benjaminpatterson eblastYou’ve undoubtedly heard of that mythic “jack of all trades,” that person who seems to do everything well? Well, I just met him — and as it turns out, his name’s not “Jack” — it’s Ben. Benjamin Patterson, to be exact, and he’s one of those guys who makes the mortals among us completely nuts.

Patterson, 42, is an actor. He’s also a model. And a photographer. AND a musician. And he juggles all of that from his beautiful home in Los Angeles that she shares with his husband, Mike Moody, and their two year old son, Zachary.

Patterson is also almost unbelievably down to earth and accessible, warmly recalling meeting Moody almost 18 years ago.

Click here to read MPC’s full Huffington Post feature, including Patterson’s path to fatherhood, stories of his brushes with entertainment titans Oprah Winfrey and Shonda Rhimes, and his key to living your best life!  

newyearseveworst

The last week of December provides a special kind of torture for many of us. Hannukah and Christmas are over, but it’s not time to go back to real life just yet. There’s one more so-called “holiday” ahead, just waiting to be a disappointment to perennially hopeful revelers. I’m talking, of course, about New Year’s Eve.

For the full story, visit NBCNews.com/Think.

fantasiachristmas

by Michael P Coleman

I don’t want to be a Grinch about it, but I get nervous when my favorite artists release Christmas records.

Many singers forego timeworn holiday favorites in favor of original material, and often wind up producing mediocre, forgettable projects.  Very few people deliver a song like Mariah Carey’s 1994 “All I Want For Christmas Is You” that stands the test of time. 

On the other hand, recording Christmas standards is risky, as those songs have been covered and sung for decades and are often associated with legends.  Artists are challenged to put their own stamp on them without sounding dated. 

Congrats to Fantasia for showing us how it’s done. 

The singer’s gorgeous new Christmas After Midnight is the album you’ll want to play after the kids have stopped pining away for a Christmas hippopotamus.  She dedicated the album to her grandmother, whose birthday was on Christmas Day.

“She’s gone home now,” says Fantasia of her grandmother, “but she played a very big part in my life and career. She loved people so much and gave more than she received—which is what my favorite holiday is all about.”

Christmas After Midnight offers a seamless blend of the spiritual, secular, and sprightly,  with her reverential “Silent Night” and Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” coming across almost as prayers.

Fantasia’s simmering, subdued “Give Love On Christmas Day” (originally recorded by The Jackson Five) is a very pleasant surprise.  Her plaintive “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” restores both the original lyric and the pathos, rivaling Judy Garland’s classic.  And she reminds us that she knows how to party during the holidays, delivering a joyful version of Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas” and, with CeeLo Green, a playful “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” 

Through it all, Christmas After Midnight is a smoky, mature album on which Fantastia displays vocal restraint, a side of her we don’t always get to hear.  The record also features a side of Fantasia we don’t always get to see — on the cover!  With just a glance, you’ll realize that this album is for grown folks! 

‘Tasia!  Damn!  Put some clothes on! 

"My husband loved the cover,” Fantasia laughed.  “But I also sent the photo to my mother-in-law, my best friend along with my mother. My mother-in-law said she loved it. Still I asked, are you sure?  She said stop thinking like that. it’s classy and beautiful."

Fantasia’s classy, beautiful Christmas After Midnight deserves a spot in your holiday music collection.  Dim the lights, pour some wine, and let the (reindeer) games begin. 

Fantasia’s Christmas After Midnight is available at retail and digitally.

 

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP. 

 

 
Johnny Mathis, Babyface Collaborate On Brilliant New Albumby Michael P Coleman

After over six decades of thrilling his fans with almost 80 albums, it must have been at least a bit daunting for the legendary Johnny Mathis to go into the studio to record a new project that might stand the test of time.

Daunting or not, Mathis and the equally legendary Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds have done just that with the beautiful new Johnny Mathis Sings The Great New American Songbook. The brainchild of music industry legend Clive Davis, the new album features 11 masterpieces that were introduced to fans of great music via singers like Adele, Whitney Houston, R Kelly, Pharrell, and Bruno Mars.

Mathis’ new album was over two years in the making. The legend said quite a lot of work went into it — with some of it coming before he’d sung a single note. As he recalled the song selection process, Mathis’ love and respect for Davis was obvious.

“Clive wanted hits, titles that people will know about, and he’s interested in selling records. I’m interested in whether I can sing the song or not,” Mathis laughed by phone. “Clive’s list went from the sublime to the ridiculous! So it was a lot of give and take. I’ve still got my little boy attitude about what I really like to sing. I have to be shoved a little bit one way or the other, and that’s good.”

That shoving was was very good for the legend’s fans, as Johnny Mathis Sings The Great New American Songbook is one the singer’s absolute best. Babyface echoed Mathis in recalling Davis’ influence on the project.

For the full story, please visit TheHuffingtonPost.com.

By Michael P Coleman

During a two-hour performance before a capacity crowd at Sacramento’s Golden 1 Center, superstar Janet Jackson reaffirmed her place among pop music royalty.  The diva is back:  svelte, sassy, sexy, and still in control. 

janet opening mainTaking the stage around 8:35pm, Jackson ferociously launched into the first of two lesser-known songs from 1989’s phenomenal Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 album, “The Knowledge” and “State Of The World.”  The latter was the inspiration for her current tour, and both were reminders that Jackson was well ahead of her time with that album. 

Both songs morphed perfectly into a hit from her latest Unbreakable album, “Burnitup.”  A rapid succession of high energy favorites followed, including “Nasty” (with the unforgettable “Miss Jackson if you’re nasty” line), “Miss You Much,” “Alright,” and “You Want This.” 

After that last one, Jackson bellowed — in a much huskier speaking voice than her trademark falsetto — “Sacramento!  Do you want more? DO YOU WANT MORE?”  We let her know, in no uncertain terms, that we did.  And Jackson delivered, performing virtually every hit you’d want to hear, with vocals that appeared live and very much on par with her recordings. 

Jackson was never considered a heavyweight as a vocalist, always in the shadow of contemporaries like Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.  While that somewhat handicapped her early in her career, it’s actually served her well down the road.  Jackson’s hits never included vocal pyrotechnics that she has to try to match decades later.  And while each may have bested Jackson vocally, neither could have held a candle to her in the live performance department. 

Could this be the same Jackson who wowed us in the video for “The Pleasure Principle?”  Yes — and she recreated that iconic “back against the wall” choreography on stage. Could this be the same Jackson who flashed that megawatt smile in her “Love Will Never Do (Without You)” video?  Yes, and the smile is still piercing and holds up to comparison.  We know because Jackson played segments of the original video on a large screen above the stage while she sang it.  The singer looked great and she knew it, as it took a lot of confidence to show a video from 1990 to her fans last night.  If anything, Jackson looks and sounds better than ever. 

Other concert highlights included a moment of silence for victims in Puerto Rico and Las Vegas (although, embarrassingly, some fans violated the moment with screams of “I love you, Janet”), a powerful performance of her anti-domestic violence opus “What About,” and driving renditions of “Together Again” and “Rhythm Nation.”  I’d forgotten how many hits that girl has! 

Back in the day, some critics wrote Jackson off as a studio creation that was only successful because of her lineage and production team, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis.  While Jam & Lewis undoubtedly handed Jackson dozens of carefully-crafted pop and R & B masterpieces, one must recall that they did the same for many other artists, most of whom aren’t recording or performing today, let alone selling out arenas nationwide.  Whatever that “it factor” is, Jackson’s got it.  And one need only ask LaToya whether being Michael Jackson’s sister is enough to get the job done.

Last night’s show was a welcome reminder of Jackson’s unquestionable talent and the impact she’s had in the entertainment industry.  And if you listened closely during last night’s show, well beneath the screams of tens of thousands of Jackson’s adoring fans, you could faintly hear the sound, from a distance, of Beyoncé’s gentle sobs.

Connect with Sacramento-based freelancer Michael (“Mr. Coleman” if you’re nasty) at www.michaelpcoleman.com or follow him on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.

He’ll even welcome notes from members of the Beyhive. 

 

By Michael P Coleman


mathis concert 2017“Incomparable” is a word that is repeatedly strewn about these days, describing individuals and events that may actually be compared to others without much thought or imagination. For a true understanding of the word, one need look only as far as the legendary Johnny Mathis’ next concert date. During his Sunday night performance at the beautiful Sacramento Community Theatre, Mathis personified the word over and over again. 

How can one compare much of today’s painfully pedestrian “hits” with the classics Mathis performed last night — songs like “Misty,” “Chances Are,” “99 Miles To LA,” “Life Is A Song Worth Singing,” “Gina,” “The 12th Of Never,” “Wonderful, Wonderful,” or “I’m Stone In Love With You?” Mathis leaped across decades more easily than many of his loyal fans hopped out of their cars outside of the theatre.

The entertainer’s peerless, piercing tenor defies description, a fluid, multi-octave wonder that Mathis used Sunday night to out-sing The Stylistics on a handful of their Thom Bell-penned R & B classics from the 1970s. His versions of Henry Mancini’s “Moon River” and The Beatles’ “Yesterday” were quite simply the best versions I’ve ever heard. 

This show was the third time I’ve seen Mathis in concert in as many years, and each show was different from the last. Unlike other performers of his generation who trot out the same, tired show year after year, Mathis is unwilling to rest on his laurels. He is still giving his fans 100 percent, and Sunday night, his standing-room-only crowd ate it up. 

Click here to read MPC’s full concert review at the Huffington Post.

By Michael P Coleman

Stephen Kings IT Movie Poster 260Leave it to New York Times bestselling author Stephen King and Hollywood to serve up a clown that is more terrifying than the one in the Oval Office. 

In the first act of the excellent, gruesomely terrifying new adaptation of King’s 1986 novel, one of the film’s young protagonists gives a pointed exclamation to one of his friends:

“This is summer!  This is supposed to be fun!  This isn’t fun!  This is scary and disgusting!” 

I feel you, kid.  Summer is supposed to be a fun time at the movies, with superheroes and PG-rated adventure fare.  This new horror masterpiece has completely flipped that script. 

I will confess that I have typically not been a fan of theatrical adaptations of King’s wonderful novels.  For the most part, they have not lived up to their gloriously wicked source material.  But since I had not read King’s original novel, I thought I would give It’s demonic clown, Pennywise, a go at the theatre last night. 

“Last night.”  That was my first mistake.  If you are brave enough to see It, do yourself a favor and see an earlier show than the 7pm one I took in. Try a midday matinee, even.  That way, you won’t be like me, tossing and turning in bed, and jumping at every creak in my house until well past 3am when I was mercifully allowed to fall asleep. 

It tells the story of a group of kids who must face their biggest fears, the manifestation of which is, frankly, one scary clown who is brilliantly brought to life by actor Bill Skarsgârd.  There’s actually a name for the irrational fear of clowns:  coulrophobia.  I hadn’t been afflicted with it, although many people are.  In fact, I never quite understood how anyone could be afraid of anything as simple as a clown.  After last night at the movies, I get it, and realize that clowns like Pennywise are anything but simple.  I will never look at a clown — or a sewer grate — the same way again. 

Skarsgârd’s performance is not the film’s only standout.  Every child actor among It’s ensemble is exceptional.  The viewer falls in love with each of the kids quickly and completely, making the menaces they face even more painful to watch.  The kids also provide just the right amount of comic relief at just the right times during the film’s narrative.  Without a raucous laugh of two along the way, Pennywise might prompt a heart attack well before the final credits roll.  

At another point during It, a character says “Leave it to a little fear to make a paper man crumble.”  Just call me a paper man, as by the movie’s thrilling climax, I wanted to huddle behind the seat in front of me and make It all just go away.

“Please, Jesus,” I whimpered near the back of that darkened movie theater, to a deity who doesn’t hear from me nearly as much as I have heard He wants to, “just make it all just go away.” 

God answers prayers.  The lights eventually came up.  And some night very soon, I know, I’ll get a good night’s sleep. 

See It.  I dare you. 

It is playing — and breaking records — in theaters nationwide. 

By Michael P Coleman

trump fine peopleI’ve been doing a reasonably good job of staying away from the news over the weekend.  For my emotional and spiritual health, I turn the omnipresent iPhone news alerts off and lean away from social media, while focusing on friends and family as much as I can on weekends. 

So when I turned the news back on Monday morning, I got hit between the eyes with the reports of Saturday’s terrorist attack in Charlottesville. And yesterday,  I watched an event that was more circus than press conference, during which the President of the United States, Donald Trump, compared our country’s founding fathers to the Confederacy. 

In case you haven’t heard, President Trump went on to lay equal blame for the attack with both the Alt Right movement and the event’s counter protestors, whom he labeled the “Alt Left.”  

That’s the first time I’ve referred to Donald Trump as President.  I was one of the ones who used to use “45” or other more colorful terms, depending on my state of sobriety, to describe him.  Jack Daniels in hand, I’ve boldly slurred that he was “not my president.” 

But to paraphrase a classic line from one of my favorite movies, he IS in the chair, and we should use the term — the title — to describe him.  Maybe when we start doing that, we’ll realize just what we’ve done. 

I have sometimes looked beyond Michael Jackson’s man in the mirror and held others responsible for Trump’s ascendency.  Others like Bernie Sanders’ most ardent supporters, for being unwilling or unable to let go.  Or Joe Biden, for wanting to enjoy an earned break.  Or Hilary Clinton, for…well, for simply being herself. 

But In the sober, stark light of day, I realize that we elected Donald Trump. The American people gave Trump the keys.  And to date, we’ve sat by and allowed a bigoted demagog to run our country. 

In this writer’s not-so-humble opinion, we all need to stop the madness.  Before it’s too late. 

I would call President Trump’s off-the-rails performance at Tuesday’s “press conference” a tragic, pseudo-comedic nightmare if we hadn’t all been wide awake as it unfolded.  While I was watching it, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  I did both before the night was over. 

I have to admit that I chuckled at times during Trump’s televised rant.  President Trump exposed himself, once and for all, as a manic, duplicitous racist. Many commentators have been reluctant to call him a racist, but I come from the “call-a-spade-a-spade” school of thought.  (And yes, the pun is very much intended.).

I shuddered — literally — as I listened to President Trump describe neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” and as I learned that former KKK leader David Duke thanked him for doing so.  Unlike past GOP presidents and leaders, including Ronald Reagan, President Trump did not distance himself from the KKK connection.  And as of this writing, he still hasn’t. 

I teared up — literally — as I listened to the mother of 32-year-old Heather Heyer, the woman who was murdered in last weekend’s attack, openly mourn the loss of her daughter and hopelessly wish for her return. The contributions that young lady could have made to our society will never be realized.  As a parent of adult daughters, my heart broke for that mom. 

At the same time, I was emboldened by the knowledge that Heyer died for a cause that she believed in.  May each of us have the courage to do that. 

As I learned of Republicans like Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan denouncing President Trump’s racist words, I wondered when — or if — they’ll begin to walk the walk.  How can they, or anyone, do that?  Let’s start with the 25th Amendment, which outlines how a sitting president may be removed from office. 

The day after we elected Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America last November, I hung a portrait of President Barack Obama in my living room.  Just last week, I took that portrait down, telling myself that Trump is in whether I like it or not, and that it’ll only be another three years. 

But last evening, as I watched people like CNN commentator Van Jones and host Anderson Cooper tear up as they reported on yesterday’s presidential debacle, I realized that our country can’t afford another three years of an egomaniacal, divisive, racist dictator in the White House. 

And let’s not even talk about North Korea.  Or the revolving door of Trump’s cabinet.  Or Russia. 

President Trump yesterday spoke of the “very fine people” who were members of the Alt Right movement.  If that’s true, we have another fine person running the country.  As fine as he is, I suggest we as a country evoke the 25th Amendment and get the very fine Donald Trump out of the Oval Office.  Then, we can begin the long road to restoring some level of respect and dignity to the office of the presidency of the United States of America. 

 michael bioThis blog was written by Sacramento-based freelancer Michael P Coleman. 

Connect with him at michaelpcoleman.com or on Twitter:  @ColemanMichaelP.