When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution: The Mission Statement Revised

When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is a blog based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and can be used as a local and national resource as a reference to all things ‘women-in-rock’ related. In additional, frequent commentaries on feminism, social injustice/revolutionary thought, art, and rock-n-roll, as well as a focus on creating and defining our own voices.

In addition to an online presence, When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution meets in real life every fourth Saturday of the month at Mestizo Coffeehouse (unless otherwise noted) for an open mic. All forms of performable arts are welcome including–but not limited to–poetry, prose, music, dramatic readings, etc. The open mic strives highlight the voices of women and trans artists, but it an inclusive event dedicated to supporting and encouraging all works of art in a safe space.

When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution is dedicated to encouraging everyone to find their own voice, and to highlight the voices that need to be heard.

Want to be part of When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution as a reviewed or featured artist/open mic participant? Speak up! Email rebelgrrrl.theblog@gmail.com

For more information:
Facebook (Group): http://www.facebook.com/groups/126964847317806/
Facebook (Blog Page): http://www.facebook.com/pages/When-She-Speaks-I-Hear-the-Revolution/212697184047
Website: https://rebelgrrrl.wordpress.com
Twitter: @rebelgrrrl

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For those of you who have been longtime followers of the blog, you’ve probably noticed (how could you not?) the scarcity of frequent/consistent posts. It’s been a rough couple years, as I’ve emphasized in many other entries. This isn’t meant to be an excuse. I could have posted and didn’t. But sometimes it takes a rough patch and falling off the wagon to make you remember exactly what you’re missing out on. With the renewed mission statement and with the renewed sense of dedication to this path, I intend to bring back the original purpose of this blog: Highlighting bands with kickass women musicians who you may or may not have heard of and letting you have a front stage pass to why women in rock/pop MATTER so much in the music industry.

I’m excited to be back. The time is now.

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Dear Salt Lake: I <3 You.

Here’s something a lot of non-Utah people don’t know about Salt Lake City: It’s amazing. In the past few weeks I’ve gotten involved in a numerous amount of activities that have made me love the city all the more. And even more important–Salt Lake City is finally starting to feel like home.

That doesn’t mean I won’t stop dreaming about California, where it’s warm and snow is pretty much non-existent (that’s my least favorite part of Utah. Or anywhere cold), but I have finally found the path that I left so long ago in NC. I can now officially resume conversations on feminism, activism, lgbt equality in a major way through involvement with the group TransAction, which is a phenomenal group–to say the least.

TransAction, for those not in the know, is a youth led group sponsored by the Utah Pride Center that provides a voice for the Transgender community. Its Mission: Promote visibility, unity and safety through advocacy and education. TransAction is dedicated to building bridges between communities. I’ve gone to only two meetings so far (Every Tuesday at the Pride Center), but I like what they are doing. And I’m glad I found them.

For those in SLC, looking for something to do this coming Tuesday night (the 17), we’ll be making our very own zine! And after that, on Saturday the 27th, we’ll have the Zine Debut Party at Marmalade Cafe, which will feature local poets, writers and musicians as well as some super delicious chai, made especially for the party.

For those in Salt Lake City, Don’t Miss this party! It’ll be awesome. And for those of you in other places outside of Utah…too bad for you 😉

In other topics: Sister Spit will be performing in the fair city of Salt at the one and only, Mestizo Coffeehouse! Save the date (Tuesday April 13), because between the likes of Michelle Tea, Annie Danger, Elisha Lim, Silas Howard & crew, you will never, ever forget this fabulous night.

And finally…exciting things are coming to Salt Lake City. I’ve got plans for this city, and I think with the right amount of networking and finding other people who are interested, Salt Lake will turn into a very, very grrrl friendly city. Maybe one day, we’ll even have a ladyfest. Oh Salt Lake, when I’m done with you, you won’t recognize yourself.

Chicago Trib’s History Lesson of the Day

In 2004 the Vatican issued a document denouncing feminism for trying to blur differences between men and women and threatening the institution of families based on a mother and a father. Chicago Tribune, July 31, 2008.

Isn’t it nice to know how far we’ve come? Seriously though, I’m breaking my blogging silence to rejoin the feminist fight. Though feminism has many internal issues (for women are of varying classes, races, sexual identities, etc) it does fight the good fight.

And I believe an appropriate gesture to recognize a relatively new Turkish soap opera, Noor, which is doing the very thing that the Pope feared. Breaking down the gender roles. According to MSNBC:

Women see the lead female character – the independent, aspiring fashion designer Noor — as a role model. Meantime, her husband on the show — the blue-eyed former model and athlete Mohannad — has become the region’s first pin-up boy.

The nightly soap opera has mainly female viewers glued to their TV sets not only because Mohannad is a cuter version of Justin Timberlake, but because he offers something many lack in their lives: romance, tenderness and a supportive partner to his independent wife. Mohannad has become the standard against which many Arab men are being judged, much to their chagrin. 

Yay for feminist role-models on TV, especially non-western televisions!

Now I just need to find some English friendly clips on Youtube…..

 

The Usual Suspects.

Women guitarists are too often overshadowed by their male counterparts. This is a fact that we all know and why we love books like She’s a Rebel: The History of Women in Rock & Roll and lists like Venus Zine’s Best Female Guitarists of All Time.

But could these books and lists be leaving out some formidable musicians who could, very likely, kick Joan Jett’s rock-tastic abilities out of the water? Could writers/journalists interested in giving women musicians exposure that they haven’t had in the male dominated world of rock-and-roll be ignoring some musicians?

The answer: Hell Yes.

The names on Venus Zine are not unfamiliar. The musicians listed span from electric gospel (Sister Rosetta Tharpe), to country (Rosie Flores), to alternative rock (PJ Harvey) and finally to rock (Joan Jett).

If we were to take this short list seriously, we’d be thinking women musicians don’t go beyond mainstream rock. How Lita Ford didn’t make this list is beyond me.

But this post is about women who aren’t the usual suspects.

And these unusual suspects do turn up in the genres so buried in male domination that many writers forget women exist.

METAL.

Though the Great Kat has been around for quite a while–her album Beethoven on Speed came out in 1990–you won’t find her in She’s a Rebel or The Rolling Stone Book of Women in Rock: Trouble Girls. And you sure won’t find her on a Venus Zine best of female guitarists, despite her long musical background. When it comes right down to it, she can shred like the best of ’em. One need only listen to “Flight of the Bumblebees” to understand just what she can do technically.

And by the way, people give Trans-Siberian a lot of credit for the heavy metal renditions of classical tunes.

Well, The Great Kat had several years on them. Before they were even a group, she was comWagner\'s Warposing metal versions of classical tunes from artists like Beethoven, Back, Pagannini, and others. Where TSO enjoys the complicated orchestral sound, The Great Kat kept it simple: electric guitar & violin.

The Great Kat, born Katherine Thomas, earned a scholarship at Juilliard as a violin student at the age of 15. From there she began to perform as a classical violinist until the realization hit her that classical music was dead.

So began the career of The Great Kat. She’s been named one of the “Top 10 Fastest Shredders of All Time” by Guitar One magazine.

And yet, though she is, as she herself claims, “fast, furious, and virtuosic” (think six-note-per-second metal), you won’t see her on any lists compiled by Venus Zine or in the index of any of the more popular woman musician friendly books.

But by her very existence she proves that women can make a name for themselves in metal. So if you have a top ten list of favorite guitarists or want to make one, add her to yours and pass the word on.

Metal isn’t just for boys anymore.

Behind the IHOP Papers

Remember that post about the IHOP Papers I published so long ago? Well, here’s a surprise for you–an interview with the author herself, Ali Liebegott.
A few words about Ali: Her book length poem The Beautifully Worthless was published in 2005 with critical acclaim. As Curve mentions, the book is part epic poem, part love letter, part to-do list and part road trip opus. In her 2007 book, the IHOP Papers, Liebegott continues to prove that she is a major contender in the literary world. Her prose is reminiscent of authors like Kerouac, but she shines in her own light.
In addition to writing, Liebegott has contributed and performed her work with Sister Spit.
So with no further ado–the interview with Ali Liebegott:

1. How long have you been writing? When did you know that you wanted writing as a career?

I’ve been writing since I was young. By the time I was in high school it felt like a serious ambition. I was going to readings and participating in poetry groups, etc. I think it’s hard in the US for writing to be someone’s career. My other career, (how I pay the bills is by teaching), but I long for the day where I can just focus on writing.

2. If you weren’t a writer, you would be…

something with animals… a petting zoo manager…a goat hugger… a geese anger management counselor…

3. Of all the characters you’ve created, have you found yourself identifying completely with one of them? if so, which character/why?

I think that in a way all my characters have pieces of me in it. I’m definitely one of those writers who expands on real life experiences.

4. Where is your favorite place to write? Do you listen to music while writing? (If so, what kind/songs?)

I need to be at home to really write. I really need to be alone. A shut door. Psychic space. For two years I rented a studio space for 180 dollars a month that was all mine and it was amazing. I wrote there. I’ve also written while at other people’s homes. But they can’t be there. Or at least I need another room alone to write in. I’m all about a door that shuts. I can’t listen to music with lyrics. For my first two books I obsessively listened to Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3. It’s so sad and amazing and great to write to.

5. Would you rather have the monetary and extremely mainstream success of JK Rowling or the notoriety of Poe?

I’d take either one of their situations!! Without being too earnest, I’ll just take inspiration, my health and time to work on my stuff.

6. Where do your ideas come from? How much of your fiction is inspired by actual events in your life/the lives of people you know?

Most of my work starts from autobiography.

7. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had (all in the name of supporting the lifestyle of the starving artist career…)?

Wow. There are so many to choose from. I’ve had many bad waitressing jobs.

a. Manhattan Chili Company (NY, NY)–turquoise polo shirt and black pants coupled with homophobia and ten different chilis that were supposed to be differentiated by eye.
b. Fire and Ice (Providence, RI) basically waitressing at a shopping mall buffet with sorority girls and trying to convince customers they should tip you at a buffet.
c. The Crest Cafe (San Diego, CA)I worked for the most miserable person ever to walk the face of the earth– she used to take money out of people’s checks if they forgot to charge a customer for cheese on a hamburger, etc. One older man I worked with would have to pay 15 dollars almost every day for forgetting things! I only lasted about six weeks there! I just realized that this bad job list is a kind of Pandora’s Box and I could go on and on forever!!

8. Do you consider yourself a feminist/riot grrrl?

No. I’m not a giant label person. But I of course support rioting and feminism!

9. What is your favorite pop culture obsession?

I’m not sure if this counts but I’m a total sucker for COURT TV. Especially Forensic Files. I could watch it for 14 hours straight. Even though I believe it’s really promoting terrible things, violence toward women, etc. I love those bullshitty 48 hours shows. Thank God I don’t have cable TV! I’m also a huge baseball fan. Mostly, The NY Mets. But I live for April -September. I like to draw ducks and listen to the baseball game on the radio.

10. In The IHOP Papers, Francie discovers that she can save money by putting it literally into the walls…was that a creative ploy or have you ever had success saving money by that method?

I actually worked with someone who used to keep their money and jewelry in the wall.

11. Images of bisexual women and lesbians are much more prevalent than they used to be, which is, in several ways, a double edged sword. Some of the images are harmful and exploitive (just look at the treatment L Word co-stars Jennifer Beals & Cybill Shepard’s were given by the View hosts Sherri Shepherd and Elisabeth Hasselbeck) and there are a lot of positive images (such as the L Word & South of Nowhere–though none of these shows are perfect!)….where do you think our culture is in regards to realizing the GLBTIQ movement is a reality for many people within our society–how long ’till mainstream society embraces it and stops calling the “other”?
What do you think are some of the most harmful stereotypes and how can we, as writers, musicians, activists, students, etc, combat these stereotypes?

Wow. I just saw The View with Jennifer Beals & Cybill Shepard!! I have to say it’s amazing publicity for UPS. For years UPS has benefited from bull dagger slurs!!

I remember when there weren’t even lesbians on TV so as far as culturally– I do think we’re moving in the right direction. I feel much happier for queer youth today that they can see images of gays and lesbians on TV and in books, etc. There are gay groups on high school campuses, too. People are trying to get gay marriage passed. It wasn’t that long ago that homosexuality was actually categorized as a kind of mental illness, so… I know it’s hard sometimes when people have their heads up their asses, but I do think some things have become better. I could never choose the “most harmful stereotype”. I just think as artists and writers we need to keep including lesbians in our work when it’s natural to do so, not compromise on content for the sake of capitalism. Critique each other when representations seem problematic. Be willing to look and work on ourselves constantly as human beings on the earth.

12. Any words of wisdom to inspire people everywhere?

Don’t kill yourself! Stay alive! Remember life is to be enjoyed not endured. And lastly, never feed ducks bread! Give them cracked corn instead or popcorn with no salt!

The British Are Coming (Quick! Lock up your daughters!)

Something’s going on in the UK, and it has nothing to do with the Queen.

British pop stars like the Pipettes, Lily Allen and Kate Nash are breaking the foundations of pop music. Once upon a time pop music was the primary domain of romantic ballads-of girl meets boy, falls in love and finds herself in a splendid world she never knew existed. Or ballads of unrequited love-girl meets boy and falls deeply for him, only to find that her feelings won’t be returned. Or, as of more recent (recent in relative terms), girl sees boy and she declares that he can do anything he wants with her (“Slave 4 U”)…

The current Billboard chart reflects the pop-ridden love song with songs like Alicia Keys’ “No One,” Fergie’s “Clumsy” and Rihanna’s “Hate That I Love You” (feat. Ne-Yo). Though each one could be judged on different merits, it can’t be argued that each is-in theme-a traditional romantic pop song.

double standards…how fun

Over in England, another type of pop song is forming. It’s not about falling in love. If the theme of these songs could be described by using lyrics, 7 Year Bitch’s “In lust we trust” would be adequate.

Pop in England has become a forum for women artists to declare their independence in a way that’s just a step further than Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” Their independence isn’t just personal, it’s sexual.

Let’s start off with the Pipettes. The polka dotted trio includes Riotbecki (the self-confessed riot grrrl of the group), Gwenno and Rosay. Though the album was recorded and released in the UK in 2006, it didn’t come out to the US ’till fall ’07. One of the major tracks from that album: “Your Kisses Are Wasted on Me” which (like all of the tracks on the album) has a 60s girl group sound with a distinctly different message. Also present on the album is the standout track “One Night Stand” (this is the track that makes the album worth the $10 you spend on it).The Pipettes

It’s message is clear from the beginning:
“I left you alone at four in the morning/
not a stitch to wear cuz you ignored my warning.” (cue the sha-la-las)

after a few “I don’t love you/I don’t want you” we get the stellar (not great, cool or awesome–it’s stellar) line about how this one night stand even occured:
“I saw you cross a crowded room
You smiled at me and made my heart go boom/
I looked at the score sheet and saw a 7
so I walked up to you and said
‘baby did it hurt when you fell from heaven?'”

Now anyone who hasn’t heard *that* pickup line from a guys mouth must be living under a rock, and to see that used in a song like that–amazing. With this song alone the Pipettes are making it clear that guys aren’t the only ones who are allowed to have fun in the sheets and *not* feel guilty about it.

Then comes Lily Allen. A pop star who combined several of the best genres and put clever lyrics behind the music, she proved to be more than the typical pop star. In her single “Smile” she proved that-when it comes to relationships-her partner should think twice before trying to screw her over. But two of her album‘s shining tracks are “Knock ’em Out” and “Not Big”-both of these songs feature a sexual independence unheard of in most of the pop world.

Lily Allen“Knock ’em Out” starts off with Allen talking in a very dry voice backed by a jazzy beat:
Alright so this is a song about anyone, it could be anyone.
You’re just doing your own thing and some one comes out the blue,
They’re like,
“Alright”
What ya saying,
“Yeah can I take your digits?”
And you’re like, “no not in a million years, you’re nasty
please leave me alone.”

The song continues in that vein as Allen’s lyrics recount a club encounter where she keeps refusing to give out her number (“can’t knock ’em out/can’t walk away/try desperately to think of the politest way to say/just get out my face/just leave me alone/and no you can’t have my number/cuz I lost my phone”). The theme of the song alone makes it unique, songs about creepy guys at clubs where a girl’s being annoyed aren’t exactly the fodder of mainstream pop music.

Then we’ve got the song “Not Big.” It starts off innocently, as a break up song (“Now listen I think you and me have come to the end of our time,” Allen says, pointedly. Then, continuing as if she were talking and responding to her partner (who was reacting rather badly) she adds, “Alright how would it make you feel if I said that you never made me come?” Allen’s lyrics are forward and don’t use fancy words to cover what she’s expressing.

“so you thought this was gonna be easy,
Well, you’re out of luck.
Yeah, let’s rewind, let’s turn back time to when you couldn’t get it up,
You know what it should’ve ended there,
That’s when I should’ve shown you the door.”

All of her songs are similarily straightforward.

Then there’s the new artist who people enjoy comparing to Lily Allen (though they are not the same artist and their music is different)-Kate Nash (who I featured last Sunday).

Her debut album, Made of Bricks, was just recently released this year and she’s already enjoying popularity in the UK top 40. The album opens with “Play”, the lyrics which can’t be misunderstood by most adults: “I like to play/I play all day long in my room/I like to play…”Kate Nash (from her myspace page)

Then there’s Pumpkin Soup, where Nash decries the relationship in favor of just kisses.

“I just want your kiss boy/
I just want your kiss”

and later:

“I’m not in love/
I just want to be touched”

Like the Pipettes and Lily Allen, Kate Nash is not afraid to use her voice. She’s explicit, yes. And she’s proud of it.

What these pop artists have done in the span of 2-3 years time has practically undone a lifetime of what was considered normal in the realm of pop music. And, additionally, it’s a step toward breaking down gendered expectations and double standards. For a woman to express her sexuality is still considered taboo, but with women like these being upfront (and admitting that yes, they have sex lives and no, they refuse to be the passive one in relationships) and honest, the double standard of men being players and women being sluts may well be on its way to demolition.

And if nothing else, these women may well have you singing along to their catchy tunes in a faux-british accent.

I hope yours is better than mine. 🙂

The Spirit of the Noisettes

 Every now and then a musician or band comes around and you know they’re about more than just the music. They make statements. Patti Smith isn’t just a musician-what she sees is reflected in her music. Just look at her cover of Hey Joe.

In a same vein, the Noisettes are about more than just the music. 

The Noisettes are a London-based band made up of vocalist and bass player Shingai Shoniwa, guitarist Dan Smith and the drummer, Jamie Morrison. Together they make music that sounds very punk but very blues influenced. Shoniwa’s voice is memorable-she can sound quiet and breathy, almost childlike but can break into a rich soulful sound just as easily. Her vocals are commanding, as is the music that supports the lyrics.

Their first album What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?, released this year, opens up with an What’s the Time Mr. Wolf?infectious punk song reminscent of the styles of the White Stripes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The track “Don’t Give Up” is relentless in it’s message.

The final track, “Hierarchy” isn’t your normal pop/rock song. The subject is far from light. As the title suggests, it deals with hierarchy. the opening verse:

Where did my brave side go?
T’was beaten by thieves
Who snatched with no hands
Said they promised to
Take us to enchanted lands
And I hope you understand

Only one other band that I know of has dared to tackle racism in their music (though theirs was in an exclusively modern light, as far as I know) and that is Skunk Anansie. With songs like “It Takes Blood and Guts to be This Cool But I’m Still Just a Cliche” and “Intellectualize My Blackness”, Skunk Anansie tackled racism head on with raging lyrics and powerful music. The NoisettesThe Noisettes toned down their reflections, but that doesn’t make it any less powerful.

In addition to recognizing the importance of perserverence (incidently, Shingai means ‘perserverence’ in the East African Shona language), the album also recognizes an (as of today) often forgotten heroine.

In Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit), the band plays homage to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a Southern gospel singer/guitar player who truly made an influence on music. A virtuosic musician, she played just as well as her male peers of the time.

So why should you listen to the Noisettes? Is it because of their quality punk music? The important themes that run through their music? Their witty lyrics? Their great live show? The fact that their music has captured something timeless–thoroughly modern yet harking back to a day gone by? Or all of these reasons plus more?

Check them out-you won’t regret it.

The Noisettes: Sites to Know-

Official page
Myspace Site