With all the hub-bub surrounding the SCOTUS ruling, what better time than now for Orange County to learn about some LGBTQ artists in our community? Contrary to the belief that anything south of Long Beach is a cultural wasteland as far as LGBTQ identity is concerned, these artists have been thriving and creating awesome music, challenging the misconception that queer artists can only exist in LA, PDX, and NYC. After some digging, texting, and leaving no virtual rock unturned, I searched the corners of the county to bring some of OC's best queer artists right to your fingertips. Get ready to jump out from behind that rainbow filtered Facebook photo and put on your dancing shoes- in no particular order, behold 10 LGBTQ Orange County artists to listen to or see this summer!
Inspired by Le Tigre and Tegan and Sara, WASI bridge dance and punk with catchy hooks and synth. Buena Park lesbian duo Jessie Meehan and Cosmo Salazar started writing songs together in their high school project the Midol Poppers, and have been producing "riot-pop" gold ever since. Their new EP Bleed Pop was recently featured on AfterEllen and is available for download at www.isawwasi.com.
Check out WASI July 18th at San Diego Pride 3620 30th St, San Diego, CA.
Self proclaimed "Gutter Glam" from Santa Ana, Popsical bridge grunge, '90s harmonies, experimental punk, and sass like it was mandate from the gods. Led by the fearless Genderqueer Chanteuse and bassist Josie Wreck, the trio have kept up a steady momentum since they formed in 2011, releasing a string of EP's and playing all over So Cal. Popsical are in the works of releasing a new record this summer, their previous EP "I Shit a Tear" is available for download at https://popsical.bandcamp.com.
Check out Popsical July 9th at the World Famous Doll Hut 107 S Adams St. Anaheim.
Drumming powerhouse and transman, Ben Wevers is Orange County's best-kept jazz secret. After relocating to OC in 1988, Weaver got his start drumming in Top 40, R&B, funk, world-music, and rock bands. He found his love for jazz, and never looked back. In addition to playing drums for various trios, quartets and quintets around OC, Wvers currently drums for the 17 piece Orange County Swing Band, the Musical Theater Academy of Orange County, and The Maureen O'Sulllivan Jazz Group featuring Ron Kobayashi.
Check out Ben Wevers every first Sunday of the month from 1:00pm – 3:00pm with the Maureen O'Sullivan Jazz Group with Ron Kobayashi at Mozambique, 1740 S. Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA 92651 www.mozambiqueoc.com.
Byren Scott Adams
Multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, and visual artist Byren Scott Adams is an OC native who draws inspiration from queerness, intersectional feminism, and crust punk. Previously with the band Palm Reader (alongside queer guitarist/singer Adi), his playful melodies and art-punk vocals and song writing style is reminiscent of late 70's So Cal punk with 21st century indie-pop sensibilities (think Screamers meets The Simpletones). Although Palm Reader disbanded in spring 2015, Adams is working on new music and art, and we can't wait to see and hear what's in store.
Palm Reader's 2013 release Unlucky is available for download at https://palmreaderoc.bandcamp.com/album/unlucky-2.
My Beautiful Leah
With roots in classical piano, tuba, bassoon, and drum line, it makes sense that Orange County based pansexual transman Jack Ananian's experimental heavy synth-pop arrangements sometimes swell with symphonic velocity. Driven by making honest meaningful art, Ananian uses broody vocals, analog synthesizers, and drum machines as a conduit for "emotional transfer and connection" via his recorded work and live performances. Although he's taking a one-year hiatus from live performance, his 2014 release "For You With Love" is available for download at https://mybeautifulleahmusic.bandcamp.com.
Without the Blonde
Bi-sexual folk rock singer-songwriter Anna Tutor, AKA Without the Blonde, started playing music 19 years ago when she memorized and played charts out of an old Bob Dylan songbook. She began writing her own music shortly after and found the courage to go live in 2005, playing original material about strength, struggle, identity, and love. Tutor's live set includes guest musicians, and is worth checking out for any fan of singer-songwriters, folk, or Americana.
Catch Without the Blonde Wednesday August 5th at Fitzgerald's Pub, 19171 Magnolia St. Huntington Beach.
Rising from the ashes of Santa Ana's indie-riot-grrrl band Slow, The Bellhaunts take pop-punk, dark melodies, and dreamy indie, and mash it into what they refer to as "Sentimental Indie Doom" with gusto. Between the powerhouse songwriting and vocals of Adrienne Santellan and Redd's energetic live drumming, The Bellhaunts have become a queer punk staple in So Cal. Their EP Deathless as well as 2 teaser tracks from their highly anticipated self-titled album Bellhaunts are streaming at https://bellhaunts.bandcamp.com.
Catch The Bellhaunts live July 22nd at The Federal Bar, 5303 Lankershim Blvd. Los Angeles.
Since their inception in 2001, Men Alive has created community and space for gay singers in Orange County through full choral productions featuring theatrics, live musicians, and dance. They perform diverse material from pop singer classics to Christmas Carols, and have received accolades from professionals all over the world including Liza Minnelli who even appeared as a guest star in their 2012 holiday show. Their mission goes beyond musical objectives; Men Alive strive to be "an ambassador of the gay community, spreading harmony, good will, and a message of acceptance." The 130 members are on break as they prepare for their 15th anniversary season in September, but fortunately for us, Men Alive have a few special local performances this summer.
Catch Men Alive! July 20 just before sunset at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts' FREE MOVIE MONDAYS screening of the film "Pitch Perfect." 600 Towncenter Drive, Costa Mesa.
Bell Tower Bats
Frustrated by a lack of dark bands in Orange County, queer frontperson Edda Corpse along with friends Grimm Beatz and Ludwig Wilde decided to crank out dancy death rock jams from behind the Orange Curtain starting in 2007. Anaheim based Bell Tower Bats have released multiple singles and EPs, played infamous goth haunts like Funeral and Release the Bats, and continue to gig. This fall the trio will release a 7" split with San Diego based They Feed at Night, with a full length to follow in February 2016. And you thought goth was dead!
Stay current with Bell Tower Bats via Facebook.
Fullerton-based Lesbian MC Vally Vicious has been making pop infused hip-hop since 2008, but has come into her own as an MC in 2015 with back-to-back releases Loveless Vicious and Illsace. Influenced by artists like Drake and Earl Sweatshirt, Vicious' new-school approach and aggressive flow boast radio aesthetic with underground sensibilities, weaving R&B choruses with flawless rap verses. Vicious is taking a hiatus from live shows while she recalibrates her trajectory, but her releases are available for download via her Facebook page facebook.com/vallyvicious.
Vally Vicious's new EP Loveless Vicious is available for download at https://vallyvicious.bandcamp.com/album/loveless-vicious-2
Did we miss some of your favorite LGBT musicians in Orange County? Please let me know by posting links to them in the comments section.