Where’s the music variety at pride festivals?

A booming dance beat cranked up to decibel-busting levels always greets us at pride festivities. I’ve got no complaint about a great beat and partying dancers, but when that’s the only thing available to us, I start to wonder. I know there are all kinds of LGBT musicians out there. Why aren’t they at pride events?

Sure, there’s some live music. My local celebration had a great women’s rock band. After them, it was only pounding dance music delivered by a DJ.

Adele at London Pride.

Not everyone can afford Adele and I know, she’s not queer. I get that. But surely, a mind-numbing beat delivered by DJs is not all we’re after?

Long Beach Pride featured Queen Latifah. Again, she’s big budget entertainment. However, you don’t have to book her — there are lots of local and regional entertainers who could perform and they’re just as good. They may not be on TV or at every major club but I don’t care about that – do you?

Orlando gay chorus.

Many cities have choruses – gay, women’s, whatever – who’d be happy to perform. Many singer-songwriters have affirmative songs about being queer. There are lots of supportive bands. I know, because I hear them at women’s music festivals.

Maybe you’re rolling your eyes about now `cause I’m an acoustic performer who has played at pride events. Not so much anymore. I can’t compete with a queen who’s been on stage with a Lady Gaga song pumping out of the speakers.

Maybe the answer is separate stages. Wanna shake your booty? Go to the dance stage. Wanna listen? Go to the music stage. Seems simple to me.

We’re a long time from next summer and many pride events. Take these next few months to get involved with your local pride organizers and get some musical variety at next year’s festival. If you can’t do that, at least request your favorite band.

I’ll climb off my rainbow-colored soapbox now.

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About jamiebobamie

Musician - teacher - writer - gets bored easily. I write an almost-weekly blog that includes true stories gathered from 20-plus years of touring, how-to articles for musicians and profiles of performers. Also, I love dark chocolate, I can play "Brown Eyed Girl" behind my head, and I twirl the baton badly.
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11 Responses to Where’s the music variety at pride festivals?

  1. Good points, Jamie! Amazingly, I was invited then “snubbed” at the Pride Festival, a few years back, in Syracuse, NY. They put me on a small stage, where I had to fight with local kids who had decided to “squat” there, then the organizers told me I was too loud! So, I wnet to a lesbian club and played there, the rest of the day. Also, Syracuse Stage found my music appealing enough to do cabaret style preshows, four of them, in all, for the folks who attended stage plays. That cross-section enjoyed the music. Is there any corelation, whatsoever, between the Pride organizers, and anyone else, at all? There doesn’t seem to be!
    Melissa

  2. wordschat says:

    Excellent post Jaime. The muisc mostly if not entirely is set for the younger dancle club crowd. Nothing wrong with that music if that’s your cup of tea but then again I bet a lot of older and yes younger would like some accoustic, pop, a little jaaz (or a lot in my case) or even some folk. However they are catering to the largest demographic and have only so much funds. Years ago our Ottawa Pride had separate music / family day before the main parade day. It had the local gay and mixed choruses, and more relaxed music that you speak about. Pride ia for everyone but at the feastivals you go with the flow music wise. This year’s in Ottawa did have good stage music, not quite as harsh and people loved it.

  3. karen munro caple says:

    Hey Jamie!
    I so agree with you. I remember years ago performing at Pride with the Vox Femina choir along with the Ottawa Men’s choir. We had a blast and later in the show the blasting come-hump-me music came on. It can be done.
    Thanks for presenting the idea.
    Karen

  4. Allison Sigrist says:

    I worked on the first ever North Shore Pride in Massachusetts this year and was co-chair of the entertainment committee, and we felt the same way and wanted to create an interesting lineup. Of course I and my co-chair booked our own bands (isn’t that one of the benefits of being co-chair?), but we do very different things musically, and then we made a point of trying to be as diverse as possible within the few hours we had. I think we did ok, because we got quite a few kudos (some people even said our lineup was better than other bigger and more established Pride celebrations they had attended)…this was our lineup: http://www.northshorepride.org/pride-celebration/entertainment.

    There was an afterparty with a dj for dancing held immediately after the festival, too.

  5. Robin Renee says:

    It’s been a very long time since I’ve played a Pride festival for exactly this reason. Also, even if I weren’t trying to compete with dance beats and drag performers, I also found that it was increasingly likely that most of the committee’s resources would be poured into hiring a big name act and the rest of us would be asked to perform for free or almost free for “exposure” and for “the community.” It felt exploitative to me and I eventually decided I’d rather say no thanks. I do hope to hear of more alternatives to this pattern. We talk about diversity and Pride would be a great day to show it!

  6. Amy Coffman says:

    I was delighted to be invited to perform at our local Pride this year, but had to turn it down as it fell right in the middle of my duo’s annual summer tour, and we were hundreds of miles away on the day. I’m already thinking ahead to next year, though, and plan to book around that date. FWIW, we acoustic singer-songwriter types were well-represented, though that may change at some point. Now to go put on some Come-Hump-Me music. 😮

  7. I can relate! You just gave me a great idea to speak to Pride Toronto to get an “unplugged” stage going…but it would have to be away from all the thumping music in order to be heard! hmmm…:)

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