Blogging GALA :: Day Two
The day after openly gay singer-songwriter Tom Goss performed at the GALA’s "Songs of the Soul" program, he met with EDGE at The Market, a local deli. The fit was a good one; Goss is a former seminarian whose songs still often carry a spiritual subtext.
"I’m just writing to find the truth," he said, as he sat at an outdoors table eyeing a cute dog that was with her master at an adjoining table. "That’s what my music is, it’s looking to find the truth... Hey, do you mind if I pet your dog?" Goss suddenly asked the man at the nearby table. Such earnest straightforwardness is characteristic of Goss; at another juncture, he called out to a passer-by sporting an enormous afro, "Hey, man! I love your hair!" Not everyone could get away with it, but from Goss it’s completely natural, unaffected, and charming.
Petting the dog, he seemed transported. "Hey," he said to the pooch happily, "you oughtta give me your number. Or Facebook me!"
Once done with his excursion into puppy love, Goss, who has boyish good looks and intense blue eyes, regaled EDGE with a reference to a South Park episode in which Cartman sabotages Kyle’s birthday party, a bash that takes place at Denver eatery Casa Bonita.
As it happened, I had visited Casa Bonita while on a 7th grade field trip. Goss grew visibly excited. "Was it cool?" he asked.
I certainly thought so at the time.
’I’m going there," Goss declared. "I can’t believe it! All my dreams for this trip are coming true."
Not long ago, Goss wasn’t sure if the detour to Denver, coming as it did at the tail end of a long and exhausting cross-country tour, would be a dream at all--or a nightmare. But he’d heard so much about GALA from friends in gay choruses around the country that his curiosity won out.
"I have a lot of friends in gay men’s choruses who would say, ’You should come sing at GALA. And I was, like, ’That’s awesome. I don’t know what that is, but I want to go and see.’ Then I was in Seattle and I went to one of their rehearsals, and I spent the good part of a day with them. I’ve been to rehearsals of a lot of choruses, especially if I don’t have a gig that day. So I hung out with them, it was really cool, we went out to lunch, and they were telling me more about GALA, which made it seem like, ’Oh, this is pretty cool.’ Then they had an opportunity for me to perform; Dennis, the director of the Seattle Man’s Chorus, said ’If you really want to perform, we could put you in the show. I think it would be a good fit.’ I was like, ’Let’s do it! I’d love to experience it.’ This year I’ve sung with a couple of the choruses and I know a lot of chorus members, and people have been telling me, ’We should sing together.’ So I finally got my act together and got a handful of songs arranged for choruses."
Not an effortless feat for Goss, who can’t read music and was unaccustomed to seeing his songs translated into musical notation. "I’m not a music theorist," Goss told EDGE. "It was hard for me to put these things together; I worked with three other arrangers and put together these pieces. I’m learning about different musical styles, I’m learning how to communicate with music on paper, and then practicing with people... it’s been fun. I feel like I’m much less of an idiot now."
Goss performed two songs during his appearance at "Songs of the Soul," the gorgeous "Till the End," which is included on his 2009 CD "Back to Love," and "You Don’t Question Love," which is on his EP from 2010, "The Politics of Love," which also includes tracks like "Prop 8" and "Pardon Me."
" ’Till the End’ was a big hit for me, it had a big video, it did really well," Goss recalled. As for "You Don’t Question Love," Goss relished the fact that "I sang that one with the Reveille Men’s Chorus out of Tucson" at "Songs of the Soul."
That wasn’t his first collaboration with a gay chorus, Goss noted. "I sang with the Norfolk Chorus in March, and I also sang with Potomac Fever, which is a subsection of the D.C. Gay Men’s Chorus in March, and then I sang with the Tucson guys last night. I’ve really enjoyed it."
Gay Cowboys and Indian Ragas
Your EDGE correspondent was able, with fleet feet and legerdemain at the door of a supposedly full-to-capacity theater, to get in just under the wire and see the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles perform their set in its entirety. (J.D. had saved me a seat and texted word of where to find him; otherwise, the usher was ready, willing, and able to send me packing.)
The group started with a spiritual called "Eli’s Comin’," before swinging into a suite of songs from the "Brokeback Mountain" soundtrack, including "A Love That Will Never Grow Old" and "He Was A Friend of Mine."