Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Millie Jackson; Estelle; and Robert Gordon
BENT NIGHTS: CONCERT REVIEWS Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester
2012-02-15

This article shared 4889 times since Wed Feb 15, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


It could be argued that Millie Jackson is the ultimate proto-feminist. As the queen of gutbucket R&B/trash talk and with a career that has spanned four decades, 28 albums, 40 hit singles and successful forays into stage, television and radio, she has never presented herself as a passive participant in any of her scenarios.

Even more memorable is her performance style, which bonds explosive vocal pyrotechnics with raunchy anecdotes that simultaneously shock, enthrall and force laughs from even the coldest of audiences. In short, this woman has a mouth on her. Her recent set between soul legends Latimore and Bobby Womack at The Venue last weekend begged the question of whether Jackson and her style have maintained their edge in this era of R-rated network television, hordes of foul-mouthed rappers and self-hyped underdressed "divas."

Opening with a trio of her classics ("Breaking Up Somebody's Home," "If You Ain't Back in Love by Monday" and her breakout hit, "Hurts So Good"), she got wicked but quick. Smack in the middle of "Hurts So Good" she reminiscenced about her former lovers' endowments while questioning the rationale of ecstasy and physical pain—which she rejected. When she addressed the audience with this query and they disagreed she snarled, "You bitches are lying!!!"

However, the show was hardly about weenie jokes and cussing. Jackson still has a way of covering the most lachrymose material and turning it into something far beyond the original. Her high-octane reading of Phil Collins' "I Wish It Would Rain Now" rivaled her revered take on Neil Diamond's "Love On the Rocks" and, like that earlier performance, it showed her to be an interpretive vocalist with few equals. So the answers to that question are "yes" and "yes;" she's got her edge and she's still the bomb.

A much younger bomb(shell) came in the guise of Estelle Fanta Swaray—known simply as Estelle—who hit the Double Door to preview her upcoming album, All Of Me (Atlantic Records). Where Jackson was blunt, Estelle reveled in sass, class and a party-girl aura; however, her fashion sense and sculpted high-gloss nails (she cites Edie Sedgwick as her fashion icon) hardly masked her candidness. Although she opened with a breezy take on the Supremes' "You Can't Hurry Love" and her own "More Than Friends," Estelle seemed to delight in sprinkling her set with dirty words with the smirking glee of a naughty 6-year-old playing hooky.

None of it had the ring that Jackson had, but that was beside the point; Estelle was into partying, not pontificating. "No Substitute Love" and "One Love" had a club-mix feel to them but she hit her stride with "Freak," which was a hell of a lot saucier than the advance single let on. In fact, she and the gays in the room—and that was about half in attendance—ran with it like jizzed fly girls and you could be forgiven if you expected panties of every persuasion to hit the stage. (For some reason the couplet "I can be a freak/everyday of every wee," drove this crowd apeshit.) Once she got her inner "freak" back in its place, Estelle closed the show with a revved-up "Blame It On the Boogie," a ragged duet with opener Luke James on Al Green's "Love and Happiness" and (of course) a raucous "American Boy." Maybe Estelle doesn't have Jackson's ferocious bluntness and her posh tastefulness could be misleading, but she's hardly a lightweight.

It's hard to think of another musician with as varied a career as Robert Gordon's. As the mouthpiece for punk rock band the Tuff Darts it was highly unlikely that he would take up rockabilly, do it well and make such a strong lasting impression. For his first two albums he partnered with guitar god Link Wray and even performed with Elvis Presley's original back-up vocalists, the Jordanaires. His first hit was a recording of a song intended for Presley by an unknown rocker from Jersey named Bruce Springsteen; the song eventually was obscured by the success of a cover by the Pointer Sisters. The name of the tune, of course, was "Fire"—but if Gordon did not find himself on Casey Kasem's Top 40 it hardly mattered. When Presley died in 1977, Gordon was widely considered to be his true heir.

Recently, Gordon came through Reggie's not only to throw down some licks but also to celebrate his 33rd anniversary performing with guitarist Chris Spedding. (They started working together after Gordon's stint with Wray.) This was a SRO show with a crowd decked out in pompadours, jack boots, greased ducktails, cuffed denim and pinky rings, but it was obvious from the moment when he opened his mouth that Gordon and his audience were not into just dressing up or fads but the real thing.

It hardly mattered that Gordon/Spedding had no new material to perform; this was a show about breathing life into the past. "Wild Wild Women" was the opener but there were so many gems tucked throughout the show that it nearly burst: "The Worrying Kind," "Nervous," "Little Sister," Iggy Pop's "Beside You," "Picture of You," and "Devil In Disguise." "Fire," naturally, stood out and Gordon took back possession of the song by fueling it with his booming baritone while embracing the Pointer's dramatic precision and Spedding played rings around the lyrics. Hearing stripped-down rock 'n roll—with all its pops, cracks and unprocessed edges—is obviously what Gordon is all about, and thank God for that.

A postscript on these two shows is the passing of two figures I associated with the Chicago music scene: Don Cornelius, the creator and producer of Soul Train and LGBT activist John Pennycuff (formerly of Windy City Media Group). Cornelius was born in Bronzeville and started Soul Train in the studios of Channel 26 with a budget of $400. A year later he and the show moved to L.A., where it became a major bridge for soul, R&B and, particularly, dance music for a wider audience. Without Cornelius it's unlikely that the dance music that we have in the clubs now and everything released since 1970, when the show first broadcast, would have reached so many ears.

Although many people have spoken at length about Pennycuff's activism in the community with his long-term partner, Robert Castillo, apart from the offices of WCMG I always ran into the two of them at many shows similar to Jackson's and Estelle's; in later years, that's where we would always see each other. They certainly loved their divas (we had lots of fun snipping about Pennycuff's favorite, Cher) and they made it a point to live life to the fullest. To say that I miss Cornelius and Pennycuff already isn't saying enough.


This article shared 4889 times since Wed Feb 15, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Elton John, Leslie Jordan, Joel Kim Booster, Janelle Monae 2022-11-27
- Elton John gave Los Angeles concluded a three-show run on Nov. 20 back inside Dodger Stadium, taking a final bow as part of his "Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour," according to The Hollywood Reporter. The concert ...


Gay News

MUSIC: Sophie B. Hawkins talks LGBTQ+ youth and living an authentic life 2022-11-24
- In the '90s, singer-songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins made quite an impression on people with the entrancing song "Damn I Wish I Was Your Lover" and its accompanying video. She also had hits such as "Right Beside You" ...


Gay News

WORLD Brazilian musician, top LGBTQ+ cruises, Elon Musk, anti-trans attack 2022-11-20
- Brazilian musician Pedro Sampaio revealed that he dates men and women, Out noted. Sampaio has 7 million monthly listeners on Spotify, more than 5 million followers on Instagram and several music videos with more than 50 ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Grammy nominees, Gabrielle Union, Trevor Noah, Brendan Fraser 2022-11-20
- Out Magazine compiled a list of some of the 2023 LGBTQA+ Grammy nominees. Among those on the list were Brandi Carlile (who earned another seven Grammy nominations this year, raising her career total to 25), Lady ...


Gay News

Billy Masters: Everyone counts their eggs before they're hatched, and other dish to start the week 2022-11-14
- "I'm Not Defending us.Haters are Gonna Hate...Doesn' Matter That we're Happy & Not Bothering Anyone" —Cher tweets her response to criticism of her relationship with music producer Alexander Edwards—who is less than half her age. ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Queer channel, gay actor dies, Jeopardy!, Luke and Chris Evans 2022-11-13
- Fuse Media—a Latino-owned, multiplatform entertainment company—announced that in partnership with OUTtv, it is expanding its suite of DEI FAST channels with the launch of the channel OUTtv Proud, per a press release. Set for a 2023 ...


Gay News

Theater Review: Porchlight's Rent is a winner 2022-11-09
By Jonathan Abarbanel - Title: Rent. Playwright: Jonathan Larson (book, music, lyrics) At: Porchlight Music Theatre at Ruth Page Center. Tickets: 773-777-9884; PorchlightMusicTheatre.org; $25 and up. Runs through: Dec. 11 From its 1996 premiere ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Gay racer, GALECA, Lena Waithe, 'Chicago,' LGBTQ+ films 2022-11-06
- Gay motorsports racer Zach Herrin made his long-awaited debut in a NASCAR-affiliated race in Phoenix, The Advocate noted. "I know I have a lot of eyes on me, and all I want to do is get out there and blur everything ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Singer Aaron Carter dies at 34 2022-11-05
- Singer Aaron Carter—the brother of Backstreet Boys member Nick Carter—has died after apparently drowning at his L.A. home at age 34, according to media reports. TMZ originally reported the news. The outlet said that he was ...


Gay News

Openly gay country performer Patrick Haggerty passes away 2022-11-04
- Patrick Haggerty was the first of his kind. Long before Ty Herndon, Paisley Fields, Brandi Carlile, Orville Peck, Andrew Sa, or Trixie Mattel, Haggerty recorded what is widely cited as the first gay Country music album ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Nathan Lane, gala, Beyonce, Kevin Aviance, Henry Cavill, Shania 2022-10-30
Video below - Nathan Lane is returning to Broadway this winter to star in the debut run of Pictures of Home, per The Hollywood Reporter. Based on the photo memoir by Larry Sultan of the same name and adapted ...


Gay News

Dave Koz's annual Christmas concert on Dec. 8 at The Chicago Theatre 2022-10-29
- Out gay saxophonist Dave Koz has released his eighth Christmas CD, Christmas Ballads, and will perform at the Chicago Theatre on Thursday, Dec. 8, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Dave Koz & Friends Christmas ...


Gay News

'Too Hot to Handel' taking place Dec. 3-4 2022-10-29
- The Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Ida B. Wells Dr., welcomes back "Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah" for its 18th presentation. This year, for the first time, the popular jazz-gospel-rock-funk version of G.F. Handel's traditional ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Michigan bill, trans woman killed, school musical, Alabama drag queen 2022-10-23
- Michigan House Republicans recently introduced legislation that could have the potential to throw parents and doctors in prison for life for offering gender-affirming care to children under the age of 18, MLive.com reported. Under House Bill ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'P-Valley,' Dan Levy, trans/non-binary panel, Christina Aguilera, Spirit Day 2022-10-23
Video below - Starz has renewed the show P-Valley (the network's most-watched series) for a third season, The Hollywood Reporter noted. The renewal for the series from creator/showrunner Katori Hall arrives more than two months after the sophomore season ...


 




Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor


 

Sponsor


Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.