A taste of Philly pride and rock

The Bootlickers debut in Canada at Ottawa Pride

John McNeill, thelead singer of Philadelphia band The Bootlickers, claims to be a virgin – at least when it comes to Canada.

And drummer June Bromley says The Bootlickers’ gay status is assured – after all, she’s a transsexual lesbian.

Both are excited about the band’s Canadian debut at Ottawa Pride.

“It’s my first time in Canada. It’s my first time in Ottawa and my first time at Ottawa Pride. I’m really excited about being there,” says Bromley.

The Bootlickers have distinguished themselves by more than their provocative name.The band, including bassist Ed LeBlanc and guitarist Paul Sinclair, has garnered quite a reputation in their hometown of Philadelphia, where it performs regularly at leather/denim bar The Bike Stop.

McNeill confesses that things can get crazy – he cites frequent nudity – when they perform there, but is coy about what an Ottawa audience can expect.

“That’s a good question,” muses McNeill. “All of our shows are different and we try to feed off the audience. We have everything from the family set to the down-and-dirty kind of stuff. We try to tailor appropriately. Hopefully, we’ll do the right set.”

But seriously folks, McNeill says audiences should expect power pop-rock with a healthy dose of Philly personality. And Bromley can take credit for a large part of that personality and the band’s driving energy.

“Even though the boys are out front and they try to hide me, I’m usually the show person in the band with all the sparkly outfit-type stuff,” says Bromley, who joined the group five years ago and has contributed more than showmanship.

“When I first met John and Ed they were playing more ballad type stuff and I took a lot of John’s music – I want to say that I pum-ped it, but I power-pumped it – and turned a lot of his ballads into actual rock songs,” says Bromley.

Bromley, a multi-instrumentalist, DJ, former Nashville session drummer and tour drummer for country stars like Willie Nelson and Kitty Wells, says the collaboration has been very rewarding, adding that the up-tempo approach has really clicked for the band.

It’s a refreshing change for the percussionist who came out as a transsexual in the late ’80s, effectively ending her Nashville career.

“Nashville booted me out of the city. Nobody would hire me,” says Bromley. “I lay dormant and dead there for quite a while. I had lost my ambition to even go out and play.

“I asked, ‘Did I hurt myself by coming out or did I help myself?’ and then I found that little home in the gay community which really took me in and made me one of their own.”




Pride Street Festival.

South Stage (Bank St, between James and Lewis).



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