Please visit my sites Queer Music Heritage and OutRadio

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Christine Jorgensen Enjoyed Being a Girl

Christine Jorgensen's "I Enjoy Being a Girl" album

On my radio show and website, QMH, I love to feature transgender performers and history, and there could not be better history than Christine Jorgensen (1926 - 1989). While she was not the first person to have sexual reassignment surgery, she certainly was one of the first to get worldwide attention for it, especially in the U.S. This was in late 1952 when she traveled to Denmark for the operation and returned to  front-page headlines all over the world. Her celebrity essentially became her career, with speaking and night club engagements, for the rest of her life.

Many people know of her LP "Christine Jorgensen Reveals," in which Nipsy Russell does an awkward interview, and to me I found her articulate responses full of amazing poise, especially considering this was 1958. Discovering that LP was probably the start of my admiration and fascination with her, and I have set up several pages of my site in tribute to her, at the link below.

In December of 2006, a piece of history was restored and given back to us, in the form of a very rare night club show by Christine Jorgensen. Prior to this the only recording released to the public was the 1958 interview album. While she made herself a career in show business for most of the rest of her life, no recording of her performances had surfaced, until this "new" release. The album is comprised of two of her shows in Los Angeles, one done in late 1982 and the other in early 1983. In this recording she does some singing, tells stories about celebrities and does some impressions.

below, ad for engagement similar to the ones on the album

The album is only available in digital format, at iTunes. I was blessed to have been able to interview the album's producer, David Cunard, who sadly passed away in October of 2011. That interview can be found on my May 2007 QMH show.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Disappear Fear - Get Your Phil

Last year Disappear Fear released a CD that I feel has just not received enough exposure. Now, first off, I don't want anyone to be confused about Sonia and her many releases. She and her sister Cindy began as Disappear Fear around 1988 and for the first ten years they were billed that way. Then Cindy wanted to step away from performing and for a few years the releases were just by Sonia. Starting around 2005 Cindy would at times guest in the studio, but just as often there was a backing band, and the CDs were then by Sonia & Disappear Fear. But this latest CD is special. As it harkens back to the beginning, with both Sonia and Cindy harmonizing and doing very special material, this one is billed just as by Disappear Fear.

Gee, that was a longer explanation than I intended, but then, Sonia's story is one I want newcomers to know. Okay, what is special about this latest CD? It honors Phil Ochs, an American folk hero, whose political songs became a background of the unrest in the 1960's. Sadly, he died in 1976, but his songs just kept being the voice of protest and have remained timely, with one of his most known ones being "I Ain't Marching."

The music of Phil Ochs has spoken to Sonia since high school, and she has already included two of his songs on earlier albums, "Is There Anybody Here" and "No More Songs." On "Get Your Phil" he gets the full tribute.

On a personal note, I've known Sonia for at least ten years and am blessed to count her as an "artist friend" who is also a "friend." I did an extensive "career interview" with her in 2010, and she humored me by allowing me to dig deep into her music history. Also a year ago I got another blessing, I was in Albany for a music fesitval and my hosts (from the Quest of Life show, on WRPI) took me to their station to record an interview. I walked in and was very surprised to meet Sonny Ochs, Phil's sister, who was doing her radio show Mostly Folk, and sitting on her console was a copy of "Get Your Phil," so Sonny and I hit it off immediately. I was surprised how much I remembered from my days of following folk music in the 60's, and I remembered that my favorite song of Phil's was "Changes," (in that case, by Ian & Sylvia).

Monday, August 13, 2012

Stephan Nance & "A Trouble Piece of Fruit" CD

Per the website of Stephan Nance, he is Oregon's foremost awkwardly charming vegan straight-edge queer alternative piano folk rock musician. I would add a dash of quirky to that mix, and he’s been on my radar for a while. I happen to love quirky and he’s been working on his full-length CD for several years now, by releasing a couple preliminary EPs with a few of the ultimate tracks. The new CD is finally here, and (see what I mean) he named it “A Troubled Piece of Fruit.”

While he does not yet have professional videos, his utter charm more than makes up for that, and I encourage you to check out these two tracks. First, “Song for Losers”…

And then the delightful “Cuddlefish”

You can hear a lot more clips at the links below...

Friday, August 10, 2012

Brett Every Likes Guys, 10 of Them

Okay, that title is more inspired by the names of the first ten songs on his new CD, “Tales of Ten Men.” They are not all love songs, but some of them are, and they are all lyrically gay, which sure puts them down my street.

I like this artist a lot. He’s from Australia and I so adored his first two albums, “Camping Out,” from 2008, and his next one, from 2009, with the irresistible title of “Fairy Godmother’s Gone to Vegas.” He gave me a delightful interview for my April 2010 show, and in it he described his style as “a bit like Norah Jones drinking with Tom Waits in some smoky bar somewhere with Dusty Springfield on the jukebox, or something like that.”

I think that kind of fits, and there’s a dash of “troubadour” as well. Now that’s a word you don’t hear a lot anymore, and traditionally it refers to a wandering singer or minstrel, a story teller…and Brett’s stories are unique, sometimes poignant and humorous, and always thoughtful, with a voice that sounds like his heart is breaking. Some of my favorite songs from those albums are “Prince Charming,” “Mr. Smith” and “Devereaux.”

His next album, “Menu” continued the pensive journey and this time he gave us a wonderfully creative video to go along with the song “Man Walks Into a Bar.”

Again the new album is called “Tales of Ten Men” and in addition to those ten songs there are some exquisite additional tracks, with one celebrating the wedding of two men, well, the way it should be celebrated. It’s called “What a Beautiful Day,” and there’s a video for it.

I have to mention another bonus track, “My Christmas List,” and it’s one I was delighted that Brett allowed me to showcase as a world radio premier, on my December 2010 Xmas show. It's got a theme I'm sure I've never heard before, about a six-year old boy sort of complaining about not getting what he wants for Christmas, every year, even though he's been very good. Now, it's not mentioned what he did want, but what he did not want included boxing gloves, toy trucks and guns, and balls and bats.

I encourage you to check out Brett’s songs. I think you’ll find quite them fresh and oh so interesting.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Chris Riffle & "Another Dream"

Though his first CD (“The Sun Is Up”) was released in 2003, I only found out about Chris Riffle a year ago, and immediately bought his other two recordings. Reading his bio, it sounds like a story from decades ago…he grew up in a one-room cabin in the woods, though those woods were not that far from Seattle. 

And, as there was no electricity it meant no television, so it gave lots of time for him to soak up a love for music from his folksinging dad. In college he started writing and recording his own songs. One of them, ”Wonderboy” made its way to being a local radio favorite, and I can see why. It and several of the others that eventually were on his 2003 album (mostly recorded in 1999) spoke clearly to me of gay teenage boy innocence. And how refreshing to hear that point of view. I can’t help but think that it would have meant the world to me if I could have heard a sweet boy-boy song on the radio when I was a teenager (yes, radio Had been invented by that time). Another fave of mine from that release was “5th Grade”…geez.

During the last few years, Chris has been living in NYC, and greatly stepped up his release of recordings. “Introducing Chris Riffle” came out in 2010, and his last two releases have been EPs, “I Am Not From Here,” last year, and his brand new one, “Another Dream.” And you can definitely hear the growth, in his singing and production, especially on the gorgeous Beatles cover of “And I Love Him.” Yes, he changed “her” to “him” and I love it!

There are also live videos to sample on youtube, 

On Oct 7, 2012, I got to watch a house concert by Chris, 
via Skype from NYC to my office in Houston, pretty cool.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Athens Boys Choir Needs Your Help

I REALLY like this act, and think the name of it is Brilliant! Now, the act is indeed from Athens (Georgia), and started out as a duo, releasing a debut album in 2004 on Daemon Records (label of the Indigo Girls). That one had the clever title of “Rhapsody in T”…clever because the now solo member, Katz, is a trans man, and clever because, hey, the lyrics are clever…and biting, and funny, and political, and very queer. Three more CDs have followed over the years, each one fresh and powerful and in-your-face (in a nice way). And if you didn’t think you liked slam poetry or spoken word, well, give some tracks a listen. Katz is also an activist, and last year alone gave over 50 “Trans 101” talks.

As I’m quite fond of Katz’ spoken word gems, I went to his site to see if there were any new releases, and…whoa, there’s a Kickstarter Campaign right now for a new CD, and there’s only five days left and almost halfway to go. So, while this blog started out solely to let folks know about the artist and CDs, now I’m switching to plugging the Kickstart drive. We need more Katz treasures preserved. 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

John Flanagan's "Pretty Lies"

John Flanagan’s facebook page lists among his influences Queen, Mika and Lady Gaga…yeah, I can hear that. I guess I hear Mika the most, and as I loves me some poppy dance rock, John’s music was very welcome.

How did I hear about him? Well, I rarely have time to listen to the radio shows of my GLBT radio comrades, but I made time today to check out Tom Edmondson’s show "The Tenth Voice," (with co-host Aaron Sherman). That's out (and Out) of Kansas City, on (Saturdays at 1pm). It’s not a music show, but I noticed on his facebook post that a guest on today’s show was an out artist new to me. So, thanks, Tom.

John Flanagan is a Boston native and has taken his music career to Nashville, NYC, and now Los Angeles, and last year he released an EP, called “Pretty Lies,” along with a single not on that release, called “Electrik.” All of the songs are infectious pop, with standout tracks to me being “Life After Love,” “Elephas,” and “Stoplight.” Oh, if you buy the mp3 for “Stoplight” there’s a bonus track at the end, a nice slower track called “Tomorrow.” I do admit to flinching a bit when I listened to “The Last Goodbye” (warning: het lyrics), but perhaps that was written before coming out. At any rate, I’m looking forward to his next release already.