Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Further thoughts from Brunch Rock - "uh huh, her"

"I'm a musician the same way I'm a woman..." ~

One hopes that, in 2011, we're way beyond dwelling on exhausted cliches of spotlightning, or...perhaps, isolating an emphasis... upon the role of girls ( "the rock n roll band" has, for so long, been seen as more of a boys club scenario...) It's a story older than the stories of Kim Deal, or Kira Roessler or even Nico...

"I spent most of the day (afterward) trying to piece together what it's like being a female in the "brunch-rock" scene," said Kickstand Band bassist/singer Allison Young. Indeed...after that long rambling post where we tried to unpack the current state and current character of the local music scene...there are still other questions of how it measures up or how it distinguishes itself to sufficiently show substantial progress...

"Even outside of the brunchers, I've gained so many valuable friendships in the punk/noise/garage/indie scenes of Detroit - especially with other female musicians...which is a little weird since I haven't had many of those," said Young.

She has also performed, for years on trombone, with Mick Bassett and Jesse Shepherd Bates bt started up Kickstand Band with guitarist Gordon Smith a little over a year ago. She said she always thought there was prominent female representation in Detroit music, but recently it seems to be increasing.

"Maybe it's another part of being in post-garage-rock Detroit," she wonders aloud. "We're part of a scene where theatrics and rebel-without-a-cause attitudes aren't quite as important as they used to be. It feels like the post-garage scene is a bit more relaxed. Girls don't have to seem like they'll kick your ass with their guitar anymore. They can simply be the 'young-person-trying-to-be-a-musician-in-a-sucky-city/sucky-economy'..."

"I wouldn't say that female musicians now have less to prove than (dynamic/theatrical rock groups like Gore Gore Girls, Detroit Cobras), but maybe there's more camaraderie between bands rather than competition that produces the laid-back attitude."

Young regales a disconcerting anecdote of Kickstand Band's recent Ohio trip where a sound guy ignored her (even leered a bit at her) until she plugged in her guitar. "Yep, I've been denied drink tickets and asked to leave backstage areas based on my gender in the past."

But, Young sad, "I don't think there's a better place than Detroit to be a female musician right now. Especially one up-front, leading a band. There's more support within the scene than any other place."

~ "...very well put, Allison," chimed in Pewter Cub singer/bassist Regan Patricia Lorie, who suggested that female musicians are pretty much the norm around here. "Scott (PC guitarist), Dave (PC drummer) and I were talking as we left brunch about lots of things and Scott made the statement that most bands around here have at least one female member, including two of the band's he's in, (which includes Duende)."

Lorie said that everone seems to simply want the same freedom to be themselves, musically, and as people, regardless of gender or race.

It was discussed at brunch that there's no "single sound" with which to name or label this scene. "And that ties into this," Lorie said, "I think we're all just trying to make something unique as a band by fusing together what's unique about us as people."

Pewter Cub, said Lorie, often talk about how special this scene is and how lucky they feel to be in its embrace, spurring pride...feeling "proud and blown away that this little thing that Scott and I started in his basement years ago has actually taken on some life of its own. And it's really an honor to be in such fine company."

"I second everything Regan and Allison said," Deadbeat Beat drummer/singer Maria Nuccilli said. "I know we all have so many experiences like the one Allison spoke of - playing a show and being ignored/overlooked by the venue in favor of what seems to be the more obvious interaction with men."

Hinting at her own batch of ridiculous stories; "I always get asked 'Are you the lead singer?' by people who have never seen my band before." There's nothing wrong, Nuccilli said, with a woman being lead singer, ("that is hard work!") but for one to assume that a girl must be in the band because she's "the leader" or the performer or that her "voice must be her only instrument" is interesting in itself.

"What is it about playing an instrument that can be construed as un-feminine?"

But, Nuccilli said, it gets to the point where none of that matters... "Because every single band she I've played in (including The Decks), I've never been treated as anything less than an equal by any gender. I've played in so many bands where I've been the only girl in a room full of dudes, and it's incredible to know that I'm there playing drums because I have the musical respect of my band mates, not because I'm adding to their image."

Nuccilli said experiences like those helped her become more comfortable in her own skin, as both a woman and a musician. Starting out around the Detroit scene, back in 04/05, she admitted she didn't feel comfortable at all times expressing her femininity and musicianship at the same time, admitting to a lack of role models at that time. "Being a woman, wearing a dress and make-up (or not!) and playing drums seemed to be at aesthetic odds at times, but I do it because that's how I feel."

"I'm a musician the same way I'm a woman. I'm sure it's the same for all of us....It sounds cheesy as hell, but we were born as woman the same way we were born as artists or songwriters or bassists or guitar players or drummers or singers or whatever. Just like any man."

"I'm thankful for everyone in Detroit who recognizes that and sees all of us as musicians and women equally, not one or the other."

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