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It’s astonishing to look back at the events and people that Webster Hall has hosted over the years, from both a variety and historical standpoint. Politicians, unions, musicians, celebrities, students, ravers and pretty much anyone who wanted to be someone or been seen with someone filed in to the venerable East Village venue for decades.

But of course, especially in the ever-changing borough of Manhattan, all good things must come to an end. Brooklyn Sports Entertainment purchased the concert venue back in April and following Thursday night’s performance from Flushing emcee Action Bronson, it’ll close for renovations. The new Spectrum Hall, outfitted for sports and concerts exclusively, is expected to be finished in about two years.

For me, it’s easy to reflect on Webster Hall because I only have two distinct memories from the venue. The first came on November 23, a little over a month following my move to the city. I caught a performance from Long Island’s own Hoodie Allen (thanks Hoodie for the guest list hook-up). I’ll never forget running up to the balcony (VIP status, you know) and grabbing a Brooklyn Lager on draft just as Hoodie took the stage. The sold-out crowd exploded, singing along to every word from his debut EP “All American.”


The second took place a little less than a year later. I strolled down to the East Village with a camera man from 95.5 on September 30 to interview a then up-and-coming artist by the stage name of Lorde. Born Ella Yelich-O’Connor, the 16 year-old had just released her critically-acclaimed and soon-to-be GRAMMY Award winning debut album “Pure Heroine.” She was also about to headline three sold-out shows at Webster Hall, which is where her and I chatted before sound-check.


A couple things stand-out from that experience: for starters, we set-up for the interview on the aforementioned balcony which was still disheveled from the previous night. I didn’t really mind though, save the tampon wrapper that was on the ledge and in our camera shot. If my memory serves me correctly, my friend Nikki who at the time worked for Republic Records handled its disposal (thanks again Nikki!). As for the empty plastic cups, those were purposely left there because… Webster Hall.

The other unforgettable part of that day was Lorde pulling a 180 during the interview regarding comments she had previously made about her label-mate and now-BFF, Taylor Swift. In hindsight, it wouldn’t be the first-time she’d have to walk-back a statement about Swift but nonetheless, Lorde found herself in the headlines due to an interview with Metro, a publication back in her native New Zealand.

“Taylor Swift is so flawless, and so unattainable, and I don’t think it’s breeding anything good in young girls. ‘I’m never going to be like Taylor Swift, why can’t I be as pretty as Lorde?’ That’s f–king bulls–t,” she said at the time.

The following Monday in Manhattan, the artist sang a different tune when I asked about who she believes is setting a good example for teenage girls.

“Taylor Swift is a really good role model, and I think what she’s saying is pretty cool,” Lorde replied. “Yeah, I think (her lyrics are) empowering. I think it’s cool.”

Lorde also addressed the situation, albeit non-directly, via her Tumblr that day. However that video of the “Royals” singer talking about Swift eventually went somewhat viral, gaining almost a half-million views to-date. It’s one of 95.5 PLJ’s most-viewed YouTube clips ever, empty plastic cups and all.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Epic Records artist Tom Walker. His EP “Blessings” is out now. We chatted about his music, covering Imagine Dragons and his hometown of Manchester during our conversation inside New York City’s Stage 17.

We all have different ways of getting over ex-lovers and coping with failed relationships. For Julia Michaels, her method involved releasing a debut cohesive body of work, the self-dubbed “mini-album” called “Nervous System.”

“I’m fully transparent. This whole (mini-album) is literally my life,” Michaels explained to me. “There were so many things that I couldn’t say to him and there are a lot of things that I don’t confront with myself that I put on this mini-album.”

Over the course of our sit-down interview Michaels noted that each track on “Nervous System” represents something that actually took place in the relationship. All of the songs were written about the same boyfriend referenced in the hit single “Issues.” The mini-album was penned over a two-month stretch after Michaels released the first track.

Perhaps the two most heart-wrenching songs are “Just Do It” and “Don’t Wanna Think.” The former describes a moment when Michaels knew her ex-boyfriend wanted to dump her but was worried he would break her heart. The latter is the only track on the mini-album that Michaels wrote alone; she is also the lone-producer on it as well. The ballad was originally titled, “Drinking Song”; Michaels composed it on a piano while drinking tequila.

“I wrote it about a fight I was having and it was just one of those songs that I had written in about 20 minutes because everything had just kind of flowed out of me,” she revealed. “Like I said, I don’t confront things and I suppress a lot of things and so sometimes when I listen down to something I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s how I feel.’”

Michaels clearly has no problem telling the world about her personal life, and the world doesn’t seem to mind; she turned-in a fantastic performance of “Issues” at the Billboard Music Awards in May and is up for “Best New Artist” later this month on the MTV Video Music Awards. Although she is currently focusing on her own music (Michaels told me that for the moment she hasn’t worked on any other songs with Selena Gomez), she still likes being able to tell other people’s stories as well.

“I love being that person that people can talk to and helping them get their stories out, because sometimes artists really want to say what they have to say but they don’t know how to articulate it in a way that fully makes sense,” Michaels said. “So I love helping them put puzzle pieces together and figuring all of that out together.”

In some aspects, Michaels provides therapy as much as collaboration. By using her debut mini-album to release an ex-boyfriend from her life, go ahead and add “self-therapy” to Michaels’ resume as well.

Monday marked “National Tequila Day,” another capitalism-created “holiday” that no one would be aware of if not for a hashtag and radio DJs like myself talking incessantly about it. However for Panic! At The Disco lead singer Brendon Urie, it’s a holiday that he essentially celebrates before every Panic! performance with a double-shot.

“It just kind of kills the hyperawareness, so we’re not up there reading too many signs and I’m forgetting lyrics and stuff,” the frontman told me back in March before the band kicked off its “Death Of A Bachelor Tour” inside Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. The interview originally aired on Mohegan Sun’s Facebook Live feed. “Yeah it’s nice; it just kind of kills the tension a little bit.”

Urie recalled a time before the band’s pre-show ritual of tequila when the group instead opted for whiskey.

“We all noticed on stage… this is going to sound weird but, we were on stage and we just kind of all looked at each other and we all felt grumpy,” he said while laughing about it. “Then after we got off stage we were just like, ‘Get off me!’”

After two sets, Panic! turned to tequila.

“That worked. Then it was just a party,” he noted. “It definitely makes a difference. I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic or something, but yeah.”

I assured Urie that it is normal for people to react in different ways to different liquors; knowledge I was able to secure without headlining sold-out arenas. No word if Urie is continuing the tradition during his run on Broadway but if the lead in “Kinky Boots” appears a little grumpy, perhaps now you know why.

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Check the full interview below.

Dave Grohl was in the parking lot of a studio he was using to record the new Foo Fighters record when he ran into a familiar face: Boyz II Men’s Shawn Stockman.

But besides the fact that Stockman is a part of a group who has sold over 60 million albums worldwide, there was another reason why Grohl recognized the Philadelphia-native.

“I met him before, at a really rock-and-roll spot,” Stockman told me, before dropping the punch line. “The flower shop.”

At the time, both men were buying flowers for their significant others. They’ve crossed paths a few times since, but it was the latest run-in that yielded a musical collaboration.

“(Grohl) said, ‘Hey man, I’m doing a song and it’d be great if you could put some vocals on it,’” recalled Stockman. “It was cool.”

The final product is the title track from the Foo’s forthcoming LP “Concrete and Gold,” due out this September. Stockman, along with Nathan and Wanya Morris, will be touring in Africa that month. Before then, the trio will wrap up its run on “The Total Package Tour” with New Kids On The Block and Paula Abdul then return to Las Vegas to continue its residency at The Mirage.

I caught up with the GRAMMY Award winners in their dressing room at Mohegan Sun Arena before the group took the stage in front of a sold-out crowd. The interview, produced for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page, included a segment where Nathan drew a card and the three artists had to answer the question on it. Asked, “Which celebrity would make you starstruck?” Stockman responded by referencing another big-name collaboration.

“Mine was Michael Jackson; we actually got to work with him,” he said. “We did some vocals on his ‘HIStory’ album.”

“He turned them down really low though,” Nathan quipped. The guys laughed, and agreed.

“We ended up being really cool (with him),” Stockman continued. “I could actually say that we were friends with Michael Jackson.”

And Stockman may go down as the only artist to work with both the King of Pop and the Foo Fighters front man. Ironically, Grohl was once asked by Lenny Kravitz to play on a Jackson track released posthumously, however his drum line wasn’t used in the final recording.

Kesha just ended a five-year musical hiatus by releasing her new single, “Praying,” although the time in between her albums has been the complete opposite of uneventful.

Over that span, Kesha was constantly in the headlines. She entered and exited rehab for an eating disorder, performed live, served as a judge on a reality TV competition (remember ABC’s “Rising Star”?) collaborated with Zedd and most notably, sued producer Dr. Luke. Kesha alleged physical and emotional abuse along with employment discrimination; the producer countersued for breach of contract and defamation.

As the series of lawsuits between Luke (born Gottwald) and Kesha (nee Sebert) played out in court, the singer claimed that if the court wouldn’t allow her to break her contract with Kemosabe Records, she wouldn’t be able to release new material. The court disagreed and technically with her new single and announcement of a forthcoming album, the court was correct.

But it should be noted that in April, Sony severed ties with Gottwald, who is no longer the CEO of Kemosabe Records. Despite this, a representative for the producer issued a statement to Billboard following the song’s release that said there were no changes to Kesha’s contractual recording obligations.

“As legally required all along, the album was released with Dr. Luke’s approval by Kemosabe which is a joint venture label of Dr. Luke and Sony,” it claimed in part.

Just a few weeks ago, a defamation lawsuit in a Tennessee court that Gottwald levied against Kesha’s mother, Pebe Sebert was dismissed. A joint statement from both parties said Ms. Sebert “admits she has no firsthand personal knowledge of the events occurring on the night of the alleged rape.”

While the separate legal battle in New York continues, it will not hold up Kesha’s return. “Praying” is an earth-scorching ballad that according to the artist, channels her feelings of “severe hopelessness and depression.”

“This song is about me finding peace in the fact that I can’t control everything — because trying to control everyone was killing me,” she wrote on Lena Dunham’s website Lenny. “It’s about learning to let go and realize that the universe is in control of my fate, not me.”

Ryan Lewis, who is best known for his work with rapper Macklemore, co-wrote the single. “Rainbow,” Kesha’s new LP, drops August 11.

From February 2017: GRAMMY Producer Of The Year nominee Ricky Reed talks about working in-studio with Kesha.

Jason Derulo and I go way back. His first appearance on my show was in 2009 before “Whatcha Say” was on anyone’s radar. The hitmaker has been a consistent presence on the program since, whether he was calling in, stopping by the studio or saying hello at an awards show.

It was great to catch up with him last month in Las Vegas at the Billboard Music Awards; Derulo joined Nicki Minaj, David Guetta and Lil Wayne to open the broadcast, contributing a performance of his Minaj-assisted single “Swalla.”

But there was another part of our conversation that I kept thinking about, besides exchanging pleasantries and talking about his forthcoming TV appearance.

“Soon man, we’ll be celebrating 100 million sold,” he revealed to me. “It’s a really, really exciting time.”

He offered up the stat as we took a trip down memory lane; I had brought up “In My Head” – the single that shed his potential “one hit wonder” label and helped solidify his status as a pop radio mainstay. Coincidentally, it was Minaj that had jumped on a remix of the track and assisted in it gaining airplay on rhythmic and urban radio.

But besides his discography coming full-circle with Minaj, I was curious as to what Derulo thought of when he looked back on that period in his career.

“I remember not quite being myself a lot of the times,” he candidly offered. “I remember being excited as sh—about everything that was happening in my life man.

“It all just kind of came crashing in a moment. When you’ve been working your whole life for something and it finally comes to fruition it’s crazy.”

Derulo couldn’t have imagined what would follow: more hit singles, tours, a near-death experience, TV gigs and the occasional tabloid fodder. And at only 27, surely he doesn’t know what’s to come.

Jason Derulo’s Top 5 Singles (Ranked by peak-Billboard Hot 100 position)

5.) “Wiggle” (featuring Snoop Dogg)

4.) “Want To Want Me”

3.) “In My Head”

2.) “Talk Dirty” (featuring 2 Chainz)

1.) “Whatcha Say”

Honorable mention: the original version of “Ridin’ Solo.”

Perhaps you’ve seen the ads, including the large one sprawled across Hotel Pennsylvania on 7th Avenue, but in case you haven’t: Starz’s hit drama “Power” is back. I recently screened the first four episodes of season four ahead of the show’s New York press junket. I have to admit, I was hooked from the jump. The storylines are compelling, the acting is fantastic and you can jump in at season four and feel caught up (although I plan to get back to those first three seasons at some point).

On assignment for my friend Shaina’s website The Knockturnal, I had a chance to chat with almost all of the main players in the production: Omari Hardwick (“Ghost”), Lela Loren (“Angela”), Joseph Sikora (“Tommy”), Naturi Naughton (“Tasha”), Rotimi Akinosho (“Dre”) and La La Anthony (“LaKeisha”). We sat down at Langham Place in Midtown East earlier this month, before last weekend’s season four premiere. The cast members talked about working with 50 Cent (he’s on the show and its executive producer), the season four and five renewal of the program and the growing conflict within the show’s various storylines.

I also asked Hardwick, who is the show’s main character, about promoting the new season following the death of Charlie Murphy. The Brooklyn-born comedian passed away in April after a bout with Leukemia; he was cast as a prison guard for the latest installment of the drama.

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The full interviews along with the features I wrote are below. New episodes of “Power” air Sundays at 12:01 am via the Starz app.


Back in February, while talking about baseball, Train lead singer Pat Monahan told me he was done singing the National Anthem at sporting events because of how stressful it is.

You could imagine my surprise when I saw Monahan on national television belting out the anthem, a cappella, before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been as nervous as that one, and I sang at the AFC Championship game two years ago in New England,” Monahan said after I played him the clip of us speaking earlier this year. “That was stressful, but nothing like Game 1 in Oakland.

The singer explained why the moment is filled with so much pressure.

“There’s a thing that happens, up until, ‘and the rockets’ red glare,’ all the way up until then, there’s a vast chance of you forgetting all of the words that would just disappear,” he said. “I don’t know why, but I’m so scared for that 48 seconds that it takes years off of my life.”

Monahan agreed to sing the anthem at the urging of his manager. With connections in the Bay Area along with Seattle and Western Pennsylvania, the front man has a number of rooting interests in sports, including the Golden State Warriors.

When I caught up with Pat, it was in a much-more relaxed setting. He and I chatted backstage before the band headlined Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. Our interview was for Mohegan Sun’s Facebook page and broadcasted live on it as we talked in Monahan’s dressing room.

“There are songs that we play every night that I had no idea that they would get the reaction that they’re getting,” the lead singer told me. “There’s a song called “Working Girl” and it goes pretty bananas out there every night.”

Monahan is mixing in the newest from the band’s “A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat” with the classics as well; one in the latter category is his favorite to perform every night.

“’Drops of Jupiter’ will always be the song that has heart for me,” he said in response to a fan question about his favorites on the set list. “Play That Song,” Train’s lead single from its latest LP, also received an honorable mention.

As far as other set list specifics, the band switches out two songs every night. They also pay tribute to Chris Cornell and Gregg Allman, neither of whom had passed away before the “Play That Song Tour” commenced.

The tour, which features support from Natasha Bedingfield and O.A.R., runs through mid-July before Train takes off for the “Fuji Rock Festival” in Niigata, Japan.

If there’s one thing you can expect when Halsey kicks off her “Hopeless Fountain Kingdom” tour later this year, it’s this: fire.

“I’ve always been very extra with the fire,” the Washington, New Jersey-native told me last month. “Any chance I have to bring fire on my stage, I’m going to do it.”

Matter-of-fact, Halsey revealed to me that during her Billboard Music Awards performance rehearsal, she kept practicing the song over-and-over in part due to the fire that was planned for the set. She certainly didn’t mind the rehearsing; she was once hit with her own fireworks during a Coachella performance (Halsey escaped unscathed).

But besides the obvious visual, there is also a meaning behind the use of fire that relates to the singer’s chart-topping album.

“My record, ‘Hopeless Fountain Kingdom,’ is kind of about an underworld,” Halsey, born Ashley Frangipane, explained. “It’s kind of about this parallel universe where love conquers all. It’s a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ story so bringing in the fire is a really, really cool way for me to kind of rope my audience in to my universe that I’ve tried to create.”

Fans across the country will have the opportunity to witness that universe on the singer’s first-ever arena tour, although Halsey is no stranger to big rooms. She headlined and sold-out Madison Square Garden in 2016; the show went on-sale three weeks after her debut LP “Badlands” came out.

“The whole world went, ‘What do you think you’re doing? You just put out your album. You can’t play MSG,’” she recalled of critics’ initial reaction to the news. “That venue has always been the pinnacle of music for me.

“I was playing a show at Webster Hall. I was playing to 1,500 people (the night tickets for The Garden were released). And I walked up-stage and I got the news that we were about to sell-out Madison Square Garden.”

Halsey said that as amazing as she thinks the arena dates will be, it will be hard to top playing MSG, which she described as, “one of the best experiences of my life.”

She’ll find out when the tour kicks off at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on September 29… her birthday.