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The Advocate guide to music '97.

So what's your favorite gay diva up to these days? Here's a peek at how k.d., Elton, and RuPaul plan to rock our world this spring

As more out lesbian and gay musicians achieve national recognition, the industry's wealth of gay talent becomes easier to celebrate. Sure, there's no Gaylapalooza music festival yet, but if there were, here are the folks you'd be clapping for, dude.

Marc Almond: Soft Cell's former singer is between recording labels at the moment. But in late summer, look for limited-edition vinyl releases of two of his early solo projects, including 1986's Violent Silence.

Boy George: In late May the British pop star kicks off an international tour in the Philippines, with stops in Moscow, Hong Kong, Dubai, and the United Kingdom. Of course, the biggest news on the Boy George career front is that the BBC has just optioned the film rights to his autobiography Take It Like a Man.

Ani DiFranco: With the April release of her double-CD live set, Living in Clip, Buffalo, N.Y.'s most famous bisexual is set to tour Europe this summer.

Erasure: Having just signed with Madonna's hot Maverick label, the pioneering British techno-pop band heads out on a national tour in support of its new release, Cowboy.

Melissa Etheridge: Although filming of the Janis Joplin biopic in which Etheridge is set to star was scheduled to begin this spring, those plans have been postponed. For the time being, the rock queen, along with co-mom Julie Cypher, is bringing up baby.

Extra Fancy: Despite the band's recent label woes (Atlantic dumped them in 1996), front man Brian Grillo and company are continuing to perform--and record: After having released their homegrown five-song EP cassette Christmastime last winter, the band heads back into the studio to record five more songs this summer.

Melissa Ferrick: In a scenario reminiscent of Extra Fancy's, Atlantic Records dropped Ferrick last year. But the out singer-songwriter has just signed with Hollywood's highest-profile openly gay manager, Sandy Gallin.

Hole: Despite Courtney Love's recent transformation from grunge queen to Hollywood princess, the band's long-awaited follow-up to its 1994 smash hit Live Through This should hit stores this fall. The group, featuring out lesbian drummer Patty Schemel, has headed back into the studio, with Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan, a longtime friend and former beau of Love's, handling most of the album's producing tasks.

Imperial Teen: As the critically acclaimed side project of Faith No More's out keyboardist Roddy Bottum, the Los Angeles-based band has written 13 new songs and completed a two-week headline engagement in Paris as well as a West Coast tour back home with alterna-fave Dinosaur Jr. A national tour is in the works for this summer, but scheduling is contingent upon the success of Faith No More's new CD, Album of the Year, which hits stores in June.

Elton John: The pop star-turned-AIDS activist just celebrated his 50th birthday (how old does that make us?) and is gearing up for the fall release of his latest CD, not to mention the stateside screening of boyfriend David Furnish's documentary on him, Tantrums and Tiaras. Plans for two Hong Kong dates this summer were canceled after mainland China's red tape proved too troublesome.

k.d. lang: The budding TV star [see review on page 73] joins Rod Stewart, Seal, and Steve Winwood in a live concert for worldwide broadcast at London's Wembley Stadium August 16 to celebrate the hit songs of the rock era. She's also hard at work on her next album, which, she told gossip columnist Liz Smith in February, will contain some of the "smokiest" songs ever written: "My inspirations go back to those classic Frank Sinatra albums that you would play over and over again on a Saturday night."

Luscious Jackson: Hot on the heels of their second full-length CD, Fever In, Fever Out, the all-grrrl punk-funk band featuring lesbian drummer Kate Schellenback tours Europe this summer and returns to the States in July.

Ashley MacIsaac: On May 24 the aptly dubbed "grunge fiddler" performs with th Vancouver [Canada] Symphony Orchestra. The Canadian musician then tours Japan June 1-10 with Irish folk legends the Chieftains. Gigs are also planned for a worldwide tour in late summer, including stops in Denmark, Brazil, Canada, and the United States.

Bob Mould: The out ex-Husker Du leader continues on his solo track with a national tour scheduled this spring.

The Murmurs: As reported in the April 29 issue of The Advocate, Murmurs leader Leisha Hailey heads back into the studio with a new band to record the follow-up to 1994's The Murmurs. And contrary to previous rumors, Hailey's main squeeze, k.d. lang, will produce several tracks.

Me'Shell Ndegeocello: A summer tour may be in the works, but don't hold your breath. According to her publicist, the reluctant star is enjoying a rest.

Pansy Division: The San Francisco Bay-area band just released two new singles, "Queer to the Core" and "Manada" (a homo homage to that northern territory, Canada). Both songs will be featured on the upcoming CD singles compilation, More Lovin' From Our Oven, due out in August.

Linda Perry: The out ex-4 Non Blondes member hits the road with Iggy Pop, Sponge, Tonic, the Rev. Horton Heat, and Bloodhound Gang as part of the Revolution of Alternative Rhythm tour, which kicks off May 23 in Iowa.

Pet Shop Boys: Britain's heady dance duo is tentatively slated for a June tour of the United Kingdom, playing two weeks in London as well as four or five other theaters throughout Britain. And to please their many U.S. fans, word has it they may even cross "the pond" for a New York show sometime in late summer.

Phranc: In June the famed lesbian folksinger heads back into the studio to record her next album, due out in the fall. On July 27, catch her at San Diego's gay pride festival.

Psychotica: Although caught in the whirlwind of an industry-wide corporate downsizing frenzy (American Recordings dropped the glam band in February), out front-man Patrick Briggs continues to write songs for a follow-up to his New York-based group's 1996 debut.

RuPaul: on May 10 the drag diva ap Toronto AIDS benefit Fashion Cares, performing two songs from her latest album, Foxy Lady. Undoubtedly, one of those songs will be her latest single, "A Little Bit of Love." As of press time, Ru's second season of VH1 shows was to begin taping late this spring, but nothing's official.

Skunk Anansie: With the release of its album Stoosh, the British funk-metal ensemble, featuring lesbian front woman Skin, goes on tour as the opening act for the Rollins Band.

Sleater-Kinney: One of the most acclaimed rock outfits of 1996 hits the road in support of its new album, Dig Me Out.

Jill Sobule: Most famous for her 1995 novelty hit "I Kissed a Girl," the Canadian singer-songwriter just completed a tour with label mate Duncan Sheik, and she may hit the road again in July to promote her new album, Happy Town.

Jimmy Somerville: The fiercely gay former Bronski Beat-nik plans a new album in September and a live show in Miami on Labor Day.

Team Dresch: Ignore the rumors; they have not broken up. In fact, Jody Bleyle returns to Portland, Ore., this spring (having finished a tour and EP with Hazel, another Portland band) to begin writing new songs with Team-mate Donna Dresch.

Two to watch out for:

Longstocking: The best grrrl band you never heard has just a signed a deal with Donna Dresch's Chainsaw Records.

Magnetic Fields: Out front-man Stephin Merritt, whose songs have been performed by such indie darlings as Sebadoh's Lou Barlow and former R.E.M. producer Mitch Easter, heads out on a national tour with his band May 28.
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Author:Frutkin, Alan
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Date:May 13, 1997
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