Connect with us

Living

Curating the canon

Feinstein keeps standards alive with passion for mid-century gems

Published

on

Michael Feinstein concert
7 p.m. Sunday
Kennedy Center Concert Hall
presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society
Tickets $40-$75
202-785-9727 or wpas.org

Ol’ blue eyes is back. And Feinstein’s got him.

Michael Feinstein, that is, the multi-platinum selling, five-time Grammy nominee. The cabaret-style interpreter not only of Sinatra but also Cole Porter and Irving Berlin and Richard Rodgers, the composer famous for his work with two separate lyricists, Lorenz Hart and Oscar Hammerstein III.

And a raft of others — especially the Gershwins — in the canon of Americana’s classic popular music, a genre that Feinstein himself, at a youthful 54 (still slender and boyish and with a legendary million-dollar smile) has done so much to keep alive.

(Photo courtesy of Washington Performing Arts Society)

He’s been called “the ambassador of the great American songbook” and married his partner Terrence Flannery in a 2008 ceremony officiated by Judge Judy (Judith Sheindlin).

And he’s back keeping the Sinatra legend alive. It started on his 2009 album “Sinatra Project.” It will continue during his Sunday night concert at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall.

“I’m doing Sinatra for sure on Sunday,” Feinstein says. “But it’s reminiscence, not a copy, because its folly to copy him.”

The show will be “very high-energy,”  says Feinstein, “with new big band arrangements, a tribute to Nelson Riddle,” the longtime American arranger and bandleader who worked with Sinatra as well as Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Rosemary Clooney and so many other vocal stars of the mid-20th century. And it will be fllled, he says, “with anecdotes about Sinatra’s life and career, which lasted from his beginnings as a swing-era idol of “bobby-soxers” in the 1940s, through his Capitol Records albums like the legendary “In The Wee Small Hours” and “Only the Lonely,” and then the master of top 40 hits, and later his Rat Pack years with Dean Martin and other Hollywood B-listers in the “Ocean’s 11” film — a tribute to his long-time base as a headliner in Las Vegas clubs until his death in 1998.

Feinstein has famously taken a classic song, “We Kiss in a Shadow,” the weepy old chestnut from Rogers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” where two clandestine lovers yearn “for one smiling day to be free,” and rendered the ballad of exquisite sexual longing as an appeal for same-sex marriage rights. He sings it in a duet sung, gazing into each other’s eyes — with Cheyenne Jackson, also gay, the 35-year-old heart-throb from the 2007 Broadway musical “Xanadu”  and the Elvis Presley sound-alike on stage in 2005 in “All Shook Up.”

Feinstein and Jackson, also a series regular in both Fox’s “Glee” and NBC’s “30 Rock,” performed together in the show “The Power of Two,” in 2009 at Feinstein’s at Loews Regency on New York City’s swanky East Side.

Though they each have their own partners, Feinstein and Jackson elicit sparks when duetting.

At one point, during “We Kiss in a Shadow,” they turn to each other and exult, singing together “behold and believe what you see.” And audiences did. Timed for the debate in New York State over marriage equality, Feinstein and Jackson were sending a powerful message to the uber-powerful folk who saw their show, but they did it with badinage and playful patter, realizing that if you want to “send a message, call Western Union,” don’t put on a show.

In that same show, light of heart and packed with so much pizzazz, the two of them, each with matinee-idol looks and dressed dapperly in matching black suits, white shirts and black ties, the two shared the spotlight with buddy songs like “I’m Nothing Without You,” from the show “City of Angels.” But in solos Feinstein brought his own low-melting-temperature vibrato to Cole Porter’s “So In Love” from “Can Can,” and also threw in some hilarious impersonations, mimicing Paul Lynde and Carol Channing. He also sat at the piano  and crooned another anthem, this one written directly to advocate for LGBT rights, Marshall Barer’s and Mickey Leonard’s “The Time Has Come,” written as a response to the Stonewall riot.

Feinstein’s roots are, of course, in cabaret, that musical genre that mixes Tin Pan Alley with Broadway show tunes and also the ambience of Weimar Republic gay-friendly precincts of Berlin’s “kabarett” in the 1920s. As Feinstein sees it, “American Idol’s” former viper-tongued wicked-witch-judge Simon Cowell, is totally wrong-headed when he habitually denounces anything he thinks sounds old-fashioned as “cabaret.”

Where did it all begin for Feinstein, this passion for the greatest American classic popular songs? In the American “middle-west” heartland of Columbus, Ohio, where he was born in 1956, the son of an amateur tap dancer (his mother) and a Sara Lee Corporation sales executive (his father). He credits his parents as “for exposing me to this music,” in a way he compares to the Suzuki method of teaching the young to play the violin by ear, “before they even know it’s music,” he says.

At age 5, he studied piano (still his instrument today) for several months with a teacher who sought in vain to get him to read sheet music and was angered when he didn’t since he was simply more comfortable playing by ear. His mother backed him up and took him out of lessons allowing him to learn to love music in his own way. By his teenage years, he says, “I had already diverged from my age group in taste.” When his sister listened to Carole King’s album “Tapestry,” he says that he was collecting 78s. As for the Beatles, he says he is not overly impressed. Ge calls “Yesterday,” for instance, “a great melody, but it’s a bad lyric, maudlin at best, a good song wasted.”

After finishing high school, he worked in local piano bars for two years and then moved to Los Angeles when he was 20. There he soon met June Levant, widow of the legendary concert pianist-actor Oscar Levant, and through her he was introduced to Ira Gershwin, who hired young Feinstein to catalogue his extensive collection of phonograph records.  This assignment led to a six-year assignment working at Gershwin’s Beverly Hill home, preserving the legacy not only of Ira but also that of his composer brother George, who had died four decades earlier. From there he got to Gershwin’s next-door neighbor, singer Rosemary Clooney, with whom Feinstein formed a close relationship lasting until her death in 2002.

In 1986, Feinstein recorded his first CD, “Pure Gershwin,” followed soon by “Remember,” featuring the music of Irving Berlin” and later he embarked on his ambitious “songbook project,” where he would perform the music of a featured composer — such as Jule Styne and Jerry Herman — accompanied by the composer. Later, he would record two other albums of Gershwin’s music, “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and “Michael and George.”

“I’ve spent my life immersed in this music,” he says of all these composers and lyricists and their songs standards, “out of love for it, not even thinking about a career.” These songs are, he says, “are still pertinent to our times.” He wants “to keep the music alive for other generations,” a project that took major form in January when the Feinstein Foundation-funded $150-million Center for the Performing Arts, where he is artistic director, opened in Carmel, Ind. The complex includes a 1,600-seat concert hall plus smaller venues and houses his Foundation for the Preservation of the Great American Songbook, including also a library and archives storing his and other collections of rare recordings, orchestrations, sheet music and other cultural artifacts about songs.

Today, he is the owner of the Manhattan nightclub, Feinstein’s at the Regency, a showcase for cabaret performers, where he performs himself in sold-out shows every Christmas. He also has an interest in Feinstein’s at the Shaw, in London. Recently he completed a six-part Warner Home Video series for television that depicts the history of the American popular song through 1960. He is also finishing a book about Gershwin’s music as well as working with producer Marc Platt  (“Wicked”) on a movie project about the composer’s life. And on top of all that, he directs a newly launched pop music series at Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, where he and his partner live (they have a second home in Los Angeles).

Next up, either this autumn or maybe early next year will be an updated version of his PBS series, “Michael Feinstein’s All American Songbook,” which aired on the network last fall. He says they are now filming three more segments which will be broadcast with the first three and linked to a new and growing website available at no charge which the show’s executive producer and historian Ken Bloom has called “the ultimate companion for the documentary” and “a guide for the 21st century.” He calls it a “goldmine” where browsers can click on any song or performer for further information, plus audio and video links to their work.

For the past two years, Feinstein himself has also sponsored through his foundation the Great American Songbook High School Academy and Competition, a master class and contest for teenagers in seven midwestern states — in events attracting hundreds of entries. The winner gets a free trip to New York City and an opportunity to sing at his nightclub there.

For Feinstein one thing is clear. This music will thrive, he says, “because it never went away.”

For  more info on Feinstein and his many recordings and diverse projects, go here.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Dining

Watch Pride parade from one of these bars, restaurants

Plenty of viewing options along route with drink, food specials

Published

on

Nama Ko will celebrate Pride with three bottomless drinks for brunch, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and an extended happy hour from 3-7 p.m. 

The Capital Pride Parade steps off from 14th and T streets, N.W. at 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 10. The parade tradition honors the city’s LGBTQ history and acknowledges the evolution of the LGBTQ neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., as the parade winds through the 14th Street, Logan Circle, and Dupont Circle neighborhoods. One of the best ways to watch: Settle down at one of the many bars and restaurants that line the route. From start to finish, check out a few select options below.

Nama Ko

Situated just north of the parade kickoff, Nama Ko (which recently replaced Tico, from the same owners), will be celebrating Pride this year with three cocktail options for bottomless brunch (during the parade weekend and all month long), and an extended happy hour from 3-7 p.m. The featured drink is a Lychee Saketini made with Tito’s Vodka, Nigori sake, and lychee purée; the drinks will be offered to-go for $10. Nama Ko will also offer two soft-serve flavors to go: miso honey truffle with chocolate & caramel sauces, and a black sesame soft serve topped with date syrup, cherries, and candied walnuts. To the delight of marchers, the many windows that face 14th Street will be painted a vibrant rainbow, as Tico did each year as well.
 
Mi Vida

Now one of three Mi Vida locations and part of the gay-owned Knead Restaurant Group, this colorful Mexican restaurant on 14th will have a special Pride cocktail, “Plus One,” which includes Tito’s Vodka, Chinola Passion Fruit, Aperol, Vanilla, Lime, Bubbles ($16). A portion of the proceeds will be donated to The Trevor Project. Guests who are coming to watch the parade can take their cocktail on the patio to get a front-row seat to the parade festivities.

Bresca

This upscale Parisian-style bistro graced with one Michelin star will join the party by opening up its bar area overlooking 14th Street for the parade.

Le Dip

To honor pride, Le Diplomate is highlighting Republic Restoratives spirits. Republic Restoratives, an LGBTQ-owned distillery located in Northeast, is a longtime supporter of LGBTQ rights in D.C. Le Diplomate will honor Republic in two cocktails June 9-11: the Romarin, using Civic Vodka, and the Tonic Trope, which will feature Assembly Gin. Le Diplomate has patio seating right on 14th Street and on Q Street.
 
Jane Jane

This throwback gay-owned cocktail lair with a patio on 14th Street is hosting a month-long Pride fundraiser in support of the ACLU Drag Defense Fund, During the month of June, the popular bar will donate 10 percent of sales from its Pride cocktail menu, and 50 percent of all T-shirt sales to the Drag Defense Fund. The bar will set up a stand for drinks outside during the parade, and will open up inside for the remainder of the evening.
Otherwise on 14th Street, check out patios at spots like Gypsy Kitchen, Garden District, Ted’s Bulletin, Aslin Beer Company, Chicken + Whiskey, Pearl Dive Oyster Palace and more.
The parade route leaves 14th Street and turns west on Rhode Island Avenue. Two hotels right on the route are hosting Pride parties.
 
Viceroy Washington DC

The Capital Pride partner event Crack of Noon PRIDE Parade Brunch event is taking place at the Viceroy’s Dovetail restaurant. Pregame for the parade with an all-you-can-eat brunch plus bubbly. Diners have the chance to meet the celebrated Pride Parade grand marshals, Pride 2023 Honorees, and other surprise special guests. Diners must be 21+. Brunch runs 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for $60-$75.
 
Darcy Hotel

Just a block west, The Darcy Hotel will host a Pride event on the Gerrard Street Patio, complete with a DJ plus food and drink specials. The hotel is offering two specialty cocktails for the entire month of June: The No28 cocktail ($6.28) in honor of National Pride Day (6/28), and The Darcy Pride cocktail, with peach vodka and passionfruit.

From there, the parade turns north on 17th Street for one block, and back west on P Street.
 
DC Vegan

At the corner of 17th and P Streets, this vegan deli-restaurant-bar is hosting its annual Vegan Pride party again with a special menu, and extended 12 p.m.-12 a.m. service. The bar will serve sausages, sandwiches, loaded nachos, Pride cupcakes, and other street-friendly eaters. DC Vegan will open up not only its subterranean bar, but also an auxiliary bar in its parklet patio, serving beer, wine, and liquor right on P Street.

The parade finishes its route curving around Dupont Circle and ends at 21st Street, N.W. Bars and restaurants with patios there include Pizzeria Paradiso, Sura Thai, and Emissary.

And if the parade crowds are too daunting, watch the parade on the giant screen at Pride on the Pier at the Wharf. The festivities include drag shows, DJs, VIP sections, and the parade on the big screen. Admission to the pier is free; the party runs from 2-9 p.m. culminating in a fireworks display. Visit prideonthepierdc.com for more information.

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Acquiring a down payment for your dream home

Unconventional strategies for finding the money you need

Published

on

Saving for your dream home? Here are some tips for finding the down payment.

Purchasing a home is a significant milestone, but for many aspiring homeowners, the biggest hurdle is saving for a down payment. While traditional saving methods are widely known, exploring creative and unconventional strategies can provide alternative pathways to gather the necessary funds. 

In this article, we will explore a range of innovative approaches to acquiring a down payment for your dream home. By thinking outside the box and considering unique options, you can turn your homeownership aspirations into reality.

1. Shared Equity and Co-Buying:

Consider exploring shared equity or co-buying arrangements with family members, friends, or trusted partners. Pooling resources can significantly boost your collective down payment savings, making homeownership more attainable. Whether it involves jointly purchasing a property or establishing an agreement to share ownership and expenses, this approach allows for shared financial responsibility and increased purchasing power.

2. Down Payment Assistance Programs:

Research and explore various down payment assistance programs offered by government agencies, non-profit organizations, or local housing authorities. These programs provide financial aid or grants to eligible homebuyers, assisting them in meeting the down payment requirements. Each program has specific criteria and limitations, so it is essential to understand the options available in your area.

3. Creative Financing Options:

Investigate alternative financing options such as seller financing, lease-to-own arrangements, or rent-to-own programs. These arrangements often provide more flexibility in acquiring a down payment and transitioning into homeownership. Seller financing allows buyers to negotiate terms directly with the seller, while lease-to-own or rent-to-own agreements provide an opportunity to build equity over time while renting.

4. Crowdfunding and Community Support:

Tap into the power of crowdfunding platforms and community support to gather funds for your down payment. Share your homeownership goals with family, friends, and social networks, and consider launching a crowdfunding campaign to garner financial contributions. Additionally, some employers offer matching programs for down payment savings, so explore potential workplace assistance programs or incentives.

5. Homebuyer Grants and Loans:

Research available homebuyer grants or loans specifically designed to assist first-time buyers or those with limited financial resources. These grants and loans can provide a substantial boost to your down payment savings. Government agencies, local housing authorities, and non-profit organizations often administer these programs, offering various terms and conditions to support homebuyers.

6. Income-Generating Assets:

Explore income-generating opportunities to supplement your savings. Consider renting out a spare room, starting a small business or freelancing, or investing in income-generating assets such as rental properties or dividend-paying stocks. Generating additional income can accelerate your down payment savings, bringing you closer to homeownership faster.

7. Negotiating with Sellers:

When making an offer on a property, explore the possibility of negotiating a lower down payment requirement with the seller. In some cases, sellers may be open to more flexible terms, especially if it expedites the sale or helps them achieve their own financial goals. Engage in open and honest communication during the negotiation process to explore mutually beneficial solutions.

8. Downsize or Liquidate Assets:

Consider downsizing your current living situation or liquidating assets that are not essential to free up funds for a down payment. This could involve selling a car, downsizing to a smaller rental, or parting with belongings that hold significant value. Evaluate your current financial situation and identify areas where you can make temporary sacrifices to prioritize homeownership.

9. Savings and Budgeting Strategies:

Implement creative savings and budgeting strategies to accelerate your down payment savings. Explore the possibility of living with roommates, cutting back on discretionary expenses, or negotiating lower interest rates on existing debts. Every dollar saved brings you closer to your down payment goal, so diligently review your budget and identify areas where you can reduce expenses and allocate more funds towards your down payment savings.

10. Employer Assistance Programs:

Check if your employer offers any homeownership assistance programs or benefits. Some companies provide down payment matching programs, low-interest loans, or financial counseling services to help employees achieve homeownership. Take advantage of these resources and explore how your employer can support you in reaching your down payment goals.

Persistence and creativity are key when it comes to acquiring a down payment. Stay focused on your goal, be open to alternative methods, and adapt your approach as needed. With determination, resourcefulness, and a willingness to explore new avenues, you can overcome financial barriers and achieve your dream of homeownership. Start exploring these unconventional strategies today and take a step closer to making your dream home a reality.

Jeff Hammerberg is the founder of GayRealEstate.com, the largest and longest-running gay real estate agent referral service in the nation, boasting more than 3,500 LGBTQ Realtors who operate in cities across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. For more than 25 years, he has been a prolific writer, coach, and author.

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Thinking of renting your place short-term in D.C.?

Here are some key factors to consider

Published

on

You’ll need a license if renting your place in D.C.

Summer is coming, and in D.C., many homeowners turn their attention to generating revenue from their primary D.C. residence while they are away for the summer. Due to the way some D.C. employers enable staff to work remotely and permit longer vacation schedules in the summer months, many owners can find extra income annually by considering short-term rentals. Here are a few key things you should know before getting started.  

In 2021 the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs announced it was “finally ready to start implementing and enforcing ” a law passed three years earlier for short-term rentals (AirBnB, VRBO, etc.). According to DCist, the agency started accepting license applications for short-term rentals on Jan. 10 last year and started enforcing the law’s provisions in April 2022.

According to Martin Austermuhle’s “D.C. to Start Restricting Airbnb and Other Short-Term Rentals” he wrote for DCist, “The law applies specifically to short-term rentals, those lasting less than 30 days at a time. Under the new law, any D.C. homeowner who wants to rent out a bedroom, basement, or entire home on Airbnb or any other platform has to get a short-term rental license from DCRA. (The two-year license costs $104.50.)”

Charlotte Perry, owner of LUXbnb, a property manager specializing in furnished short-term rentals in D.C. for more than 15 years, is a trusted partner to Columbia Property Management. She shared her expertise and guidance with me on short-term rentals. Her business, LUXbnb, punches above its weight in the D.C. area, bringing owners greater opportunity to realize the gains they hope to make. She brings deep insight into what you can expect if you were to go down this path with your property. 

Companies like hers function like any other property manager might. LUXbnb collects the rents, “hotel” taxes, security deposits, departure cleaning, and any other applicable feeds on behalf of the owner. They manage turnover between guests including cleaning and any needed repairs. And at the end of each month, they release the rental income earned less the management fee and any repair costs or new purchases.

In the District, if the owner resides at the house during the rental, s/he can host short-term renters all year long with no consequence. However, if, like many of Charlotte’s clients, the owner is renting their property while they are gone during the summer or while on assignment for, say, the World Bank, those owners can only do so for a total of 90 days for the entire year. Owners like these will want to consider that under the new law, you cannot rent out your second home as an Airbnb/VRBO short term rental, and so knowing the regulations can save you a lot of headaches.

Registration Requirements  

Did you know all short-term rental hosts in D.C. are required to obtain a Short-term Rental License? 

According to the Office of Short-term Rental Licensing, “In order to operate a short-term or vacation rental in the District, the property must be owned by an individual, and serve as a homeowner’s primary residence – with the owner being eligible to receive the Homestead Tax Deduction. ”

To be eligible for such a license the home must be your primary residence and owner-occupied.  You will need to provide DC’s Office of Short-term Rental Licensing (DLCP) the following:

Specify whether you currently have a Homestead Exemption on the property.

Proof of your liability insurance with a minimum of $250,000 in coverage. (See below for more details).

A Certificate of Clean Hands issued within the last 30 days in the property owners name must be obtained from the Office of Tax and Revenue.

The owner, or “host,” must attest to the habitability of the property.

If the rental is a co-op, condo, or if the property is in a community where there is a homeowners’ association, the owner must attest that the bylaws, house rules, or other governing documents of the homeowner/condo/ cooperative governing board or association allow short-term and/or vacation rentals, do not prohibit owners from operating short-term rentals and/or vacation rentals, or that they have received written permission from the association to operate a short-term and/or vacation rental at the address.

Once you have successfully registered with DLCP, you will be provided with a license. You will then upload this Short-term Rental License number into your property profile in both Airbnb and VRBO. Those sites will then provide bookings for “under-31-nights” on your property.  

By working with an experienced rental property manager specializing in furnished temporary stays, you can ensure that you’re operating your short-term rental legally and safely. Better yet, you can avoid any penalties or fines that could result from non-compliance with District regulations.

Some factors you might want to consider on your journey to short-term rental success:

Cleaning Fee and Preparation Service

Perhaps you’ll want to have a cleaning service at-the-ready in case your renters have a slight disaster while they’re there. Or maybe you’ll want a service to clean prior to arrivals and directly after departures, so you can quickly turnaround the property for further rental. 

Pets

Do you want pets in your home while you’re away? If so, you might want to add in an automatic post-stay pet cleaning fee to cover the expense of hair and other less pleasant odor removal.

Insurance/Accidental Damage

Charlotte’s company takes out a $3,000 accidental damage insurance policy on every stay in lieu of holding a damage deposit. The cost to the guest is $39 per rental. This insurance is a safe-guard for the guest, property owner and her company, of course. This insurance policy “allows for the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another – in this case the insurance company. It is a simple way for all parties involved to mitigate risk, and most importantly, provides peace-of-mind.”

Liability Insurance

As you saw above, the District requires all owners to possess a liability insurance policy with a minimum of $250,000 in coverage to gain a license in the District. A variety of companies can help, according to the Motley Fool’s “The Ascent” newsletter, but some do this faster and better than others. And they even recommend ones that are best for Airbnb and VRBO rental owners. The Ascent’s best homeowners insurance for short-term rentals include the following:

Allstate Insurance: Best for possessing a large network of agents

Proper Insurance: Best for Airbnb and VRBO owners

Nationwide Insurance : Best for bundling policies

Farmers Insurance : Best for vacation rentals

Steadily Insurance: Best for getting coverage quickly

Safely Insurance: Best for fast claims processing

Should you have further questions or seek to explore the option of short or mid-term rentals, do not hesitate to contact Charlotte Perry directly at 202-341-8799 or [email protected]

Scott Bloom is senior property manager and owner of Columbia Property Management. 

For more information and resources, visit ColumbiaPM.com.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular