Perpetual Change — Georgie Jessup

| Nov 19, 2012
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This month, Perpetual Change is proud to feature an interview with Georgie Jessup, who has been working diligently on a new album for the last several months.  Some brief references to a few of the songs, as well as periodic progress updates, have been posted here from time to time.

For anyone not familiar with Georgie, she is a very well-known East Coast performer and a transgendered Native American activist.  She was first featured in this column back in August of 2005, with update columns in August 2008, and April 2010.

As with most players who have made music a life-long career, it all started with music lessons as a child. From there, the usual round of early bands put Georgie firmly on a musical path By the mid-1970s, she formed a band called Jessup, which was named after her home town of Jessup, Maryland.  In 1977, Georgie decided to give the West Coast a try and consequently moved to L.A., formed a band called The Jessup Band, and released a 45 rpm single (Love For The Night, b/w Back To Baltimore).  The band got some decent regional radio air play, but not much else from this release.

By 1980, Georgie moved back east, and formed bands such as George E. Jessup and The Jewels, and another called Wavelength. By the mid-1980s, Georgie also started confronting her gender issues. It’s from that point where the true artistic nature of Georgie Jessup emerged. Since that time, she has released several albums, the best known being American Holocaust, Sweet Grass Smoke, Winkte and Crazy Sacred Dogs, Woman In A Man’s Suit, and Red Cloud’s Room.  The aforementioned new project, entitled Philosopher Dogs, will be out soon. We will definitely bring you a review of it as soon as a copy is obtained. (Having gotten to hear several of the songs while still in the recording process, I have to say that I personally feel it’s her best work to date.)

So, with all this in mind, we’d like to invite our readers to enjoy this current interview with Georgie Jessup in which she talks extensively about the new project and other upcoming plans.

TGForum: How long has the new album been “in the works “?  And, is there a meaning tothe title, Philosopher Dogs?

Georgie Jessup: I started the project with (the song) Who’s Gonna Be My Valentine?  The request was for a recording of this song for  Bonnie Schupp, a photographer friend who did a photo collage of all kinds of couples and their loved ones/partners. My first session was December 23, 2010.  The song started with just my voice and piano. We built off that. (Note: there’s a YouTube video of this recording process available.)

Philosopher Dogs is the title cut. I tell folks that Max and Blaze wrote the song and needed a little help. Max and Blaze are my four legged boys.  What I learned form them is that life does not have to be as complicated as we two leggeds have made it. As in music, less is more! They are so easy going and open to the world and it does not take a whole lot to make them happy. I can expand if you like, but that’s the short version.  The life Max started (he was severely abused) he should have nothing but hate and distrust for humans but he is just the opposite. Medicine Max I call him. Blaze was a pound pup too, and his good nature came from growing up with his big littler bro Max. They are truly my huntin’ dogs . . . hunting for love, peace and understanding, and a little snack here and there.

TGF: Has your recording process been any different this time around? By that, I mean are you using any of the newer digital techniques, or do you work with analog?

GJ: My engineer and co-producer, Steve Carr of Hit and Run Studios could tell you more about that than me. When it comes to tech stuff, I’m kind of stupid so I rely on him for all that. I have been more involved and more confident making decision and such this time around. Steve has been amazing to work with. Best move I’ve made to date!

TGF: I went back and listened to what is perhaps your best known project, American Holocaust. The production values on that one were excellent. How do you feel the new project compares?

GJ: Thanks for the compliment. You know, American Holocaust just never got a fair shake in the business of music. I really believe in that CD as a concept, but I feel the production could be better. Charlene Dayhoff (my manager at the time), her dad an I were literally going through the alleyways of Baltimore intercepting the recyclable aluminum cans and taking them in for cash. It paid a good part of the American Holocaust bills. We asked everyone and anyone who had talent to help out on the album. It was truly a labor of love! I was disappointed that none of the “door keepers” from the Native music world would let the project in. I released it in 1994, but it was not until 2004 that we got any kind of acknowledgment from the Native music world. Part of that was because I was white and part was because I was a transwoman. But I challenge anyone to find a better CD that addresses the holocaust which took place against the indigenous people of Turtle Island. Maybe John Trudell’s work, but I had elders tell me they liked my album more than any of his . . . so go figure!

To answer your question though, from strictly a production level, Philosopher Dogs blows American Holocaust away! I have finally gotten the sound and the players to pull it off, but then I do have a little more money to work with these days . . . not much more, but some. And it helps that I learned how to get what I want out of studio musicians. I am working with some of the best in this area. The drummer, John Thomakos, has been simply amazing and magical as has Justin (The Wimp) Crown on bass and guitar. But there are so many good folks on this CD I’d be here forever telling you about them.

TGF: You’ve chosen to do a cover of Ring Of Fire. What draws you to record other people’s songs? What criteria do you use in choosing a cover song to work with?

GJ: Well, I always loved that song and I wanted to cover it live if I could come up with a version to make my own. I was using the half capo which gives you that open tuning and it really changed the way I sang the song. I only cover songs when I feel I can do something as good or better than the original. It makes it hard for folks in a bar to sing along sometimes, but I just can’t get behind a song if I am trying to be a live jukebox only. There are of course exceptions.

TGF: Do you perform cover songs along with your own material when yo play live?

GJ: Well, my duo partner, David Salyers, and I hope to work up more cover songs, but time has been a factor. I have enough trouble remembering my own lyrics much less everyone else’s.

TGF: Speaking of covers, you’ve also recorded John Lennon’s Working Class Hero on another project. That’s always been one of Lennon’s solo tunes I’ve liked a lot. What made you want to record that particular song as well?

Jessup and the Philosopher Dogs

GJ: I have always been a supporter of workers rights. I believe since “they” took away our ability to secure food, clothing, and shelter on our own without buying products from the big corporations or the government, they do owe workers big time in this country! Everything we ever needed Creator put here for us. All we ever had to do was give thanks and taken only what you need. The contract with Creator was ignored by greedy men and women. We are all paying the price for their greed. The price extends to so many aspects of our daily I’ve . . . it’s just mind-boggling. So Lennon’s song spoke to me. It said the same thing I have been saying about worker’s rights and their dilemma living in the GREED-HEAD’S environment. Justin Crown came up with the groove and I came up with the megaphone on the last verse. I think we channeled John Lennon that day. I wish I could get a copy to Yoko, but you know how that goes.

TGF: I also noticed that you re-recorded one of your older tunes, Red Cloud’s Room. Why?

GJ: I laid it down with vocals and guitar like I did with my duo partner like I did on Red Cloud’s Room, but it just was not clean on my part so I laid it down with the piano and vocals. I’m better on a piano, and kept it real simple, block chords, so the players could work with it. That song deserved another go around. If you notice the version on R.C.R has the old chorus. So I changed the lyrics and for me it really made it a new song so I wanted to see what I could do with it. It was a strong enough song . . . that Big City Indian, a band from Austria, recorded it on their 2003 Native Heart Urban Soul CD. But honestly, if you go back and listen to that chorus and this new version, it really does make a difference. It has already gotten some airplay on KNBA, a native run station in Alaska. It is one of the songs I never get tired of hearing. And I don’t like listening to myself all that much.

TGF: On the new project, did you play more keyboards than guitar this time around?

GJ: My playing was only concerned with what the song needs. The song is what comes first. If I can do it, I do it, but if someone else can do it better, then I will step aside for the song’s sake. I have no ego about my playing.

TGF: What is your goal, or vision, for this new project? Also, any possible tour plans made yet?

GJ: The business end is what I am really very bad at. I am working with Erin Marcus Management and I am hoping that a tour comes out of all this. I am going to have her hit the European market and the American markets, but right now I am just putting my stuff out there and seeing what sticks. I would love to put a band together for a tour, though. It’s finding the players and then finding ones who don’t needs ton of money for them to tour is another ball of wax. My vision has always been to make my living as a singer/songwriter and performing my own material. So far, that has not happened but I am very hopeful with this new project.

TGF: In closing, anything you’d like to say?

GJ: Right now, I can’t think of anything, but . . . .please support local original music!

For more information, please visit Georgie’s website. Also on MySpace and Facebook. CD’s can be purchased through iTunes, CDbaby, CDuniverse, and


There’s a lot happening this month, along with new releases and such, so what I’d like to do here is present two short reviews of releases by artists that have been featured here during the previous months.


San Francisco Queers by Michelle Garcia

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The last two installments of this column were an extensive interview with Michelle Garcia, who was first introduced to TGForum readers in August of 2006. Currently, Garcia is completing work on her newest album, Dead End Street, and as soon as a review copy arrives, a review will definitely be posted. Until that time, I’d like to take a look at another of her albums, San Francisco Queers.

San Francisco Queers is one of her best known albums to date. Garcia is a multi-instrumentalist who really gets to showcase her chops by playing all keyboards, guitar, and bass guitar throughout this entire project. What’s extremely interesting is the fact that Garcia just doesn’t “play at” divergent genres, but actually is incredibly proficient enough to solidly perform anything she attempts.

A good example of this is one of the outstanding tracks on the project, Like a Lullaby, a laid back jazz feel with excellent sax work. I’ve Heard Lies Before continues the jazz feel with a somewhat more Latin flavor, and very good acoustic guitar work.

The title cut, San Francisco Queers, is another of the outstanding tracks, which is also one on the better production moments. Musically, there’s a lot going on in this highly orchestrated light rock song. Lyrically, it presents a very fast paced looked at what it’s like to live in the City By the Bay . . . “we are, we are, we are . . . San Francisco Queers.”

Transwoman, another outstanding track, begins with kind of a boogie lick, with a kind of spoken word discussion at the beginning, reminiscent vocally (sorta) of Lou Reed. With lyrics such as:

She’s a brand new girl
Got a smile for the world
Don’t be rude . . . .transwoman”

Nothing is left to imagination here.

Pride Parade Ball continues the Latin feel, with yet another beginning that is partially spoken. It’s a lyric description of the crowd a Pride Ball. Although the scene here, this being San Fran, gives a shot of steroids to that description.

The album closes with Tipping The Scales, probably the overall best rock tune on the album. Garcia presents this with a full, almost orchestral sound. A good groove with excellent guitar work which reminds me of Steely Dan. Once again, one of the better production moments.

Garcia’s work is impeccable — well played, well produced, and her voice is unquestionably feminine. Anything you can obtain by this artist will not disappoint you. (,, also on facebook and reverbnation)

Paul and Nita

Colors In Our Sky Ella’s Umbrella (Paul Iwancio and Nita Paul)

[mp3j track="Colors-In-Our-Sky.mp3" caption="Sample"]

Back in August of this year, this column ran an interview with transgender activist and musician Paul Iwancio. He had been initially introduced to TGForum readers in March, 2005, and at that time his album Open Heart Stories had recently been released. By the time of our current interview, he had gotten married and formed the duo Ella’s Umbrella with his wife Nita.

Their new album, Colors In our Sky, has been our for a short time now, but I was given an advance copy before it’s official release. Of the project’s 14 songs, there are 3 covers: Blueberry Hill, Corcovado, and Route 66. The rest are either written by Iwancio, wife Nita, or are a collaboration of the two, with one co-written with John Seay.

While the bulk of this new project is a showcase for Iwancio’s songwriting, what’s interesting is that the writing doesn’t make the mistake of most singer/songwriters by falling into one dominant genre’ throughout.

Country influences are highly evident (Colors In My Sky, Crawdaddy, Take The Leap, After You’re Gone), but so is something totally different, found in Cold Water Blues.

Cold Water Blues is also one of the project’s outstanding tracks. This is a fun tune, sort of a 1920s-30s vamp. Nita has the perfect voice for this, with just guitar and voice. A very striking tune, different from anything else on the album.

Other outstanding tracks are Corcovado (where Nita sings in Spanish; beautifully done with just a guitar background); I’m Waiting (very evident of Nita’s vocal training, her control and delivery is sharp, and included is a great fretless bass part); Route 66 (very interesting cover version, and one of the overall best production moments); and Perfect Enough ( a re-make of Iwancio’s own song from the Open Heart Stories album, this time done as a sort of country swing with excellent playing. It would be fun to see him perform this live with other musicians.)

All in all, Colors In Our Sky by Ella’s Umbrella is an excellent collaboration by two people who probably should have been together a long time ago.

Rev. Yolanda

Rev. Yolanda, a.k.a. Roger Anthony Yolanda Mapes, has been nominated the 2012 Cabaret Best Musical Comedy Award for his show Rev. Yolanda’s Old Time Gospel Hour. Voting is open until Dec. 3 at this link. Plus, remember that the show is now a permanent feature (well, every second Sunday that is) at NYC’s The Duplex.


Iconic EP by Icona Pop

Swedish duo Icona Pop has just released a 6 tune EP of pure energetic danceable pop to the U.S. market, prior to the 2013 release of their debut album.

The 6 tunes on the EP are of course all pop/dance material, but what’s interesting is how they tweak each tune in order to hold the listeners. I Love It (featuring Charli XCX) is very reminiscent of ABBA, and has been selected by MTV as the theme for the next season of J-Wow and Snooki.

[mp3j track=”I-Love-It-Clip.mp3″ caption=”Sample”]

Ready For The Weekend starts with an almost madrigal beginning, but that instantly disappears with the overuse of a vocoder throughout. Interesting, but kind of jerks you around a lot.

The other outstanding track on this EP is Sun Goes Down, perhaps the best production moment both musically and vocally. The rap portion of the tune, provided by The Knocks and St. Lucia, gives the tune an almost dark feel, which is kind of unusual for pop/dance material.

The other 3 tunes on the disc are pure dance material, each presented with the duo’s excellent harmonies. For fans of danceable pop, expect to be hearing a lot more of Icona Pop.

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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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