QMH Script, October 2006

Montclair Women's Big Band - Brownsville Express (2005)

This is Queer Voices on KPFT and this segment is called Queer Music Heritage. I'm JD Doyle and tonight's show will feature some excellent big band and jazz music, and also some very out music by a Philadelphia artist I much respect, and I've got very candid interviews to go along with both of these segments. The Philadelphia artist is Steve Cohen and his music has given our culture lyrically gay music that can touch you, hit home and even make you laugh.

But before we get to Steve I'm very pleased to explore some jazz and big band music with an excellent tour guide, Ellen Seeling. Now I've known about her work for quite some time, because she and her partner, Jean Fineberg, performing as a band called Deuce, released two excellent jazz fusion recordings. And her background goes much deeper than that, as you'll soon hear. But she got my attention again with a new CD. It's called "Montclair Women's Big Band, Ellen Seeling, Director." And the big band classic that opened the show, called "Brownville Express," also opens that album. I asked Ellen to tell me about the new album.

Well, this is our first recording. The band was formed in '98 and we recorded in '03 and it was released in '05, so we've been together for a while. This recording was produced by four of us actually: me, my partner Jean Fineberg who is also my assistant director and tenor player, Barbara Price, our business manager, and Lesley Ann Jones who is studio manager at Skywalker Sound here in California, Marin County. And it features 14 classics including 5 vocals. The singers on the album are Vickie Randle of the Tonight Show band, Linda Tillery of the Cultural Heritage Choir, and local Bay Area chanteuse Pamela Rose. It's a….I like to think the album swings really hard and it features some excellent Bay Area soloists. We're very proud of it. We got some good response so far. I don't know when the next one will be but hopefully we can get some mileage from this one yet.

I'm going to continue this part of the interview with music in the background by Deuce, starting with a track from their 1986 self-titled release. The song is my favorite from that album, and is called "Texas Pearl."

Deuce - Texas Pearl (1986)

How did you get your start in music?

Oh, boy, well, my dad was a trumpet player although you know I never heard him play. He quit playing when he got married. He tried making a living on the Midwest what they used to call the tenor band circuit back in the 50s right after World War II. And I think he told me once he never made enough money to actually buy food and get all his shirts cleaned on time. So he just sort of gave it up. But he had a great record collection and loved music, and we always had really pretty hip jazz recordings around the house, especially for 1950. My dad had, you know, Count Basie and Duke Ellington and all the Big Bands, but also he had Dizzy Gillepsie and Charlie Parker and some stuff like that, and so I think I was just exposed to it at a young age. And then it came time to play, in school, which was kind of late for me because my little school didn't have a band until I got to 7th grade, which is quite late actually. Anyway, I just, I wanted to play the drums and my folks said, no we can't handle listening to that in the basement all day long. And then I went to play the violin and there was no string program in my school, so that was the end of that. So trumpet was really my third choice. I just sort of love the sound of it.

Who were your musical influences?

Ah, I think I started out like most kids in high school really liking the Big Band stuff, especially, oh, Maynard Ferguson and Stan Kenton and stuff like that. And then as I got a little bit older in high school, maybe my junior, senior year somebody gave me Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" album, which just really blew my mind. And then after that I started listening to small band stuff, and then by the time I went to college at Indiana University, which was one of the first schools to have a really serious jazz program, the department was a one-man department run by David Baker, who was very well known as a legendary jazz educator. I got a really great education there and really learned what the music was all about, and I like to think my solo influences are Miles and Freddy Hubbard and I hope Lee Morgan and Woody Shaw. Those are my favorite trumpet players right now.

You've played on the recordings of many, many artists. For the information for my listeners could you mention a few of those.

Oh, okay, off the top of my head, let's see. I went to New York initially to play with one of the first women's, all women's rock bands signed to an indy label. And that was the band Isis in 1974. And from there I picked up Laura Nyro's sort of come-back gig, which produced an album called "Season of Lights," (1977) and it was a band album and Jean and I were the horn section for that, and we toured with Laura for about a year and did a live album. It was wonderful.

And the right after that I, we both got, snagged to be the horn section for Chic, and we did an album for them called "C'est Chic," (1978) which included their biggest hit, I think, called "Le Freak." And they also produced an album for the group called Sister Sledge right after that. That group had a huge hit called "We Are Family," (1979) and Jean and I are the horn section on that album. After that I did a whole bunch of salsa recordings, but probably the one that people might recognize is the one called "Larry Harlow Presents Latin Fever," (1994) which was one of the first recorded, or I think, first recorded women's salsa bands in the United States, on Fania Records, and then after that I did a string of women's music recordings. I recorded with Margie Adam, Holly Near.

And then Jean and I sort of got the bug to put our own thing together so I think in 1980 we put our fusion band together, called Deuce, and we've released two recordings to date of that group, which was original fusion, for lack of a better word. It wasn't, I don't want to say, it wasn't heavily rock and roll as much as it was instrumental pop. And our last recording was in '96. And we sort of…that's sort of been on hold for a while. We were a little disappointed with the lack of reaction we got from, not from the press, but really from radio stations, and I don't radio stations have been playing much fusion for the last 15 years or so. So that was kind of disappointing, and at that time we decided to put together the Big Band. So Barbara Price, who produced the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival for years, and now owns the Montclair Women's Club in Oakland, put our heads together, and Jean, of course was involved as my assistant director. And we put together the Big Band in '98 and, you know, a Big Band is so much work. It's been pretty much all I've been able to do, in the terms of band, for the last almost ten years. Although I also, I'm on the faculty of the Jazzschool, which has been up and running now for about ten years, and it's based in Berkeley, and I'm very involved with the Jazzschool also, so those two things keep me really busy.

Wow, that's like real steam of consciousness, you covered most of my questions. But I have to go back and ask what it was like performing with and playing with Isis.

That was one of the high points of my life. I don't know how else to say it. I left college, after they sort of hired me sight-unseen, on Howard Johnson's recommendation. Howard Johnson is a fairly well-known instrumentalist in New York City. He's still around. He's Nedra Johnson's father, I believe. Anyway, Howard and Carol McDonald, who was the lead singer, were sort of, they used to hang together and Isis was looking for a trumpet player and so Carol hired me sight-unseen and flew me down to New Orleans to join the band to do a recording, and that's how I meet everybody. And I guess it was the second Isis recording, for Buddah Records, produced by Allen Toussaint in New Orleans. I was still in college, you know, so this was like very heady stuff for me. And it was a wild bunch of women, let me tell you. It was 1975 I think, but I loved it. It was a wild time. It was a wonderful time. I had a lot of fun. I still have a lot of friends from that band. And it made a huge difference in my playing because it just totally took me out of the whole academia thing and opened up possibilities of playing other kinds of music and playing the horn in a different way. If I hadn't done that gig I don't think I would play like I play today

I want to share with you just a bit of the band Isis, which featured both Ellen Seeling and Jean Fineberg. From the 1975 album "Ain't No Backin' Up Now" here's "Bobbie & Maria."

Isis - Bobbie & Maria (1975)

Isis LP "Isis," 1974   Isis LP "Breaking Through, " 1977

Jean Fineberg played on the first Isis album, in 1974, and their third album,
"Breaking Through," from 1977, credits the horn arrangements to Ellen and Jean

And following Isis here's some more Deuce, with a song called "The Whole Enchilada" from their 1996 album, "Windjammer."

Deuce - The Whole Enchilada (1996)

And a little more about the band Deuce, the focus of the band was women but it was a mixed band, and I read that was deliberate.

Yes, it was deliberate because when you limit your personnel, really in any way, that's exactly what you do. You limit your personnel. You know what I mean? So we want to have it be representative of the women players who are out there that we felt were really, really good players. But we didn't want to have a band, for example, where there were maybe only one or two drummers in town that could do the gig and if they couldn't make it we'd have to use another woman, who couldn't, who wasn't up to the level of the other players in the band. And it was pretty much as simple as that. There's a lot more depth now, in terms of rhythm section players…in terms of women's rhythm section players. I mean, we're talking 30 years ago, 25 years ago. And I think in New York at the time there was one or maybe two drummers that we even thought, women drummers that we thought could play the music the way we wanted to hear it played. I don't think there were any bass players, or guitar players back then. So sort of by design we wanted to have a strong women's presence in the band, and not just Jean and I, but it was a seven-piece band for a while. We wanted mostly for the music to sound good and since it was all original music we were real, oh, protective of its performance.

I have a Hot Wire magazine article about y'all from 1985, and Jean was quote as saying, besides wanting to have the best musicians backing you up, that a second reason for having a mixed band was that if you have an all female band the emphasis is on that, and not on the music. Has your thinking changed about that?

I would say my thinking has matured around that, and…oh, I should also say that when we did women's music festivals, which we did frequently, we would put together a women's band, and we did that for many years, because we used to play at Michigan and other places. And we loved that, too, you know. But for our regular band at a regular venue it was always mixed, and I think when we put the Big Band together my thinking, which was, I don't know, almost ten years ago now, and definitely about 15 or 20 years after that article, I started to think like…I got really tired of looking at the festivals here in California…we had moved from New York to California in '89…and I'm looking at, you know, the San Francisco Jazz Festival and you know, all the big local festivals, all the big clubs and seeing all the jazz trades come out, all the time the magazines…no pictures of women, no recordings by women, no headliners, you know, no groups led by women, instrumentalist…singers, okay…and I just got so tired of it I just…I felt like that quote from "Network," "I mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore," and I just figured the way to get people's attention, at least out here, was to put together a slammin' women's Big Band and just try to work it, try to record it and be in everybody's face as much as possible. So that's what I've been trying to do with the Big Band.

I think that with Deuce…you know, people were not paying a whole lot of attention no matter what gender we were. I think part of the problem was the fusion thing, and I also think that for jazz purists they really, really sort of resent the rock and roll influence. They don't like it. It's very threatening. And in addition to that I think having a fusion band led by two women horn players is very…I don't want to say unladylike, but you know how fusion is sort of like biker jazz, you know it's sort of a tattoo sort of jazz, not really legit. And we couldn't get any jazzers to pay any attention to us at all, I mean, we didn't belong anywhere

Deuce had two albums which were ten years apart. How were they different?

Ah, the first recording, um, how do I want to say this? The first recording included some vocals on the advice of a number of record companies actually. And we learned after spending a lot of time and money doing that, that record companies will tell you one thing and then do something else. And that's exactly what happened to us. And I still have, you know, letters from Clive Davis and people like that, saying, well, we really love it but we don't really know how we would market it. So on the second recording, which was considerably later, we also aimed for airplay, but by that time there was the smooth jazz movement and the quiet storm whole thing. And broadcast architecture and all of that and we were trying to fit in their format and it was sort of our last shot to get airplay and to get signed by a label that was going to support us so that we could tour with a band, which is you know, really difficult to do financially. So we did an album that we thought was going to get that kind of airplay, and we still didn't get it. You know, we found out sort of after the fact that broadcast architecture's not interested in any sort of music that has brass leads, or tenor leads. They're looking for guitar and soprano saxophone. But also, you know, when one person is picking the programming for hundreds and hundreds of stations, really, you're sort of at their mercy.

Which was the best received song from that second recording?

Actually, some of the things down at the end of the CD, which was another problem. We set it up so that the more jazzy, what we thought were the more, oh, esoteric things were at the front, even though we were thinking at the time we wanted airplay. I don't know why we did that really, thinking back about it, but the feedback that we got later on was that people liked the stuff toward the end. Like they really liked "Apple Face," and they really liked "Deuces Wild," and they liked…yeah, that's what they liked, they liked those two songs. They liked "Azul." They liked stuff like that. And they liked the opening track, "Mahalo Kauai," which is a bossa.

I quite liked the opening track as well, here's a bit of "Mahalo Kauai"

Deuce - Mahalo Kauai (1996)

From Deuce we go to the Montclair Women's Big Band, and "River's Invitation"

Montclair Women's Big Band - River's Invitation (2005)

And the name Montclair Women's Big Band came from….

We're based at the Montclair Women's Club in Oakland. Montclair is a part of Oakland and it's a small village and Barbara Price, who's my business partner, owns the Montclair Women's Club. We wanted a band that would have a name that people could recognize. They would know right away, that it was a Big Band, a classic jazz Big Band, of women. So it just sort of came together.

Of course the focus of my programming is on GLBT music, so I have to ask, are all the band members lesbian?

No, but we have a very healthy representation.

When the big band performs, what song gets the biggest audience reaction?

Well, we have a lot of tunes that get a really great audience reaction but off the top of my head I would say the track on the album called "River's Invitation,"…really a crowd pleaser, cause it's kind of funky, and also because the band kind of kicks ass on that tune, so people love it, and it's a blues, it's sort of disguised, but my friend Frank Martin says, you can't lose with the blues and boy, is that true.

Do the classics do very well? Caravan, string of pearls, I would think they would.

They do. One of things that I tried to do with the album is to have classics, including Big Band classics…like other tunes are not necessarily known as Big Band tunes. The two you mentioned are definitely Big Band classics, but that arrangement of "Caravan" in particular I completely. So we opened it up for solos. We played it much faster than the arrangement is intended to be played. We changed up the bass line, and we added some drums. So even though they're classics they've been kind of reworked, not totally rearranged but we've done them in our own style. We definitely put our imprint on them.

Montclair Women's Big Band - Caravan (2005)

Is there an overall message you hope your music gets across?

Ah, message. Well, I just hope that when people listen they hear a band. They don't hear a collection of players, but they hear a band, that's been together, that enjoys playing together, that has a real sense of comradery. And that the music mostly hits a groove and that the soloists have something to say.

Steve Cohen QMH ID

And this is a good time to invite you to check out my website. If you visit it while you're listening you can see the playlist and follow along, while looking at photos of the artists and recordings. I've always considered our music history as a visual as well as an audio experience. Again, that's at www.queermusicheritage.com, Also, for more very queer programming, please listen to After Hours with Jimmy Carper, every Friday night/Saturday morning from 1 to 4 am, on KPFT, it's Queer Radio, with attitude.

Now to my very special interview with Steve Cohen. I've been a big fan of Steve's work since his debut album "Silent Too Long" was released in 1997, and when you're considering the openly gay albums of our history I consider that one an essential album. We need to hear some of his music before we start the interview, so from the "Silent Too Long" album I asked him to describe a very bitter song that has a dash of humor to it. Please tell me about "I Want Everything"

It kind of evolved because most of the songs for that group were ballads, and Jack Picarri, he was my music teacher and also became the producer for the disc, he said you got to have some fast songs. It terms of what it meant, I don't think the lyrics were, you know, specifically trying to say anything that important. It even kind of turned into a joke by the end of it. You know, give me the kitchen sink.


I think in some ways everybody can have that experience, right?

Or at least have felt that way.


Steve Cohen - I Want Everything (1997)

How did you get your start in music?

I bought a piano when I was 16 because I wanted to be able to perform and sing songs. I was already writing songs on paper and singing them but I had no way of delivering them.

Did your family enourage that?

Half and half, cause I wanted to play the drums from the time I can remember, so, I didn't end up getting drums. So when I was 16 I kind of took the bull by the horns and said, I'm not going to drive, I'm going to take the money that I was going to use for insurance, and I'll buy a piano. So I can't say my family fought but they didn't buy me a piano either.

When did you start performing?

I would say probably within two years. I started performing out with the gentleman who taught me to play piano basically, put together a little band, and played in clubs in Philly doing original rock.

Who were your musical influences?

Elton John would have to be one of the biggest. Bruce Springsteen.

Did it ever bother you to be compared to someone? A lot of artists want their own sound.

Ah, I think it's inevitable, you know, that people try to figure out what is it that it sounds like. So, no. I mean, the only time I would be disturbed would be if somebody named somebody who, either they hated, or…I guess as long as they like the artist I'm happy

Your lyrics are very out of the closet, was that a conscious decision?

Yes. You know, especially during the first release, "Silent Too Long," I was of this mindset that, you know, if I didn't say what I thought, I would never say it, because I figured the pressures of just trying to be commercial would, you know, force me to be a little more careful with what I might say, so it seemed like the time to do it.

Looking back do you think it was?

I'll say I have no regrets, but I am at the same time curious, you know, if I would have approached my music in a different way, might I have been more commercially successful.

Has having such out lyrics caused you any problems?

I don't think so. I mean, I was very generous with giving out my CDs, cause I was very curious just what did people think of my music, what I had to say, and I would give it to everybody, you know, even the manager at the rent-a-car place. And then come back and say, what did you think? And sometimes people said, you know, it's a bit much for me, the lyrics were a bit too heavy. But you know, I'm surprised, even like younger kids for some reason seem to really like it. People would say, oh, I was playing it for my 8-year old or my 10-year old. They love your music.

What song gets the biggest audience reaction?

Ah, people seem to want to hear "Dykes Lumber" and "I Think I've Fallen In Love With a Lesbian," and "I Want To Be a Jock." It seems like the funny novelty songs are what people like.

Yeah, I can see…I wouldn't call them novelty, but they do have a sense of humor about them.

Yeah, what is it that makes a song a novelty song?

I think, trying to be funny, maybe.

Okay. Cause when I wrote "I Want To Be a Jock" I was in high school. It was serious. But then when I played it, you know, ten years later it was funny.

Well, "I Want To Be a Jock" does have the element of truth to it. It's not just telling a joke, where a song like "Rubber Duckie," a novelty song, is pointless.

Ah ha…I have that album.

Was the hit of the album "I Want To Be a Jock"?

I believe so. If I was to do, like a greatest hits album, although it's a little early for that, you know, I would probably pick out the funniest song from each, and I think that's what would make it up, but…it's the one I would be most apt to play for somebody if I was going to play a song off that disc. It's the most user-friendly.

It sure is.

Steve Cohen - I Want To Be a Jock (1997)

Please tell me about "True Love."

"True Love." That's one of the songs that I'm proudest of, because I think it's just one of those topics, especially in that timeframe, but even for now, that people don't talk about, much less sing about, basically inspired by the all familiar cruising joint, you know, the park. And I think at that time I was like ten minutes, a ten-minute walk from this park that guys would walk around in at night, and meet and hook up.

Steve Cohen - True Love (1997)

From "Silent Too Long" that was "True Love." In 2000 Steve released his second album, called "I Must Have Been Crazy," and from it I asked him to tell us about the song "Your Kind of Love."

It was inspired after the Matthew Shepard incident. I was invited to play it at an event in Matthew Shepard's honor, and his mother was to be there. And I know that she heard the song, and she said that she thought that it was a good song, but that she didn't want to hear it, because it was just too graphic. And I can understand that.

Steve Cohen - Your Kind of Love (2000)

From "Crazy" tell me about "Dykes Lumber"

I was with Dave Downing and his sister hanging out after some event in New York, and we were sitting around joking about the place called Dykes Lumber. There actually is a Dykes Lumber; I think there's a group of them, but I know there's at least one in Hoboken. But we were joking around about how the place was probably on the inside run by a bunch of dykes. And so I just sat down and we started throwing out lyrics of what we would imagine the place to be like on the inside if, in fact, you know, it was totally overrun with lesbians.

What's the reaction to that song?

Um, guys like it, lesbians like it, straight guys like it. Again, it would have to be the hit.

Steve Cohen - Dykes Lumber (2000)

After I bought Steve's first album I became an avid fan and wanted everything I could get by him. Fortunately around that time, partially as a way to raise funds for the next album, he made available several collections of his early demos and live shows, some of these on cassette tapes. They contain many songs, while perhaps not quite studio recordings, that I think are well worthy of my sharing them with you.

I want to ask about a handful of songs from I guess your earlier releases, your almost releases, I don't know….how do you think of those discs?

My pre-release releases.

Okay, pre-release releases. I think they contain some very fine work. Tell me about "Mr Wilson"

That song I think was one of the first that had a nice little rhythm to it, and I think just the story came to mind of what it must be like to be an older gay man. You know, what must the experience be like and how a lot of times younger gay men are, I guess, discouraged from socializing, you know, especially years ago an old gay single man was probably ostracized by the community.

I very much liked that you did that, because that is a subject matter that you don't hear about, and I can easily look back, you know, to years before I thought of coming out of the closet, knowing about someone in the community, maybe older, who was gay, but being petrified of ever thinking of talking to that person.

Right. Yeah, it's sort of a…it's a homophobic response that we get somehow pushed into us. It's hard to even be conscious of it.

Steve Cohen - Mr Wilson (1995)

Tell me about "Recordland"

I think that was just asking the whole question as I was getting into recording of, do I want to speak and say whatever I want? And end up and not going at it from a commercial standpoint. Or, do I just want to, you know, try to hook up with a recording studio and get a contract and go on tour and, you know, do what I'm told? And I know I was kind of like at my wit's end when I wrote that. I think I wasn't sure what was happening with a recording deal, and I just tried to sit down and write something honest.

I know one artist who told me that putting something very, very gay on his first album was very freeing to him, cause then he didn't have to worry about that question anymore.

I think a lot of it has to do with as an artist, whether you're doing it to be an artist, or whether you're doing it to try to make a living. And I think I never answered that question. I think I was expected to make a living and say whatever I wanted to say, and they don't typically go hand in hand.

Steve Cohen - Recordland (1995)

Tell me about the song, "Another Man"

You're really pulling them out from the past now. "Another Man." You know, just a flat out statement of, here's what I need, I need another man.

Steve Cohen - Another Man (1996)

Tell me about the song "Lesbian"

That made for a good singalong. People request that all the time, and it was never really released, but it makes a good singalong song. "Oh, what have I done, I think I've fallen in love with a lesbian." I used to sing that in Rehobeth Beach in the summer, I was working at this bar. Whenever they'd be like this group of women coming in, I would get the key lady from the group, and I would give her a free CD, and then I would do "I Think I've Fallen In Love With a Lesbian" and all you need is one loud woman to be your fan and she can make a room of 300 make a lot of noise. That's a good useful song.

With a sense of humor.

Yes. It's a song about what it must be like to be a straight guy falling in love with a lesbian, how frustrating it is for the straight guy, and of course I'm the straight guy.

In the song.

In the song, yeah.

Steve Cohen - Lesbian (1996)

How has your music changed or evolved over the years?

I'm thinking it's becoming a little less like spilling my guts out. You know, I think I try to write more to what other people could relate to.

And how has that been working?

Ah, I think it's okay, I mean, I think it's helpful if I can do a little bit of both, because sometimes I like to write songs that other people could relate to and might be commercially successful, but at the same time it's almost like a religious experience to just be able to write what you think, to have the outlet, and then see where the chips fall.

Steve's been working on a so-far unreleased CD and I asked him about one of the songs that he has made available on his site. Tell me about "Tantrum"

I was definitely being influence by hip hop, at the time.

Tell me about it lyrically.

It's just a cute story about having had it, and wanting to throw a tantrum, and throwing it so far that you end up taking off in a rocket, like Noah did, with two of everything, and it just goes through the insanity of what that would be like putting it all together.

Steve Cohen - Tantrum (2003)

recent pic

You may find this next part of our discussion interesting. You'll hear an artist talking about changing his name

I just…there's a lot of confusion with the marketing, with my marketing right now. For example if you type in Steve Cohen on iTunes, you'll get me but you'll also get a guy named Steve Cohen who put out a disc called "Dual Personalities."

Yeah, I did a google on your name and there are way too many Steve Cohens.

Exactly. And that's not smart. You know, almost everybody has changed their name, even drag queens change their names. So I've been considering changing my name, but it's a big step to do that. I have a name in mind that I like, but some people like it, some people don't.

Too many Steve Cohens.

That's correct. All right, should I tell you the name?

If you like.

Elton Costello.

Elton Costello. It kind of sounds too similar to existing names.

Right, but I thought in terms of web searches, my name would probably come up.

I see, people looking for Elton John or Elvis Costello would find you, so indirect hits. I've heard one artist say, you got to try to record a Joni Mitchell song, because people looking for her will find you.

Right. But that's the kind of thing. If I'm going to make a move and rebrand I better think about it before I really seriously put something out, or promote the name, and, you know, within a regional area here I promote myself as Steve Cohen, but I don't think it's helping.

Tough Market.

Yeah, and I like the idea that Elvis Costello was the Brit who took the American so I would be the American who took the Brit name.

It will be interesting to see what you do.


And, a few days after we talked he wrote me that doing the interview helped give him some clarity about his music, and he was going ahead with the new album, called "Electronic Phonics" and the new name, Elton Costello.

Elton Costello CD

And I got Steve to talk about one of the other songs from the new album.

Actually my favorite song off that is not "Tantrum," it's a song called "World Famous Chef," or "World Famous." It's basically about a chef who, you know, is making tons of money putting together food that costs like 35 cents. I guess it's kind of a cute, funny type song.

Elton Costello - World Famous (2006)

Any very gay songs on the album?

Nothing gay. Nothing gay-specific, I mean, I wrote it so it's automatically gay, but I do think my writing style will continue to move where I'm not so specific. I think I'm looking for more people to relate to what I do. Sometimes you say too much, you alienate people, and then you can't get any message across.

That brings me to a question I was going to ask. For your music is there an overall message it gets across.

I would just hope in general people find some type of inspiration or healing in it

Are there any questions that I should have asked you?

That's a great question. Nothing comes to mind now.

I try to ask that because some artists have parts of them that they want people to know or things that they are very interested in that people never ask about.

Right. The only thing that I…that would wrap things up for me a little better I think is that it costs money to put out CDs, and I wish I had more of it cause if I did I would have been releasing a lot more music. So, I mean, my first disc I think was in '97 and I went bankrupt, you know, recording and the second disc I just paid for, with another bankruptcy, so I think the pressures of selling CDs at some point do make, do make me think about, you know, what is this that I'm doing and how much do I have to give, and what's the point? You know, in some ways it's kind of the universe says, we don't want that.

But there are people I think you really reach.

I hope so, and that's why, you know, I did it at a point in my life that I could afford to do it, and I don't regret that it was done, but I do think my style will continue to evolve and hopefully become more upbeat as the years move on, cause there's plenty of good things about being gay, or just living, that it's helpful to be reminded about as well.

I'm down to the last song, but before I get to it I want to thank you all for listening, and I want to especially thank Ellen Seeling and Steve Cohen for the wonderful interviews. And as I had expected, the interview was so good that I could not fit all of into the radio version this show, so my internet listeners can hear an extended version with more comments and additional music. That of course can be found at www.queermusicheritage.com. And, as always if you have questions or comments about any of the music I've featured, please write me. This is JD Doyle for Queer Voices on KPFT in Houston.

There were many more songs from Steve's album that I love and wish I had time to share with you, but I'm going to end this segment with one of my favorite songs from his first album. Please tell me about the song "Silent Too Long"

"Silent Too Long." I guess it just seemed like an anthem, a good anthem. I know at that time I was playing it at gay pride events and I was going to Outmusic open mics in New York, and I was starting my own Outmusic group in Philly and…I don't know, it's hard for me to imagine singing it cause it's been a long time. In some ways it's hard not to feel like my songs, the lyrics are corny.

I think they're honest.

I do appreciate that. I just know even listening to the new Elton John disc that just came out, there's a couple lines that are so honest that they sometimes seem corny. It's hard to be the artist and be the audience at the same time. That's pretty deep, isn't it?

I don't think corny is the word, maybe too general maybe.

Yeah, I guess corny is a bit harsh, I shouldn't be so harsh. But yes, it is hard to find a lot of places where you could perform that song, where it would click, very limited audience.

Well, I think I disagree, but let's hear the song. Here's "Silent Too Long" by Steve Cohen.

Steve Cohen - Silent Too Long (1997)