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Forty-Onederful: Alt Q Review

May 14th, 2007 · 5 Comments · Chicago, Culture, Fringe, LGBT, Media, Music, Performance

Actor Slash ModelSpeaking of Jorjet, as I was a couple of posts ago, I spent the evening of my forty-first birthday sharing a table with her at this year’s Alt Q festival at the Old Town School of Folk Music (after having a nice coconut and basil dinner with Lisa Buscani at Thai Classic).

Alt Q was a great way to spend Saturday night. Host and curator Scott Free outdid himself as he does every year, putting together an amazing lineup of queer musical talent (with some help from local music journalist Gregg Shapiro).

I’ve loved Irish duo Zrazy’s recorded music for years, and seeing them live turned out to be even better than I expected, as both women are wonderful performers. They delivered a satisfying set of torch songs embellished with virtuoso rainy-day piano, sometimes veering without warning into fast-paced, exhilarating Irish folk complete with expertly flourished Celtic drums and whistles —a transition only musicians at their formidable level of talent could pull off.

I also got a huge kick out of Actor Slash Model, with their snappy songs and oddly winning combination of upright bass and ukelele. Their rakish costume sense added a lot of dash to their act as well, with Simon in rabbit ears and Madsen looking more at home in a full-on Cub Scout uniform than I ever did in mine.

Chris Garneau fascinated me with his oblique, Stephin Merritt-esque lyrics and inscrutable stage persona — I couldn’t tell whether the latter is more a product of art school calculation or genuine, unstudied eccentricity, but either way, the striking tension he created electrified the room.

Of course the crowd was almost as much fun as the show, a who’s who of friends from the local GLBT media and performance scene, and there was a nice wine and hors d’oeuvres reception after the show so we all got to hang out and mingle for a while.

In addition to Scott Free and Gregg Shapiro (with his hubby Rick Karlin), I saw and/or chatted with arts & entertainment writer Web Behrens; Robert MacDonald, one of the authors of The Field Guide to Gay & Lesbian Chicago (I think I saw his co-author Kathie Bergquist there, too, but I’m not 100% on that); Feast of Fools co-hosts Fausto Fernos & Marc Felion; HIV activist and former Gab magazine gadfly Jim Pickett, there to represent the evening’s beneficiaries, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago; Lars von Keitz; and beloved elder statesman of the scene Bill Haddad. I even saw one real live heterosexual male in the audience — my old Sears Catalog pal Ted G., who happens to be a personal-training client of Scott Free’s partner Dominant Gene.

Oh, and I briefly fell off the vegan wagon — like the rest of the evening, the cheese puff pastry was delicious.


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