CD review: Jason Mraz, ‘Yes!’

Posted on 21 Aug 2014 at 10:21am

Editor’s note: We’ll have an interview with Jason Mraz in the paper next week, but before then we thought we’d share this review of his latest album, which he’ll be in Dallas in support of Sept. 2 and 3. 

MRAZHere to make you feel better about your life: Jason Mraz, the Oprah of white-boy balladry. He’s got your “remedy,” and it’s called Yes!, an album of life-affirming mantras expressed simply by song name: “Rise, “You Can Rely On Me,” “Shine,” and so on. It’s true, Mraz is Mraz-ing us with his lovey-dovies, which is just what he’s been doing since he dropped the reggae and wordplay.

When “Lucky” and “I’m Yours” sent him and his fedora into superstardom, he wasn’t about to go back to his scrappy hipster ways (though didn’t you just love him then?). Because if anyone can sell you the warm and fuzzies, it’s the “geek in pink” — the same hopeless romantic who gives them to you when you’re slow dancing at a wedding. “Love Someone” fits that sensitive-guy-with-a-guitar role, but so does most of the album: “Best Friend” is another ode to a confidante, “3 Things” is self-help in list form and “Out of My Hands” imparts a let-it-go moral.

What’s most telling about his career at this juncture is that he’s covering a Boyz II Men song (his a cappella take on “It’s Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday” is actually quite lovely). For maximum swoon effect, the adult-contemporary fluff of Yes! — recorded with girl group Raining Jane, who will be Mraz’s special guests at his Dallas concerts Sept. 2 and 3 — is full of honeyed acoustics and sentiments as subtle as one of those inspirational chain emails you get from your grandma.  Yeah, that. (2.5 stars)

— Chris Azzopardi



Throwback Thursday: 1980s Dallas Pride

Posted on 21 Aug 2014 at 9:42am

Dallas Voice is packing to move to our new office. We came across a box of Pride parade pictures from the late 1980s. Color photography had not been invented yet, at least not for newspapers. I chose these particular pictures to show how Cedar Springs has changed over the years rather than because of who is in the pictures. But if anyone can identify any of the parade participants, please do.


Disclosure: The gay interview

Posted on 20 Aug 2014 at 12:09pm

Guy and Howard Lawrence, the brothers who make up the duo Disclosure.

English dance prodigy duo Disclosure isn’t simply aware that club music is steeped in queer culture; they’re inspired by it. The Grammy-nominated duo, brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence, is still lighting up the charts with songs off their debut, Settle (recently released as a deluxe edition), which, according to its creators, leans heavily on the unique gay roots found in house music.

Makes sense, then, that they’re getting their groove on with Madonna. If chummy Instagram photos with the legend are any indication, presumably they’ll be working with the icon on her next album. Word broke after our Chris Azzopardi spoke with Guy for this gay press exclusive (Howard couldn’t be reached for our scheduled interview, so like a good brother, Guy stepped in for him last-minute). Though he didn’t acknowledge Madonna at the time, the 23-year-old did reveal what other pop icon he’s drunk in love with: Beyoncé. And more news since the interview? Disclosure will bring a DJ set to Dallas this December as headliners of the EDM festival Lights All Night.

Dallas Voice: How much has the gay community influenced your sound?  Guy Lawrence: Honestly, the history of the music that we take influence from, like house and garage, obviously originated in gay clubs like The Warehouse in Chicago and Paradise Garage [in New York City]. I don’t go to gay clubs now, but I feel like gay clubs just seem to be very forward-thinking, in terms of music anyway, and they’re always pushing boundaries. If you look back at the last 25 years or so, they’re playing the most original, creative stuff.

The gay community is often recognized as having its finger on the pulse. You hear people say we know when something is gonna be big before it actually is. From what I’ve seen, I would agree. I don’t only look to the gay community for where I’m gonna go next, but generally, London is such a step ahead of most places in the world musically, especially with dance music. Wherever we travel, producers and DJs are always looking at London and the UK to see what’s coming up next. That’s really why I love living here. We just have such a great buzzing young producer community going on over here — it’s such a good vibe.

You say you don’t go to gay clubs much now, but it sounds like you have. Was that for research purposes?  I used to go to Brighton a lot. It’s on the south coast of England, a five-minute drive from where I used to live. It was cool — there’s a big gay community in Brighton. I can’t really remember which were gay clubs or not, but it didn’t really matter — there was always great DJs playing at them. I used to drive down there and there was definitely some research involved. When I was really into dubstep and grime and that kind of thing, I’d go down and slowly but surely everyone started playing house music and garage music. It was just a really good place to go out, especially when I was just turning 18 and wanting to learn about dance music, where it came from and the history. It was the perfect place for that.


WATCH: A beautiful song about marriage equality

Posted on 19 Aug 2014 at 11:02am

Garfunkel and Oates

It’s only been airing a few weeks, but already Garfunkel and Oates is one of my favorite quirky comedies. Playing on IFC, it’s about two girls who are musician-comedians, performing lilting humor songs as part of their act. In the most recent episode, they were tapped to write a song about two male puppets on a popular kids’ show who were getting married. This is the result, called — like another song sung by a puppet named Kermit — “Rainbow Connection.” If it’s not in the running for an Emmy next year, there’s something very, very amiss in the world.

New episodes airs weekly on IFC.


Brendon Urie with Panic! at the Disco: The (new) gay interview

Posted on 18 Aug 2014 at 10:12am

Panic! at the Disco frontman Brendon Urie

Laughing off the recent protest that took place during a Kansas City stop on the band’s Gospel Tour, Urie, who revealed in our interview late last year that he’s a “straight dabbler,” high fives me as I greet him. Backstage, hours before the trio relays a message of love and unity to a Detroit crowd, I mention the tweet the troll-y “church” sent out, condemning both of us for our “fag sins.”

“We fucking did it!” he says, elated that his outspokenness regarding LGBT issues — and his own sexuality — has reached far enough to get a rise out of the WBC. “Whatever gets them pissed off, I love.”

Our Chris Azzopardi got him to open up — again — the appearance of Panic! at the South Side Ballroom on Friday. And just wait till they read what he has to say about having the hots for Ryan Gosling.

Dallas Voice: How did you hear that Westboro was going to picket your Kansas City show?  Brendon Urie: We saw a couple [of tweets about it]. For a couple of weeks before the Kansas City show they were threatening us. I mean, they’ve come to shows before but have never been that present.

Not that present? Only 13 people showed up outside your Kansas City show. You mean to tell me there were less than that at other protests?  Yeah. Seriously — there were like five people.

You haven’t made a statement regarding this protest. … No. …

And I know some celebrities have confronted them. … Which is great. Foo Fighters did. The whole band got on the back of a semi-truck and played some country songs, which was brilliant.

How did you guys decide you’d respond to them by donating $20 to the Human Rights Campaign for each protester that came to your show?  When I heard that they were showing up, I mean, I can’t lie — I was instantly a little upset. I was like, “Oh, man, I don’t like these people,” but then I started to be like, “I don’t wanna be in that mood anymore. I don’t wanna feel that way. I don’t want them to have that kind of control, so we’ll try to turn it around.” Because what would make them more mad than being a part of something charitable? And I thought we were gonna make a huge donation! But 13 people showed up for 20 minutes, and then they left. That was weak. It was pathetic. So, we’re gonna throw in a little more [money], because that was stupid. [Panic! at the Disco has pledged to donate a total of $1,000 to HRC.]

What if they show up at more shows?  If they do, we’ll just donate way more!


Cocktail Friday: Cali Strawberry Daiquiri

Posted on 15 Aug 2014 at 12:18pm

CalistrawedSaturday, Aug. 16, is officially National Rum Day, so there’s no better chance to fiddle with a taste of the islands with a sweet, fruity drink like this one: The Cali Strawberry Daiquiri.

2 oz. Caliche rum

1 oz. fresh lime juice

3/4 oz. agave nectar

1 fresh strawberry

Making it: In a shaker, combine all ingredients, lightly muddling the strawberry. Shake vigorously with ice until well chilled. Strain into a highball glass over rocks and garnish with a berry.



Baugh to serve as Chorale interim director; Seelig to return for one concert

Posted on 15 Aug 2014 at 10:32am
Sean Baugh

Sean Baugh

Turtle Creek Chorale announced today that Associate Conductor Sean Baugh will continue in that position and lead the chorale as it searches for a permanent artistic director.

To celebrate the Chorale’s 35th anniversary, former director Tim Seelig will be back in February to conduct a concert.

Baugh will conduct Brave, the first concert scheduled for Oct. 17–18 at the Latino Cultural Center.

“I just can’t express how excited I am, and how privileged I feel, to be leading the Turtle Creek Chorale at this time,” Baugh said. “It’s our 35th anniversary, and I can’t think of a more exciting time to be with this group of men. It’s a time of change and refocus, but the TCC is resilient, and more excited and engaged than ever. It will be an incredible year for our singers and audience members alike.”

Baugh also invited anyone who has ever performed with the Chorale to come back.

“You do not have to audition as a new member,” he wrote on Facebook. “Once a Turtle, always a Turtle.”

He asked former members to send him a private message or come to the first rehearsal on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Sammons Center.

Marketing director Caroline French said Brave tells stories of perseverance and courage. Chorale members will share stories of brave moments fighting AIDS, bullying and other obstacles in their lives.

The rest of the Chorale’s season:

Jangled is the Christmas show on Dec. 18-21 at City Performance Hall.

The 35th anniversary concert featuring Seelig takes place on Feb. 7 at City Performance Hall.

Britten, Beatles & Bond is April 23-25 at City Performance Hall.

Musica de Mayo is May 1-2 at the Latino Cultural Center.

The season ends with Turtle-ly 80s on June 12-14 at City Performance Hall.

Tickets will be available Sept. 1 at the website or at 214-526-3214.

Check out more of the upcoming arts season in Dallas here.


Billy Porter: The gay interview

Posted on 14 Aug 2014 at 10:08am


With our Applause Edition coming out Friday, we thought we’d prime the pump a little with some Broadway glamour. And you don’t get much more glamorous nowadays that the sexy leather thigh-highs of Kinky Boots, which will be on tour in North Texas twice in 2015 (as you can read about Friday in Applause!).

For his first solo album since becoming a Tony and Grammy award-winner, Billy Porter — Broadway’s kinkiest drag queen — is taking off the corset and stepping out of those iconic heels. With Billy’s Back on Broadway, the crooner continues to honor his passion for musical theater, taking on songs made popular by some of the most revered legends: Liza Minnelli (“But the World Goes ’Round”), Judy Garland (“Happy Days Are Here Again / Get Happy”) and Barbra Streisand (“Don’t Rain On My Parade”).

With the Tony Award nominations just out this week, we decided to chat with last year’s toast of B’way. Porter talks with our Chris Azzopardi about his fondness for strong women, how he aspires to be Cyndi Lauper (whom he calls “one of the godmothers of individuality”) and the personal catharsis he’s experienced while transforming into a woman for Kinky Boots.

Dallas Voice: Was winning the Tony for best actor in a musical last year one of those surreal moments where you give your speech, and then walk away and it all becomes a haze and you wonder what the hell you just said?  Billy Porter: No — because I wrote it! I had to write it down. I have amazing people and friends, and my manager of 23 years, Bill Butler, and one of my dear friends Jordan Thaler, both said to me before it happened, “Look, you have a one in five chance of winning. Write something down. Write it down!” And they know I’m not the kind of person who wants to come across as being cocky or anything, so they both were like, “It’s not being cocky; it’s honoring the moment. It’s better to be prepared and to be able to look back at this time and, if it happens, have had said something intelligent.” I said what I wanted to say as opposed to getting up there and fooling around, so I’m glad that they made me write it.

You’re right, though: Some people think it comes off as cocky when people prepare a speech.  And it’s actually really not. Lemme write something down so I don’t look like Boo Boo the Clown up there.


Skrillex, Disclosure announced for 2-day EDM fest, Lights All Night

Posted on 13 Aug 2014 at 4:06pm

British DJ duo Disclosure

Famed DJ Skrillex will launch the annual Lights All Night electronic dance music festival in December, with the team of Disclosure performing a DJ set, Armin van Buuren and a yet-to-be-named artist also headlining.

Since its inception, Lights All Night has featured top DJs in its lineups, including Tiesto, deadmau5 and Calvin Harris.

The two-day festival, which takes place right after Christmas, will fill the Dallas Convention Center. Early-bird tickets are available here.

We’ll have an interview with the guys who make up Disclosure next week.


Dallas Red Party taps Drag Racer Adore Delano, DJ Patrick Kuzara

Posted on 12 Aug 2014 at 11:11am

AThe Dallas Red Foundation and Pride Pharmacy will host the 6th annual Red Party, a fundraiser for Legacy Counseling and Founders Cottage, on Friday, Sept. 19. And RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 6 winner Adore Delano will be the featured entertainment.

Adore will perform alongside New York DJ Patrick Kuzara at The Globe, a venue west of Downtown, on the kickoff to Pride Weekend. Tickets are $59 until Aug. 22, then $69 after. Tickets at the door will be $80 (if available). Some special VIP tickets will also be available. Watch the announcement video below.

2014 Red Party Reveal from Dallas Red Foundation on Vimeo.