A Grand Time for Singing

Steve Grand makes Top 10 list of most-funded Kickstarter projects.

When out singer-songwriter Steve Grand announced his Kickstarter a little less than a month ago, I contributed on the first day. I thought to myself, I think this is a good kid; I sure hope he makes it.

I needn’t have worried: he reached his $81,000 goal in 17 hours. As I write this, he has 8 days left on his Kickstarter and he’s at $237,000 and change.

Grand says he’s determined to stay independent and to use the money he raises over and above the costs of production to make sure the need for an openly gay singer, that has been embraced by his fans over the last year or so, feeds into the needs of the mainstream music community as well.

I like him. I like his work. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s cute as hell. If you can, send him a buck or two and let’s see how far he can go.

Grand-tastic

So alert readers tuned into all things gay (and related) probably already know Steve Grand. He’s the gay Chicago musician who released a self-produced music video last summer and became an overnight gay indie sensation. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s adorable.

Since then, he’s released a second video, been on tour, and this week, launched a Kickstarter to fund his first album. His goal: $81,000 to make the album. In the first 40 hours, he had raised $125,000. And he’s got a month left.

I love to see this kind of thing. So different from the experiences of my generation of ancients. When I was working one of my first radio jobs — back, you know, when KDKA first signed on — I lobbied for, and finally received a portable cassette recorder so that I could do on-the-spot interviews and live-to-tape coverage of events. Thought I had died and gone to Heaven!

Oh, how the world has changed in 25-ish years! You go, Steve Grand! Here’s Grand’s new song, released to kick off his Kickstarter.

Last summer’s musings.

Pete Seeger, Folk Singer, Activist, Great Human, Dead at 94

The great Pete Seeger has died at the age of 94. For an extensive obituary, I direct you to the one in the New York Times.

I grew up on folk music — the activist folkies of the 60s like The Chad Mitchell Trio, the fun-loving Limeliters, the popular Kingston Trio and Peter, Paul & Mary — as my mother was an unrepentant ex-Beatnik at the time.

Also around the old Hi-Fi were pressings of Dave Van Ronk and the New Christy Minstrels and Gibson and Camp and an old scratchy album by some group called The Weavers.

I liked the way they sang “Erie Canal” — Ear-eye-Ae — I thought it was funny. I also liked the four-part mix of Fred Hellerman, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays and the soaring tenor of Pete Seeger; it was so different from the smooth, Milt Okun-arranged blend of the Mitchell Trio.

Later on, I have a hazy memory of seeing Pete sing “Big Muddy” on the Smothers Brothers show. I didn’t get it. I was too young.

I get it now. It’s an amazing, powerful song, like so much of Pete Seeger’s music.

Pete Seeger did more than sing. He walked the walk. Thanks to Pete and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater one of our great rivers is cleaner now than it was fifty years ago — and more people understand the importance of environmentalism. People of all stripes understand the importance of coalition building and the meaning of “we shall overcome.”

In 2012, on an incredibly hot day in Bryant Park in New York City, I got to hear Pete speak. At age 92, he was completely in command and left me, and the rest of the crowd, in awe.

Stenciled on Woody Guthrie’s banjo was “this machine kills fascists.” On Pete Seeger’s: “this machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender.” Pete Seeger knew, perhaps more than anyone else, that when you are singing together, you cannot wage war, oppress people, mistreat animals or pollute the world’s waterways simultaneously.

So often, we find ourselves “neck deep in the big muddy” while “the big fool [says] to push on” but Pete Seeger’s legacy is that we have to have the courage to turn back, to do what’s right, to stand up for those who do not have a voice, to surround the hate and force the surrender.

Aaron Hicklin on Steve Grand: His success as an out gay musician couldn’t have existed decade ago

Aaron Hicklin on Steve Grand: His success as an out gay musician couldn’t have existed decade ago | Out Magazine.

There’s something infectious about hanging out with someone whose life is on the brink of change. Grand was like a boy who’d won the golden ticket — well-behaved and gracious, and enjoying every minute. It was one of his first public performances, and the fact that it was in an opulent Chicago institution that’s received every president since Harry Truman spoke volumes about where America finds itself in this particular moment.

steve-grand-aaron-hicklin-smile-cr

Out magazine’s Aaron Hicklin chatting with Steve Grand in Chicago. |Image: Out magazine.

Technology, says Out’s Aaron Hicklin, that’s what we’ve got to thank for Steve Grand and for the plethora of entertainment options from across the spectrum that are now available to us thanks to the Innerwebs.

It’s a lovely article. Read it. 

Also, search around for Hicklin’s Q&A with Grand from that event. I’ve seen it, but I can’t recall where. Towleroad, maybe? Anyhow, it’s a nice interview. The cut above has a video embed of Grand playing his debut, All-American Boy, at the Hilton.

Below is a link to a recent piece I did, featuring a video embed of his latest, Stay.

Steve Grand Would Like You to Stay

 

Steve Grand Would Like You to ‘Stay’

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The cover image from Grand’s latest independent release.

You can download the song at Bandcamp and set your own price. I think it’s a nice follow-up to “All-American Boy” but it’s always hard to get momentum on a sophomore release, so if you like this guy, you really should throw a couple of bucks his way. I think he’s well on his way to proving that out talent and indie talent are going to be essential components of our new entertainment mix. In case you haven’t seen the video for the song, I’ve embedded the YouTube link below. Enjoy.

Pink Called A Lesbian In Twitter Attack After Dancing With Gay Pride Flag

Pink Called A Lesbian In Twitter Attack After Dancing With Gay Pride Flag.

“They’ve been the most loyal part of what I do,” she told the Advocate last October. “They’ve been my most loyal friends, to be honest. I’ve had a lot of my gay boys around, but my gay girls are my rootstalk. They’re my honesty in an ocean of bullshit. I should be gay by the way that I look and the way that I am. I just happen to not be. But it just makes perfect and complete sense.”

Good on ya, girlfriend!

Housemartin Memories — Happy Hour Again

Saw a tweet this weekend from Jian Ghomeshi of the radio program Q where he called The Housemartins “a damn fine band.” I agree.

The Housemartins were formed in 1983 and first hit big in the States in 1986 with the infectiously poppy Happy Hour. Later, frontman Paul Heaton formed the long-running band The Beautiful South and bassist Norman Cook became “Fatboy Slim.” An impressive legacy for “the fourth best band in Hull.”

In a previous incarnation, I was a Top 40 DJ, when there was such a thing as Top 40. And records. The Housemartins were a big deal during this time and I was just mad for them. I still have their first two albums on vinyl and everything they’ve ever released on CD. (What a nerd!) The cassette version of “London 0 Hull 4” was a near permanent resident in my Volkswagen Beetle’s stereo. It remains the only tape I have ever literally worn out. “Now, that’s what I call quite good.”