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 2014-04-16
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

Knight at the Movies: Hateship Loveship; film notes Knight at the Movies: Hateship Loveship; film notes
Like Carol Burnett just after she left her long-running TV variety show ...

Browse Gay News Index   Browse Gay News Archives
  Windy City Times

CONCERT REVIEW The Blind Boys of Alabama
BENT NIGHTS Special to the online edition of Windy City Times
by Vern Hester
2012-02-28

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


Three days after checking out The Blind Boys of Alabama at a recent show, I got into an ironic debate with an avowed atheist on the purpose of faith.

It had nothing to do with my disbelief in God ( I'm a Nichiren Buddhist ) or his disbelief in anything but everything to do with having spiritual belief in something. After speaking with several other lay Buddhists I was able to calm the argument yesterday with a quotation from Soka Gakkai President Diasaku Ikeda: "The purpose of faith and of religion is to make it possible for us to 'forge' our lives." By "forge," it's safe to say that Ikeda means to challenge, deepen, develop and uplift ourselves from the mundane. That even my nonbelieving friend agreed that this was the purpose was not a surprise.

The trap that we both fell into is the reality of what has really been going on regarding faith in the world and, especially, from outside of the LGBT community. I keep using the word "ironic" not only because of the timing of this show with this particular argument, or the fact that we suddenly have a variety of Republican presidential wannabes who are united in their desire to kill what few LGBT rights we have won. But also in the last two weeks those same conservatives feel their faith entitles them to interfere with the rights of women and their bodies; there was also the recent outrage that rightfully erupted when one of Chicago's highest religious leaders likened the LGBT community to a racist hate group.

Of course, the less "ironic" facet of all this is that faith, religion and sociology are not topics one would normally find in this deliriously queer entertainment column concerned with mayhem, debauchery, lusty behavior, and all manner of unrestrained madness displayed in every form of popular music. I'll be the first to admit that I'd be a failure as a Christian; I love sin way too much and I flat-out refuse to stop doing it. Believe it or not, this brings me back to The Blind Boys of Alabama and, well, "irony."

Amusingly enough, The Blind Boys performed at a special gospel buffet at The Venue, situated in—of all places—The Horseshoe Casino. Enough with the irony, though; the point was The Blind Boys brought it. A group founded at the Alabama Institute for the Negro Blind At Talladega Alabama in 1939, co-vocalist Jimmy Carter is the sole surviving founding member. ( Due to illness, Carter did not perform at this show but Ben Moore and Ricky McKinnon carried on. )

However, The Blind Boys are far from merely a long-running gospel group. The group has toured worldwide for decades; won four consecutive Grammys in as many years; and shared the stage with Mavis Staples, Ben Harper, Tom Petty, Peter Gabriel and Prince, among many others. Also, the Boys have been produced by Nashville's "hot" producer of the moment, Jamey Johnson; and have made an album of duets with the likes of Lou Reed and Randy Travis. It's obvious that they've gone beyond being just an institution.

Starting the set with a reverent "Down By the River," their second song—a deeply moving and intensely emotional reading of Norman Greenbaum's '70s hit "Spirit In the Sky"—revealed what the group was about and why it's meant so much to so many. Another set of personal friends ( happily Christian, straight, and married to each other and no, I don't argue with all of my friends ) who were sitting next to me pointed out that The Blind Boys mixed songs of faith with pop while spiritualizing everything they sang.

The original version of "Spirit In the Sky" always seemed inflated with hippie hot air to me and I never could take it seriously, but here it had an entirely new gravity. Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" was delivered here with such patient emotional heft that it felt like a spiritual from the Deep Delta South ( Mayfield was a Chicago musician ) while "I Saw the Light" and "Look Where He brought Me From" kicked the vibe in the room into overdrive.

A double take of the age old "Amazing Grace" came off like a double edged sword. There was first a measured, calm, assured reading that was so strong it raised the hairs on the back of this non-believer's neck and then a furious call-and-response old-school workout that had the audience on its feet and wrapped in rapture. I mentioned to one of my friends at the table that I regretted not bringing a tambourine—and I did not mean that as a crack. The way the Blind Boys served it up there was no way not to get carried away and drawn into the spirit.

That's the final irony on all of this. The Blind Boys of Alabama did not preach ( not a word from the Bible was quoted ) , lecture or divide. What they did do was uplift, spiritualize and embrace everyone in the room with such sincerity, heart and soul that even the hardest heart would have to be won over. You can argue about faith, religion and varieties all you want but the Blind Boys demonstrated what it is.

Heads up: For those with a yen for unabashed queer nancy-boy rave-up punk, Hunx and his Punx and Heavy Creme will play at the Double Door, 1572 N. Milwaukee Ave., on March 29. See www.doubledoor.com .


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.

Christina Perri follows her 'Head' and 'Heart' 2014-04-22
Local gay singer Jonathan Zeng releases new CD 2014-04-22
Sister Spit heats up a frigid Chicago 2014-04-22
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE 2014-04-16
Chicago's Half Way to Michfest Party April 26 2014-04-16
Boy George on St. Patrick's Day, Easter Lady Bunny 2014-04-16
Gay men's chorus to celebrate Broadway 2014-04-16
BENT NIGHTS Sharon Corr; Dum Dum Girls; Landmarks 2014-04-15
Five Worth Finding 2014-04-15
'This Is What It Feels Like' to be Armin van Buuren 2014-04-15
Frankie Knuckles memorial April 21 2014-04-14
Windy City Perf. Arts hosts 'To Russia with Love' 2014-04-11
Vicci Martinez performs in Chicago 2014-04-10
Lakeside Pride Symphonic Band plans British Invasion 2014-04-10
Etheridge to perform with Chicago Symphony Orchestra 2014-04-10
Gay men's chorus to celebrate Broadway 2014-04-09
Artemis Singers concert May 31 at Broadway United 2014-04-09
IPW's 'pow wow' has Janelle Monae, Jennifer Hudson 2014-04-09
Judging 'American Idol' with Keith Urban 2014-04-09
GLAAD to honor Laverne Cox; new 'Horror Story' details 2014-04-09
Tom Daley is gay, not bi; fun. joins LGBT-equality campaign 2014-04-09
Getting the 'what' on Betty Who 2014-04-09
Queer concert series starts April 9 in Chicago 2014-04-08
Sobule to release Dottie's Charms on Record Store Day 2014-04-08
Windy City Gay Idol kicks off 2014-04-07
Artemis Singers plans Feminist Mosaic Pride concert 2014-04-02
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE: I TURN (AND SPIN) TO YOU 2014-04-02
Against Me! performing in Palatine April 4 2014-04-02
CGMC to host 'Big Package Auction' April 5 2014-04-02
BENT NIGHTS The Neighbourhood (NBHD) at The Aragon 2014-04-01
YouTube star Hall on Beyonce, coming out, viral videos 2014-04-01
Ferrick, Vega at Old Town School of Music 2014-04-01
Frankie Knuckles, legendary DJ, dies 2014-03-31
Tegan and Sara take three Juno Awards, hit Chicago in June 2014-03-31
Queer Concert Series comes to Sidetrack April 9 2014-03-28
Chicago Gay Men's Chorus: Bouncing of the Walls concert 2014-03-26
Hannah Thomas: Out singer showcases voice in various genres 2014-03-26
Kreis among those up for Chicago music awards 2014-03-26
Female rapper to bring talents to Chicago 2014-03-26
Windy City Gay Idol kicks off 12th year 2014-03-26





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.

 

 

 



 

Lady Tajma Hall dies
 
Gay-owned B&B offers warmth in Rogers Park
 
LGBTQ Senior Housing applications to open up
 
Villa Loretta adds a touch of Hollywood to weddings
 
CHM declares 'One Love' with wedding expo
 
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.