Pre-Pride playlist: music from Isle of Klezbos, Kinsey Sicks, Lila Blue & more

  • by Gregg Shapiro
  • Friday April 5, 2024
Share this Post:
Pre-Pride playlist: music from Isle of Klezbos, Kinsey Sicks, Lila Blue & more

In South Florida where I live, Pride begins early (in Hollywood in January), despite the Red State's rulers' intentions to erase us, and continues through October (in Miami Shores). While other places aren't as fortunate, that doesn't mean they can't prepare well in advance of their Pride observances by listening to all the wonderful LGBTQ music available to us.

Led by queer musician and historian Eve Sicular (of Metropolitan Klezmer fame), Isle of Klezbos bring an all-female energy to the klezmer (instrumental, jazz-inflected) music genre.

For the sextet's newest album, "Yiddish Silver Screen," credited to Isle of Klezbos & Friends (including out singer/songwriter Natalia Zukerman), the sextet, while also celebrating its silver anniversary, takes listeners to the movies (You can almost smell the popcorn!) with distinctive and pleasing interpretations of music featuring tunes from the Yiddish cinema. The blend of instrumental (such as the marvelous "Bonia Shur's Nigun & Cartagena Chosidl") and vocal ("Circus Lullaby") numbers result in a sparkling listening experience.

Dragapella quartet The Kinsey Sicks has reason to celebrate. July 2024 marks the comedic vocal group's 30th anniversary. The foursome has gone through numerous changes over those years, including the departure of longtime/founding member Winnie (Irwin Keller), and the performance retirement of longtime/founding member Rachel (Ben Schatz, who continues to write parody lyrics for the "gals").

"Drag Queen Story Time Gone Wild!," The Kinsey Sicks 12th album (including two holiday recordings) was recorded live in San Francisco. While not as polished as previous releases, suffering from a dimming of their shimmer and chemistry, and a reliance on more shock value than usual, there are still plenty of notable numbers, including "Poof the Magic Drag Queen," "Poor Unfortunate Trolls," "Everybody Loves a Drag Queen," and "Tell Me How to Get to (Sesame Seeds)." Plus, the attacks on the current Florida governor pack an extra punch coming from, well, drag queens.

When brilliant singer/songwriter Nanci Griffith died suddenly in 2021, the music world lost one of its beloved artists and the LGBTQ community lost a cherished ally. Out singer/songwriter Mary Gauthier not only wrote the beautiful liner notes for "More Than a Whisper: Celebrating the Music of Nanci Griffith" (Rounder), but also performs a stunning rendition of the title tune.

Queer singer/songwriter Brandy Clark is also present with her reverent cover of Griffith's "Gulf Coast Highway." Other standouts by straight allies include "Love Wore a Halo (Back Before the War)" by Emmylou Harris, "It's Hard Life Wherever You Go" by Steve Earle, "Outbound Plane" by Shawn Colvin, and "Late Night Grand Hotel" by Aaron Lee Tasjan.

A few months after losing Griffith, we suffered another significant loss when musical genius Stephen Sondheim passed away in late 2021. Broadway actress and singer Melissa Errico, who has performed in the Sondheim musicals "Sunday in the Park with George" and "Passion," paid tribute to the legendary theater composer/lyricist on her 2018 album "Sondheim Sublime."

With her new album, "Sondheim in the City" (Concord Theatricals), she focuses on Sondheim's lengthy love affair with his native New York in song. Her readings of "Another Hundred People," "Broadway Baby," "Uptown, Downtown," "Take Me to The World," "Being Alive," "The Little Things You Do Together," and the "Opening Doors/What More Do I Need?" medley, would all make Sondheim proud.

On first listen, "Sweet Pea" (Moxe), the new album by young (just 23), non-binary singer/songwriter Lila Blue, sounds like a subtle blend of Fiona Apple and Ani DiFranco. But upon repeated spins, you realize that this is a singular performer who's able to pull our focus and keep us riveted from start to finish.

The acoustic blues stomp of the title cut leads us into the mesmerizing chant of "Changeling" before slipping into the emotional folk of "How Could I." And so it goes, with Lila Blue using every color at her disposal to dazzle us as she does on "I Met The Devil," "High On A Hill," and the lovely "Lovely Day."

Never miss a story! Keep up to date on the latest news, arts, politics, entertainment, and nightlife.

Sign up for the Bay Area Reporter's free weekday email newsletter. You'll receive our newsletters and special offers from our community partners.

Support California's largest LGBTQ newsroom. Your one-time, monthly, or annual contribution advocates for LGBTQ communities. Amplify a trusted voice providing news, information, and cultural coverage to all members of our community, regardless of their ability to pay -- Donate today!