Slave to the rhythm

GA Voice - - Best Bets Events - By BILL KAELIN

I love mu­sic. I would rather lis­ten to iTunes any day than turn on my TV. I wake up to it, work with it and usu­ally fall asleep to it. The only thing bet­ter than lis­ten­ing to my fa­vorite artists is ac­tu­ally see­ing them per­form their cre­ations live. In a tri­fecta twist of fate I got to see three of the big­gest gay mu­sic icons per­form re­cently; with Cul­ture Club be­com­ing the first band I got to check off my bucket list.

I wasn’t ex­pect­ing much af­ter hear­ing ru­mors that lead singer Boy Ge­orge had lost most of his vo­cal range as a re­sult of hard liv­ing, but hear­ing him belt out “Black Money” at the be­gin­ning of the night proved his stay­ing power and took me on a time-travel trip back to my youth. I re­mem­ber my Dad’s frus­tra­tion at the site of Ge­orge’s “pop tart” im­age plas­tered on my bed­room walls but I was blinded to his gen­der flux by lov­ing his mu­sic and sense of style. Thir­tytwo years later at The Fox Theatre I got more Boy Ge­orge with a beard than the sig­na­ture drag queen with dreadlocks, but he seemed hap­pier than ever, ac­knowl­edg­ing his past strug­gles and prov­ing to the au­di­ence that “Time” had been good to him in the end by putting on one of the best shows I had seen in a while.

Mu­sic Midtown pro­duced the next LGBT live mu­sic es­capade for me, and is one of those iconic At­lanta events that makes me so proud of our city. The tal­ent this year fea­tured dou­ble gay head­lin­ers with El­ton John and Sam Smith, but since I had al­ready seen Mr. Smith, my loy­alty lay with Sir El­ton John. If tears could sig­nal a su­per show, then El­ton was off the charts, in­duc­ing ma­jor water­works through­out the night. Singing the cho­rus of “Good­bye Yel­low Brick Road” with tens of thou­sands of my peers was a spir­i­tual ex­pe­ri­ence, with the rest of the per­for­mance span­ning The Rocket Man’s en­tire ca­reer. He evoked gasps from the au­di­ence with a set list fea­tur­ing hit af­ter hit.

I didn’t think any­thing could top that, but then the grand fi­nale of my mag­i­cal mu­si­cal tour came cour­tesy of my gal pal Lisa, who “I re­mem­ber my Dad’s frus­tra­tion at the site of Ge­orge’s ‘pop tart’ im­age plas­tered on my bed­room walls, but I was blinded to his gen­der flux by lov­ing his mu­sic and sense of style.” made me an of­fer I couldn’t refuse when she wel­comed me to stay at her beau­ti­ful L.A. home to see the leg­endary Grace Jones at the iconic Hol­ly­wood Bowl. Thanks to Delta, my des­tiny was de­cided, and off I went to the “Best Coast” for 48 hours to hang out with my bestie and to be the “Slave to Miss Jones’ rhythm” un­der the su­per blood moon.

When I was a child, the an­drog­y­nous su­per­model and Andy Warhol muse of the 1980s scared the shit out of me, but as I grew older I learned to ap­pre­ci­ate her unique blend of gen­der-bending per­for­mance art, disco and dub mu­sic. In con­cert, her pitch-per­fect voice, bare-breasted Keith Har­ing body paint and count­less cos­tume changes well-ex­ceeded my ex­pec­ta­tions. The show was a non­stop, 2-hour pop art spec­ta­cle that was scary, sweet, sen­ti­men­tal and straight up sassy. Grace spoke to the au­di­ence in be­tween songs about love and love lost while show­ing ev­ery­one what it means to grow old Grace­fully at age 67.

Miss Jones served up some se­ri­ous per­for­mance art, com­plete with a 10 minute-plus hula hoop ses­sion to end the show, leav­ing me inspired and so grate­ful that I had the chance to see these three liv­ing le­gends live and in per­son.

Je’taime beau­coup Miss Jones, Boy Ge­orge and El­ton John and most of all to the mu­sic that has be­come the sound­track to my life.

Bill Kaelin is the owner of Bill Kaelin Mar­ket­ing Events and Con­sult­ing Agency in At­lanta. www.Bil­lKaelin.com

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