Before you see Melissa Etheridge at the Majestic, read this

Last month we ran an interview with music legend (and gay icon) Melissa Etheridge. Next week, the lesbian rocker will be performing live in Dallas at a concert at the Majestic. (You can get tickets here.) Before you see her in concert, though, you might wanna check out the interview, in which she talks about how she relaxes before a concert, dealing with the Trump presidency how she feels about gay activism. Read it here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Melissa Etheridge: The gay interview

Second in a series of interviews with musician/activists this week.

“You keep doing what you’re doing, you keep being out, you keep being beautiful,” Melissa Etheridge tells me, as if to emphasize the present-day significance of simply being your queer self.

The Grammy-winning rock icon, whose coming out at the height of her career in the early ’90s paved the way for many in the LGBT community, knows the gravity mere visibility can have on the world. On the heels of our interview with Indigo Girls, Etheridge, 55 — who will be performing in concert June 29 at the Majestic — brings her centered thoughtfulness to our conversation about the precise career moments when her music incited momentous change, the influence Donald Trump is having on her latest “empowered” songwriting sessions, and why she’s not sweating the “big bully in the schoolyard.”

— Chris Azzopardi

Dallas Voice: Melissa, if there was ever a time to drink your weed wine, it’s gotta be now and for the next four years. Etheridge (laughing): Tell me about it!

Can you send me a crate? You do need it, don’t you? Oh my god, I wish I could. I wish I could get it out of [California], but I’m working on it.

Does that stuff help you write? Does it get the words flowing? You know what, I’m not as much of a drinker. I actually just smoke, and yes, smoking helps me write very much — smoking helps me every day.

Is it sativa you smoke for writing? For writing I smoke sativa; otherwise, if I’m not writing, I don’t use sativa because it would just make me run around in circles. [Laughs]

You know, when it comes to marijuana, I’m still learning. Aww. The whole product thing that I’ve got going, called Etheridge Farms — part of what we really want to be is sort of the “Cannabis for Dummies.” I can really take everybody through this … and this is good medicine! It’s good for you. And I’ll show you the choices and how to do it if you’re scared and stuff; that’s really what I want my brand to be. It’s about wellness and sort of walking people through this. It’s a very good time to take a breath and know that this too shall pass, and it’s making us all better.

Do you really believe that message – this is making us all better, that “this too shall pass?” I do. I have to. It’s my worldview. It’s my belief in the world, and I do have a belief that the universe doesn’t give us anything we cannot handle. All of this is cementing and making stronger our desire to live in a world that celebrates diversity. We know because the last eight years we’ve been riding on this incredibly amazing wave of, wow, we can all do this, we can live and let live and be stronger, and to borrow [Hillary Clinton’s] battle cry, be “stronger together.” Sometimes that being taken away from us and being confronted with what the world would be like without it is what makes that desire stronger, so obviously, it makes us stand up and take to the streets and say, “No, this is not how we want to live, this is not the American dream and let’s change that.”

Well, because we have to – we’re forced to. I was listening to your song “What Happens Tomorrow,” from 2007, and it gave me so much hope then and it’s giving so much hope now. But also, at the same time, I can’t help but feel bittersweet hearing, “I believe a woman can work hard and succeed, and we could be content to believe that she could be in charge of the free, and be the president,” knowing Hillary isn’t in the Oval Office right now.  I still believe in it. I know it was hard. We will never forget what that was like in November and January. We will never forget. We will tell our children. I have 10 year olds and said, “Look, this is an important time in history and you’re going to tell people that you were alive when this happened.”

Creatively speaking, is the current political climate shaping your new music? Are you writing songs about all this? Of course. I think we’re going to see more music talking about it, more music coming from that, and my music has kind of — I’ve always had a bit of that in my music. So, right now is a writing time for me. This whole year. And I can’t help but be influenced by it. I don’t want to put out a protest album, because I’m hoping in two years it will be moot and that we will have figured this all out, and yet I want it to be inspiring and speaking of our times because these, I think, are very important times.

What you do so well is put a face on an issue or event, like your song about Matthew Shepard, “Scarecrow,” and “Tuesday Morning,” an LGBT-rights rally cry centered on the late Mark Bingham, who sacrificed his life to save others in the Sept. 11 attacks. I imagine that might be the direction you’d go in. It’s funny, I haven’t really told anybody what I’m up to, but that’s exactly it — putting a face to it. I’m finding stories and really taking that way in.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PULSE: Melissa Etheridge responds to Orlando massacre with music

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Lesbian singer/songwriter Melissa Etheridge has written a new song, “Pulse,” in response to the shooting at the Orlando gay nightclub Pulse early Sunday morning, June 12, Rolling Stone reports.

The song begins with the lyrics, “Everybody’s got a pain inside/Imaginary wounds they fight to hide/How can I hate them, when everybody’s got a pulse?” The refrain calls for unity in the fight against hate: I am human; I am love/And my heart beats with my blood/Love will always win/Underneath the skin, everybody’s got a pulse.”

“I’m dealing with it the way I deal, which is, I wrote a song,” Etheridge told Rolling Stone. “I just sat here, and I just started writing a song… That’s how I first started to cope … . I feel called to speak; to do what musicians do. We’ve been the town criers for hundreds of years. We’re mirrors of society. We want to try to make sense. We want to try to heal. We want to bring some meaning, some purpose. We also want to put it down forever in history. That’s how I’m coping.”

Etheridge went into the studio Monday, June 13, with Jerry Wonda to record the new song, which she named after the nightclub where the shooting happened because “there’s just something very poetic and very meaningful about the name,” she told Rolling Stone. “You just start thinking about your own pulse. It’s the way I’ve always felt about the gay movement, the gay issue. Here we are — people who are loving; we are fighting for who we want to love.”

Etheridge said the song will be available to purchase soon, and that proceeds will be donated to an LGBT charity.

Listen to “Pulse” here.

—  Tammye Nash

Travel diary: Kathy, Melissa set sail

Comedy and music hit the high seas; Virgin to launch Hawaii service this summer

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The Carnival Breeze

Kathy

CARIBBEAN QUEENS | Gay fave Kathy Griffin makes us laugh on dry land already, and will really rock the boat for two concerts in Cozumel, Mexico this month.

Gay icons take to the seas in 2016!

First up: Legendary ally Kathy Griffin helps expand the Carnival Cruise Line’s “live” performance series, expanding it from music to comedy.

Griffin is the featured entertainer on two cruises leaving from South Florida this month, performing while the liners are docked in Cozumel, Mexico. She’ll perform Feb. 24 on the four-day Carnival Fantasy cruise, and again the next night (Feb. 25) on the six-day Carnival Breeze. (I’ll be aboard the Breeze — which starts in Miami and goes to Jamaica and Grand Cayman on the way to Cozumel — and be tweeting and posting during the trip.) There are still tickets available. Visit Carnival.com to book, and maybe I’ll see you at sea!

Not to be outdone, rock goddess Melissa Etheridge will host her own “rock the boat” cruise to the Caribbean this fall. The cruise sets sail from Tampa on Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas ship on Halloween and returns Nov. 5. In between, you’ll see Melissa and special guests Joan Jett and the Blackhearts perform on the way to Key West and Cozumel. More guests will be announced as the date nears. You can reserve a cabin now at MelissaEtheridgeCruise.com.

If you like to get to your islands by airplane, Virgin America has a suggestion. The funky airline is launching daily direct service from Los Angeles to Hawaii  — both Honolulu on Oahu (starting May 5) and Kahului on Maui (starting June 14). And with non-stop flights also offered from Love Field to LAX, it’s a quick hop to get you to Barack Obama’s (alleged) birth state. (We kid, we kid….)

For those who prefer to stay on dry land entirely, the historic Ye Kendall Inn in Boerne, Texas, is under new ownership. A jewel of the Hill Country, this ante-bellum mansion was converted to a hotel in the late 1880s and was named Ye Kendall Inn in 1909. Reservations for a small-town-Texas experience can be made at YeKendallInn.com.

Finally, if you’re still not fully done with winter — and didn’t get to enjoy it enough with all our warm weather — there’s still one more major North American gay ski week of the season. Mammoth Gay Ski Week in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains takes place March 16–20. You can pre-order your passes and book lodging at ElevationGaySki.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition February 12, 2016.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

For gay music lovers — or lovers of gay musicians — there couldn’t be a better weekend for you. On Saturday, Melissa Etheridge arrives at the Majestic, performing songs off her new highly-acclaimed album 4th Street Feeling. The same night two miles away, Diamond Rings opens for Stars at the Granada. A Sophie’s choice, perhaps, but two very different styles. (If it helps make up your mind, you can enter to win free tickets to see Diamond Rings.) A third style requires less decisionmaking: Rufus Wainwright will perform Live at the Meyerson on Sunday night with his inimitable sound.

This is also a busy weekend for movies, with already-heralded horror movie Sinister likely to be the weekend’s big hit. It will be competing again The Paperboy (with a great gay twist and strong performances) and the studio prestige picture Argo, both of which could be Oscar contenders come January. Atlas Shrugged (not screened for critics — that says a lot) and the action-comedy from Oscar winner Martin McDonaugh, Seven Psychopaths, are also out there.

For theater lovers, there are no major openings this weekend, but Uptown Players continues its run of Hello Again, a dark but unexpectedly funny idyll on sex. Also unexpectedly funny: The Addams Family, featuring a charismatic performance by Douglas Sills as Gomez. Best of all: Freud’s Last Session, a whip-smart and fascinating, quick (75 minute) imagined meeting between atheist Freud and Christian novelist C.S. Lewis, with great performances by Jac Alder and Cameron Cobb.

Finally, in the lead-up to the World Gay Rodeo championship next weekend, Friday and Sunday mark the public events for the titles of Mr., Mrs. Ms. and MsTer TGRA 2013, with the competition Friday at the Rose Room and the sashes passing from last year’s royalty to this year’s winners on Sunday at the Round-Up.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

A few lesbian moms who rock

Happy Mother's Day, Sarah Bettens! You rock!

In honor of all the queer moms, we took a quick peek at a few lesbian musicians who juggle their time between their kiddos and their fans. From folk to rock and everything in between, the list of lesbian musician moms is a long one, so I kept it short and sweet.

Who are some of your fave celebrity LGBT rocker mothers? Just tell us only after you’ve honored your own.

See the list after the jump:

—  Rich Lopez

LISTEN: Top 10 Christmas songs by LGBT artists

Yes, Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole will likely make appearances today singing their famous Christmas tunes, but queer artists have their signature contributions as well. I mean, Fred Schneider’s ridiculous humor may not compare with traditional carols, but he proves we need a little disco year round. And Pink Martini can croon just like the best of them.

Here’s a rundown of my top queer Christmas tunes for the day to add your to mix. Bing and Nat won’t mind the company.

10.  The Superions — “Christmas Disco” This album is a pure exercise in the absurd, but Fred Schneider’s side project turns the reverent holiday into a flat out house party.

—  Rich Lopez

Spin magazine posts special report on homophobia in indie rock

Leisha Hailey cried 'homophobia' when she was booted off a Southwestern flight. Other LGBT musicians have endured many different types of attacks while moving forward with their art.

Following the Leisha Hailey/Southwest Airlines incident, Spin magazine’s Rich Juzwiak wrote this piece on homopobia toward LGBT musicians, mostly independent ones. The article wasn’t just sparked by the plane episode (by the way, have you seen this?), but also by the bashing incident against Violent Lovers band members Brontez Purnell and Adal Castellon at Club Paradiso in Oakland in August and a few other accounts of out musicians suffering literally for their art.

The piece is compelling with perspectives by the likes of Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, Hunx and his Punx’s Seth Bogart and MEN’s JD Samson, all who have graced our pages or blog as well. While it may not answer questions or find solutions to homophobic tendencies in the industry, it does paint a picture of what smaller queer bands have to endure just to play music. From SPIN: ‘

Purnell, Hailey, and Grey are far from the first gay artists to encounter serious resistance as a result of their sexuality, of course. In fact, if you ask most out musicians about their experiences with homophobia, you’ll hear a story that will break your heart. I did, at least, when collecting anecdotes for this piece. Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt was pelted with bottles, rocks, and slurs outside a club in Philadelphia in the 1990s. Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart was called a “fag” and had lit cigarettes thrown at him onstage in 2003 in Austin, Texas. After Holly Miranda recently played her song “Pelican Rapids,” about Proposition 8, the 2008 California amendment restricting marriage as only between a man and a woman, she was confronted by a “big, burly door guy” who said that “if I got with him, he would make me do a 360,” says the singer-songwriter. “I was like, ‘I think you mean a 180. You’re more right than you know.'”

I would love to have heard input by the somewhat elder statesmen of LGBT music like Melissa Etheridge or Elton John. Does the homophobia go away once your big or is it just easier to shield away from with awards and gazillions of dollars.

Be sure and check it out.

 

—  Rich Lopez

GIVEAWAY: Two pairs of tickets to Melissa Etheridge at WinStar Casino on Saturday

Your plans this weekend could include a road trip to Thackerville, Okla. The peeps at WinStar Casino are giving us two pairs of tickets to giveaway to Melissa Etheridge’s show on Saturday. In case you missed her when she rolled through Dallas last year, you get one more chance, only it’s about an hour’s drive north. Not too bad for a queer icon, right?

I’ll pick two winners at random today at 4:30 p.m., but you gotta email me your answer to this question: Name two actresses have been in Etheridge’s videos and for which songs. Just put “Road Trip” in the subject line and your name and number in the email with the answer.

Good luck!

UPDATE: Two winners have been randomly selected to see Etheridge this weekend. Congrats to Debra W. who named Maggie Wagner in “Fearless Love” and Juliette Lewis in “Come to My Window.” Also, congratulations to Michael E. who listed Lewis as well as Gwyneth Paltrow in “I Wanna Come Over” and Jennifer Aniston in “I Want To Be In Love.” He also made the interesting point that each lady was romantically linked to Brad Pitt. I’d give ya bonus points if I could for that tidbit!

Thanks again to all who entered.

 

 

—  Rich Lopez

The constancy of change

Everything changes but the dedication of the Turtle Creek Chorale members, TCC president says

SEAN BAUGH  |  Special Contributor

In the song “Change,” Melissa Etheridge sings, “The only thing that stays the same is change.” As president of the Turtle Creek Chorale, I am here to tell you, that quote applies to all of us.

The Turtle Creek Chorale is not immune to change, and we have certainly experienced our share over the past 31 years.

Honestly, though, five artistic directors in 31 years? That’s a pretty good track record for leadership when compared with senior management trends in the non-profit and artistic communities.

Change came to us last week in the form of news that Dr. Jonathan Palant was leaving the chorale. Jonathan has been my friend as well as the chorus’ artistic director.

His departure is a tremendous loss for so many of us.

I know my fellow chorale members well enough to say that we’ll weather this change, just as we have weathered many a difficult time. We have survived the AIDS crisis; we can survive anything.

It is our daily challenges that make the Turtle Creek Chorale what we are today: a strong, resilient and dedicated community of singers, friends and brothers.

With comings and goings also come growth and an incredible journey. The chorale will continue to sing with an even stronger voice as we rally to support our new artistic leadership.

In the coming weeks we will begin a nationwide search for the next artistic director, and you can rest assured that he (or she!) will meet a vibrant and dedicated group of men that recognizes its history and lives up to its reputation as one of the finest choirs in the world.

As Melissa’s lyrics coax us:

“And so it goes
This too shall pass away
It cuts so strange
The only thing that stays the same
Is change.”

In the coming weeks, the Turtle Creek Chorale kicks off its 32nd season with auditions for new members and rehearsals starting Aug. 23. I invite you to join us either by purchasing season subscriptions, giving to the chorale or singing with the TCC.

We, the Turtle Creek Chorale — the decorated Dallas, Texas men’s chorus — will continue on our mission to entertain, educate, unite and uplift our community. We are, and will be, an organization that you can be proud of.

This — I can assure you Miss Etheridge — will never change.

Sean Baugh is president of Turtle Creek Chorale. For more information on the chorale, go online to TurtleCreekChorale.org

—  John Wright