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!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Made Buzzfeed's Most Powerful Quotes from LGBT Icons & Allies Year End List Alongside The Pope and Obama!

I am so excited that Buzzfeed picked up a quote from my very own 'The Kiss on the Cover blog (March, 2013) and included it in their year end round up of The Most Powerful Quotes from LGBT Icons and Allies in 2013. I am adding it to my bucket list and scratching it off simultaneously. This totally made my day!

The list also includes quotes from Madonna, Obama, The Pope, Hillary, Edie Windsor and Elton, just to name a few. I am sure Obama and The Pope both tweeted about how they made this list alongside me as well.

Check out the whole list by clicking right here. 


Friday, December 13, 2013

Everything Changes Video Footage Upload to FTP Instructions!

Click the image below to read instructions on how to upload footage from last night's video shoot at  Rockwood Music Hall in New York City. Or, click right here! 


Monday, December 9, 2013


The following is a detailed message from Val Lasser, the director of our upcoming video shoot! We will be filming during the encore of our New York City show on Dec. 12, 2013 at Rockwood Music Hall. The band will play along with the recorded track of 'Everything Changes.' It will be done in ONE TAKE, so be sure you've got your iPhone, iPad or other smart device ready to roll with 5GB of available space. More info regarding how to upload footage once we've got it recorded is coming!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013


During the encore of our next NYC show, we are filming a video for our new studio version of "Everything Changes!" While emailing back and forth with my good friend Val about the best way to capture all the action on stage at our Rockwood Show, we decided to let THE FANS do the filming!

I told her we wanted something like Pat Benatar's "Promises in the Dark," or Springsteen's "Dancing in the Dark." She said we don't have a camera crew big enough to handle the shoot....UNLESS we tell the fans to film it and we edit it together! AND THAT'S WHY WE LOVE VAL. Cause she has a crazy brain filled with AWESOME IDEAS!


Antignone with Toby and Michelle Malone
at RedRock Women's Music Festival in August, 2013
So please join us on 12.12.13 at our show at The Rockwood in NYC. It was already going to be the most special event of the year because our good friend, Toby, will be opening (flying in and landing that day all the way from AUSTRALIA, no less)! But now this epic ONE TAKE ONLY video shoot is going to take this show way over the top.

Val says anyone filming will need 5GB of available space on their smart phone. We will have detailed instructions at the merch table on night of show, as well as on our website and social sites regarding where you can upload your footage after the shoot, and then Val will get to work editing our masterpiece together.

We will perform the encore along with the recorded studio version of 'Everything Changes.' So everyone in attendance will be treated to sneak peak of what the new studio version sounds like!

Please join us for this awesome ONE TIME ONLY event!



Thursday, November 7, 2013

There's a New Knucklehead in Town...

I'm just going to say it. And it may be hard for some of you to hear. But I'm struggling with Blake
Shelton. I know. You love him. You pick him to be your coach every time you daydream all four judges chairs flip around to the sweet sound of your (The) Voice.

The reason I am struggling is because I thought I wanted to be on his team too.

But what do you think Blake Shelton means when he says something like this:

"You can't be a geek AND be that awesome!" - (Blake Shelton, "The Voice" live Monday night 11.04.13)

I wasn't even looking at the screen when he said it. I, of course, was tweeting...but listening to The Voice and getting blown away by the level of talent I heard coming from my TV set. When the contestant was done singing, that's what Blake Shelton said to him, out loud, on national television. Probably while both Blake's mom and the contestant's mom were watching. Thomas and Kate's mom happened to be listening as well (that's me). She had a "last straw" reaction to Blake's comment.

Angelica the bully. 
I just think (yes, I'm back in the first person) if you are someone who feels you can call someone a geek to their face on national televison, you might have a bully complex. You are undermining someone in an extremely public way when you call them that in front of, let's assume, millions of people. It's humiliating. It's belittling. You're like Angelica from The RugRats. Or. You're like Blake Shelton.

Let's revisit his recent twitter rant that unknowingly pushed me to the brink, and him to the cusp of the knucklehead list:

Re-writing my fav Shania Twain song...any man that tries touching my behind he's gonna be a beaten, bleedin', heaving kind of guy..." - Blake Shelton

And then, instead of apologizing for what reads to me like a pretty violent sentiment directed at gay men, men whom I bet Blake perceived as geeks in high school, he follows it up with:

Ba! Ha! Reading all my anti-gay hate tweets...Ha! Ha! If people only knew even a little about me, my family, and friends. Dumb asses..."

Wow. That really cleared things up for me. I always apologize for saying completely ignorant things by saying even more completely ignorant things. Oh wait a minute. No I don't...

How often do you actually call someone a geek or a dumb ass over the course of a day or a week or a year? I mean call them that out loud, not under your breath or quietly to yourself in the office conference room.

Okay, let's try this question. When was the last time you posted a public apology to your Facebook or Twitter account and referred to the people you're apologizing to as dumb asses?

Lastly, this question is specifically for Blake, why can't a geek be awesome? Is it because geeks were theater fags in your high school?

Blake's laywer: OBJECTION, YOUR HONOR.

Your Honor: Objection sustained.

#Hendo: I know, I know. I'm not allowed to connect dots or make assumptions, not even here in my own Kangaroo Court. So I withdraw the question.

But I officially have my eye on your client's dumb ass (I am directing that statement to Blake's make-believe lawyer).

And I've got him in my knucklehead column until further notice.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Knucklehead List.

Every now and then, something will fly by my eyes in my twitter feed that reads so unbelievably I feel like I'm standing on a grocery store line looking at a tabloid headline. You know, the front page says "John Travolta caught with his pants down...again." So you open the magazine and it's a picture of him on set during a costume change. You just feel duped.

Well. This tweetline caught my attention in much the same way. It read so heinously, I imagined the 140 characters were just not enough space to accurately portray what this person actually said. I'm so busy making ham sandwiches for lunches that I don't have time to click and dive down the rabbit hole...but...the tweet is so bad, I forgo mayonaissing whole wheat bread and click further to investigate.

Meet Todd Kincannon. He's the former executive director of the South Carolina GOP. And he is the first submission for my new blog within a blog series, "The Knucklehead List." As long as knuckleheads continue to exist, my list will go on and on.

Allow me to editorialize. I mean, it is my blog. I understand there is oppression and heinous acts against humanity happening all over the world. But in the United States of America, saver of the world, we can fix your fucked up country by occupying you, or dropping bombs late at night and get very little news coverage that it ever happened, here we have people like Todd Kincannon.

More from my first knucklehead:

Some people have come to this man's defense. The freedom of speech defense. How grateful we should all be that we can say whatever the hell we want to anyone anywhere anytime. 

Here's my problem with that. Our perfect, amazing, American society has evolved to such a place that a human being with a heartbeat and possibly a conscience, thinks it's okay to publicly say something so ugly, so hurtful, and so dark about other human beings. He could say absolutely anything he wants to say. And this is what he chooses. 

Before I had kids, I would have found his words offensive and I would have been disgusted. But now that I am a mom, and can barely sit through most episodes of Law & Order SVU, I literally get a pit in my stomach knowing this person exists. I think of every mom whose child is questioning their gender identity, and how terrified she must be knowing this person is not that much in the minority, and that her child has to go out into a world that thinks these things about her baby. 

In the 1990s, the LGB Community extended the acronym to LGBT community to include transgendered people. Though, arguably, the LGB people struggle with sexual identity, while the T people struggle with gender identity. As a person who struggled with sexual identity, I can attest first hand that there is a huge difference between gender and sexual identity. It is not the same thing. Not at all. 

So really, what gay, lesbian and bisexual people have in common with transgender people is a shared fear of being rejected by society, a fear of being found out. But even that is changing, as the LGB faction sweeps across the country gaining equality at an, albeit surprisingly, rapid pace...all of a sudden. 

So while my friends Marcye and Karen got married in New Jersey last week, and Sarah and I celebrate two full legal years as a married couple, Todd Kincannon aims his twitter feed like an uzi at the most disenfranchised faction of my community, and ultimately yours as well. 

I just think this guy is a total knucklehead. 


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The New Normal...

A few months back, one of my best friend's from college posted advice in the form of a public service announcement to people regarding things you should not say or do upon hearing news of someone's specific health issue. It was very well thought out, and while most of the advice was obvious to me, I understood exactly how she felt. Often times I too find myself in the throws of the most awkward conversations regarding my personal life, most notably with regard to my children.

So here is some free advice from me to you in case you ever find yourself in a conversation with any gay person, or a gay person with children.

1) Think very consciously about not referring to straight people as normal people. For example, "I'm going to a normal wedding this weekend," when differentiating the wedding "type" from a gay wedding. Seriously. This happens around me quite often, and frankly, the expression really pisses us gay people off.

Here you are, supposedly my really open-minded straight friend. And, by default you just called me not normal. It is awkward. And, well, it makes you sound a little bit homophobic. It is just one of those words when tossed into a sentence that can really train wreck a once perfectly normal hetero/homo friendship. And god knows, your spouse might not find it so normal the way you hit on me after you've had a few drinks...Nah, I'm just kiddin' around with ya'...I say these things for ratings. Really. I do.

2) If I am holding one or both of my children close to me, you know how moms sometimes do, or if they are within listening distance of our conversation, do not ask me who their "dad" is.

You see, "dads" typically show up at some point during the first five years of a child's life. If they don't, the mom(s) can get the courts involved. Our guy hasn't shown up yet. Actually, we are not expecting him to show up. And if he did, we'd probably both have full blown heart attacks.

So let's call him "the donor" until the kids turn eighteen. And then we can revisit the conversation, keeping in mind the conversation should take place got it, my kids are not within ear shot. Talk to you in 2027...when the kids are away at college...possibly calling their donor ala a scene out of "The Kids Are Alright."

3) Definitely do not ask me if the dad is David Crosby. Regardless of how drunk you are, it is very tacky. And you've annoyed me twice with that statement because you said "dad" and you said "David Crosby." If you are someone who think's it is normal to wonder if the dad is David Crosby, it's obvious at this point in the blog that you and I have terrible chemistry and we should stop what it is we are doing together. Sayonara, toot-a-loo.

David Crosby is our donor!
You're welcome every lesbian
couple who has kids forevermore.
I want my kids to be doctors. I want my kids to be car mechanics. I want anything but struggling starving to death tortured musician souls (refer to blog from 03.11.11 "Please, Just Be Doctors"). So yes. McDreamy could be the donor. But no, certainly not David Crosby. I mean, Cat Stevens I would have considered. Or maybe Sting. But asking if it's David Crosby is the second most overused lesbian cliche, even though the first overused cliche about the U-Haul on the second date is fairly accurate.
Humanitarian, Philanthropist, Genius - Cat Stevens

Ok. So now for the whole point of this blog. I do hope you're still reading because this is the most important part of it.

I am mostly kidding about eighty percent of what I have written so far. Except for the parts about my kids, you can slip up around me with your words and I will get over it. And I know I have just called the "Is David Crosby the dad?" question to myself ten-fold. I can live with it because I happen to say stupid things to straight people all the time. For example, after a few drinks I might ask my straight girl friend if she thinks her husband is gay or I might ask if their life is as boring as it looks. I mostly regret both questions in the morning a little bit...(again, ratings. keeps the readers coming back).

So now that I have made most of you completely self conscious about what you say around gay people, this is really the one thing I want to have stick in your mind when you go about your travels chatting to your friends about civil rights and the like.

4) Sarah and I fight for marriage equality, not for gay marriage. I am not gay married to Sarah. I am not same sex married to Sarah. I am simply married to Sarah. Sometimes our marriage can even be a little boring, just like normal marriages. (Dear Sarah, I know there is nothing boring or normal about our marriage. Just trying to look relatable. Ratings. We're going for big numbers here. Love, Kristen).

Unless straight people are willing to say they are hetero married or opposite sex married, let's just call it marriage across the board. Gay people like me just want equality.

Calling it a "gay marriage" is probably something Governor Christie is considering in his state, because that will keep the normal people marriages separate from those gay civil unions. And then, he probably thinks, the gay people will drop all the hoopla and let him get on with rebuilding the Jersey shore. Because that's what is really important, not gay people and their annoying civil rights. Whoops, I just channeled the Governor from my previous blog, my bad...(Big Mean Bully 10.11.13).

So I am asking you as a friend or as a rabid daily reader of my "Hangin' With Hendo" blog to make a very conscious effort to refer to the fight for marriage between two men or two women as the fight for MARRIAGE EQUALITY. We fight for equality, not for gay marriage.

I know. It's tricky. But it is an important little semantic in my life and the life of every LGBT person you know and love so dearly.

Boringly married Kristen & Sarah. Normal.
So just go around now correcting your friends and uncles who wear plaid pants and play golf that when they say things at the dinner table like, "Oh, for crissakes, enough with all this gay marriage stuff, I saw on the cover of Time Magazine that they can get married already..."

We cannot get married in New Jersey. Or in North Carolina. Or South Carolina. Or Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, Montana, Louisiana, Texas, Nevada, South Dakota, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia (obviously), Virginia, Wyoming, Idaho, New Mexico, Missouri, Deleware, Michigan, Hawaii, Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri, Oregon, Indiana, Alabama, Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and Wisconsin.

We are still fighting for marriage equality in most of the United States. And the words we use when we talk about it are epically important.

"Marriage equality is the new normal." Someone better not steal that for a t-shirt. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

The UM in Columbus Day.

What's up with this holiday? It has been well refuted that Columbus did not discover America. He landed in the Bahamas. Last time I looked out my window, I was not in the Bahamas.

And it's well documented that he committed some nasty atrocities that led to the deaths of many many people. Some counts are as high as millions of deaths if you take into consideration the after affects of diseases he helped spread.

When the government re-opens, they should consider telling the art teachers to stop cutting out Ninas and Pintas and Santa Marias with the kids. Or have the art teachers already stopped doing that? I haven't seen many Ninas, Pintas or Santa Marias hanging on my friends walls. Fortunately, my kids are still too young to wield scissors, at least concisely enough to cut boats out of paper.

The guy was kinda wretched, and I've done some reading on it. It seems we made a mistake all in the name of a three day holiday weekend. And when I say "we made a mistake" I mean the government made a mistake in the 1930s when they declared this guy worthy of celebration on the same level as Martin Luther King and Santa.

I am sure we can find someone truly heroic to celebrate on this day in order to keep the three day weekend intact, if that's the issue.

In fact, I nominate Mia Hamm. She is one of the greatest female athletes of all time. We can mark the holiday by playing soccer, a beloved sport amongst American youth, and by eating ham, a real boost to the pork industry. And Mia Hamm is not suspected of slaughtering and enslaving men, women or children for her own personal gain. Truly heroic.

Let's use this blog as a forum to discuss possible Columbus Day replacements. I will then forward it to the government, where I am certain it will be placed on the docket for immediate discussion. Because if it's one thing I know about our government, needlessly shutting itself down in celebration of a man proven unworthy of celebration would truly upset our elected officials.

Once we point this out to them, I am sure they will agree.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Big Mean Bully.

My friends, Marcye and Karen Nicholson-McFadden, with their kids. They're fighting the good fight in Jerz and will be legally married very very soon!

Dear Gov. Christie,
Hiya big guy. How's it goin'? You know what, let's skip the niceties. I'm not hosting SNL this weekend, but still, I don't have tons of free time to write to fellas like you.

Today is National Coming Out Day, so I thought it would be a good idea to remind you of that. I'm almost certain your secretary doesn't have it on your calendar, nor did she leave a post it note on your computer reminding you of the public appearance you're scheduled to make at a local high school where you show your unwavering support of the LGBT youth in your state.

Stop right there. I know what you're going to say to me. You don't have a problem with gay people. You actually know a few gay people, even. And you're perfectly fine with gay people making life long commitments to one another via Civil Unions. They just aren't allowed to get married in your state, like, say, normal people.

"Hey," you probably say. "I didn't say that!"

Gov. Christie, "separate but equal" should only be reserved for high school baseball and softball teams arguing over who gets to play their home game on the field with the scoreboard. You following me? When I was in high school, the girls softball team was never allowed to play on the boys field. That was, of course, the one with the scoreboard. We had our own field, complete with weeds and ditches to tear ligaments in. That was in the eighties. A great decade for music, but not for girls high school sports. But now, in the year 2013, the school athletic directors and coaches have worked it out so that the boys teams and the girls teams rotate onto the nicer fields with the scoreboards. Equally

Look. I watch you on the TV. We loved your press briefings leading up to Hurricane Sandy, at least the ones we saw before we lost power. And even most recently, as the boardwalk burned to the ground, you spoke to your constituents with authority and confidence. You're a strong leader, no doubt. 

Here's the thing. You need to let equality for all human beings glide into your state now. You're New Jersey, for crissakes. New York's best friend. Our side kick. You're the Robin to New York's Batman. The whole world knows it. The Supreme Court struck DOMA down. Were you not watching that? The Pope. Even he...I mean, I don't need to get into all that. I'm sure you get Pope bulletins via email. 

Evolve, buddy. The LGBT community is one of the most forgiving. As soon as you accept us, we forgive most transgressions. And this transgression is technically slight if you let equality into New Jersey.

There's one other thing. There are kids in your state. All different types of kids, actually. Some are gay, or lesbian, or bisexual, or transgender. Some are even straight kids whose parents are gay. And those kids just want their families to have the same civil rights as their neighbors families. These kids are in your schools and your communities. Your kids certainly go to school with some of them. These kids have self esteems. And you, personally, are kicking the shit out of theirs. Like a big mean bully. 

That's what you look like from the great state of New York, where everyone is equal. You look like a big mean bully. 

Turn it around, Governor. We'll have your back. 


ps- If I knew anything about your record, I'd know that you recently signed into law a bill that prohibits licensed professionals from attempting so-called "gay conversion therapy" on minors (good call, btw). It seems you, yourself, may need a little conversion therapy. Don't be afraid, Gov. Let equality into NJ and I guarantee that you are the guy on top of the Pride Parade float in June. It will be awesome. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Sinead vs. Miley Gate

I have a hard time following news stories. I'm not saying that's a good thing. But truthfully, I get most of my news from my Facebook feed. Headlines that I may or may not click depending on how busy my day is.

If the TV is on in my house it is likely tuned to Tom & Jerry. Because, honestly, most of what they show on the news is too heinous for my kids to see (Tom whacking Jerry over the head with a shovel pales in comparison to Boston Marathon explosions and mug shots of crazy people who keep women locked in their homes for years on end).

All that being said, I did find the time to rather closely follow Sinead O'Connor's open stream of consciousness on Miley Cyrus. I am not referring to it as a feud, as Sinead claims it is not a feud. It was, at first at least, an attempt by Sinead to reach out to Miley midway through her narcissistic overdose in a rather loving way, I thought. Miley, who has single handedly set back the women's movement about 50 years, did not view Sinead's loving open letter in that way (not shocking), and she proceeded to publicly annhiliate Sinead.

The kid is a knucklehead. And she comes by it pretty honestly. Her dad wore his hair backwards through the entire 1990s.

But my job here is not to sling mud at Billy Ray. The point of this blog is a few things, but not that.

The first point of the blog is to point out, much as Sinead did, that girls should not have to publicly rub their asses on men's crotches, men who are twice their age no less, in order to have a successful career. For some reason, in the year 2013, Miley thought she had to, and she proceeded to teach America's youth via the MTV music awards that they should either rub their ass against crotches or expect asses to be rubbed against their crotch. It's depressing trying to calculate how much damage was done by that seriously skanky move. And even more depressing to think that we cannot unsee what we saw that evening.

Meanwhile, split screen, Robin Thicke is moving right along with his day. Go Team USA.

The second point of my blog is to remind everyone what an amazing artist Sinead O'Connor is. With all that is wrong with Miley-Gate, Sinead rises like a phoenix from the ashes to remind me, at least, to feel empowered and not disgruntled. She is the very definition of an artist, and women like her inspire me and make me love what I do for a living.

So today I'm sharing some of my very favorite Sinead songs. The first is an absolutely mind blowing cover that was on the Elton John/Bernie Taupin tribute album, Two Rooms. Sinead's cover of "Sacrifice" caused me to hear the song for the first time, even though I'd heard it a million times sung by Elton. I love when an artist can cover a song like that. So here it is:

Super cool Mandinka

The Prince penned Nothing Compares:


Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Little Perspective at Dinner with A Fragile Tomorrow.

A Fragile Tomorrow, dressed like they're in the SAME band!

We are just finishing up a run of southern dates with A Fragile Tomorrow. For those of you unfamiliar with AFT, they are a band of brothers who are young, talented and clearly eager as hell to crack the code on how to be a successful indie band. 

The thing about indie artists, or artists in general, is that most of us don't realize we are successful…ish. I can't even type the word successful without adding a dot, dot, dot ish. We are so busy trying to achieve the next level of success that we forget to notice the grass we are standing on is exceptionally green…ish. 

And while my bandmates and I drive hundreds of miles a day in our tour van talking about how so and so got such and such and why didn't we get such and such? I remind myself on a daily basis that there may actually be a tour van traveling the interstate wondering how the hell Antigone Rising got such and such? I find momentary comfort in this, until I remember that so and so AND so and so BOTH got such and such.  

While eating dinner on the last night of our run of dates together, Sean and Dominic from AFT started "picking my brain." Suddenly I wasn't the frustrated, stuck, stalled indie artist who drove up the highway from Charleston, SC to Durham, NC to open for The Breaking Bad series finale. Seriously. We opened for a TV show. That happened. Just a few days ago. 

Instead, I was a fount of knowledge for two kids who really just wanted to know what we did to be as successful (...ish) as we are. Actually, they were picking my brain about guitar techs, but let us not allow specifics to ruin the inspiration for me to blog again...

Right, that sneaky little thing called perspective! Thank you god or universe or Sean and Dominic for sending me that message to get out of my own way and be amazed and grateful for all that I have (a guitar tech, the handsome and wonderful @anthonysrecords) and all that I have achieved. 

So here's some advice. Some of it extremely specific, some of it a bit more broad, all of it coming from someone who has traveled thousands of miles in a van with a band who has seriously done a lot of cool things, and has also been fed a ton of bull shit, sometimes simultaneously. 

The number one most important thing is to WRITE GREAT SONGS. Whatever it is you do, make sure your songs do not suck. Songwriting is equal parts god given and learned. So if you're naturally already an ok songwriter, you can probably get better by taking a class or co writing with other artists whose songs you like. I understand that Rob Thomas or Johnny Goo Goo or the Train guy may not be in your rolodex or available for a co-write, but maybe there's a local band whose songs you like. Maybe you have a music teacher who writes songs. Collaborating makes you better. And teaches you to be open. If you're a blocked songwriter, well, that's oxy-moronish. So be open, take criticism, and write, write, write.  

I am a firm believer that if your friends want you to sing at the party, you might be on to something. Even friends don't want to hear crappy music. Especially at a party. It's your job, however, to not get lazy and think that every room you walk into will think you're as amazing as the people on your next door neighbor's deck think you are. So write great songs, and keep 'em coming. You should also hit some open mics in your area. Because singing through a P.A. is a whole different animal than strumming and singing into the air without amplification. But that's a whole different shpiel

So that's some practical broad 101 type advice. 

Here's some real nitty gritty advice specifically for bands. Consider this from the syllabus of the course Bands 333.

Look like you're in the same band, people. Do not wear your white Nike sneakers with your lady jeans on stage while your bass player has a friggin' nose ring and purple hair. When Antigone Rising files into a restaurant anywhere in the country, the host always knows we're together. Always. If one of us straggles in 10 minutes later, the host just points to our table. Every. Single. Time. It is one of our proudest band accomplishments. 

Granted, we were asked once in a hotel lobby if we were a soccer team…

In the next segment, I will give you my two cents on traveling together to gigs. But you will have to wait to read my thought provoking words on that topic. 

Until we meet again, be sure to check out A Fragile Tomorrow, write great songs, and dress like your bandmates. 


This band may sound fantastic. They may also want to call a truce on their obvious image war...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Passenger - Let Her Go

I'm sure I am centuries late on this discovery, but I just heard it on the radio and few things stop me in my tracks. Not sure what it is about it. Maybe how familiar it sounds even though I have NEVER heard a voice like this? And it's such a perfectly undeniable hit song.
I remember sitting in record label meetings with the suits and they'd play us songs that were going to be 'hits.' Couple things about that suck. 1) nothing can block a writer more than playing them what's going to be a hit when they didn't write it 2) the song they played for you goes on to be a huge hit (Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy")...
This song is absolutely something that would have been played at us in one of those meetings. And I'm far enough away from those meetings to no longer want to throw up. 
So congratulations to this young man. He skinned the cat and I'm sure he has pleased the suits... 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Kiss on The Cover.

"Are you guys comfortable kissing in front of the camera?"

"Sure, I mean, we are married." That's what I said out loud to the photographer who posed this question to me Monday morning on the 23rd floor of the Time Life Building. But my internal conversation went something like this. "They will never choose us anyway. They'll go with a guy couple. Or with Portia and Ellen. Not with me and Sarah. On the cover of Time Magazine. That would just be... INSANE!"

So we kissed. I mean. We are married. Even if it's only recognized in New York State and 8 others. This week The Supreme Court hear's opening arguments to repeal Prop 8 and DOMA. They're talking about MY CIVIL RIGHTS. And I'm showing up.

We're fighting for ourselves. But we're also fighting for our family. And for every single family that has a gay person in it. Most families have at least one these days. Even Honey Boo Boo has a gay uncle.

Joking aside, there are kids who get bullied every single day because of who they are. Some of these kids take their own lives because they think they're all alone and there's nobody else out there just like them. They think they will never have a family. I want them to see my life and my family, and I want them to know that they can have that too.

So while the cover of Time Magazine may give some people a little jolt this morning, I'm kissing my wife on the cover because the mother of a gay kid might see it and finally come around to letting her son or daughter back in the house. I'm kissing my wife on the cover because it's time for every American to have their civil rights.

And, let's be honest, I'm kissing my wife on the cover because Portia and Ellen probably weren't available...


It Takes One to Know One - Marriage Equality in New York State (a re-post from June, 2011)

I've come to blog here the past several days attempting to say something that hasn't already been said. I've spent quite a bit of time calling Senators, asking all my friends to call Senators, reading other blogs, posting comments, participating in certain threads where my time could have been better spent smashing my head into a brick wall, etc. You get the point.

The long and short of it is this.

There's nothing I can say here that hasn't already been said on various Senators personal Facebook pages (Senator Dean Skelos, Senator Greg Ball), or on The Huffington Post comment section of Sarah's Op-Ed, "My Children Have Everything...Except Married Parents.

I've read many inspiring posts from people all over New York who are in favor of Equality. And, unfortunately, I've read some posts from people against Equality. Thankfully, the posts against Equality are outnumbered, at least on the places I'm surfing the web (which are all the places I've listed above).

Usually the anti-equality posts are religiously fueled, and more often than not contain grammatical and spelling errors...I'm just saying. And I've yet to read a single post from that side of the argument that is strong enough to deny any human being their civil rights.

What those posts against Equality have done for me, however, is they've reminded me of what it was like growing up gay.

I've said it before, and I meant it, I didn't realize I was gay until I was nineteen. My brain couldn't even internalize the thought of being gay, that's how abhorent a concept it was for me. I buried it so deep down that I never once had a conscious inkling of it until I was in college.

I learned to fear being gay from the world I lived in. Nobody ever told me directly, "Kristen, don't be gay. It's a very bad thing." Yet, the noxious homophobic gas pumped into our society's air that I was breathing in on a daily basis made me know for sure that it was a really really bad thing to be.

I knew it.

You knew it.

And some people still think it.

So I'd like to share this story from my childhood with all the people who are posting against Equality. Even though I know none of you read my blog. This is my attempt to say something that hasn't already been said - or - This is me bashing my head against a brick wall again. Here goes:

Dear People Unwilling to Give Me My Equal Rights,

When I was growing up I was a tom boy.

Every kid has "their" reason for why they feel different. The kid with the acne, the kid with the hair that's too curly, the too fat kid, the too skinny kid, the kid with the thick glasses, the poor kid, and on and on.

Anyway. I was the kid who felt awkward every time my girlfriends wanted to do girly things. I didn't want to wear makeup or carry a Le Sports Sac. I wasn't comfortable with designer jeans, or leg warmers, or capezios. Every day I wore my Lee Jeans and Pro-Keds. That was my uniform, day in and day out. While it doesn't sound that bad, every day I got dressed I thought about how different I felt.

I know. Whoopeeding. I wasn't picked on. I would have picked on you first. And I wasn't bullied. I would have bullied you first. Think about that for a second, anti-equality person posting on the internet.

I was an athlete. I loved sports. I played every season. I lived for it.

One season, my high school coach was a lesbian. We didn't know this because she was "out." We knew this because she looked like a dyke - I'm just going to use the word. She was very stereotypically lesbian looking in every way.

She threatened me to my core.

But I was 15 years old and I had coping mechanisms in place to be sure I was not affected by her existence at all.

What I did was write a "funny jingle" for everyone on the team to sing. It was a song about how gross and abhorent our scary lesbian coach was. And I would sing it.

The memory is so overwhelming for me that it stops me dead in my tracks. Fifteen year old me felt I had to sing a song about the grossness of my lesbian coach so that my teammates, and I for that matter, wouldn't catch on that I was a lesbian too.

Fear. Breeds. Intolerance. Fear. Breeds. Hatred. Fear. Breeds. Bullies.

Much worse things have come from fear than a really bad jingle sung in a high school locker room.

We have an opportunity to alleviate some of the fear that maybe your fifteen year old son or daughter or niece or nephew or neighbor might feel one day. That alone should be enough reason to vote for Equality.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Bobby McGee in the Key of C

People keep asking me if we are going out on tour anytime soon. And the answer is.....soon. maybe. ish. no. not really. sporadic dates here and there. Got it?

Before we embark on any official tour, you know, the type with a string of dates all in a row, we plan to release a new EP. EP is code for a CD with 5 or 6 songs on it. EP stands for Extended Play. I personally do not understand how fewer songs than a full length CD means Extended Play. But. It. Does.

We recently wrote a song with Lori McKenna called "That Was The Whiskey," and we plan to release it as the first single from our EP. People seem to be having very enthusiastic and positive reactions to the song. And that's a very very nice thing, when people have positive reactions to your songs.

When we were signed to a major label, they often would say things like "it's not a single." Which always made me wonder, "why the heck did you sign us, you dingbats?" But, you know what, I'm running toward the light these days, so let's not relive that silliness. We need to live in the present. And in the present we have a new song called "That Was The Whiskey" that even record people from the label we are no longer affiliated with say is a "hit single." And they have nothing to gain from saying that because we are no longer signed to their label. In fact, the label no longer exists, which says a lot about labels and what they know about hit singles.

So let's not say "That Was The Whiskey" is a hit single. Let's just say it's a catchy fun song that makes my kids want to sing along. In fact, during my special day at my twins Pre-K, Kate told the teacher that her mom was going to sing a song for the class called "The Whiskey." And it was awkward. Very. Very. Awkward.

To summarize what is happening in Antigone land:  We are going to be playing sporadic live dates through the spring and summer. We are recording our new EP at Campy Town Studios on Long Island to be released later this Spring (2013). And we are going to launch some type of extremely creative fund raising campaign in the coming days/weeks/maybe month to raise money so we can properly promote and market our new EP with an extremely strong focus on our song "That Was The Whiskey."

We are discussing the possibility of filming a video for the song. So if you are a fledgling amazingly brilliant video maker or if you happen to know of one, please send them our way immediately. We are interested in seeing what you or your video making friends are capable of doing.

Once all of these balls are rolling in the right direction, we will plan a tour - one with strings of dates all in a row that will include all towns, not just those within 2 hours of our homes in New York & New Jersey!

And I will blog more about our latest project very soon.



ps-anyone with opinions about kickstarter vs. pledge music vs. DIY fundraising, please sound off here. we want to know what you think!

Some of our sporadic dates - more to be announced:

Friday - April 12, 2013 - The Mercury Lounge, NYC
Buy Tickets Now

Saturday - May 4, 2013 - Northampton Pride Festival
3 County Fairgrounds - Northampton, MA
More info.

July 6 Hartford, CT Riverfest
July 13 Athens, NY Athens Street Festival