Aiden James: Philly’s Finest
Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Aiden James will be performing in San Francisco at the Folsom Street Fair’s main stage on September 29, and at The Midnight Sun on Monday September 30.
The independent out gay vocalist’s recent singles have become popular on YouTube. His songs have enjoyed notable sales on iTunes. His new album "Trouble With This" features a dozen original songs.
Before his San Francisco gigs, James is also performing at the Viva la Vida music festival in Pioneer, CA, a town which, I confessed to the singer, required a Google map search to locate.
"I had to Google it, too," he laughed in our phone interview. Nevertheless, the festival has a popular following, and outdoor performances are just part of James’ versatile tour. His previous Bay Area visits have included shows at the Hotel Utah and Dolores Park Café.
So, how does the indie musician figure out tour dates and other details? "There’s so much that goes into it," he said. "I have people in my corner that make sure things happen."
While he noted the pleasant aspects of living in Philadelphia, he also mentioned how much he enjoys traveling for shows. He described his neighborhood, the historic Rittenhouse Square, as tree-lined, with cobblestone sidewalks, "very reminiscent of the West Village," he added. "You don’t need a car. I respond to that. You can get a lot of energy from a city."
Despite being out and proud, the folk-pop-influenced singer doesn’t often perform in gay nightclubs, for purely technical reasons.
"I don’t play a lot of gay clubs, because for what I do, a lot of the clubs can’t facilitate a full touring rider. I play and perform live, so I can’t just grab a microphone. I need a good sound check. I like to uphold the integrity of what I do live. A lot of times at clubs it’s not workable."
But would he stay independent if offered a lucrative recording contract, where such details can be handled by others?
"At this point I would entertain an offer," said James, but added that his decision would be cautious. "I know so many of my friends have been signed and lose power and the rights to their songs. I have a great team of industry people that I’ve known over the years, who want to help me, and have experience."
Like the founders of his native city, James prefers his independence. That includes friends who can direct visually appealing music videos, which, for James, "kind of like going out on a first date with a fan." They see him and listen.
In between his casual covers of pop songs like "I Wanna Dance With Somebody," James’ video for his own song "Hurry, Hurry" includes a hunky bear impatiently trekking through New York City’s subway system, where he eventually meets up with the singing James in Times Square. Their affectionate kiss represents a lot to the 29-year-old.
While mainstream media have gone a bit overboard with their coverage of gay singer Steve Grand, acting as if an openly gay single had never released a sexy or romantic song and accompanying video, James puts it in perspective.