Script for August 2001, QMH:

Intro:

Hello, I want to start off with a special interview. It's certainly special to me as I've never gotten an interview from someone in New Zealand. The interview was with Linda Topp of the Topp Twins. They've been a popular act in New Zealand for a number of years and currently have their own TV show, and have released several recordings. From their new CD "Grass Highway" let's start off with the song "big ole moon."

Topp Twins - big ole moon (2001)

Okay, could you please tell us your name
My name is Linda Topp, and I have a twin sister, Joules, and we're known in New Zealand, and pretty much around the world, as the Topp Twins. And we really are twins, identical twins, not mirror twins, but we are identical.

And what do you do?
We do a lot, actually. We are comedians, performers and entertainers, we're musicians, singers, we write all our own music, and have our own TV show in New Zealand. And, um, we've been doing this for 20 years now, and we do this as a full-time career.

Tell us about your new CD, what's it called, what kind of music is it?
clip

And who's your audience?
Our audience is, you know, right across the broad (laughs) right across the broad (laughs) leave that, it's right across the board now. When we first started out it was very much lesbian orientated audiences that came to see the Topp Twins but now it's mums and dads and kids and grannies and all people come to see our show and they come back and it's "oh, we love your show" you know and um you know it's I mean it's and the great thing now is that gays & lesbians and mums and dads and kids come to the show, so, it's a beautiful thing / And we're not just singers, we're not just musicians, we're you get a whole package, when you come to see a Topp Twins show you get a whole package. You get comedy and characters and original music and you get you know gay and lesbian, you get rural, you get country, you get political, so it's you know a whole entertainment package,

Linda, can you tell us a little more about your sound?
the Topp Twins have been performing in NZ for over 20 years now an um and the idea of incorporating our sounds into a new CD you know we've got you know love ballads and we've got sort of pacific country feel, we've got old yodels which is you know pretty much everybody's favorites now, whenever we do a show we've got to yodel and then and then we've got songs like "milestones" which you know songs about being on the road and that kind of stuff you know and then there's "baby I think I'll keep ya" or "baby I think I'll love you" I think it is, is is is you know is a..Joules wrote that a for her girl friend, and so there's a little bit on the album for everybody, and country fans and lesbians and you know everybody can get something out of the album

That leads us nicely to the song she just mentioned, here's "baby I think I'll love ya"

Topp Twins - baby I think I'll love ya (2001)

Linda, in your last answer you mentioned that there's yodeling in some of your songs. Who yodels?

QMH Topp Twins promo

Well I guess it's morning in New Zealand…
Since there will be so many obscurities heard on this show, I thought those of you on the internet would like to be able to see photos of the artists and recordings, and view the playlist. You can do that at www.queermusicheritage.com.

Next up are two songs from "The Hey Y'All Soundtrack"

Y'All - the hey y'all theme song/we're still poor & we're still happy (2001)

Those two songs were the "hey y'all theme song" and "we're still poor & we're still happy" and open up the new CD by the duo known as Y'All. I've been a fan of Y'All for several years now. They've performed in Houston twice in the last year and they are a treat in person as well. In the live act you not only get the wonderful songs but also the humorous stories that tie them together. Y'All is made up of James Dean Jay Bird and Steven Cheslek Demeyer and they recently recorded an interview for me in which they tell about their new CD. This clip should give you just a taste of what their live act is like.

The "Hey Y'All" soundtrack is the soundtrack to our TV show, which is called "Hey, Y'All," and that's why we call it the 'Hey, Y'All" soundtrack. Makes sense. We don't actually have a TV show, but if we did, it would be called "Hey, Y'All," and this would be the soundtrack, called the "Hey, Y'All" soundtrack. Well, that's a great idea, I think, but that's just me speaking, from being part of Y'All and part of "Hey, Y'All," one of the stars, I would think, of "Hey, Y'All," right? Yes, half of all the stars, you are half of all the stars. Well, that's very nice of you, thank you. Well, why don't you describe our music. Well, you do the describing of our music, because I'm never good at this, because it's a hard thing to do. Well, some folks would call our music country. Others would call it folk music. It's a little bit of both of those things, especially, as most of the stuff has kind of a country, kind of traditional maybe 50s and 60s country feel because of the instrumentation. I'd say it shows a variety feel though. People have…..it certainly does, it's not just the country, not to scare off the folks who don't like the country, because there's kids songs, and jingles. I was going to go on and say that. Country's one of those that people sometimes say, oh, I don't like country music, I don't like it. Well, why would anybody say that? Well, you've heard it. And if you are that person you should listen to our CD because a lot of our fans have said, I don't like country music. People don't say, I don't like children's music, well, some do. Some do. But they would like these children's songs, too. We like country music and children's music. They're not all children's songs. It's American music, plain and simple. Period. Don't even go on. Stop. That's it.

So I guess we'll move on to the next part of this little radio tidbit, which would be I guess a big thing to tell these people is that we're a couple. I guess they would want to know that. And some people would say, do you really want people to know that you're a couple? Do we want people to know that we're a couple, Steven? You just told them, so it's too late. Well I know but now we can look back in retrospect at what I have done wrong, or have I done anything wrong? That's what we're asking ourselves here. Do they know? Should they know? I'm going to let you answer it cause you're the quiet one. I think it doesn't matter to me if they know or not. Well, it doesn't matter to me either. We can go and talk about it. I think it's kind of clear when people see us. It's not always though. A lot of times people will write us and say, are you a couple? Or am I just making up things? So what do we say to those people? Well, we wouldn't lie, we weren't raised that way. So the answer would be yes, right? Yes, the answer to that question is yes. If someone were to ask us that, I don't think anyone did though. No one ever has, they just wonder, inside, so that's why…is it important for us to…is there any, is it important to be Out, so to speak, and that's a big word that kind of scares us sometimes, because, out, I mean…we are who we are, and we sing what we sing. Oh, that's deep. Shut up. No, it's deep, no, I'm serious, that was kind of deep. It wasn't real shallow. This is about Y'All, you and me, Steven, Jaybird and Steven.

Do you want to talk about the CD? Of course, I do, that's what I'm trying to get to, some of the songs. Why don't you tell people, people always want to know about that song "When You're Not Around and Come Out With Me, Darling" It's actually two songs, it's part your song, part my song. It's two songs, sometimes we try to sneak it in as one, like if we're on the radio or something, and they say, why don't you do one more song? Oh, wait a minute, was that two songs? But you know, both of them together only last about six or seven minutes, and sometimes…and if you're…folk songs, folk songs are sometimes twenty minutes long, look at Bob Dylan, at least seven or eight, so we can sing these two. I wrote "When You're Not Around"…it was based on a true story, sitting at home, I love you so much that I love it when you're not around, is the line. That's the catch, the hook. So I sing that for Jay. You sing that for me but I didn't think that it was a true story. I thought, no, no, no, no. The real story is "When You're Not Around" …no, that's your story, my story is "Come Out With Me Darling" because you're always sitting at home, opening up the curtains, playing with the cats, singing when you're not around I love you so much, and I say, no, no, wait a minute, I want you to come out, let's go out, come on, let's go out and get a bite to eat. I think they're probably going to hear the song, so we don't have to tell them the whole story. Oh, well I just thought we would talk a little bit about it, you're the one that brought up the idea to talk a little bit about the songs, I just brought up that particular pair of songs, because those are people's favorites. What? I'm just taking a breath, you're wearing me out.

Y'All - when you're not around/come out with me, darling (2001)

Speaking of websites, we have a website too. Yes, we do. Lucky green dress dot com. That's names after my uncle joe's lucky green dress which he gave to me back in 1992 when I left Okey-Dokey, Texas, my home town to head out into the world, and he gave me that for luck, to wear on my journey. And it brought me a lot of luck actually, it brought me a whole lot of luck, because when I got to Circleville, Ohio, which is this little town where they have the big pumpkin festival every year, but they weren't having the pumpkin festival at this point in the year, cause it was May, but anyway I was in the middle of a pumpkin patch, but I didn't know it was a pumpkin patch, cause the pumpkins…cause it was May, and the pumpkins, they weren't even there, but this rainstorm came down and you know I got stuck in this rainstorm and Steven saved my life because I was wearing the lucky green dress, so, that's why we named the website lucky green dress dot com and that's where you can find out, or you can see pictures of us, you can find out more about us and you can find out…you can read. You can buy stuff. You can buy stuff like the bedazzled aprons that I now wear, or this CD. Or this CD, that's right, the 'Hey, Y'All Soundtrack" which is kind of what this is all about. Or, our autobiography, our autobiography, let's read that to them right now…

[note: as you can see, any conversation by Y'All is Very hard to transcribe…]

Okay, I think that will give you a sampling of their act. Between Jay Bird's outrageous stories they give us a nice blend of beautiful ballads and humorous songs, and the CD is put together, complete with several singing jingles, just like it was a down home TV show. It's the "Hey Y'All Soundtrack."

Dave Hall tag

And be sure to listen to KPFT every Saturday night at midnight for After Hours with Jimmy Carper. It's Queer Radio…With Attitude.

One of the performers at the Houston Pride Festival in June was Marcus Hutcheson. I got a chance to interview Marcus about his music and his CD, called "Right Where I Am." This is his first CD and it was produced by Dave Hall, who I've interviewed on a past show.

Marcus, how would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it?

I would describe my music as being very lyric driven, songs that tell a story, songs that hopefully reflect universal human emotions. My music has been compared to other artists like Billy Joel, Kenny Loggins, Jackson Browne, and I think that's pretty accurate. There's a real southern thread that runs through all of my music. It's a very acoustic based, slightly gritty sound, and that's really where I feel comfortable, and that's sort of musical soup, with a lot of acoustic guitars and spicy percussion thrown in

Who were your influences?

Musical influences? My musical influences are four songwriters. And they are Jimmy Webb, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and Carole King. Those are the four that I put all my songs through the Joni-Jimmy-Carole-Bob filter, before I say they're finished and I try to write like them. I try to emulate them. I study them. I really think that they are they are four of the best songwriters of the past at least 50 years, if not in terms of our modern culture ever. But in terms of actual music, I think certain singers have influenced me a lot. My favorite singer ever is probably Mahalia Jackson. Just something about her voice, she really sang with abandon. In terms of gay and lesbian artists who are my influences, I would have to say the very first gay or lesbian artist who influenced me who was openly gay was Cris Williamson, "The Changer and the Changed." And that was about ten years ago when I first heard "Wild Things" and I love that song, I couldn't believe how beautiful it was, and that was about the time I came out of the closet, and someone played that record for me, and I immediately figured out a way to buy it. Then there was Holly Near, but I would have to say Janis Ian is another influence who influenced me way before I knew that she was a lesbian and also Elton John and there are many, many gay and lesbian artists I really admire. But I really don't think of artists as gay or straight or lesbian, I really just think good music is good music, no matter who it comes from. I have to admit though I'm always a little prouder and a little more happy when I love an artist and then I find out they're gay. It's like, one of us, points for us.

Can you tell us of which song that you've written are you the most proud?

Ah, very good question, that's a tough one cause they're all my babies, but I would say the closest to the bone that I've ever written was "Heavenly Love," which is off my CD. I'm real proud of that one because it's a true story about my life in Alabama growing up as a gay man, and it's not a happy ending, it's not…there's no bow tied up nicely at the end of it. It's really open ended. That's probably my most personal song, and that's my story, so I would say that one

Marcus Hutcheson - heavenly love (2000)

The title song from the album is probably my favorite track from it, Marcus, please tell us about "Right Where I Am"

'Right Where I Am" was written actually in my boyfriend's bed. One day I really was laying there and I was looking out the window, sixth floor of a New York apartment building, and I was looking at the blue sky, and a plane really did fly by, and it was only like for three seconds that I saw this plane. And I used to sit at the airport. I had a friend in Nashville when I lived there, named Darlene, and we would go out to this field near the Nashville airport and we would watch the planes take off. It was, I don't know why we did that, but it was really a lot of fun. It was this peaceful, beautiful place and you could see the planes from a distance taking off. And it was like I always wanted to be somewhere else, I always wanted to be in one of those planes taking off going somewhere, because I was never happy with my life. And, as I was laying there in my boyfriend's bed, watching the plane fly by the window, I realized that I didn't want to be anywhere but where I was, and that's how that song was born

Marcus Hutcheson - right where I am (2000)

One of the big treats for me at the Pride Festival was at the end of Marcus' set when he sang "over the rainbow," and even better, that I had my minidisc recorder going and captured it. I asked Marcus to record an introduction for that song.

It's a song that I think needs no introduction. It speaks for itself and it is timeless. It really sings itself if you get out of the way for long enough to let it do its work. I really when I sing that song I don't feel like I have to do anything except just stand there and let the song happen. I'm always a little reticent to sing a song. It's been done so perfectly by such a brilliant artist, but then I thought, what the hell, what are you gonna do? It's a great song, but that's not a very good introduction, is it?

Well, it worked for me, here is "over the rainbow" recorded live at the Houston Pride Festival.

Marcus Hutcheson - over the rainbow (2001, live)

I just loved that. Also appearing at the Pride Festival was Dave Hall, and Marcus and he backed each other up during each of their sets. Dave is from New York City and has three excellent CDs out on his own label, and he produced Marcus' CD. I asked Marcus how it was having Dave produce his first CD.

Oh, it was such a great experience working with Dave Hall, he's so awesome. He's just a brilliant musician. He's just a great composer. I can see him years from now composing symphonies. He's got such amazing musical ears, and he's such a painter, such an artist. He helped me give my little simple songs a shape and a form, and I'm forever indebted to him for that

I'm a big fan of Dave Hall's work also, and I'm ending tonight's show with another treat.

But before I do I want to thank you all for tuning in to the show, and I especially want to thank the Topp Twins, Y'All and Marcus Hutcheson for the interviews. If you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please email me and check out my website found, logically enough, at www.queermusicheritage.com. This is JD Doyle for Lesbian & Gay Voices on KPFT in Houston, and I'll be back on the 4th Monday of next month.

Now, as promised, here's something special, again from the Houston Pride Festival here is a live recording of a new song by Dave Hall. I guess this and Marcus' "over the rainbow" are radio premiers, as they've not been recorded. Dave's song is called "something there is" and I love this song. I find myself really getting wrapped up in it, especially near the end where Marcus joins Dave and they trade vocals, it just builds and builds. Closing tonight's show here's "something there is" by Dave Hall.

Dave Hall & Marcus Hutcheson - something there is (2001, live)