FanX SLC on Gender Double Standards in Comics

This weekend I was fortunate enough to spend a few hours traversing the geekily decked out halls of the Salt Palace for FanX. There is nothing quite as wonderful as getting on the trax and seeing Princess Peach a mere few seats away. And it’s even better when a kid who seemed positively enchanted by this princess character ends up in conversation with Princess Peach.

Overall, my experience at FanX was absolutely fantastic. I’m still fairly new to the full embrace of nerd culture that pervades at FanX and Comic Con, and the last few times I’ve wandered the halls, it’s been with a sense of overwhelming anxiety at how many people are there and how many things and I can’t even process everything at once.

But this time I was actually able to breathe, deal with the crowds, and I even got to check out a few panels: a new achievement in my geekdom!

The panel I was most excited about (to the surprise of no one, I hope): Gender in Comics: Is There a Double Standard?

I am relatively new to the comic book world. The increasing internet conversations about Wonder Woman and Black Widow have had me wanting to get into a medium previously untapped by me, and let me tell you: the spiral has started. From web comic turned book The Adventures of Superhero Girl to Toe Tag Riot to Secret Six….I can’t stop. The conversations about comics and the representation of women in comics have been around me even before I really dove into the books, and now that I’m starting to read and immerse myself in the culture of comics, the gender disparity is obvious.

In seeing that this panel would happen, I built up my expectations. What I was hoping for was a conversation with data, with historical context, with thought as well as passion, and maybe a little advice on continuing the trend toward change in the industry.

What I actually got was unfocused conversation, with a dude who was overly happy to play devil’s advocate, with audience members who came prepared with their thoughts ready to throw at the panel right as the actual discussion started, throwing the panel completely off guard.

Okay. Let me back up. So to catch you up: The panelists included professional SLC Geeks Rebecca Frost and  Danielle  Über Alles–both can be found discussing pop culture and comics on the Hello, Sweetie! Podcast. The panel also included JM Bell, host of SLC’s The Left Show, which covers science, politics, culture, and much more. The moderator of the group was Rich Bonaduce, the VP of the Utah Film Critics Association.

As soon as Frost and  Über Alles introduced themselves and the moderator tried to get things started (he decided the first thing to do was show a slide with the definition of double standard and read it to the audience. Because cliches work?) two ladies in the audience tried throwing their own questions at the panel. They’d come in early and immediately went straight for the front row. Their questions, while interesting for an open circle conversation, derailed both Frost and  Über Alles, and initially they did their best to respond, and finally–after Bell’s late arrival–were able to open the conversation to other questions.

Unfortunately, the tone was set. The panel itself had interesting points, but seemed to focus only on the art for most of the time given. Which while worth noting, only hints at part of the problem when we’re talking about double standards. It’s not JUST how s/he’s drawn, it’s how they are represented overall. Especially when comics are just one of the facets of the double standard of representation of women across media. And the moderator seemed to want to hammer into the audience the idea of “LOOK! Dudes are drawn unrealistically too!” Throughout the panel he kept changing the images on the slide show to fit the unrealistic drawings, which while interesting at first, eventually became distracting.

The good things that came out of the panel: This issue isn’t done being fought. More and more people are getting into comics and more people have the option of buying the stories that they love. So buy the comics by artists/writers you enjoy. Buy the comics with artists/writers/teams who are well known to show women and trans* characters realistically. Don’t waste your money on teams that have been known to draw/write sexist/racist story lines.

Even if you don’t read the comics by writers/artists you’re supporting and they end up living on your shelves collecting dust: at least you’re supporting these stories. And in an industry driven by profit, like any other, that MATTERS. If you can’t afford new comic books (because buying serial comics adds up. I am beginning to see that myself. eep), that’s not the end of the story. Borrow them from friends. Talk ’em up to your fellow nerds. Encourage people to buy more copies. And use your social media to talk about what you’re loving. More and more we have the ability to call out artists/writers and creative teams in comics when they do something wrong. Twitter allows us to get closer than ever to the source of publication. (Always try to be respectful when possible. RAGE for rage’s sake will accomplish little unless backed up by a lot of other similar rage-fueled consumers. Respect may not win over a publisher, but you could easily win supporters in your line of thinking who’ll continue to call out the publisher and build up that momentum.) The industry has the potential to change partially because we have the ability to help direct it in that way.

Additionally, the panel has convinced me that a thought I’d been considering for a while is something I want to make happen. Officially. Comics are awesome. And this conversation is incredibly important. So, Salt Lake City and surrounding neighborhoods. The time is now. Let’s create a feminist comic book group, where our monthly meetings will include conversations about current comics, as well as focused discussions on a monthly comic choice! This way we can keep the comic love and feminist discourse going so we’ll be prepped in September when Comic Con SLC rolls back around.

Questions? Wanna get involved? Find me on twitter or email me at rebelgrrrl.theblog

Final note: Check out Hello, Sweetie podcast and the Left Show, because they are worth supporting. And as unfocused as the conversation was this time around, they each had good reason to be there and are doing great things for the geek community in Salt Lake and beyond.

Final, Final Note (I promise!) Definitely look forward to more comic book related posts here. I’m enjoying them far too much for me not to start writing about them!


February + Music = LOVE

It’s been a while since I’ve posted about the things I’ve been listening to. I frequently post single links to facebook and tumblr but it is rare these days for me to give you a rundown on all of the things I’ve been listening to.

That’s partly because the internet is a vast place. We all know this.

Personally, I savor those periods where I get sucked into the internet’s musical vortexes. Whether I’m finding new artists via spotify’s “related artists” tab or watching random NPR Live videos of artists I’m not familiar with, the outcome is always the same: I find new stuff. Lots of new stuff. Some of it gets lost in the wayside. I’m the first one to admit that I can get fiercely excited about an artist, a song and then a month or two later that artist or song has dropped completely off of the radar. But there are songs that stick. Artists that I could–and do–listen to on repeat.

This blog was primarily started as a place to highlight musicians that I’ve discovered or fallen in love with. Music is a beautiful art form. It has the ability to bring us to to higher places, it has the ability to connect us as humans and remind us that we’re not alone. It helps us remember that our lives are best spent dancing. And those are just a few things.

So keeping that in mind: Here’s a post of the music that I can’t get enough of.

Sarah Kirkland Snider (composer) | Shara Worden (singer) | Ellen McLaughlin (lyrics) | Song: Circe & the Hanged Man.
Album: Penelope: A Song Cycle

While I prefer posting songs that have accompanying music videos, I had to share this particular song. I had the fortune of seeing Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond) accompany The Utah Philharmonia for a special performance of the entire song cycle. The experience itself was absolutely incredible. The musicians themselves were brilliant and Shara Worden’s voice is just beautiful. If you’re familiar with My Brightest Diamond, then you know this. If you’re not familiar with them, you should fix that. Between the brilliant orchestrations, emotionally charged lyrics, and Worden’s voice–it’s a piece that is guaranteed to make you believe in the power of music and storytelling. You will feel deeply with this album.

The story itself is simple. The narrator is a woman whose husband went away for some unnamed war. He shows up at the door 20 years later with brain damage and no memory of who he is/was. In order to help her husband heal and rediscover himself, the wife reads to him passages of the Odyssey. The track I’m sharing here veers from classical to more indie rock territory, and the lyrics here are especially poignant. Before I saw the Utah Philharmonia with Shara Worden, I tried to familiarize myself with the album, but didn’t get the whole way through. When I reached this song–I felt the lyrics strike a chord. When I saw the song performed live: I couldn’t keep the tears at bay.

Artist: Gabby Young & Other Animals | Song: Open
Album: The Band Called Out For More

There’s something magical about the combination of elements that Gabby Young & Other Animals bring together with their music. Big Band jazz/swing/cabaret and pure joy are all to be found here. The band has been on my radar for some, but it wasn’t till this week that I truly fell in love. The band is led by a flame-haired enchantress with a bewitching voice and incredible style. The 7-piece band includes the basics (guitar, drum, etc) but goes further with violins and brass instruments. The music is as varied as the instrumentation: sometimes you’ll find tracks that are so haunting, they’ll crawl under your skin and stay there. Sometimes you’ll find songs so saucy you’ll find yourself impressed by their boldness. There’s a sense of glee in the art of experimentation and new combinations, and they are able to pull the songs off so well that it’s hard not to fall in love with them.

The great thing about this band is that they have tons of music videos that are worthy of being shared–including their brand new music video for the irresistibly catchy song “I’ve Improved” which was unveiled 6 days ago, on Feb. 14. I’m once again going to deviate from the singles (all of which are wonderful) and share my favorite track. The reason it’s one of my favorites is simple. With this band, you know you’re going to get some very upbeat/sassy music. This song goes along with the catchy rhythms and adds on a positive message, and one that’s worth keeping in mind.

Artist: Agnes Obel | Song: Just So
Album: Philharmonics

I am fully, 100% behind the mantra that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. That said, occasionally when I’m roaming the massive collection of albums at the Salt Lake City Public Library, a cover will catch my attention. And since I believe in the fun of experimentation (I discovered my love for Sia and the Noisettes by taking a chance on covers that caught my interest–and the Sia album was nothing like what I expected based on the cover), I checked out Philharmonics. From beginning to end, the album is beautiful, and captivating. On the surface, much of the music seems simple. But when you combine the gorgeous music with the lyrics, it becomes something else entirely. Albums like this are why one should believe in the power of experimentation. The reviews in Rolling Stone and on NPR other such sites have their place, but sometimes your favorite new band/musician is just a matter of luck.

With that, dear reader, I leave you to listen to the music here, check out the links provided, or perhaps go on your own musical journey. Wherever your wanderings take you, may they be be fruitful and fully enjoyable.

Why pay bands when you can have them for free?

Apparently musicians aren’t worthwhile.

At least, that’s what the Super Bowl seems to think. Time Business released an article noting that Bruno Mars has been added to the list of musicians that have played Super Bowl half time. For FREE.

“We’re putting someone up there for 12 and a half minutes in front of the largest audience that any television program garners in the United States,” NFL Director of Programming Lawrence Randall, told TIME last year. “It’s a pretty good deal. It’s the famous win-win for both parties.” (TIME)

On the surface: Sure. Playing the Super Bowl can lead to an increase in an artist’s sales and add to exposure.

But this whole situation is indicative of a bigger problem.

First of all–if you’re a musician/band that has been selected to play a gig like the Super Bowl then you’re probably pretty well known. And if you’re a musician/band that is already well known, the chances are that you’ve spent most of your life honing your talents, and working your way up centimeter by centimeter, inch by inch

The road to making a living off of art is not an easy path, and it’s fraught with people who Don’t Get It.

Bands just getting started deal with the free gigs more often than they get paid ones. Writers freelance for little to no money and hope that maybe, just maybe, this submission will get them somewhere. Artists find themselves in gallery receptions where they hear the double edged sword of compliments, “Wow, this is so beautiful, but why is it so expensive?”  It’s like somewhere in between the idea of a piece and the final product, the work of creating gets lost on the larger public. Creating is work. It involves time. It involves tools. Just like any other job.

The music industry has made it a priority to stamp out pirating. Buy the albums! Support the artists! Don’t steal music! But then you’ve got moments like these, where musicians are basically being robbed. The NFL argues that the show is only 12 and a half minutes and they’ll grant great exposure. Okay. Fine. So does that mean that if I’m a super famous celebrity and I suddenly have a health issue,  I can go into a hospital and demand the doctor to treat me but not get paid? “Oh it’ll only be an hour of your time, and you’ll have the honor of working on me. Oh and I’ll tell all of my friends.”

Ummm….Not so great. Just like doctors have spent years of their lives studying and working to get to their professional level, so have musicians. For the NFL to discount that fact is abhorrent. Let’s not forget that the musicians that play the Super Bowl put in way more than 12 minutes. They’re going to rehearse and rehearse and rehearse some more. They’re going to make sure that they have everything in place and ready to go. There’s travel. They need to make sure they’ve got the equipment they need and they need to get them from point A to point B. This is time. This is energy. This is travel. And they deserve to be compensated like any other professional field.

The attitude of the NFL and their continued practice of this policy is dangerous because it affects far more than Bruno Mars, Madonna, and other big name musicians. This attitude can easily be translated on a local level where popular venues or festivals can use similar logic to damn aspiring musicians. In some cases, it can be taken so far that the venue/promoter demands musicians to pay for the honor of playing their venue. This is a thing. And this is problematic.

I unfortunately don’t have the ins and outs to help fix this problem. But what I can encourage everyone to do–including myself–is to remember to really appreciate art. Appreciate the work and energy that went into the art/music/writings that you enjoy. Remember that the work of creating is difficult and time consuming. And  support the art that matters to you. Buy their albums. Go to shows. Buy their sweaters and posters and stickers. If you’re an artist of any medium, do your best work and make sure you’re getting recognized for it.

On that note, I’m going to stop talking and share the internet meme that has gone around. It’s more eloquent and succinct than I am, and should be shared.

So please share it.




A New Year, a New Day

Well. I am not sorry that 2013 is over. It’s been a good year, with a lot of wonderful highlights, but it has also been stressful and a bit exhausting. I am not expecting this year to be magically amazing. A year is just like a day, it is what we make of it. And while I am not making any New Year’s Resolutions as such, I do have plans for this year. Plans which still need to be drawn up in concrete terms, but they are there.

A few highlights of 2013:

Gogol Bordello. Seeing them live was incredible. The energy. The madness. It’s a moment that I could never, ever again recapture which is both beautiful and tragic at the same time.

Starting a book club. Yep. That’s right. I gave into my nerd and started a book group with some coworkers. It’s great because it’s open to novels, non-fiction, and pretty much everything else. And selection is done by a new person each month, meaning it’s easy to end up in a situation where I get to read stuff outside of my normal literary comfort zone. And you know what? THAT IS AWESOME. Reading is great. But you should always go above and beyond.

There are so many more things, but my concept of time is pretty unique (read: exceptionally bad) and it is harder to put events and moments in linear order.

Musical Highlights:

2013 was survived mostly with the help of Mojo Juju, The Great Malarkey,Black Prairie,  and a continuation of the Amanda Palmer Down Under album on repeat. Without these artists, I’m not sure I would’ve made it.

Goals for 2014:

Write more.

Go to more shows.

Listen to more music.

Keep being awesome.

I think those are good goals.

And on that note, I’ll cut this entry short. No, I’m not making a list form of my musical highlights of 2013, but I’m happy to give you a few music videos should you want to enjoy some good music. Happy 2014! Make it wonderful!

Music Articles Worth Reading

And here we unveil a whole new feature idea for the blog: a list of noteworthy links to check out, should your interests run that way. If you’ve read any interesting music blogs/articles/ etc and want to post them in the comments, I’d love to check them out! Keep in mind that applies to music related writings you may have written, oh great internet-music-blogging-atmosphere.

sxsw-2013-logoHappy Readings!

  • SXSW–love it or hate it–is a big deal in the music world. For some smaller bands, playing SXSW means they’re on the verge to being “discovered” by the larger music population. But does it always? And given the increasing role sponsorships and big companies are playing, how much of this once heralded festival is truly about the music? Andrea Swensson, a music reporter at Minnesota Public Radio and a long time SXSW attendee shares her thoughts. Why I’m Not Going to SXSW This Year
  • SXSW by the music! The great thing about this little thing we call the internet is that you don’t have to go to SXSW to experience new music, especially when the staff at NPR are so good about putting together music lists. If you’ve got some time to kill and want to check out who’s playing in Austin, check out this excellent and exhaustive list. The Austin 100. Oh, and if you’re not the biggest music geek in the world, you might not know this, but the staff at NPR’s All Songs Considered do a GREAT job with daily recaps. So if you want to live SXSW vicariously, subscribe to the NPR ASC podcast asap.
  • If you’re a music person, then chances are you’ve already heard this bit of news. The ambassador for Record Store Day 2013 (April 20!) has been chosen and is none other than Jack White. Given his love of records and all the great work he’s been doing with Third Man Records, he is unquestionably the PERFECT fit. Add his incredible love for records and we have to ask ourselves, was there really any other candidate? Anyway-he issued a fantastic statement which everyone should add to their reading list. Whether you totally 100% agree or think he’s full of it, it brings up some good thoughts.
    As Record Store Day Ambassador of 2013 I’m proud to help in any way I can to invigorate whoever will listen with the idea that there is beauty and romance in the act of visiting a record shop and getting turned on to something new that could change the way they look at the world, other people, art, and ultimately, themselves. ” Read the rest of his statement HERE.
  • Speaking of Third Man Records, have you heard that Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes) is about to be the latest artist on Third asraMan Record to make a 7-inch with the label?  She and Ruby Amanfu will be doing reinterpretations of Rodriguez’s “I Wonder” and Memphis Minnie’s “When My Man Comes Home”. Read a bit more here.
  • Ok–final mention of SXSW in this entry, I promise. I’m sure you’ve heard whispers about a documentary that’s all about Kathleen Hanna and her work? Maybe you even helped fund it during their kickstarter campaign? Well, this SXSW the film (by Sini Anderson and Tamra Davis), The Punk Singer premiers. March 10. If you can make it to SXSW and somehow crash that movie, you’ll have to let me know how it is. ’till then, I’ll have to wait until I can finally check it out. (SOOOOO EXCITING!!!! OMG!!!) Kathleen Hanna posted about it on her blog, and a small excerpt (and then you can go read the rest of it HERE): “It has been really fun watching old footage of Bikini Kill , as that’s something I’ve never done before. I have now officially realized why we seemed so fucking nuts to people, and I say that with an absolute beaming pride. I can’t believe any of my bandmates took such a leap of faith and let me play music with them.”
  • Kate Nash’s new Album, “Girl Talk” came out this Tuesday! Have you bought it? Listened to it? what are your thoughts?

What have you been reading? What new albums have you bought? What’s making you happy this week! Talk about it in the comments! Cheers!

April Picks: Banjos and Gypsies

There’s nothing better than New Music, and lately I have had so much new music, that you should totally be jealous. Well, new music to me. Let me tell you all a secret–and make sure to keep this very hush hush, it’s way confidential–whether you identify as someone who can’t get enough of books or as someone who can’t get enough of music, one of THE best places to work is a good public library. Why? Simple. Worlds of music that you hadn’t thought of listening to are at your disposal, and one of the best library jobs to discover new music with? Grunt labor. See, as far as library hierarchies go, shelving aides are pretty close to the bottom. But even in that position we have something special. I work in the AV department. I love music. Can you imagine a better part time job? Sure it may not be the most intellectually stimulating thing in the world but the opportunities I have to discover bands and musicians that never would have come to me otherwise. And I also have the chance to check out that album/artist I had been meaning to check out and never got around to. That’s the coolest part of this job…the perks rock. Literally.

In the spirit of music overload, I’m going to start doing a monthly guide to awesome new shit. This is the stuff you might be familiar with. It’s stuff you might never have heard of. But I guarantee you that what I recommend here has something worth looking into. So when I post these monthly guides of awesome, you might wanna do something so bold like bookmark this page. If you don’t listen to all the artists in one go, you should come back and finish off the list. Broaden your horizons. And feel free to leave your own recommendations in the comments.

And with no further ado: April picks

The Shook Twins

This first band isn’t actually a library discovery, it’s a discovery that comes from people I’m lucky enough to know who have amazing taste in music. One day he shared the link to their facebook page–with no comment about who they were, it was just the link–and I, being ever curious, followed it. The Shook Twins: a folk outfit with tricks like beatboxing up their sleeves and a sense of humor and a wide selection of instruments. The trio is made up of sisters Laurie and Katelyn and Kyle Volkman (otherwise known as “the third twin”) on upright bass. The Twins moved to Portland, OR and have shared the stage with a ton of other musicians and were invited to battle their hearts out at the 2011 Northwest String Summit in North Plains, OR.

When I first listened to them, I knew none of that. What I knew was that in the first video I watched of theirs, “Window”, they were using a telephone receiver as a mic. And that in that first song I’d ever heard–the lyrics were catchy, smart, and the music went perfectly with them. I knew right then that this was a song I could have on repeat and not get tired of. It’s a song with hooks and a song that I don’t mind getting stuck in my head. The rest of their album (also called Window) is equally wonderful. From funny (“Pink and Purple”) to poignant (“Shine On”) to statement-making (“Eyes to the Polls”), and even traditional porch tales (“Potter’s Daughter”) the Shook Twins have it all. And Window is an album of nonstop wit and joy. If you’re not a convert to folk/anti-folk/bluesy sounds, you should certainly give the Shook Twins a listen anyway. My guess is they’ll take your entire world, stick it in a snow globe, shake it vigorously, and leave you wondering what the hell took you so long to realize that this world existed. Open the door. Walk in. Explore.

(and the track on the album is way adorable. Their nieces really do make this album extra adorable.)

And a final video, that you should watch if you’ve been enjoying the sounds of the Shook Twins and want to see them in full glory….here’s the best video EVER. It’s long, but you’ll laugh. And then you’ll wanna watch it a few times over.

Balkan Beat Box

Balkan Beat Box has been on my “to-listen-to” list ever since I came to love Gogol Bordello a few years ago. And it just never happened. I think I gave them a shot once upon a time, and it wasn’t up to my standards at the time. Well, one night I’m at the library, shelving, and I come upon a traditional gypsy album, which sparks the synapses in my head that remind me that I’ve been wanting to give Balkan Beat Box another shot. These days, gypsy-infused music is my thing. There’s something about the excitement, fun, and catchiness that makes a dark song darker and a fun song even more fun. So I took that album home with me and checked out the two available Balkan Beat Box albums. From the first song on their self-titled album, I was hooked. I listened to it from beginning to end, and was so excited to finally have come to know the joy of Balkan Beat Box. Now, if you’ve been living under a rock since 2005, when the first album by Balkan Beat Box was released, you may not know who they are. Or you may have heard of them in passing and just not really known who they are, sorta like I did. Well. BBB is an American-Israeli group that brings traditional musical styles of the mediterranian and the Balkan with dance hall rhythms and hip-hop and electronica. It’s a band that reminds you that music is an ever evolving thing. BBB was originally founded by Tamir Muskat and Ori Kaplan (Firewater) but has since expanded to include Tomer Yosef as a core member. This is a group that sees music as revolutionary. This is a group that defies standards and makes their own set of standards, and they do it ever so well. If you haven’t heard of them–take this opportunity to introduce yourself to the sounds of Balkan Beat Box. And make sure to pick up their latest album, “Give”. I know I plan on doing so.

Not a video from the band, obviously, but cool nonetheless. It’s a beautiful coming together of traditional/modern musical aesthetics and traditional/modern dance. it’s pretty neat.

From the newest album, Give.


Overwhelmed yet? good. The thing is, I’ve heard so much more over the course of the month, and this would be a blog in like 5 parts if I were to give each musician the time they deserve. So the next few mentions are the honorable the mentions, the people I’ve got to mention because not doing so would be terrible and inexcusible, but with just one video and a few words. Partly because you may already know at least one of them.

Abigail Washburn

I’m just now starting to really listen to her, so don’t be surprised if she comes up in conversation again. She’s a singer-songwriter who takes the banjo and makes it an instrument you can’t get enough of. As a writer, she weaves elements of the past, present and immediate moment and stories that are both familiar and foreign (often literally. She sings in Chinese occasionally). I present to you my favorite song (so far) by Abigail Washburn and The Sparrow Quartet performing “Strange Things”

Regina Spektor

Okay. We all know who she is. So I will add little to her bio here except to say that Regina Spektor is amazing. duh, right? I’ll link you to two videos here because the first I discovered after checking out the “Live in London” CD/DVD and the other because SHE HAS A NEW ALBUM COMING OUT! HA!

I think my favorite part of this song, is the way it’s so stripped down, so bare. It’s just her, just her voice. And it’s amazing.

I love the darkness in this song. It’s quite a bit heavier than I’ve grown to expect from her. I’m pretty excited.

All right….those are my biggest picks. Also, Jack White has a new album. You should totally go get it. Because Jack White is just cool. And on that note….Enjoy! And have a wonderful, happy weekend full of great music and enjoyable company! And remember to feel free to share your own music recommendations in the comments if you’d like!

All Hail the Rock Revolution

This weekend was so full of live music that I feel like I could crash right now and wake up next week. It was intense.

Friday night I went to see BugGiRL and Adrian and the Sickness rock the fuck out like there was no tomorrow and it was everything I could have asked for. I love the energy and the feel of rock and metal. There is just nothing like the sound of blazing guitars and the heavy drums. It’s like an aural shot of adrenaline. And both bands delivered everything I’d hoped for and more. Amber, of BugGiRL is a pure shot of rock-n-roll energy. Her influences are definitely classic rock, from AC/DC to Mötley Crüe and beyond. She wields her guitar like the cock-rock instrument it’s been immortalized as, full of that incredible dirty, sexual energy that makes rock-n-roll the genre that it’s supposed to be. Her energy is frantic and fun to witness and be a part of.

And Adrian, of Adrian and the Sickness? oh my. You have not lived until you’ve seen a guitar goddess in action. Her fingers flew over the fretboard of her wireless guitar and she was in fact a woman possessed by the spirit of the music. It’s no wonder that she’s named her band Adrian and the Sickness. Anyone with a connection to music knows that it is powerful, and a force that can be all consuming–in other words: a sickness. A disease that grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go. Adrian proved that. Her technique and her energy was impossible to resist. Part of me wonders how many guys she has made feel incompetent (or at least uncomfortable) due to her incredible mastery.

Between BugGiRL and Adrian & the Sickness, it was hard not to be inspired. Why fear the guitar when you’ve got women onstage proving that the instrument itself is not gendered. Anyone can make it their own. And if you know a woman who wants to get into learning the guitar (or are one yourself!) I suggest you look into both of these bands. They’ll get ya on the right track.

Saturday I went to an all day concert put on by a local rock radio station, 97.5 The Blaze. Saturday was wonderful. It was an outdoor concert in the heart of Salt Lake City (known as Gallivan Plaza) and I’m sun burnt. The music was great, especially the local bands. Believe it or not, SLC has a damn good rock scene. While a few of the names are well known to the local music community (the most notable being Royal Bliss, who really owned the stage–their reputation is well earned), I was familiar with none of them. Which on one hand is exciting, because you’re in the best place to discover new bands and musicians. The day was well spent, I enjoyed the music, the bands, the crowd, and the station’s effort throwing this incredible bash, but after spending the night before with talented/bad ass women musicians I couldn’t for the life of me shake this nagging feeling that….well…

….there was something missing.

97.5 has a good relationship with women. They’ve brought in acts like Halestorm into Utah, so it’s not like their ignoring the women who’re paving their way into the rock/metal scenes. The lineup for 2011’s Viva Salt Lake, well…it’s just what it is, right? It’s who they could get. Chill out, it’s not a big deal…Can we move on now?

But see, this right here, this very attitude, is exactly why women–especially in the rock/metal scene–aren’t getting the same respect the boys are getting. This attitude has been in place since June Millington picked up a guitar and started the band Fanny with her sister and some friends in the 70s. This is the same attitude that saw laughing record executives look at Joan Jett post-Runaways and say “Ohhh no, we’re not signing you.” Joan Jett had to go it alone and release her music independently. Today she’s still going as a musician and she’s still running her label Blackheart Records, where she’s making sure she’s signing acts like Girl in a Coma (3 piece alt/rock) and the Dollyrots (awesome pop/rock). It’s unquestionably a women-forward label.

Women have been a significant part of every music scene, from the blues, to jazz, to alternative, to rock to punk….WE’VE BEEN THERE. Yet women musicians are constantly left out of the rock picture despite the fact that more and more women are taking up instruments with the help of Rock’n’Roll Camps for Girls and other supportive parents and friends. The 90s saw a grrrl revolution in punk. With the leadership of musicians like Kathleen Hanna, Allison Wolfe, Carrie Brownstein and so many others, women finally found themselves represented in boy dominated scenes in a real way. Suddenly women could kick ass. Suddenly women could go to the local punk rock venue and actually HAVE a space to scream out their frustrations.

And yet, despite the progress, despite the work of musicians such as Courtney Love, Kat Bjelland, Otep, Kittie, Tairrie B., and so many others, women are still marginalized in a system that is happy stuck in the status quo. Women fronted bands are still regulated mainly to the rock magazine “hottest women in rock” issues instead of being a real and balanced part of the rockpages. This is NOT OKAY. This cannot continue to be the case. We’ve been fighting this war in different stages since the 60s and 70s, and it’s bizarre to think that as much accomplishment that we’ve had, you can still listen to a local rock radio station for more than an hour and not hear women represented. It’s bizarre to look at the rock charts and see no women-fronted acts represented. A quick glance at the Billboard rock charts reveals that the only act on the top 10 for the past couple weeks with a woman is Sick Puppies, which has Emma Anzai on bass. Thank goodness we have some representation. It’s better than none. But one woman among a male dominated field is not enough.

It’s hard to find faith in a system that is clearly broken. At the same time, the fact that the system is as broken as it is gives me a chance to do what I do, and bring amazing women artists to public attention. I’m happy to keep that gig. That said, I would like to see a balance in the mainstream rock world. I would like to see more women recognized without the feminist journalists/critics reminding people why it’s important that the musician is recognized for MORE than her looks. I’d like to see artists profiled in Bust/Bitch profiled equally in Rolling Stone/Spin. This disconnect is not okay.

I’m going to end this blog with a challenge. It’s a challenge to myself and it’s a challenge directed at anyone who reads this and who feels similarly.

It’s simple in essence. The challenge is to speak up. To pay attention. To request, request, request music on radio stations you listen to. Send music suggestions to music magazines/radio stations and if their coverage of women musicians is scarce or sexist, call them out on it. Don’t let that magazine/radio station be anything less than the best. You are a consumer of that media and as such, you have some power. Use it. Speak up.

Do you like a band? Join their street team. Support the hell out of them. Get them heard in whatever way you can. Write about them. Talk about them. Go to their gigs and bring friends. Buy their albums.

Don’t. Be. Silent.

Do. Be. Persistent.

The women-in-rock revolution is still ongoing, and the only way to make it real is to be part of it, and to own your role in it. So whether it’s as a musician, a writer, a radio host, OWN IT.