Boston Pride Festival being held on Saturday, June 8th from noon to 6 p.m. at Boston’s City Hall Plaza. From dance pop stars to drag queens to DJs and rock stars, the Festival has something for everyone. These acts will be in addition to headline performer Karmin which is scheduled to take the stage last. The Boston Pride Festival will also feature special guests hosts Jim Clerkin of KISS 108 and Fast Freddy Murphy of Mix 104.1, as well as emcees Abby Cummings and Liza Lott.
The Festival is the last stop on the Boston Pride Parade route and will host entertainment, the Family Zone, the Main Stage Bar and Lounge and more than 100 vendors for people of all ages. The Festival will also provide an area with accommodations for seniors and others to rest and enjoy free chair massages.
Nightclub DJ and musician, DJ AGA (Greg Agahigian) has been spinning his signature upbeat and energetic sound in and around the New England area for nearly 25 years.
In the world of Dance Music, there are followers and there are leaders and there is DJ AGA, “ I don’t just play music, I play to the crowd in front of me, always teasing people with cuts of classics and new tracks. I’m all about keeping things fresh and bringing back some of the old with a new twist as well as constantly on the lookout for the hottest and newest music” Aga blends progressive and vocal house along with Tribal and Top 40 dance mixes to energetic crowds from Maine to Provincetown.
Born in Oklahoma, Houston Bernard is an international performance artist.
His uncle and father were known as the Rebel Brothers and were a staple in the Nashville and OKC country music scenes in the 1970s. They played back-up for artists such as Tanya Tucker and Sleepy LaBeef, regularly crossing paths and swapping stories with the likes of Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, Kiss and Willie Nelson. Johnny Bernard (uncle) has written songs for many country artists in Nashville including Reba McEntire.
Houston’s Great Grandfather was the famous gunfighter George ‘Bittercreek’ Newcomb, a famous outlaw (captured in the Time-Life ‘Gunfighters’ book) who ran with the Dalton, James and Doolan gangs and a was Most Wanted man in the 1890s. It’s this outlaw spirit that Houston carries with him to every show.
After years of shopping mall and state fair performances, Houston moved to New York when he was 20 and began developing his own look, sound, and aesthetic. Diving deep into the city’s underground, he championed human rights, free speech, and insouciant sexuality over grinding electro/hip-hop/rock beats. Houston’s solo (and self-booked) world tour kept him busy from 2003 through 2007.
The Genki Spark
The Genki Spark multi-generational Asian women’s performance troupe uses Japanese taiko drumming, spoken word, comedy, and personal stories to inspire creativity, build community, and advocate respect for all.
ZHE (pronounced like the letter “Zee”) is a Boston-based Pop/Rock/Dance/Glam band formed in 2010. Playing their debut show at Boston’s Machine nightclub, they were well-received by the public and became Machine’s house band. Since then, ZHE has been performing consistently in the Boston area.
ZHE is known for their energetic live performances on stage and engaging crowds of people until they are physically incapable of dancing anymore. Performing a mix of originals and rocked-out Top 40/Dance tunes, this band has captivated crowds since the start.
For performer Rachael Sage, who is also a poet, actor and visual artist as well as a longtime record label owner (she founded MPress Records in 1996), music has always been her primary form of self-expression. By the age of three she had taught herself to play the piano, and by her teens, she’d won the ASCAP Pop Songwriting Contest. Upon hearing Sage’s winning entry, legendary producer Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T. Rex) told her she was “extremely talented” and offered to produce her demo. While her parents pressed her to go to Stanford University instead, it was an encouraging moment that gave her the confidence to self-produce her first record, MORBID ROMANTIC.singer, songwriter, poet, actor
Shockolady began her career in the UK in 2010 as a pop-rock artist. Recent singles from her first album have already been UK club hits. “What’s the F...Fashion?” reached Number 1 in the UK Club Breakers Chart & “Rock in my bed” was in the Top 20 of the UK Commercial Club Charts. On the back of this success, Shockolady was the face of JVC Germany’s new range of ‘BoomBlaster’, involving a major nationwide TV, radio, cinema and online advertising campaign that featured her hit single, cover of T-Rex’s “Get It On”. The video for this single reached more than 100,000 hits on YouTube & was picked up by a number of UK & German TV channels. Shockolady’s previous video in October 2012 “I like it like that“ has achieved more than 250,000 views on YouTube with 84% positive feedback.
Kwanza Jones is a self-described “Gladiator in a Thong.” She is also a four-time Billboard charting indie artist and Princeton University graduate. With hits on both the “Dance/Electronic Songs” and “Dance/Club Play” Billboard charts, she has firmly established herself as a rising Dance-Pop Queen. The Kwanza Jones album, SUPERCHARGED, has been described as a “feverish mix of high-energy dance music.” This adrenaline pumping collection works equally as well on the dance floor as it does in the gym. Kwanza says, “It’s music for superheroes and divas — or those who want to be.”
KAR•MIN [car-men] – noun, in Latin meaning ‘song,’ with altered spelling to hint ‘karma’.
In April of 2011, Karmin’s Amy Heidemann and Nick Noonan ignited the blogosphere when they posted a cover of Chris Brown’s “Look At Me Now” on YouTube. The clip instantly went viral, racking up millions of views after being Tweeted by such hip-hop heavy hitters as The Roots’ Questlove, producers Diplo and Jermaine Dupree, and rapper The Game, each of whom marveled at the astonishing spectacle of Amy spitting Brown’s, Lil Wayne’s, and Busta Rhymes’ raps at warp speed. Her verbal dexterity alone would be jaw-dropping coming from anyone, never mind a young girl from Nebraska styled like a ’40s film star in a black corset and ruby-red lipstick. One critic, writing on MTV.com, raved: “Homegirl is a master emcee. Seriously. Don’t let the Charlotte-from-Sex-And-The-City-façade fool you — this girl can THROW. IT. DOWN. No offense, Busta Rhymes, but I think this girl just schooled you.”
“People look at Amy and expect her to be a straight-up pop singer, but she busts out a rap and she just slays it,” Nick says. “I also think the attitude is what throws people, she completely embodies it.” “We hoped that people would like our version, but we didn’t expect all this,” Amy says of the pandemonium that followed. In short order, the Boston-based duo (who met as freshmen at the prestigious Berklee College of Music) were invited to perform with The Roots at Tufts University and appear on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and On Air With Ryan Seacrest, which led to their subsequent signing with Epic Records, now headed by veteran talent spotter L.A. Reid. “We performed several of our original songs for him live, just us and a piano, and we knew right away,” Amy says. “It was something about his energy. He felt music the same way we did.”
Although they are already adored by fans around the world for the pop and hip-hop covers they have posted on their YouTube Channel Karmincovers (178 million views and more than 780,000 subscribers as of February), Karmin are ready to show the world what they can do with their own original music. Their first shot across the bow was a high-profile appearance on Saturday Night Live in February, during which they showcased two new songs: the irresistibly addictive current single “Brokenhearted” and the blazing, rap-fueled “I Told You So.” “Doing SNL was totally surreal,” Nick says. “We grew up watching the show so to have been asked to perform was completely mind-blowing.”
“Brokenhearted,” which Amy says tells the story of how she and Nick first met, and “I Told You So” are just two of the stellar tracks that appear on the duo’s upcoming debut album, Hello, which Amy describes as “an introduction to Karmin. It’s a new sound — we like to call it ‘swag-pop.’ You’re going to hear the catchy hooks and the crazy rap verses with lots of wordplay. There’s humor, but there are deep, meaningful messages buried within the playfulness. I think people will be really entertained by it.”
Working with such top-notch hitmakers as Claude Kelly, Stargate, Tricky Stewart, Dr. Luke, Jon Jon, and The Runners, Hello showcases Karmin’s versatility and far-reaching talent. Nick delivers bright harmonies and skilled accompaniment on piano, guitar, and even trombone (he’s a trained jazz trombonist) to Amy — a vocal powerhouse who glides effortlessly from singing to rapping.
“Lauryn Hill is a huge influence as a female artist who both raps and sings,” Amy says. “I also love Brandy, Alicia Keys, Gwen Stefani, Christina Aguilera, and Alanis Morissette, although her album had a parental guidance sticker on it, so I wasn’t allowed to own it growing up. I would sit there with my tape recorder when Casey Kasem came on with the Top 40 and record her music off the radio.”
Both Amy and Nick were raised modestly in small towns, which probably accounts for their down-to-earth friendliness. Amy grew up in Seward, Nebraska (pop. 6,000). Her mother is a first-grade teacher and her father sells fiberglass and storm-damage supplies. “My dad plays guitar and would have loved to be the fifth member of The Beatles,” says Amy, who discovered her own voice in sixth grade after performing for her classmates who thought she was lip-synching. “I remember when [Swedish singer] Robyn’s debut album came out and thinking, ‘Oh, white girls can sing soul. It’s okay that I sound like this.’ Because growing up in Nebraska, everyone listened to country music.” Amy was accepted to Berklee on a scholarship to study songwriting, performance, and business, and worked as a wedding singer at night and on weekends. “My mom was like, ‘You’re going to make $125 a night singing with a wedding band in Boston?’ It was like I’d made it.”
Meanwhile, Nick, a chiropractor’s son from Old Town, Maine (pop. 7,840), was working his way through his parents’ collection of classic rock albums, everyone from Billy Joel and Elton John to The Beatles, Queen, and The Doors. When he was required to learn an instrument in fourth grade, he chose trombone because no one else did. “My big thing was I could play really high, loud, and fast, especially for a little guy,” he recalls. After winning several awards, Nick was also accepted to Berklee on a scholarship. He performed with such luminaries as Paul Simon and Herbie Hancock and seriously considered becoming a professional Jazz trombonist. After the two graduated, Amy tried her luck with a girl group and kept performing as a wedding singer until it finally dawned on her and Nick that they should be making music together.
“We were like, ‘We’ve tried all these different things, we should really just do something ourselves because nobody is ever going to care as much about our music as we do,’” Amy says. With Amy playing a guitar her dad had gotten at a pawn shop and Nick banging out the rhythms on a wooden box because they couldn’t afford a drum kit, Karmin began writing their own songs — acoustic-driven hip-hop originals — before they decided to try to grab people’s attention by re-arranging the biggest hits of the day — songs by everyone from Adele and Lady Gaga to Kanye West and Eminem — each week on YouTube. When Karmin’s version of Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” earned them their biggest response yet, they thought the time was right to take on “Look At Me Now.” “I was drawn to the speed of the rapping, but also the swag,” Amy says. “It’s not tangible, but there’s space in the music that just feels so good.”
Now Karmin are bringing that feeling to their own music. “A few months ago, we were sitting in our living room with a wooden box and a guitar just writing raw music, now we’re performing on Saturday Night Live and getting ready to release our debut album,” Amy marvels. Adds Nick: “I remember Amy’s dad once saying that the only CD he’d ever bought and run home from the store to listen to was by The Beatles. We want our music to have that effect on people. We want to shake things up.”