ALT Q celebrates 10th anniversary 'Best in Show'

Fri. May 7, 2010 12:00 AM by News Staff

coyote grace, one of the performers at alt q this year

photo credit //

Scott Free presents ALT Q, Saturday, May 15 at 7 pm

Chicago, IL - ALT Q, formerly Queer Is Folk Festival, is celebrating it's 10th year as a showcase for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered musicians and performers at the Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N Lincoln Ave.

The event's mission is to raise awareness of out performers to both the general public and the LGBT community.

This year, proceeds from ALT Q will be donated to given to the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission for relief efforts in Haiti. Funds go directly to two organizations –SEROvie, which provides HIV services and counseling, and Colectiva Mujer y Salud, a lesbian Dominican group that has crossed the border to Haiti to assist in the relief efforts.

This year's festival is Saturday, May 15 at 7 p.m. and features some of ALT Q's favorite performers from over the past 10 years. A meet-the-artists reception will follow the event.

'Best in Show'

Coyote Grace is the acoustic duo comprised of Joe Stevens, a transman singer/songwriter from Northern California, on vocals and guitar, and Ingrid Elizabeth, a sassy femme originally hailing from the hills of Southeastern Ohio, on vocals and upright bass. The two met while living in Seattle, and have been performing together since December, 2004, sharing the stage with bluegrass, old-time, folk rock, jazz, and cabaret artists alike. Their aptly titled debut studio album "Boxes & Bags" pays homage to the trademarks of their nomadic troubadour lifestyle, conveying themes of transformation, introspection, and the impermanence of identity. They were the recipient of the 2007 Stonewall Society's Pride In The Arts Award for Favorite Transgender Musician, and featured on the nationally syndicated program Queer Music Heritage Radio. Coyote Grace was the featured artist for National Coming Out Day at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse. To commemorate their year on the road, they released The Harvey Tour (2008), a collection of live recordings, including a handful of fun cover tunes for a true taste of the live show experience. Spring 2009 brought the release of 'Ear to the Ground', the duo's long-awaited sophomore studio album. In this latest evolution of their unique Americana/roots sound, Coyote Grace is heard winding from a sparse banjo/vocal duet, through a slow bluegrass ballad, to blues-driven full band sound to swinging country fiddle tune to pensive piano-kissed lullabies. Ear To The Ground (2009) was quickly ranked as one of CD Baby's top sellers. Their latest release, an EP entitled Buck Naked, showcases some of the group's more unique, revealing, and controversial works, and is a fun collection for anyone with a rebellious streak and for those live an unabashed life.

Since 1995, multi-instrumentalist Miriam Davidson and songwriter Kiya Heartwood have made an art of inspiring performances and award winning songs. A Wishing Chair concert is a passionate mix of intelligent lyrics, spell-binding storytelling and breathtaking harmony over a full folk and roll sound. Heartwood's percussive guitar work and wide open vocals compliments Davidson's tasteful use of a myriad of instruments: piano, accordion, banjo, hand drums and bouzouki. This gifted duo seduces the listener with soulful confessions, political broadside, and a wicked groove. They tour extensively, performing in venues ranging from The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville to the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, Uncle Calvin's in Dallas and Club Passim in Cambridge,The Ark in Ann Arbor and at festivals including the National Women's Music Festival, the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Clearwater Folk Festival, the South Florida Folk Festival and the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Wishing Chair's music has received many honors including, Best New Folk CD of 2006 from JPFolks for 'Underdog'. Currently, their seventh CD, Folk and Roll, is nominated for a 2009 Best Contemporary Folk CD award. Their eighth and latest CD, "Stand Up 8" has just been released.

Stella and the Heat Birds is an acoustic ensemble with an eclectic mix of vocal and musical styles. With instrumentation that is a hallmark of true Chicago Alt/Americana outfits, the Heat Birds incorporate clarinet, trombone, ukulele, accordion, and upright bass into their performances. Led by sultry jazz vocalist Stella, they seamlessly merge American musical styles of the past one hundred years and make them their own. In 2009, they opened for Ruthie Foster at the Old Town School of Folk Music, and for Etta James at Milwaukee Pridefest.

Webster's defines anomaly as a deviation from the common rule, but look a little farther and you'll find another definition: hard to classify. And that might be the best way to describe musician Namoli Brennet. Brennet was born male and transitioned to female, but like many gender-variant types, she simply identifies as "trans". There's something touching and achingly poignant about Brennet's voice – maybe it's the sound of transgender, the experience of knowing what it feels like to be unstable, on the edge, a little hard to define. In the wrong hands, that poignance could easily turn sentimental, but with Brennet's deft touch the songs have an edge, a rawness and a gritty realness that steers clear of typical singer/songwriter territory. And just like you'd expect from an over-achieving multi-instrumentalist with a composition degree: she does play nearly everything. Listening to Brennet, you realize this is not just another acoustic singer/songwriter with a guitar. Brennet has an innate understanding of the language of music, and she skillfully uses it to communicate insights that are both poetic and powerful. Since 2002 she's self-produced and engineered 6 CDs starting with 'Boy in a Dress'; her 7th CD, 'Until From This Dream I Wake', released in 2009. In addition to her songwriting, Brennet has also written several commissions for Chorus & Piano as well as scoring 2 plays: Boy (2008), and an adaptation of The Odyssey written by Pulitzer-Prize winner Derek Walcott. Her music has also been featured in the upcoming documentary 'Out in the Silence'. So yes, she's hard to classify, but like all good things yet undiscovered she's just waiting to be found.

Actor Slash Model is the collaborative work of Simon Strikeback, an activist and educator, and Madsen Minax, an artist and filmmaker. Through both music and film Actor Slash Model addresses issues of gender identity, gender performance and politics, a sex positive ideal, and the art making process. As a duet music project, Actor Slash Model creates fun, quirky, entertaining music exploring gender and sex positivity as well as the most basic inspirations to all people: love, heartbreak, joy, pain, etc., set up in what they like to call an "Indie-Grass" musical style, often incorporating costumes and vaudvillian performative styles. The duet has toured the United States including performing in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Santa Fe, LA, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and of course, their hometown, Chicago. As a film making duo, Actor Slash Model recently completed the documentary' Riot Acts: Flaunting Gender Deviance in Music Performance', chronicling gender identity and performance as it surrounds musicianship.

Scott Free is one of America's leading openly-gay male singer/songwriters. His sometimes humorous, sometimes angry, always touching songs of queer life have gained him acclaim in both gay and straight media across the globe. His early forays into rap produced his first single 'Beat The Rap', who's video was on rotation on Black Entertainment Television. He has received three Outmusic Awards - Outmusician of the Year in both 2005 and 2009, and Out Song of the Year in 2005. He also received two Pride in the Arts Awards in 2005 for Song of the Year and Producer of the Year.His latest release, 'The Pink Album (A Pop Opera)' was the Pride In The Arts 2009 CD of the Year. He was also inducted into the Stonewall Society's GLBT Hall Of Fame in 2005. Scott has appeared on Canada's MuchMusic video channel, and has been featured on National Public Radio's 'All Things Considered". Along with ALT Q, Scott is the host and curator of 'Homolatte', the longest running queer performance series in the country, at Big Chicks/Tweet. The video for his latest single 'Happy Again' was in the Top 10 Videos of 2009 on LOGO's The Click List.