My father is a Broadway junkie. He can't get enough, and it's been that way for decades. Often times when I go with him to a show, I know he's "into" it by his use of the word "wow" after nearly every musical number. If it's a decent show, you won't hear many "wows." If it's a terrible show, he'll usually say to me "do you like it?" or "where's the plot?" But if it's a spectacular show, forget it. The "wow" factor goes on overdrive like the reaction to the Star Wars Episode VII trailer. (I mentioned that to illicit more views. Guilty.)
Moving on, I'm so very thankful my dad passed on his love of theatre to me. I am, however, a bit more reserved in showing my excitement. It takes a lot to get me to express a loud "wow." I can honestly count on one hand how many shows have done it, and I should say my "wows" don't come out loud. They are felt deeply within, and kept to myself until intermission or until the show's end where I share it aloud.
So why the play-by-play of my theatre viewing habits and the chronic, borderline obnoxious use of the word "wow"? It's simple. I had about two baker's dozen inner "wow" moments while watching the Tony Award winning revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch on Broadway last spring. Nothing beats the feeling of groundbreaking theatre, and Hedwig has been just that since it debuted Off Broadway in 1998 and arguably is even more so in its current incarnation. The revival opened April 22 at the Belasco Theatre with eventual Tony winners Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Hall, and received glowing reviews - sort of like the Star Wars Episode VII teaser trailer did. (Oops, I did it again.) The story of a transgender East German rocker still kicks you in the gut, the balls (even if you don't have them), and all over any wicked little town with its captivating story, rocking music, and seesaw of hilariousness and poignancy.
Hedwig has had two lead roles since Harris departed. First The Book of Mormon's and Girls' Andrew Rannells and currently Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame and acclaim, and come Jan. 21, co-creator and Hedwig originator John Cameron Mitchell will strap on those leather boots again, and take center stage. But, believe it or not this blog post, this article, fatherly tribute, chronic "wow" piece, or whatever you want to call it - is not about the show itself or the actors who have embodied Hedwig. it's about Stephen Trask, who composed the music and lyrics to the show and co-conceived it with Mitchell. Why didn't I lead off with this? Wouldn't you like to know. Wouldn't I like to know. In all seriousness, I wanted to track the personal importance the show has had with me as well as the critical love it's received from its very beginning. It's painting a picture, while, in fact, burying the lead. (Sorry journalism professors who taught me otherwise.)
Anyway, I was so very fortunate to have Trask perform "Midnight Radio" from Hedwig, and Paul and Linda McCartney's "Dear Boy" as part of an A-Sides session, and have him sit down for an informal, insightful chat about afterwords. Topics ranged from whether Mitchell would take over for Hall (the question predated the announcement) to how it felt being ineligible for a Tony. Before we get right down to it, I should throw some bio in here since Trask is so much more than the man who co-created one of the best theatre musicals ever.
Trask fronted the '90s NYC punk band Cheater, Trask, has recorded and performed with artists ranging from Stone Temple Pilots to Yoko Ono, and has been scoring films (Lovelace, Little Fockers, Dreamgirls) for over a decade. He was also the music director and house band member at SqueezeBox, a weekly party that took place at Don Hill's. So, with that, watch the videos below (filmed by Yale Goodman), and thank me later. Oh, and catch Trask performing with Michael C. Hall, Hedwig backing band Tits of Clay and more on Dec. 7 in New York for Celebrating Don Hill--A Night of Live Music in support of RoadRecovery.org Details can be found here . Hedwig originated at that venue.
A-Sides "Delve Into Twelve" Countdown
Each week A-Sides unleashes its Top 12 tracks of the week AKA the "Delve Into Twelve"based on the following contributing factors: songs I'm playing out that particular week NO MATTER WHEN THEY WERE RELEASED (think overlooked songs, unreleased tracks, and old favorites), songs various publicists are trying to get me to listen to that I did and dug a bunch, posts and trends I've noticed on my friends' Facebook walls, and -- most importantly -- the songs my two-year-old-plus son gravitates toward by stomping his feet in approval. Yeah, you read that right. This weeks follows below (LW= last week's rank).
12. 'The Party Line" (debut) - Belle and Sebastian
11. "Champions of Red Wine" (LW-10) - The New Pornographers
10. "i" (debut) - Kendrick Lamar
9. "Beggin For Thread" (LW-6) - Banks
8. "Inside Out" (LW-8) - Spoon
7. "Every Breaking Wave" (debut) - U2
6. "Something From Nothing (LW-3) - Foo Fighters
5. "Da Vinci" (LW-4) - Weezer
4. "O" (LW-5) - Coldplay
3. "Shut Up and Dance" (LW-7) - Walk the Moon
2. "Mess is Mine" (LW-1) - Vance Joy (Watch his exclusive performance of the song for A-Sides here!)
1. "First" (LW-2) - Cold War Kids (Watch their exclusive A-Sides performance here.)
About A-Sides Music
Jon Chattman's "A-Sides Music" series was established in August 2011 and usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles -- just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I'm hoping this is refreshing. Artists have included: fun, Courtney Love, Air Supply, Bastille, Vance Joy, Alice Cooper, Echosmith, Charli XCX, Jake Miller, American Authors, Cold War Kids, Imagine Dragons, Gary Clark Jr., and more! A-Sides theme written and performed by Blondfire.