Please visit my sites Queer Music Heritage and OutRadio

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chris Salvatore -- Broke Another Heart, but It Gets Better

Sometimes it takes just one song to make you a fan. And I am just nuts over Chris Salvatore’s song “Broke Another Heart.” I've already played it several times on OutRadio. It’s from his 2010 EP “Dirty Love,” though the title track may have gotten more attention. Another stand out track from that EP, at least to me, is “It’s You (the La La Song).” 

If his name sounds familiar, he starred in the last two “Eating Out” movies: “All You Can Eat” and “Drama Camp,” with another installment being filmed. And he’s easy to find on google; if you do an image seach about half of the photos are shirtless, no complaints here, he’s stunning. 

But, back to the music. Since 2006 he’s released one full-length album, three digital EPs and two digital singles. One of those singles is the power ballad “It Gets Better,” prompted by the campaign of that name. And you can also find on Youtube a slew of nice covers. Here's his Video Channel.

Oh, and he did a fun duet video for the holidays with Mister Chase on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” There’s lots to listen to, look at and watch with Chris Salvatore.


Ah, the only video I found for "Broke Another Heart" is subtitled in Italian


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Polari – England’s Secret Gay Language

Okay, how many of you knew there was a secret gay language in England in the 50s and 60s. Raise your hands. Hmm, not too many. It was a slang language called polari, sometimes polare. In those days gay men used it as a form of protection and secrecy. Outsiders would not be able to tell what you were talking about, and it also had a humorous and campy element. It was derived from a variety of sources, such as Italian words, rhyming slang, and back slang, which was saying a word as if it were spelled backwards. Theatre people and also gay men in the Merchant Marines also contributed various words. There were probably about 500 polari terms, and they included words for types of people, occupations, body parts, clothing, and sexual acts, and they were ideal for gossip.

I have a couple of examples to introduce you to Polari. In the late 60s there was a very popular radio comedy show on the BBC with characters named Julian and Sandy. They used a lot of polari words and most of the sketches had the word "bona" in the title, "bona" meant "nice." It seemed in each sketch they had a different occupation. In this one, from 1965, they were interior decorators.

But here perhaps is a better example of polari, in the form of a song by English drag performer Lee Sutton, from a 1971 album by her called "Drag For Camp Followers." The song is called "Bona Eke," which means, as you'll find out, "nice face." After her song she gives a translation, but I'll warn you that she wasn't on the up and up with it, as a couple of the harmless translations she gives are not at all what the naughty meanings convey. But the audience went right along.

She was always billed as “Lee Sutton, A Near Miss."

Polari fell out of use for two main reasons. I mentioned above the radio series Julian & Sandy had in the late 1960’s. Well, that series was so popular that the general public learned many of the polari words, so some of the mystery of the language was erased.

Also, in 1967 homosexuality was decriminalized in England, so there was less need for a secret language. And the gay rights politics of the 70’s and 80’s considered it passé. But there is one interesting modern example, in musical form, by another singer from England, Morrissey. He was lead singer of the Smiths and is well known in his own right, but always was very ambiguous sexually. He's recorded some very gay songs, but would never comment about his own orientation. In 1990 he surprisingly titled his new album "Bona Drag," which starts out with his song called "Piccadilly Palare." Watch out for the line "so bona to vada, oh you, your lovely eek and your lovely riah." Which means "so nice to see you, with your lovely face and hair."

 Off the rails I was and
Off the rails
I was happy to stay
On the rack I was
Easy meat, and a reasonably good buy
A reasonably good buy

The Piccadilly palare
Was just silly slang
Between me and the boys in my gang
"So Bona to Vada. OH YOU
Your lovely eek and
Your lovely riah"

We plied an ancient trade
Where we threw all life's
Instructions away
Exchanging lies and digs (my way)
Cause in a belted coat
Oh, I secretly knew
That I hadn't a clue

(No, no. No, no, no. You can't get there that way. Follow me...)

The Piccadilly palare
Was just silly slang
Between me and the boys in my gang
Exchanging palare
You wouldn't understand
Good sons like you

So why do you smile
When you think about Earl's Court ?
But you cry when you think of all
The battles you've fought (and lost) ?
It may all end tomorrow
Or it could go on forever
In which case I'm doomed
It could go on forever
In which case I'm doomed


Update: One of my Facebook friends in London, Rupert Smith,
tells me Polari is still used to some extent...I think that's bona.

Polari - British Gay Slang

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Eli Lieb – Place of Paradise

Eli Lieb garnered over a million Youtube hits on his series of covers of songs by Adele, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears and others, and that became an EP, now available on iTunes. But I noticed him for his first video from his debut album, “Place of Paradise.” Yes, he’s damn good looking, but damn, this guy can sing!

His bio tells how he spent ten years in NYC, attracting the attention of big labels, but then he put the brakes on, and moved back to his home in Iowa, to do things slow, his way, when he was ready. Some of the songs are piano-driven ballads, and some add electronics and go a bit up-tempo, but whatever, it’s his voice that matters.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Anna Gutmanis - "I Am Who I Am" & "Glimmer in the Dark"

In 2008 Canadian Anna Gutmanis released an anthem. Now, that’s a pretty bold statement, but it’s been over three years and it’s still riding high on the Outvoice charts. The song is “I Am Who I Am,” and the lyrics proclaim just what you think they do. I've played it a number of times on my shows, and I try not to repeat many songs. Naturally she did a video for the song, and its black & white photography contrast nicely with the proud singing. 

 Well, now she has a new release and I just want folks to know about it. It’s called “Glimmer in the Dark,” and I already have a favorite song, called “Another Way Out,” but then I always go for the queerest song on anyone’s album. 

Charming Teenagers – With a Message

These are not new videos, nor are they the usual GLBT artist fare I generally mention in this blog. But both of them made an impact on me and certainly merit a revisit. In 2005 a video of a then-eleven year old Dutch boy, Terence Uphoff, singing on a Netherlands television show Kinderen voor Kinderen (Children for Children), garnered over two million viewings. He sings about his Two Fathers ("Twee Vaders") in a way that would charm anyone.

Hosting Kinderen voor Kinderen at the time of this video was lesbian comedian, author, singer, TV host Claudia de Breij.

And around 2009 UK singer Lily Allen released a very, Very catchy song “Fuck You,” and it wasn’t long before folks in a number of countries uploaded lip-syncing videos, aiming their message and visuals squarely at homophobia. My favorite is still the first one I saw, by a group of adorable French teenagers.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Spencer Day – Future Jazz Star (in my humble opinion)

I had heard the name Spencer Day a while ago, but didn’t really explore his music until I put together my six-hour Jazz Music Special for my QMH show. And he was one of those artists I much needed to explore further. I now have his 2004 debut album, “Introducing Spencer Day,” his EP from 2005, “Movie of Your Life,” and his latest, “Vagabond,” from 2009. Besides having a great voice and being quite easy on the eyes, he’s got some intriguing videos. So, I just needed to let more folks know about him.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Gallavin: My Baby Just Cares for Me

Swiss jazz artist Gallavin closed my January 6-hour QMH Jazz Music Special, and in it I could not fail to brag about the terrific video for the title track of his CD “Mad About the Boy.” Well, now he has another terrific video, the second from that album, for “My Baby Just Cares For Me.” This is tres gay jazz, and I love it. See both videos below.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ryan Cassata: I’m Not “Trans Enough”

Last September and October I did a two-part QMH show on Transgender Music, and for the October part, I interviewed teenaged singer/songwriter/activist Ryan Casatta, and I much admire all three of those aspects of his talents. He just uploaded a new video, this time without him singing, but it packs a powerful wallop against transphobia…this time about judgement within the FTM community.

Hear my interview with Ryan:

The day the new CD arrived

There’s a lot more good music and activism on the RyanCassata YouTube Channel.

and, Ryan posted this on his Facebook wall, had to share it

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Declan Bennett & Ani DiFranco, on Stage in London

What prompted the timing of this blog entry was seeing a video of Declan Bennett join Ani DiFranco for an impromptu performance on 1/10/12, in London, of her song “Overlap.” This was a dream of his to perform with his musical hero.

I became aware of UK singer/songwriter in 2009 and immediately became a fanatic for his music. I even bought a second copy of his 2007 CD “An Innocent Evening of Drinking,” to just keep in the car; I’ve very rarely done that. And I of course bought his first CD, from 2005, “The Painter’s Ball,” when, on that release, he was going by the pseudonym Sumladfromcov, but with his talent he was much more than Some Lad from Coventry, England. Also, he had some earlier success in 1999 and 2000 as a member of the boyband Point Break, scoring five top 30 hits in that time period.   

His music career has run alongside his theatre career, as he appeared with acclaim in the London cast of the Boy George musical “Taboo.” He’s been in a U.S. touring company cast of “Rent” and in 2010 he appeared on the Grammy Awards with Green Day in the cast of “American Idiot.” In fact it was Green Day member Billy Jo Armstrong who saw Declan perform songs for a new album and stepped in to finance the album demo. That album became the wonderful 2011 release, “Record:BREAKUP.”

“record:BREAKUP” easily made it to my Best of the Year radio show, and the video from it, “Freer,” deservedly won “Most Moving Video” last November in the RightOut TV Video Awards. It’s a Very powerful video.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Truman Capote was a Sissy, See the Music Video

On my January QMH show, Jazz Music Special, one of the featured interviews was with vocalist Mark Winkler. You can find his interview on my site, but I wanted to give special attention to one of his songs and the video to go with it. It’s called “Sissies” and is a tribute in particular to Truman Capote.

You can find the song on Mark’s 2009 CD “Till I Get It Right,” and I also show his
latest CD, “Sweet Spot.” Please check out Mark Winkler’s Website.

And as long as I’m mentioning Truman Capote, you can hear 
him read “Thanksgiving Visitor” on This Page of my website.

(September 30, 1924 – August 25, 1984)

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Tribute to the band Yer Girlfriend

As I produce a show called Queer Music Heritage, you might expect that I love to honor the work of artists & musicians who did great work, but just did not, in my opinion, get the credit or exposure they deserved. One such band was called Yer Girlfriend. They were a Kentucky band active from 1989 through 1995, releasing three wonderful albums. Laura Shine and Carol Kraemer did most of the lead vocals and writing. 

What of course grabbed my attention right away was that the lyrics were very, very gay…or in this case, lesbian. Even some of their titles gave that away: “Dyketime,” “She’s Not Somebody’s Wife,” “Lez-B-Bop,” and “L-Word.” And this was ten years before the TV show “L-Word.” So with the magic of Windows Movie Maker I put together a medley, with pictures, of nine songs from the band Yer Girlfriend.

The Tornados – “Do You Come Here Often?” [ Gay - in the UK, 1966 ]

[ gay part starts at the 2:25 mark ]

The Tornados were the first UK act to hit #1 in the United States, in 1962 with their smash hit “Telstar.” But I care about them for one of their 45 rpm records released late in their career, in 1966. The story starts with Joe Meek. He was a legendary UK record producer from the early 60's. His innovative style and distinctive production techniques brought him much fame at the time, starting with his smash hit "Telstar." He had an unusual approach to recording, but it worked well. In just a few years he worked on 245 singles, of which 45 were top fifty hits in the UK.

The dark side of Joe Meek's life is also famous, for his depression, and repressed homosexuality, which remember, was still illegal in the UK until 1967. All this on top of financial and career troubles let to his committing murder and then suicide in February of 1967, at age 37. But a year before he released that Tornados record I’m telling you about. Presumably, that group wasn't gay, but on the last 45 he produced for them, in 1966, he perhaps gained some satisfaction by exposing a reality long suppressed. On the flip side of their record, named "Is That a Ship I Hear," he placed what sounded like a throwaway song, called "Do You Come Here Often?" It's an innocuous sounding instrumental and most people, had they even bothered to turn the record over, would have stopped listening well before the point of interest I'm telling you about. At about 2:25 mark into the song, he inserted this bit of conversation apparently intended to sound like it came from a London gay club, with two obviously bitchy queens.

“Do you come here often?”

“Only when the pirate ships go off air.”

“Me too.” (giggles)

“Well, I see pajama styled shirts are in, then.”

“Well, pajamas are OUT, as far as I'm concerned anyway.”

“Who cares?”

“Well, I know of a few people who do.”

“Yes, you would.”

“WOW! These two, coming now. What do you think?”

“Mmmmmm. Mine's all right, but I don't like the look of yours.”

(A sniffy pause)

“Well, I must be off.”

“Yes, you're not looking so good.”

“Cheerio. I'll see you down the 'Dilly.”

“Not if I see you first, you won't.”

What Was he thinking? Still, this was a milestone, inserting a bit of then-gay life onto vinyl, and on a major label yet.

A couple explanations, the “pirate ships” were radio stations that operated off the coast of England. They began in the early 60’s to circumvent the record companies' control of popular music broadcasting in the United Kingdom and the BBC's radio broadcasting monopoly. And “see you down the ‘Dilly” likely referred to the Piccadilly area of London, the center of much gay life there.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New CD by Levi Kreis, and a Mini Music History

I am very pleased to write about the latest CD by Levi Kreis. It’s called “Live @ Joe’s Pub,” and that’s a NYC venue. He’s now in L.A. working on his next studio album, but this live one sure whets the appetite for more.

It’s full of songs from his recording career, and I’ve been following him from the beginning. Accordingly, my own collection of his work includes some material not mentioned on his website. Yeah, I know, this will drive some of his fans crazy, but hey, being a faithful follower has its rewards. And many of those fans will scratch their heads at the first CD in the grouping below, “Rough Around the Edges: Live at Genghis Cohen.”

I love to tell about first meeting Levi. I was in L.A. in the summer of 2002, visiting my co-producers for the radio show Audiofile. We went to see a production, at the Zephyr Theatre, of the Del Shores play “Southern Baptist Sissies.” Levi was not in the cast but during the show he came out and sang the song “Stain Glass Windows,” which was terrific, as was the play itself. On the way out of the theatre Levi was doing a meet-and-greet, selling his CD, and of course I bought a copy and we chatted a bit. “Rough Around the Edges: Live at Genghis Cohen” was a very homemade CD, and I loved that it contained some very unabashedly gay songs, like “Queer Boy.” It was very self-distributed and I doubt it was even ever mentioned on his website.

In 2005 he released “One of the Ones,” and I was blown away and now a serious fan. I think he’s been the only artist that I’ve interviewed three times…his interviews are Just That Good, as is his music. You can find them on my Queer Music Heritage shows for January 2006, March 2007, and June2009. “The Gospel According to Levi” from 2007 was another jump in his material, very personal and not to be ignored. And also that year he released some of his older material, in the digital CDs “Bygones” and “Live at Genghis Cohen.” And the studio album “Where I Belong” came out in 2009. As I said, I was now a fanatic collector, hence the grouping of releases shown below.

A CD just called “Bonus CD” was pressed in 2007. This was material recorded for Atlantic in 2005, and that album never happened. But as I’d built up a connection with Levi by then (and it doesn’t hurt to do radio), he sent me the CD, with the “not for airplay” condition. Next is the compilation “Peace from the Porch, Volume 2,” from 2006. This was a benefit CD produced by my friend Christy Claxton. Volume 1 raised money for the American Cancer Society, and Volume 2 funds would go to causes combating domestic abuse and violence. I got to hear an early pressing and realized that many victims are also men and I knew just the track that should be included. I contacted both Christy and Levi and introduced them through the internet, and a wonderful, but obscure track by Levi called “Man Outta Me” was received in time to make it on the CD. It’s the only place it can be heard.

The Sony Corporation in 2007 had a short-lived campaign to promote the music of GLBT artists, and released “Music With a Twist: Revolutions.” It an excellent CD, and introduced to me a song I am crazy about, “Jesse,” by Ivri Lider. But Sony barely marketed the project and no more efforts resulted by them. It contains Levi’s track “I Should Go.”  In 2009 Levi guested on two tracks on an album by his friend Darci Monet, and also on a track (“Masquerade”) on an EP with Canadian artist Matthew David. Oh yes, in 2008 he and Debbie Holiday released a single called “Yes We Can,” in support of President Obama’s election campaign. Levi was then devoting his efforts in the off-Broadway production, in Chicago, of “Million Dollar Quartet,” in which he plays Jerry Lee Lewis. The show made it to Broadway and in 2011 Levi took home a Tony Award for Featured Actor.

And with a bit of vanity, below is a shot of myself with Levi Kreis and Eric Himan, when they did a joint gig in Houston, in March of 2006. And below it, well, I not only collect Levi’s music but when I see an internet pic of him I like, I grab it, hope he doesn’t mind.


Monday, January 2, 2012

The First Time I Heard Gay Music

I can pretty much pin it down to a date, September 15, 1979. And here’s how it happened. I moved to Norfolk, Virginia, in September of 1978, and came out of the closet immediately, as I joined the UUGC, as we called the Unitarian Universalist Gay Community. Now, it wasn’t really a “church group,” but the UU Church very generously let us use a meeting room and an office in their building. I quickly got involved with this group, and they did Everything that needed done, gay-wise, in Norfolk, from the gay hotline, pot luck dinners, the newspaper, held conferences, and whatever gay organizing that came up. Back in those days it was okay to call it the “gay community,” it was long before the politically correct days of Gay & Lesbian (or Lesbian & Gay), and the B&T weren’t even on the radar. 

In September 1979 we were scheduling a concert, to benefit the hotline, and brought down from Philadelphia very-gay singer/songwriter Tom Wilson (he later went by Tom Wilson Weinberg), and our unofficial organizational leader, Jayr Ellis, thought a great idea would be to get local gay business people “involved,” so persuaded a furniture store owner to house Tom, and his partner John, while they were in Norfolk for the concert. At the very last minute the furniture guy backed out, and Jayr asked if I could put them up. Sure, I had ample room in my condo, so I picked them up at the airport.

That evening was their concert, at the UU hall, and I loved it. Tom sang mostly from his first album, “Gay Name Game,” and the material was Very gay. Here’s where the headline of this article comes in. GLBT people today may not understand, but remember this was 1979. Until Tom’s concert I had NEVER HEARD MUSIC THAT SPOKE TO ME. I mean, this was early in our history’s music and I had only been out of the closet for a year. You could not hear lyrically gay music on the radio (as if you can do that now). So, this was music for which I did not have to switch the pronouns in my head to make them seem real. This was our music.


The first photo I took at that UUGC concert, and Tom’s partner (since 1973), John Whyte, even joined in the singing on one number, a favorite spoken-word piece called “1:00 a.m.” Below that are his two solo albums, “Gay Name Game,” and “All-American Boy,” (1982), along with “Don’t Mess With Mary,” which he wrote for the 1994 Stonewall 25th Anniversary, and “Get Used To It,” (1993), one of Tom’s musicals. Another much-performed one he wrote was “Ten-Percent Revue,” and he’s still writing musicals, with one in working stages currently, about Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok. Tom and I have stayed friends over the years. In the bottom photo we are at a house concert in NYC, July 2004.

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Tom twice for my QMH show, and you can see that coverage in my April 2001 and September 2003 shows. And please check out his website, at