Mark Weigle first wooed Chicago audiences a year ago when he performed at the Edgewater Days street fair. Even more people will now have the chance hear his honest and refreshing style of singing and songwriting. A favorite on the Outvoice queer music website as well as a Gay and Lesbian American Music Award nominee, Weigle is an artist on the rise. He performs at 2 p.m. on the Belmont and Halsted Stage Aug. 5.
Gregg Shapiro: We spoke just over a year ago as you were preparing to release your second full-length CD, All That Matters. In the interim, that album was named "2000 CD of The Year" by Outvoice, it was on This Way Out's "Best of 2000," Larry Flick at Billboard ranked it as one of the "10 Best CDs of 2000," and you tied for the No. 8 slot on my best of 2000 list. Were you prepared for the reception that the album received?
Mark Weigle: Well, I wasn't prepared certainly, but hopeful. A couple of those things, ( my first album ) The Truth Is, also garnered ( awards ) ...Outvoice CD of the Year and This Way Out's "best of." Certainly the sophomore release, there's quite a bit of pressure. ... And don't forget the Larry Flick "Record of the Year...Unsigned Artist Grammy" kudo ( laughs ) .
GS: Was it Grammy related?
MW: In Billboard's Grammy issue...Larry does his column on unisigned artists who deserve "Grammy recognition" and he gave ( the song ) "A Good Day" Record of the Year which has actually garnered some label interest and the lawyer guy I work with. ... Margaret Coble also put it on her top 10 of the year.
GS: As an artist who received recognition from GLAMA, how did you feel about the dissolution of the organization?
MW: Very, very disappointed. Personally, for me, I had released All That Matters in January of 2000, so I was all excited to submit in many, many categories. I think there's more musical styles on All That Matters than there was on The Truth Is, so I was prepared to submit it in a few different categories. And I look forward to that ( the GLAMAs ceremony ) as ( a way of ) seeing a lot of other artists, radio people, and journalists and folks in our little gay music world that I don't often see. It's a great opportunity to all get together and hang out. So, yeah, I was very disappointed personally, and, of course, just as far as our community.
GS: When I spoke to you in 2000 we also spoke about what a gay male version of Lilith Fair would mean to both the musicians and the fans of the music. Since that time, there was the promise, and then the cancellation, of Wotapalava. Can you comment on that?
MW: I know very little about that, mostly because those were major label artists, billing themselves as the first gay tour, which sort of wasn't correct. There's lots of indie out, gay artists with lots of different musical styles who have been touring together for years. As I travel across the country, I meet up with a lot of organizer-type people that are very eager to do some kind of tour of out, gay musicians, or at least a festival in their town. In my backyard, the Russian River, there are a few people up there...club owners and people who talk about having an equivalent of what the women do with Diva Fest. I meet people all the time who want to do something with getting gay male out musicians together for a show or a tour. Hopefully the interest is building in the right places and it will coalesce into something concrete, and I would love to be a part of it.
GS: Along the same lines, today I received an album advance, from Rykodisc, of Voices On The Verge, which is made up of Rose Polenzani, Erin McKeown, Jess Klein, and Beth Amsel...one of whom ( McKeown ) is openly queer. On the disc they sing and play together, performing each others songs. Do you think that this might be an option for individual gay male acoustic artists to reach a more broad audience?
MW: I think that any way that we find to reach each other's audiences...the guys we're talking about don't have label money behind them to get huge promotional budgets, so I'm off creating my own mailing list. Dave Hall is out working really hard and getting his mailing list and reaching the people he reaches. If I can bring my folks to him and he can bring his folks to me, it's all the better. And that does happen. When I went out to Boston and played the show with Ernie Lijoi and the folks that like his stuff came and got a chance to see me. I've set Dave Hall up with gigs out here in California when he was touring and put him in touch with radio folks I know and venues. And it's not just guys either. Angela Motter has given me contacts in Atlanta in her backyard.
GS: So it sounds like more of a grassroots level thing and that's why the success is happening.
MW: Yeah, and that's why I'm not so connected with the Wotapalava or whatever. As far as my network of out, gay artists...those guys just totally come out of the blue from major label backgrounds and put this thing together that turns real political and I'm not really connected to that at all. One of the things that Lilith Fair did that was really fantastic was they would reach out to indie-level women artists in the towns that they went through. I have several straight or lesbian singer/songwriter friends who played a show or two on the Lilith Fair tour because they submitted to the competition, and they got in and got to play in front of this big audience and stuff.
GS: Have you begun working on the follow-up to All That Matters?
MW: Oh, I thought it was going to be "Am I hairy?" And I had my answer all ready: hairy with a curve ( laughs ) .
GS: ( flustered ) What about that disc?
MW: Yeah, I've actually got a couple songs in the bag already. I'm in Spokane and I'm headed to Seattle and I might be playing a couple for the boys at GAYBC. So, they might get broadcast prematurely. When I come off of this tour, I will be in Chicago for Northalsted Market Days, then I got to Minneapolis. [ Then ] I'm hitting the studio and hoping to have the new one out by early next year.