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Friday, February 5, 2016

Ramblin' Jack Elliott's Gay 45


Some of you may have heard of Ramblin' Jack Elliott, who has been a prolific recording artist since the 1950's, winning Grammy Awards in 1995 and 2009. I'll let Wiki go into a lengthy bio, or those with interest can visit his own website.

But how many of you knew in 1979 he had a "gay" song? ...or at least one about gender confusion?

This was actually not a rare theme in country music, as I can easily
point out several songs that used that twist:

Richard Thompson - Woman or a Man (1982)
Michael Doucet - Woman or a Man (1987)
Rodney Carrington - Dancing With A Man (1998)

and you can hear all of those and more on a QMH show I did
about homophobia in country music, in April 2005.


Trivia: If you are questioning if "Jack Elliott" is the same artist as
"Ramblin' Jack Elliott," so was I. And I am thinking it is as
I was able to find an image of another 45 on the same label.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Queer Theory - 1960s Style, Homosexuality on LP


Pre-Stonewall Spoken-Word Documentary LPs
Queer Theory, 1960s style

"Homosexuality in the American Male"
by Lawrence Schiller, 1967, narrated by George Kennedy

"Homosexualité Masculine au Canada Français"
by Christian Delmas, 1968, in French

Here are two "documentary" LPs on the subject of homosexuality in the 1960s, with definitely different viewpoints than we see fifty years later. In the Schiller study many gay people (always gay men) are interviewed and most reflect guilt, shame and internalized homophobia at their "condition." The second LP is on male homosexuals in French Canada, and as I do not speak French I would be grateful if someone would send me a few sentences of a summary of its findings.

You can hear both records and see more information here:
Male Homosexuality in American and French Canada

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Gay Teenager

From the 1967 film "Teenage Rebellion" comes the now campy and humorous track "The Gay Teenager," narrated by movie director and announcer Burt Topper. He did not direct this film though; that was Mike Curb, future Lieutenant Governor of California. I could not find this on Youtube, so thought that was overdue.


Saturday, February 14, 2015

"Mad About the Boy"....Who Is Singing This Version???

I adore the Noel Coward song "Mad About the Boy," and over the years have collected many, many versions of it. But I have one that's a mystery to me, and I need help!

Years ago I acquired a mp3 of a Very camp version, sung by a man, and it was identified as sung by Yul Brynner, from the 1969 film "Magic Christian." Well, I just realized that's not correct, by comparing it to a Youtube clip from the film. It's not the same voice at all. So that leaves me with not knowing who is singing the version I have...that sort of thing drives a collector crazy (not a long drive in my case).

Can someone please tell me who is singing this, and any other info about it (year, etc) would be helpful. Thanks!

I am including the song on my March Queer Music Heritage radio show on "Camp Music" and would really love to be able to identify the singer.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Willmer "Little Axe" Broadnax: Gospel Singer and Secret Transman

And here's some history I learned only last year, of the transgender kind. It may remind you of the story of Billy Tipton, a jazz musician who only at his death it was found that he was a woman, passing as a man for decades (see my blog entry and website page). The same secret truth existed for Willmer Broadnax, known as Little Axe. Born and raised in Houston, he started his career young. During the 1940s and 50s he sang with some of the finest groups in gospel music, including the Golden Echoes, the Fairfield Four and the Blind Boys of Mississippi. By the 1960s the popularity of the gospel quartets was fading and he retired to Philadelphia, though he did perform once in a while during the 70s and 80s. He met a violent death at age 75 in 1994 when he was stabbed by his girlfriend. It was only then discovered that he was a transman.

I believe racism plays a hand when you compare the Tipton and Broadnax stories. Tipton's death received a lot of publicity, a big article in People magazine, and a book on him was written, despite him being almost unknown as a musician when alive. Tipton released only two albums, on a budget label. Broadnax, in his genre of gospel, performed in several very prominent groups, recorded for decades, and died five years after Tipton. Little publicity, no book...but then he was black.

I learned about Willmer Broadnax from Transgriot, the wonderful blog
of Monica Roberts. Check out her much more detailed telling of his story.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Jennifer Leitham's "Future Christmas"

In 2002 John Leitham became Jennifer Leitham, and of course her talent transcended that journey. Since 1979 this artist has performed with a who's who of the jazz world, from Mel Torme, Woody Herman, George Shearing, Doc Severinsin, Peggy Lee, Cleo Laine, and on and on. She has played on over 125 albums. You've got to be pretty talented to work that long in those circles. Her very public transition was difficult enough without also facing the unknown reception she would get in the less than liberal jazz world. It hasn't always been easy, for a left-handed bassist, and a woman. That hasn't slowed her down though, as she's just released her eighth solo album.

And it's a holiday one and I think it's up to her high standards. Leading the Jennifer Leitham Trio, the album mixes a blend of instrumentals and vocals, and classic holiday songs with originals. One original in particular, that she wrote, is "Future Christmas (The Global Warming Winter Holiday Blues)." I'm very pleased that she did a video of this one that I can share with you.

Other tracks, like Randy Newman's "Feels Like Home For Christmas," "Christmas Time Is Here," and a concoction of "Little Drummer Boy / Big Bass Girl" provide other highlights.

Also, check out the interview I did with her on my QMH show for August 2007

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 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 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.