While negativity towards transgender people was making waves in Tempe the Phoenix-centric Sidepony Express Music Festival in Bisbee has been working on an event with Bisbee Pride to shine some light on the artistic contributions made by transgender people.
This will be the first year that Sidepony Express and Bisbee Pride team up. Festival organizers went the extra mile to provide not only quality entertainment but also arts-based workshops centered around issues affecting the transgender community as well as the rest of the queer community at large.
On the musical entertainment side of things, the festival’s founder and lead organizer Anamieke Quinn’s band Treasurefruit will be playing along with other Phoenix bands like Sister Lip, Fairy Bones, Dadadoh, Jerusafunk, and Tucson’s The Mission Creeps. Certainly a good enough lineup for any Phoenician music fan to take the two-hour trip to Tuc Town.
“Pride has drag queens and all this specific stuff for Pride weekend that they do on the main stage, and we are bringing in Side Pony bands to play the bars and venues to make it a party vibe everywhere,” Quinn says. “We’ve participated with Pride before, and I’ve performed and booked a couple other bands for a couple one-off events with them, but this year it’s a full partnership. We’ve booked all the bars and venues."
With such outstanding entertainment, Bisbee Pride will no doubt make good on its reputation as “one of the top five rural Pride festivals in the country,” as Quinn puts it. But it didn’t gain that reputation by just getting the LGBTQ community and their accomplices drunk and partying. Bisbee Pride also offers a more traditional cultural destination, which Sidepony has helped bolster in a big way this year.
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In working with a non-profit group called the LGBT and S Alliance Fund as well as the Central School Project, Side Pony has provided Pride with two performance-based workshops. Minnesota-based transgender musician and performer Venus de Mara has been conducting a two-week residency with kids in Bisbee as part of the Strong Word Transgender Performance and Workshop Series, which will culminate with a Variety show on June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Central School Project in Bisbee.
The other side to the workshop aspect will be lead by Phoenix based poet and Phoenix music scene regular James Avery Fuchs. Fuchs will be running a workshop on June 19 based around helping not just LGBTQ writers, but all writers, to fully express themselves. As well as working on issues surrounding writer's block and writer's fear, as well as stage fright. Fuchs will also be performing as part of the variety show.
“Bisbee Pride wanted to fill out their event a bit more because it is such a big destination and a lot of the local businesses were missing out on it because most of the people are at the park watching the drag shows or the other stuff on the mainstage,” says Quinn. “So Sidepony decided to choose artists that were LGBTQ friendly or representative themselves to liven up the venues.”