Musical ornaments

Queer music faves decorate the concert landscape this week

Concerts-ArtThis is one of those weeks that really speaks to LGBT music lovers, with live music options across the spectrum — from choral to techno and some local indies in between. Clearly, Dallas is on Santa’s “nice” list.

— Rich Lopez

Moby

Moby2

The electronica superstar comes to town to perform a DJ set at the Lizard Lounge as the club celebrates its 20th anniversary. This is almost full circle for Moby as he performed at the nightlife institution two decades ago. The queer artist returns to the club as a Grammy-nominated musician and an electronica icon.

Saturday at Lizard Lounge,
2424 Swiss Ave. Doors at 8 p.m. $50–$75.
TheLizardLounge.com.

……………………..

 Tori Amos
ToriAmos-300RGB(3)A queen of eclectic music, Amos has gone orchestral in this year’s Night of Hunters. Like scotch, Amos can be an acquired taste, but her ethereal voice and insane amount of talent wins over audiences who get to catch her live. She has the enchanting aura of Stevie Nicks, but that smooth operator delivery is all her own.

Thursday at the Verizon Theatre,
1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie. 8 p.m. $39.50–$59.50.
Ticketmaster.com.

……………………..

The Women’s Chorus of Dallas

ImthurnThis Peace on Earth concert is a family affair as TWCD brings in a children’s choir and local fave Anton Shaw. The ladies will offer traditional music to some holiday rockin’ with conductor Melinda Imthurn and likely create a new holiday experience.

Sunday at the Wyly Theater,
2401 Flora St. 7 p.m. $30.
TWCD.org.

……………………..

Turtle Creek Chorale

TCCholidayStage300dpiLet’s face it: The chorale’s holiday show is a signature — the holidays just aren’t the same without their glorious hymns and wacky antics rolled into one. Interim conductor Trey Jacobs leds a solid show in My Favorite Things that delivers the cheer and the warmth that’s expected from the guys this time of year.

Wednesday at the Meyerson Symphony Center,
2301 Flora St. 8 p.m. $16–$65.
TurtleCreek.org.

……………………..

Jim Brickman

Brickman
The elegance of popular pianist Brickman is never lost during the holiday season. He brings back his “Christmas Celebration” concert to North Texas, and while he enchanted us at the Meyerson this past January, he’ll be tickling our ivories in Cowtown at Bass Hall this time. Either way, he makes it look a lot more like Christmas when he’s around.

Monday At Bass Hall,
525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. 7:30 p.m. $33–$82.
BassHall.com.

……………………..

CHIX

ChixThis local band has been chipping away at the scene and coming into their own with both covers and originals. With gigs at Mable Peabody’s in Denton and Jet Set in Uptown, they got the gig they’ve been waiting for with a Sunday show in November at Sue Ellen’s. Band member Nikki Stallen called it the best show they’ve had. Now they headline Saturday night  and with a growing fan base, they’re hoping to pack the house.

Saturday at Sue Ellen’s,
3014 Throckmorton St. 9:30 p.m.
SueEllens.com.

……………………..

Emmeline

Emmeline
Local indie chick Emmeline is no stranger to queer audiences, making a strong impression at Twist Dallas, which features mostly LGBT musicians. Organizer SuZanne Kimbrell booked Emmeline not just for her talent, but also to “bridge the gap” between straight and gay. She heads north to Denton with killer keyboards and an oh-so-lovely voice.

Saturday at Café Du Luxe,
3101 Unicorn Lake Blvd., Denton. 8 p.m.
ReverbNation.com/Emmeline.

……………………..

Infidelix and Immigrant Punk

Queer artists Infidelix, pictured, and world music renegade Immigrant Punk may be rough and tough on the outside, but this show proves they can be softies. The two acts join a hefty lineup of locals for the Wreck the Mics to Christmas Lights show in Denton. The show is a toy drive for low-income families in the area. Bring a new, unwrapped toy and then throw down for Infidelix’s hip-hop stylings and Immigrant Punk’s hardcore fusion of rock, rap and
Spanish influence. (Boombachs, Wild Billand Ewok are also on the bill.)

Monday at Hailey’s,
122 West Mulberry St., Denton.
Doors at 9 p.m. $5–$7.
HaileysClub.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Safe bet

Turtle Creek Chorale plays it safe for the holidays — and it shows

concert-2

SANTA’S BACK | The Turtle Creek Chorale continues its tradition of bringing ol’ Saint Nick out for its Christmas concert, but some tweaks might make the show feel more contemporary. (Photo courtesy TCC)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Tradition is a funny thing, especially during the holidays. Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas without Charlie Brown and his sad little tree, or driving through neighborhoods to gawk at the twinkling lights. But while changing routines can shake things up, it’s also a good way to start new traditions.

In the Turtle Creek Chorale’s holiday show My Favorite Things, many of the chorus’ traditions remain intact: The poinsettia dedication, Santa Claus ho-ho-hoing it up, a sign-language version of “Silent Night,” But a spike in the egg nog would not be out of place.

To be fair, the chorale underwent some major changes in the last few months, appointing both a new executive director, David Fisher, and interim conductor, Trey Jacobs, who has had to hit the ground running with a season (and dates!) already announced. You can grant them some slack for that, but the chorale’s opening concert, while at times inspiring, could also feel anemic.

Getting off to an energetic start, a crew of members tells the audience about their indulgences before launching into the show’s title track performance. A humorous and high-spirited tone kicked off the show gloriously, followed by the gorgeously majestic “Gloria Fanfare.” Jacobs wields a confident hold over the solid-sounding voices of the chorale. But that energy takes a major nosedive with a troika of serious and somber numbers.

The small Encore group turn up the silly factor with “An Elf’s Life” but miss the mark. The voices are reliable, but the cast lacks the panache needed for the bit to soar. The number is saved by an Occupy North Pole elf that generates major laughs and applause. The first act ends almost as soon as it begins with spirits high in the always punchy “We Need a Little Christmas.”

Although I don’t quite get the monks-versus-nuns concept for “Hallelujah,” the second half opener is hilarious as singers combine flag corps and Bob Dylan, lifting lyrics on cards in choreographed fashion. Whether on purpose or not, the small mistakes with upside-down cards or missed signals add a comic layer that hopefully they’ll keep.

The same can be said for “Jingle Bells,” as members demonstrate some fancy foot-stepping — part ballet, part drill team, but charming as heck. When confusion ensues as they link arms, it ends up being flat-out hysterical, adding volumes to the light-hearted tone.

These gaffes contribute wonderful charm to the show. But they might consider reverting from the live retelling of “The Christmas Story According to Linus” to the actual recording; a man dressed as Linus just doesn’t convey the tender heart of the original. The accompanying live Nativity only reminds me of my one-line role as a shepherd in my elementary school play, and The Sound of Music’s Maria is a running gag through the show that never quite works.

At times, My Favorite Things is weighed down by an abundance of downbeat songs in succession, and a lack of contemporary tunes does allow for younger audiences (not children necessarily, either) to be reeled in. The twenty-somethings in front of me didn’t seem to connect with the show, giggling and whispering during some of the songs.

But My Favorite Things is still a solid show, even with some misguided nuances. Opening night jitters were apparent, but gave an unexpectedly welcome relief to the concert. Fisher’s poinsettia dedication was anecdotal and beautifully poetic and Jacobs handled the chorale and the audience with experienced savvy. The dreary rain and biting cold didn’t dampen the audience as that other annual chorale tradition occurred: The standing ovation.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 9, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

The new guys

The Turtle Creek Chorale bounces back with a new management team but the same commitment to being forever turtle

Concerts

SYNERGY OF NECESSITY | Trey Jacobs, front, was chosen as the interim conductor of the Turtle Creek Chorale only weeks after David Fisher, rear, assumed his position as its new executive director. On Sunday, they will oversee the inaugural concert for both, launching the chorale’s 32nd season. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Life+Style Editor
jones@dallasvoice.com

David Fisher hadn’t even started his first day on the job as the new executive director of the Turtle Creek Chorale last summer when the word came down: The then-current artistic director, Jonathan Palant, was leaving his post, effective immediately. Forget about setting up pictures of his husband and son on his desk; there would be time for housekeeping later. Right now, they had a bigger priority: Finding someone to lead the 180-member gay men’s chorus.

If ever there was a definition of hitting the ground running, this was surely it.

Arts administration is nothing new Fisher, who for years has worked with Dallas’ Office of Cultural Affairs and founded the Festival ofIndependent Theatres. But managing the chorale was uncharted territory for him. Before he’d even learned the names of all his co-workers, he and the chorale needed to find an interim conductor.

In walked Trey Jacobs.

Jacobs had worked in choral music since 1980, although his closest connection to Texas before now was living in Fort Worth for a time in the mid-1980s. Then, while attending a choral convention in San Antonio in 1993, he heard, for the first time, the TCC sing live.

“I was so moved by the beauty of these men’s voices,” he says. “I became a huge fan and started collecting their CDs.”

For the last four years, Jacobs has worked at Eastern Michigan University, but two-plus years of that has mandated a long-distance relationship — his partner had taken a job in Mobile, Ala. — grew too much. In July, “I took a huge leap of faith and resigned” from the university without having a new job in place. Two weeks later, the chorale called. He jumped at the opportunity.

Together, Jacobs and Fisher, along with interim assistant conductor Sean Baugh, formed a quick partnership. Both newcomers in their own way, they have leveraged their skills to manage a smooth transition.

“Trey has such a long history with chorale music, and the chorale fits all of his artistic sensibilities,” Fisher explains, while “I know the

Dallas scene and the community, but little about choral music.” Such symbiosis has helped them go from greenhorns to concert in barely nine weeks. The proof will be the performance this  Sunday of Messiah, the inaugural concert for both at the TCC and the season premiere for the 32-year old chorus.

Although the chorale’s season had already been planned by Palant before his departure, Jacobs says the specific programs had not been laid out. That has allowed him the flexibility to add his own artistic elements and opportunities to express his own ideas.

The cornerstone of the performance, of course, will be selections from Handel’s Messiah, sung in conjunction with other local choruses, but the first act will be a set highlighting favorite numbers from the chorale’s storied repertoire, including “We’re Not Lost, We’re Here” — the first song the chorale ever performed in concert.

The process has been complicated. Jacobs quit his job in Michigan to spend more time with his partner in Alabama. Presently, Jacobs is still living in Mobile, commuting in to Dallas about once a week for rehearsals, while working remotely with Baugh to get the singers prepared. He’s in town more this week leading up to Sunday, and expects he’ll be here almost constantly in December as the holiday concerts approach.

“The [singers] have been incredibly receptive,” Jacobs says, saying his partner has also been unendingly supportive. “I see it in their eyes — they are so excited.”

But while the chorale has an eye toward the future, including a nationwide search for a new permanent artistic director, Fisher and Jacobs stress that for now, Jacobs’ focus is solely on the task.

“One of the stipulations of the contract is not to focus on next season,” Fisher says.

“The interim position was an 11-month contract or until a new artistic director is hired,” Jacobs adds, noting that he has not applied for the permanent post. Instead, he’s concentrating on Sunday’s concert.

“First and foremost I want, from the first night, the audience to be struck thinking, ‘BAM! That’s the Turtle Creek Chorale.’ That sound that is so specific to them, I want recognized from all who attend.”

But there’s another factor everyone who knows the chorale is familiar with, and it’s not about the music per se; it’s about showmanship.

“It’s absolutely crucial,” Jacobs agrees. “I’m stealing this from [former TCC artistic director] Tim Seelig, but what I heard from him is: Every concert should have a gasp, a tear and a chill bump, in whatever capacity. That’s something I’ve always believed in, too.”

When the concert’s over, maybe Fisher will finally take a deep breath and find time to put up those pictures.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Chorale names interim director

Trey Jacobs

The Turtle Creek Chorale has a new conductor — for now.

Trey Jacobs, who until recently was an assistant professor of choral activities at Eastern Michigan University and who currently lives in Mobile, Ala., with his partner, has been tapped to serve as conductor of the TCC for its upcoming season.

The season, which was planned by Dr. Jonathan Palant before his sudden departure last month as artistic director of the TCC, begins on Oct. 23, but for the past month or so, no one person has led the music portion of the troupe. Jacobs fills that duty, effective immediately, and will perform as the interim conductor during the 2011-12 season, according to Dawson Taylor, chairman of the chorale board.

The chorale announced in July that it would immediately begin a nationwide search for a new artistic director, a process that is expected to take six months or more.

Interestingly, both Jacobs and Palant are veterans of Michigan State University: Jacobs recently completed his doctoral work there, and Palant has degrees from there as well as the University of Michigan and Temple University.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones