Thursday, May 30, 2013

Attention Philly Musicians....Your audience is mobile. What about your marketing and promotions?

Photo: Marc Ashwell
The stunning growth of mobile—and the way audiences have embraced it—point to one thing: mobile is vibrant and lucrative and will reward performing arts organizations that target audiences through innovative, relevant marketing.
 Some of the Special Report features the options for going mobile; a look at the choices...their pluses and minuses. It also features five arts organizations that have gone mobile in a big way; A review of mobile vendors, and making mobile money.
Download the Free Special Report  from

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Movie Alert! Advance Screening Passes from (for 5/30/2013 screenings)

Our friends at Reelblack, Philly's #1 promoter of African-American film has obtained passes for two to attend an advanced screenings of THE INTERNSHIP starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson at the Pearl as well as THE HEAT starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy at the Riverview.

Here's the catch--both screenings take place this Thursday night 5/30, so you'll have to pick your favorite.
To put your name in the hat, simply reply to the email link ( with your full name in the body of the message and the name of the movie you'd prefer to see in the subject line.  Winners will be notified on Monday night.

Also, make sure you visit the Reelblack website at


A Tribute To An Old Friend: "Fast Fingers" Jimmy Dawkins (1936-2013)

"Fast Fingers" Jimmy Dawkins
It's been well past a decade since I last spoke with Jimmy. Back then, I was with a three-piece Texas-style blues band named Hurricane Jay Laboy and Instep. Motown Alumnus, Diane Brown (a music legend in her own right), was our booking agent and a long time friend of Jimmy's. She introduced us the year we laid the tracks to our first album "Step Aside" (1999).

Mind you, I have played with some heavy hitters over the years; especially when I lived in Los Angeles; but meeting and playing with Jimmy was about as surreal and enjoyable as it could get. Diane booked us as Jimmy's backup band for a show he did in Philadelphia. We were nervous at first, since we never rehearsed with him. As a matter of fact, we never laid eyes on him until the night of the show; but any good blues musician will tell you that rehearsals are unnecessary if you know what the hell you're doing. He simply gave us the key he wanted to play in...told us if it was going to be a 1-4-5 with a quick turnaround or another variation, and then said..."Do what you do...I'll jump in". It was as if we toured with him for years.

After that night, he agreed to session with us at MilkBoy Studios in Philly, and lay down some guitar licks on a couple of tracks featured on the album. We did the album old school. No separate tracks or fancy digitalization. It was just four guys playing straight blues with a "must have" bottle of Jim Beam in the middle of the studio floor in case someone got thirsty. 

I admired his humility as well as his skill. Considering his age and the arthritis in his fingers, he found it hard to live up to the "Fast Fingers" moniker he had for his entire career (a name he really never cared for). Nevertheless, when you are on stage with a legend such as Jimmy Dawkins, you have to overlook those minor short-comings.
Jimmy died last April at his Chicago home, almost two months before the BACKLINE team decided to come out of hiatus. Still, I wanted to pay tribute to a man who was a milestone in my musical life.
The New York Times wrote "James Henry Dawkins was born on Oct. 24, 1936, in Tchula, Miss., and grew up in Pascagoula, a coastal town, where the easy-swinging music of New Orleans was as much an influence on his playing as the Delta blues. After teaching himself to play guitar, he moved to Chicago in 1955 and worked in a box factory by day while sharpening his guitar skills in blues clubs by night.  He was brought to Delmark Records by his fellow West Side blues guitarist Magic Sam. His first album, “Fast Fingers,” was released in 1969 and won the Grand Prix du Disque from the Hot Club of France. He recorded several albums in the United States and Europe and in the 1980s had his own record company, Leric."

He was 76.

Here's to you Jimmy!
Mike Q.



Ursula Augustine-Philly's Makeup Artist Extraordinare

Ursula Augustine
Owner of About PHace
It's not every day that I am impressed with someone enough to sit down with them for over two hours without looking at my watch every ten minutes; trying to find a polite and valid reason to excuse myself from the conversation.  In a way it sucks because a key aspect of being a journalist is listening to people.  I must confess... it's the one prerequisites I hate, but I realize it's a necessary evil, and trudge trough it like a trooper. So, when I come across a person like Ursula Augustine, I feel as if I found an oasis in a characterless desert.   

I first connected with Ursula via Facebook. She was a friend of a friend or something like that. I forget.  As with most FB people we tend to have those few friends that we interact with regularly, some that we touch base with occasionally...those who we'd like to know, those that we may need to know at some point... and the rest are just fillers to make the world believe that we have a shit load of people who actually like us. Ursula fell somewhere between the "like to know" and the "may need to know" categories.

I don't recall ever interacting with her until after I found out she was connected with the industry; and I did not reach out to her in any journalistic capacity until I saw her featured on local news program.  It was a report on how she used New Jersey mud for facials. Apparently it's "all the rage" these days. Who knew that New Jersey mud was in vogue?
Since we at BACKLINE love to support our local artists and people who cater to the entertainment industry, I knew she was exactly the type of person we needed for launch issue.  I decided to reach out to her for a possible interview, and she graciously agreed. 

At first I planned to send my partner and Producer or our radio show to cover this assignment since: 1). we didn't employees or interns at that time. 2). This was about make-up. I know nada about make-up.  However, I  was the closest one to Ursula geographically, and our Producer had an aversion to driving in Center City during business hours which she so adamantly proclaimed. It was decided that since I was the one who made initial contact, this should be my assignment (so much for being the boss). I took a deep breath to help me get over my hypersensitivity to meetings and made an appointment to see Ursula.  It only took several minutes to make the trek from my Center City office to 17th and Sansom. There was a chill in the air and the sky decided to take advantage of me not having an umbrella. I arrived at the studio slightly damp, but I quickly forgot my weather-related misfortune when Ursula greeted me with a wonderful smile that I am sure could brighten up any dreary day the universe threw at us. I immediately felt as if I reuniting with a childhood friend after years of separation.  

The studio was also as inviting as Ursula. The walls were decorated with classic photos of singers and actors from as far back as the 1940's, a time when class was paramount.  She had classic Life magazines and a 1950's issue of JET. Any "brotha" knows...the first thing we go to in JET is the Beauty of the Week centerfold; and lo and behold, they even had one back then.

Just like old friends catching up on years gone by, she and I talked about our kids, our lives and our dreams and other important aspects of our extraordinary lives.  It was about a half hour before we actually got to the interview. What I learned about Ursula was both hilarious, inspiring, and not too far from my own story.

Ursula did not start out like most young girls (sorry for the stereotype) dreaming to become a world re-known make-up artist and owner of a swanky spa.  In fact she tells me she never even used make-up as a young woman.  Career wise... she, like most people, wanted to follow the money, and Computer Sciences was an emerging industry full of financial promise. Ursula went on to tell me that how her career "found her" while she was one of the first female students at St Joseph University.  Minus the make up, she was considered the fashion "go to" person in the women's dorm simply due to the fact that she had more outfits than she knew what to do with. "Other girls would come by and ask to borrow an outfit or two" Ursula explained as she poured me a cup of her secret-blend aroma therapy apple tea. She continued, "After a while of being a good neighbor, I began to grow weary of lending out perfectly good outfits, and having them returned damaged or not returned at all. I didn't want to rock the boat and make enemies so I decided to start charging for the use of my clothes, hoping that would deter them".  The scheme didn't work. The girls kept coming... thus giving Ursula an entrepreneurial epiphany.

After a while of renting outfits, Ursula capitalized on that fact that these poor little rich girls had no sense of style, and added on another service help her clients improve upon here looks...make-up.  Alas, there was one small hitch.  Ursula did not have enough money to buy all the cosmetics she would need for the variety of skin types she had to work on.  Did that stop our girl? Not a chance. Where there is a will...there is definitely a way.  She had her clients meet her at a well known area department store in front of the   make up counter. Ursula not only used the samples at the counter to but she did it right there at the counter. You gotta love this person. This worked for a while until the store's management and security got wise. Her defense? The samples were free. Unfortunately, management didn't buy it. They escorted her to the door and told her never to return. For some people this would have probably been the end. For Ursula, it was only the beginning.

By this time, Computer Science was no longer a career choice, and unfortunately St Joe's did not have Cosmetology as a major. Therefore, Ursula did the next best thing. She quit college and began to dance to her own beat. Here's where it get weird, even for us bohemian types at BACKLINE. She went to New Castle, Delaware.  I know... I know. Delaware is not synonymous with high fashion or any thing remotely in that realm (I would have at least chosen Baltimore). However, Ursula  figured if she went to a place such as New York, she'd be a small fish in a big pond filled with bigger fish; and Delaware had no fish to speak of. 
She had a friend drop her off at the Christiana Mall; and there she was...with no plan, no place to stay, and no way back to Philadelphia.   It's been said that God takes care of babies and fools. I will add to that  by saying that God also takes care of those who dare to follow their passions regardless of the obstacles.    

Ursula landed a job at a cosmetics counter with a large chain in the Mall, and found an apartment all within three weeks.   Now, Ursula now owns her own shop called Ursula's About PHace: Philadelphia's first Professional Makeup Studio. In 2007 her shop was voted Best in Philly, Ursula is also creator of PAUSE health & wellness Phacial suite, PHace Model Management, and a signature line of vitamin and mineral cosmetics & nature based skincare. 
Refining her technique through a variety of assignments, Ursula has worked as an makeup artist for some of the top names in the business; Bobbi Brown, Francois Nars, Aveda, and Jeanine Lobell's Stila - to name a few, and has contributed to editorial projects featuring fashions from both national and international designers. Her artistry has appeared in various national magazines and publications including: Town and Country, Style Wedding, and Fortune Magazine.
Ursula also incorporates her artistic expertise into philanthropic involvement, she serves as a volunteer and held a seat on the Board of Directors for the Career Wardrobe; A nonprofit organization, based in Philadelphia, serving women transitioning into the workforce by providing professional clothing, educational opportunities, and lifestyle workshops to help them become financially independent, and a positive roll model for their children.   Ursula has also partnered with the Bridges Program, an internship and training program dedicated to preparing local Philadelphia high school seniors for meaningful careers in professional service firms, health care systems and government agencies. 
In her role as makeup artist and owner, Ursula conveys the essence of the UAPH brand, while continually communicating the core philosophy of balancing internal and external beauty.
Since I'm the epitome of a guy who is definitely no slave to fashion, I wouldn't know what to look for in a good make-up artist if the answer was staring me in the face; so I had partner and Associate Publisher guide me on this...both of whom are "girly-girls" to a fault. After her careful "girl" investigation, she gave Ursula the official BACKLINE nod, and strongly recommended her services to anyone in the "biz" who requires the services of a creative and highly-skilled make-up artist.  
If you've been on the set or in the studio for a long time and need a private studio away from the masses to relax before the next shoot or session, Ursula's About PHace gives you privacy, plus more individual attention than a larger salon. Ursula also provides the same high-quality work you'd find in Hollywood or New York .
Now...If I can just get her to give me the secret to her amazing apple tea.....
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to schedule a visit, you can contact Ursula via telephone at 267-557-1562. You can shoot her an email at,  you can follow her on Twitter at or you can visit her website at
If you're in the area, stop in at URSULA'S About PHace Rittenhouse Makeup Studio 1700 Sansom St. Suite 201, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Tell her BACKLINE MAGAZINE sent you.

-Mike Q.