Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2018-11-14
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



BENT NIGHTS Mavis Staples
by Vern Hester

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

It was both appropriate and depressing to have Mavis Staples close out the Thirty Fifth Annual Chicago Blues Festival on June 11.

As one of the few remaining straight-up African-American soul singers who emerged in the late 1950s to change the world with their voices ( Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, and Bettye LaVette being the others ) and as the sole survivor of the fabled Staples Singers, you couldn't fault the festival for authenticity or spirit. The rub comes with the Staples' history with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and its association with Dr. Martin Luther King.

In countless performances down through the years, Staples has staunchly upheld what was at stake then. Now here we are in 2018 and all that protest isn't quite so distant or nostalgic anymore, as African-Americans, high school students, immigrants of all colors, women, the LGBTQ community and many others, are up in arms. The attacks this time are aimed at rights and protections that have already been won and that is the real downer now as it's clear that after all that effort after all those years, those rights can be reversed with a stroke of a pen. ( A protester at the Chicago women's march on President Trump's inauguration in 2017 carried a sign that read, "I can't believe I have to fight for these same rights all over again." ) For trendsetters, the term "Everything old is new again" has a certain humor—but when it comes to history, well, not so much.

All of that may be true, and this may have been a blues festival, and it may have rained all weekend, and opener Kenny Neal may have ripped through a stinging set of songs of suffering and misery, but Mavis wasn't having it. After casually walking out onstage and enjoying a standing ovation, she wowed the near-capacity Pritzker Pavilion with a lilting "Come Go With Me," which felt warmly assuring.

Staples didn't mention the president by name ( though it's hard to think her inclusion of Talking Heads' "Slippery People" was not meant as a backhanded slap ), but her entire set list seemed to address the state of the union and the destruction caused by divisiveness. Stephan Stills "For What It's Worth" popped up as a timely chestnut while the concept of making allies, uniting, and working together permeated the show. "Build A Bridge," "Freedom Highway," "We're Gonna Make It" and "Touch A Hand, Make A Friend" gently put that theme across.

Staples still found plenty of time to cut up and "Who Told You That?" was punchy and confrontational, while "Respect Yourself" crackled with fury. The closer for the night, "I'll Take You There," was five minutes of pure unadulterated bliss with the audience literally falling out of their seats when Staples opened the song with that growl. Bassist Jeff Turmes and guitarist Rick Holmstrom followed Mavis' signal and played the song with grit and punch. From that point she went off the melody and turned this most spiritual and inspiring of '70s radio classics into pure gospel as she took the opportunity to preach. Granted, she didn't get political ( "I shoulda left it alone...but when the spirit moves you, you gotta move!!!!!!" ), but it had the same effect.

All of this was something of a blast of healthy encouragement. As anyone who knows me can tell you, I'm certainly not a fan of church or Bible-thumping, but what Staples did was clearly not just that. She uplifted, she soothed and, yes, she entertained. ( While encouraging the audience to check out the merchandise at her table she cracked, "Why shop at Macy's when you can shop with Mavis?" Later on she got a big laugh when she accidentally called The Hideout Inn "The Outhouse," which had WXRT's Terri Hemmert howling. ) Granted, the show did not change any of those troubling issues but it served as a reminder that demanding something better is a right and shouldn't be taken for granted.

Heads up: Queer-fronted eclectic rockers Blacker Face play The Hideout Inn on June 23, queer rapper Roy Kinsey plays The Sleeping Village in support of brand-new release Blackie on June 17, and Kansas rockers SSION play the Logan Square Arts Festival on June 24.

More images from Mavis Staples' show are online at .

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Glad Rags' 'Wonder 'Under': An emotional kaleidoscope 2018-11-14 - Local queer psychedelic orchestra band Glad Rags' second full-length album, Wonder Under, is an eclectic and weird ride in all the best ways. ...

Gay News

Alyson Stoner, actress/singer/dancer on Ms. Jackson, acting, coming out 2018-11-14 - Being in the glare of the spotlight—especially for those who have been in the public eye since childhood—can be harsh. However, Alyson Stoner, ...

Gay News

Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace debuts side-project album 2018-11-13 - Transgender punk rocker and Against Me! frontwoman Laura Jane Grace's new side project, The Devouring Mothers, unleashes kinetic energy with an intimate touch ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Rihanna, 'Riverdale,' Glenn Close, Ezra Miller 2018-11-13 - Rihanna reportedly sent President Donald Trump a cease-and-desist letter after learning that her music was being used to hype up the crowd at ...

Gay News

Amy Ray on new album, acceptance and rock 'n' roll 2018-11-12 - Indigo Girl Amy Ray's September release, Holler, is a rich mixture of folk, Southern rock, mountain music, bluegrass and gospel, with her characteristic ...

Gay News

Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles to honor Stonewall, LGBTQ history 2018-11-09 - It may be a difficult, shaky time for equality right now, but Lakeside Pride Music Ensembles continues to play on, promoting positivity and ...

Gay News

Olly Alexander, Out British singer on band, queer artists 2018-11-07 - British pop band Years and Years is composed of Olly Alexander, Mikey Goldsworthy and Emre Turkmen. Their sound is mix of electronic, pop ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Streisand, GLAAD book, Spice Girls, Boy Erased, Rhapsody 2018-11-06 - Barbra Streisand has released an LGBTQ anthem that doubles as a statement against President Trump, reported. The legendary singer's latest album, Walls, ...

Gay News

Measure for Measure, Chicago Sinfonietta, Swing Shift Orchestra and more 2018-11-05 - The Hindu celebration of Diwali, the five-day festival of lights, will be marked by the Chicago Sinfonietta with concerts in Naperville ( Nov. ...

Gay News

'Lion King' musical auditions Nov. 10-11 2018-11-05 - There will be adult singer, adult dancer and children's auditions for Disney's The Lion King musical Nov. 10-11 at Hubbard Street Dance, 1147 ...


Copyright © 2018 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.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.