Singer-songwriter Star Amerasu, a.k.a. Ah Mer Ah Su, is an artist that defies classification. Her voice has a unique timbre—Paper Magazine calls it “a hybrid of Nina Simone meets Anohni meets Britney Spears.” Her music, sometimes labeled “poptronic,” transcends genres—it blends “a message of activism and self-love” with electronic beats and “catchy-yet-hypnotic pop sounds.” But there’s one thing about Amerasu that remains simple and clear: she stays true to her first name.
A rapidly rising star on the music scene, the Oakland artist’s EP Rebecca was named one of KQED’s best Bay Area albums of 2017. A year later, Billboard picked her debut album, Star, as one of the top 20 albums by LGBTQ artists in 2018. This Father’s Day Sunday, June 16, she will headline new queer music festival “Father’s Gay” at Santa Rosa’s Whiskey Tip. Amerasu will be joined on stage by a lineup of local performers celebrating young LGBTQ+ artists and activists—Oakland-based foursome Copyslut, electro-acoustic artist Tyler Holmes, mixed media visual artist and multi instrumentalist El Primo Inocente, and lo-fi experimental pop project Kohinoorgasm are some of the featured acts.
“This lineup is my dream lineup,” exclaims event organizer Chelsea Rose Kurnick, who is also Vice Chair of Positive Images, a local nonprofit organization that provides support and advocacy to Sonoma County’s LGBTQ+ youth and young adults (20 percent of Father’s Gay ticket proceeds will benefit Positive Images).
Kurnick believes in the power of music as a tool for activism, mentioning the liberating role of dance music in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. She hopes to amplify this energy with a festival that brings together the LGBTQ+ community while also showcasing local performers who are “loud in their multiple identities.”
“Ah Mer Ah Su’s music has an emotional core and pop hooks that will reach anyone with a pulse, but she’s explicitly writing from her experience as a Black transgender woman,” says Kurnick and adds “Copyslut play raucous cabaret rock dressed in lingerie, and sex worker justice is at the heart of their message.”
In addition to musical performances on an outdoor stage, the Father’s Gay festival will also feature a DJ, art-making and drink specials created in partnership with spirits brand Diageo (proceeds from drink sales will benefit Positive Images).
Tickets to the festival are $25, a relatively low price compared to similar music events. Kurnick says her intent is to create an affordable experience that “isn’t pressuring people to buy something, to look any certain way or be any certain way,” instead, she wants the festival to be “a space for queer people to feel safe just being.” She hopes that the musical lineup and the inclusive nature of the event will attract Sonoma County locals as well as LGBTQ+ people from across the Bay Area.
Bronwyn Simmons contributed to this article.
What: Father’s Gay queer music festival
When: Sunday, June 16, 2019, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: Whiskey Tip, 1910 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa
Tickets: $25, 20 percent benefits Positive Images, purchase online at fathersgay.bpt.me.
More information: Iridescence Events was founded in 2019 by local event producer Chelsea Rose Kurnick. She hopes to make Father’s Gay an annual event. Kurnick is also the Vice Chair of Positive Images.