PM Magazine, July 2006
2006 Outmusic award recipients 08/10/2006
2006 Outmusician of the Year - Robert Urban Robert Urban received this year's member choice award for his work as a volunteer producer/promoter/host and performer at live GLBT concerts and events, including NYC all-transgender artists shows, bar shows, and the lesbian Festival of Hope concert for pancreatic cancer. He serves as founder and moderator of Gay Guitarists Worldwide and a volunteer accompanist to many GLBT musicians. Beyond his credits, Urban is an excellent vocalist and multi-instrumentalist whose well-recorded CD Rock Widow blew me away. - by Jason Victor Serinus
The same review by Jason Victor Serinus also appeared in Baltimore Gay LIfe (click to read)
JULY, 2006 NYC OUTMUSIC OPEN MIC Hello Outsters! Thanks, boys and girls, for yet another KICK-ASS Outmusic Open Mic in New York City on Monday night July 3rd at Rockwood Music Hall, hosted by newly crowned Outmusician of the Year 2006 Robert Urban!
From spoken word, to poetry, to jazz, to songs about guys named "John", to Blondie classics (!), the night included especially zesty performances by our Open Mic loyal regulars Frank Grimaldi, Morry Campbell, Terry Christopher (Love that booty shakin'!), Roger Kuhn, John Manion (Whose song, incidentally, was not called "Roger"...), Anne Stott, and Cass Jabara-- as well as surprise appearances by always crowd-pleasing Amy G., Drew Paralic, and partners in life as well as music, Reuben & Rick.
The night also featured first time Open Mic attendee Scottie Gage (This youngsta will definitely be back!) and a musical appearance by, in the words of Robert Urban, "New York royalty": well-known gal-about-town Clover Honey from TV's "Under the Pink Carpet".
The audience was also treated to some genre-busting spoken word by Baron with musical accompaniment by Robert Urban, and renegade poetry by Amanda Harris and Angelina Lim, both of whom will be appearing at the Fresh Fruit Festival this month. Speaking of the Fresh Fruit Festival, Carol Polcovar, Artistic Director of the Fest and performer, was also in attendance that night.
A great big Outmusic Out Loud "Thank You!" goes to our "ospite straordinario" Robert Urban (who graciously agreed to sacrafice his closing number to allow a late first-timer to perform her song "L Train". Did anybody get her name?!), all the artists and supporters who came that night (especially the guys and gals who support the Open Mic by appearing every month!), Ed Mannix, bartenders Anne and Jennie Lee, Rockwood Music Hall's Ken Rockwood for doing all the music for the night as always, and cutie sweetie Reuben Butchard for allowing the Open Mic to go 15 minutes overtime so that everyone could get to do two numbers. Thanks again Reuben! See ya'll next month! Love, peace, & pride - Jed Ryan, Outmusic
HE CAN WRITE AND HE CAN SING, BUT CAN HE DO BOTH WHILE DOING THE CAN-CAN? Our very own Robert Urban was named ďOutmusician of the Year" at this year's 2006 OUTMUSIC Awards. Word has it that going into the final round, Robert was running behind a very well known closeted musician (oh, heck. It was Paul McCartney. Someone had to say it.). But Robert raced to victory during the swimsuit competition by sporting a very hot aqua blue speedo. Seriously, Robert is a very well respected musician, especially for his guitar playing. He has released numerous CD's, teaches, and even runs his own recording studio. Check him out at his website. Other Outmusic award winners included gay composer and activist Tom Wilson Weinberg (2006 Outmusic Heritage Award) and DJ/ remix artist/producer Junior Vasquez (2006 Special Recognition Award). Best. Gay. Week. Ever.
- by Michael Jensen, www.AfterElton.com - June, 2006 - A weekly column highlighting news about gay and bisexual men in pop culture.
article at: http://afterelton.com/columns/2006/6/23.html
Pride in The Arts
Festival 2006 - "The Hills Are Alive, With The Sound Of Pride!"
June 16, 17, 18th, 2006 - At Longfork Campgrounds and Resort, Walton, WV
"Hi Robert, Was
such a thrill to finally meet you. And even more so to see the wizardry you
weave with your guitar. Excellent "roast".
So very happy that you are getting the recognition you have and do deserve! Congrats! Love," Len - Founder - StoneWall Society
you so very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to come visit us
and give us a kiss-ass performance.
You can't imagine what a wonderful weekend it was for us also. Thank you for helping us with our dream!!!
Thank you again!" - Danny Harris - Office Manager/Events Coordinator - Longfork Campgrounds www.longfork.com
My name is Mike Smith and I ran the sound for the Pride In The Arts Festival
in Walton last weekend.
I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your performance. This was my first Pride event and the performers really put me
at my ease while I was at work there. Now, I can hardly wait for the next one. I look forward to seeing you again". Love, Mike
"Kudos to Robert Urban - the greatest rock guitarist I know" 12/20/06 - DREW PARALIC, Outmusic - www.cdbaby.com/all/jazzdrew
PRIDE IN THE ARTS FESTIVAL Review by PM Magazine's JED RYAN
The first ever Pride in the Arts Festival was the long-gestating creation of Stonewall Society Founder Len Rogers. Rogers-- author, activist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist-- has been a tireless fighter for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens, as well as an ardent supporter and promoter of LGBT artists in the fields of music, poetry, literature, and visual art.
The event kicked off on Friday evening, June 16th, with an Artist Meet 'n' Greet, and an impromptu stage was constructed for poolside performances by Jade Esteban Estrada, Rubberlegs, Terry Christopher, V*I*R*G*O, Baron, Robert Urban, Roger Kuhn, Georgie Jessup, and Doug Allen
The next day, the action moved to the Main Stage, located in a remote meadow surrounded by nothing but acres and acres of green. Anyone staying in the campground didn't need a wake up call that morning; the music started bright and early and echoed through the hills. Performers that day included Ray "Musicbear" Baker, Rubberlegs, Mike Rickard, Robert Urban, Levi Kreis, Julia Kelly, Judith Avers, Georgie Jessup, Patrick Arena, Roger Kuhn, and Terry Christopher.
Baron, a self-proclaimed spoken word artist from New York City who is destined to change the image of that particular genre of performance for good! Then came a superb number with Baron's spoken word joining forces with friend Robert Urban's guitar and haunting cries of "I don't know why I love you-- but I do!" Just perfection.
Robert Urban, recently and deservedly crowned "Oumusician of the Year" after being nominated three years in a row, took the stage four for songs, three of which were from his ageless 1997 CD "Godless". He dedicated "The Waiting Song" (Winner of the 2003 Stonewall Society's Pride Song of the Year) to Len Rogers, then went into "The Meateaters' Song", an unabashed "anti-religion" song. Next up was "The Courtship of Europa" dedicated to "all native peoples, especially Native Americans". These lyrics show why Urban deserves gets as much praise for poetry as much as performing:
"Your merchants stole through darkest Africa for ivory, slaves and skins
They even sought out the Font of Youth to sate Your Faustian sin
From tombs of old they gathered gold - in Montezuma's land
they melted down all the Aztec gods to forge Your wedding bond
And by this troth the Earth was raped with avarice unconcealed
In days when fair Europa wed the modern mans ideal."
Not coincidentally, two of Urban's friends and musical collaborators of the Festival, Georgie Jessup and Roger Kuhn, both celebrate their Native American heritage through their music. Georgie Jessup's CD "American Holocaust" addresses the genocide aimed at Native Americans. Roger Kuhn's stunning "Two Nations", possibly his most personal song, hits right at the heart of identity. Roger joined Robert Urban on stage for "Cubes of Light"-- a song whose title is a metaphor about the daily grind of the office day job which so many of us, sadly, would have to go back to on Monday.
REVIEW OF ROGER KUHN's 2006 CD release PROOF - The Outmusic community, as well as music fans of all genres, got their first taste of Rockin' Roger in September 2004, when Roger Kuhn and friends appeared as part of Robert Urban's Urban Productions BOLDLY Presents live music series at NYC's C-Note.
Roger Kuhn's long-anticipated new CD is called "Proof". While many artists on the pop charts today fear the thought of venturing out from behind the protections of modern musical technology and gimmickry (and understandably so, in many cases...), the irony is that most indy artist strive to make their music sound just as organic and real as it does during their live performances.
The expertly produced "Proof" hits that mark; it perfectly captures the exitement of one of Roger Kuhn's zesty live shows. Kuhn's celebration of the loves of life-- including his love of performing-- really come through. "Proof" opens with the high-energy "What's Your Name", and keeps the momentum going with the title track "Proof", featuring exquisite guitar work and soulful delivery of main vocals by Kuhn, with Kuhn's friend Robert Urban on background vocals. (Urban also produced, mixed, arranged, and recorded the CD.) The stunning "This Moment" equates spiritual awakening with physical and emotional love, and "Cradle Me (With Love") and the ballad "Beautiful U" really capture the essence of feverish romanticism.
"Proof" is perfect music to listen to on a road trip, as you're driving across the country roads and awe-inspiring landscape of the heartland, and through the unmercifully sweltering heat of the city streets in between. And like the mountains, praries, and oceans , Roger Kuhn's music is every bit as inspiring. Now, that's a reason to get all heated up! Visit www.WorldofRogerKuhn.com and http://www.myspace.com/rogerkuhn for more about Roger Kuhn.- JED RYAN, PM MAGAZINE.
"I got to back super-excellent rocker
Robert Urban on drums at the 2006 OutMusic Awards show. Robert took no
prisoners and made the walls shake, man! At the ceremony the next day,
of course, he won for OutMusician of the Year! What an honor to play
for him!" - Mike Fass "Drummerbear"
THE FRESH FRUIT FESTIVAL and URBAN PRODUCTIONS present:
A TWO-SPIRIT EVENING: Celebrating the LGBT Native American Community
producer & host - Robert Urban
Starring: singer/songwriter GEORGIE JESSUP and Big Love - poet MAURICE KENNY -
singer/songwriter ROGER KUHN accompanied by flutist Tiokasin Ghosthorse and violist Michael Alas - perrformance artist JOE BIRDSONG - comedy drag troupe THE BRUSH ARBOR GURLZ - Landa Lakes & Samantha Richards - Gay Native American elder Kent Lebsock honored by Native American singer George Stonefish and members of the North East Two Spirit Society at our show.July 13th - 9pm to 11pm Collective Unconscious Theater, 279 Church street, NYC admission: $15
TWO-SPIRIT EVENING - A stellar performing cast of glbt Native Americans including Cherokee, Mohawk, Chikasaw, Navajo, Creek , Lakota, Kumeyaay and Cree - along with Native American allies - celebrate the deep contributions of America's first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.
"Robert - Congrats on putting together such a wickedly fun evening, I had a blast" - Patrick Tafoya, American Indian Artists, Inc. newsletter
"It was a wonderful show. I'd love to bring the Brush Arbor Gurlz back next year! You give good production!!!" - Carol Polcovar, Artistic Director, Fresh Fruit Festival
"Standing Room Only! You did a great job." - Jeffrey Leeds, Managing Director, Fresh Fruit Festival
"The real applause goes to you" - Harry Wieder, Fresh Fruit Festival Board of Directors
"the fotos look fantastic! and the event really was incredible..congrats! xo" - audience member Matthew Duffy
It was great working with you - Respectfully" - Ted A. Sterns, House Manager, Collective Unconscious Theater, NYC
THE JAMM STATION!!
"Rock Widow" Robert Urban
Review By: Len
"OK, let's see if I can do it." are the first words on Robert Urban's newest release, "Rock Widow". It is immediately known by the listener that Robert can do it and do it very well! Bravo! Would be the first reaction to this classic rock creation, fused with warm jazz tones throughout. Urban takes us on a personal and somewhat introspective musical journey through his eyes and world. As a complete work, "Rock Widow" very much carries like the score to a rock opera. Each song is independent yet connected. Either connected in spirit or by theme, and or the compelling and unique style that is Robert Urban.
" Rock Widow" brings memories of days when a new album was reason for gathering and party. Rooted solidly in classic rock the influences are there. The Who, Yes, Les Dudek, the Beatles, and several more. It is Robert Urban's artistic ability to take influence from each while making the finished work truly his own. The familiar feel of Robert's music adds to the overall enjoyment of "Rock Widow". The individuality is not lost nor hard to pinpoint. Great solos, trios, endings, and a myriad of special moments abound.
Fellow musicians have offered strong support of Urban's latest CD. Scott Free had this to say, "ROBERT URBAN, a leader in today’s burgeoning New York queer music scene with his "Urban Productions BOLDLY Presents" rock shows & concerts, has released his fourth CD, entitled ‘ROCK WIDOW’. He has, once again, created a masterful melodic epic, but this one is a more painful search for meaning amongst rock & roll’s ruins." Jeremy Blue as well gave high marks to "Rock Widow", "Robert Urban’s new release, ROCK WIDOW, is a powerful and innovative collection. Weaving in and out of the traditional sounds of rock, it allows for Urban’s intricate mastery of the song as an art form to create an exciting and provocative juice." As Robert Urban works with many fellow vocalists and musicians through his New York based Urban Productions, it is not surprising that he would seek their thoughts on his art.
"Rock Widow" consists of twelve songs. Ranging in style and theme, with deep personal interpretations and social statements. Some like "The Boys From Paradise" and "No Love In Sight" are veritable rock anthems. The phone fight in "No Love In Sight" by Meghan Cary and Peter Farrell bring an unexpected reality to the song. The amazing musical and lyrical talents of the anti-war "Waiting For Rome To Fall" is just awe inspiring. Film director Wolfgang Busch contributes a unique, poetic combination of German & English spoken word - "sprechstimme rap" - as Robert Urban calls it. YOLANDA contributes an over-the-top SATB gospel choir for the song's rousing finale. The techno bed for "Rome" was supplied by groove-meisters MARK VOLLENWEIDER & TOM O'NEILL of Reason Music Software. "Waiting For Rome To Fall" has quickly risen into the top five requested songs on the Rainbow World Radio Playlist as selected by Internet listeners. "Rock Widow" also includes three covers. Two by Charles Ives; "The Cage" and environmental protest song and "Serenity" both brought forth with the unique interpretation of Robert Urban talent and style. The third, is an acoustic cover from Cream's "Wheels Of Fire" called "Deserted Cities In The Dark" inspired by the relentless TV coverage of villages and homes wrecked by current Middle East conflicts. All songs are strong, poignant, and brilliantly delivered.
Make no mistake, "Rock Widow" is not a rock tribute CD. More to the point a verification that rock is alive and well. The title also makes a statement about Robert Urban's view of rock today. "Rock Widow" is a significant CD not just to the GLBT music community but to the rock community in general. Sure some of the songs are very "out" in their meaning, however the musical appeal is universal. The only downside to "Rock Widow" for this listener was that it was over. Thank goodness for replay! In my book, this CD could easily and fittingly been called Rock Messiah! - Len - Founder, StoneWall Society, www.stonewallsociety.com
"Dear Robert, Thank you for helping make the Transgender Day of Remembrance so memorable. Your support of the community is wonderful, and I appreciate it."Hi Robert, It was a pleasure to meet you and have you perform for our service. Thank you again for coming out to Long Island for our service. It was a great success, and you were a big part of that success. Thank you. I thought that "We are the Haunted" and "Serenity" were perfect during the service, they both captured the spirit of the evening. We could not have had a better choice for a performer. I hope we will see you out on Long Island again soon. Best" - Eileen Thomas
The fear that runs through the transgendered community is immense, and events like TDOR can help. We are so blessed to have non-transgendered allies. Personally, I know I would have had a much harder time if not for some key Gay/Lesbian/Bi friends to help me come out and be a genuine human being. Thank you for your kindness. Peace" - Helen Wright
"Dear Robert - what can l say but thanks for being there for us, and helping me to understand how important this all truly is - it was great to see you perform as well as get to know you a bit - l truly hope that we get to collorborate in the not-to-distant future - hope your holiday was peaceful and filled with good memories with love" - Alix
P.M. MAGAZINE REVIEW by JED RYAN:
It's a four-hour wet dream marathon for lovers of '80's music! See ya there!
R.U.B. at PENANG LOUNGE! On Tuesday, Nov 14th, R.U.B. performed live at New York City's Penang Lounge for what the quartet promised to be four hours of "maximum 80s pop". Who are R.U.B? They are four experienced musicians, each of whom have gained a reputation in Gotham's independent music scene in their own right: Robert Urban on vocals and guitar, Gordon Smith of the electro-pop band Rubberlegs on vocals and synthesizer, Steve Sullivan on bass, and Anthony Maulella, also of Rubberlegs, on percussion.
Even though these four gents have worked with each other before in various collaborations, this was R.U.B.'s official debut performing as a band. Indeed, a Malaysian restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan may seem like an unusual place for a rock concert, especially a four-hour long musical marathon featuring such diverse musical offerings as Peter Gabriel's 1977 "Solsbury Hill" and the ultra-campy 1983 "Drop Your Pants" from one-hit, one-named wonder Hilary. But the venue works astonishingly well as a performance area, managing to be both grand and intimate at the same time. (Incidentally, when Gordon commanded, "Drop Your Pants", no one in the audience obeyed. Hey, this was the Upper West Side, not the Village!) Penang Lounge is bolstered by a hard-hitting sound system, hard working staff, and even harder-working musicians for this particular night. R.U.B. was matched by the reciprocal energy of the audience.
Robert Urban's voice is haunting and otherworldly, and that voice can hit some splendid high notes (shall we say, his voice knows how to "rise" to the musical occasion...). Gordon Smith's voice is patently distant and cool with an unquestionable underlying warmth and ingratiation. Smith, who has been making music since 1978, often incorporates 80's classics into his shows-- solo and with Rubberlegs-- while the oft-Award-winning Robert Urban counts the rock classics of the '70's and early '80's as a big influence on his original works. In Urban's words, "The 80's are the new classics anyway!" For those of us New Yorkers like myself who grew up with the renegade station WLIR, that's an understatement! Some of R.U.B's unearthed musical gems that night at Penang included the obscure Our Daughter's Wedding's 1980 "Lawnchairs" (one of the few songs from the '80's that luckily hasn't yet been exploited for a commercial for Wal-Mart or an outdoor furniture store ad, despite an advertising agency's likely temptation...) and an al l-out, no-holes barred rendition of "Money Changes Everything", written by Prince and performed by such icons as Cyndi Lauper, although it seems to have become a favorite song for reinterpretation by many independent musicians.
The cumulative result of R.U.B.'s talents and their selection of hit songs could best be described as an 80's music lover's rÍve humide (Although, to be completely accurate, there were a few songs from other decades as well!) These guys didn't waste any time. No sooner than you ordered your first Lychee Martini, R.U.B. opened with "Get It On (Bang-a-Gong"), a 1985 heavy hitter from The Power Station, (Interestingly, The Power Station were another four-man group made up of experienced musicians from different bands). Gordon then took the lead vocals with the quirky classic "Cars" (Gary Numan's 1979 sole hit, the one that goes, "Here in my car"... etc.). Gordon continued his somewhat distant vocal style and adopted a rare deep tone for Modern English's 1982 "Melt With You". When he declares, "I made a pilgrimage to save this human's race", we view the singer as something of an unorthodox messiah. Redeption through 80's music? Why not?! Then came a sexy version of Depeche Mode's 1994 "I Feel You", featuring a long, pounding instrumental musical interlude and a unique vocal styling by Urban; so many different meanings can be interpreted from the lyrics.
A lot of the artists that R.U.B spotlight in their show-- like Depeche Mode and other new wave bands-- relied heavily on elecronic trickery. (Anyone who's a fan of Rubberlegs, incidentally, will know that Gordon Smith has many electronic tricks under his size 31 belt, and Gordon brings these to the stage very well.) So, here's the essence of R.U.B: Robert Urban's organic guitar work and ethereal voice, combined with Gordon's talents behind the keyboards and equally unique vox, bring these decade-spanning hits to an entirely different level. R.U.B. can capture the fun spirit of early Depeche Mode with 1982's "Just Can't Get Enough", and equally do justice to the somber numbers of DM's later years, like "Stripped" from 1987 (The line "Let me see you make decisions without your televison" is more relevant than ever in 2006.).
R.U.B. is bolstered by the synergy between the four bandmates. Sullivan on bass offers some much-needed cool restraint, while Maulella shows one step from total abandon with his famous percussion. Speaking of energy, a real crowd-pleaser came with Devo's decadent 1980 hit "Whip It". After that was a cover of the Eurythmics' 1984 "Here Comes the Rain Again", with Urban's haunting vocals never sounding more tormented, and Gordon's synthesizer re-creating the song's titular raindrops (For Eurythmics fans, the band did perform "Sweet Dreams" later on in the night as well!). Then came one of The Cars' most famous party songs, "Let's Go (I Like the Nightlife)", from 1979, and a stripped-down, haunted version of the Psychedelic Furs' (Remember them?) 1982 "Love My Way" featuring some exquisite synth work. Urban then went solo with The Beatles' 1969 "It's All Too Much", from the legendary "The Yellow Submarine" album, and then delivered an exceptionally poignant "Solsbury Hill". Gordon took the vocal lead with New Zealand band Split Enz' 1980 it "I Got You"( "I don't know why sometimes I get frightened. You can see my eyes, you can tell that I'm not lyin'"), a song well-matched to his vocal abilities, and The Monroes' sole 1980 hit "What Do all the People Know?" ("Could you be the one I'm thinking of? Could you be the girl I really love? All the people tell me so, But what do all the people know?") The audience was also treated to an emblematic original Rubberlegs song, "The Timinator"-- the best song from the 80's that was recorded in 2005! After a brief intermission, R.U.B. returned for more hits. To again demonstrate the range of the music that night, two performances included Elton John's 1974 "Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me," and one-hit wonder Soft Cell's 1981 "Tainted Love". Another real musical curio came with Thomas Dolby's 1983 "She Blinded Me with Science", the ultimate '80's video game geek-chic anthem, with Gordon providing lead vocals and Robert gleefully providing the intermittent declaration "Science!" One of the most priceless moments of the night was Smith belting out the famous lyrics of The Violent Femmes' 1982 punk classic "Blister in the Sun": "When I'm a walking, I strut my stuff, then I'm so strung out; I'm high as a kite, I just might, stop to check you out... Let me go on, like a blister in the sun; Let me go on, big hands I know you're the one!".
Clearly, anyone coming into Penang Lounge that night who may have harbored some of New York City's contagious restlessness (sexual or otherwise), like the hero of the song, definitely left feeling more "high as a kite" than "strung out" after this show. R.U.B.'s energy is indeed contagious! So many hits, so little time-- even with four hours! R.U.B. performs again at Penang Lounge on Tuesdays, December 19th, January 16th, and January 30, 2007. Penang is located at 240 Columbus Ave. at 71st St., Call (212) 769-3988 or check out www.PenangUSA.com for their menu and more info. Also check out: www.RobertUrban.com www.Rubberlegs.com - Jed Ryan PM Entertainment Magazine www.JedRyan.com
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Robert, This sounds GREAT. I so wish I could be there to show my support. Thank YOU for being a part of this event and for your continued love and support of the GLBT Hip-Hop community. Much Luv Always, Tori