February 2011 Script
& Dupree - The Last Pioneers (1994)
This is JD Doyle and welcome to OutRadio. I played those first two songs together for a reason, as those artists have been closely associated with each other since the 1980's. First up was the duo Casselberry & DuPree, comprised of Judith Casselberry and Jacque DuPree, who performed together all over the world from 1979 until 1994. That happened to be the year of their last recording, called "Hot Corn on the Fire," and from it I took the song "The Last Pioneers."
I followed it with a track from Toshi Reagon's 2005 album "Have You Heard," and the track was called "Ooh Wee." Many of you may know that Toshi's mother is Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the group Sweet Honey in the Rock. Judith Casselberry and Toshi Reagon have been on each other's albums for years, and they have a new project I'm excited to tell you about, and I'll get to that kind of indirectly.
It involves the resurrection of a song I think important to our music history, and important to the Women's Music Movement, as it was one of the first pioneering anthems. Maxine Feldman wrote and first performed the song in 1976 and recorded it in 1979. The song was called "Amazon."
Maxine Feldman - Amazon (1979)
As I said, Maxine Feldman was an important pioneer to the Women's Music Movement, and she sadly passed away in 2007, but I was very honored to have interviewed her in 2002 and to ask her about the song "Amazon"
Maxine Feldman Comment (2002)
It's now 35 years after Maxine wrote her song and new versions of it have been recorded, as part of a wonderful project and CD called "Amazon 35." Here's where I get back to Judith Casselberry and Toshi Reagon. Judith was Executive Producer for the project and Toshi was Producer. I interviewed Judith and asked her to tell us about the inspiration for the project.
Judith Casselberry: Well, Maxine Feldman wrote "Amazon" in 1976, and that was the same year that the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival started, and she actually performed the song at the first festival. And she performed it almost every year, and when she wasn't there other people performed it. So as it turned out the song has actually been sung every year at the festival, in the opening of the festival. And then about 15 years ago I would say Lisa Vogel, the producer, asked myself and Toshi Reagon to rearrange the song, and to kind of bring it up into a space where musically it felt more inclusive and more reflective of the audience, the people who were attending Michigan. So we did like a dance version one year, a disco version, and then I did a reggae version, and people seemed to like that a lot, but people for the last few years have been asking where they could get it, because the only time that people hear the song is at Michigan. And then in the Spring we realized we're coming up on the 35th anniversary of the festival. It just seemed like it was the time to do it. We put the call out to a number of artists, and women just jumped on board like it was amazing.
Why is it important to remember this song?
JC: We wanted to do this project for a couple of reasons. One, the song itself, but it's really about the song and the festival, because there's a way that the song and the festival are linked, for many of us who know the song through the festival, you can't actually take them apart. Over the years because the song has been sung in the opening as the song has gone through transitions, of different artists performing it and singing it, and gone through different musical genres, in terms of the arrangement, it's actually been a site of reflection, the song actually reflects who is in the community. And it was also really important to record this song in terms of Maxine and the work that she did as a real warrior in the lesbian community, as someone who was on the frontlines of what it was to be out and butch and proud, she was one of the foremothers in our community that many of us knew, we wanted to be able to, those of us who knew her, to let the younger women, who knew the song but didn't know her and many of them had never heard of her, they didn't even know who had written the song we wanted them to be able to understand their herstory, and the legacy of what has happened, what has transpired, and who their foremothers are, and the work that's been done in the community already.
I love the mixture of artists who participated, some iconic in the Women's Music Movement, some newcomers, but I have the impression it was a huge labor of love.
JC: It was a tremendous labor of love. As soon as we said we want to do this, and put out the call, it was very short notice, so once we said, we actually have a window of time here where we could get this done, and that was myself and Toshi Reagon, who produced it, once we put the call out, women who were anywhere in the vicinity, and not even anywhere in the vicinity Holly Near was in Florida, and she said, I'm on the road and I'm driving that way, and I can be in New York on this date and she drove to the studio, to lay down her tracks. Cris Williamson and Julie Wolf and June Millington Cris in Seattle, Julie in the Bay Area, and June up I Massachusetts they all wanted to participate but they couldn't actually get here. So we sent them tracks, and they laid down tracks, and they sent them back, through the wonders thank God for modern technology that we can actually do that kind of work now. And then other women who were in the area kind of dropped what they were doing to make it happen. The actual sessions I will say were really beautiful. We were learning parts, some of those tracks were written in the studio. Staceyann Chin wrote her piece for the CD, like that day. Women were just like, yeah, we need to do this. And everybody knew the song from Michigan, so in the studio we were telling them about Maxine, we were going online, we were showing them pictures cause a lot of the younger women didn't know who she was. And women were just really moved the recording was a really moving experience itself.
Tell me about the acoustic version of "Amazon." And who sings on that one?
JC: We wanted to do a version that was close to the way that we remembered Maxine performing it live. The first verse is me, Judith Casselberry, the second is Holly Near and the third is Elizabeth Ziff from the group Betty. And also on that I'm playing acoustic guitar. Ganessa James is also playing acoustic guitar, and Bitch is playing violin and also doing vocals, and then we have supporting vocals by Aleah Long and Gina Breedlove.
Here's the new acoustic version of "Amazon," with Judith Casselberry singing lead on the first verse, Holly Near on the second, and Elizabeth Ziff of Betty on the third.
Judith Casselberry, Holly Near, Elizabeth Ziff & Others - Amazon (acoustic, 2010)
This is not just a reissuing of the song "Amazon," with a couple reinterpretations, there are also several songs inspired by Maxine's song. I'd like to ask about some of those, please tell me about the song "Rise Again."
JC: "Rise Again," I wrote that as kind of a part 2 of the original "Amazon" song, and as it is on the CD one segways into the other, that's the way it was written. It was written with more of I'll say the warrior energy of Maxine's song. And a lot of it has to do with kind of what we're facing in the late 20th and 21st century, and the energy that we need the song that she wrote is a particular energy it's a good energy, a conjuring energy is the way I feel about it. "Rise Again" is more of a call to arms type of energy.
Judith Casselberry & Others - Rise Again (2010)
Tell me about the track "Amazon Like Rock"
JC: Ah yes, now Staceyann Chin, an amazing wordsmith, wrote that specifically for the project, and she wrote it the day of the recording. I got in touch with her, said are you available, can you come, can you put something together, this is what we're doing, and she came to the studio with "Amazon Like Rock," and it's perfect.
Staceyann Chin - Amazon Like Rock (2010)
Those were the questions I had written down, is there a question I haven't asked that I should have asked about this?
JC: Oh, one thing about this, it's a benefit project and I didn't say this. We wanted it to be something that not only documents our work and pays tribute to our community, but also is something that feeds our community, in a very practical way. So, 100% of the proceeds are split 50-50 between the (Michigan Womyn's) Festival and the Lesbian Herstory Archives. And we chose those two to receive proceeds because Maxine gave the rights to the song to Michigan in '86 I believe it was, and she left her papers and memorabilia with the Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn. So we wanted to honor what she had done with her work, and do the same thing with the proceeds from this project. Everybody donated all their time, but we had to of course pay for the studio, we had to pay for duplication and some other hard costs like that, but we were able to recoup those costs immediately at the Festival, because we were able to sell enough, so we were immediately able to donate money to both the Festival and the Lesbian Herstory Archives. I think it's important that people know that because it's kind of the gift that keeps on giving. You know, you get good music, you get a great project, and you know that the proceeds are going into keeping two really important and long-term women's projects going in the community.
It sounds like this was indeed a labor of love, and again, the project attracted both women iconic to our music history, like Holly Near, Cris Williamson, June Millington, Toshi Reagon, and many others, and also many newer artists were involved, kind of bridging the gap and passing the torch. So, again, the disc includes several original songs inspired by Maxine's song, and also several new interpretations of it. I'm going to close this mini-segment with the reggae version of Maxine Feldman's "Amazon."
Cris Williamson, Bitch, Toshi Reagon & Others - Amazon (reggae, 2010)
Find out more about this CD at www.Amazon35.com
And all this got me in the mood for more women's music, so the rest of the segment will be devoted to that, and I'm going right to Nedra Johnson's 2005 album, just called "Nedra," and her beautiful love song "Forever With Me."
Johnson - Forever With Me (2005)
I followed Nedra Johnson with Pam Hall, and her song "Linda." That appeared on her 1992 cassette tape "Honey on My Lips," but I am more used to looking for it on a wonderful various artists compilation from 1993 called "A Family of Friends," produced by Jamie Anderson. It's got a terrific selection of artists, but I'm going to play next one by Jamie herself, that appears on none of her own albums, a pity, as I think it tells a great story. It's called "At Karen's House."
Jamie Anderson - At Karen's House (1993)
And here's one more from the "A Family of Friends" album, and it's the title track, featuring a who's who of women's music movement artists. I need to take a breath first to name them: Margie Adam, Jamie Anderson, Barbara Borden, Teresa Chandler, Dakota Jane Emmer, Sue Fink, Robin Flower, Tret Fure, Monica Grant, Susan Herrick, Helen Hooke, Deidre McCalla, Libby McLaren, Jean Millington, June Millington, Lyn Vidal, Mary Watkins, Sharon Washington, and Cris Williamson. Again, the song is called "A Family of Friends."
of Friends - A Family of Friends (1993)
Perhaps the best known song by Pat Humphries, "Swimming To The Other Side," taken from her 2001 album, called "Hands." She can now be heard as part of the duo Emma's Revolution.
This is JD Doyle for OutRadio and this is just Part 1 of the show this month. I'm wrapping it up with a rocker by the Washington Sisters. They are Sharon and Sandra and Sandra sings lead on this one, from their 1991 album "Take Two." By the way, backups on the track include Vicki Randle and Linda Tillery. Here's "Rock Me, Baby."
Sisters - Rock Me, Baby (1991)
This is JD Doyle and welcome to Part 2 of OutRadio for February. And the first part of this segment is a tribute to the late David Gurland. Sadly he died at age 43 on January 1, 2011, as the result of a massive brain hemorrhage. He was a very popular singer and recording artist in New York City, and won many awards for his nightclub and cabaret performances.
I got to meet him and see him perform at the events surrounding the GLAMA Awards, held in New York City in April of 2000. I remember thinking, wow, what a performer. And although that's the only time I saw him live, I've kept track of him and his music over the years, and I think I have about everything he recorded. We just had email contact within six weeks before he died, discussing his latest recording. And from that CD I took the opening track. He had late in 2008 joined the pop vocal group Uptown Express, as they were planning their second CD, called "Take You There." You heard him sing on the track "Crazy 'Bout Ya Baby." Other members of Uptown Express are John DePalma, Christopher Caswell and Brad Parks.
I want to take you kind of chronologically through his music from this point, though I fully realize what's recorded doesn't come close to representing the extent of his talent and variety of his repertoire. For example, in 2002 he had a successful run merging rock music and cabaret in what he called "The Gurly Show." That was spelled g-u-r-l-y. And around 2005 and for several years he did a series of sold-out shows based on the music of Madonna, starting with one called "Neurotica." Wish I could have seen that one. It was in collaboration with another talented artist I love, Michael Holland.
Anyway, back to the music, and the earliest appearance I have by him on disc was on the recording of the musical "Most Men Are," from 1995. This was a Stephen Dolginoff show, and note I didn't say it was a soundtrack, as I understand there just were not funds at the time to record the original cast. But fortunately a studio recording was done capturing the wonderful music. I asked Stephen Dolginoff what song from the album he would choose to best showcase David's singing, and he picked the song "What If." The song broaches the subject of both coming out and coming out about having AIDS.
David Gurland - What If? (1995)
From the musical "Most Men Are," that was David Gurland and "What If?" Next in line for his musical story comes his own album, which regretfully turned out to be his only solo release. It was released in 1999, and was nominated for a GLAMA award for Best Cabaret Recording. GLAMA was the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards. Michael Holland was also nominated that year, and Lee Lessack took home the award. I have two favorites from that album, and you'll hear them both. The first is a cover of Sting's song "Every Breath You Take," and listen to the very restrained delivery. I think it's one of David's masterpieces.
David Gurland - Every Breath You Take (1999)
And the other song is the Dionne Warwick classic "Anyone Who Had a Heart." When the album came out, David posted to the review section for it on Amazon.com his own statement on the album. I was so impressed that I printed it and saved it in the CD case. I'm glad I did, as those comments are not on Amazon anymore. I've scanned it for my site, so you can read the entire post there, but I want to read just his own introduction to that song.
"I have been singing some of these songs for as long as four years. They are a part of me, like any other vital organ I may have. It is why I chose to record a piece like 'Anyone Who Had a Heart' and use the 'him' pronoun as written, thus 'outing' myself. Many feared that it was a poor choice. I know in my heart that it was the right choice."
David Gurland - Anyone Who Had a Heart (1999)
After that David made guest appearances on albums by others, including one from 2000 called "Our Heart Sings," a various artists compilation released as a fundraiser for the Genesius Guild, a New York City theatre company. David found himself alongside a slew of Broadway talents like Kristen Chenoweth, Alice Ripley and Phillip Officer, and he got to sing the closing track, called "You Give Me Love."
David Gurland - You Give Me Love (2000)
Next David appeared on a collection of the works of composer Michael Colby. It was called "Quel Fromage: 50 Years of Colby," and was kind of a various artists retrospective, that also included Michael Feinstein. The song David sang, according to the composer's website, doesn't appear to have come from a particular show, though it does sound quite theatrical. From 2002 is David doing the Michael Colby song "The Towns."
David Gurland - The Towns (2002)
An artist I've played before on my shows is Tim Di Pasqua, and while he does sing, and quite well, most of his work has been released as recorded by other artists. He's released so far two CDs of the "Tim Di Pasqua Songbook," and on Volume 2, from 2005, David sings a delicious track called "Every Beautiful Man in the World."
David Gurland - Every Beautiful Man in the World (2005)
I was just telling you about Tim Di Pasqua, and I'm going to go back to David's solo album for this next song, which was written by Tim Di Pasqua and Tom Andersen. It shows a bit of David's jazzy side and is called "You Should Know."
Gurland - You Should Know (1999)
And I snuck David's version of the standard "At Last," another track from his 1999 solo album.
I mentioned earlier that around 2005 through 2007 David did some shows of Madonna music, and these were not officially recorded but I was quite pleased to find on his Reverbnation page that he had uploaded several songs from those live shows. I've put three of them in a medley, so here's David doing Madonna doing "Oh Father," "La Isla Bonita" and "Holiday."
David Gurland - Oh Father / La Isla Bonita / Holiday (~2005)
And if you go another site, youtube, you can find a delightful video David uploaded, that has clips from several of his show over the years, and it seems there's no genre he wouldn't try, as you'll see, from Judy Garland to Broadway, to Country.
Does Garland (2007) : The Man That Got Away / Rock-a-Bye Your Baby /
From "The Man That Got Away" to "Big-Boned Gal," David Gurland live.
His page on the music site Reverbnation gave me another surprise. In addition to the songs from his album and the new album by Uptown Express, and the Madonna songs you heard a few moments ago, there was one more song. Other than the title there was no description of it, no recording date or notes. The song is "Unusual Way," taken from the musical "Nine," and this is obviously not a live performance, so I have to wonder if this is David's last solo studio recording. He does a terrific job with it, "Unusual Way."
David Gurland - Unusual Way (early 2000's)
This is JD Doyle for OutRadio, and again, I'm very pleased to share with you this tribute to the late David Gurland. Bringing us back up to date, I return to the new album by Uptown Express, and of course these are all group performances, but from contacting his fellow group members, it seems the best track to hear David on is a combination of the songs "Son of a Preacher Man" and "Like a Prayer." It seems logical that one of them is the most lyrically gay song on the album, and the other is a Madonna hit. So I'm closing this tribute with that track. Here's Uptown Express, again from the album "Take You There."
Express - Son of a Preacher Man / Like a Prayer (2010)
Welcome to Part 3 of OutRadio for February. This is JD Doyle, and while the first two segments had particular focuses, this one, well, does not. I'll jump all over the map to bring you new music by GLBT artists. I started off with the new song by Ricky Martin, called "The Best Thing About Me Is You." And I usually do not comment on the quality of a song, but I will say that I think that song, well, is a pleasant enough song, but the video is very gay. Now that he is out to the whole world, I would love to see Ricky do something lyrically gay, but I don't expect that to happen, big stars just don't seem to do that.
Anyway, I've been meaning to play this next song for a while. It's by Cassidy Haley, and comes from his album called "The Fool." The song is "Whiskey in Churches."
Haley - Whiskey in Churches (2009)
I followed Cassidy Haley with not True Grit, but True Margrit, a band out of San Francisco, and from their latest album "The Juggler's Progress," came the songs "Opposite Man" and "Emily." I'm going to crank up the beat next with a lesbian band from Austin called Grrlz Will Be BoiZ. They spell that g-r-r-l-z will be b-o-i-z, and I picked two tracks from their new album "Burn Through Me." You'll hear "She's Beautiful" and "Don't Tell Her."
Be Boiz - She's Beautiful (2009)
Again, that was the band Grrlz Will Be Boiz. And the members of this next duo come from the UK and New Zealand, but now live in Berlin. They call themselves Late Nights in Squat Bars, which is also the name of their first album. This song, called "Pling Pling," has the line "I like my girls non-platonic."
in Squat Bars - Pling Pling (2010)
I followed the electro-beats of the band Late Night in Squat Bars with some more pure electronica, by an artist going by the name K-Rakos. He doesn't usually add vocals to his music, but I thought that one worked quite well. That track was called "Without End," and the CD is named "Allows."
Ready for some surf music? This band is lead by Jonathan Pierce and they call themselves The Drums. In 2009 they released their EP, "Summertime," that contained this kind of infectious track, "Let's Go Surfing."
The Drums - Let's Go Surfing (2009)
Now this next song is not a surf song, but you'll see why I made the connection, and it is not by a gay artist. My listeners know to assume on my shows that an artist is GLBT unless I say so, and I make a point of that even when the artist is as well-known as Brian Wilson. This song sounds gay though, as he kept the male pronouns when he included "I Loves You, Porgy" on his album "Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin." And it will be followed by a song that has a touch of Beach Boys influence in it. In fact, the name of the album it's from is "Beach Toys Won't Save You."
- I Loves You, Porgy (2010)
That was Michael Holland, and "Boys Say Go," from his 2003 album. And quite compatible with those two songs is one from the latest album by the band Grizzly Bear, and its out lead singer Ed Droste. The album has the odd title of "Veckatimest" and the song is called "Two Weeks."
Bear - Two Weeks (2009)
And that song makes sure this show can't be played on broadcast radio, not that I intend that. The song is called "Arizona" and is from the album "War All The Time" from 2002, by a duo known as Testosterone Kills. They were part of a song movement back then called anti-folk, and though I never could quite wrap my head around what that meant, I liked the album. I interviewed them, Tim Daly and Paul Ratliff back then, and dug the album out now as one of them, now going as TimPermanent, has a solo EP he's just released.
I kind of surprised Tim last September when I was in L.A. He was doing a small performance at the One Institute, where I always visit while there, and I made a point to catch the show, and I was in the front row. I had not made the connection yet but when he mentioned he used to be in the duo Testosterone Kills, I spoke up and said, "I've got your album." He was speechless. He never expected anyone there to have heard of that release. Anyway, we connected again and he sent me the new CD, which is brand new. It's called "Marker," and here's TimPermanent with "Black and White" and "Asymmetrical."
- Black and White (2011)
This is JD Doyle finishing up Part 3 of OutRadio, and this hour went fast. I had so many more artists I wanted to play. Well, there's always next time. I'm closing with a very sexy Israeli artist who had one single in 2007 that I just went nuts over, called "Jesse." He's Ivri Lider, and I've been waiting for a full album from him, and it's almost ready. His website says it will be called "Fly / Forget," and you can hear partial clips of a couple of the tracks there. He recently wrote me that the first single from it is expected to be released in March. Up to now all his full-length albums have been sung in Hebrew, so I am looking forward to him reaching a more international market. While we're waiting though, he's recorded a fun cover of Lady GaGa's song "Telephone." Ivri Lider.
Ivri Lider - Telephone (2010)