Shondes - Close the Door (2011)
This is JD Doyle and welcome to Queer Music Heritage, and it's my 13th Anniversary Show. I'm celebrating by doing another show in a series I love doing, Transgender Music. I've done 13 of these in the past, totaling about 24 hours, and this time I'm adding four more hours, and bringing you three special interviews and a whole lot of songs.
My feature interview for this hour is with one of the members of the band The Shondes, and the opening song was from their latest CD, "Searchlights," and was called "Close the Door." The band is comprised of Louisa Solomon, who does most of the lead vocals, Eli Oberman, who adds the distinctive rock violin sound to the band, Fureigh on guitar and Temin Fruchter on drums. They've been together since 2006, but there's bit of pre-history I want to cover, because if you've listened to this show at all, you know I love obscurities. And also, their roots give an insight to where they are now.
Louisa Solomon's music goes back to when she was a teenager, and she and a friend named Emily had their own label in the late 90's. Their band was Lucky Tiger and they were definitely influenced by the Riot Grrrl sound. Here's just a little, and a little will be enough, of one of their songs from circa 1997, called "My Ghost"
Lucky Tiger - My Ghost (1998)
In the early 2000's Louisa and Emily and several others formed a band called The Syndicate, which released two CDs before disbanding around 2005, and joining them on their second album was another current member of The Shondes, Eli Oberman. Because for this show I wanted to get not only into the music, but also some transgender issues, it was Eli I asked to interview, and I am very pleased with our talk.
JD: I know every interviewer asks this, but I think the origin of the band's name and the reasons for picking it are important. Could you talk about that?
Eli Oberman: Yeah, it is actually important to us, important enough for us to choose a band name that we knew no one would ever be able to pronounce. The band name is The Shondes, that's how it's pronounced, and it's actually a Yiddish word which means a shame or a disgrace. We're all Jewish in the band and we chose that because we felt like it brought together a lot of the different things that were important to us. Using Yiddish, it's the language of our ancestors so it was a nod to that cultural history, but also sort of tying in our connection to queer community and reclaiming the word Shonde, which is in Jewish culture, it's a very negative word...you know, sort of reclaiming that in the same way that the word 'queer' has been reclaimed in our communities, and sort of saying, well, if it's a shonde to be queer, if it's a shonde to be transgender, if it's a shonde to stand up for justice and be radical, then we're proud to be shondes. So yeah, it was important for us.
JD: I saw an old review, from June of 2006 in the Village Voice, when Ian Brannigan was still in the band, and it said that the band was three-quarters transgender. In that regard how do you describe the band now.
Eli: Ah, you know, that article was a blessing and a curse. Of course you can't complain about being in the Village Voice, but yeah, our identities...we're always walking a fine line, and I think queer artists who are making music who want to have their music have mainstream appeal, are always walking a fine line. You don't want to be in any way hiding, or ashamed of who you are, your identity, you want to talk about it openly. You want young queer kids who are alone to be able to find you, and know that they're not alone and know that there's hope, and all these important things that we remember from when we were young.
And, at the same time, the music industry is still very straight, and very male-dominated, especially in the rock world that we're in. There's a lot of pigeon-holing and it's been frustrating for us walking that line in terms of press especially, because often we'd get put in the gay section of a paper, instead of the music section, for example, which to me says, no matter what you sound like we only think that queer people will care about you. And obviously we care about queer people and we play so many queer shows, and that's a huge part of who we are and where we come from, but we also don't want to be ghettoized. Yeah, so that's really been a struggle for us, and Ian did leave the band and our guitarist Fureigh joined the band, who is also queer and on the trans-masculine spectrum, and Temim, who was gender-queer identified at the time, you know, she's changed a lot, too, so it's all fluid, it's all process.
JD: You said a lot of the things that I've already thought of, cause I've thought about this a lot, and it is at one extreme being pigeon-holed and the other extreme, being mentors.
Eli: Yeah, and I think we're learning all the time about how we want to walk that line.
JD: First I want to go back a few years, quite a few. Tell me about being in the band The Syndicate.
Eli: Ha, um, well, Louisa Solomon, who is our bassist and lead singer, she was in a band called The Syndicate when she was in high school. It was her and two other members, and they all went to college together and continued the band in college. And that's also where I went to school, and that's where I met Louisa. I actually hadn't played violin in years. I quit when I was about twelve or thirteen, I think, which is sort of a common trajectory that I've talked to a lot ex-violinists about. So, we got to be friends and then we ended up living together and she sort of said, "hey, I want you to come jam with our band and have fun and see what happens." We had talked about singing and I said, "oh, you want me to sing harmony or something, I think I might really like that." She said, "no, I want you to play violin." And I sort of looked at her and I was like, "well, I don't play violin anymore." And she said, "yes, you do." So, it's really because of that experience and because of Louisa that I started playing violin again, and it was a long rocky road back. But yeah, we were a four-piece for a while until we broke up in 2005 or 2006, not long before Louisa and I decided to form the Shondes.
JD: Didn't you sing lead on any of those Syndicate songs?
Eli: I did, the balance in that band was a little more...a little more spread out than it is in the Shondes. All four of us sang lead at different times or sang co-lead, but I did sing lead on a couple songs. And I still do that in the Shondes. Louisa sings the vast majority of the songs, but I usually have in a forty-five minute, hour-long set I usually sing two songs lead. I usually have about one or two on our albums, so that's sort of how it panned out.
Before we leave talking about the early band The Syndicate, let's hear one of the tracks where Eli took the lead.
The Syndicate - Far From Home (2003)
And from that same album here's a bit of another Syndicate song, called "Living Fiction." Louisa takes lead and you can hear Eli's distinctive rock violin which will be prominent in later Shondes recordings.
The Syndicate - Living Fiction (2003)
JD: How collaborative is the band?
Eli: The band is very collaborative. Often a song will start with me and Louisa, at the piano and violin, sketching out sort of the skeleton of a song. And then when we are in the full band context, everyone's writing their parts and giving feedback, and talking about what the structure should be...change this chord here and that chord there, and that sort of thing, so we really do work together to create.
JD: How do you decide who sings lead on a particular song?
Eli: Usually the person who sings lead on it is the person who originated the idea, because usually that idea comes with some sort of sense with what you want to say.
JD: Describe the style of the music of the band, and how has that evolved from your first album?
Eli: You know, I think we bring together a lot of differences, from classical to punk to Jewish music, religious music, or secular music, Klezmer music, and I think that all comes together pretty naturally for us, and people can hear the melting pot influences in the music. It has over the years turned a little bit more in the traditionally pop direction, which I feel good about.
JD: I like that too, and I want to add that, and I think that the production has improved with every album.
Eli: Thank you, yeah.
JD: From "The Red Sea," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" is one of my favorite of your songs, and it got its own video, could you talk about that song?
Eli: Actually, yeah, it's not that many people's favorite song, but I have a soft spot in my heart for that song, too. I think when we were writing that song, I remember very clearly being in our practice space, and having a moment where I thought, you know what, this is really good, this is something
Shondes - Will You Love Me Tomorrow (2007)
JD: Hard question, what would say is the band's most political song?
Eli: Hmm, I'd say our most political song is "I Watched the Temple Fall," from "The Red Sea," which speaks directly to being Jews and standing up for justice for Palestinians.
JD: I knew you'd pick that one. Is the reaction to that pro, con, mixed?
Eli: You know, it's been mostly positive. It also has started a lot of conversations. We don't play it that often, mostly because it's old, but when we do, we often say, if this is difficult for you or you want to talk about it, come to the merch table after the show. And people have, and I think that's another great thing about music...is that it's an emotional starting point for conversation. So we've had some great conversations with people who were struggling with those issues or disagreed with us.
Shondes - I Watched the Temple Fall (2007)
JD: "Dear One" has been said to be a breakup album, can you talk about that?
Eli: Well, Ian who left the band, was also Louisa's partner and he left very suddenly and both from her and from the band, and we were sort of sent reeling and had a lot to recover from from that. And we write songs about whatever it is that is going on in our lives, so it was unavoidable that the collection of songs that we would write after that experience were about that.
JD: From the "Dear One" album, tell me about the title track.
Eli: That's actually one of my favorite songs on that album, and it's the one that we most often still play at our live shows. I think you can definitely hear the Jewish music influence in that and I just think that it turned out pretty well. Yeah, that's one of my favorites.
Shondes - My Dear One (2010)
JD: And you sang lead on "The Coming Night"
Eli: Yeah, it's always interesting to see thematically when you're putting an album together, when you have multiple songwriters how the different pieces are going to fit together, and somehow miraculously they always do, and that song is really about loss of love and loss of people in your life, both through ending relationships and also through death. And that just worked perfectly with the songs Louisa was writing at the time.
Shondes - The Coming Night (2010)
JD: You being able to add rock violin to the sound I think really makes the band, and it would be a different band if you didn't do that.
Eli: Yeah, I think so, figuring out how to do it I don't think I have a lot of role models, so I feel like I am always learning new things and trying to figure out how to play that role and it's kept it always interesting for me; I feel like I'm always learning.
JD: I read a column you wrote last year concerning your cancer diagnosis and need for a double mastectomy, and you wrote, "It wasn't until I was confronted with having surgery that I realized I didn't want it." And you experienced kind of an irony. Could you talk about that?
Eli: Yeah, one of the things that I thought about a lot, and that I have a lot to say about. Obviously transgender rights are extremely important to me and extremely foundational to my politics, and at the same time I have a lot of criticisms of the way that the trans community creates and perpetuates painful and damaging norms that are often the same norms that are created by the same culture that has rejected us. So, the way that you're supposed to look, the pressure to be on hormones, the assumption that everyone wants top surgery...and I'm talking about people on the trans-masculine spectrum, not trans women. So, I have a lot of problems with that and I think that, I think that it's really damaging. I think that it does a disservice to the natural diversity that can happen, and maybe, would happen, if there were less strict norms about that. And so, it was very difficult for me to be having this thing happen to me because of my threatening illness, and to be sort of forcibly, not for the reasons that most other people are brought into that set of norms, and the way that people responded to me about it was very difficult.
JD: Right, a lot of transguys would be delighted to have their insurance pay for that.
Eli: Yup. And insurance should pay for that, if that's what they wanted, but you shouldn't have to have cancer.
JD: How do you think your Jewish backgrounds influence your actual music?
Eli: You know, I think it influenced it a lot, actually. Some people really hear some Jewish-sounding melodies in our music, and others don't. And that doesn't matter to me one way or the other so much, and that sort of ties our Jewish native backgrounds with all the other influences that I mentioned...punk and classical...what they have in common is all the sort of very raw, emotional aspect to them. And that really is why I make music, is to feel, and that's why I listen to music, is to feel, and when I listen that doesn't make me feel anything, I don't really care about it. That's the main place that I connect the Jewish sound in our music. It's the drama.
JD: Isn't the violin also a big connection?
Eli: Yeah, definitely. I think that using the semi-non-traditional instrument of a violin in a more traditional rock band setting with drums, bass and guitar is sort of a nod to classical and to Jewish music and allows us to compositionally bring in those elements, yeah.
JD: Tell me about "Lines & Hooks"
Eli: Hmm, that's a nice angry song, off of "My Dear One," (laughs) that's a real heavy, heavy dark song, angry...from that break-up album period from "My Dear One." There's so much sorry and so much despair in having your heart broken, that when you get to the part where you are just pissed off, it can feel really good. I think that's what that song's about.
Shondes - Lines & Hooks (2010)
JD: I read a lot of online interviews with members of the band and at least twice I saw the host refer to the band collectively as "you girls" or "you gals"....I try to be really respectful of pronouns so I flinched a little reading that. What is your reaction?
Eli: You know, it's a...it goes back to what we were talking about about walking that line between pigeonholing and being a proud, queer public figure. One of things that we've found is that, which is the sad truth, but if you just let people say what they say, and answer their question, then you have a better chance of having people actually pay attention to the answers. If you stop them, and correct them on what your pronouns are, the piece becomes entirely about your genders, and that's not what we want, and so I think sadly a lot of times we let things like that go for the purpose of trying to focus on the band and the music.
JD: Very good, and also I think you have to pick your battles, too.
Eli: Yes, you do, you definitely do.
JD: What was your experience being in the film "Riot Acts"? [I've interviewed Madsen Minax]
Eli: Oh, our friends Madsen Minax and Simon Strikeback, who used to be in a band in Chicago, are also film-makers, and they came to us with this idea and also told us that they were doing it and they would be traveling around, filming all of these artists that they love. So they came and filmed us in New York and I remember it was summer, because we had to close all the windows and turn off all the fans, so that they wouldn't interfere with the audio. So it was burning hot, we were always sweating and were like, we're going to look so bad in this. I really like them and respect their project and we were honored to be a part of it. And I also have a lot of respect for not just that they did it but how hard they worked to put it out there and promote it, and there's so many people that have seen that film and in fact, signed our band from that film, so I appreciate that, too.
JD: I was at the premier of that film, in San Francisco, and I've also interviewed Madsen. I did a long interview about the film itself. That was a couple years ago on my show; that was a good interview.
Eli: Nice, yeah, Madsen's great, and we've played with Madsen with their music projects in Chicago.
JD: You just finished your first European tour, how were you received over there, did people know you, know your music?
Eli: Certainly in some of the bigger cities where people have found us over the years online and stuff like that, people knew us. We had a pre-existing fan base in London and Berlin, but for the most part we were going places we'd never been before, and people had told me stories and I didn't know what to expect, but it's really true that it is just culturally and governmentally and financially much more supportive of artists over there. It's just a fact, and so one of the things that is amazing is we go somewhere, say a promoter puts on a show, and instead of in the U.S. if you get booked for a show it's your responsibility to find people there even if you've never been there before. Over there, if a promoter decides to book your show, they feel that it's their responsibility to get you an audience. You're job is to be a good musician and come and play, and their job is to make the night. So it was amazing to me how many times we played alone. We're the only band there, no one's ever heard of us and 200 people show up. It really is another world. It was incredible.
JD: The promoter actually promoted.
Eli: Yup, imagine that.
JD: I named "searchlights" on my Best of 2011 show, so you know I'm a fan...
Eli: That's very sweet of you.
JD: No, not sweet, it's deserved. What would you say is the overall theme of "Searchlights"?
Eli: You know, lyrically a lot of the songs are still pretty dark and sad in some ways, but to me the theme is more the sonic shift, to a much lighter and more sort of raucous and joyous direction, and yeah, I think the real theme is writing songs that make you feel good, because life is hard and bad things keep happening, and you just sometimes want to write songs that make you feel good and help you get through that.
JD: From "Searchlights" tell me about "Give Me What You've Got"
Eli: That's another, you know, it sounds very different than "Lines & Hooks," but it's another one of those you've been through a hard thing and you're at that place where you're pissed off. It's actually about community gossiping and specifically the way that women treat other women badly, and how upsetting that is as a feminist. And so, Louisa just wrote a theme like, you know, F.U., this is ridiculous.
JD: I'm glad you gave the initials.
Eli: (laughs) Yes, I know, I've been on the radio before, don't want you to get fined.
JD: One more song from "Searchlights" that I want to hear about is "All This Weight."
Eli: Yeah, sometimes you write a song and it's really hard and it takes you forever to write, and sometimes they just come out. And that really is about my experience, or part of my experience going through having cancer, and my treatment, and how much that changed me as a person.
- Give Me What You've Got (2011)
From their 2011 CD "Searchlights" you just heard "Give Me What You've Got" and "All This Weight" and Eli sang lead on that last one.
JD: Are you working on the next album and how do you think it will be different from the others?
Eli: We are working on the next album. We have pretty much a full album's worth of material right now, which we played a lot of and got that under our belts on the European tour, which is great. And I think that what I'm so excited about it is that it's continuing in the sort of "Searchlights" direction of pop, which I'm just really into. But I think that it's bringing back some of the more raucous and punky elements of "The Red Sea." So I think that a lot of that energy will be back. And it's been a process of you grow, you change, and evolve and have these moments when you look back and think about, oh, well all this growth was great but what did we lose along the way, and I think you sort of reintegrate, and I think that's what this album is going to be like.
I want to chime in that I think another reason that this band is cool is that for their last two CDs, they've also released them as vinyl LPs, which came with download cards. As a long time collector something just draws me to a vinyl record.
This is JD Doyle and that brings us to a close for Part 1 of my Transgender Music Special. There's three more hours with lots more, including interviews with two members of the band Schmekel, and Kali Boyce, who also goes by King TuffNStuff. I thank Eli Oberman of The Shondes for the interview for this segment, and I saved one more question, to set up the closing song.
JD: When plays live, what songs gets the most audience reaction, and why do you think that is?
Eli: Ah, probably "Are You Ready?" which is off of "Searchlights." It's just pure pop; it's fun, it's repetitive, easy to understand...from the first chorus you know how the chorus goes, and so people really just like to freak out and dance their asses off and sing and shout along...yeah, it's a really fun song to play live, we almost never play a set without that one.
JD: I looked y'all up on iTunes, because I know iTunes has a so-called popularity ranking, and I don't know how much faith to put in that, but "Are You Ready?" is the most popular of your songs, it says.
Eli: That is good to know.
JD: I don't know how valid that is.
Eli: Well, apparently it's somewhat true.
Shondes - Are You Ready? (2011)
Kali Boyce, aka King TuffNStuff Interview
This is JD Doyle and welcome to Queer Music Heritage, and Part 2 of my Transgender Music Special. That song was a cover of "Vicious," the opening track from Lou Reed's iconic "Transformer" album, and was done by an artist for whom I'm pleased to bring you an interview. And what prompted my requesting the interview was the release of a new EP. It's by Kali Boyce, also known as King TuffNStuff and is called "Trans of Venus." And I love that this is a blues album, and in a few minutes you'll also hear about this artist's punk music past.
JD: First, do you prefer to go by King TuffNStuff, or Kali Boyce, or KB, or what? And how did you get the name TuffNStuff?
KB: Right, I just go by KB, my initials make it easier for me.
JD: And, where did you get the name TuffNStuff?
KB: TuffNStuff, well, I was joking around with another musician, and she said something that she thought was going to hurt my feelings, and I said, "my feeling's aren't hurt, I'm tough & stuff," and the reaction I got was so funny I thought, oh, that could be a really good stage name, I'm going to think about that. And from there on I kept TuffNStuff.
JD: And, what pronouns do you prefer?
KB: I consider myself two-spirit, so I kind of own both sides, and I go by either or, it really it's about what folks are feeling at the moment. Obviously when I'm doing Tuffy, when I'm doing TuffNStuff I go by male pronouns, for the most part. But I'm very easy about that, I'm fluid in that way, and I've been that way all my life.
JD: I've heard the term two-spirit but for the sake of my listeners could you describe what that means to you.
KB: To me it is an ability to kind of walk carrying both male and female energy, as I walk through the world. Physically, my physical form is the same. I was always androgynous, and as I've grown older I definitely lean toward the butch side of things. And two-spirit in the native culture, the two-spirits in most tribes wind up being the shaman of the tribe, and they were respected, they were listened to...so I kind of carry that moniker, I gave that to myself, feeling that, you know, that's been the story of my life, it's just not quite male, not quite female, not quite...people didn't know what the hell I was back home in Brooklyn when I was a kid, they really didn't. As I got older I found that term two-spirit and that works for me.
JD: So, the transgender umbrella...it's pretty broad, so I guess you're in there, too.
KB: I absolutely am, I'm thought of as a no-op transman. I don't do T (testosterone) and I think a lot of people think that I do. I get people asking me all the time, "so, is your pronoun changed, or what are you doing, how is it going?" And really this is just me, just me, and I'm comfortable with myself, it's just who I am, it's always been that way. And I'm blessed to have found a way to perform that is comfortable for me, and seems to make the audience feel at ease...finally, it wasn't always that way.
JD: I want to go back in your career, though, tell me about being in the band NastyFacts.
KB: Yeah, I was a punk-rocker when I was a pre-teen and a teenager, back in New York, and NastyFacts was me and three straight young men who I went to school with, and we all went to grade school and high school together. And we were trying to write original songs, way back in the day, we had friends who were playing original songs and playing in night clubs, and they were teenagers, and we were like, "wow, how are they doing that?" And they said, "hey, you got to write your own songs," and we all started to write songs. We got picked up by an independent label, called Jimboco Records, and a great chick named Ramona Jan produced our first EP. The adults chose which songs we were going to record, and they picked all of my tunes, and so as a songwriter I started out with this group NastyFacts, and I got my first big boost as far as believing in myself and ability to write music. I was maybe fifteen.
JD: Which of the three songs on the EP is your favorite?
KB: Ah, wow, you know, I guess I would say "Gotta Get To You" would be my favorite. That song cracks me up still when I listen to it. That was such a special time for me, being like fifteen, sixteen years old and having people want to hear me sing, my music that I was writing, it was a great boost to my confidence.
- Gotta Get To You (1981)
Well I think that was damn good stuff for a bunch of teenagers in 1981, and from their EP I played all three songs, "Gotta Get To You," "Drive My Car," and "Crazy 'Bout You."
JD: How were you able to play in those clubs being so young?
KB: Well, it was New York. I'm from New York City, they don't give a...you know, back in those days they weren't as strenuous with the laws of 21+ and all that, although there were some moments where, for example, we were getting ready to perform at Max's Kansas City a couple of times where we're supposed to be getting on stage, and couldn't find Brad, our guitar player. It was like, where's Brad, where's Brad. And I go, "wait, let me check the front door." And sure enough he's at the front door, he went outside to have a cigarette...yeah, a 12-year old smoking cigarettes...and the guy won't let him back in, "you can't come in here, you're too young,"..."but I'm playing." That happens I would argue with the door guy, "hey, he's on stage right now, you got to let him in." But for the most part in New York back in those days, honestly, we starting going out and drinking at bars when we were like twelve, thirteen years old, and no one carded me. New York was different, it was very different back then.
JD: I've been aware of your work for a while now. In August of 2011 I did a show on Drag Kings and you provided me with your song "3 Hour Man" and your site refers to you as the Drag King of the Blues. How did you evolve into these performances?
KB: Well, the punk rock me was a long, long time ago and although I still feel that I carry that energy, and it was such a formative time, and the DIY spirit never left me. But my parents, my mom and dad were both musicians, my dad passed away but my mom's still around and they were in a group together that did sort of be-bop, swing, way back in the day, in New York. So as I was growing up I had access to all kinds of beautiful music that my mom listened to, and that my older sisters listened to. My dad, being from Barbados, I think brought in the Island thing, so we had calypso, all kinds of jazz, swing, blues, and this was what my family expected of me, but you know, you got to be a rebel when you're a kid, so yeah, I was a punker. So here it is my family supporting me no matter what, as long I as playing music, I guess. It took me a while to come around to playing blues, a long while. Blues didn't find me until I was in my 30's, late 30's when the blues found me, and I finally could feel it, so that I could have a part in this amazing music. The fact that I can come out and be a cross-dressing blues performer, doing queer blues, and have a website, put out records, and be respected is amazing. I feel blessed to be alive in 2012. Did I answer your question?
JD: You answered a lot more questions than I asked (laughs).
KB: I'll take that as a compliment.
JD: I want to play your song "3 Hour Man," could you tell me about it?
KB: Well, you know, that song was one of the first songs that I wrote as TuffNStuff, Drag King of the Blues, and honestly, I fell in love right around that time and I wrote that song for my partner in life, who is still my partner in life, we've been together five years...I guess I'm her five-year man now. Really I just wrote the song from my heart. I feel like as I progress with TuffNStuff that I'm finding a way to marry my early punk self, my punk musicianship with my later love of the blues. So, yeah, "3 Hour Man" is a kind of a blues songs, kind of a...you know, kind of got a punk attitude, and it's a love song.
King TuffNStuff - 3 Hour Man (2008)
JD: Tell me about the new EP and how you chose the title for it.
KB: "Trans of Venus"...I'm very excited about the new EP. I chose the title because right around the time I was finishing pre-production we went into the transition of Venus, which is a very big deal apparently to everyone, and I also felt that the EP was showing a change, a marked change in my musicianship, in my writing, in my ability to control my voice, in all these things, so it's really a transitional EP for TuffNStuff, and I thought it would be clever to have "trans" in the title of my work, because I've a deep connection to the trans community here in San Francisco. I was on the steering committee for the Trans March for a couple of years, two or three years, and I've worked really closely with folks and developed connections and friendships and this is my community. I just felt that it would be really cool to see a blues album that is making some kind of reference to the Trans community, and I think it just might be the first one.
JD: I was the Trans March in San Francisco last June and for my listener's information, that's kind of like a picnic environment, and I was sitting on a blanket with Joe Stevens and Ryan Cassata and Josh Klipp was there, and then I heard this blues music and I just had to get up and get to the stage to watch. When someone sings "Prove It On Me Blues" in a park, it gets my attention. So I am glad so you included that, and why did you include it.
KB: I wanted to record "Prove It On Me Blues" cause that song when I do it live...like you said, you had to get up and come over...people really pay attention when you do a Ma Rainey tune and Ma was such an inspiration to me, and to so many people who don't even realize that she inspired them, because she did so much to music. I really just wanted to cover that song and see what I could do with it, and I'm very proud of the way it turned out.
King TuffNStuff - Prove It On Me Blues (2012)
JD: Very few artists have recorded "Sissy Man Blues," I'm so glad you did, what inspired that choice.
KB: Ah, "Sissy Man Blues" is a Kokomo Arnold tune. Kokomo is one of my inspirations as far as guitarists, and as far as doing gender queer...having a queer take on music. He did "Sissy Man Blues" in 1935, and that's awesome to me, so I felt that TuffNStuff should do "Sissy Man Blues" for a few reasons, A, it's a really hard song to play. I had to learn a whole new tuning in order to play the song. I love a challenge and so I decided to try to do it. B, Kokomo is an amazing slide-guitarist, known as one of the fastest slide player ever, anywhere. And so, I had to take the song and I decided to do it as a slow dirge, because there's no way I could do what Kokomo could do on the guitar. I think it sounds really cool as a slow song. It sounds like this really moody piece until you get to the punch line at the end, but I love the song, and on top of that..."Sissy Man Blues," I mean, how can you not love the title of that song. I thought, wow, TuffNStuff really needs to do this song, and give it an even more genderqueer accent. Yes, I'm two-spirit, I'm a no-op transman, but I am in a female form, and so for a cross-dressing blues performer singing "Sissy Man Blues" is pretty funny to me.
King TuffNStuff - Sissy Man Blues (2012)
JD: I'm thinking many members of your audiences may be fairly young, how do they respond to the old blues songs?
KB: Well, you know, I feel like a lot of the kids that see me play at the Trans March and whatnot, they don't really have a frame of reference for old timey-blues, and some of them do, a lot of the kids are hip, but the ones who don't have a clue I think they hear my music for what it is, which is an extension of the blues. The blues started everything. The blues is where all kinds of rock comes from, it's where most music at its root comes from. When they see me and hear me doing what I'm doing I like to think that they're feeling the punk rock, the rock edge, the music is universal and for the most part I've gotten nothing but great feedback from the younger folks in the audience. But then I always try to point folks in the direction of go and check these folks out, and I wasn't sure when I started doing TuffNStuff if there was a place for this type of music, and my attitude was, well, I'm doing a queer take on it, and when you're doing something queer, there's an audience. There's a community that needs you, period.
JD: That leads me to ask about your work with Queer Rebels.
KB: Ah, yes, Queer Rebels is a production company here that my partner, Celeste Chan, and I started in order to really make a platform for queer artists of color in the Bay Area, to get our art, whatever form that may be, music, film making, visual arts, playwriting, whatever, to have a platform to get our art out to the community. Queer Rebels also has an eye towards making sure that we archive our creations, queer artists in our community, and I'm very, very proud of this...
JD: That was kind of my take. I saw it as performance and preservation.
KB: Yeah, yeah, basically, basically. So, we started Queer Rebels productions in 2008, and it's been growing every year. We have 21 amazing performers on our roster. We are constantly trying to promote, so we're growing, we're excited, we're passionate about what we do and we seem to have a lot of support. I'm very, very, very proud of Queer Rebels Productions.
JD: Tell me about the song "Howl"
KB: "Howl," is...that's funny, that's a good segue way, [I kind of planned it that way] "Howl"...I wrote that song, and I've got to give some props to other queer artists of color here in San Francisco. There's a group, another kind of performance production group, called Mangos With Chili, and they put on a performance, and they commissioned me to be a part of it and to write a song for this event, and "Howl" was the song that I wrote. In my mind I was trying to find a way to voice why it is that I do the things I do, why I am a cross-dressing drag king of the blues. Even just being queer in the African American community is not always accepted. Things are changing slowly, but why I do the things I do, why I'm who I am, and I tried to fill it into one song, and it's about...I do the things I do because I feel free, I am human, I am here, I'm alive, and I love life, I love being here, doing it...so I wrote "Howl" for the National Queer Arts Fest.
King TuffNStuff - Howl (2012)
Again, that was King TuffNStuff and the song "Howl," from his new EP "Trans of Venus." What to follow that with? Well, while this next artist is lesbian and not trans, there's a song from her 2008 CD "Mannish Gal" that seems to fit. She's Faith Nolan and the song is "Trans Blues."
Above King TuffNStuff at SF Trans March 2012
Nolan - Trans Blues (2008)
That was another San Francisco artist, StormMiguel Florez, and he went a bit country on his latest single "I've Been to Manhattan." And you should check out the video for that one, in which he plays a zombie. And here's another artist I've played before. Venus de Mars is the lead singer of the Minneapolis band All the Pretty Horses. From their latest CD, from 2011, called "Ten Bones" is the song "The Courage."
de Mars & All the Pretty Horses - The Courage (2011)
And those two tracks were by UK transgender artist Luis Drayton, who with Toska Wilde released a couple CDs this year. "Glamoflage" came from the one by that name, and from "Glamoflage Remixes" came a song about one of the most popular female singers in the UK in the 1960's. Their tribute was called "I Am Kathy Kirby."
This is JD Doyle and closing out this segment is a song and video from last year by several transgender artists, put together as part of a film project. The producer brought together, in alphabetical order, Amber Taylor, Angelica Ross, D'Loco Kid, Keith Mina Caputo, Our Lady J, Shawna Virago, Sissy Debut and StormMiguel Florez. Collectively they were called Transbeats, and I think they did a great job on the David Bowie song "Changes."
Transbeats - Changes (2011)
Above, a pic I took in June 2010 in San Francisco of Shawna & Marilyn, then part of Lipstick Conspiracy
This is JD Doyle and Part 3 of my Transgender Music Special, and I'm bringing you more goodies. I'm starting out with a radio premier I'm delighted to share with you. One of the best trans bands of the mid-2000's was Lipstick Conspiracy, from San Francisco. But like many bands do, and sadly for their fans, they split up. Two of that band's members, Shawna Love and Marilyn Mitchell, are continuing to make music together, billed as the Love Mitchell Project, and I've got their first demo, called "In the End."
The Love Mitchell Project- In the End (2012)
that was the Love Mitchell Project, and I thank Marilyn Mitchell for
providing me with that radio exclusive.
Now, in Part 2 I started off with an interview and I have one for this segment, but this time I'm going to make you wait, but not too long, as I think it's a delightful talk with Ricky and Simcha of the band Schmekel. They love to say that they are 100% TransJews, and they've been called a sort of polka-punk-Klezmer gag band...and they also have a lot to say. But I've got some more music to lead up to that.
Thomas Gabel, the leader of the rock band Against Me, made big news this past year, announcing that he was transitioning and would now go by Laura Jane Grace. The band is working on their next album, to be called "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" and so I'm looking forward to that. In the meantime they've been performing the title track live, so of course there are versions on YouTube, like this one.
Me - Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2012, live)
And that track, a live demo by Laura Jane Grace all by herself, was called "Because of the Shame."
This next artist has been at it quite a while, and has released several albums. His name is Katastrophe and from his latest CD, "Second Hand Emotion" is the song "Let Me Go."
Katastrophe - Let Me Go (2012)
And, coming up now is the interview I promised you, with the colorful Brooklyn band Schmekel, taking their name from...let's get this out of the way...the Yiddish word for little penis. I've been playing their music for a couple years now. They released a 3-track Hannukah single in 2011 and quickly followed it with a full album last year, called "Queers on Rye." I love how very out they are about being trans. As I said, they routinely describe themselves as 100% Trans Jews, and their website is TransJews.com. And their lyrics take things, unapologetically, way over the edge. For example, here's a song called "Shark Attack," about getting tired of explaining the scars on your chest after surgery.
Below, Simcha & Ricky
Schmekel - Shark Attack (2012)
The band is comprised of Lucian Kahn on guitar, Nogga Schwartz on bass, and the two members I telephoned for this interview, Ricky Riot on keyboard and Simcha Halpert-Hanson on drums. And I started with the basics.
JD: I would like each of you to introduce yourselves and tell me your role in the band.
Simcha: Sure, I'll start. I'm Simcha, and I play drums.
Ricky: I'm Ricky and I play keyboards and sing in Schmekel.
JD: Ricky, I discovered your music a couple of years ago, when you were in another band, and I really like one of your songs from that time, as I think it has a lot to say. Could you tell me about "The Only Queers in the Room."
Ricky: Okay, well, wrote that song when I was just starting to transition, and I was getting a lot of really annoying questions from people, about my gender, and my relationship, because at that time I was in a relationship with another genderqueer person. So that's a lot for a lot of people to take. So I just wrote that song to address a lot of stupid questions.
Twilight of the Idle - The Only Queers in the Room (2010)
JD: How did the band Schmekel get started, and how would you describe the sound of the band?
Simcha: Basically Lucian, our guitarist, was in a diner with Ricky and Nogga, after the met up at a trans-masculine group, that meets up here in the gay center in Chelsea, in New York City, and he made a comment about starting a trans-Jewish band named Schmekel and how that would be kind of funny if there was such a band. And then Nogga and Ricky took him sort of seriously, and they were like "why can't we do this?" So that's how it got started, and I already knew Ricky, from the Willy Mae Rock Camp for Girls, which is kind of a self-esteem building rock & roll camp for young girls and teenage girls. So he contacted me and asked if I wanted to be in a punk Jewish band, and it's always been my dream to combine Klezmer with punk rock, so that's how we got started.
Ricky: I also had already known Nogga since we were sixteen. We used to be in a band together and played at the local open-mic sort of thing where all the kids hung out.
JD: I've read that Pansy Division was one of your influences.
Simcha: That's true, in fact I think we've even been compared to them in a few online sources, which is flattering, I think more our identity than actual sound. Yeah, they're kind of a forerunner in the queer punk movement.
Ricky: We've actually been writing more punk rock songs lately, and the album that we're about to record we have a few songs that are, I guess, punkier and would sound more like that.
JD: Well, another comparison would be that Pansy Division uses a lot of humor in their songs.
Simcha: That's true, you could compare things that way, we make things funny. We make funny for people to laugh at and try to make it danceable enough to rock out to.
JD: Simcha, the band website says you are genderqueer, what does that term mean to you?
Simcha: Generally...I'll define it generally, and then I guess I'll try to define it for myself. Generally the term kind of means that you don't identify within the binary in terms of identifying as male or female. I mean, that's I guess as general as I can get as a definition, without speaking for everybody, which I would not want to do. For myself I subscribe to that definition. I don't really identify inside the binary. My pronouns are "they, their, them." It's not a choice for me, it's just the current gender system we have set up now, as humanity doesn't really work for me, in terms of how I feel that I am.
JD: How has the band been received by Jewish audiences? Do Jewish people consider your songs sacrilegious?
Ricky: We've gotten a bit of attention from Jewish audiences. We were in the Jewish Daily Forward twice, once in an article about the history of transgender visibility within Judaism. Another was just about Kickstarter (a fundraising campaign). We've also gotten attention from a couple of other Jewish blogs, things like that. A good portion of our fan base are Progressive Jews, queer and otherwise. We've gotten a couple of haters too, from some websites. We've gotten a very, very small amount of transphobic stuff, that we usually just kind of laugh off. We have a couple of other Jewish bands that we play with, friends of ours, always play shows with the Shondes, and with Yiddish Princess, so there's a bit of a theme for that, people in the queer Jewish and just the Progressive Jewish community in general.
Simcha: We've also attracted attention from the religious community, in a positive way. People who are looking for a different...different kinds of voices in their own communities have reached out to us, so it's been really encouraging.
JD: The band's song lyrics have a lot of humor in them, but I also like that they slip in some education about trans issues. Is that a conscious goal?
Ricky: It's kind of hard for it not to be a goal, because that is our experience, and in addition to making jokes singing from experience, it just kind of comes with the territory.
JD: I know that there's one quick reference in one song about not putting binders in a dryer, that sure is one many people would not ever think about. That song is "I'm Sorry, it's Yom Kippur," could you talk about that song?
Simcha: Yes, I guess we educate people that binders exist, and that you should not put them in the dryer.
Ricky: Although some would argue that if it shrinks them it might be a more useful binder, but just like all other things Jewish, it depends on who you ask. [a binder is a garment used by some trans guys who have not had chest reconstruction surgery, to create a flat appearance...they are made of cotton, lyrca or nylon].
Simcha: As far as the song "I'm Sorry, It's Yom Kippur" goes, it's a play on the entire theme of the atonement day, in terms of...I guess poking fun at maybe the day, at ourselves, at issues that come up that require apologies, like maybe the binder situation, or also like not using the right pronoun with somebody. I mean we try to poke fun at as many places as we can, and we've thrown in musical references to actual liturgy that's used that day, to kind of drive home the point.
Ricky: Lucian wrote that song I believe right after Yom Kippur last year. We were at Yom Kippur services at CBST (Congregation Beit Simchat Torah), that's the LGBT Synagogue in Manhattan, and where he was coming from with that is that he wasn't really relating to this whole fire and brimstone damning of sinning, and all of that. But what was more relatable was just messing up, so he wrote that song just about screwing up, and some of it is kind of queer inside jokes about the binders and stuff like that.
Schmekel - I'm Sorry, it's Yom Kippur (2012)
JD: I like that that song went on to talk about neutral pronouns, and that's kind of surprising to hear about in a song, which makes me wonder how do you deal with people using the wrong pronouns or misreading your gender?
Ricky: I've been kind of pretty publicly male for four years now. If people mis-pronoun me now, I mean, sometimes it happens over the phone if my voice sounds a little higher, and people say ma'am instead of sir, that used to really bother me. But now it's just like if they were to ma'am a cis-gender guy. It's just like, "nope, sorry, got it wrong, I'm a sir." Before that it was a lot more difficult because most people don't have transgender in their life, so if they're looking at someone who they decide is a woman, and you're trying to tell them, I'm a man, you know, sometimes they're a little weirded out, and don't know how to take that. It's been hard to deal with.
JD: I love that "mis-pronoun" is now a verb.
Simcha: (laughs) Yeah, I mean, you have to make language to fit your reality, so it's not just what's in the dictionary anymore at all. As far as my experience of being mis-pronouned, I'm mis-pronouned everyday of my life. It's terrible and it can create a lot of dysphoria depending on my mood. It's just something that's kind of relatable for anybody who just gets mis-identified or mis-read. Being mis-pronouned is I think relatable in the larger sense of being mis-identified by other people, because you think you know who you are...you know who you are...and then you have another person who is reflecting a very different reality back at you, which can be kind of jarring.
JD: In your transition have you experienced achieving male privilege, and if so what were your observations?
Ricky: I totally experience that. I notice that since transition people treat me differently. I'm taken way more seriously than I did before transition. I know that's kind of the way of the world. I think I'm pretty award of that, although I'm sure there are times when maybe I'm not so aware of that. So we just do what we can, and I just do what I can to make sure other voices are heard as well, and to be aware of my privilege, and to be in that in a way that helps others and doesn't harm others.
Simcha: I've also been accorded male privilege, and it's very strange to be brought into the boys club without your consent, and again, being mis-read and be ascribed a certain level of experience that you never tried to claim. And I think the thing with like Ricky says, people do assume that and I try to create visibility for either myself or others around me that could potentially be impacted by the assumptions being made in that kind of conversation.
Simcha: I remember assisting some guy who worked in a camp largely for boys who were more interested in computer sciences than sports, and this guy was really jockey. And he was complaining to me about the boys being pussies or something...terrible...so I kind of tried to offer my tactic for that situation, and he's talking to me as if I am a bro or a jock like him. And so my tactic to talk about the beauty of computer sciences, or the needs that these boys have and how maybe sports is not everything. You do, I think like Ricky said, you try to be as much of an ally as you can and create visibility where it's possible. I think that's a really important act, actually.
JD: I wanted to ask that because I think it's important for people to think about, and even realize that it exists.
Simcha: Yeah, Yeah, I think it's a very important question. I think it's one that's not necessarily often thought about, specifically in the transmale community, and it's a conversation that definitely needs to happen more, because it's not something people anticipate when realizing themselves that they are going to be assuming a different level of privilege than they may have previously straddled in their former existence in society.
Ricky: The thing that most comes to mind to me is street safety. Before I transitioned I used to get catcalls like all the time, several times just between my apartment and the train. And right now I'd be walking with a friend, and I'd be like, let's take this route and my friend, who could be a woman would say, I don't want to take this route, I want to go this way, and then I kind of forget that street safety is a thing, and street comfort is a thing.
JD: What are your live shows like?
Ricky: We've been playing a lot of colleges lately, which is a lot of fun. The students there are really enthusiastic, and considering like some songs...I mean, especially for "Surgical Drains," they do the kick-line thing and then they do the Hora, and it's just a lot of fun watching people dance, and get excited about our music. We play venue shows too, in clubs in New York. Those get a much bigger draw, which is one thing I like about them, yeah, and it's a lot of people we know, too, and also an enthusiastic crowd, and a lot of fun.
JD: Could you please tell me about "The Mohel Song"
Ricky: Oh, "The Mohel Song," that was the second song we wrote. Nogga wrote the lyrics to that. The way that happened was Nogga and Lucian and I were practicing at my place, and we had just written "Pharoah/Moses Slash" and I had to go teach a piano student, and there's a line in "Pharoah/Moses Slash" about oil, and they were trying to come up with a rhyme, so as I was leaving I'm like, "you know what rhymes with oil, mohel, discuss amongst yourselfes." So when I came back they had written "The Mohel Song," which is about Nogga's experience talking to his Rabbi from Hebrew school about being trans and where a circumcision stands with that. And of course the conclusion was that...does not need to be circumcised, but that's what the song is about.
JD: I think that's really an enlightening song.
Ricky & Simcha: Thank you.
Schmekel - The Mohel Song (2012)
JD: Tell me about the song "I Love Str8 Men (But Not 4 Sex)"
Ricky: So we have a couple of songs that are about Craigslist men-for-men personals, and that's one of them. The online hookup scene, if you want to call that a scene, a lot of those guys don't know much about transgender guys, so they ask all kinds of interesting questions and sometimes think that we are something else, that we are not, and that song in particular is about straight men who are also a little bit confused about what we are and post in Craigslist men-for-men personals looking for trans guys. The verse is
I am a gay gay gay gay gay gay homo homo gay
Schmekel - I Love Str8 Men (Butt Not 4 Sex) (2012)
JD: Another Craigslist song is "Sex with Pans" please talk about that one.
Ricky: That one, also about Craigslist men-for-men personals...that one's actually about a successful experience. Yes, that's about all I'm going to say, because so it goes with songs that are based on a true story. But it about some guys out there are not so bad.
Simcha (to Ricky): Really? I didn't know that that was a positive experience.
Ricky: Well, it was a funny experience, I mean, there's always something stupid to laugh at. If you listen to the lyrics, it's not so bad.
Schmekel - Sex With Pans (2012)
JD: The song "Tranny Chaser" and, have you gotten any flack about using the word tranny?
Ricky (to Simcha): Have we gotten flack about using the word tranny?
Simcha: We have not actually gotten flack about using that word, probably because we were pretty careful about using it specifically in that song...no, I don't think we use it all in other places. I personally hate that word (laughs).
Ricky: The issue with the word tranny is that it's usually been used as a derogatory term for trans women. So sometimes the criticism of a transman using that is appropriative. We haven't gotten that about that song because the way we present it is like we're pointing out that some people fetishize trans people.
Simcha: Yeah, that's what the song is about...it's about people who eroticize and eroticize, instead of actually connecting, and looking at trans people as a human being, hence the use of the word.
Schmekel - Tranny Chaser (2012)
JD: Is there a question I should have asked but I didn't?
Simcha: I don't know, we've been asked a lot of crazy things, this one was pretty mild, so (laughs)...it terms of what else we can say about the band...
Ricky: We're going to be working on a new album momentarily. You won't see it for a couple of months, but we're going to be working on it momentarily.
Simcha: Yes, and we've just finished building a sound recording studio, so we are gearing up to record our second album.
JD: Have you written all the music for it?
Simcha: Oh, yeah, we wrote it like a year ago.
Ricky: It's been on the back burner for too long.
JD: And what's the name of the new album?
Ricky (to Simcha): Do we want to release the working title yet, Simcha?
Simcha: I think so, it's called "Fleysh Gesheft." It means meat shoppe.
JD: Say it again, please.
Ricky: "Fleysh Gesheft"
Simcha: It's Yiddish for meat shoppe.
JD: You'll have to email me that one, when I'm transcribing I won't know what to do with it.
Ricky: (laughs) I was walking through Hasidic Williamsburg once, cause I was going to a friend's and it was a Friday night, so it was Shabbat, so I was walking through all of that. And I don't speak Yiddish but I can read it, so sometimes when I'm biking through there, walking through there I can kind of read things that are nearby and not really understand them. So I read this one sign, and I was just really happy that I understood what it was, and it said Fleysh Gesheft, and I also thought it was a really funny word...and just the whole connotation of meat and meat market, and I feel it's a special queer Yiddishkeit.
And to say it very briefly, Queer Yiddishkeit is adding queer sensibility to Yiddish culture. I want to slip in that on their website they not only have the lyrics but also a glossary of trans and Jewish terms; those in particular for me came in very handy.
This is JD Doyle closing Part 3 of my Transgender Music Special, and of course I saved a Schmekel song for that.
JD: I've played the next song I want to ask about a couple times. Tell me about "I'll Be Your Macabbee"
Ricky: "I'll Be Your Maccabe" is a Lucien Kahn special and it's about a transguy who goes to a holiday party and meets a cis-gender gay guy, who is Christian, and he is wondering what would be the best way to seduce this cis-gender non-Jewish boy.
JD: For my listeners, what is cis-gender?
Ricky: Cis-gender means not trans, of the prefix cis, meaning not moving, cis or middle, trans-orbital, cis-gender, transgender...yeah, it's a chemistry term.
Simcha: (laughs) I didn't know that, I'm learning something too in this interview.
And by Schmekel, here's "I'll Be Your Maccabee"
Schmekel - I'll Be Your Maccabee (2011)
Klaus - Everybody Needs Somebody (2012)
Ah, two very nice songs by San Francisco jazz artist Veronica Klaus, one of my favorites. The tracks were "Everybody Needs Somebody" and "Something Cool," with that last one being the title track from her latest CD.
Justin Vivian Bond, formerly of the duo Kiki & Herb, has been prolific lately. The latest CD is called "Silver Wells" and I picked from it two interesting versions of old standards, "Until the Real Thing Comes Along," and "Alabama Song."
Vivian Bond - Until the Real Thing Comes Along (2012)
From the new CD "Namoli Brennet Live" was the song "Settle Down." I'm going to go back to 1980 for this next artist. Bibi Andersen is a trans singer, actress and model from Spain, and her only full album, a self-titled one, contained a couple tracks that caught my ear, starting with "Girls Will Be Boys."
Bibi Anderson - Girls Will Be Boys / I'm Into Something Good (1980)
That was obviously still Bibi Anderson, and I bet you recognized that last song. It's been covered many times, but Herman's Hermits had the hit with it in 1964. It's a Spanish language cover of "I'm Into Something Good."
Lucas Silviera and his band The Cliks are almost ready to release a new album, "Black Tie Elevator," and I don't usually play something like this, but they have put together a sampler from the CD, of clips of several songs
The Cliks - Black Tie Elevator sampler (2012)
Well, I know I want to hear more. That should whet your appetite for The Cliks' next album, "Black Tie Elevator."
I like to encourage new artists and I got to meet this one last June at the Trans March in San Francisco. He's Ben Wallace and he's working on his first album, but I found on his website this demo, called "Ain't That Easy."
Wallace - Ain't That Easy (2012)
Ben Wallace & Joe Stevens
It was an easy choice to play the band Coyote Grace after I played Ben Wallace, as I know that Joe Stevens of that band will be mentoring Ben on his new album, and I think he's in good hands. From the latest Coyote Grace CD "Now Take Flight" was "My Baby the Sun."
And now, staying very acoustic is a North Carolina band that has both queer and trans members. They call themselves Humble Tripe and from their first album "Counting Stars" is the song "Traveled."
Tripe - Traveled (2010)
And that was Berkeley artist Eli Conley with a couple demos I hope will be on his next album. You heard "When God Sets His Sights on You" and "Call You Out."
I want to thank you for checking out my four-hour special on Transgender Artists. This is JD Doyle and I want to mention that this is the 14th show I've done highlighting music from this branch of the GLBT. I think these folks don't get near enough exposure so I'm on kind of on a continuing campaign to help with that.
I'm closing with an artist I interviewed on my October 2011 show, when he was just 17. He's Ryan Cassata. I much admire his music and also his activism. He's uploaded scads of videos to YouTube that are oh so educational on Trans issues, not only for those of us who are not trans, but more importantly, for our young who are just trying to explore this subject for themselves. Here is a person of their generation, who is helping guide the way. He's another artist I got to see perform at last June's Trans March in San Francisco, and he handed me his latest CD, called "The Rhythm." From it, closing the show are the songs "The Rhythm" and the very political "Hands of Hate."
Ryan Cassata - The Rhythm / Hands of Hate (2012)
Ryan performing at the Trans March 2012, San Francisco;
a tidbit I found,from June 1953