up disco parties in the middle of Liberty Ave with local eateries like Shiloh Grille offering "Big Gay Iced Teas"! Glitter beards and unicorn hats abound and the colors are brighter than ever and so our are the dreams and hopes of the all the beautiful Gaybies....10,000 Caftans is a movement and drag kings and trams men have their own floats in a real honest to goodness parade downtown right past Grant Street! Ru Paul is a household name, and well she should be!

But the stigma still exists and so does the ignorance and fear. HIV, especially in the Black community, is on the rise. Republicans keep passing anti gay legislation and spreading hateful lies about same sex marriage and trans people in the bathrooms while conveniently forgetting that straight men molest children all the time but no one is trying to keep them out of the stalls. They keep defending their right to military style assault weaponry and now 50 innocent people, most of whom were young and of color, possibly about to celebrate their own "Pride" for the first time in their tragically shortened lives, have lost their right to life. Their families are in mourning, their friends are devastated, the nation is in shock.... but we shouldn't be surprised. 
Image taken from http://pittspecialcollections.tumblr.com/post/132014666029/lgbt-pittsburgh
This level of hate is nothing new.... we just didn't have snapchat when someone torched the Lesbian bar "Bloomer's" back in the South Side of Pittsburgh in 1990's. We didn't have twitter when popular LBGTQ bartender Jamie Stickle's burned body was found in her jeep in the Northside and cause of death is still "undetermined". We didn't have have instagram or facebook when the "Cross Dressers" (before we knew what a "Trans" community was) most of whom were not white, stood up to the New York City Police department in 1969 and refused to run away or be ashamed or pay off the bribes to have a  semblance of a "safe space" in Greenwich Village at the now venerated Stonewall Inn. 

One of my vocal students this week asked if I had had "fun" at Pride this weekend... she had seen the photos on my facebook wall.... and I said to her that it was intense, and yes I had had fun and got a terrible sun burn, but it was amazing to see how far we have come and yet still be horribly devastated to understand how very far we still have yet to go. She didn't know the birth of the Pride Celebration came about to commemorate the incredible bravery and courage of those early drag queens in 1969 at the Stonewall. She didn't know it used to be illegal just 40 years ago, to be gay, that it was considered a mental disorder and if too many congregated in one place, the gathering was deemed illegal and a place could be raided and all the patrons taken away to jail where they would be beaten, raped and brutalized by both the police and the inmates. They never saw the pictures from my friend Tracy's grandmother's secret stash of photos from her bridal studio, where she used to host after hours secret parties for men to come as ladies and have tea in secret with each other in her bridal shop basement.... So, did I have fun? I was deeply honored to be included in carrying the biggest rainbow flag I have ever seen, larger than a swimming pool, locally sourced and commissioned by my old friend Richard Parsakian, proprietor of Eon's Fashion Antique
Image shot during the Pittsburgh Pride Parade 2016 just before we set the flag down and had a moment of silence to remember the victims of Pulse Orlando
He and 40 of our friends, some old ones like my friends Amy Kreger and Brother Strawberry and Sister Shortcake, whom I have known for decades, along with the Mayor Bill Peduto, Congressman Mike Doyle, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Police Chief McClay right behind the Dikes on Bikes..... I was honored to have the privilege to be among this incredibly beautiful, diverse, multi generational and beautiful community.... and I will admit, the glitter beards and the caftans got to me. I did have fun, but I also shed many tears.... We just have so far to go my friends. 

In 1997, a beautiful drag queen named Carmella Marcella Garcia, who sang just like Loretta Lynn, from Sarasota, Florida, taught me how to create my glitter lip look at the Gay 90's in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The first person to ever put me on a stage outside of high school was Ted Hoover of Pittsburgh Queer Theater. The most incredible jazz standard ever penned was by Billy Strayhorn, a gay Black man from Pittsburgh who became Duke Ellington's right hand man and composed some of th most beautiful and complicated music ever written. So, if you ever loved any part of my performance, it is because a Gay person helped me get there. Please help stand up for the right to exist for our LBGTQ brothers, sisters and everyone in between.  Donate some money to the GLCC, Dreams of Hope, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, Shepherd Wellness Community or GLSEN. If you here someone say "Faggot" or "Dike" or "Tranny" or "Queer" and they are not LBGTQ themselves, slap those fools. Or at least don't let them think it's ok. It's not ok to say the "N" word is it? Well it's not ok for a straight person to say the "F" one or anything like it either. Call your law makers and make sure they are doing everything they can to prevent this from ever happening again. Request protections for LBGTQ people and defense against discrimination. Tell them we need to get assault weaponry off the streets. Get educated and be aware and let's make this world one we are proud to leave to all the children, no matter who they love or what the color of their skin is, which God they worship (or don't) and what land they are from. If you want to pray, that's amazing.... please do. But remember what Pastor Shanea Leonard of the Judah Fellowship in Pittsburgh said at the Pittsburgh Clergy Consotrium's rally earlier this week: "I pray with my hands when I write about discrimination, I pray with my feet as I march for justice and I pray with my mouth when I speak out against hate" she also said "Every time we let someone on the bus mutter an anti gay hate slur then Orlando is our fault." We can stop this, but we must fight this hate in person, every time. So did I have fun? I think I did, and though it was laced with much pain,  there was also hope. I met a sister from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, an order of nuns who believe that to sin is to be human, to celebrate it is divine and that we should expiate guilt in all it's forms so we can be as the universe created us without fear. Sister Tillie Screams has come to help Pittsburgh to set up a sister house here, so I still have hope. We just have to work for it. 

Oh yeah, did you actually want to hear about the many shows I have lined up? Cuz, I do, have a bunch of gigs, lined up, like awesome ones, with great musicians, and entertainers and artists.... I am exhausted because I just got back from taking Liz Berlin's and our Creative Life Support's  "We Rock Workshop" students to the Pocono Mountains to a resort to perform for the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services conference on adoption.... it was wonderful and painful to ride a big yellow school bus all the way across the state.... but the show was worth it! So proud of them! 
Me with the 2016 students of the We Rock Workshop with other teachers from Creative Life Support Mario Quinn and Shaunden Smith! 
And the week before that I was in North Carolina singing to a sold out crowd at the 10th Annual Americana Burlesque and Sideshow Festival.... 
Image by Isaac Harrell at 10th Annual American Burlesque Sideshow Festival at the Orange Peel, waves by Ed Pinto
And now I have 3 gigs this weekend and a summers worth of incredible festivals coming up! NO REST FOR THE WICKED! 

THIS WEEKEND
Friday June 17
With N3D Kick off party! 
Age Limit: 21+   Tickets: $12.50 advance, $15 at door, for Mt Washington and Allentown residents, $5 adv and $10 at door! I will emcee this event which features Beauty Slap, Gone south and local dj's, there will be an art show and enjoy the local cuisine from our Caribbean restaurant Leon's in Allentown and Kasvar in Mt Washington, the area's only Uzbeki restaurant and more! 
More info:

Saturday June 18

All ages, noon - 4 p.m. N3D Saturday concert! I will sing at noon for in Grandview Park where Beltzhoover Ave meets Boggs! This beautiful park has a stunning view of the city and I will be singing with Dwayne Dolphin, Carlos Peña and other groups performing inlcuding Christiane Dolores and her group Amor Fati, in which I sing back up with Geña Musica, Stevee Wellons with Izzy Arlet (guitar), Chris Belin (drums), Justin Brown (bass) and Paul Cunningham (keys) as our super solid trance funk band.....as well as other spectacular performances by my husband's space rawk band Amoeba Knievel and Geña Musica's rebel salsa riot band, Machete Kisumontao! Seriously, don't miss this one. It's going to be off the chain and it's going to be a stunningly beautiful day of music in the park! 
Tweet and Gram with us!  Program Hashtags: #N3DPgh #DestinationHilltop

Sunday June 19
All Ages, 4 p.m. No entry fee, free will offering. Please join us on the Father's Day for "Hymns for Him"! The gospel choir with whom I sing is run by Pastor Deryck Tines, an openly same gender loving man, and his voice (just like his heart) is as big as the sun! He leads the Lemington Gospel Chorale and the median age of this group is somewhere on the later side of life. We sing classic old African American gospel and we invite you to be in the congregation at St andrews Episcopalian Church in Highland Park at 5801 Hampton St. All are welcome! More info:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1744913045791026/

NEXT MONTH!
Saturday July 9 - the Lemington Chorale will be joining the Pittsburgh 200 Celebration and march through downtown for an event at Point State Park! 

Saturday July 16 - In Sherman, NY, I will lead the Brushwood Folklore Center's Family Choir, a Pan Spiritual, Multi Lingual Psychedelic Gospel Experience at the closing Saturday night celebration of SanKofa! If you want to join the choir or just come out to camp with us at this sacred "Sanctuary for An Open Mind" get your camping gear in order!  It is $20 just for the show, but if you want to camp out with us, the whole week is $150. There is a pool and a hot tub and classes and workshops and performances and vending all week long. For more info visit http://www.brushwood.com/sankofa/ 

Tuesday July 19 - In Sherman NY, still at Brushwood Folklore Center, at the Sirius Rising festival, I will perform with Pittsburgh's favorite sideshow and burlesque troupe "Kabarett Vulgare" on the MainStage. Tickets are $20 for just the show and up to $180 for the week of camping. More info: http://www.brushwood.com/sirius-rising/

Saturday July 23 - Oil City, Pa I am very excited to part of a parade to celebrate Oil City's rich heritage! I will be on a float with musicians from my band The Cultural District, riding through town during the Oil Heritage Festival Parade! We kick off at 5 pm at Mayer Street and I will sing all the way to State Street! 

SAVE THE DATE! 
Friday August 5 - Detroit, MI I am very excited to be invited to work collaboratively as a musician with the artists of Dark Passage and the Seafoam Palace. Phat Man Dee shall be the vocal element to a riverfront spectacle at dusk celebrating the totems that make up a regions history and fables. More info shall be posted, as this event solidifies, which may be difficult as the theme for this performance is "phantom islands".
More info about the event we have been invited to participate in: http://www.totemsfestival.com
More info about the Seafoam Palace: http://seafoampalace.org

That's it for now..... go fight some injustice and enjoy the music and the dancing while you can. We have right now. Much love to you. We are stronger together. 
xoxo
Mandee