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In 2003, the acclaimed, openly gay singer-pianist-composer Patricia Barber became one of the few Jazz musicians ever to be awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. It was this incredible opportunity that allowed the brilliant Barber the ability to compose her most ambitious and affecting work of her career. "Mythologies" is a song cycle based on Greek myth as told in Ovid's "Metamorphoses". The moving and revelatory work re-imagines a number of familiar characters from Ovid's work in the context of a cyclic collection of contemporary Jazz works giving these eleven timeless stories a unique and expressively compelling musical setting provided by Barber's dynamic quartet. Recently, Barber agreed to answer a few questions from O&AN about her work.
What initially drew you to The Metamorphoses of Ovid as the inspiration for this work?
I had seen the Mary Zimmerman theatrical adaptation of Metamorphoses and it inspired me to pick up the book. Surprisingly the book is fun, smart reading.
What are you as an artist attempting to convey to your listeners with this work?
My task was simply to write a song cycle with my best effort. It is what I proposed to the Guggenheim Foundation and I felt duty bound to do that.
Did the composition of Mythologies require a much different process of writing than you have employed in past albums?
Because the material is so sublime and the characters rich and because I took the honor of getting the Fellowship seriously, I decided to spend as much time studying as I would composing. While I have spent a lifetime studying the great American songbook, I wanted to enrich the language of jazz with new elements. So I studied harmony from classical music and poetic technique from the great poets and allowed myself to use pop hooks.
The Metamorphoses of Ovid are populated with a veritable legion of characters. What process did you employ in deciding which characters would be included in the cycle?
It was easy to choose the characters. They simply jumped off the pages at me and became a part of my life. I did want to make sure I had some kind of balance of funny and tragic characters. In the end, the 11 I came up with felt just right.
Which characters in the cycle do you feel the most affinity and kinship with?
As I was composing each song, I fell in love with each character. I have particular affinities for many of them...I'm constantly Moonstruck, I love Morpheus and Pygmalion and Persephone and The Hours just breaks my heart every time I hear the choir sing it.
As you worked on "Mythologies" was there any fear that your fans might not be able to relate to a jazz song cycle that was based on a Roman's interpretation of Ancient Greek myth?
Can you imagine if I allowed myself to think like that? I can't afford to. I always hope for the best and hope that I can continue to make a living with it. Certain parts of my natural repertoire are easier to grasp upon first listening and others take more time. Somebody has to lead the way and remain incorruptible. I do have a title in mind for my next which will be a breath of fresh air...."Summer Singles."
As a fan of Nina Simone I find myself fascinated with your juxtaposition of Icarus with her. Tell me about when you made the connection in your mind between the two and why you associate them together so heavily.
Icarus took a great risk in order to fly. There is no gain without risk and risk can involve great pain and humiliation and even death. We would have nothing in this world without those who take on great risk. No advancements, no art, no science, no flight.
You describe the song "Narcissus" as "the gay wedding song". Given your well publicized reticence to questions concerning your sexuality, could this be seen as a signal that you are more willing now to discuss your personal life as an out lesbian?
I am not reticent about discussing my lesbianism. I'm quite open about it. It’s just that as a topic, it gets boring. But I believe every single interview touches upon it at some point. Certainly writing "Narcissus" and calling it the 'gay wedding song' is not any form of reticence. For me the gay topic is just one of many.
There are a few songs in the cycle that seem to have a certain political bent when viewed from ascertain angle. How much do current events and politics figure into your music?
It is almost impossible to avoid writing about current events when you're a songwriter. I try to make sure though that the percentage of topical songs is low and that most of my songs will last and last as they are about the universal themes of love, loss and desire.
In past interviews you have referred to yourself as "fairly political and outspoken". What do you feel are the most relevant issues facing Americans today?
The environment is my biggest concern. It seems there will always be wars, but there may not always be undeveloped land for water drainage and wetlands for animals and trees for oxygen.
I read somewhere that you were close friends with Diana Krall and that it upset you when harsh things were said about her in the press. You are certainly no stranger to negative criticism having been called "the Ice Queen from Hell" by one reviewer while another major publication ran a piece on you a while back entitled "Interview with a Bitch". As an artist, how does it affect you when you are met with such harshness in the press?
It’s never easy, but you learn not to read your press. By now, Diana Krall doesn't read her press and I'm learning not to as well. Writers have all kinds of personal issues they use criticism for. One of the biggest issues they have is trying to make a living and build a career as a writer since they are obviously not writing the great American novel.
O&AN is giving away copies of Patricia Barber's "Mythologies". To enter send an email to F. Daniel Kent with "Myth" in the subject line and your name and mailing address in the body. Winners will be selected at random and notified via e-mail.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.