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PERPETUAL CHANGE — Blind Dog Wanders

| Nov 23, 2009
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The West Coast, and particularly Los Angeles, is known as one of the country’s major music markets. Okay, so that’s one of those statements that’s practically a cliche, and you’re probably wondering why it’s used to start this article. Well, transgender musicians are becoming more and more an important, creatively viable part of what’s happening out West, and beyond.

A relatively new band called Blind Dog Wanders is wasting no time in making their mark locally in L.A. and eventually, nationally. The band consists of –Laura Gonzales — guitar, backing vocals; Trisha Palermo — drums; Beth Spring — bass guitar; and brand new vocalist Tiffany King. She replaces original vocalist Angel Bonilla, who has moved east to get married.

Tiffany King

“We picked Tiffany because she has a greal vocal range,” Gonzales said of King. “She’s a wonderful person…(fyi, she is a GG…), and loves the fact that she is performing with us AND as who we are.”

According to Gonzales, the band members clicked immediately when they first met. “The four of us got together, did some rehearsals, and decided to go into the recording studio,” she said. “We all just synched at the outset. I wrote our first four songs and began recording at Four Sticks Studios in Hollywood.”

The name of the band, Blind Dog Wanders, has an interesting story behind it. “Blind Dog Wanders was on a sign facing a busy street just outside a house,” Gonzales said. “Apparently, the homeowner’s dog would escape. So the owners wanted drivers to be aware of their wandering, sightless dog so no one would hit it.

Laura Gonzales

“The phrase seemed like a euphemism for my new life,” Gonzales continued. “A blind exploration into my new gender identity. There’s no roadmap to being transgender, just a lot of blind faith, prayer, luck, and hopefully, support from those already in the community.”

Musically, Blind Dog Wanders has been described as a sort of “…melodic New York Dolls.” Overall, the influences of the band members run the gamut of styles and genres.

“To me, it all started with The Beatles,” said Palermo. “As a drummer, it quickly moved to The Who. I would say the bands that influenced me the most would be Patti Smith, Bowie, Television, Sabbath, Pink Floyd, and as a drummer, Led Zeppelin.”

“The Beatles come to mind right away,” adds Spring. “I grew up with rock, all types…and all sorts of variants feed me. Also, I absolutely love flamenco, much classical guitar, and Mana — the kings of Latin rock, some world music, etc. Having said that, what I listen to, what I play are not 100% the same, as finally it has to be me being expressive and making it my own.”

Beth Spring

“I really like that description of our music,” said Gonzales in reference to the New York Dolls comparison. “When I write songs, I don’t purposely try to write that way, but in trying to keep them edgy and raw without a lot of overdubs, synth, or strings, they probably can be perceived that way, and that’s okay with me. The raw guitar sound is my NY Dolls/Marc Bolan/Nirvana influence. The melodic part comes from influences like Jimmy Page, Pink Floyd, Lennon and Harrison, Red Hot Chili Peppers.”

Since the band is relatively new, their live performances have been mostly around the Hollywood/Los Angeles area, and clubs that are GLBT frriendly. One example of such a venue is something the band has been instrumental in organizing called Club Shine. The club focuses on real singers, dancers, and acts who actually play instruments. “One thing we don’t do is focus on lip sync or drag shows,” Gonzales said. “To us, that is the past.” She emphasizes that Club Shine is NOT a sex club.

Gonzales has also launched a social/community web site and forum, (soon to be known as, and it now has 3000 screened members. The screening process is in place because the site and forum does not allow any sexual solicitations, or nude content in any form. “We want to be a true community, social, and support site,” Gonzales said. “However, if people meet up and get into a relationship via the membership, then great for them.”

Trisha Palermo

While Blind Dog Wanders does have its community and social committment, it is first and foremost a band.

“We really want people to like the band for its music, not necessarily its politics or that it is transgender. When we formed the band, it was a great thing that we are all transgender, but it is never a requirement.”

Future plans for Blind Dog Wanders include keeping busy as a live act, and continuing to write and record new material. The ultimate goal is an album.

“We like the idea of the album concept,” Gonzales said. “We are not a ‘singles’ band. I’m not sure any of our songs are singles material anyway.

“We know most record companies will probably run from us, either from who we are or because we are probably not ‘hit’ music material. We are hoping that there is someone out there who might think our music is commercially viable. We think our community…will reallly come out in support if we get that far.”

Regardless of how far Blind Dog Wanders gets as a band, they already have developed the mindset of absolute movers and shakers when it comes to the transggender community. “We are the new edge of the civil rights movement,” Gonzales said. “Getting outsiders to accept us is still a dangerous and daunting task.

“We must stay together as a community. We need to form a stronger alliance with the gay and lesbian communities as well as within our own community. We also need to figure out what to do with those that come in and out of our community for purely sexual gratification or exploitation. We need to get beyond the ‘drag queen’ days…unless that’s your living as an entertainer…and work harder toward passability and social integration and assimilation.

“We need to create job assistance and training foundation for all of us who are transitioning and struggling to find work because of it. This will soon be the focus of our transgender community web site.

“Our resolve grows every day, and I hope I will see our asseptance within my lifetime.”

(For more information on Blind Dog Wanders, please check out their website or their Facebook page.



American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert’s album, For Your Entertainment will be released soon, and already the cover photo is stirring controversy. Lambert took to Twitter to offer this explanation:

“Thank you to those who appreciate and understand that the album cover is deliberatley campy. It’s an homage to the past. It is ridiculous. For those that don’t get it…oh well. glad to have gotten your attention. Angrogyny. Rock and Roll.”

Lambert also adds: “I wanna rock; I want people to dance, I want people to cry. I want people to smile and laugh. And I wanna play dress-up!”

Roger Mapes, a.k.a. Yolanda, who was featured here in a two part installment (August 3rd and 31st), has had two songs included on the National Equality March 2009 CD compilation. The songs are “We Are Angels” and “Freedom Rocks”, which were produced by Robert Urban, who also played on them. I’ve heard both, which were sent to me as mp3s, and I have to say they’re excellent. And Roger says that Yolanda might not be totally in retirement after all. During his recent release party/concert for his new album House Of Joy, the spirit of Yolanda seemed to be everywhere. (There will be a review of this new album in a future column.)

I’m unclear as to when the actual CD will be released or how it can be purchased. I did find the National Equality site at Roger Mapes has provided this link to the CD, though: You can also hear Roger’s tunes at Robert Urban’s site, at, then click on the recording projects section. There’s an iTunes link for both tunes.

And last but definitely not least, rapper Katastrophe contacted us to let us know about his newest release, The Worst Amazing, which was released in late October. (Available through

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Category: Music

Pam Degroff

About the Author ()

Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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