YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY…WOMEN IN MUSIC, PART 2

Another insanely informative and entertaining article by Frank Gutch, Jr. This time its all about women in Indie Music.

 

Time for the followup to the first post regarding women in music (click here) and, boy, have they ever!  Come along way, I mean.  You can forget about barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen (yep, there were idiots in the old days too) and inequality in the workplace, at least if the workplace has anything to do with music.  Ladies have shrugged off the shroud the old boys club laid over them and are giving them the old what-for (and they damn well deserve it).  Those days when the few women who picked up instruments were allowed only so much respect are now kicking the guys to the curbside.  Consider it the equivalent to kicking sand in the wimpy guy’s face.

I grew up to respect women, to look upon them as individuals (which wasn’t easy, considering the large amounts of hormones which were kicking my ass in  my earlier years) and to consider them equals.  Given the chance, I thought, they will overcome, and, man, have they!  You want proof?  I’ll give you proof!  Starting with…..

No Small Children—  Whew!  I have waited for a band like this for decades— a three-man (er, wo-man) band with punch and grit and chutzpah to show their wiles.  I back-doored into the band, having found them through their guitarist who used to record under (and still retains the name of) Lisa Parade.  Two albums and I was in love.  Lisa has everything it takes to make music fun and, more importantly, make music music!  She is joined on this project by sister, bassist and major voice Joanie Pimentel and the percussive poundmaster her own self, Nicola B.  Thus far, they have recorded a number of tunes, all available for perusal on their bandcamp pages (click here and be sure to check out all the tracks available by clicking on the icons on the right), and have a new album almost ready for delivery.  But why wait?  Here is a video which says everything I cannot.  I love these girls!!!

 

 

Dala—  Surely you have heard of Dala by now, but just in case you haven’t, let me tell you a bit about them.  They’re Canadian, are working their asses off touring wherever people will hear them and are doing on their own what the music industry would not do for them.  I found them quite by accident, having checked in with CDBaby at just the right moment, and watched them wow the crowds at the The Newport Folk Festival a handful of years ago before barnstorming North America and the UK, building a solid following.  Their voices are beautiful and sometimes downright haunting, their music is sweet and ethereal and they have the attitude which many women musicians have these days— do or die.  Here is a song from their latest album, Best Day.

 

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Arborea—  Okay, it’s only half-woman, but Shanti Curran is so good she makes up for the non-half.  This duo have been shopping their musical wares for some time now and are finally beginning to break through the white noise.  When trying to describe what they do, I stumble over words and phrases like “renaissance” and “medieval folk” and “trad folk”, but none really fits the bill.  They are, in a way, futuristic with a serious look backward.  Whatever it is, it is beautiful stuff.  Maybe this will help.

 

Good buddy Brian Cullman is always drawing names out of a hat (at least, it seems like it) and his latest is a lady named Mary Fahl who, for some odd reason, always posts herself as Mary Fahl (former lead singer of October Project).  I had not heard of October Project until I started following Brian’s leads but am well aware of them now.  Mary has had a run with major labels and is now attempting to work the field her own self (though she must have label connections somewhere) and I give her a big thumbs up for attitude and energy.  She works the social networks like a trooper and responds to almost any positive comment passed on to her and that alone takes an enormous amount of time.  Talent-wise, she has a voice and uses it well and writes as well as she sings.  To give you an idea, here is a video she posted a few months ago which catches her in an Enya-style mood.  Very impressive.  No, Celtic is not all she does.  In fact, she is all over the map, but it is a delightful map.  Here she is singing a song from her latest album, Love & Gravity.  You can thank me after listening.  In the meantime, I will be thanking Brian, who is also working on an album.  Or so he says.

With the Midwest and East coast in deep freeze, the warmth has to come from somewhere, so why not from Nashville’s own Kink Ador, whose run at the brass ring the past few years has been a rollercoaster ride.  In spite of personnel changes and deep probes by aliens, they have put out consistently impressive recordings.  My first exposure to them came by way of friend Joe Lee, who performed on the same stage (not at the same time) a few years ago and was impressed enough to send me a link to this video, saying that they were, indeed, the real deal.

After watching that vid, I joined the Kink Ador Fan Club and even got my secret decoder ring.  Four years later, here they are with a summer anthem of another color.  Wrap those blankets around you, you East Coasters, and think warm.  Good stuff.

Ollabelle‘s Glenn Patscha (certainly not a woman) has recently teamed up with two ladies to form a band they call The Big BrightFiona McBain is another leg of the tripod and Liz Tormes rounds out the trio.  Beautiful voices and great arrangements are what they are all about.  They do what they call “new wave nocturnes,” rearranged songs by the so-called new wave of bands from the eighties.  The album, in fact, is titled I Slept Through the 80s and is notable for the arrangements as well as the choice of songs.  Here they are doing a live version of Yazoo‘s Only You.

 

 

You’ve probably heard of Meg Hutchinson if not actually heard her.  Time for you to hear her if you haven’t, methinks.  She started out as far as I am concerned a folkie of worth but has recently (since signing with powerhouse indie Red House Records) blossomed into a strong, confident and well-rounded musician.  Her last album, The Living Side, was her best at the time of release (2010), but 2013’s Beyond That is a step into another dimension, the songs deeper, more emotional, more mature.  This is a search for self through music.  A solid A.

 

 

Allow me to continue singing the praises of Maxine Dunn, who records under the name Maxi Dunn.  This lady is quite unlike any other performer I’ve heard the past few years, living somewhere in the realm which produced so many female singers of the past— Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, Cilla Black.  Her real strength besides her songs, which are sometimes off-the-charts good, are her arrangements, vocally and instrumentally.  Part of the credit for that can go to fellow musician Peter Hackett who has a real flair for numerous instruments, but most is Dunn’s.  Last year’s Edmund & Leo entrenched itself solidly in my Top Ten early in the year and refused to be replaced.  Here is Dragonfly from that album.  Seriously, listen to the production and arrangement on this.  They are exceptional.

 

 

Lisbee Stainton seems to be one of those musicians from the UK who somehow gets lost in the shuffle, not unlike Ireland’s The Minnows.  Unique, impressive, and with exceptional voice, she has made great inroads in home country England but just cannot seem to gain a toehold in the US of A.  I blame it on Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry, but then I blame everything on them.  Oh, and Justin Bieber.  Can’t leave him out.  Here’s the thing, though.  Lisbee has put out four good to exceptional albums and has little to show for it in North America.  Time for the US and Canada to take the earmuffs off— well, after the winter season, anyway.  Here she does a live performance of a song from the excellent Word Games album (2013).  Listen closely.  She won’t be a secret long.

 

 

There’s this dude in Portland, Oregon, one Ben Darwish, who came up with this futuristic story of the past— a story of drought and the struggle to find potable water in what seems to be a dying world— which he calls The Clear Blue Pearl.  Consider it theater of the mind music.  The vocal core of the band (Morning Ritual) is Darwish and The Shook Twins, two Pac NW girls who are turning some heads.  This is a track from the opus, performed live by Oregon Public Broadcasting.  They have performed the entire album live.  I am sorry to have missed it.  And, yes, the Shooks perform on their own as a duo and in combinations with other bands.  As a fellow Oregonian, I can’t help but have a little pride in them.

 

 

I’ve said it many times.  Rita Hosking is a musical treasure.  She comes from mining stock (meaning her ancestors were miners) and has a grasp of the past that she weaves into some of her music that is quite disarming.  Bluegrass, folk, country, pop— she does it all.  Here she is performing a song from her latest mini-LP, Little BoatParting Glass— a song I have come to love almost as much as a song she recorded earlier, The Coyote.  Remember, this is live, folks.  No overdubs, no bells and whistles.

 

 

The Abramson Singers— How I missed this British Columbia collective, I don’t know, but I somehow did.  Fool’s Gold I had heard through a site promoting Canada’s Lilith Fair tour a couple of years ago, but I could find little else on the Net.  Well, it’s there now, and I’m telling you you should take a listen.  Not only is Leah Abramson unique in voice, she has a real sense of song quite different than others I have heard.  This is beautiful stuff.  Two albums and a single from an earlier solo album.  Listen to them all.  Maybe, as my friends sometimes tell me, I am easily impressed, but I am really impressed.  ReallyYou can listen to the albums and single here, and if you prefer, here is a video of a song from their latest, Late Riser.

 

 

Sometimes I think it’s time to turn it all over to the kids.  When the kids are as talented as Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin, I don’t think that would be bad at all.  Here is the video which turned me onto them, passed along courtesy of the aforementioned Rita Hosking.  There is one whole lotta talent in Grass Valley, it appears.  I especially love the end where the kids smile, knowing that they just nailed the vocals.  Makes me chuckle every time.

 

 

Women in music, indeed.  I am finding that I am more and more an equal opportunity listener, but I do have a special feeling for what women are doing these days.  Their time is fast approaching, not only in music but everywhere.  Time for us men to step aside and give credit where credit is due.  They have surely come a long way, baby, and they ain’t done yet.  Check back in a year and I’ll have Part Three ready for you.

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