Windy City Media Group Frontpage News Home
CELEBRATING 28+ YEARS OF Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender NEWS

Search Gay News Articles
Advanced Search
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2014-10-01
Download Issue
  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime

Town hall focuses on bullying prevention Town hall focuses 
on bullying
prevention
Bullying prevention was the topic of a presentation and town hall discussion ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times    Download PDF Issue

Bettye LaVette
BENT NIGHTS Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester
2012-11-21

facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email


When I first heard soul/blues artist Bettye LaVette's story—and then her music—I was outraged.

LaVette recorded a legendary debut album (Child of the Seventies) in 1972, only to see it shelved by some candy-ass executive at Atco Records. This was music that only saw the light of day because almost two decades later a French record label hunted down the masters, acquired the rights, released it as Souvenirs (Art and Soul Records) and set off LaVette's long-delayed emergence.

Now after four albums on Anti-Records, three Grammy nominations and performances before two sitting presidents—including one inauguration—she's back with her autobiography (A Woman Like Me, co-written with David Ritz, Blue Rider Press) and a new album, Thankful 'N Thoughtful (Anti-Records).

As an interpretive vocalist who does not write, Thankful could be construed as yet another covers album from her. But as typified by I've Got My Own Hell to Raise (2005, Anti-Records), which was a selection of songs by female composers, or Interpretations; The British Rock Songbook (2010, Anti-Records) which remodeled well-known brit singles from the '60s and '70s, LaVette approaches the music and turns it into far more than what even the composers had in mind. Don't believe me: Have a look at Pete Townshend's reaction to her version of The Who's "Love Reign O'er Me" on YouTube.

In the case of Thankful, LaVette covers obscure songs by well-known artists (with the exception of one fairly recent hit) and manages to not only do the music industry a favor but also to justify my rage. She's still one of a kind and her mastery of soul/blues is literally beyond comprehension. The only way to describe her through her new album and her recent two-night stand at City Winery is to think of her as a sorceress, but even that falls short.

The most famous track here is "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley, a song that begs for a bare-knuckled approach. LaVette's take is to shear it of its groove, strip it naked and punctuate the emotion behind the lyrics. Where Cee Lo Green crooned, LaVette jabs—not with anger or confrontation but with common sense, exasperation, and reason. Through this song, LaVette makes it a declaration of this era's madness for anything you want it to mean—innocent, talented, intelligent children routinely gunned down in the streets; decent, loving individuals denied the right to marry or serve their country; religious institutions that deny and camouflage abuses as a matter of policy; and perverted politics that corrupt there purpose. Green hints at the rot, but LaVette goes for the throat.

LaVette's reading of Neil Young's "Everyone Knows This is Nowhere" goes even further. Where Young seemed to sing about being trapped in a nowhere town or romance, LaVette rips through it like she's trapped in a nowhere life. Either interpretation exposes the situation as a no-win but LaVette's reading is either of defiance (fight) or defeat (suicide); however, the way she sings makes it hard to tell which.

If Thankful seems like a downer, and a complex one at that (after all, these are the blues), her show at City Winery was a qualified gas. Strutting out in a black pants ensemble and sensible low heels, she was spry, sassy and playfully sexy. Better still, City Winery seemed custom-made for her—a large elegant room of exposed brick and low lighting, it has an intimacy that reeks of informal class. Comfortably spacious while intimate (yes, the wind flowed freely, the wait staff was shockingly youthful and knowledgeable, the food was plentiful and exotic, and the feel of the room was unhurried and friendly) the set-up allowed LaVette's sorcery to permeate the room. (Yes, even the wait staff had to routinely stop and applaud her.)

Before tearing into Bob Dylan's "Everything Is Broken," she cracked that Dylan "writes too many damn words" but she went right ahead and turned it into something searing, engaging and emotionally complicated, anyway. When she took on Neil Young's "Heart of Gold," she made the quaint concept of searching for true love a quest for sincere and genuine friendship and companionship. Through LaVette's reading, Young's whiny lament became a quest for connection, warmth, understanding and camaraderie —which brings me back to my aforementioned rage. This is music that I needed to hear as a young man decades ago, and to be denied hearing LaVette for all this time is a crime in itself. To the record executive who canned her 40 years ago I say, "Rot in hell." To LaVette, I say, "Go, girl."

Heads up: Aretha Franklin will be playing The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Ind., on Saturday, Dec. 29.


facebook twitter pin it del.icio.us stumble upon digg 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.

Ringing the Andy Bell 2014-10-01
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE: PRINCE, YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN 2014-10-01
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Happy anniversary: Lyric's Anthony Freud marks milestones 2014-10-01
MUSICAL REVIEW A Kurt Weill Cabaret 2014-10-01
Forward-toward male volunteer Lenny Earl: fests, transition 2014-10-01
Clay Aiken's hacking comment; Tina Turner museum; Joe Manganiello 2014-09-30
World news: Gay Times' icons; Russia court upholds LGBT ban 2014-09-30
Hercules and Love Affair, the C-word and a 'Broken Heart' 2014-09-30
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Paloma Faith's 'Perfect' plan 2014-09-30
'Flame' on!: Erasure's Andy Bell on new CD, Joan Rivers 2014-09-24
Upcoming: Fireside Chat; Mapplethorpe; Etta James tribute; Mamet's Cryptogram 2014-09-24
Bjork film screening; Chely Wright campaigns on Kickstarter 2014-09-24
Lily Allen talks Rihanna and gay best friends 2014-09-23
BENT NIGHTS More on Riot Fest; Fishbone 2014-09-23
'Drag Race' alum Delano does Chicago unplugged exclusive 2014-09-23
'Magic Mike XXL' news; Stevie Nicks; Ricky's new single 2014-09-23
Melissa Etheridge This Is M.E. at Cadillac Palace Theatre Nov. 15 2014-09-23
New American Folk Theatre presents musical by two Chicagoans 2014-09-23
The show must go on: A season of musicals and operas is coming 2014-09-17
Gay music legend dies; O'Donnell on Boomer List; Staples honored 2014-09-17
ENTERTAINMENT NOTES Performances, appearances and releases 2014-09-17
MUSIC Mikey Wax, Brendan James fill SPACE 2014-09-16
MUSICAL ROUNDUP 'Mud' about Riot Fest 2014-09-16
Lea Delaria, Artemis at Lakeside Pride Women in Music Nov. 16 2014-09-15
Words or Music? Renee Fleming & Mark Strand 2014-09-12
Over the Rainbow Gilda's benefit at Sidetrack Nov. 12 2014-09-11
MUSIC Sinead O' Connor isn't bossy, she's the boss 2014-09-09
Trans* activist Jones headlines release party 2014-09-09
Music news: Barbra, Blige and more 2014-09-09
NUNN ON ONE: MUSIC Colbie Caillat gives music a new 'Try' 2014-09-09
MUSIC Billy Bragg's a real riot, talks 'Sexuality' 2014-09-09
Streisand Channel, Neil Patrick weds, Sam Smith does 'Fast Car' 2014-09-09
Alan Cumming in Conversation Oct. 13 at Music Box 2014-09-08
Chita Rivera Moraine Valley Community College Sept. 27 2014-09-05
Malinowski new director of Lakeside's shhh...OUT! 2014-09-05
North Coast turns five 2014-09-02
Carell's gay film; Bomer's Horror Story; Gaga joins Lambert 2014-09-02
MUSIC London Grammar: A Brit parade 2014-09-02
Ariana & The Rose: Flowering act on LGBTs, Ariana 2014-09-02
Michelle Chamuel in Chicago Dec. 15 2014-09-02





Copyright © 2014 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.

 

 

 



 

DISH: SAVOR River Roast
 
Operation Do Ask, Do Tell: Symposium on health for military GLBTs
 
One night in the area of Austin
 
Jane Saks expands social-justice brand with Project&
 
Precious Davis reflects on Center, excited for Columbia
 
Windy City Times Current DownloadNightspots Current DownloadQueercast Current Download
Windy City Media Group BlogsJoin Our Email List!Donate Now



  News Index       Archives   About WCMG    Publications    Bars & Clubs     Calendar   Videos   Advertisers    OUT! Guide    Classifieds   AIDS @ 32
 Local | National | World | Politics | Obits | Profiles | Views | Entertainment | Theater | Dance | Music | Film | Art | Books | TV/Gossip
 Travel | History | Marriage | Youth | Trans | Lesbian | Celebrations | Food | Nightlife | Sports | Health | Real Estate | Autos | Pets | Crime



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      News Videos      Nightspots Videos      Entertainment Videos      Queercast Videos      Comedy Videos     
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.