Tag Archives: sophie b. hawkins

Preview the music of PrideFest

Recent releases from some of PrideFest’s most interesting acts include:

Summer Osborne performs June 7 at 6:30 p.m.

What’s not to love about a song titled “Happy” that incorporates a child’s laughter and a message about finding one’s bliss? That’s how St. Louis lesbian singer/songwriter Summer Osborne chose to open her 2012 album “The Scenic Route” (summerosborne.com). Osborne is at her best on similarly upbeat original numbers, such as the rousing “Love Looks Good on Me” and “I Love Your Shine.” A singer of great power and confidence, Osborne presents a subtly shaded cover of “True Colors,” which is bracketed by the disc’s dramatic centerpiece “Don’t Leave Me Here” and the roof-raising “The Reason I Sing.” If you want more of Osborne, her next disc, “As I Am,” is due out in June.

Big Bad Gina performs June 7 at 8 p.m. and  June 8 at 7 p.m.

The members of queer, all-female trio Big Bad Gina (Renee Janski, Melodie Griggis and Jori Costello) describe themselves as “genre hoppin’, folkin’ rockin’ with a driving girl-groove edge.” And that sums them up pretty well. Their latest disc “Lake of Dreams” (bigbadgina.com) is awash in musical styles. From the blue bluegrass of “Canoe Built for Two,” which is sure to make listeners hot under the collar, to the spellbinding “Butch Wytch,” which is pure Womyn’s Music Festival jazz/pop (complete with a rap break), Big Bad Gina makes good on their description’s promise. The torchy “You Don’t Love Me Anymore” is a top-notch tearjerker, while “Set Me Free” is a bluesy boogie-woogie number. Big Bad Gina also shows respectable taste in cover tunes, with their smooth interpretation of Janis Ian’s “Hunger,” and the group finds the grind in the gears of Melissa Ferrick’s “Drive.”

Sophie B. Hawkins performs June 7 at 9 p.m.

On “The Crossing” (Inakustik/Trumpet Swan), her first album in a number of years, omnisexual singer/songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins sounds so excited to be back that she wants to get as much on the record as she possibly can. Hawkins unleashes an edgier rock side on “Betchya Got a Cure for Me.” She updates her trademark pop sound on tunes such as “Georgia” and “Missing” and belts out a respectable rendition of the spiritual “Sinner Man.” The disc also has some unexpected surprises, including acoustic versions of Hawkins’ biggest hits “Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover” and “As I Lay Me Down.” 

Rocket Paloma performs June 8 at 3 p.m.

“Great” is a pretty good description of the four-song debut disc by Milwaukee’s very own Rocket Paloma aka Joanna Kerner. A twangy acoustic folk project buoyed by fiddles, banjos, “gee-tars” and such, Rocket Paloma features local musicians John Blohm, Dustin Christian and Joey Runte. This group would be right at home performing at the upcoming Country Thunder fest. Rocket Paloma soars on the delightful “Staring at Polaris” while the bouncy “Mr. True Love” is a song that anyone who’s experienced a broken heart can appreciate. However, it’s on the EP’s closer “Haterstown” that Rocket Paloma achieves greatness. Directed at “haters who just want to get in your face for no real reason,” “Haterstown” allows Kerner to show off her vocal versatility. It’s the acoustic folk equivalent of a rap track. 

Jayme Dawicki  performs June 8 at 5 p.m.

Milwaukee favorite Jayme Dawicki (who returns to PrideFest for the second time) sounds like she’s spent some time listening to Aimee Mann. Her “72 ½ Toyota Truck,” from her most recent full-length release “Love Love” (jaymedawicki.com), would fit right in on any of Mann’s albums. But there’s so much more to keyboard queen Dawicki. Not content to come off like another Tori Amos or Regina Spektor clone, Dawicki writes and performs unique, refreshing songs. “Take My Heart” is as emotional as its title suggest. It’s the kind of song that gets your eyes watery as you sing along. The same is true of the beautiful “Battle.” Dawicki crafts memorably upbeat tunes, too, including “Happy New Year” and “One More Year.” But balladry is her forte, and she shines on “Shout Out Loud” and “Save Me.” (Be sure to hang on for the “Cricket Symphony” hidden track.) 

God-Des & She performs June 9 at 6 p.m.

Wisconsin’s world-famous homegrown queer hip-hop duo God-Des & She has been perfecting rhymes and beats since the dawn of the 21st century. Not known for shying away from such provocative subjects as sex and politics (sometimes in the same song), the duo still proudly waves a freak flag on “United States of God-Des and She” (god-desandshe.com). The sizzling, take-no-prisoners title track kicks things off like a boot to the teeth. Suggestive nose-wrinkler “Ew She Said That” is sure to tickle more than a few fancies, and “Between the Sheets” will leave you hot and bothered. “You Know My Name (YKNM)” slides in on a retro groove and “I’m a Bitch” has anthem potential. The generic modern soul of “Don’t Look Back” slows things up, and “God, I Know You Love Me” is surprisingly awkward. But those are minor complaints about a mostly solid effort. 

Dangerous Muse performs June 9 at 7:30 p.m.

Formerly a duo and now a one-man operation, queer electro act Dangerous Muse (not to be confused with producer/musician Danger Mouse) continues to embrace the EDM (electronic dance music) esthetic on the new five-song disc “Red” (dangerousmuse.com). Dangerous Muse plays with some of the newfangled recording toys on “Homewrecker,” doing techno tricks with the vocals. “I Can’t Help It” sounds a bit like Ministry in that group’s pre-heavy industrial period, and fans of that era won’t be able to help but like it. The album’s centerpiece, “Fame Kills,” goes on a bit too long at almost seven minutes, but it gets points for recalling the mood and energy of vintage 12-inch disco singles.

For complete PrideFest schedule,  click here.

PrideFest expands stages and programming

The organizers of PrideFest Milwaukee say they’ve expanded this year’s event to include a new stage along with a broader array of activities and performances than ever before. 

Last year PrideFest – North America’s largest LGBT music festival – broke 25 years of attendance records, drawing 28,137 people to the Summerfest grounds. Near-perfect weather and a strong lineup of headliners brought the event’s books back into the black after a disappointing turnout in 2011 left PrideFest’s future imperilled, said PrideFest president Scott Gunkel.

This year’s star-studded event promises to be another great success, if Mother Nature cooperates.

Out pop icon Andy Bell of Erasure is the Miller Lite Mainstage headliner on opening night, June 7. He’s the first male, opening-night headliner in the event’s history, according to Gunkel. Other first night performers include Sophie B. Hawkins and ABBA Salute.

On June 8, the legendary duo Indigo Girls hits the mainstage, and on June 9, outspoken LGBT and women’s rights supporter Amanda Palmer closes out the festival. She’ll follow a performance by Dangerous Muse, featuring electro-pop dance sounds and sexy stage theatrics never before seen on the Miller Lite Mainstage, according to a PrideFest press release.

Other artists performing over the weekend include God-Des & She, Beverly McClellan, Big Bad Gina, DJ Grind, Bad Romance, Something to Do, and Wisconsin’s own first lady of rock, Ronnie Nyles. 

The festival’s popular dance pavilion will be enhanced this year with more sophisticated sound and lighting equipment. Gunkel said an additional $60,000 worth of lighting effects will raise the dance experience to a new level of razzle-dazzle.

Numerous events are scheduled throughout the weekend, ranging from fireworks to drag shows to a leather/fetish show.

Last year, PrideFest launched Wom!nz Spot Lounge and Café, a successful new stage area toward the south end of the festival grounds. The venue, which offered poetry readings, acoustic performers, women artists and dancers in a laid-back atmosphere, “was packed all day long,” Gunkel said.

“We trademarked it and we’re bringing it back,” he said, adding that men are welcome to join the wom!n.

It’s another year, and there will be yet another new stage – The Riviera Maya Stage. Sponsored by La Nueva Ritmo, the stage will highlight the multicultural dimension of the LGBT and allied community.

“This multicultural stage is dedicated to presenting musical groups from diverse backgrounds,” board member Francisco Araiza said in a statement. “We wanted a place to showcase different nationalities, ethnicities, languages and religions, and by showcasing our diversity, we hope to find the commonalities that make the fabric that forms one worldwide LGBT and straight community.”

The stage will open on Friday night with oldies from the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s spun by Kim from Club 219 and BJ Daniels from The Factory – both iconic DJs from Milwaukee’s disco era. “It’s kind of a reunion thing,” Gunkel said.

Saturday night will feature Latin music acts and DJs, and Sunday the new stage will put hip-hop under the spotlight.

The revitalized Milwaukee LGBT Community Center plans to have a high profile at PrideFest 2013. The group is taking over a two-story structure on the south end of the festival grounds near the Harley-Davidson Roadhouse Stage and the Wom!nz Spot.

“We’re sort of taking the community center on the road,” said board secretary Martin Palicki. “Everything you’d find at the center, we’re taking to the grounds.”

Palicki said the center will offer an alternative for attendees who want to spend some time at “a quieter place, where you can talk to people.”

The center will host seminars on such diverse topics as housing, retirement and gardening. There will also be a virtual gallery featuring artwork the center has exhibited and a videographer on site to record visitors’ coming-out stories. 

The center also will host family-friendly activities, including an inflatable slide for kids of all ages. An alcohol-free area for young people ages 13-24 will have a DJ and dancing. 

“There’s been a family explosion at PrideFest,” said board member Denise Cawley. “When we (she and her partner Anne) first had our son, we counted like two babies at PrideFest. Now he’s 6 and there’s been a baby explosion.” 

Cawley’s son Aidan looks forward to PrideFest, where he particularly enjoys the roasted corn, the hot dogs – and having his picture taken with drag queens, he said. 

When purchasing tickets at the gate, PrideFest visitors will be offered the opportunity to add $1 to be donated to the center.

One of the most novel features about PrideFest is that a volunteer, unpaid staff runs the elaborate event, which is the first major festival of the season.

“Every year, these folks come back and dedicate hours and hours of volunteer time to organize, and run this three-day festival,” said festival director Pete Minns. “And every year, it’s a great time.” For more information, go to pridefest.com.

PrideFest Milwaukee announces opening night acts

Andy Bell and Sophie B. Hawkins are two of the performers featured on the opening night of PrideFest Milwaukee in June. Organizers also have booked ABBA Salute.

Bell, of Erasure fame, will perform on the Miller Lite Mainstage on June 7. That night also features Hawkins and ABBA Salute, as well as the Wisconsin Royalty Drag Show, the Windy City Beauties and Chicago DJ Teri Bristol and Psycho Bitch. 

“We are honored to bring you another amazing festival experience in 2013,” PrideFest president Scott Gunkel said in a news release. PrideFest organizers will announce additional performers in the weeks ahead.

PrideFest Milwaukee is heading into spring with a re-launched website, a new regional ad campaign and a special advance ticket campaign for the three-day celebration that takes place June 7-9 at the Summerfest grounds.

PrideFest said this year’s event celebrates the strength and pride of families – families of birth and families of choice.

“Last year was not only one of our highest-grossing festivals, but also our most profitable festival in our 25 year history,” said Gunkel. “Across the board, our entire team made smart and responsible cost reductions. Those savings allowed us to deliver the best return on our community’s investment last year.”

General admission to the event includes access to live entertainment, including headliners, on eight stages.

For 2013, PrideFest Milwaukee is offering advance ticket packages:

• Single-day admission is $13 advance ($16 at gate).

• Three-day weekend pass is $30 advance.

• Single-day VIP passes, which include access to the exclusive Potawatomi Bingo Casino VIP Deck, will be $100 advance or $225 or the three-day weekend.

Tickets go on sale April 15, with an option to add $1 to the pricetag to support the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center’s “greatest needs fund.”

For more about PrideFest, go to www.pridefest.com.

Sophie B. Hawkins answers 10 questions

1. You are currently writing a musical for Kristin Chenoweth. What was the first Broadway musical you ever saw?

SBH: The first Broadway musical I ever saw was “Fiddler On The Roof” in sixth-grade. The first musical I ever saw was Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates Of Penzance.”

2. If you and Kristin had a thumb-wrestling match, who would win?

SBH: I think I would win because I practiced thumb wrestling a lot as a kid. She was probably practicing singing and dancing.

3. Kristin has appeared on the TV show “Glee.” If the kids in “Glee” were to do a Sophie B. Hawkins song, what should it be?

SBH: I wish the kids on “Glee” would sing “Heart And Soul Of A Woman” from my upcoming album “Dream Street & Chance.”

4. You collaborated with Mary Steenburgen on the song “Gone Baby” from your upcoming album. What is your favorite Mary Steenburgen movie?

SBH: “The Butcher’s Wife.”

5. What does the “B”in Sophie B. Hawkins stand for?

SBH: The “B” stands for Ballantine.

6. You are mother to young son Dashiell. What would be on the menu for the greatest Mother’s Day breakfast ever?

SBH: Strong coffee on the beach in Kauai.

7. You wanted to be a weather person when you were a child. What’s your favorite season and your favorite climate?

SBH: My favorite season is autumn, and I love all climates. I love cold, snowy winters and hot, humid summers. I’m an adaptive person, and because I grew up on the East Coast, I romanticize that climate most. But the truth is, I love to be where I am, and I fall in love with a lot of places.

8. After your show at Potawatomi, are you most likely to be found playing the slots or at the blackjack table?

SBH: I don’t gamble, with money. All I want after the show is a glass of red wine and some good conversation with Milwaukeeans. There is so much to discuss. If there’s no good red wine, I love hot cocoa.

9. There has long been speculation about the object of Carly Simon’s song “You’re So Vain.” To whom were you singing in your hit 1992 hit “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover”?

SBH: Before I answer that question, I haven’t heard there was any speculation about the object of my desire in “Damn.”

10. 1992 was almost 20 years ago. Sophie, where does the time go?

SBH: I know, it feels like yesterday, but you know what? I feel I’m in the perfect place right now, just like then, and the road makes sense.