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

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

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


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

Joe Farah’s well-worn recipe for railing about conservatives ‘destroying society’s foundation’


The list of conservatives surrendering has been noticed by the homosexual activists, as the homosexual blogger notes: “Ted Olson, Margaret Hoover, Meghan McCain, Glenn Beck, Laura Bush, Steve Schmidt, Cindy McCain, Charlie Baker, Elisabeth Hasselbeck … it’s like each day a new high-profile conservative jumps on the marriage equality bandwagon.”

I, for one, don’t plan on giving up. Someone needs to hold the celebrities accountable. Someone needs to offer correction. If we lose the battle over marriage, I’m not sure there’s much left to preserve. Marriage is literally the building block of our civilization. Destroy it and you destroy the foundation.

The enemy knows this.

— From his column, “Conservative surrender on same-sex marriage?”

Don’t you just love being “the enemy”? I’d love it more if we actually had more equality wins under our belt. But I digress…

WorldNetDaily’s Joseph Farah stepped away from his spittle-covered keyboard for a few days, but he’s back at it, continuing to repeat his despair over GOProud’s upcoming Homocon and the conservatives he says are contributing to the “destruction of society’s foundation” for supporting marriage equality.

I really don’t understand what is going on in Farah’s head; how many ways can he write the same tired diatribe — it’s a well-worn recipe:

1. Mention the traitors. Today he lists “Ted Olson, Margaret Hoover, Meghan McCain, Glenn Beck, Laura Bush, Steve Schmidt, Cindy McCain, Charlie Baker, Elisabeth Hasselbeck.” I know he’s getting that massive moustache wet with spit typing those names in.

2. Dump on Ann Coulter. Traitor #1 on his list. She has earned a special place in Farah’s hell for agreeing to headline Homocon; he publicly dumped her as a personal friend and rejected her for his fundie conference. She has to be mentioned in each column and e-blast. On Twitter he wails: “By the way, how come Ann Coulter is getting all the publicity and I’m the publicity whore?” Joe, you’re getting plenty of publicity, it’s just all bad.

3. Mention and trash “homosexual infiltrators” GOProud. Farah has done more to raise the profile of this upstart gay Republican group than any other single source. GOProud’s Chris Barron and Jimmy LaSalvia should write him a check for PR services. Farah’s problem with gay Republicans is that they were much more compliant in the closet. They were always there in the party and about a quarter of LGBTs still vote GOP anyway, so Farah’s just incensed that some have gotten too uppity and kicked open the political closet door.

4. Start the bible beating. Today’s column is pathetic on so many levels. We get hoary servings of Leviticus, Romans and Matthew. Joe is under the impression that many of these vile conservatives are fundies, and are bucking the man upstairs and should shake in fear. Look at this:

There is no middle ground on this issue. Either you believe the Bible or you don’t.

If you don’t, there are consequences. If you do, you are obligated to take a stand for righteousness. Of course, there are worldly consequences for that, too – for some apparently too great to accept.

Followers of Jesus have a choice: They can please God or please men. They can accept God’s laws, which are not burdensome, and obey them, or they can reject them and try to tickle the ears of men. They can offend God or offend men.

This is a huge assumption on Farah’s part. My guess is that most of the traitor conservatives mentioned above are either: 1) unchurched, and thus don’t care; 2) have a faith that is more open than Farah’s; 3) non-believers; and/or 4) simply tired and offended by the political bedroom-peeping proclivities of people like Farah dressed up as moral righteousness.

I’m sure they’ll take your suggestions under advisement, Joe.


* Today’s Joe Farah Cry for Help: Homocon represents GOP ‘appeasement of the open celebration of sin’

* WND’s Farah obsesses over GOProud’s ‘infiltration and subversion of the conservative movement’

* Mike Signorile interviews WND’s Farah – on Coulter’s ‘betrayal’: ‘My Eyes Have Been Opened’

* Coulter on fundie Take Back America confab: ‘They’re a bunch of fake Christians’

* WorldNetDaily’s Farah in complete meltdown as high-profile conservatives ’embrace the homos’
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright