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POP INTERVIEW: Singer/Songwriter Carter Beckworth Wants to “Lead the Resurgence”

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Meeting Carter Beckworth at lunch, I realized through the course of the interview he was unique. He is an artist you haven’t heard of whom you probably will hear a lot about when history looks back at his songs. He himself sums his style up, “Aside from the Black Keys, who plays rock ‘n’ roll that’s popular today? The most recent band before them was probably Kings of Leon. The reason it’s hard to classify my music for me is because it’s meant for a mainstream audience, but its not riding the coattails of anything that’s currently breaking ground or any kind of scene that currently exists. It’s more my music has a unique personality to it. I could see it sort of changing the landscape.”

“There’s a song called ‘Terrified’ on my first solo-album (There is also a version on the Baker Hotel album). I remember writing that song when I was 19 in the bedroom of my first apartment, in Oxford, Mississippi and thinking ‘That is a good song!’ I’ve always believed that the best songs almost write themselves. Songs that are written in one sitting tend have a sound that is both cohesive and Satisfied. ‘Let’s Just Dance’ (from the new album) is another one that was written that way. So is ‘Humble Heart,'” says the man whose songs have been on the soundtracks of several indie films.

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An English major at the University of Texas at Austin, Carter Beckworth learned that once acquired, strong writing skills apply to anything, including song. “Language was the one subject in which I excelled in school, so naturally I got more excited about it than the other required classes. More than anything, I think it facilitated the space and time for me to practice writing. I am fortunate in that I have always knew that I wanted to write, so studying literature and creative writing just provided me with more incentives,” he said.

“”I’ve lived a lot of places. I’ve lived in Mississippi and Alaska in addition to Texas. I used a fishing guide in Alaska. I would play for guests at the lodge I worked at. I guess I started playing in high school, in seventh grade, but I started playing professionally while I was in college in Mississippi. Which is where I lived when I putout my first album in 2007.”

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His arrival in Austin was preceded by tragedy. “When I was 20. I got stabbed.”

“It was a catalyst. I had been playing shows in Mississippi, Tennessee and Georgia for the college crowd. I’m kind of a hippie at heart, and the Deep South wasn’t a conducive environment for my style of art. That incident sort of, it sounds cliched to say it, it put everything in perspective, but it made me realize I knew I always wanted to live in Austin. I first started coming here in high school. I knew I wanted to play music. It was a wake up call of sorts. It sort of it scared me bec I thought, ‘Anything can happen. Today can be the last day of your life. If you’re not doing what you want to do right now, you better have a good reason. I transferred to St. Edward’s University for a year and ended up finishing my degree at UT Austin.” His degree also included a minor in Spanish.

“From the time that I moved to Austin in 2008 until I graduated in 2010, I was playing with a band called Baker Hotel. We wee gigging full time. I was having to build my schedule and make up classes we put out two albums, played some major festivals and big shows and did a lot of tours around Texas. I started the band with two other guys that went to Ole Miss. We all relocated to Austin except our drummer. We still play shows every once in a while, but everybody got involved with other projects. I released two of my own albums and have done several tours across the country as a deal with the cellist and Steve Bernal. He and I play a lot together as a duo and when we do full band shows, he’ll play electric bass.”

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For women, there’s nothing like a guy singing love songs with his guitar. “Girls in particular can relate to my music because it’s really sensitive, I think, often vulnerable. More than anything, it’s relatable and a lot of times, it’s easier for girls to champion a new artist or song and get behind something they like and want to share it, whereas men, while they might relate to it just as much, if it’s not necessarily their favorite style of music, they’ll be less likely to listen to just the lyrics unless it’s their particular taste. They’re not gonna be as easily persuaded to listen to some guy singing the song. You’ve got to have the girlfriends first because then, the guys go where the girls are. Conversely, if you are playing an acoustic show that isn’t full, a middle aged man may be willing to listen to the lyrics more than teenage girls, which is one reason I love acoustic shows,” he said.

“I have changed styles of music several times. The band was a grunge rock band, while my solo stuff is still rock with a bit of a singer-songwriter element. That being said, I would never change the subject matter. As you grow and change, your outlook on the world changes and your approach to your craft changes and therefore, your style changes with it. As long as I’m able to record my own material, I don’t think I’m in danger of drastically altering my sound, and I also think I’m past the point of being someone else. I’m not a Michael Bublé, I’m a songwriter. I’m not like frank Sinatra where I have this whole act and this image. My art and my live show is about the lyrics in the songs I have written. Plus being a live performer from Texas, if that [traditional country music] were a possibility, I would’ve started playing straight up honky tonk music a long time ago. I would’ve brought in a fiddle player and started singing about dirt roads and beer. It would’ve been a lot easier out of Austin.

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“The people in the country scene I have written e it’s are more Americana artists. Some of my favorite songwriters could be classified as country songwriters, but I liked them because of their songs, not their style of music, so the writers I sought to write with are people whose subject matter is more thoughtful and deeper than your average country song. Some of my favorite country writers are guys you’ve never heard of who have written songs you have heard of. Most of the country artists I’ve collaborated with are songwriters that write for other people more than doing their own live shows. While I was born and raised in Texas, I can’t related to dumbing down the subject matter to be a pop country artist. I play a rock and roll, Americana, folk music. Whatever you want to call it, but by the subject matter and lyrics alone, there’s nothing country about it. I think Keith Urban could record one of my songs, and it could be a country smash hit. When you listen to my new album you’re gonna hear more rock. Kid Rock has done a lot of stuff I would call Americana, a lot of people would call country. It’s Southern rock.”

In the end, he says, “I’m not out to define a new genre. I just think my music has something to offer the music listening world that there isn’t a whole lot out there. I’m not putting out music that sounds like any popular music, and that’s not to say it doesn’t sound like any pop music in general, but I do feel like with all the the tech and club music, the resurgence in organic rock music is inevitable. I would like to be one of the people that leads that resurgence.”

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Watch Brian Balthazar and Wendy Williams Talk About What’s Trending Now

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Always SO much fun going on the Wendy Williams show to talk about what’s trending! In this case, the best part (for me at least!) was wearing a creating by art director Michael Lee Scott, who recreated the iconic hat worn by Billy Porter at the Grammys! What a recreation!

Brian Balthazar Billy Porter Hat

 

 

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Wendy Stuart Kaplan Knows How To Party – Now She’s Throwing An Epic One Of Her Own!

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Wendy Stuart Kaplan knows her way around a party. In her book, ‘She’s The Last Model Standing,” she wrote about her headline grabbing days at Studio 54, and now throws more than a few of her own. The latest is her “Reading For Filth” and her birthday extravaganza, where she, hosts Eileen Dover and Nick Lion and others (including yours truly!) will perform a collection of wildly entertaining essays, poems, comedic rants and more. The kind of person who is so ‘on the go’ you get exhausted just thinking about it (she, however, does not) I caught up with her as she was taking a break between a radio show, a modeling job and a party tonight. If you want to catch up with Wendy, you have to be flexible… she’s probably got a full schedule that day! Her party this Friday is one that will not only celebrate a wildly varied and entertaining life, but also celebrate the spoken word from a variety of performers.

Anyone who’s ready your book “She’s The Last Model Standing” knows you’ve been partying since studio 54 – when did you first realize you were a party girl?

I first realized when I came back to New York after college! I wasn’t until then, because there was no good place to party.

Where did you go to school?

SUNY Binghamton where I majored in anthropology – and then I went to Nigeria! I definitely enjoyed partying eventually, but back then I really, really wanted to go to Africa, which I did!  I have gone back often, most recently to work on my documentaries.

Wendy Kaplan was a bold faced name for tearing up the dance floor AND going home right after.

That’s wild! But it’s not surprising to hear of that passion since you make films about wildlife conservation there. But your festive side eventually DID come out! We all know you now as a social butterfly! Whether you’re at a party, or working a film premiere – but were you as confident and comfortable in the spotlight as a kid as you are now?

I was an oddball kid. I had two things: I had my friends in the Bronx, and the ones that I had in school and they didn’t mix all that well. I loved growing up there, that was home – but I remember as a kid I would get stomachaches before parties! How weird is that? Until you asked me I had forgotten all about that.

What were you worrying about?

Social pressures – what if nobody talks to me – oh my god, I’m not pretty. I had a short mop of brown hair because my mom thought I looked better with short hair, and I had chubby cheeks. I didn’t love that look. I used to put on wigs as a kid and imagine myself with long blonde hair!

And here we are! 

Here we are, right? Long blonde hair. I morphed into it. I’m totally self made!

Tell me more about Reading for Filth – your event this Friday at Club Bedlam.

Reading for Filth came about when Brian Butterick, also known as Hattie Hathaway, used to have these events. One had the byline, “low rent reading for a high rent city.” Reading for filth is an expression for ‘I’m going to read you to filth,’ as in, “I’m gonna tell you what I really think.” The performers would do a reading of their choice. Something personal, maybe about an old boyfriend, or something someone else wrote, and they’d get up and read it in front of a room. At the last one we had, Michael Musto read from Suzanne Somers’ poetry book. I didn’t even know she wrote poetry… here the same person who wrote about African violets is also behind the Thighmaster! Brought me to tears! I imagine her thighs going back and forth as she sits next to a table with a sole African violet in its little pot, which inspired her to write the poem.

The reason we chose to open my birthday party with it is, when Hattie passed away, my friend and partner in crime Michael Fontana (Eileen Dover) really wanted to keep it going. We say it’s such a downtown New York thing but it’s a New York thing. It’s a nationwide thing. Think about what’s hot right now: storytelling. And here we have had Reading for Filth going on long before all that other stuff. Brian Butterick had been doing it for six to ten years. He was very ahead of his time. We brought it back this past year.

You love people and being around them, entertaining them, but you also love your home life – please describe your NYC living situation. You have a beautiful place… but describe your roommates.

Well, we will have to go back about 30 years when I got my first rabbit. I haven’t lived without one for 30 years, so when one dies I always have one in the wings. Fast forward to now, we always have two rabbits. It’s nice if they have another rabbit to hangout with. Also, 33 years ago we got a baby cockatoo, named her Louise, fed her formula, and she is now hanging out with me in my living room. Did I also mention our blue merle chihuahua?

In my New York apartment everyone is loose. No one is caged.  Everybody is trained to go on those wee-wee pads you buy for dogs, and everybody goes on a wee-wee pad including the rabbits… but not the dog.

Wendy’s rabbit S’mores roams free in her apartment along side another rabbit, a cockatoo and a Chihuahua.
Wendy Kaplan’s dog Nugget does what it wants.

You know how to party – we know that – your wedding was no exception…describe your epic wedding.

So my wedding was 32 or so years ago. I should know that! Alan (a renowned photographer) and I got married in our huge loft, and you had to come dressed as members of a bridal party. It was on Halloween – you could be a bride, or a groom or a bridesmaid. The only problem was a lot of people thought it was a costume party and not an actual wedding. So we had people dressed as bridesmaids with five o’clock shadows and brides with full beards. They thought this was just going to be a big loft party – because we always gave huge parties – and not a wedding. But it was actually our wedding. I didn’t get many gifts because no one took it seriously. I won’t make that mistake again!

You’ve been modeling since you were in your twenties – what’s the best thing anyone can do to look and feel like a model whether they’re walking down the street or working it in the office?

You have to know who you are. What’s your style? What makes you feel good? What floats your boat? When you put on a certain dress how does that make you feel? Don’t go with trends, go with what you’re attached to! Listen to your inner fashionista. And you know what? We all have that.

Reading For Filth is open to the public this Friday at 8pm at Club Bedlam, 40 Avenue C, NYC. For more on Wendy visit her book’s Facebook page, her personal facebook page, or her instagram.

Visit her website, and buy her book on amazon!

 

 

 

 

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All 18 of the BAFTA Acting Nominees Are White, All Directing Nominees Are Male

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“Joker” is the one to watch at the upcoming BAFTAs, but if you’re looking for diversity and female directors, sadly you’ll have to look somewhere else. All the acting nominees are white, and all the directors are male.

Led by a lead actor nomination for Joaquin Phoenix, “Joker” received 11 nominations for Britain’s equivalent to the Oscars, competing with familiar Golden Globe nominees Taron Egerton, “Rocketman,”  Leonardo DiCaprio for “Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood,” Adam Driver for “Marriage Story,” and Jonathan Pryce for “The Two Popes.”

Renée Zellweger leads the nominations for the best actress category for her role in “Judy,” alongside Jessie Buckley,  “Wild Rose,” Scarlett Johansson, “Marriage Story,” Saoirse Ronan, “Little Women,” and Charlize Theron for “Bombshell.”

Here are the other notable highlights:

See the full nomination page HERE.

  • 11 nominations for Joker
  • 10 nominations for The Irishman and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
  • Nine nominations for 1917
  • Six nominations for Jojo Rabbit
  • Five nominations for Little WomenMarriage Story and The Two Popes
  • Four nominations for For SamaParasite and Rocketman
  • Three nominations for BombshellJudyLe Mans ’66 and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

The ceremony will be held on Feb. 2 at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

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