WATCH: Cazwell at Razzle Dazzle on Saturday

Cazwell had room to spread out on the Bud Light Mainstage on Saturday night during the Razzle Dazzle Street Festival. He busted out a nice set closing with the help of some hunky dancers on the hit “Ice Cream Truck.” He took the stage after a long night of acts prior to his performance. The Bright, Gary Floyd Trio and Chaz Marie were among the roster of names that performed Saturday, but the crowd was buzzing for Cazwell.

This video is pretty much his whole gig from the night.

—  Rich Lopez

Cazwell headlines a full day of Razzle Dazzle today

Bedazzled

Once you recover from last night’s MetroBall, then you have a full day of Razzle Dazzle with today’s street festival. The day starts with the Sidewalk Sale and Fair where merchants once again offer discounts on your shopping excursions. The cool part will be the vintage auto show.About 50 autos from Classic Chassis Car Club will be parked along Cedar Springs Road until 4 p.m.

The night picks up when the Street Festival gets underway featuring live performances by Cheer Dallas, The Bright, Uptown Players, Chaz Marie, the Gary Floyd Trio and more. DJs Mickey Briggs and Tim Pfleuger provide dance music all night. All that will be highlighted by the return of Cazwell on the mainstage. And there is still all the goings-on in the bars and Midway of carnival games, a mechanical bull and an obstacle course. This could be like gay Wipeout.

DEETS: Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Streets. Sidewalk sale 10 a.m.–4 p.m., Street Festival 7 p.m.–1 a.m. Free. RazzleDazzleDallas.com.

—  Rich Lopez

OutMusic Awards countdown: Album of the year

The wait is over and tonight is the OutMusic Awards ceremony. And there is a possibility that three awards could go to one local. We keep mentioning that only because, um, it’s cool. Gary Floyd is going into the night with three nods. He talked with us a bit about it here. One of them could be this award, which would be huge. But let’s look at what Floyd is up against.

—  Rich Lopez

ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Gary Floyd’s big weekend

Good things are in Gary Floyd’s immediate future

Gary Floyd and Julie Bonk

RICH LOPEZ  |  Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Local actor and musician Gary Floyd knows how to keep his dance card filled. At least he does for this particular weekend. While he’s in rehearsals for Uptown Players’ Next to Normal, he also has two big shows this weekend. Oh, and Monday could be big for him too.

“Oh I’m still excited,” he says. “I don’t think I ever lost my excitement about it.”

He’s talking about Monday’s OutMusic Awards, which he received three nominations for. Floyd was nominated for album of the year for Behold the Gospel of Zen, spiritual song for “Behold,” and the Biello-Martin Love Song of the Year for “Love of My Life.” Not too shabby. He’s glad to just get noticed.

“It seems so cliché to say but it really was awesome to be nominated,” he says. “After all these years, it’s nice to get this sort of recognition I just wish that I could have gone to go back up. I hate not to be there to support them.”

The OutMusic awards celebrate LGBT music releases in several categories akin to the Grammys. They were originally scheduled for last fall but due to an unforeseen situation, they were postponed. A major sponsor pulled out and the show literally couldn’t go on.  Floyd made the trip to New York before finding out the show was canceled. Yes, it was that sudden.

“Nobody could have foreseen that situation coming up,” he says. “I knew it would get put back together. “

The awards will be handed out Monday. While he won’t be in New York, he won’t even be able to keep tabs on if he won or not.

“I’m in rehearsals that night!”

Before then, he has a show tonight at the Center for Spiritual Living where he performs with fellow musician Julie Bonk.  Far be it for him to just offer an easy show on such a weekend.

“Well, that night we are recording a live CD and DVD,” he says. “We booked the show to be part of the Center’s concert series and decided to do a live recording.  We’ve wanted to for a long time so we’re gonna put it together, put it out there and sell it.”

On Saturday, Floyd and Bonk team with Cornell Kinderknecht for Joy-Fest. The concert is an Open Door Production at the Heart and Soul Coffeehouse in Fort Worth featuring a night of jazz and pop music with Floyd on vocals, Kinderknecht on flute and Bonk on piano.

“They had talked to Julie about an evening of music and we had been working together so it just came together,” he says. “This is my first time playing for Open Door.”

While he’ll be clearly distracted from award anxiety, he does have hopes — as probably anyone would.

“How awesome would it be to get one in the mail?” he ponders. “I’m not sure what I’ll do. Maybe have a glass of champagne.”

—  Rich Lopez

A couple of jazz cats for Jazz Appreciation Month

Sure it’s pretty much the end of the month, but April is marked as Jazz Appreciation Month and we couldn’t let it slip by without highlighting a couple of community locals. I’m fascinated by the fact that the LGBT scene here has such a strong jazz-based presence. Covers, originals, singalongs — Dallas has a significant number of gay (and very gay-friendly) musicians with some major jazz hands. Gary Poe, Linda Petty, Gary Floyd and Buddy Shanahan come immediately to mind. Whom did I miss?

Of course, we can’t forget Bill Shafer and his partner Michael Donovan as Deuce, pictured, or Rusty Johnson who performs tonight at Alexandre’s at his last Friday show with his band The Love Monkeys. Below is some video for your own jazz appreciation.

—  Rich Lopez

Gary Floyd lands 3 OutMusic Award nominations

For 20 years, the OutMusic Awards have recognized openly gay musicians who not only make great music, but music that speaks to the gay community. And one of the frontrunners this year is Dallas’ Gary Floyd.

Floyd has been a staple in the Metroplex for more years than he’d like to admit, performing cabaret, musical theater and a host of other styles. But it’s for his languid, inspirational songs, represented on his 2010 album The Gospel of Zen, that he’s most recognized — locally, of course, and now nationally.

“Behold” is in contention for best contemporary spiritual song. (Last year’s winner in this category was Tony Award winner Levi Kreis.) Better still, the CD itself is nominated for best album — and we mean best overall, against such heavy-hitters as Hunter Valentine, Ray Boltz, Rachael Sage and the Heartland Men’s Chorus. Not bad for a six-song, independently-released disc.

In addition, Floyd’s composition “Love of My Life” is up for the prestigious Martin Bello Love Song Award, which comes with a cash prize. (“It’s not on the album, nor even recorded commercially [by me], though Marvin Matthews did a cover,” Floyd says.)

The nominations came out of the blue. Floyd was counseled to submit the album for consideration by his booking agent, but didn’t expect it would actually nab two major noms.

The awards, voted on by the LGBT Recording Academy, mean a lot to Floyd, as does the chance to attend the gala ceremony in New York on Dec. 1 — it will be hosted by Carol Channing, with Cyndi Lauper, Melissa Etheridge and Chely Wright set to attend.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 12, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Gary Floyd CD release party tonight benefits AIDS Arms LifeWalk

Everything ‘Zen’ at this fundraiser

There are those of us who walk long distances and those of us who contribute. If you’re the latter, but still want to help out LifeWalk, head to Gary Floyd’s CD release party. His latest EP, The Gospel of Zen, gets the soiree treatment while also raising funds for AIDS Arms. Plus, with every suggested donation, you get a free CD. But get an autograph if you can.

DEETS: Private residence. 7 p.m. $25. 214-686-7476. Facebook.com/LifeWalkDallas

—  Rich Lopez

Gary Floyd opens Bolla Cabaret Series

Gary Floyd keeps busy, and our ears (and eyes) are all the better for it. Earlier this summer he released his new album, The Gospel of Zen, and on Sunday he concluded his run in Songs from an Unmade Bed at Theatre Too and Thursday he inaugurates another show of sorts: The Bolla Cabaret Series. The series, performed at the restaurant inside the Stoneleigh Hotel, will feature local musicians providing live music during dinner, from 7 to 10 p.m. It kicks off Oct. 7 with Floyd. That’s enough to make your mouth water.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Background sounds

Gay musicians Gary Floyd and Bill Shafer serve up ambiance at Dallas hotels and restaurants

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com


Gary Floyd and Bill Shafer

GUY TUNES | Regular gigs at hotels and restaurants keep musicians like Gary Floyd, left, and Bill Shafer in the game. (Arnold Wayne Jones and Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)


Maybe you don’t think too much about the musicians tickling the ivories in a hotel lobby or working the saxophone as a backdrop to a nice steak dinner. But many local gay musicians have found a niche gig doing just that. Les Farrington entertains at Del Frisco’s and Buddy Shanahan, Paul Allen and others have been spotted playing piano at Nordstrom.

And then there’s Gary Floyd and Bill Shafer.

Shafer can be seen playing sax and piano and singing at the new cigar lounge of Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House in Addison. The spot is a far cry from his stints at the gay piano bars across the gayborhood.

“I was ready for something different,” Shafer says. “Chamberlain’s is a fun gig and I get to eat some great food.”

Shafer moved to North Texas from Hawaii 15 years ago. A former band teacher, he came to Dallas with his partner at the time, but opted to break from music. After playing professionally since age 12, the moratorium seemed warranted. But the music bug eventually itched, and he scratched it.

“Music is such a core part of me, but after being a music teacher for 14 years, I thought about not being in the music biz,” he says. “I was going to Cathedral of Hope and got hired to run sound for them.”

The part-time job led to singing at church — his first experiencing playing for the gay community. It soon snowballed. Shafer worked with local gay music staples including Shanahan, Floyd and Denise Lee, picking up gigs at Bill’s Hideaway before scoring a solo gig at Alexandre’s.

“I wanted to do stuff on my own,” he says. “I went to Alexandre’s for Tuesday and Sunday nights. After four years at the piano bar, Shafer noticed a shift in the audience requests.

“The crowd started getting younger, though, and requesting stuff like Lady Gaga. I did contemporary stuff as I could, but it didn’t seem enough.”

That’s about the time Chamberlain’s was looking for entertainment for New Year’s Eve. Shafer and his partner, who also plays, stood in for Larry Barnett to welcome in 2009. When they expanded, they called Shafer and ultimately booked his current gig.

“Chamberlain’s was putting in the cigar lounge and I helped set up the sound system,” he says. “When it opened last summer, I played a couple of nights a week, but now, I rotate with five other musicians.”

The upscale spot has introduced Shafer to some high rollers: He’s played in front of pro athletes (who are great tippers, he says) and other high profile types, but he’s kept some of his gay fans from the Hideaway days.

“On one hand, I don’t mind doing clubs,” he says. “But there is a gay presence up north and it’s nice to see that, even if they don’t know my story. The best part though is living so close. I get off at 11:30 and I’m in bed by midnight —for a 51 year-old man, that’s good!”

For Floyd, technology threatens to get the better of him at times. Other musicians with similar gigs (Farrington and Shafer for instance) bring backing tracks mixed at home or in studio. But Floyd relies on his fingers and voice to navigate the booking maze of this town.

“I’m not a tech guy and that may have hurt some opportunities,” he says. “One restaurant I pitched to required backing tracks and so I lost out on that one.”

But after doing this for more than 30 years, Floyd isn’t worried. He’s been able to make a living as a working musician and plans to continue for a while to come. Unless he gets to that moment where he doesn’t realize he’s past his prime.

“I may already be at that point,” he laughs.

Nah. Floyd has a solid reputation as a reliable and professional musician. At least once a week, he’s listed on a live music calendar somewhere. Until recently, he was at Hotel Zaza piano playing and singing by the pool or in their Dragonfly restaurant.

Zaza was a new environment for Floyd. This wasn’t the small piano bar with a regular gay crowd. Zaza is for trendsetters and millionaires. The bottom line was Floyd would be playing for a whole new group of people.

“I got that gig from someone hearing me play,” he says. “The thing was, I knew people at the Hideaway related to me, but I didn’t know if the cool people would. The music took over and they did.”

Serendipitously, he got the job days after the Hideaway closed.

“Denise [Lee] and I had thought about the club needing to close for us to move on,” he says. “When you get a steady gig you want to keep it, but sometimes we just get complacent.”

The stint lasted a year, but like Shafer, playing music is core to Floyd and whether he had the full-on attention of the crowd or filled the lobby with this piano and vocals, it was all good.

“I’m not beyond background music,” he says. “Even if you get just one person to stop and listen, I guess that’s what makes it worth it.”

He isn’t’ fretting over the lack of a regular booking right now — he’s too busy working on a new CD which comes out later this month. And that’s music to his ears.

For more information on the artists, visit BillShafer.com and Gary-Floyd.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 18, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice

Haiti concert raises more than $17,000

Jonathan Palant

Jonathan Palant

The concert for Haiti organized by Turtle Creek Chorale director Jonathan Palant raised more than $17,000 that will go to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. Donations can still be made on the Chorale Web site.

Palant said that there was never a goal.

“Every dollar collected was a dollar that wouldn’t have been sent to Haiti,” he said.

He said that this was the only cultural event in North Texas for the country that was devastated by the Jan. 12 earthquake and he was proud that it was organized by the LGBT community.

The six-hour marathon concert took place at Cathedral of Hope on Friday, Feb. 19. The church’s choir began the evening followed by ENCORE! Anton Shaw sang and then the First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park Men’s Chorus had the fast-growing crowd on its feet.

First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park Men's Chorus

First Baptist Church of Hamilton Park Men's Chorus

—  David Taffet