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In my typical month a lot of material passes over my desk. Much of it is disposable--both literally and figuratively. Music these days from any given genre is a dime-a-dozen and quality is at a real premium.
Still, I try to be fair and give everything a chance. I must confess however when I first read about openly gay New York vocalist Neil Cohen I first expressed real interest in the project mainly because of his last name.
There is another Cohen with whom I am quite fond and I thought perhaps they were related. Alas, Neil and Leonard are no relation that I can discover but it was fortuitous that I gave this gem a listen nonetheless.
Neil Cohen is blessed with unbelievable pipes that can swell to momentous pop heights one moment and drop to the depths of sultry soulfulness in the next. Before the release of his debut album "Day Off", Cohen had been devoting all of his time to a successful fashion business he started eight years ago with his life partner Claude.
A year ago, after a six year hiatus from music, Cohen decided he needed to take a day each week to record an album. Financing the project himself, Cohen entered the studio with Greg Parratto and Everett Bradley producing the album and co-writing three original tracks alongside Cohen. A year later the aptly named "Day Off" debuted. "Day Off" is a gorgeous scrapbook of thoroughly modernized classics from the late 60s and early 70s encompassing a variety of sounds ranging from playful pop to breathtaking soul.
This little Jewish boy has a voice that shakes the listener to their core leaving them begging for more. Recently, Neil Cohen took time to chat with O&AN in a phone interview about his new album.
Before your hiatus to pursue your fashion business you were being courted by a major label. Before that time what was your history in music?
From the age of five I've been singing. I took some voice lessons through the years but most of my vocal experience has been natural, god-given.
Your vocal range covers a variety of styles and sounds. As a vocalist to whom do you look for inspiration?
Growing up I was always turned on to black singers. Like so many singers I grew up listening to the brilliance of Stevie Wonder and I loved Pebo Bryson. I have a great love for music and great melodies so that's what I've always been turned on to.
When you were choosing the songs for the album what were the challenges involved in interpreting the songs from this era of music?
When I went to do a cover album I was obsessed with the material because the market is so flooded with covers right now. So many of the labels are looking at new vocalists and wondering "what do we do with this guy" and it seems like everyone ends up doing cover tunes. So, it was important that my work stand out from all of that we picked some really great material that was being ignored for the most part.
Considering the era that you chose to cover is it reasonable to assume you are targeting mainly Baby Boomers with your work?
Not at all! We worked hard to make the album accessible to not only the baby boomers who love the songs as cherished memories from their past but also to the people in their twenties who have never been exposed to a lot of these songs some of which are 35 years old. We took some songs like "More Today than Yesterday" which is still one of the standard pop songs of our time and we wrote a whole new section where there's a rap and I think it works great. I've had people tell me that it reminds them of the Black Eyed Peas.
You are joined on the album by a number of other noted musicians and vocalists including such vocal masters as Billy Porter and the powerhouse Carpathia Jenkins. Was it intimidating at all to be performing alongside such great talent?
Yes, but it was good for me as well. I liken it back to when I was in school and would be playing tennis. If I played with better players I always played well, but if I played with shitty players I played shitty. I took a break from the industry for about 6 years so when I got back in the studio with this album I was blown away at first that this level of musician was in the studio with me working on my project.
Having been immersed in both the world of fashion and the world of music how would you compare the two?
When I started 20 years ago the two worlds were so separate that no one would have ever thought of mixing the two. By contrast today they are completely connected to each other in a number of ways. Everyone who has an album now has a clothing line and your music is largely defined by what you wear and so forth. I really enjoy that they are so in synch with each other now because I have always been very aware of image and the role that it plays. The two are not so dissimilar as industries however. They both function in much the same way as the other so it's not a hard transition to make.
Which do you feel more of a calling to?
Fashion has been so much more a part of my life for so long now that I defiantly feel more of a calling to it than music. Even though there is a lot of interest in my work I'm still very anxious because I had no idea that there would be so many people in my corner cheering me on. A year ago I just wanted to sing again. Sometimes I look around myself and I wonder what's going on and when I'm going to wake up. I suddenly have a press agent and I'm meeting with A&R guys again. It's totally amazing, but also really kind of terrifying at the same time.
O&AN will be giving away copies of Neil Cohen's "Day Off". To enter the giveaway send an e-mail to F. Daniel Kent with "Day Off" in the subject line and your name and mailing address in the body. Winners will be picked 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.