Pick a show

This week deals out all kinds of live music. But what’s gay about ’em?

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

THREE OF A KIND Green Day, left, Sheryl Crow, center, and Chromeo are just a few of this week’s concert offerings.

As if dueling Billy Idol and Kenny G concerts weren’t enough — not to mention the residual bloodbath therefrom — this week in music is all over the place. From rock turned Broadway punks to a local lesbian favorite, pretty much everything is covered.

Here is some lowdown on this week’s concert calendar and why might the gays head out to see. At the very least, you can imagine any number of combinations of Show vs. Show and determine which would come out on top.

Sheryl Crow

Crow started as a mere rocker chick with a guitar but over the years transformed into one hot cougar. Her gay appeal, though, is rather lacking. She doesn’t offer much drag inspiration in either song or look, despite being gorgeous and fit. Lance Armstrong isn’t a hunky enough lover for the gays to be overly jealous of and she may have some lesbian appeal, but she’s no Melissa.

She has embraced her cougar hotness, though, and at 48, is not afraid to bust out the microminis and show off her toned legs. Still, music is what she does best.

Despite her strong lineup of hits, Crow’s gay scale is average. QQR (Queer Quotient Rating): 50 out of 100.

Verizon Theatre, 1001 Performance Place, Grand Prairie. Aug. 26 at 8 p.m. $38–$78. Ticketmaster.com.

Green Day

Sixteen years ago, the punk rock trio’s CD Dookie took the music world by storm, reminiscent of the brash Beastie Boys a decade earlier. Since then, they’ve kept a strong edge but matured into one of today’s more important bands.

So what could three punksters from Berkeley have in common with the queer community? A lot.

With their breakthrough, they hit the road with queercore band Pansy Division as the opening act. Despite Division’s newfound exposure, not all fans were fond of the gays. Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong took time to defend the band and at some points, even threatened not to go on if people weren’t giving Division due respect.

Green Day did the ultimate queeny step by turning the landmark 2004 album American Idiot into a Broadway musical. The show ended up with Tony nominations and the punks even performed on the 2010 telecast.

Clearly, Green Day has some good gay mojo — and a high QQR: 85.

With AFI. SuperPages.com Center, 1818 First Ave. Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. $20–$85. LiveNation.com.

Chromeo

You might call this electrofunk duo newbies to the music scene, but their 2007 release Fancy Footwork broke the sophomore album curse and put the duo on the music map. Their club-ready sound has been compared to bubbly ’80s pop, most notably Hall and Oates. And yet they make it work. They add a dash of humor to their flow with songs like “Me and My Man” and “Tenderoni.” Their appearance on Darryl Hall’s reality show, Live From Darryl’s House performing “No Can Do” is outstanding.

Not a lotta gay going on, but they’re changing the face of dance music with their electrofunk and remixes of other artists. An average QQR: 65 — but their performance with Hall should win new fans.

With Holy Ghost!, Telephoned. Palladium Ballroom, 1135 S. Lamar. Aug. 25 at 8 p.m. $30. ThePalladiumBallroom.com.

Amy Hanaialii Gilliom & Deborah Vial

Deborah Vial used to grace the local scene singing at Sue Ellen’s, but turned in her cowboy boots for grass skirts by relocating to Hawaii in 2004. She’s never forgotten her Dallas roots, though, and comes back often. This time, she’s bringing a friend.

Vial returns with Amy Hanaialii Gilliom, who has been referred to as “the voice of Hawaii” and has snagged four Grammy nominations during her career. The two have teamed up for the road and Vial is figuring Gilliom will be a hit in Dallas — or at the very least, expand audience ears to the islands of Hawaii.

Vial’s presence pretty much puts this show at a perfect QQR: 100.

House of Blues Cambridge Room, 2200 N. Lamar St. Aug. 20 at 8 p.m. $25. HouseOfBlues.com.

Battle of the Bands: The Dyke Clones and Vent

Sigh — where to begin? Open Door Productions usually books an impressive roster of lesbian musicians and comedians. This time, they offer a “Battle of the Bands” and miss the mark all over the place. Despite the title, only two bands are performing and we’re never sure what they are battling for. An audience, perhaps?

They don’t win any favor with the Dyke Clones write up. “An absolutely funny group of gals who not only lip-sync the words but also finger-sync the instruments. We’ll just describe them as musical drag queens.” Despite Open Door’s enthusiasm, this has about as much musical appeal as the Church of Christ. They are followed up by Vent, who covers the likes of Ani DiFranco and Katy Perry.  If you’re yawning by this point, you’re not alone.

For its support of lesbian talent, Open Door gets a good QQR 100 — but the show itself tanks.

Heart and Soul Coffeehouse, 4615 E. California Parkway, Fort Worth. Aug. 21 at 7:30 p.m. $7.50. OpenDoorProductionsTX.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 20, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Changed women


Cyndi and Anne take different directions on latest releases


Cyndi Lauper and Anne McCue
WHO’S THAT GIRL? | Venturing into different genres, Lauper, above, and McCue change their music game by trying on new sounds.

RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer lopez@dallasvoice.com

3 out of 5 stars
Broken Promise Land
Anne McCue
Flying Machine Records
…………………………………

With four albums under her belt, Anne McCue takes a musical turn on her fifth, Broken Promise Land. She veers from her usual acoustic fare and plugs her guitar in to satisfying effect. With some high pedigreed musicians backing her up, Promise Land works — except that she drowns out her vocals so much.

McCue’s step is a valiant effort, but the album plays as if it’s wearing a veil. A muddled production takes away the drive and her vocals are reduced to unintentional mumbling. Either that or I got a bad copy. Much is lost in the album’s final production value that she, um, also produced.

Beyond that, it isn’t half bad. Promise Land opens with the strong “Don’t Go To Texas (Without Me),” a vibrant ode to an almost lost lover. This is also the album’s first single and its most commercial. Had she put the closing song, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Outlaw.” next to “Texas,” the album would make more a declarative impression of her rocker chick ways. Instead, we downshift into the slower “Ol’ Black Sky.”

McCue has a nice grip on the dreamy rocker song ala The Doors’ “Riders on the Storm.” She’s never as epic but McCue maintains a magical latch to keep an audience alongside her. Her voice, which is notoriously thin on this album, is suitable for this and similar songs “Motorcycle Dream,” and “The Old Man’s Talkin’.” The trio of songs is seductive and lulls the listener into fascinating depths of aural journeys.

Her guitar growls on “Lonesome Child” and follows a similar galloping gait in “Cruisin’ Paradise (Tenerife)” and the title track. However, she almost falls victim to it. McCue almost wants too much to break away from her usual sound, that her guitar playing takes center stage and begs the question: Who is the star of this album, Anne McCue or her guitar playing?

McCue never lashes out vocally until “Outlaw” when she had plenty of opportunity in the nine songs prior. She felt restrained and almost afraid to have at it vocally. Perhaps a part of her thinks she’s not ready to be the next Joan Osborne or Sheryl Crow.

But if Broken Promise Land is any sign, then she’s at least not far off.


3.5 out of 5 stars

Memphis Blues
Cyndi Lauper
Mercer Street Records
…………………………………..

Two things are absolutely true when you put Memphis Blues on. First, if you don’t like blues music, you won’t like this one. Second, if you’re a Cyndi Lauper devotee, you may wonder what she’s up to.

Calling this the album she’s always wanted to record, Lauper heads to the south for some blues on her 11th CD. Boiled down, this is a cover album, but consider it a celebration of the genre. Lauper may not be vocally adept for this style, but her appreciation shows in both her conviction of delivery and some star-studded help from the likes of Allen Toussaint, Jonny Lang and B.B. King.

Lauper’s signature voice is a little too quirky for these blues bits as in the bawdy “Just Your Fool”or “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.” She doesn’t have that soulful quality or throaty longing in most blues, but her efforts are respectable. Lauper is giving herself all to this style and the good intentions don’t go unnoticed.

In fact, the album plays more like Lauper the actress singing rather than the pop star. Her performance is just that instead of an emotional delivery. The artist isn’t saying much here that would further her credibility, but she has fun here like she’s introducing listeners to some old friends of hers.

Her raspiness though is ideal for the slower tracks. “Down So Low” reflects that bluesy downtrodden tone while “Romance in the Dark” makes the most of her nasally vibrato which can be an acquired taste. But here, she’s less gymnastic with her vocals. She gives in to the song and almost lets it take her where she needs to go.

The music itself is lush. Blues may play better with some grit, but Lauper and Scott Bomar have produced some intricate layers of horns, drums and guitars that are as comfortable as any Serta mattress. Lang’s and Toussaint’s appearances are most prominent but when Lang chimes in on “How Blue Can You Get?,” all is just right with the world.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition June 25, 2010.

—  Dallasvoice