Category Archives: Music

Interview: An Evening at Macri Park with Sean Barna

I travel for work. Back in March, after a long day of driving, I was in Erie, Pennsylvania. I got to my hotel room, dropped my stuff and headed to the hotel restaurant for a beer and dinner. I sat at the bar so that I wouldn’t be taking up a table all by myself.

As I was finishing up my dinner, two guys came in and sat down at the corner of the bar. They talked loudly, laughed and bantered with the bartender. I had spent my work day having had about six 5-minute conversations. That was it for my socialization for the entire day. So, I picked up my beer, moved down the bar and inserted myself into their conversation.

If I was a musician, my album would be An Evening at The Hampton Inn. Doesn’t have the same ring as “Macri Park” does it? That’s how I met Sean Barna and his music producer Dave. A little over two months later Sean released a new album, so I thought I’d ask him a few questions about it.

TPF: Sean, your album “An Evening at Macri Park,”  is named after a bar in Brooklyn. How did that particular bar earn the honor?

Sean: There are, as you can imagine plenty of queer bars in NYC. Brooklyn nightlight and queer culture has historically been a bit more underground and a bit more envelope-pushing than what you will find in Hell’s Kitchen or Greenwich Village (I mean, of course, in the modern era of queer culture and art — not 1969).

Macri Park, at the time I was a regular, embodied this spirit more completely than some of the other spaces, in my opinion. I was a regular at a Monday night drag show, “Mondays on Mondays (on Tuesday Morning),” where I met such an eclectic and fabulous group of creatures and characters. The third set, which usually happened around 3am, featured an “open stage”… any drag queen could perform. This was beautiful in a way: a more well-known queen might stop by after their gig and give a show, and then some queen trying it for the first time might go on. Really a cool, welcoming place.
TPF: You have a unique voice and your music has a unique sound. Who were some of your influences?  Is there an artist that you grew up trying to emulate?
Sean: The only time I tried to emulate anyone was as a drummer, especially in high school and early in college. I was and remain, first and foremost, a drummer. I did not write any complete songs until I was 25 years old. This is relevant because I think emulation is more of a young person’s thing — I have no interest in sounding like anyone, at least on purpose. That being said, I started writing songs because I saw Counting Crows on August 18th, 2007. By this, I mean I started writing words down and exploring the possibility of vulnerability. Adam Duritz has since changed my life many more times — singing on my first album, CISSY and now on An Evening at Macri Park, as well as bringing me on tour as his direct support for two months.
TPF: Your identity as a member of the LGBTQ community is a big part of who you are and how you market yourself.  How did that evolve for you?
Sean: I am a musician, first and foremost. I resented having to “announce” queerness. I resent that society has created this situation where this has to be a main subject. Of course I understand why you are asking, but is me being queer anymore who I am as being straight is for a straight person? Sexually, no. But culturally, queer people are forced to announce it. And so, yes, of course it is relevant.
THIS ALL BEING SAID, every statistic that illuminates an ill of society is worse for queer people, but it becomes worse still for queer people of color, and much, much worse for trans people of color. I am one of the least vulnerable queer people on the planet. White, straight-passing if I want, masculine, from the United States.  All of this is to say, if I had a microphone and chose not not speak up, how dare I? That would make me a joke.
TPF: On your album you have two songs with Adam Duritz of Counting Crows. How did that partnership happen, and will there be more in the future?
Sean: Actually, he is on six songs. He sings lead vocals on two: Sparkle When You Speak has a chorus that just sounds better in his range, and let’s me do Madonna improvisations over the top. Be a Man, which I wrote on his piano while I was cat sitting, is my song, but I asked him to write his own verse. He sings background vocals on a few others.

Sean and Adam

ANYWAY, he hosts and is lead-organizer of a festival called Underwater Sunshine Festival (previously Outlaw Roadshow). Basically, he gets bands he and his friends like together for a weekend of music and laughs and beer. I played one of them because one of the organizers let me play. He saw me play my song, “Cutter Street“, and he and I have been in touch ever since. Now, however, he is one of my best friends and I would do anything for that man.
TPF: You’re signed with the Kill Rock Stars ( label. You had to be super stoked to be working with them. Were you aware of their legacy going back to the 90’s?
Sean: I was vaguely aware. In the 90’s I was listening to classic rock. In the 2000’s, I was listening to classic rock and jazz, and eventually classical. I do not focus on legacy and I am not sure they do either. I told Slim, the owner, that I wanted to make a “fucked up bluegrass record” and he was stoked. So, I found my family pretty quick. Nowhere I would rather be.

Sean and his music producer Dave Drago of 1809 Studios

 TPF: You’ve been a musician your whole life. What is the best “rock and roll” moment you’ve ever had? 
Sean: Anytime you can headline a sold out show, regardless of the venue size, and get assholes kicked out for yelling over the band or being dicks in some other way… that’s a good day. Most rock and roll however would have to be when three guys wanted to take me home on the same night after a show and I went with the guy who would let my band come too so they had somewhere to stay. I refer to this briefly in my song, “Naked Heart.”
TPF: So apparently groupies is still a thing. And for my readers under 18, The Phil Factor is not encouraging wanton sexual behavior, but hey, if you’re over 18, have at it!
Thanks again to you Sean. I’m honored to have met you and more so that you took the time for this interview. For my audience, you can find Sean’s album anywhere you buy or stream music. You can follow Sean through his website and he’s a great follow on IG as SeanBarna.

Two Awesome Ghost Songs

Sure, the paranormal is fun, but it doesn’t really have a theme song does it? How about these two:

After I started this I realized that there is one more absolutely perfect song for National Paranormal Month. Here it is:

If you like sensory overload, you can create a mash-up by playing both videos at once.

May you have a great and ghost filled Thursday!


My Top Ten Favorite Concerts

The Gin Blossoms at House of Blues in Orlando

Although I have no musical talent of my own I am a music fan and I love going to live concerts, especially if I can get a good seat. Here are my ten favorite concerts (aside from my son’s)  that I’ve seen over the last 30 years. In the comments I would love to hear about your favorite bands to see live.

10. The Police; This was before the internet. I walked about two miles in the snow and waited outside in the freezing cold for four hours to buy tickets. I got a little frostbite in my toes but it was worth it. They were my favorite band at the time.


9. Yes: Unbelievably musically talented band. They were a bit past their prime when I saw them, but they played all their classics and it was still a great show.

8. Nine Inch Nails: I was an usher at this show an got to stand wherever I wanted to watch. After an intermission the lead singer came back out on stage and just destroyed everything on stage at the end of a song.


7. The Grateful Dead: It wasn’t the band that was fun to watch, it was the people in the crowd, or more specifically in the parking lot. The goings on in the parking lot before and after the show is a show in itself.

6. Sting: When I saw him he had a sign language interpreter on the side of the stage who was signing the lyrics and moving in time to the music. It was beautiful to watch.

5. 3OH3! If you don’t know them, I’m not sure how to describe their music. It’s kind of rap/hip-hop-pop alternative. Doesn’t matter. They put on a really fun show that has the whole crowd jumping from start to finish.


4. Paramore: I’ve seen them twice. Hayley Williams has a brilliant stage presence. She’s neither big nor loud. She’s a small woman overflowing with energy and she knows how to play to an audience. Thoroughly entertaining.

Seeing Motion City Soundtrack in Philadelphia

3. All Time Low: They’re an alternative/pop-punk band from Baltimore who doesn’t get much radio play, yet they sell out shows all over the world. I have no idea how people know about them. I’ve seen them five times thanks to my son’s love of their music. They’re just guys having fun playing music and making jokes.

2. Blink-182: I’ve seen these guys four times. The first was when they were a young band just making it big. My first impression was they were just trying to emulate Green Day. Now they put on a professional, slick show with lots of lights and lasers. I like shiny things.

1. Green Day: If you’ve read my blog for any length of time you know of my love of Green Day whom I’ve seen six times. When I first heard their song Basketcase in 1994 I was hooked. Their music struck a chord with me. I’ve seen them six times and am looking forward to number 7. Their concerts are an experience. They involve the audience as much as they can. You walk out feeling like it wasn’t their concert, but our concert.

Green Day in Hamilton, Ontario Canada. That is not my hair.

So what were your favorite concerts and why?

Have a great weekend!~ Phil

Music Monday! Lizzy McAlpine-All My Ghosts

Back in the day when I was cranking out five posts a week, one of them was Music Monday. I have eclectic tastes in music and modern alternative rock is one of my favorite genres. I figured the title of this song was perfect to fit in with my paranormal binge over the past month.

I first heard this Lizzy McAlpine song about a month ago and was immediately hooked. I’ve always enjoyed a song that tells a story full of quirky details. This song, All My Ghosts is almost perfect. I hope you enjoy it and it gets your toes tapping to start your Monday.

Have a great start to your week! ~Phil

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! My Interview w/ Black 47’s Larry Kirwan!

The year was 2000 and I was in an Irish store in Stowe, Vermont. As I browsed the genuine Irish knick-knacks there was music playing overhead that immediately resonated in my heart and my head. I am half-Irish. I asked the cashier if she knew whose music it was. She replied, “Of course. We have it right here,” as she handed me Black 47‘s Live in New York City CD. At the time, since The Phil Factor didn’t exist yet, little did I know that 15 years later I would get to interview lead singer Larry Kirwan. Below is that interview.

Click the Youtube video to hear some of their amazing music. Every song sounds like you’re at a party in a crowded Irish pub.

(Oct. 26, 2015) Although the band called it quits on their own terms in 2014, frontman Larry Kirwan has remained extremely busy. Considering that he writes books and plays, writes for The Irish Echo, hosts a weekly Celtic music show on SiriusXm radio, and performs solo gigs (his new single Floating dropped last week), I was happily surprised when Larry replied to my email.

Me: Growing up in Ireland, who were your musical influences?

Larry: They were legion.  Though it was a small town, Wexford had its own Opera Festival.  Many people emigrated to London and brought back whatever was happening in music.  Rockabilly artists like Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent were popular with the local Teddyboys and you could hear their reverb-drenched songs pumping from the town’s only jukebox.  As well as that there was a strong tradition of Folk Music that I loved.  And to top it all, my father was a merchant marine who loved Calypso and Tango music.  I imbibed it all.  But everything came together when I first heard Bob Dylan’s Like A Rolling Stone.  Astral Weeks by Van Morrison was also deeply influential – probably still is.

Me: From your books and music, your love of New York City is apparent. Was there ever a time you considered returning to Ireland for good?

Larry: No, I never did.  I knew from the first minute I arrived on my own with just $100 in my pocket that I wouldn’t be going home.  I was illegal for 3 years and couldn’t go back and by then, after living in the depths of the East Village, it was way too late.

TPF: When you and Chris Byrne started Black 47 in 1989 did you imagine that the band would become as popular as it did? 

Larry: Our first thoughts were staying alive or at least not getting the shit beat out of us.  The Bronx bars we played in were rough – we were playing loud and provocatively – so we weren’t very popular, to say the least.   We weren’t very good either.  But four sets a night, is great practice.  And there was a shortage of bands, so we could do four nights a week no trouble. We were committed to playing original music in places that just wanted cover songs. After a year, though, I knew we had something different – and that’s always the most important thing.  Besides that, we were both naturally very political – and that seems to give you a bit of a cachet.  I don’t think we ever thought about popularity that much.  We were a band doing what it wanted to do – that might seem old fashioned now, but to us it was pretty much everything.

Me: You’ve also written several books and plays. What was your first love, writing or music? Or did one lead to the other?

Larry: I was an early reader and read voraciously through much of my life.  I always thought I’d be a writer of some sort but I put it off for a long time.  Meanwhile, I was in love with music so I got into songwriting and performing.  I wrote a novel in my early 20’s that wasn’t very good, although I remember certain scenes fondly.  But playwriting got me really into writing.  I had a small talent for dialogue that made it easy to get a start.  Then I had a very minor hit with my second play, Liverpool Fantasy, and that gave me confidence.   I’m up here in Toronto at a workshop of a musical of mine, still coming to terms with that.


You probably have a better idea of what I’ve done with songwriting.  Being a member of Black 47 was such a great outlet for me.  We always needed new songs and the 25 years went by in a blur.  We rarely performed more than 6 songs from an album of 12 so I’m getting re-acquainted with some Black 47 songs right now as a solo performer.  It’s interesting stripping them back into their original form and finding the soul of them.

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It’s a little odd.  When I get an idea now I can transform it into a song, a play, or a novel pretty effortlessly, whereas when I began dabbling in all three disciplines, I always knew which of them the idea would slot into.  A blessing or a curse?  I guess I’ll find out as I go along.

Me: I’ll look forward to your next novel and I’ll be sure to feature it here. You’re still performing solo gigs and it’s been almost a year since the band stopped performing. Are there any plans for any more occasional Black 47 shows?

Larry: I don’t see there being any more Black 47 shows.  It was a moment in time – 25 years of a moment.  I miss the guys a lot – we were brothers – not just the members of the band but the crew members too.  But then, I suppose, Black 47 was always more than a band.  We were political, and did things our way, never looked for approval.  We were probably closer to our fans than any band and yet we always played just for ourselves. I prefer to keep it that way.  Onwards and upwards and look back with pride.

TPF: Larry, as a long time fan of Black 47 I’d like to say thank you to you, the rest of the band and crew for the 25 years of great music. I look forward to hearing more of your solo work and reading your novel. Also, thank you for taking time from your busy schedule for me and my readers. For readers and fans who want to keep up with Larry, you can find him on Facebook, at his blog  and on Sirius XM radio hosting the Celtic Crush show on Sunday mornings. His solo music and Black 47 albums are available in stores and all the online outlets. You can find his books on Amazon, other online retailers and in bookstores.

Have a great Thursday! ~Phil

“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” in the 21st Century

I realize most people under 45 won’t remember this brilliant, catchy 1975 song from Paul Simon. First is the official video of the original. Beneath that is my idea of what the lyrics would he if he recorded it again in the new millennium. I’m hoping for enough social media shares that it gets back to Paul Simon and he actually does re-record it.


The problem is all inside your head, she said to me
The answer is easy if you take it logically
I’d like to help you in your struggle to be free
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
She said it’s really not my habit to intrude
Furthermore, I hope my meaning won’t be lost or misconstrued
But I’ll repeat myself
At the risk of being crude
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover
Swipe to the left, Jeff
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am
You don’t need to be a girl or boy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the Uber, Goober
It’ll be so much smoother
Just drop off the Snapchat, Pat
And get yourself free
You just give her the ghost, Jost
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am
Make a new profile, it won’t take awhile
You don’t need to be a girl or boy, Roy
Just get yourself free

She said it grieves me so
To see you in such pain
I wish there was a filter I could use
To make you smile again
I texted I appreciate that and would you please explain
About the fifty ways

She said why don’t we both
Just sleep on it tonight
And I believe in the morning
You’ll begin to see the light
Then she sent a kiss emoji
And I realized she probably was right
There must be fifty ways
To leave your lover
Fifty ways to leave your lover
Just swipe to the left, Jeff
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am
Make a new profile, it won’t take awhile
Just get yourself free

Hop in the Uber , Goober
It’ll be so much smoother
Just drop off the Snapchat, Pat
And get yourself free

You just give her the ghost, Jost
Block him on Instagram, Ma’am

Make a new profile, it won’t take awhile
You don’t need to be a girl or boy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the Uber, Goober
It’ll be so much smoother
Just change the password key, Lee
And get yourself free
Now that you’ve read it, can you imagine how popular that would be if he did that now? If any of you happen to know Paul Simon, please send him this or use the social media buttons below to share it.  I think the world needs this. Have a great Tuesday!

Music Monday! One of the Proudest Moments of My Life

One of the proudest moments of my life‘ is not the name of this song.  It’s how I feel about this song and music video. Why? Because it is a collaboration by two of my sons and their friends. One son, who is a member of the two man band April on Paper, sings and plays guitar in this video. My other son, whose online persona is OneShotTaylor, wrote directed and produced this video. It’s the first music video for both of them and hopefully it won’t be the last.

So far it’s got more than 600 views on Youtube. If you like their music you can find them on all streaming services and Apple Music. You can also find them on Instagram where they tell me that they’re more active than FB.

Happy Monday! ~Phil

Music Monday! It’s Time For Billie Joe To Wake Up

I’m back with the most appropriate song ever for today, and it’s from my favorite band, whom I will be seeing in Toronto next August with Fall Out Boy, and Weezer. Honestly, I don’t know why Billie Joe Armstron wanted to be woken up “when September ends.”  For me, September is when summer ends and Fall begins. If I wrote the song it would be “Wake Me Up When March Ends.” Hmm…maybe I’ve just thought of a new hit song… Have a great Monday! ~Phil

Top Ten Tuesday! The Ten Best TV Show Theme Songs Ever!

Thanks to the Netflix/Hulu era, everyone in every country can watch the popular TV shows from anywhere, so regardless of your home country, I hope you’ll know some of these. Although this is going to be a very United States centric list, I’d love to hear suggestions and maybe links in the comments to anything from anywhere else. This was the toughest Top Ten list that I’ve ever put together.

10. Scooby Doo: Yes, the cartoon theme song. I requested that this be played for my first dance at my wedding but  my bride Velma objected.

9. The Golden Girls: I can’t vouch for this because I never watched the show, but in a lot of other online lists this was included. I didn’t even listen to it when I added it to this list.

8. The Love Boat: Love, exciting and new. Climb aboard, we’re expecting you! When I was a kid I had very little realization that the entire show was about people trying to have sex on a cruise.

7. The Big Bang Theory: A masterpiece by the quick singing lyrical geniuses of The Barenaked Ladies.

6. Family Guy: How could you not sing along to this?

5. Mission Impossible: No lyrics, but iconic nonetheless. Who doesn’t feel some sort of pressure to get something done quickly when you hear this?

4. The Brady Bunch: All of them had hair of gold, like their mother.”  Who doesn’t know that line?

3. Friends: I hate to be the hipster guy who says “I knew this band before anyone heard of them”, but yeah, I had their album before the Friend’s theme song on cassette tape, so suck it losers.

2. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: This is still Will Smith’s best work to date.

1. Cheers: Who doesn’t want a bar that feels like home where everyone knows your name?

That’s it. I feel like I needed to make this a Top 20 list to include all the worthy possibilities. What would you add to the list? What would you take off of it? My blogging friend Haylee recently did a great post about TV theme songs as well. You can check it out HERE

Have a great Tuesday! ~Phil

Music Monday: Weezer doing Toto’s Africa

The story behind this is that a Twitter account, @weezerafrica, was started in December by a 14 year old Weezer fan named Mary. She says that she started the idea as a joke and incessantly tweeted Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo and others in the music industry and eventually the idea gained momentum with many,many people tweeting at Rivers Cuomo to cover the song, including David Paich, the keyboardist from the band Toto. Eventually she made the national news:

What you see in the song video at the top is Mary’s first tweet.

Have a great Monday! ~Phil