Please visit my sites Queer Music Heritage and OutRadio

Friday, December 12, 2014

Jesse Hultberg - 20 Years Old


If ever there was a CD that I was predisposed to absolutely adore before hearing it, well, it's this one. And I do. Jesse Hultberg has remained a favorite artist of mine for many, many years, despite accomplishing that by only releasing one CD, in 1994. That CD was just called "Jesse Hultberg" and I loved his style, his voice, and those out-of-the-closet lyrics, especially in the song "Constant Thing (I Was Raised a Straight Boy)." A bonus was a just gorgeous cover of the Bee Gees song "If I Can't Have You."

But, like I said, that was 1994, before I even had a radio show. It took me several years after I started producing Queer Music Heritage to track him down...as he had moved to France and pretty much dropped out of the music scene, but I finally got to interview him for my May show in 2005. Click to hear it.

He did have some music output before that, in 1982, though quite different...as founding member of the band 
3 Teens Kill 4. I've seen their music described as "post-punk" and it is quite a departure from the folksinger style that came later. And he appeared in the 1989 film "Longtime Companion," where as part of the fictional group The Fingerlakes Trio he did an amazing ballad cover of "YMCA."



But I've digressed, it's the new music that has me very excited. It's everything I loved about the 1994 album, and more. And I guess it should. It's title "20 Years Ago" actually tells us that he wrote and recorded this music shortly after making the first album. So, it's the buried treasure, the lost basement tapes, and to me golden.




You can hear and download the album on Jesse's Bandcamp Page.

But he already has a couple videos to watch, done by his friend Rachel Wolf.







Friday, August 22, 2014

Deidre McCalla - Everyday Heroes & Heroines


Deidre McCalla is a long-time favorite recording artist of mine, and I was listening to the title track from her album "Everyday Heroes & Heroines" and realized that to me, though the song is from 1992, it spoke to the recent (and ongoing) efforts of countless people to pass and defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance.


The ordinance, which became known as HERO, was passed by City Council last May and before that Houston was the largest city with no laws protecting its citizens against discrimination.

For the Council sessions over 300 people from both sides spoke passionately, and many at home were glued to their television and internet screens to take it all in. I was proud and often quite moved to watch members of the LGBT community and our allies state our case from a variety of viewpoints, and that included several brave folks who were moved enough that they summoned up their courage to come out in that setting.

Then the usual cast of hate-driven bigots gathered thousands of signatures to try to force the issue onto the November ballot. Our community rallied again to undertake the massive effort to work with the City in determining if enough valid signatures were gathered. As a result of sloppiness, and perhaps fraud, the number came up short, and of course its proponents then filed a lawsuit, with the case now set to come before a judge in January.


My point is that our community should be very proud of our ground-swell of work, and it is encouraging indeed that spear-heading the effort is not the usual cast of activists. Yes, they were part of it, but this cause moved folks into activism who had never spoke up and/or volunteered before. We found that we indeed have a large community of heroes and heroines.

Find out more:
Deidre McCalla Website
Equal Rights Houston
Equal Rights Houston on Facebook
HouEquality

 





Monday, May 26, 2014

Tona Brown: Black Transgender Mezzo-Soprano & Violinist Sings Langston Hughes


Tona Brown checked off a lot of boxes as she got my interest in covering her in this blog entry. One, I love featuring the music of transgender artists, and I don't do enough to feature Black artists, and I certainly should showcase more artists who do classical music. Add to that three songs on her 2012 EP of the poems of Langston Hughes set to music. And, that poetry was set to music by Margaret Bonds, one of the first African-American composers, who collaborated with Hughes.

Brown has been getting a lot of recognition, including being asked to perform for President Obama, and she's going for her dream...a concert at Carnegie Hall, to be appropriately called "Stonewall to Carnegie Hall." To be accepted to perform at that famous venue is an honor itself, but it also takes raising a sizable amount of money, and she has been doing that by social media fundraising. She currently has a fund drive at GoFundMe.  And, a lengthy article at Huffington Post gives more of her background, links to videos...the article's headline says she's the "First African-American Transgender Performer to Take the Stage at Carnegie Hall." And you can find more videos at her YouTube Channel, along with her video blog. The vlog gives her "It Gets Better" message and many interview clips. And she has a regular blog.

The first CD release by Tona Brown was a 6-track EP called "This Is Who I Am," and is from 2012. The poetry by Hughes are all represented by short tracks, none over two minutes, and you can hear those three at the link.






 And, this EP can be found on iTunes, CDbaby, Amazon and the usual suspects.



Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Montrose Men, a 1979 Houston Singing Act


The Montrose Men were a short-lived local Houston group, and at least on this rare recording they were Very influenced by The Village People and the disco sounds of the day. Below are every mention of them from the publication This Week in Texas (TWT), spanning 9/21/79 to 3/21/80. The flip side was an instrumental version. You can't get much more "gay Houston" than this 45.

Listen




Members were: Bo, Calvin, Charles and Greg
I've not seen any mention of last names, if you can provide
them, or any additional information, photos or clippings,
please let me know, at jd@qmh101.com








 Members were: Bo, Calvin, Charles and Greg
I've not seen any mention of last names, if you can
provide them please let me know


 It appears at this point Calvin left the group




I believe this is the same "M Richard Askin" who produced the group and wrote their song.


Saturday, May 3, 2014

What if Marlene Dietrich Was in a 1960s Girl Group?


In the 1930 film "Blue Angel" Marlene Dietrich introduced her signature song "Falling In Love Again," and the song become iconic. See the clip below...the songs starts at 1:40.



Now, there are some interesting cover versions of this song to be found on YouTube, such as by Bryan Ferry and Klaus Nomi, but the one I wanted for this blog wasn't there, so I created a slide show video for it myself. All because I love, Love the Girl Group sound of the 60s. 

And I wanted to share the version by Polly Perkins, who recorded it in 1964. It didn't take her long after that to come out of the closet, and in a big way. In 1976 she recorded a song called "Superdyke," which she performed on stage in London. Now, That song can be heard on a show in which I featured a number of her songs, on QMH Part 2 for that show, at this link



And here's the slide show for the main attraction


As the A-side is so, so very short I included the flip side as well.

I also have a page of my site devoted to photos,
a discography and clippings for her



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Micah Barnes - New York Story

My 200th Blog Entry

I have been following the music of Micah Barnes for quite a few years, starting with his stint with the Canadian a cappella group The Nylons in 1989, on to his more rock and award-winning 1998 CD "Loud-Boy Radio," though several released in the 2000s ("Hard," "Micah Barnes," and "Domesticated). The "Micah Barnes" CD by the way made my Best of the Year show for 2007, with what he called a cabaret noir style. Every few years he would come out with something, I would love it, and then wait impatiently for the next one.

The next one is almost here. At least the first single from his next album is. Micah has just released a more jazz-styled arrangement of a track called "New York Story," and you can check it out on his YouTube page.





Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Day I Met Ray Hill


[ I've been thinking of Ray a lot this week after watching the wonderful preview of the documentary film on him ]

I met Ray Hill on April 20, 1981, and I even took notes. You may wonder how I know that so specifically and what I was doing.  I lived in Norfolk, Virginia, from 1978 to 1981 and my last year there I decided to take a cross-country trip, and I kept a journal, 110 hand-written pages. From April 1 to August 17 I trekked through the south, southwest, west coast and back to Norfolk via a northern route. I visited 25 cities and tried to soak up the gay culture wherever I went. 

As I had just finished a stint as editor of the gay newspaper in Norfolk I had some entree to other gay newspapers and visited them and tapped right away into what was going on and what to experience. I also tapped in the night life, going to 160 gay bars (23 in Houston) and it was during that trip I decided to move to Houston, which I did by the end of that year. So as luck would happen, I met Ray Hill. Here's my journal entry from April 20, 1981.



This afternoon I visited the radio station that airs the gay programs here in Houston, station KPFT, 90.1 fm. They broadcast on Thursday nights normally, but were having a special all-day program as a fundraiser, and they had open house at the studio, which is just three or four blocks from the guest house (Houston Guest House). Ray Hill is station manager and is also known as the father of Houston's gay movement. I didn't really talk with him--he was very busy, but I watched him in the studio give part of a news broadcast. He is very articulate, and to hear him talk on the air, you would swear he had the copy written in front of him, but he didn't. He is very involved in the court hearings in a case in which a gay activist (Fred Paez) was shot at point blank range by a cop. The activist had been doing a lot of research into police discrimination of gays. The shooting was just before Gay Pride Week last year. 

Ray's lover is Kent Naasz, whom Michael Collins (a NYC activist friend) suggested I look up in Houston. Kent happened to be the first person I talked to at the station, so it was kind of coincidental that we met that way. The station of course is all volunteer (except for Ray) and as expected, they program gay news, interviews, group discussions, records, and about anything else they can think of. It seemed like they had their shit together.

I did get to talk to Ray Hill later. He saw me at a nearby restaurant and sat down at my table for about an hour. He is very interesting. He should write a book on his experiences.



Above, January 2014, with Ray at The Banner Project display at Hilton Americas, during Creating Change 2014.

For my blog visitors outside of this area, Ray has for decades been ubiquitous with the gay movement in Houston. And, yes, this is one of my rare blog entries Not dealing with queer music.

Houston gay bars I visited during my trip:

Montrose Mining Company
Galleon
Wildwood Saloon
Brazos River Bottom
Baja Sam's
Mary's
Dirty Sally's
The Hole
Parade
Venture 'N
Midnight Sun
Mary's II (Galveston)
Bunkhouse
Copa
Briar Patch
Different Drum
The Barn
Babylon
The Loading Dock
Grant Street Station
Miss Charlotte's
Montrose Pub
Badlands