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Katey Red's Chicago Debut Will Bring Bounce Music Back To The City

By Katie Karpowicz in Arts & Entertainment on May 21, 2014 7:30PM

New Orleans bounce music artist Katey Red/Photo courtesy of Cramer PR
Chicago has warmly embraced the queen of New Orleans bounce music Big Freedia in recent years.

She's a regular at the Empty Bottle and has played Chicago music scene staples like Do Division Street Festival and the Chicago Reader's Anti-Valentine's Day Party. However, it's Freedia's predecessor Katey Red who's about to make a name for herself in the Windy City.

Red, the first transgender bounce music artist in New Orleans, has watched the music genre grow both in her hometown and abroad by leaps and bounds in the fifteen years since she first got on the mic.

"It's everywhere...everywhere," she said of her hometown during a phone call to Chicagoist. "Everybody's doing it now."

Red is making her Chicago debut this Friday, May 23, at the Empty Bottle. If her colleague and close friend of more than 20 years Big Freedia's live shows have taught us anything, this will be a tough show to stand still to.

In fact, Red was the first one to put Freedia on the center stage during her days serving as a backup dancer for Katey.

"When she wanted to do her stuff, I just put her on stage [before my show]," Red recalled.

The pair, both transgender, are living examples of bounce music's open-arms culture. Past Freedia shows have brought out Chicagoans of all ages, races and orientations. Red insists that her personal life is "not an issue" in her genre when it comes to setbacks and that it hasn't limited the types of crowds that come out to her shows.

"You're going to see how heterosexual males dance off of bounce music as well. It's fun all around."

Writing from personal experience, one live performance is all it takes to fall in love with the exhaustive energy and sassy raunchiness of this NOLA-based strain of rap music. Red all but dismisses the idea of casual bounce listeners.

"It's more than a cultural thing. You're a part of the culture. You could be a first time listener to bounce music and it's gonna make you move your hips. You can't just stand still there and watch."

Katey Red plays her very first concert in Chicago on May 23 at the Empty Bottle. Tickets are still on sale for $10. You can also catch Freedia at the Bottle next month (June 4 and 5). Tickets are on sale now.