The Music Issue: A new gigness

Out singer Jackie Hall is the best Dallas diva you don’t know about … yet

music-gigness

QUEER HOMECOMING | In recent years, Jackie Hall has performed in venues from biker bars to blues clubs, but the lesbian singer is now turning her attention back toward her fellows in the gay community. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

To label your band an “experience” is gutsy, but if it’s true, why not? When the frontlady for The Jackie Hall Experience belts out a tune, people shut up and listen. Always.

So why are you just now hearing about her?

“The career is slower than I like, but I just see it as part of paying my dues,” Hall sighs. “I welcome it all in God’s time, but I know change is gonna come.”

Making it in the music biz comes with frustration, and Hall has had her share. But breaking onto the Sue Ellen’s stage has reinvigorated her two-fold: She’s got a gig that pays and she’s getting her name back out in the LGBT community, even though the response “Jackie Who?” remains a hurdle.

“I left the community because I couldn’t get paid or pay my musicians,” she says. “I had to branch out in different areas. If I could perform for free, I would, but my boys won’t.”

Hall reminisces about sweet gigs at Illusions and Joe’s. With a 13-piece band (yes, really), she prided herself on big shows and an audience that embraced what she was throwing down. But as clubs closed or moved on, Hall was left to figure out a new plan. So she ventured away.

“I was able to book myself at the old Hollywood Casino in Shreveport and I sang at Tucker’s Blues in Deep Ellum,” she says. “I even performed at a biker bar in Fort Worth. I’m still figuring it all out. I’m working on expanding my gigness.”

An old friend has helped her on just that.  Some years back, Hall would sing karaoke at the Circle Spur in Irving, where she met a shy singer named Anton Shaw. The two became friends and nurtured each other’s talents.

“Back then, we were the shit,” Hall laughs, “singing En Vogue songs in the ‘hottest place in Irving.’ But we really were there for each other and we both wanted to be stars. We lost connection for about 10 years, but she’s the reason I’m in the scene now.”

After taking in a performance of Shaw at Alexandre’s, the two reconnected; a run-in at an audition then led to Sue Ellen’s. Shaw books talent for the club’s live-music Vixin Lounge. Last November, Hall made her debut to a healthy crowd on Thanksgiving weekend.

“She hadn’t seen me perform live since back in the karaoke days,” Hall says. “That means she booked me on faith.”

Along with her band bookings, Hall has released original music teaming up with local musician Taylor Hall. In a strange way, his indie grunge and her soulful lungs were a match made in heaven. Coming together through former Edge DJ Alan Ayo, the two created Robinson Hall, a dirty blues outfit that released three singles online last year.

In addition to original works, Hall isn’t short on delivering her strong renditions of classic rock and soul covers.  She kinda loves it.

“I discovered my purpose in life early on and it’s music. It is the only thing that brings the world closer, brings out emotions, memories. Music has landed me homeless before, but it’s important, man,” she says. “So every time I walk onstage I expect to kill ‘em. When I sing I want people to take that ride with me. I want them to hold hands during love songs, bang their heads during the rockers and cry at the sad songs. That’s why I named it an experience.”

And it is. When Hall takes on any song, she embodies it. Her body is fully engaged on a classic like Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and she turns delicate while singing Etta James, or her big hero, Gladys Knight. As she reflects on the highs and lows and the songs she embraces, Hall has an epiphany.

“Sitting here, this has been a revelation for me. I need to be more out in my own community,” she says. ”The gay community has a lot to offer and I have a gift that I’d like to share. I wish I knew more showtunes, though. The gays love those.”

Good for her. Half the battle is knowing your audience already.

The Jackie Hall Experience performs every second Saturday at Sue Ellen’s.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 3, 2012.

—  Kevin Thomas

Starvoice • 10.14.11

By Jack Fertig

CELEBRITY BIRTHDAY

Michael Gambon turns 71 on Wednesday. The acclaimed Britsh actor has starred in many film favorites such as Gosford Park in 2001 and last year in The King’s Speech, but he garnered a new generation of fans when he replaced Richard Harris in the Harry Potter film series as Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, who also happens to be gay.

……………………..

THIS WEEK

Just before leaving Libra, the sun trines Neptune, prompting sweet romantic dreams, ideals and promises. When Sol moves into Scorpio those promises may prove hard to keep. The test of a relationship is not just in keeping promises, but forgiving the broken ones.

……………………..

LIBRA  Sep 23-Oct 22
A creative partnership can become more enduring than expected. Romantic commitment is possible but demands more work. Heartfelt discussions help to clarify illusions.

SCORPIO  Oct 23-Nov 21
Innovation is necessary, but getting too clever only exacerbates existing problems. Keep communications open. If you can’t be friendly, be tactful. Charm works well for you.

SAGITTARIUS  Nov 22-Dec 20
Getting too comfortable with the wrong people tempts you to spill secrets. Focus on where you want to be in five years with the one you love. Follow that inspiration.

CAPRICORN  Dec 21-Jan 19
Have an appropriate outlet for your energy. The more you can sublimate it into your work the better, but be mindful of boundaries. What is more important —your partnership or career?

AQUARIUS  Jan 20-Feb 18
Roleplay with your partner opens up insights. Confusion in other relationships requires a more intuitive approach. Defending your turf at work is necessary. Kind words are more effective.

PISCES  Feb 19-Mar 19
Don’t prolong arguments. The sooner they’re done the sooner you can learn from them. Fantasy play is one way to be intimate with your partner. Sharing  secrets can also prove liberating.

ARIES  Mar 20-Apr 19
Playing too hard leads to injuries and/or fights. Do you really want to annihilate your opponent or are you there to have fun together? Lighten up. You’re taking yourself way too seriously.

TAURUS  Apr 20-May 20
Flirtations lead to something more serious, but take one step at a time. Even if it is a passing fancy, enjoy it while it lasts. Renegotiating loans and debts work in your favor.

GEMINI  May 21-Jun 20
Concern about your health or work makes you defensive. Be diplomatic if you must tell others to mind their business. You need a new view of your problem, based in traditional wisdom.

CANCER  Jun 21-Jul 22
The need to take care of domestic issues feels overwhelming. You’re putting too much pressure on yourself. Structure and discipline slow you down, but are more effective than panic.

LEO  Jul 23-Aug 22
Taking yourself too seriously is sure to lead to arguments. If you’re really so smart, prove it by taking a class in something entirely new, or read a book that will challenge your mind.

VIRGO  Aug 23-Sep 22
Take conversations to new depths. Someone you’re sweet on may be ready to get more intimate. Raise the subject, but be careful and read the signals carefully to know how.

Jack Fertig can be reached at 415-864-8302 or Starjack.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 14, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

More than a month later, owner still seeking approval from city for new gay bar on Maple

Owner Keith Lackie stands inside Klub Wet in October holding a plaque he received to commemorate the bar’s opening — an opening that never happened.

Keith Lackie is frustrated and angry. Pretty soon, he says, he might also be bankrupt.

Lackie was set to open Klub Wet, a new gay bar on Maple Avenue, at the end of October. But then the city of Dallas refused to issue him a certificate of occupancy, saying he didn’t have sufficient parking. Lackie has two separate remote parking agreements for property across the street owned by Crow Holdings. But he says Crow Holdings is attempting to get out of the agreements because they want to use the property for their own redevelopment.

Lackie says he’s invested $150,000 to remodel the building that once housed Illusions, at 4100 Maple Ave. Klub Wet would fulfill a dream that Lackie had with his partner, Andy Primm, who died last year. Much of the money for the bar came from his partner’s life insurance policy.

For the last five weeks, Lackie and city building officials have gone round and round over the parking situation. Finally, last week, Lackie claims they agreed to a resolution whereby Lackie would wall off a section of the club to reduce the square-footage so he doesn’t need as much parking. But now he says the city is refusing to give him a final OK, and he’s convinced it’s due to opposition from Crow Holdings.

“We came up with a resolution and they’re still sitting on it,” Lackie told Instant Tea on Thursday. “It’s ridiculous, and in the meantime I’m on the brink of bankruptcy. I think the reason they’re putting it off is they’re waiting for Trammel Crow to come back with a different plan. They’re waiting for Trammell Crow [Crow Holdings] to tell them what to do next to prevent me from opening.”

Representatives from Crow Holdings failed to returned numerous phone calls from Instant Tea seeking comment about the matter over the last month. City Councilwoman Pauline Medrano, who represents the area, also hasn’t returned our phone calls. Medrano’s assistant referred questions to city building officials.

Phil Sikes, an assistant building official for the city, said Thursday that his department is still researching the history of the Klub Wet property and the parking agreements. Sikes said he hopes to have an answer on Lackie’s latest proposal by next week.

Sikes said it appears as though one of the two parking agreements with Crow Holdings is valid, while the other is not. The city is now trying to determine how many “delta credits” — grandfathered parking from before the city required it — Klub Wet should receive.

The investigation, Sikes said, is complicated by changing uses of the building over the years, an illegal expansion in the 1990s and other factors.

“It really is just a mess,” Sikes said. “We understand his situation is that he’s ready to open his business. He’s sank a tremendous amount of money into it, and every day he’s not open, he’s losing money. We get that.”

But Sikes denied that opposition from Crow Holdings has anything to do with the delay.

“They don’t talk to us about this stuff,” Sikes said. “We don’t go talk to them. Whoever the neighbor is doesn’t matter to us. We’re trying to make a determination based off the records.”

Lackie says if he doesn’t hear something soon he plans to take his story to the mainstream media and demand an investigation.

“I can tell you from the conversations that I’ve had with people at different events and the clubs around town, everybody thinks the city and Trammell Crow are colluding, and probably that the city has their hands in Trammell Crow’s pockets,” Lackie said. “Trammell Crow doesn’t want a gay bar in their front yard. The city is grasping at straws, at any little thing they can come up with to keep me from opening, so that Trammell Crow gets what they want. I guarantee it.”

—  John Wright

Owner says city, Crow Holdings blocked opening of new gay bar on Maple after he invested $150K

Owner Keith Lackie stands behind the bar on Friday holding a plaque he received to commemorate the opening of Klub Wet.

It was Keith Lackie and Andy Primm’s dream to open a gay bar together.

When Primm died last year at 44, Lackie was left with a life insurance policy.

Lackie decided to use the money to fulfill the couple’s dream, and three months ago, he signed a lease for the building that housed Illusions, at 4100 Maple Ave., which had recently closed.

Since then, Lackie said he’s spent $150,000 remodeling the building. He was scheduled to open Klub Wet Piano & Music Video Lounge at 11 a.m. today.

But on Wednesday, Lackie found out the city of Dallas won’t issue a certificate of occupancy — the final permit needed before he opens — because he doesn’t have sufficient parking.

“I don’t even have the money to pay my house payment next month,” Lackie said Friday afternoon as he stood inside Klub Wet. “I was counting on being able to open this week.”

Lackie explained that the owner of the building that houses Klub Wet, Victor Ballas, has a Remote Parking Agreement for 46 spaces on property that sits just across Throckmorton Street. Lackie signed a one-year lease with Ballas with a four-year extension option.

But the parking for Klub Wet sits on property that’s now owned by Crow Holdings, which plans to redevelop much of the neighborhood. Lackie said Crow Holdings has convinced city officials that the Remote Parking Agreement is invalid, because it doesn’t list an accurate square footage for the bar.

The parking agreement, from 1996, lists the square footage of the building at about 1,400 square feet, while Klub Wet actually occupies about 2,500 square feet. But even with the larger square footage, the 46 spaces would be more than sufficient. Lackie said the square footage discrepancy is probably due to the fact that the bar occupied only part of the building in 1996.

Lackie said the term of the Remote Parking Agreement is as long as the building is occupied by a bar. But he said Crow Holdings has seized upon the square-footage technicality because it wants the parking for its own development.

“If Trammell Crow can keep me from opening up and it can’t be a bar, these parking agreements will go away and they’ll get their property back,” Lackie said.

Lackie said he’s been working with a licensing consultant to try to obtain a certificate of occupancy from the city, but now that the effort has proven unsuccessful, he plans to consult with his attorney.

Lackie said he’s already hired about 10 employees, some of whom have quit their old jobs. Among other things, he’s furnished Klub Wet with a grand piano and was poised to make it the only gay piano bar in Dallas.

On Thursday night, Klub Wet hosted a private party attended by 40-50 people, and one of Lackie’s new employees presented him with a plaque that reads “A Dream Come True, Alan Primm and Keith Lackie.”

For now, though, it’s a dream on hold.

“It was our dream to do it,” Lackie said. “I can’t give up.”

—  John Wright

Oak Lawn shooting victim released from hospital

Doug Tull
Doug Tull

Doug Tull, the gay bar patron who was shot during a robbery a few blocks from his apartment in Oak Lawn in late August, was released from Parkland Hospital on Wednesday, Sept. 15 after two surgeries.

“It’s nice to be home but there are a lot of medical things I have to do,” Tull said.

Tull thanked his friend Darwin Kopaska, who has been by his side since the shooting; and Ron Nelson and Frank Holland, owners of Pekers, for saving his life by their quick action.

“I have a home nurse that comes by Monday, Wednesday and Friday to take vitals and all that,” he said.

So far there are no suspects. Photos from a bank surveillance camera of the suspects’ vehicle driving through the parking lot were not clear enough to reveal the license plate number.

“I just hope the police catch those guys so they can’t hurt anybody. Anyway, I’m doing all right and thanks for asking,” Tull said.

And yes, we keep using the same photo of Tull, but we’ll get a new one once Tull is feeling up to it. He preferred this one of him smoking outside at Illusions taken last year to a current one of him looking like crap after surgery.

—  David Taffet

Shooting victim upgraded to fair condition

The victim of a robbery and shooting Monday morning in Oak Lawn is now listed in fair condition at Parkland hospital, spokeswoman Charise Thomason told Instant Tea on Tuesday morning.

Doug Tull, 49, remains in the intensive care unit of the hospital, Thomason said.

Tull underwent surgery after being shot in the stomach during a robbery at about 1 a.m. Monday near Shelby and Brown streets. According to Dallas police reports, Tull was walking toward the gay bar Pekers on Oak Lawn Avenue. Tull’s home address is in the 2600 block of Throckmorton Street.

Above is a Dallas Voice file photo of Tull that was taken in May 2009 outside Illusions on Maple Avenue.

—  John Wright

Illusions is now closed, and owner Eddie Bonner is still blaming the city of Dallas’ smoking ban

Patrons inside Illusions before the city’s new smoking ban took effect in 2009. (Dallas Voice)

Illusions on Maple Avenue closed Thursday, July 15 after the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission suspended the bar’s liquor license for failure to pay taxes on mixed-beverage receipts.

Illusions owner Eddie Bonner told me Tuesday afternoon he’s in the process of selling the six-year-old bar. But he said the buyer has been delayed in obtaining a liquor license from TABC.

Bonner said he wanted to keep the bar open until the new owner could take over but wasn’t able to do so. He said he planned to use proceeds from the sale of equipment to pay off his taxes.

Bonner has made news over the last few years for his strong opposition to Dallas’ new smoking ordinance, which he claimed had reduced his business by about 40 percent.

“I’m not going to sit here and say that’s the only factor, but it was probably the biggest contributing factor,” Bonner said, adding that he also has a full-time job and is working on his doctorate. “We’ve raised probably over $150,000 for charities, and I’ve made a lot of good friends, but the business side of it, with everything else I have going on in my personal life, it’s too much responsibility.”

Illusions is the second gay or lesbian bar to close in the last month on Maple Avenue.

DV staffer Rich Lopez reports that Sisters, which replaced Buddies II last year, closed its doors about two weeks ago. Rumor has it that Sisters was shut down due to “flooding issues,” but phone calls to owner Kevin Barnett haven’t been returned.

—  John Wright

Gay North Texas cowboy Wade Earp wins yet another all-around title; TGRA Dallas plans 2 big events this weekend


Wade Earp wins another all-around title
TGRA member Wade Earp competes in bull riding in a past IGRA rodeo.

North Texas cowboy Wade Earp won the title of All-Around Cowboy during the Greater Mowtown International Rodeo held last weekend, June 25-27. It is, I think, the third time this season that Earp has won all-around honors.

In other gay rodeo news, the Dallas Chapter of the Texas Gay Rodeo Association has two big events planned over the holiday weekend.  The “Cowboys, Jocks and Leather” underwear auction is on Saturday, July 3, at Dallas Eagle, 5740 Maple Ave., with a cocktail mixer at 7 p.m., hosted by GayCowboyCentral.com and with hot dogs and chips provided by the Eagle Bears. The main event starts at 8 p.m.

Then on Sunday, July 4, the Dallas TGRA chapter presents the 22nd annual Miss Firecracker Pageant, starting at 9 p.m. at Illusions Bar, 4100 Maple Ave.

Check the Dallas chapter’s schedule here.

And don’t forget that the Big D Rodeo is coming up Sept. 10-12 at the Diamond W. Arena Complex in Aledo. Go here for more info.

—  admin