Raise Your Glass to Juana Ghani!

With the popularity of bands like Gogol Bordello, the question is inevitable.

What are the similarities between Punk and traditional Gypsy music? After seeing Juana Ghani, a local gypsy-cabaret band perform at Liquid Joe’s, I think I’ve got some answers.

1) Both the punk scene and gypsy caravans are made up of people who are thought to be (‘civilized’) society’s outcasts. With the punk kids you’ve got people who pierce parts of their body that traditionally weren’t pierced, kids who wear way too much black, and wtf–can’t you sew your clothes? Who walks around with such terrible looking clothes?!? And then with the gypsies you’ve got all sorts of stereotypes about how gypsies would steal from anyone and were generally untrustworthy. Gypsies traveled among themselves and never quite fit in with ‘civilized’ society. Now, this thought goes on to make point number

2)Both gypsies and punks tend to make music for the people. Songs from both genres tend to have overarching themes such as not conforming and alcohol.

3)Because of this “music for the people” element–crowd involvement is necessary, though the format in which this happens is different between the two. With the gypsy music, you’ve got a celebratory atmosphere (even with the depressing songs!) that, ideally, should make the actual separation of audience/performer almost moot. Have you seen any live videos of Gogol Bordello/Eugene Hutz? The man’s insane. Manic. And the fact that the performers are onstage having a blast encourages the audience to do the same and suddenly–everybody is part of this bigger, celebratory atmosphere. And then there’s punk. In smaller venues/garages, there is no separation. Stage? What’s that? plus there’s the stage diving which happens BY the performers, and thus the stage/audience separation doesn’t exist.

4) The final element I’ll bring out here (though I’m sure there are more. Submit your additions in the comments!) is that after an awesome show, you stand in the audience, overwhelmed by a feeling of awesome. And suddenly you’re like, holy shit–it would be fun to do this myself! You may not follow that thought up with action, but imagining yourself being part of either genre would more than likely give you a pause.

I think one of the main differences between the two genres, really, is appropriate venue. When I think punk, I think the dive-of-a-venue plastered with stickers and graffiti. And last night at Liquid Joe’s, I felt like the indoor venue just didn’t work for Juana Ghani. The celebratory thing would be so much better outside on a summer evening, possibly in a tent at a local beer festival! The point is–gypsy music definitely makes you want to be outside. But now that winter’s setting in, that’s not going to be easily doable. So I look forward to seeing Juana Ghani in the summer (though I’ll see ’em again, I’m sure.)

The show at Liquid Joe’s last night was definitely an adventure. Juana Ghani is a band based out of Riverton, UT, that has several talented musicians–Currently there are 6 players in the band–vocals, guitar, accordion, drums, mandolin, and euphonium. The band played several original songs, as well as some traditional, and over the course of the evening sang in a few different languages, including english, spanish, and perhaps some italian? Hungarian? I lost count of the languages. And funny enough, the language rarely mattered, the music translated everything, and it was impossible not to fall in love with the music. It’s easy to see that they’re influenced by artists such as Gogol Bordello and Tom Waits. Though the music is amazing and all sorts of fun, there’s a definite element of storytelling in each song which only adds to my enjoyment of the band. I appreciate people who can tell a story, and I appreciate them even more when they can take a story and add instruments to it!

And did I mention that Juana Ghani is friends with a local belly dancing troupe? Between the music and the entrancing/seductive moves of the Black Star Bellydancers, it was impossible not to get into the spirit. The only complaint I really had about the show is the same thing that I have with every show which involves a dance floor. You know what I’m talking about. You go to a show and there’s always that ONE person who gets on the dance floor who really, really shouldn’t. Yeah…that happened. And multiplied. But hey, fun was had, and ultimately, that’s what counts.

If you’re looking for some good local music to groove to, and have a tendency towards gypsy music/cabaret, then Juana Ghani is a band you’re going to want to look out for. Follow them on their website, and find them on facebook! Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Also, if you want to listen to their music now (and you should!) be sure to visit their reverb nation site. Some of the tunes you’re going to want to listen to: Raise Your Glass, The Incredible Sadness of Sonia, What Did I Know. Oh…and if you like fire…definitely listen to Watch it all Burn

And by the time you finish those….my bet is you’ll want more. The good news? There are still more songs on that website! So listen to them all. (And keep in mind–as good as their music is online….they’re even more fun live!)

Revolution GIRL STYLE NOW!

If you’re at all familiar with the riot grrrl movement of the 90s, and some of the riot grrrl heroines, then you have probably seen countless show reviews and previews of the Kathleen Hanna Tribute that was held this past Saturday in NYC @ The Knitting Factory.

Picture from the blog Skirts and Tights: http://skirtsandtights.wordpress.com/

So you’ve probably read about it and saw some of the people who showed up (Kathleen Hanna! Kim Gordon! JD Samson! Care Bears on Fire! Kaia Wilson!) but I have to go over it again, here. Here in Salt Lake I’d heard rumors of the show and thought, oh how cool is this! The event was organized by Sini Anderson, who’s working on a documentary on Kathleen Hanna and the riot grrrl movement. The night included 20 or so bands, each who got to perform a song from the Hanna Scrapbook (from Bikini Kill to Julie Ruin to Le Tigre). Bands ranged from Care Bears on Fire–an amazing group of talented young veterans from The Rock and Roll Camp for Girls to MEN (with former Le-Tigre bandmate, JD Samson)-a band that focuses on the energy of live performance and the radical potential of dance music. And would you believe me if I told you Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth notoriety) was there? Well she was. And would you believe that she got up onstage to read the riot grrrl manifesta?

Well. She did.

And then there were all the bands I didn’t mention which run like a list of bands that you should be paying attention to if you don’t know them already:

And while there have already been countless blogs/reviews posted of this show–I have to write this entry. Mostly because finding all these amazing reviews and videos from the evening has had an impact on me. A mix of emotions are running through me right now–hope, seeds of inspiration, excitement, and most of all, just an overwhelming sense of WOW. The fact that this show happened and was so successful was reportedly AMAZING for all involved just fills me with awe. I think the success of this event shows us how vital the riot grrrl movement of the 90s was and REMAINS. The fact that the show drew veterans of the riot grrrl scene–which broke almost TWENTY YEARS AGO-and young punk/pop rock high school kids is a testament to how meaningful the music and the message remains in our world. Yes women in music have made advances, but there is still a place for those of us with feminist leanings who want to make music and kick ass while doing so. This in of itself is beautiful, and leaves me at a loss for words.

Then there’s the fact that Kathleen Hanna herself took to the stage. Just writing these words sparks excitement. I am one of those riot grrrls who never got to be part of the original scene. And my introduction to the movement was through research online and in books about women in rock/punk. And I unfortunately missed Kathleen Hanna’s time as a frontwoman for Bikini Kill, Julie Ruin, and Le Tigre.

And while it is–to a large degree–unfair and even wrong that she should be one of the main icons for the riot grrrl movement, she is. And the fact that she made the public announcement at this wonderful tribute/benefit that SHE WILL BE RETURNING TO MUSIC with the Julie Ruin Band is something that I think will have definite repercussions. Now, I could be wrong. I am not one of those people who like to pretend I’m always right–I’m not–but oh this could be the thing that causes massive ripples within local music communities. There are going to be the girls who lived through the riot grrrl movement who shout and scream and get really excited about Kathleen’s return to music, and tell their sisters/their daughters about this frontwoman who helped spark a movement that’s still making a difference. Those same girls might just get re-inspired. Remember when we got involved and made our own music? Remember when we were making zines and creating communities and going to punk shows all over the place? They might get re-involved in the scenes. Their sisters might get excited too. They’ll see bands like Care Bears on Fire and the Awkward Turtles and say–wait, I can make music? I can do this?

And come on, The Julie Ruin Project is gonna need some local bands to open for them. They’ll need the local riot grrrl band to come forth and say, “I love what you do, and you inspired me to make my own music and make a difference in MY community.” And local communities need these bands to speak up and create this space for grrrl fronted music. I see a resurgence in Ladyfests all over the fuckin’ country. I can barely type this, my thoughts are on fire and it’s hard to translate this excitement to the keyboard.

I just barely started reading Greil Marcus’s Lipstick Traces, and came upon a quote that I thought of as extremely relevant, and totally true. “Music seeks to change life; life goes on; the music is left behind; that is what is left to talk about.”

Right now, as I write in this dim coffee shop, my enthusiasm bursting over, I don’t believe this quote is quite as right on as I thought. Movements such as the riot grrrl movement have actually had a lasting impact. And the stuff happening RIGHT NOW? It’s proof. Concrete, beautiful, amazing proof.

I am so excited to see what the future holds. I am so excited to continue bringing new music to this blog and creating an awesome riot-grrrl inspired community in the place that I live. And the open mic I host here in SLC? The When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution open mic? Oh, is it going to continue being awesome. And if you want in on the action…let me know. 2011–The year of the Grrrl.

Post-Weekend Pick: We Are Hex

So here’s a late weekend pick for you…it’s really not a bad thing that this is late, because this band should be able to carry you quite well into the week ahead and beyond.

Trying to write about We Are Hex is a bit difficult for me. In a very short time since I’ve found out about them and their music, it’s been love at first listen. And translating that into words…Well, it can be hard. But here’s a few reasons to check them out:

  • Dark overtones, gritty/raw garage rock with enough pop to keep you hooked
  • A history of recording at a house that belongs to the band, dubbed the “hex haus”
  • A touring van named “Vanarchy”
  • A badass frontwoman who at once seems to channel Patti Smith and Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders and make her own name for herself.

Basically, everything about the band is a win. The band is based out of Indianapolis, Indiana and is constantly working on getting their sound out to the world. They have a list of show dates on the band’s blog and I highly suggest you check them out and see if they’re coming to your town! Unfortunately, they have no Salt Lake City dates yet, which is terribly disappointing to me. I am quite positive (and based on some of the photos I have seen of this band’s live performances) that as amazing as their music is, their live show would be beyond incredible. Maybe it’s bad to build up a band like that, but I get that sense anyway.

A little about them, from Metromix Indiana: “The quartet of Jilly Weiss, Brandon Beaver, Trevor Wathen and Matt Hagan can’t stop writing – even long enough to promote their own album. But the music speaks for itself – a carefully constructed mix of dark psych elements, a slight club feel and indie rock constructs that could make Gloom Bloom the best local record released [of 2009].”

So at this point….I could try and describe their music for you. I could. OR….I could just give you a sampling of their music. And I like that idea anyway. This video is, without question, a perfect introduction to the band. Check it out. And enjoy!

 

Oh. The albums they’ve released thus far (Gloom Boom and Hail the Goer) are both available to be streamed, in their entirety online. So if you’re looking for new music and not paying a penny till you know for sure that you like it, this is the band to listen to. Me? I’m going to be questing for a hard copy. I think I’ll be listening to this band for the rest of the year–at least.

Weekend Pick-I think I’m in LOVE

Finding a band like Agent Ribbons is why you subscribe to awesome magazines like Bust. In addition to the great content you find in every issue–from news & notes to DIY-recipes that range from vanilla extract to make-your-own-designs on mugs to fashion and all sorts of amazing stuff that every grrrl should know about–there’s also a good assortment of music reviews and music profiles.

Yesterday, while perusing the pages of Bust, I stumbled upon a profile for Austin, TX based band, Agent Ribbons. I was intrigued, and wrote the name down. And now I’m bringing them to you.

So who is Agent Ribbons and why should you know who they are? First–they’re fun. They bring an energy to their music that you want to here–it keeps you listening. And while I’ve never seen them live, I can only imagine that this energy lends itself brilliantly to their live show.

Agent Ribbons is made up of Natalie Gordon (vocals and guitar–she’s the one with the unmistakable red hair!) and Lauren Hess (drums and vocals). Like the Dresden Dolls and the White Stripes, they remind you that a full 4-5 piece band is totally unnecessary. Who needs a band when you can have magic with just a duo? Their style has a theatricality about it which harkens back to bands like the Dresden Dolls. There’s a sense of the cabaret with Agent Ribbons, just on a lighter, catchier version of it. Or, perhaps their website puts it best: “they miraculously reconcile seemingly-unrelated genres, sounding something like Girls in the Garage doing the Three Penny Opera.”

Agent Ribbons has been touring since 2007 and have performed with bands such as Girl in a Coma, the Detroit Cobras, Cake and Camera Obscura. Currently they’re on a European tour (Paris! Barcelona! Oh my–they may have the whole world in their hands by the end of the year!)

At this point–I’m going to stop talking and let you take a listen. The hardest decision is what song I should put up here, since there are quite a few videos….so I’ll put up two, instead of just one! Enjoy!

Want more from Agent Ribbons? Find them on facebook! And read this awesome article to find out how they got banned from the UK! (True fact.)

PS–how could you not love a band with a song title like “Chelseae, let’s go join the circus”? I mean, really!–That right there says everything!