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Archive for the ‘Transgender’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: BASIA BULAT-Live at Massey Hall (July 10, 2014).

Baia Bulat is an adorable singer.  She plays autoharp and ukulele and seems incredibly upbeat.  She also has a soaring, delightful voice.

About Massey Hall she says, “It’s not a stadium or a club, it feels huge and intimate ta the same time.”

She opens with “Run” in which she plays the autoharp (and you can actually hear it amid the other instruments).

Next up is a new song “Five, Four” with Basia on guitar with a cool almost sinister bass line.

For “Wires,” she stays on guitar.  This song is almost aggressively upbeat and is much more upbeat.  It also has a fun middle section in which she sings an Ooooh melody  (like a solo) into a microphone with a distortion that makes it sound a bit like a kazoo. Its super catchy.  She even takes that microphone and walks around, ultimately hopping of the stage and sitting in the front row (and the guy next to her of course pulls out his phone) to continue with the oohs.

“Tall Tall Shadow” is a slow moodier song with a great big chorus. They leave the stage and come back (I’m surprised they left in the whole encore scene).

When they comeback she says, “We’re on a curfew so we’re going to try to not get in trouble.”  For an encore it’s her and two other women.  One is playing a small 8-string ukulele as they sing “Before I Knew.”

When it’s over she asks, Am I allowed to sneak one more in?  Try not to get kicked out of Massey Hall!  She gets out the ukulele and plays that wonderful melody of “It Can’t Be You.”  Then she walks away from the mic and sings her heart out.  You can’t always hear her that clearly, but you can hear her hitting the soaring notes.

It’s funny that she worries about curfew and then sings a rather long song.

But it’s a great collection of songs and a beautiful set.

[READ: March 15, 2018] Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

I really enjoyed Kristin Cronn-Mills’ book Ugly Fake which was kind of novel/graphic novel hybrid.  This is one of her earlier stories and it is all novel.  It is about music and teen angst and high school.

And it’s about a girl named Elizabeth who is in fact a boy and wants to be known as Gabe.  He has recently revealed this to his parents and his best friend, Paige.  Paige has been nothing but supportive.  His parents are a little more mixed about it.  And of course he hasn’t told anyone at school.  But since he dresses gender-neutral he has always been made fun of a school–where they know that he is Elizabeth.  He is somewhat surprised that the boys make fun of him more than the girls–calling him he-she-it.  Undoubtedly they are threatened by his looks.

But he is a senior, and school is almost over.  He can certainly cope until it’s time to move away to the city.

In the mean time, he has a DJ gig that is the best thing ever. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: BEDOUINE-Tiny Desk Concert #737 (April 30, 2018).

Bedouine has a lovely clear voice.  She’s a genuine folk throwback treasure, without being retro.  Her songs are remarkably simple and yet they are rich and almost enchanting.  There is something about the way she sings that makes you want to listen, to lean in and hear what she has to say.

Her guitar playing is also very pretty.  Again, a reasonably simple finger-picking style.  but it is simultaneously precise and warm.

I saw her live recently and she held an entire club rapt despite being an opening act for two much louder bands.  So who is Bedouine?

Azniv Korkejian is Bedouine, a singer and acoustic guitarist who echoes sounds from the 1960’s North American folk songwriters, but with vocal inflections that feel closer to Leonard Cohen than to Joni Mitchell or Joan Baez.  This is as spare as music can be – songs stripped to their essence and just gorgeous.

Azniv Korkejian was born in Aleppo Syria. Her parents were Armenian and she spent her childhood in Saudi Arabia. But a green card lottery win found her family moving to Boston and Houston. Eventually she made her way to Los Angeles with important time spent in Austin, Texas and Savannah, Ga. The name she chose, Bedouine, reflects the traveler, the wanderer in her.

She plays three songs, just her and her guitar.  The songs don’t diverge that much from each other.  She even jokes that the second song is a different song than the first one, she promises.

“One of These Days” is a pretty song that seems so optimistic because you can feel the smile in her voice as she sings.  But as with much of what she plays, there is a kind of melancholy to it.

“Solitary Daughter” opens with the same chord (and picking) but soon shifts textures. I love her delivery on this song in which she lets her voice drop a register and adds a kind of Laura Marling spoken word style to part of it.

The middle third is just stunning

I don’t need the walls
to bury my grave
I don’t need your company
to feel saved
I don’t need the sunlight
My curtains don’t draw
I don’t need objects
to keep or to pawn
I don’t want your pity
Concern or your scorn
I’m calm by my lonesome
I feel right at home
And when the wind blows
I get to dancing
My fun is the rhythm of air
When it’s prancing

“Nice and Quiet” is an intimate love song, but one tinged with sadness.  It has such a charming and sweet melody, which really sums up her music pretty well.

[READ: March 5, 2018] The Prince and the Dressmaker

Jen Wang is back with an outstanding book.  I absolutely love her drawing style.  The look of her dressmaker, Frances, is just adorable.  I love her clothes, I especially love her face, which is cartoony but not caricature-y.  The prince’s nose is huge but not overtly comical and adds a distinctive element to the story.

But what makes this book stand out even more than the art is the story.

The Prince is holding a ball.  When the scene pans back we see horse-drawn carriages.  In other words, the time is sort of nebulously olde.  The women are dressed fancy, with petticoats.  There is much stress around town because all the young women wish to go to the ball.

A woman storms into a couture shop with a mud-covered dress.  Her daughter decided to play in the dress and it is ruined.  Can then makes something for her in time?  Frances is available and the owner gives her the job. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 13, 2018] Adult Mom

Adult Mom is a band created by Stephanie Knipe.

I had heard of them, but wasn’t too familiar with them.  I knew that they had released a number of “bedroom recordings” which is unfairly dismissive.

Nevertheless, I wasn’t expecting them to rock out as much as they did.

Because Lucy Dacus was offering two shows this evening, it meant that the opening bands (and Lucy herself) was somewhat truncated for the first show.  So Adult Mom only played for about 20 minutes.  (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 8, 2018] Jessica Lea Mayfield

I first saw Jessica Lea Mayfield (who I’d assumed was a country singer) on a Tiny Desk Concert back in 2016 (it aired in 2014 when she had just released Make My Head Sing…).  She had pink hair, electric guitars and a lot of glitter.  And her sound was decidedly grungy.  At the time I remember thinking that the contrasts she brought–her delicate voice, her simple but poignant songs, her look, and her promise that her shows get really loud–were really compelling.  So when last November she scheduled a date at Boot & Saddle, I was bummed that I couldn’t go.  But then she cancelled the date and it was rescheduled to March.  And so she became my second show in a pretty long string of shows this month.

I really like her latest album Sorry Is Gone.  And once again her look is very different–she quite glammed up on the album cover.  So I didn’t know what to expect when she came out.  And that was all the more thrilling.  When she finally did come out, green hair, blue nail polish, yellow heels and a flower dress, it was just a perfect microcosm of everything I think about Jessica Lea Mayfield.

The surprise came when Audrey from Mal Blum and the Blums came back onstage.  This time she was playing bass for JLM.  If you’re doing double duty on a night, it’s probably fun to switch instruments.  On drums was Emily Maxwell who plays with Daddy Issues.

When Jessica came up on stage, she was unabashedly polite and rather sweet.  She has a quiet voice (in song and speaking) and thanked us all for coming. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 8, 2018] Mal Blum and the Blums

I was unfamiliar with Mal Blum before this show.  Mal Blum is a songwriter who plays both solo shows and with the backing band The Blums.  Mal’s songs are great–catchy melodies and darkly comic self-reflective lyrics.  But I am particularly glad to have seen The Blums because the backing band was great and really seemed to infuse the show with a lot of fun (I suppose the solo shows are fun as well, but this is all I have to go on).

Mal was front and center of course on guitar and vocals.  On lead was Audrey Zee Whitesides and she was great–playing wild solos and then backing off to let Mal take center stage again.  Barrett Lindgren was on bass and he was particularly excited to shout Go Birds! (he is from Philly and had been holding off shouting that for many shows now).  On drums was Piyal Basu who was new for this tour (no pictures apparently).  He did a great job–I particularly enjoyed the time when Audrey “encouraged” him when an upcoming tempo change was imminent. (more…)

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[LISTENED TO: September 13, 2017] Believe Me

When I saw that Eddie Izzard had a book out I was pretty interested to read it.  I have loved his stand-up since 1997 or 1998 and I was lucky enough to see him on his Circle Tour (on the date they recorded it!).  I have been keeping up with his career and trying to see him in whatever he does (although I like my comedy more than drama and he has certainly made the shift towards drama in recent years).

I thought an autobiography or memoir by him would be pretty interesting (even if he claims to be boring).  But when I saw that he read the audiobook, I knew I had to give it a listen (even if it was 12 discs)!

Amusingly, there was a long delay at the library.  The lady at the counter (who is not the librarian–we librarians know the difference) said if I knew his voice, I could just read the book to myself in his voice.  It was an amusing thought, and I possibly could do that, ….yes, but Eddie’s voice is just so fantastic that it never would have worked properly.  Plus, he throws in easily an extra hours worth of footnotes and rambles that aren’t in the print book!  That’s right, an extra hour’s worth of nonsense if you do the audio.   True you don;t get to see the pictures, but it’s a fair trade-off.

Well the book finally came in and I had plenty of driving time to make short work of this 12 hours behemoth.  And I laughed and laughed.  And cried and cried.

Because while Eddie Izzard is an action transvestite (transgender, now) and one of the best stand-ups around, he is also an extremely warm and thoughtful person. He worked very hard to become the success he is.  And he has used his fame to do some absolutely wonderful things for humanity–including raising millions of dollars.  Not bad for an atheist who is sometimes in girl mode and sometimes in boy mode. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 23, 2016] S.T.O.P.

stopIf you have a teen or pre-teen and you are concerned about how they will deal with bullying, sex, body issues or, heaven forbid, heroin, this performance is a must-see both for your child and you.  The performers are all high school students.  They wrote the pieces and they are intended for high school students (and middle school).  If you can’t see them yourself, contact your school or community group to arrange for them to do their show.  It is intense and really effective.

When the fifth grade completed the D.A.R.E. program at school, the ceremony included a piece by this group.  The piece was called “Jack & Jill” and it told the story of how an underage party led to the death of two teens.  There were a couple of moments of humor, but the message was intense and the acting was really good (they “rewound” the story and the actors did a great job of going backwards–including one boy who “fell up” the couch (he fell off it earlier).

After they were done, they said that the troupe would be doing their full hour-long show in May and that was open to anyone in 5th grade and older.  I was amazed that Clark wanted to go as it’s not really his thing.  And so we went.  He was bummed that only a couple of kids he knew showed up.  I was bummed at how few people showed up at all.   And so I wanted to post about the show to get the group some recognition because what they did was really powerful and I think should be seen by just about everyone.

When we arrived, the teacher in charge of the group Miranda DeStefano-Meene told us that the show would be uncensored and pretty intense.  The program says that the words on stage “may embarrass, hurt, offend, scare and anger you.  That is intentional.”  The second paragraph spoke of the heroin epidemic in our society which is bigger than any other drug epidemic in recorded history, which I did not know.

And so we sat back and watched this show.  Now, I happen to think that Clark may not have been exposed to a lot of what was going on in this play (which I’m grateful for).  So this show may have been really intense for him (I know I spent the whole show wondering what he thought).  After the show the only thing he said was that it made hm sad.  And we did talk a little about the messages, but he’s a tight-lipped kid, so I can only hope he’ll come back to me with more questions if they arise.

And what questions he must have.  For this show tackled so many problems facing teens.  (more…)

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