Patty Griffin: The gay interview

Patty1Editor’s note: Patty Griffin, the Texas-based singer-songwriter, will perform in Dallas on Thursday at the Majestic with blues legend Mavis Staples. We sat down with the artist to talk about her two albums released in 2014, and her gay fans.

By Chris Azzopardi

There are singers, there are songwriters … and then there’s Patty Griffin. Not only has the celebrated songstress been praised for her versatility, Griffin’s untouchable talent has earned her a Grammy and landed her material on releases from some of the industry’s biggest names. For artists seeking poetic musings (and really sad songs), Griffin is a go-to. And besides, the Dixie Chicks, Kelly Clarkson, Bette Midler and Emmylou Harris have all given a second life to the writer’s rootsy tunes.

Griffin’s own catalogue, though, is immense, and just this last year she added two more gems to her repertoire: American Kid, a work of staggering genius that, not surprisingly, topped many best-of lists, and Silver Bell, her “lost” LP, shelved by her then-label, that was released 13 years after she recorded it. She’ll perform (probably from both albums) alongside Mavis Staples at the Majestic on Nov. 13.

From her hometown down the road in Austin, Griffin — who also draws inspiration from her spouse, Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant — chatted about feeling like a “weirdo,” which song of hers helped a kid come out to his parents and getting over her religious prejudices to record a gospel album. — Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: American Kid is obviously very connected to your late father, who was dying as you were writing it. What is the most difficult song for you to get through live? Patty Griffin: I don’t think I have a great deal of difficulty getting through them. My emotional response varies from night to night, and there are times when that can make it hard to sing, but there hasn’t been one in particular that’s gotten me too emotional to sing. It’s all emotional.

It’s been really great to have songs in my own life that speak about him. I didn’t think about it at the time, about honoring him; I was just trying to get myself through him passing away. I didn’t think about how great it would be later to tell his story, at least from my point of view. I don’t know how thrilled he’d be about some of these things!

How is creating and performing music a catharsis for you? To me, it’s just my nature. It’s how I’m built. I feel like I have to do it, you know? I think anybody who’s a musician who gets to be 50 and is still a musician, that’s really how they’re built. They really have to do it. So it’s very second nature to me. It’s really, really not hard for me to express myself that way.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

WATCH: Big Freedia at NX35 Conferette

Big Freedia

So you might think Lady Gaga’s mini-gig Sunday night at Round-Up and S4 was the gayest show of the weekend, but sissy bounce superstar Big Freedia likely gives her a run for her money, albeit with bearded hipsters instead of club-going gays. The Denton conferette is North Texas’ answer to SXSW and they outdid themselves this year with a packed lineup including the likes of higher profile names like Mavis Staples, !!! and, yes, Big Freedia. And a few locals as well.

After the jump are three vids posted of Big Freedia’s performance, which isn’t much different than the vid I took of his show back in December.

—  Rich Lopez

NX35 Music Conferette ends today in Denton

Denton deals a pair of queens

The NX35 Music Conferette gets underway for a four-day music conference in little ol’ Denton. Little D’s answer to SXSW, NX35 gets way impressive with some pretty familiar names on the roster. The fest begins with legendary soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples and continues with outrageous sissy bouncer Big Freedia, pictured, on Saturday.

Visit here for Sunday’s schedule.

DEETS: NX35 event grounds, 110 W. Hickory St., Denton. Through March 13. 35Conferette.com

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 03.04

A true international male
Nikolai Alekseev has become the face of Russia’s LGBT community. He comes to Dallas to discuss the plight and triumphs of gays worldwide and how today’s community can work toward equality everywhere. Gay Liberation Network’s Andy Thayer from Chicago joins Alekseev talking about his experiences in Russia.
DEETS: Interfaith Peace Chapel, 5910 Cedar Springs Road. 7 p.m. InterfaithPeaceChapel.org.

Saturday 03.05

Let’s try this again, shall we?
Caven celebrates Mardi Gras across its clubs with Carnivale VI. With Ricky Sinz at TMC: The Mining Company and aerial artist Amber Monson at Sue’s, the night is highlighted by the return of Cazwell at Station 4. We’re not expecting the same Super Bowl party debacle that canceled his last show here. We are expecting a major crowd, if it’s anything like his last S4 gig.
DEETS: Station 4, 3911 Cedar Springs Road. $15–$20. PartyatTheBlock.com

Thursday 03.10

Denton deals a pair of queens
The NX35 Music Conferette gets underway for a four-day music conference in little ol’ Denton. Little D’s answer to SXSW, NX35 gets way impressive with some pretty familiar names on the roster. The fest begins with legendary soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples and ends with outrageous sissy bouncer Big Freedia on Saturday.
DEETS: NX35 event grounds, 110 W. Hickory St., Denton. 35Conferette.com

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 4, 2011.

—  John Wright