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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Orphans and Inmates and Meth Labs.

Mine and Sarah Kate's prison has much nicer moldings. - photo credit, Liza Bennett

Back while I was binge watching Breaking Bad, I thought every winnebago on the road was a crystal meth lab and that if I ran into my neighbors at Home Depot it was because they were purchasing hydrofluoric acid to melt dead bodies in their bathtubs.

So it should surprise none of you that while I was driving yesterday, I jumped to the conclusion that the woman crossing the street, donning a khaki colored outfit from head to toe, was an escaped convict from Litchfield Prison (#OITNB).

I am a firm believer that the only way to watch television is the same way one should eat Samoa Girl Scout cookies or drink Guiness beer. Binge it.

I live my life in six hour increments, not one minute more. Quite honestly, six hours may actually be an exaggeration. But for the sake of this blog, if it's not happening within a six hour window of whatever time it is, it means absolutely nothing to me. And I can comfortably guarantee that if it happened six hours prior to wherever I am in my day, I have buried it deep within the recesses of my mind.

I can watch the most compelling episode of Whatever that Show Kerry Washington is in, but I will not remember what the hell happened one week later, much less what the name of the show is. Plot lines and leading characters one week later - as good as dead to me. (Exception to rule: Helena from Orphan Black. Some things you cannot unsee).

I have even stopped drinking all together (exception: last night) to be sure my memory issues are not due to, let's say, too much drinking on a daily basis. And guess what. It's not.

I binge watch. I become enveloped in the world of my show to the point where I believe my reality is part of the plot. I finish my 10-13 episodes, depending on the program. And then I spend about a week mourning the loss of my friends (the characters, who are actually just acting, which hurts even more) before tarzanning directly into the next binge.

Tarzanning [Tahr-zann-ing, v.] - Swinging from one vine to another, most likely with a Netflix subscription. And the vines have 10-13 episodes of well-written and acted dramedies attached to them.

Any of you Orphan Black watchers will understand this. Cathy and I call each other 'Seees-TRAH.' I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of my own 9 clones, especially the Helena version. And I guess that makes me the Cosima of my clones, at least until Orphan Black introduces the bass playing clone in an all-female indie rock band who plays better than the boys and makes sure the fans feel like part of the family.

By the way, if you're not watching Orphan Black, you need to stop reading this blog and march yourself over to the television set. BBC America. It's all there on demand. There should be 19 episodes for you to watch.They're not even paying me for that plug. Surprise, surprise.

If you binge watch it, we can meet back here same time tomorrow to talk about it.


PS-Download a copy of my band's latest EP- Whiskey & Wine Volume 1. It's the equivalent of a tip in my tip jar. Seriously. The music industry is a brutal mess, and yes, I could have been a vet. But here I am blogging and trying to give you compelling reasons to buy my music. Let's see if this works:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Day 1.

Today is Day 1.

You know. The day you start exercising again. Or eating better. Or not drinking. Or not smoking. Or cleaning your house. Or not yelling at your kids. I don't yell at my kids. But you probably do.

So. Here I am. On top of my favorite day.

DAY 1.


I'm even typing this blog in my stinky work out clothes.

I actually got short of breath climbing the stairs to the gym.

And my brain talked to me the entire time during my spin class. It said things like:

"It's way easier to drink a delicious Guiness beer than it is to climb onto this bike..."
"I'm going to ride 30 rides in 30 days."
"No. I'm going to ride 90 rides in 90 days."
"I'll be in Altanta from May 8-12. I wonder where I can find a stationary bike while I'm in Atlanta."
"God, my legs hurts. When is this class over."

Day 1. I hate you. I love you. I'm hungry.

Salad or hamburger.

Ugh. Two Day 1's in ONE  day.


ps- Join Antigone Rising tomorrow night at The Training Station in Glen Cove, NY for our very first AR-Spin-A-Thon. The spin instructors from the gym have put together an amazing class for fans and friends of Antigone Rising, while we raise funds for our new EP - Whiskey & Wine Volume 1. To reserve a bike, head over to our Pledge Music page or email us and we will reserve a bike for you (pay at the door). See you tomorrrow night, on DAY TWO.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This is How We Do It.

How does Antigone Rising fit into the music industry?

The answer is very simple. We don't. AT ALL.

What is the music industry (I am actually asking you this question)?

Is it Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke (head)? Cause I have no idea what's happening there or how that even remotely relates to what Antigone Rising does. Unless Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus have ever facebook chatted directly with a fan about the logistics of how to play a house concert on their farm. In that case, we are in the same industry. 

I imagine these 'music industry' people walk into studios with beats already playing, get tossed into 'the booth' to sing, get tricked into thinking 'they wrote it,' believe it's a good idea to twerk on national televison, and then get divorced. 

That is not what we do. 

Kristen & Nini co-wrote My Town with Lori McKenna
What we do is text each other to see what days we have coverage for the kids. Then we email Lori McKenna or Kristen Hall or Michelle Malone or Garrison Starr and we see when they're available to write songs with us. We all go really out of our way to make a songwriting date work out.

Then we sit down. We drink coffee. We get caught up on each others lives.

Eventually, the conversation turns to what type of song Antigone Rising needs for the album or the set. Mid-tempo-ey, ballady, sad forlong song, boot stompin' ass shaker, what are we lookin' for? And then we go fishing. 

Usually, we come out of these songwriting sessions with an amazing song. But we've probably spent a few hudj$$ on gas, tolls, food, possibly hotels, sitter costs, etc. So yes. Sometimes we write via skype. It's much cheaper. We probably spend closer to $150 between sitters on those days. 

'The music industry' is not footing the bill for this, cause we're not using 'a beat' or willing to twerk. So we cover it with whatever money the band made off the run of east coast dates we just finished. You know, where the deals are 40% of the door, club takes 15% of merch sales, but they feed us dinner. Just like how Miley and people in 'the music industry' tour. I'm sure. 

Now we go to record the new song. Nini has a home studio, so that really does help offset some costs. If you don't consider what it cost to build the studio or put equipment in it. But it's also the size of a (really big) master bedroom. And, ya know, sometimes you want to record the drums in a bigger setting...or the babies are napping (real life, people. real life.), so you might track them in a different studio - $500, if you negotiate it hard or call in a favor.

Or, we record the drums at Nini's, cause actually, she gets good sounds - so we rent mics for $300 (and the other half of the time we beg to borrow them).

We track the new song. And we need it mixed. The mix is the magic. So figure we pay around $1,000 for it. Eventually, there are 10 songs that need to be written and mixed. So do the mental math. 

Then we send an email out to our 10,000 person fan list letting them know the song is available for download. We have a pretty good conversion rate per email. 12% of you open it. That's 1,200 of you. 50% of the people who open it actually click on the link to hear the new song. So 600 of you listen. And usually 50-75% of that 600 actually download it from the email. We offer it for free if you need it to be. So 50% of you download the song for free. And 50% of you actually pay more than the typical .99 for  the song. In fact, many of you pay $5.00 or more, in essence offsetting the cost of those who download it for free. By the way. Thank you for that.

This isn't taking into account the various social media promo we do, but I don't want to blog your face off. So I will allow you to mentally incorporate our social media numbers into this equation. 11K Facebook likes, 5K twitter followers, cetra cetra cetra. 

We like being able to offer our music for free. Do not misinterpret that prior paragraph. It actually works better for us versus when we offer it as a paid download. More people download it, and more of you generously pay above the typical .99.

Each one of our songs helps us earn a living. So each song is really important to us. We aren't going to
That Was The Whiskey - Official Video
twerk to make sure people hear the songs, because we hope our songs sound better than what our butts might look like in the air.

The music industry that I struggle so hard to define has basically been smashed to smithereens, at least from my vantage point. So we're just cutting out that whole hot mess piece of the puzzle.

All this does not mean people should not have access to honest and good music, however they define it. Even if you have sung along to  Wrecking Ball a few times in your car. Like I have (just, like, twice).

That's why we are doing a Pledge Music campaign. Our fans, who hopefully believe we make honest and good music, pay a little more in advance for it, so we continue to supply great songs, fun videos, interesting blogs (eh hmm), and tour to towns further away.

But we're not twerking to do any of this. Not ever.


PS-I probably have about 50 more blogs in me on this topic. But this one came out about as long as it took to type it. Welcome to my head.

PSS-And yes, I am aware of the fact that I hot linked the words Pledge Music Campaign directly to our Pledge Music Campaign. I did it again here, too. Hey, how'd that sneaky little banner get down there?


Friday, February 21, 2014

The Top Ten Moments of the Olivia Caribbean Equality and Leadership Cruise -- Part 2!

Pledge today! 5% of proceeds after goal go to GLAAD! 

#5 Suzanne Westenhoefer and Judy Gold.
The last time we hung out with a comedian, it was Lisa Lampanelli. She called us a dyke band right
Suzanne & Judy
into the mic to a full house at Caroline's Comedy Club in New York City ("Let's hear it for the dyke band," were her exact words).

At the time, we didn't really "identify" as a dyke band. I mean...I do chuckle as I type that. We certainly knew we were a band with a few dykes in it. We just didn't realize dyke band was a genre of music until the soft spoken Lisa Lamapanelli pointed it out to us in front of a live studio audience.

We were young. Clearly. Maybe a little naive. And a lotta sensitive. NO DOUBT.

Our bass player at the time dove under the front row of tables, and Dena fell backward in her drum throne.

And so, conicidentally or not, we never double billed with comedians after that.

Boy, am I glad we lifted the ban on spending time with comedians!

Antigone Rising & Suzanne Westenhoefer
We had SO MUCH FUN hanging out with Suzanne Westenhoefer and Judy Gold. Our band basically stalked them around the ship. They each did two shows on their respective nights. We went to both shows, both nights. We would watch their group in the main dining room every single night and wonder what it was like to sit at their table. And on a few nights, we actually hung out with them in the sports bar and had drinks, so we felt complete. And while they were both hilariously funny, neither one of them ever referred to us as a dyke band. At least not into a microphone. Amazing what happens when you're out and actually comfortable in your own skin...and not hanging around Lisa Lampanelli.
Antigone Rising, Judy Gold & Dena's nose

For the record, Dena + Judy Gold = Things flying out of Dena's nose 100% guaranteed.

#4 Elyse Keaton.
So. Elyse Keaton was on the boat. And everyone struggled not to stare at her. It's impossible to quantitatively measure the amount of time I spent gazing at Meredith Baxter on my television screen. So it's super weird to have her floating around the lido deck, especially when you're drinking frozen rum cocktails with umbrellas in them.

I loved Family (I really believed I was Buddy). And I loved Family Ties (obv, who didn't).

There is one thing more weird than having Meredith Baxter walk past you on the Lido Deck while you sip frozen rum cocktails.  It's when Meredith Baxter sits next to you in the Vista Lounge to watch the afternoon viewing of 'Edie & Thea,' the documentary that basically led to the death of DOMA.

And the weirdest thing of all is when you cry with Meredith Baxter while watching the movie, and she offers you a tissue.

That happened. To me. A coupla weeks ago. On the cruise. Whoa. That was weird.

Hangin' in the Vista Lounge with the incomparable Meredith Baxter. Most Amazing Photo
Bomb Ever Award goes to Judy Gold...

This entry was longer than intended. Which means we will need a PART 3 for me to finish up The Top Ten Moments of the Olivia Caribbean Equality and Leadership Cruise! So, until next week....


 5% proceeds after goal go to GLAAD
5% proceeds after goal go to GLAAD!

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Top 10 Moments of the Olivia Caribbean Equality and Leadership Cruise -- PART 1!

Help Antigone Rising Tour and Record in 2014! 

Antigone Rising spent the last week aboard Olivia Travel's Caribbean Equality and Leadership Cruise. I suspected when we climbed aboard it was going to be a career highlight for us. We have been blessed as a band to be handed some seriously major perks: opening for The Stones and The Allmans, traveling to Israel and the West Bank via the US Gov't., and now this past week on board a ship with some of the most influential women of the 21st century, including Col. Grethe Cammermeyer, Maya Angelou, Indigo Girls, and the list goes on.

So I have compiled a Top 10 list from the event. Fortunately, much of the week was captured by photo or video! So without further ado, I bring you the highlights:

#10: Jammin' with Vickie Shaw! 
Comedian, Vickie Shaw, joined us on stage one night. Fortunately it was caught on video, because words could not possibly describe. Just hit play:

#9: Towel Origami
I did not know towel origami existed until we returned to our cabin every single night of the cruise to the most interesting designs! I airlifted these photos from  Olivia's Eastern Caribbean Cruise 2014 Facebook page. 

Photo credit: Sue Meyers

Photo credit: Sue Meyers

#8: Amy Ray from Indigo Girls at our first show
Whenever you are on board a ship with the Indigo Girls, you secretly hope they will come out to your show. Or not so secretly hope it. And you also hope their amazing guitar technician, Sulli, will hang out as well. Fortunately, on Super Bowl Sunday, Sulli and Amy did not disappoint:

Amy Ray from The Indigo Girls at our show on Super Bowl Sunday 2014!

IGs guitar tech, Sulli! We promised Amy we would not 'poach' Sulli,
so long as Amy would not 'poach' our Tony.

#7: Mona Lisa Breakfasts
Aboard Holland America's Ms. Westerdam is the nicest group of people working to make your week extremely pleasant. Our number one favorite employee aboard the boat was the ever friendly morning chef, Mona Lisa. On day one, she looked up at us and said, "you're tHE BAND!!!!!!"

Yes, Mona Lisa. We are the band! Thank you for noticing!

"I play guitar just like all of you," Mona Lisa told us. She was so sweet and friendly every single morning. She accommodated all of our various egg needs - from hard boiled to over easy. And she made us feel right at home. Mona Lisa, thanks for making our trip so special:

Antigone Rising with Mona Lisa aboard the Ms. Westerdam! 

#6: Singing show tunes with Elizabeth Birch
It turns out the most beautiful place on Earth is Half Moon Cay in the Bahamas. It is a private island owned or rented by cruise lines - I couldn't completely follow it - but basically our cruise ship rolled in, and we were the only people inhabiting this beautiful swath of beach for the entire afternoon. Olivia Travel threw a party for all the artists and guest speakers aboard the boat, so we spent the afternoon floating in the caribbean with women like Edie Windsor, Elizabeth Birch (former CEO of HRC) and Kate Kendal (President of NCLR).

Intelligent conversation with influential power players turns to Broadway Show tunes on the first deck of the Olivia Cabana, with your hosts - Dena Tauriello, Kristen Ellis-Henderson and.....Elizabeth Birch? An unlikely threesome, we know, but the chemistry was undeniable as we sang songs from Blood Brothers to Pippin with some Ann Murray sprinkled in!

Of course, we lived the moment rather than captured it on film. So you must use your imaginations to picture it. We were actually wearing bikinis and holding drinks in coconuts with umbrellas as stirrers, but you get the point with the above doctored image and we don't have to be reminded how bad we looked in our bikins.

And now meet Elizabeth Birch via video. We think she'd make a fine addition to the band. Don't you agree?

Stay tuned for highlights 1 through 5 here at "Hangin' With Hendo" next week!

Happy Valentines Day!

Monday, December 30, 2013

HwH's Top 5 Moments, the 2013 Photo Recap!

It's been a great year for equality and a great year for Antigone Rising. Those two things mean it's been an epic year for the entire staff here at Hangin' With Hendo. Here's a rundown of our top 5 moments. Coincidentally they are all in the first person and all center around me. Nobody else spoke up (or showed up, for that matter) at the staff meeting...

Meet our side project, Prison Love.
The scenic drive into town...!
#5 - Torrey, Utah - Redrock Women's Music Festival
A perfect and heavenly location was the backdrop for a weekend in August that brought us together with one of our oldest best friend's, Michelle Malone, and now one of our newest, Toby, to create a magical 48 hours of pure musical bliss.

Sometimes you wish time would stand still. We are hoping to be back for 2014...
The crowd at Red Rock Women's Music Festival.

Sneaking a kiss side stage
Pre show hang with mom.
#4 - Pride Festivals!
We had the honor of headlining Northampton, MA and North Jersey Pride Fests this year. We love being invited to these events and look forward to playing on several more pride bills in the new year. Northampton Pride was especially amazing for me because I was accompanied by my sweet four year old son, Thomas. He helped Tony tech guitars and drums, he helped Julie sell merch, and he got to play sports with Roy (Julie's husband). Plus he went out to sushi dinner with the band.
Thomas sells merch

#3 - The "Whiskey" video shoot!
In June we invited former members of Antigone Rising to get back in the saddle with us as we filmed a video for our song, "That Was The Whiskey." Directed by Mikki Delmonico, we spent an outstandingly fun day filming in our friends bar, 'Still Partners', in Sea Cliff, NY. There's not much to say other than roll the video below:

#2 - DOWN with DOMA.
Pride March w/ Thomas & Kate
Cathy and friends
send a subtle message
via Instagram...

On the morning of June 26th, I was sitting at my kitchen table incessantly hitting refresh on my computer awaiting the news on DOMA.
When it finally appeared on my screen I burst into tears. The kids were eating pancakes trying to figure out what was wrong with me. I told them it was a great day for our family and I was happy crying. That led to a barrage of questions on what 'happy crying' meant. I told them sometimes something so great happens, you cry from happiness. This led to a thousand more questions, completely taking me out of the moment that the Supreme Court struck DOMA down, forcing me to watch the recap on the news an hour later. Four is a great age.
Celebrating with friends

Sarah and I headed into New York City later that day to be front and center for the historic event. We magically found an empty bar on the corner of Christopher & Gay St. with a window looking out on the square where Edie Windsor addressed the crowd. We soon realized it was empty because the air conditioning was broken. But that didn't break our spirits. Literally and figuratively.

And for the first time ever, we marched with the kids in New York City's gay pride parade that Sunday.
Thomas & Kate hand out stickers at the parade.

 #1 - The Kiss on the Cover
"You might be the first person in our family to be on the cover of Time Magazine." - Things my Dad says...

Back in March, Sarah and I got a phone call asking if we'd be willing to come in to be photographed for Time Magazine's DOMA issue. We said yes, not realizing it would turn into an actual smooch on the cover of the magazine. It really made our week, and it will likely top my list next year and the year after as well. Read my blog post from the day the issue came out right here: The Kiss on the Cover.
April 8, 2013 issue Time Magazine.

Our friend, Kat DiResta took this mock photo of the cover, featuring the funniest person on Earth - Sibby.

Thanks for a great year on the blog. Here's to 2014!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

My Baker's Dozen Christmas Song List!

#1Whitney House - Do You Hear What I Hear
I believe in my heart that Whitney Houston was kissed by God, and her version of Do You Hear What I Hear is proof of it. My very favorite all time Christmas song due to Whitney's version. Any time. Anywhere. Volume on 11.

#2 - Andy Williams - Happy Holidays/The Holiday Season
This just reminds me of being a kid at my Grandparents for the holiday. If this song doesn't get you in the Christmas spirit, you need to get yourself some meds.

#3 - Bette Midler - From a Distance (Christmas version!)
My very good friend, Julie Gold, won a song of the year grammy for writing this. The world is a better place because this song exists. And I just think the heavens beamed a light right through Julie as she came up with the lyric 'God is watching us, From a Distance.' I can't even type it without getting teary eyed.

The rest fall in no particular order, though this order is pretty accurate if you really wanted me to list an order:

Stevie Nicks - Silent Night
The only version. Listen and go to Stevie church with me.

Band Aid - Do They Know It's Christmas 
Every. single. time. Openly. Weeping.
Bono's 'tonight thank god it's them instead of you.'
Can't get through it dry eyed. Can. Not.

Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas is You
Say what you will about Mariah. The lady can SING. And she sings the dickens outta this. If this doesn't make you shake your toosh, I suggest you crank Andy Williams 'Happy Holidays' on your way to get your scripts filled...

Dan Fogelberg - Same Old Lang Syne
I have never met anyone who doesn't love this song. If you are the first, you know what I am going to say. Medicate yourself.

Frosty the Snowman - Ella Fitgerald & Santa Claus is Coming to Town - Etta James.
Vitamins. Minerals. Ella. Etta. Take yourself to school.

Mary J. Blige & Jesse J. - Do You Hear What I Hear 
Whitney made this my very favorite Christmas song and I never thought I'd hear another version remotely worthy, until Mary J. & Jesse J. This sh** is HOT! Amazing duo.

Amy Grant - Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song)
I love this entire Christmas album. Amy is like the Jennifer Aniston of music. I think something might be wrong with you if you don't like her. And this song gets me every time I hear beat out her version of 'Grown Up Christmas List' by a smidge.

Johnny Cash - The Little Drummer Boy
I don't need to explain this, do I? If I do, you're on the wrong blog.

Faith Hill - Where Are You Christmas 
This isn't an excuse, 2005, I was sharing a house with Sibby. Sibby is a BIG Christmas decorator. I was sitting in our living room lit by blinking Christmas lights and whatever CVS offered by way of decorations when Faith Hill's 'Where are you Christmas' came on 106.7, Lite FM (the light at the end of your dial). For some reason, I was flooded with memories of my grandmothers. So. That's why.

Train - Joy to the World.
I try hard to not like Train. But, without fail, they always run me down like a freight....Train. They have the best pop sensibility. So I give in. I love Train. And their version of Joy to the World makes me so so happy. Yay Train.


Disclaimer: Not all of my bakers dozen appear on spotify, so I used other versions of the same song...specifically, Stevie Nicks' Silent Night (you know, the one I said there is only one version of?), I substitute Kelly Clarkson and Reba's version. It's palatable enough. And I replaced Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas with Glee's version (eegads). Seriously. There was not a better option. Sorry for that one.

Kristen's Xmas Bakers Dozen Playlist!