Hear Lovers tonight at Andy’s in Denton

Lovers’ finds zero limits as an out musicians

Lovers has five albums under its belt, and through rotating members, the touchstone has always been Berk. But this current incarnation of the band seems to find Lovers at its best self. Berk, Kerby Ferris and Emily Kingan have produced a confident album with Dark Light, and after a decade of doing this, Berk feels this is the band at its strongest.

“When we came together, it felt very egalitarian and feminist and comfortable,” she says. “I hadn’t experienced that level of confidence and there are a lot of benefits to having our kind of connection. I felt like this was a really great place to be creatively.”

This confidence has taken Berk to new levels, as an artist and a person. All three members identify as queer, and for Berk, that offers a comfort in writing her music. Although she starts the song on her acoustic guitar, the others chime in for a group dynamic.

At 32, her personal growth over these 10 years has manifested differently in Dark Light than it has on any of the previous releases. She’s out of the closet, but this album shows Berk coming out of her shell.

“I feel like I sort of went from being an artist who was working mostly to exorcise personal demons to someone who, with time, is able to looking more outward,” she says. “This is the most extroverted album Lovers has ever had.”

Read the entire article here.

DEETS: With Sextape and One Red Martian. Andy’s Bar, 122 N. Locust Road, Denton. May 13. 9 p.m. $6–$8. LoversAreLovers.com.

—  Rich Lopez

Feminist mystique

Lovers’ Carolyn Berk finds zero limits as an out musician — but gets a little nervous coming back to Texas

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

THREE WAY | Carolyn Berk, center, and Lovers return to the masculine state of Texas with feminist pop.

LOVERS
With Sextape and One Red Martian. Andy’s Bar, 122 N. Locust Road, Denton. May 13. 9 p.m. $6–$8.
LoversAreLovers.com.

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Smilla might have had a sense of snow, but Carolyn Berk — frontwoman for the Portland-based trio Lovers — has a sense of sex. And it makes her a bit nervous to be coming to the Metroplex.

“Portland is a very feminine city, but when I’m in Texas, I feel it’s a very masculine place,” she says. “There is an energy that I don’t quite get. I can experience masculinity in myself but when it’s used in a certain way, I start feeling uncomfortable. I’ve never been to Dallas because, honestly, I’m intimidated by it. I don’t feel particularly safe in Texas.”

Berk doesn’t mean to sound like she’s railing against the state, but she wants to be upfront how her feminist roots may feel challenged next Friday, when Lovers plays at Andy’s Bar in Denton. It’s no surprise that she loves Austin, but she doesn’t say whether the band intentionally sidestepped Dallas in favor of Denton. But we choose not to see it that way — anyway, fringe bands thrive in college towns.

“One of the interesting things about going back to the same towns again is seeing the people you met last time,” she says of touring. “Hopefully we’ll see that some of the seeds are growing and more people come out. I always hope that each tour is better than the last.”

Lovers has five albums under its belt, and through rotating members, the touchstone has always been Berk. But this current incarnation of the band seems to find Lovers at its best self. Berk, Kerby Ferris and Emily Kingan have produced a confident album with Dark Light, and after a decade of doing this, Berk feels this is the band at its strongest.

“When we came together, it felt very egalitarian and feminist and comfortable,” she says. “I hadn’t experienced that level of confidence and there are a lot of benefits to having our kind of connection. I felt like this was a really great place to be creatively.”

This confidence has taken Berk to new levels, as an artist and a person. All three members identify as queer, and for Berk, that offers a comfort in writing her music. Although she starts the song on her acoustic guitar, the others chime in for a group dynamic.

At 32, her personal growth over these 10 years has manifested differently in Dark Light than it has on any of the previous releases. She’s out of the closet, but this album shows Berk coming out of her shell.

“I feel like I sort of went from being an artist who was working mostly to exorcise personal demons to someone who, with time, is able to looking more outward,” she says. “This is the most extroverted album Lovers has ever had.”

Those demons stemmed from losing her mother at 15, as well as growing up surrounded by death. Seeing it up close at an early age was just a “weird way to start life.” But it shaped her knack for some pretty epic lyrics. In Light’s “Shepherd of the Stray Hearts,” she says volumes in the line Just like a shepherd of the stray hear /  leaving you whale bones in your front yard and a basket of spearmint on the gate behind your swing / and a white scarf around the cello cart you’re always pushing.

“The song is about having a secret romance and those images come from a some very romantic places in my life,” Berk says.

And while the object of affection may be to a woman by a woman, Berk and company have faith that their music will transcend labels.

“At this point in my career, I just feel limitless,” she says. “I feel very visible through the music and at the same time anybody else can insert their experiences into a song.  I’m very open in my music, but I don’t think that means its closed for everyone else. “

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 6, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Speculations that the American flag has gay origins — OK, you’ll just have to read on

You pledge that allegiance, girlfriend!

It was reported Monday that there is new evidence to suggest that Betsy Ross’ design for the American flag comes from a shirt she made for her gay friend Nathaniel. Who knew? The article says:

“It’s amazing to think that Nathaniel unknowingly designed the most iconic flag in world history,” said Historical Society of Pennsylvania researcher Maxwell Derosiers, who found the journal in the pocket of a period cheetah-print waistcoat in the organization’s basement. “From the American flags that flew over Fort McHenry and Iwo Jima, to the one planted on the surface of the moon, every incarnation of the Stars and Stripes traces its roots to this one very gay article of clothing”

“And I mean really gay,” Derosiers added. “This was a sleeveless crop top.”

This new development was hilariously reported by The Onion.

—  Rich Lopez

Time delay

Trans man Lucas Silveira hits the road with The Cliks — a year late

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

TRANS AMERICA | Lucas Silveira and The Cliks make up for lost time with their nationwide tour.

Last summer, Toronto rock trio The Cliks released Dirty King. Coming off strong buzz from their 2007 album Snakehouse and the public approval of high profile bands like The Cult and Cyndi Lauper, the band was on the rise. With King, their sound matured yet still offered the grit of garage rock.

But the band imploded soon after, leaving trans frontman Lucas Silveira with a new album on his hands and a major setback.

“The band on King left and that put a halt in touring and getting the album out there,” Silveira says. “That wasn’t great for the album taking off after its release.”

But The Cliks was always Silveira’s project. He was disappointed that bandmates Morgan Doctor and Jen Benton departed before touring, but he rallied and is on the road with a new incarnation, hoping fans haven’t forgotten the album he’s now supporting. He’ll find out Thursday when their tour brings them to Dallas.

“This is the tour I wanted to do when the album came out,” he says. “It would have gone a lot better then. But now, I have to rekindle the need and reconnect with fans.”

So far Silveira has found his audience has stuck around, especially his most loyal of all: the queer fans. Gaining notoriety as perhaps the first FTM trans rocker, Silveira garnered attention from big gay media like The Advocate and Out, and his band was tapped by Lauper to play on the True Colors Tour. But with a reputation for a killer live show and an evolving sound, The Cliks are transcending the trans curiosity and finding a real place in rock music.

“We still have a lot of queer fans and from that root, it’s really grown into a very diverse audience,” he says. “It’s something I’m very proud of. We have 60 year-old straight fans amid 30-something queer women. It’s so interesting.”

Silveira knows he won’t escape the trans label as, at least, a first impression, but he embraces the responsibility of artistic evolution, proving that he and The Cliks are here for the music. He’s seen the novelty wear off enough to attract and keep a non-gay audience, but he’s willing to meet them halfway.

“Queer artists have to work that much harder to prove their music can be accessible outside of queer audiences,” he says. “For the rest of my career, I’ll always be seen as the first trans mainstream music guy. If I allow that to predict my career, I won’t be successful. I’ll just continue to do what I do and be honest and open. People can take it or leave it.”

Silveira admits that when he’s at his unhappiest, his music flows out.  But he was thrilled at being named Sexiest Man in Canada by music magazine Chart Attack — or at least, had a good laugh.

“When I found out, I giggled. But I was happy to be nominated because it legitimized me as a rock male musician. And then I won! I thought this is hilarious if nothing for the fact that a trans man won.”

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New Voices returns to COH

New voicesRarely do you expect a church concert with the following disclaimer: “Some language not suitable for all audiences.” I mean, as a gay-welcoming congregation, the Cathedral of Hope realizes its parishioners can’t always be pristine angels — a curse word might leak out here and there.

COH and Club 119 Productions brings back New Voices, a songwriter showcase benefiting the COH AIDS Crisis Fund featuring a cast of fresh-faced singers. Pastor Rusty Baldridge assures this isn’t going to be a service — hence the disclaimer. “Just think of it as a cabaret, but without the tables and chairs — and liquor.”

— R.L.

Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. Aug. 1 at 7 p.m. $10. CathedralOfHope.com.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 30, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas