What’s In Your Fridge is where the Straight asks interesting Vancouverites about their life-changing concerts, favourite albums, and, most importantly, what’s sitting beside the Heinz ketchup in their custom-made Big Chill Retropolitan 20.6-cubic-foot refrigerators.
On the grill
Who are you
Hey there! My name is Beau Wheeler. I just released a new record called Flying Colours on June 3. I recently came out as trans, and I am a cancer survivor, and this new record deals with some of that. My grandfather played piano with Nat King Cole so I have music in my family. Basically I learned how to sing in the back of my mom’s muscle car in the ’80s.
My first concert was Dionne Warwick. For those of you that don’t know, she’s Whitney Houston’s aunt. We were right up close. I think I was eight years old. I still remember the smell of her perfume. What a crazy vocalist. I just went to see her when she came to town recently, and she is still in incredible shape and can sing like a bird. There was a huge snow storm so the stadium show was sparsely attended, but she still dominated.
The year that Mavis Staples came to the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. I couldn’t resist going to see her. It was probably one of the best concerts that I’ve ever seen. She had everybody up and dancing and singing and involved in the music in a very special way. I didn’t have any money at the time. I was looking through the gate and couldn’t buy a ticket, so I just looked around on the ground for a piece of paper that was the same colour as the wristbands and walked through the gate with a big smile on my face. Made it in. I’m so glad that I did. I’m usually not a proponent for doing these kinds of things but it had to be done. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such an incredible singer live. Couldn’t pass it up.
Top three records
John Lennon Double Fantasy I listened to that record so many times as a kid. The Yoko Ono songs are terrifying in the best of ways. I am a huge fan of hers and his. The sanctioned racism and bashing of Yoko Ono baffles me because she is such an inspirational artist in her own right, and also incredibly positive, even after withstanding decades of sexism and racism.
Alice Coltrane Journey In Satchidananda An orchestral harp, jazz album by John Coltrane’s wife, who is a monster musician. I just love the vibe of this record. It’s unlike anything else—’70s fusion at its very best. There were very few female assigned-at-birth people who were notable at this time in this genre.
Dolly, Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt Trio This record came out in the ’80s—it was accompanied by a TV show. Emmylou Harris and Dolly Parton were staples in my family growing up. Dolly Parton is so incredibly notable for her pristine vocals, her bluegrass roots, and for writing “I Will Always Love You”, which was later covered by Whitney Houston, who we now know to have been queer. Elvis Presley wanted to cover it, but he would only pay her half of the royalties, so she turned him down. Parton’s positivity and whipsmart quotes like, “It’s damn expensive to look this cheap” made her a queer icon as well.
All-time favourite video
Wham! “Last Christmas” I don’t know if it’s my favourite music video, but the thing that comes to mind is Wham!’s “Last Christmas”. George Michael is singing to a girl in a Christmas sweater, as I recall. I feel like most of my life has felt like that. Gayer than a French horn, trying to navigate a het society. The ’80s and ’90s were tough for little queers who didn’t feel that shoulder pads and stirrup pants were quite their jam.
What’s in your fridge
Alfalfa sprouts and peanut butter. Okay, my family rocked the lesser-known peanut butter sandwich combo, now known as the peanut butter and sprout sandwich. Don’t knock it unless you’ve actually tried it. Little bit of crunch. I remember watching Mr. Dressup draw all manner of things whilst snacking on one of these. Give ’er a roll.
My tradish salmon, roast potatoes, and broccoli dinner. I asked my girlfriend how I should answer this question. She said, “You always have the same thing in there.” My tradish salmon, roast potatoes, and broccoli dinner. Okay, she may have a point. Love a maple-glazed salmon dinner. Possibly my creativity lies in other parts of my life, but three generations of my family grew up on the coast, so salmon is a huge favourite of mine.
Beau Wheeler plays the Mission Folk Festival on Saturday (July 22). You can check out Flying Colours here.