Maybe Stars in His Eyes

Queer singer/songwriter Bobby Jo Valentine is that rare out artist who isn’t shy about his faith. Raised in the church, Valentine has found a way to make those two sometimes conflicting aspects of his life work in harmony. For instance, the live performance schedule on his website (in July at the time of this interview) includes dates at both Pride festivals and churches. Talk about versatility! One thing’s for sure, chances are good that you will hear Valentine singing songs from his luminous new album Maybe Stars (BobbyJoValentine.com). Gregg Shapiro: Bobby Jo, when did you begin playing guitar and how […]

What’s Cooking?

Award-winning filmmaker Crystal Moselle makes her dramatic feature directing debut with Skate Kitchen (Magnolia). While it’s at least 20 minutes too long, Skate Kitchen (the first of 2018 skateboarding movies – the second being Jonah Hill’s Mid90s) is nevertheless worth seeing for the performances Moselle gets out of her cast of mostly newcomers. Camille (Rachelle Vinberg), a socially-awkward 18 year old, lives with her single mother (Elizabeth Rodriguez from “Orange is the New Black”) on Long Island. She enjoys going to the skateboard park and working on her skating skills. She also posts videos of herself skateboarding on Instagram. When […]

Creative Reading

Pride 2019 is taking on special meaning with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots being incorporated into celebrations across the country. With that in mind, it’s never too early to begin assembling a reading list for the celebration as well as for the summer of 2019. Visit your favorite independent bookseller or the love-it-or-hate-it Amazon.com to reserve and order copies of these forthcoming LGBTQ books for readers of all (rainbow) stripes. Poetic paths – It’s hard to believe that The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019) is only the third full-length collection by gay African-American poet Jericho Brown, because he’s […]

Girl Talk

Singer / songwriter Garrison Starr, a Grammy-nominee for her songwriting work on Margaret Cho’s American Myth album, is back in a big way. Girl I Used to Be, Starr’s highly-anticipated new album, is scheduled for release later this year. Working once again with producer Neilson Hubbard, Starr recorded the album in Nashville over the course of five days. Before the album is released, Starr is heading out on tour with fellow Tennessean Lolo on the “Tennessee Queens” tour during the summer months. I had the pleasure of catching up with her shortly before the tour began. Gregg Shapiro: In order […]

Queer Group Therapy

It’s interesting that Boy George and Culture Club, as they are now known, would call its new studio album – its first such release in almost 20 years – Life (BMG) as that’s the one thing it could use more of. For a group that was so influential and groundbreaking in its early 1980s heyday, Culture Club sounds surprisingly out of touch. You have to wonder what it is they’ve been listening to all these years. At a time when electronic dance music is having a strong resurgence, Life would have benefited from some of the house music energy that […]

Queer Group Therapy

It’s interesting that Boy George and Culture Club, as they are now known, would call its new studio album – its first such release in almost 20 years – Life (BMG) as that’s the one thing it could use more of. For a group that was so influential and groundbreaking in its early 1980s heyday, Culture Club sounds surprisingly out of touch. You have to wonder what it is they’ve been listening to all these years. At a time when electronic dance music is having a strong resurgence, Life would have benefited from some of the house music energy that […]

Hell, Yes

Since the late 1990s, queer singer / songwriter Erin McKeown has been making a name for herself as a distinguished performer with a rich and pure distinctive vocal style. McKeown expanded her creative horizons with the stage musical Miss You Like Hell, a collaboration with Quiara Alegría Hudes, for which she wrote the music and lyrics. As you can hear on Miss You Like Hell: Original Cast Recording (Ghostlight), the play is about the reunion between troubled mother and undocumented immigrant Beatriz (Daphne Rubin-Vega), who is facing the prospect of deportation, and her teenaged daughter Olivia (Gizel Jiménez) and the […]

Solo Ventures

The suitably titled Warm (dBpm), the first proper solo album of all original material by Jeff Tweedy (of Wilco and Uncle Tupelo fame), is the kind of musical project that will please the artist’s fans, regardless of when they became followers. As personal as it is universal, the sincerity of the 11 songs on Warm generate a welcome ardor similar to what we heard Kacey Musgraves do on her lauded Golden Hour album. Even the most removed listener can’t help but be moved by songs such as the exquisite “How Hard It Is For A Desert To Die,” “From Far […]

You’ll Love Lucy

The breathtaking Historian (Matador) by out singer / songwriter Lucy Dacus was present near the top of several “best albums of 2018” lists, and rightfully so. You’d never guess listening to Historian that it is only Dacus’s second album. In her early 20s, Dacus is one of those wise beyond her years artists whose songs are sure to strike a chord with listeners from all walks of life. Her talents weren’t limited to her own album, as she collaborated with queer singer / songwriter Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers, forming the trio Boygenius and releasing an acclaimed six-song eponymous EP […]

The Early Bird Gets the (Book)worm

With the new year upon us, it’s never too early to begin assembling a reading list for 2019. Visit your favorite independent bookseller or the love-it-or-hate-it Amazon.com to reserve and order copies of these forthcoming LGBTQ books for readers of all (rainbow) stripes. Owen Keehnen’s Dugan’s Bistro and The Legend of the Bearded Lady (Out Tales, 2018) came out at the end of 2018, but it still deserves to be read in 2019 and beyond. To Keehnen’s credit, he achieves something notable by creating a fond feeling of nostalgia for those who remember original club-kid the Bearded Lady and Chicago’s […]