The Legend: Thalia Zedek

Thalia Zedek was born and raised in Washington DC and Silver Spring, MD. She moved to Boston in 1979 and shortly thereafter began performing and recording with bands on the local punk/post-punk scene. In the 80’s she played with White Women, Dangerous Birds (Propeller Records), Uzi (Homestead Records, reissued on Matador) and the New York based Live Skull (HomesteadRecords, Caroline Records). After her stint in New York fronting Live Skull she returned to Boston in the 90’s and formed the band Come. Come lasted until 2000, releasing records on SubPop, Matador, Beggars Banquet and Domino and touring with Nirvana, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Hole, Swans and many others.

At the turn of the century she formed her own group, the Thalia Zedek Band (Matador, Kimchee Records,Thrill Jockey) who are still active to this day and whose 7th release will be out this August on Thrill Jockey. She also recently formed a new band called E, who are currently recording their first LP for Thrill Jockey and she performs live as a member of Dyr Faser and Animal Hospital Ensemble.(Bio courtesy of Thalia Zedek)

Thalia Zedek by Lana Caplan - TZ9260bwcrop
Thalia Zedek by Lana Z. Caplan

Thalia Zedek is truly a living legend and one of the finest voices in rock music today. Boston is lucky to have such a talented musician gracing its many stages. Thalia took the time out of her busy schedule to answer QWIMB’s questions on Boston scenes, Queerness, and being a musician. 

What brought you to Boston?

I initially came to Boston to go to school at Boston University. I lasted all of one semester before deciding that college was not for me, but in the meantime I had already joined 2 bands.

Have you experienced a strong scene for queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

My very first band was called White Women. The other 2 women in the band Dolores Paradise and Judy Jetson were both lesbians and in a relationship together. Dolores Paradise was also the wife of, and had a child with, the infamous Lou Miami of Lou Miami and the Kozmetix, a well-known Boston queen who fronted a great rock and roll band.

Thalia Zedek by Lana Caplan
Thalia Zedek by Lana Z. Caplan

Do you have any sense of a history of a queer scene in Boston?

Because of my association with White Women and Lou Miami I was thrown right away into the queer punk scene. The music scene that was based around Cantones and Maverick’s was full of queers, trannies, lesbians etc. Human Sexual Response, Plastic Warsaw, Mark Thor, Lou Miami to name a few. I also kind of remember all of those bars being managed and booked by lesbians. Joan Martin who later managed my band Dangerous Birds booked The Space, and Marlo MacDonald Nagy managed Cantones, to name a few. When I first saw Nan Goldin’s book “The Ballad of Sexual Dependancy” I recognized a lot of those people. I think those photos were from that same scene but probably 5 or 6 years before I was there.

A few years later Marianne Peacott and some others started Rock Against Sexism as a response to the Rock Against Racism movement that was happening in England. I would go to their monthly Tea Parties that were held at a gay bar called the 1270 and loads of local feminist bands would play and the DJ would play punk and post punk music. Most of the women who went were lesbians and there was a really big punk lesbian scene that came out those “Tea Parties”

E by Hanna Rose Shell
E by Hanna Rose Shell

What made you decide to join a band/start performing?

For as long as I can remember I always loved playing music and wanted to be in a band. So I was always trying, but hearing Patti Smith sing Gloria on the radio at 16 was a HUGE moment for me! I went to high school in Silver Spring and I started a band with a girl I met in high school who is now known as Azalia Snail. We bonded over Patti Smith in art class. She was also a huge punk fan and she also turned me onto a ton of other cool bands like Xray Spex and Sex Pistols.

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

Patti Smith, Leslie Woods from the Au Pairs, The Raincoats, Pat Place (guitarist for the Bush Tetras and The Contortions) Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave, Velvet Underground, The Birthday Party, Circle X…

Thalia Zedek by Lana Caplan
Thalia Zedek by Lana Z. Caplan

Do think things are getting better for queer performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

I think that things are a lot better these days for queers in general, but of course there are still barriers and prejudices to overcome. Especially for women, because there is till SO much sexism in “rock” music.

What bands are you currently performing in?

Thalia Zedek Band, E, Dyr Faser

Thalia Zedek Band by Tamara Bonn
Thalia Zedek Band by Tamara Bonn

What has been your proudest moment as a musician?

There has been a lot of them, but there have also been some embarrassing ones!

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Do it because you love it and not for any other reason. But if you really love it don’t give up, even when it gets tough. There will be a lot of ups and downs if you really want to do this music/band thing, and you just have to learn to roll with them.

 

2-25 The Lizard Lounge
2-25 The Lizard Lounge

Check Out Thalia on Tour In 2016:

  • Feb. 25th at the Lizard Lounge, Cambridge- Thalia Zedek Band with Brian Carpenter and the Confessions
  • Feb. 27th at Troost, Brooklyn NY- Thalia Zedek Band
  • Feb. 29th at Charlies Kitchen, Cambridge- E with Far Corners
  • March 12th at Midway, Jamaica Plain- E with Fur Purse, Geoglyphs and Medical Maps
  • March 15th at The Sinclair- E with Tortoise and Mind Over Mirrors
  • March 18th at Cake Shop, NYC- Dyr Faser with Minibeast and Platinum Vision
  • March 26th at Out of the Blue Too, Cambridge – Dyr Faser with a zillion others!

For More Info:

Say Hello to Solo Sexx

Bio:

Forged deep in the psychedelic undertow of UMass basements, sticky floored queer clubs, house parties, porches, and backyards, Solo Sexx has been serving rude and riotous Salt-n-Pepa-meets-Buzzcocks-meets-Shangri Las realness since 2008. Since then, they’ve glittered and grinded all up over New England and beyond, performing at the Boston Freedom Rally, touring the East Coast, rocking festivals and events for the likes of Girls Rock Camp Boston, the Human Rights Campaign, Yes All Women, and more–all while bringing their unique brand of fearless flavor to audiences who leave wondering how they ever survived sans-Sexx. With a fearless sense of humor and a no-holds barred attitude, Solo Sexx turns the hip-hop hypocrites on their head and leads fans to a whole new horizon: with home cooked beats and outta sight rhymes covering everything from being broke (not for long), being white (last they checked), and being free to perform the self pleasure their name is shouting, Solo Sexx proves that the alternative to the add-water-and-stir rap chumpitude is funkier, fresher, and just plain sexxier than ever before.

QWIMB Q & A

What brought you to Boston?

Heather Mack: I grew up in the ‘burbs, moved out to Wild Western Mass to get weird for 5 years, then when I graduated from UMass decided it was time to take my chance on the “big” “city” of Boston. I’ve been here ever since!
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Have you experienced a strong scene for queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

Heather Mack: I think Boston is incredibly lucky to have a fierce faction of queer feminist badasses involved in all aspects of artmaking, from promotions to production to burlesque to punk rock and everything in between. The best part is, although the queer scene is relatively small, people are LOUD about it–in one week you might have Queeraoke, WTFQueerlesque, and Pink Noize, all unapologetically loud and raucous queer, feminist events happening at all different parts of town. And for the most part it’s pretty inclusive, like a big weird rainbow family you just might not have met yet. We freaks tend to stick together, and it makes a big difference.

Do you have any sense of a history of a queer scene in the city?

Heather Mack: The first “queer” event I ever attended in the city was probably Rocky Horror back when it was in Harvard Square–I was just a little tyke back then! Since then I’ve felt incredibly blessed by all of the opportunities I’ve had to be involved in the queer scene, as a performer and as a fan. I’m not so sure about the scene’s “history”, since I didn’t really start identifying as queer until college out in W.Mass where I frequented queer events for the first time, and only since coming to Boston about 5 years ago have I gotten really involved in this scene in particular. Either way, I’m pumped to be out here making new queer history with so many awesome artists and visionaries, and I gotta say, the future’s looking bright!
Julezcloseup

What made you decide to join a band?

Julez:Being around creative people during those crucial college years who were also experimenting with music and constantly producing art of all genres. For me, the beats came first and I owe a lot of my early inspiration and motivation to that core group of creative friends.

Heather Mack: Julez really says it best, we were just incredibly lucky during our college years to have been part of a chaotic cotillion of psychedelic musicians, artists, visionaries and weirdos that had our own unique culture and community where everyone was not only free, but encouraged to experiment with everything, especially art. I had started a punk band when I was in high school called The Bush Administration and even though we didn’t take ourselves seriously I was really addicted to the feeling of shocking people onstage with something they didn’t expect, or would otherwise dismiss. I also already had an instinct for having a fully female fronted band performing songs that were filled with innuendo, and that riotous, raunchy energy provided the foundation for my later music.  In college I was part of a crew of dudes who were into hip hop and freestyling, then Julez transferred to UMass and everything got kicked into overdrive. She went home for winter break and taught herself to make beats, by the time she got back we were writing songs for just the two of us. That’s when we created “Solo Sexx”–the name is a reference to going solo, pleasing yourself first, and knowing that sometimes you just gotta do it on your own, you know?

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

Julez: DJ culture has always been a big influence on me. I was always trying to recreate the way DJs mix different sounds and samples together. So our beats reflects that.

Heather Mack: AAAH! So many. Rupaul, Kate Bush, GG Allin, TT The Artist, Rye Rye, Santigold, MIA, Buzzcocks, 90s house divas, Cakes Da Killa, PWR BTTM, David Bowie, Amanda Palmer, Missy Elliott, Downtown Boys, Mykki Blanco, Big Freedia, the Shangri-Las–bands who challenge the status quo, defy gender roles, and just make badass music that challenges you to think critically while also having an absolute blast on the dance floor.

Do think things are getting better for queer female performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

Heather Mack: The internet is bringing things to a whole new level in a really positive way–I think queer female performers are getting much more visibility, and more and more celebrities are coming out as genderqueer and trans and sexually fluid, so that’s helpful in terms of breaking down old narratives and stereotypes around gender and sexuality. I also think there’s been a push to create intentional queer DIY spaces where those artists are not only welcome, but explicitly sought out and celebrated. The more visibility there is, the more we are able to give permission to other queer female or trans or genderfluid artists to be fully, wildly themselves–and to support one another in the process. I’m also pumped that venues tend to be really open to having queer events or having queer identified bands perform, and I’m happy to be able to host events like that too–like our upcoming Queer Women in Hip Hop night.

closeupHeatherYAW

Are you in any other bands?

Heather Mack: Nope! But I am in the Boston League of Women Wrestlers.

What has been your proudest moment as a member of a band?

Julez: Performing on stage at the weed rally in Boston a few years back! Such a huge crowd- felt like a rockstar.

Heather Mack: My favorite part of being in a band is the reactions we get from the crowd. Although every single show we invariably have some crew of (usually) dudes come up and say some version of “I thought you were gonna suck, but you were amazing!” and it’s always satisfying to know that you smashed a stranger’s perception of you, that’s not what makes me proud. What’s really incredible is when young women come up to us and tell us that we showed them that it’s possible to be a woman who raps and rocks crowds, and that we inspired them to try to make music too. As much as we do it for ourselves (hence the name, again), those moments are what sustains us and make us really proud of what we’re doing. That’s why we also love to do events for badass organizations like Yes All Women, Human Rights Campaign, and Girls Rock Camp Boston–because we know we’re offering up our art to help contribute to a positive, supportive community where people of all genders and sexualities have the resources they need to rock out in whatever way they choose.

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Julez:YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE! Seriously don’t be afraid to take that first step, and don’t doubt yourself too much. And if you’re lucky and the ideas and creativity starts flowing early on DON’T SLEEP ON IT! Make the most of it- it’s a precious commodity.

Heather Mack: DO IT! Make mistakes. Write a song, then scribble it out and start over 20 times. Then stop scribbling things out and embrace every flaw as a foundation for something fabulous. Go see local shows and discover new heroes. Make friends with your heroes. Book shows with your heroes! Don’t wait for other people to do things for you–learn everything you can by throwing yourself into it. If you feel like there aren’t enough cool venues in Boston, create one. If bookers don’t want to book a hip hop show, bypass them and book shows yourself. Make other amazing friends who create weirdo art and love you for it and hold you accountable to your aspirations. Be reckless, fearless, and bold–even if you’re terrified. There’s no time like the present–and life’s too damn short to be boring!

Are there any other current or former bands you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Heather Mack: Check out Afro Panther (iamafropanther.soundcloud.com) and Billy Dean Thomas (facebook.com/billydeanslist), two artists who will be performing along with us at our upcoming Queer Women in Hip Hop showcase at the Lilypad, January 30th!

For more from Solo Sexx:

Meet Leigh Cheri’s Kelsie Hogue!

Leigh Cheri is a Boston-based noise pop band. Vox: Kelsie Hogue, Guitar: Mike Levinsohn, Bass: Chris Centeno, Drums: Billy Nichols

QWIMB gave Kelsie some questions to answer about Boston and queerness. Here’s what she came up with:

What brought you to Boston? 

I came here for Boston University’s BFA Acting program which I just graduated from last Spring.

Have you experienced a strong scene for queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc? 

I’m still in the discovery process of that. I’ve experienced great spaces in JP, Somerville, and Allston, and awesome festivals like Smash It Dead and takeover nights like Queeraoke (which we’re playing Halloween week!!). Always on the boi scout for more, never too many queers in one room!!

Leigh-Cheri-bostoncalling

Do you have any sense of a history of a queer scene in the city? 

That’s something I’d like to know more about. Tutors/den mothers welcome!!

What made you decide to join a band? 

Lisa Simpson whispered to me through the television via her saxophone  when I was five.

Leigh-Cheri-cuisineenlocaleAre there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music? 

Yoni Wolf of Why? is my favorite lyricist of all time. I think Gerard Way is my generation’s misunderstood Freddie Mercury and was in retrospect my third femme boy crush (behind Axl Rose and Peter Pan). I bless the satin-lined riffs of kweens like Mariah, Christina and Whitney (RIP queen). Big Boi is the most underrated rapper, Kendrick is just plain important, Mykki Blanco is fucking shit up in the best way, and Missy Elliot is the most powerful bulldyke in the game. Comedians Tim and Eric and Tig Notaro made high school and college better. Queer/Trans activists/artists Darkmatter and Kat Blaque continue to teach me a lot.

 

Leigh-Cheri-lasthausDo think things are getting better for queer female performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

I think in large part to the Riot Grrrl Movement, things have gotten fairly better for white queer girl/genderqueer performers. As one myself, it’s a constant conversation understanding the layers of privilege I benefit from in performance settings. I have easily performed nude/barely clothed in both music and theatre spaces. The degradation I receive is in the form of sexualization or my queerness being written off as a trend/experiment. While those are still things to challenge of course, that’s nothing compared to the every day micro-aggressions towards QPOC to the rapidly rising murders of Trans Women of Color (a matter nearly neglected by mainstream media). I’m interested in listening and supporting Q/TWOC musicians specifically, as I think there is work to be done with creating a safer and more visible space for everyone (both in the music scene and in general). I would love to see the conversation begin with intersectionality, instead of sidelining it as can tend to happen in white-centric queer spaces.

Are you in any other bands?

 I have two queer as hell side projects in the works called Pillow Queen (with Birthing Hips’ Carrie Furniss) and CHOIRBOI (with Anjimile’s Anji Chithambo), Mike (guitarist) and Chris (bassist) play with gRAD pARTy, and our drummer Billy Nichols has a solo project under his name.

What has been your proudest moment as a member of a band?

Playing our first live show this past April; file under “v tender.”

What advice would you give to a woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument? 

Let me know if you need to borrow my bass or guitar!! Find allies in the scene (swipe right on me bb)!! Let’s make this scene too queer for its own good!!

Are there any other current or former bands you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

I’m gonna give Anjimile and Birthing Hips a #double #shout #out

Wanna get to know Leigh Cheri better? Check out the links.

You also catch them at The Midway on Oct 29, 2015 before Queeraoke and November 19, 2015 at O’Briens. 

An Interview With Kristen Ford

What brought you to Boston?

I had moved back to Western Massachusetts, (where I grew up) to work on an album on Many Doors records. I would commute 2 hours to Boston to go busking, and was dating a girl out there. Eventually it was like, this is ridiculous, let’s pull a U Haul and move in. It didn’t work out with the girl but it did with the city. That was 6 years ago, and I’ve been on the road full time the past year.

Have you experienced a strong scene for queer women in the city in terms of music/performers etc?

kristenfordportrait
Photo credit: Menelik Puryear

I think the answer to that is yes and no. There is a really big DJ scene with the weekly dance parties, and I find certain musical genres are really friendly to queers and you’ll find your people at those shows. However having a specific place to go and see queer women play, or a consistently gay ladies live music scene is not something I’ve encountered.

Do you have any sense of a history of a queer scene here?

Boston is the land of history! Depends how far back you dig how far into the closet they may have been, but there are vibes.

 What made you decide to start performing?

kristenford
Photo credit: Menelik Puryear

I didn’t have a choice. Just loved being a ham and getting attention since I was tiny. When I was 16 I saw an Ani Difranco show at the Avalon (now the House of Blues) and something struck me like​ a lightning bolt. That’s it. That’s what I have to do. She wielded so much power over us all with just her voice and a guitar. One of the greats.

Are there any artists that you look up to or who have inspired your own music?

I was mentored by June Millington; she was in the first all-female band to be signed to a major label called Fanny- absolute bad ass and she has transformed my music and my life. I also am a huge Radiohead fan, and recently as a one woman band I’ve been very inspired by Audrey Ryan and the way she changed the game.

Do think things are getting better for queer female performers or are there still barriers to overcome?

kristenford
Photo credit: Menelik Puryear

I was at SXSW recently, and it’s pretty appalling how few women there are onstage or working the technical aspects of the show. It’s not even a queer issue, it’s a women’s rights issue. And I do think there is a lot of external pressure for gay performers to be “pretty” and stereotypically femme in order to get ahead. I mean even Ellen has a makeup sponsorship. Long way to go- but that’s why we must fight for the kind of performers, clubs and scenes we want to have, until the mainstream is ready.

Are you in any other bands/performance acts?

Currently living out of a van and touring full time keeps me busy only playing my own stuff. But in the past I played drums in Tilt-A-Whirl and The Grooves Moons- you can find us on Spotify and iTunes.

What has been your proudest moment as a performer?

Hard to choose just one, so many great experiences. Last summer I played mainstage at National Women’s Music Festival, and that was pretty grand. To have this incredible (all woman) tech staff making us sound and look great, a huge stage to bound across and being given the space to be really appreciated as a rock star from the audience was huge and really fun.

What advice would you give to a queer woman thinking about starting a band or learning an instrument?

Do it! Work hard and make friends with other people out there in Indy bands. I think too many people get caught up in being competitive, how many Facebook likes do you have and such, and come to my show blah blah blah, without going out to support other local acts, nurturing your own scene and giving as much as you hope to get.

Are there any other current or former bands/solo acts you would like to see featured by QWIMB?

Bethel Steel, Laura Grill, What time is it Mr Fox, Jonny Blazes, Jade Sylvan and as a promoter, Kristen Porter.

Thanks for the interview!

I also would like to say I’m having a very gay show at Club Passim Sunday August 16th, with Bern & the Brights from NYC and What Time is it Mr Fox. You can get your tickets at http://clubpassim.org/

FUR PURSE!!

FUR PURSE HAS ARRIVED

So just who or what is a Fur Purse?

Fur Purse is:

  • Eve Belfer-Ahern – vocals, saxaphone, keyboards
  • Amy Tyson – guitar
  • Claire Passey – drums

Bio from Facebook: “Menacing, pubesenct, black hearts.”

QWIMB asked the Fur Purse women some questions about life, love, and the pursuit of fur purses and here is what they had to say:

What brought you to Boston and how long have you lived here?

Eve, Claire and Amy were all summoned to planet Earth at different times, but for the same reason:  to be in Fur Purse.  Eve arrived in Boston first, having appeared to have been born and bred here.  Amy showed up in Boston not long after Eve first appeared, and did a bunch of stuff while biding her time.  Claire is the one who is still the most jet lagged.

Why did you form Fur Purse, what brought you all together?

Destiny cannot be denied, everybody knows this!    Inexorable forces, that’s what.  What more can we tell you?  Do you really expect us to understand these forces?  That is similar to us asking, “Why are you, Tina, so deadpanning-ly funny?”

Do you think there’s a good scene/community in Boston for queer female musicians?

We think it is amazing!!  You go queer female musicians!!!

No seriously, even though we don’t believe in labeling ourselves, we know, enjoy, are amazed  and are grateful for the INCREDIBLY strong female presence in Boston Indie Rock!!!  It gives us strength and courage!

Why do you think it was ordained 1000’s of years ago that the three of us would end up at these very particular coordinates as Fur Purse?  If you don’t believe what we are saying is true, then you probably think Ladies Rock Camp is a hoax too.

Fur Purse has Peeps
Fur Purse has Peeps

Have you noticed any trends in the scene, i.e. is it better or worse now than it used to be?

Based on the analysis of the data we each have been transmitting continuously  from the BostonMA area back to our source originations, there has a steep increase in people of the non-male persuasion playing instruments, singing and thrusting their pelvises on-stage in clubs and halls around town.  Marked increase.  Preliminary analysis points to probable cause/influence as likely being an organization, a camp, if you will, that is for ladies who want to rock.

eve yelling claire drums
Eve and Claire at The Cantab

Are there any artists who have inspired you musically or personally?

Amy: Cindy Wonderfulis someone who really helped light the way for me on this crazy zoom zoom wheee!   Eve sends props to all the great performers, like David Bowie, or Boston’s own Deb Nicholson.  Claire says The Haggard broke all the rules and changed her dna forever.

Have you been in other bands before Fur Purse?

Do you BFP?  What is BFP?  This is an illogical concept.

When and how did you get started playing music?

Amy started on air guitar first, then switched to a material, physical guitar at some point, because it’s louder and therefore sounds better.  Claire first started on the sewing machine at her mother’s behest. Once she mastered that sewing machine, her mother said she had “earned the right to hit things really hard”.  Eve started singing in her dreams, and continues to this day.  Shhhh don’t wake her up.

Claire and Amy at the Milky Way
Claire and Amy at the Milky Way

How did you come up with the name Fur Purse : ) ?

Goddammit!  It is not what you and some other people think!!  How can we ever get that through to you people!  We are going to keep protesting this until you believe us!

No – “Fur Purse” is really just a term for a sort of small-ish container into which people put things, in order to carry them around.   Like if you were a trader in the 1850’s on the Oregon Trail you would likely have a fur purse. or maybe if you were a fancy lady in out on the town in the present day. OK?

…I think that’s it. Again, if there’s a question you’d really like to answer feel free to add it on.

Yeah here are some questions I think we should answer:

What is best thing about being in band?   #1 Groupies  #2 Feelings

What is worst thing about being in band?   Feelings

What advice would you give to people who want to start a band?  Just do it and don’t look back!

Claire and Eve at The Milkyway
Claire and Eve at The Milkyway

For More on Fur Purse, visit their Facebook page.

Meet Gaetana Brown of Little War Twins

Gaetana Brown is a member of the Boston- based band Little War Twins. She answered some questions for us about queerness, music and Boston: our favorite things.

Q&A:

Did you grow up in the Boston area? (if so where, if not, why come here?)

I grew up in a 3 by 3 mile town called Ayer in Massachusetts. I came  to Boston to change my life and throw myself into my dream of becoming a musician.

Do you think there is a strong community of queer women here either performing or supporting a music scene?

Oh yeah! Amazing bands like Brief Awakening, Trauma Queens and solo  performers like Danielle Lessard and Kristen Ford really helped me grow  as an artist and come out. Also with radio shows like Three Strange  Women on unregularradio.com with Jackie Soriano, I feel that Boston has a supportive group of women who are out and about!

Are there any artists/performers who have been particularly influential to you?

I think my most influential artist this year was Tune-yards. She is a one woman powerhouse weaving innovation with no mercy. I am in love  with her music and warrior spirit.

What has been your experience with the various in venues for  music in Boston? Have you played many of them? What was the crowd like?

I feel like I have played at almost every club in this city and the crowd is forever changing. There are some shows where people stay  for every set, some where people leave when their friends set is done,  but it’s never quite the same. I see local musicians really supporting  eachother in Boston, I find that truly inspirational.

Why did you get into playing/performing  music? Is there anything specific you would like listeners to hear when  they connect with your music?

 I got into playing and performing music because I love poetry. When I  was ten years old I fell in love with words and began writing. After  finding the guitar I thought, music is my poetry. I could freely express myself musically and write.

When it comes to a listener connecting to my music, I hope they can  find their own meaning. To me, art is a matter of perspective.

Now, meet Little War Twins:

Little War Twins
Little War Twins

According to their bio on the Little War Twins website:

We are strength. We are One. We are whole.

Together Little War Twins stands as a tribe, with each member threading together a tapestry of sounds that is as unique as the instrument they sheath.

  • Gaetana Brown: The Voice of the Storm (voice, rhythm guitar)
  • Patrick McConnell: The Bison-Headed-Warbird (drums)
  • Mark Pare: The Magick-Eater (lead guitar)

The words: Shock, Honesty, Freedom, Anticipation and Tempestous Reflection have all been used to describe Little War Twins live performance. In the last year, the band has already seen 3 residencies in Boston and continues to tour regionally across the North East.

Little War Twins is currently played on WNPR 90.5, UnRegularRadio.com and has been featured live on CityWide Blackout, The Boston Local Music Show, and Three Strange Women, in addition to being featured on NECN News Television.

LWT is currently recording their debut album to be released in the Fall of 2012.

HELP OUT THE BAND

“We are rock and roll  mystics and we are about to hit the road for six months. Right now we  have an indiegogo campaign to raise money for our tour van, where we  will eat, sleep and basically live. We are so grateful to go across the country spreading love and our message, our hope is that we can do it in a reasonably safe van!”
www.indiegogo.com/littlewartwins

For More on Little War Twins

Marissa Owens: Scruffy Folk Player/Former Bostonian

Marissa Owens, a self-described “scruffy folk” musician got her start in Boston and, as she moves into new aspects of career, keeps Boston close to her heart.

Listen to One of her Songs:

See, Saw – Marissa Owens

A Brief Bio of Marissa:

“A self-taught, unsigned folk singer-songwriter,Marissa Owens finds her home in Portland, Maine. Currently enrolled at SUNYPurchase for studio composition, she is a barefoot traveling soul, paddingalong the riverbanks of love, hope, sadness, and longing. The deep meaning shefinds in place, and her cherishing of fleeting human interaction, pours throughher rhythmic, powerful, heartbeat-esque finger picking style. Withdiary-confession lyricism, her music exudes a feeling of being suspendedbetween wandering and searching— both lost and found, home and away.”

QWIMB asked Marissa to answer some of our favorite questions about Boston and queerness, as we like to do. Here are her responses.

What brought you to Boston?

I came to Boston to study at Boston University. I was pursuing a degree in human physiology, but instead of studying, I wrote songs and recorded them in my dorm room. Boston was the place where songwriting started for me. Unfortunately for my roommate, I was always practicing tunes. Eventually, I had to pay attention to the fact that I dreaded school and should not be wasting money or time in the wrong place. I withdrew from Boston University and decided to apply to SUNY Purchase’s studio composition program. I had a free year between studying at Boston and SUNY Purchase, and in that time I got to reflect on my experiences in Boston.

What was your experience like in Boston?

While I was in Boston, I met a lot of great people because of my involvement in the queer scene at Boston University. I made a point to go to events outside of Boston University, just to feel more comfortable in the community. Boston allowed me to be open about my queerness as an adult. That was so valuable to me.

I loved wandering around Boston. I liked getting lost in the crowd, and I spent a lot of my time riding the T alone just to think. On my campus, people didn’t smile at others walking by. I wasn’t used to that. On one hand, I wanted strangers to connect, but on the other hand, I liked passing through a crowd where nobody cared about me. It is a confusing way for me to feel, but I explored all of that confusion and angst in my songs.

What’s great about Boston is there are so many young people there. There’s a feel of excitement, inspiration, and open-mindedness.

Did you feel there was a “scene” for queer female musicians? What about queer women of color? Is there a strong Boston scene in that regard? Was it welcoming/unwelcoming?:

There is a scene for female musicians. Although I was not playing shows in Boston, all of the artists I met and respected in Boston were women. I was so lucky to meet Jenny Owen Youngs and Steph Barrak. For big names, and indie musicians alike, I think Boston has a place for all musicians, because of the range of venues available. I was really in tune with the queer musician scene, and I think Boston supports that scene as well. What’s important is for people to create the scene, and a lot of musicians are doing that, with house shows and such, and that is incredible. As far as a scene for queer women of color, I didn’t really experience that. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t exist, but I’m sure the scene could be much stronger. Every place could stand to be more welcoming toward queer women of color who are musicians. Every place could be more welcoming to women in general. For a woman to get up and relate what she really thinks and feels is still shamed by society. That’s the way it is for people who are queer, of color, etc. But, we ignore all of that, and keep putting ourselves out there.

Thanks Marissa for answering our questions and adding to the QWIMB community!

For more info on Marissa and her music here are some links:

Check Out Local Musician: Sierra West

From Horse Farm to Harvard Square: Sierra West’s is Journey to Inspire

Luck Media)

Helping Animals By Day, Inspiring People Through Song By Night…Welcome To The Fascinating World Of Sierra West! The Folk Influenced Pop/Rock Singer Songwriter Is A Veterinary Technician Who Volunteers Her Musical Talent To Support Animal Causes.

We asked Sierra to answer some questions for QWIMB about her thoughts on Boston, Queerness, and Music…our favorite things.

QWIMB QUESTIONARE: 

Did you grow up in the Boston area? (if so where, if not, why come here?)

I grew up in rural CT on a horse farm. I lived in Watertown until I was 8 and moved to Thomaston where I still visit family. I moved to Boston after college because I heard of a historical folk venue called Club 47 (currently Club Passim) where Bob Dylan and Joan Baez started out and I dreamed of doing the same. I wanted to become part of the folk scene and start taking formal lessons (I was self-taught), so between Club Passim and Berklee I thought I couldn’t go wrong!

Do you think there is a strong community of queer women here either performing or supporting a music scene?

I think there is a strong community supporting more liberal artists/slam poets and dj’s. There is a stronger scene for bands than for solo artists, but there are several acoustic musicians working hard to create a stronger community, especially in JP and Somerville.

Are there any artists/performers who have been particularly influential to you?

I am influenced by a wide variety of music…everything from Neil Young to Nine Inch Nails. I grew up listening to James Taylor, Tom Petty, CSN, Steely Dan…any Classic Rock records i could get my hands on. Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin were repeatedly played. My first concert was Little Feat and Melissa Etheridge when I was 4 and I have been particularly influenced by them because of that. I went through stages of listening to U2, REM, & Ani DiFranco in high school and currently listen to The Weepies, Ben Harper, and Patti Griffin. I have to say, of the thousands of artists I have seen and heard, Martin Sexton is my number one all around choice. He has it all…and I aspire for a career much like his.

What has been your experience with the various in venues for music in Boston? Have you played many of them? What was the crowd like?

Sierra WestThe crowds showing up for music venues in Boston are a hit or miss for artists starting out on their own, especially without representation. There is so much music going on all the time that you really have to advance the gigs & do everything you can to promote them on your own. I’ve never performed at Toad (although I’d love to), but it’s a great small place with free music every night.  Most artists looking to book gigs can do so at The All Asia. There is not much of a local draw there, but it is a great way to gain experience. I performed at The Abbey Lounge, Toast (the gay bar in Union Square), and The Sky Bar regularly before they shut down. I’ve performed at The Midway and The Milkyway in JP supporting queer events and loved the crowd there. I’ve performed a lot at The Cantab Lounge, with a great basement band stage called Club Bohemia, again hit or miss for the crowd. I held my first EP release for “Rocks” at The Lizard Lounge, one of the best basement venues – standing room only on a Thursday night. I loved performing there – intimate, funky, and rockin’ at the same time.  I will be holding my EP release for “Hold Your Fire” on August 14th at Club Passim, which is a dream come true. It’s my favorite venue to perform in not only for its history, but for the love of the folk community and the power of a listening room. It’s not just a venue.

Why did you get into playing/performing music? Is there anything specific you would like listeners to hear when they connect with your music?

After my older brother, also a musician, was killed by a hit-and-run drunk driver I bought my first acoustic guitar and started writing privately in my room. Every time I sing it reconnects me with him. It wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I began playing in front of people. My girlfriend at the time was cheating on me with her male best friend. The day before she broke up with me she had insisted she “could never love a man the way she loved a woman”. We made out to The Cure for half an hour in my old Volvo (my brother’s old car). I recorded my first CD “Depleted Oxygen” 3 months later in NYC. It was fuel for a fire that was already there. I hope my listeners hold on to their dreams despite the resistance that arises, that it is possible to get through a struggle despite how different or against the grain it may feel, because life is too short not to.

____________________________________________________

Intrigued Yet? Take a Listen to Some of Her Music:

Sierra was kind enough to allow QWIMB to post a link to her NEW EP, which comes out AUGUST 14.

Hold Your Fire

Also check out her earlier EP, Rocks.

Rocks


See Her Live!

Sierra is promoting her upcoming EP, Hold Your Fire, at Club Passim on August 14. You Don’t want to miss this show.

Get Tickets Here.

Want More Info On Sierra:

Sierra on Myspace

Sierra’s Website

Feature on a Retired Local Band: PornBelt

PornBelt

Pornbelt was an all-female full-frontal assault back in the early 2000s, with members residing in both Boston’s Jamaica Plain and Somerville neighborhoods. Travis, the former drummer, gave me this description of the band dating from their heyday :

Take a listen to some of their songs. Pornbelt will melt your face off and injure your hearing.

  • Babysitter Fucker
  • Gash Rash
  • Clam
  • Cherry Commando

A couple of show reviewer/writer-type dudes had some words to share on Pornbelt:

“Hell spawned and godlike at once…Pummeled the audience with feedback, white noise and a kazoo.  They brought a power to the state that can barely be described.”  Tony Reaves. 11.11.02.  UMO

“This has to be some milestone in evolution, or a sign of the apocalypse. Perhaps the shrillest, most painful and pointless cacophony I’ve ever witness and I’ve seen some real train wrecks. I’m outta here.”  Joe Coughlin, The Noise, Boston Issue 221.May 2002.

 

 

I had some questions for band members about what is was like to be a queer band in Boston in the 2000s, if the bandmembers were all from the city, and what the queer music scene was like at the time the band was performing. Their drummer Travis, was kind enough to answer.

Travis: “This is a really good question.  And honestly, queer was not really a word floating around Boston yet, the way it is today.  There were dyke bands, but not queer bands.  And even though we all were dykes at the time (or bi and trans etc) we were almost more of a feminist band then a queer band.  Most everyone was from the city.  I was a country bumkin from Maine who must moved to Boston and had discover Team Dresch 5 years AFTER they had broken up and I thought they were the greatest thing i’d ever heard (still my most fav band).  I wanted to play dyke punk music and found an ad on Craigslist.  I “audition” for the guitar part at this basement/practice space in Jamaica Plain and joined in. Wtihin a year, we lost the drummer, so I switched to drums and we got a new guitar player.

We were also playing music at a time when many bands were being protested for any affliction with the Michigan Women’s Music Festival.  We played a show once with a few performers who had played there, and subsequently were being protested.  My bandmates reminded me that we bought them hot-coaco cuz it was cold out.  And even though there were trans members in our band, we did not stand behind the protesting of bands.  My girlfriend was in a band at the time (The Kitty Kill – another band you should look up) and they were also protested because they played there.”

 

 

Merry, the lead screamer, also shared some of her experiences in Boston’s queer womens’ music scene and playing with PornBelt.

“PornBelt took on many iterations over the years.I think we can be loosely defined as a gig band between 2001-2003. At that time, the music scene in Boston was fairly segregated. There was the main rock bands of Boston that played shows at places like The Middle East & T.T the Bears, Punk bands playing O’briens or basement shows- of course there were many other types of bands and venues but there was also a strong & prominent  dyke scene in the early aughts. I suppose that’s were PornBelt came in. Our lineup changed over time and we didn’t adhere necessarily to the label of “dyke band” but I think we fit a broader definition of a Queer band-at the core PornBelt had 5 women-lesbian, bi & straight, later we had transgender members. As far as a Queer music scene in Boston, I’m not really aware of any gay male bands that could be considered a counterpart  like a Pansy Division of Boston. There were however many bands that consisted of mostly queer women (and not just folk!)

Our shows were pretty evenly divided between the rock bands that Debbie networked with: Neptune, Young Sexy Assassins, Donna Parker, Japanther, Tunnel of Love and playing shows with dyke/queer bands that the members of PornBelt were fucking, or maybe wanted to fuck: The Kitty Kill, Chelsea on Fire, Secret Cock, Pelvic Circus and Naughty Shirley to name a few. At the time the dyke scene had a very loyal following. The Midway, a bar in Jamaica Plain had a ‘Dyke Night’, and back then Thursday nights were ground zero for Dykes/Queers in the Boston area. Chelsea on Fire were true rock amazons, they were like the Beastie Boys of the dyke scene-I think everyone can agree that they were just in a league of their own- holy shit the pipes on Josie! they were all truly talented,  they had a hardcore dyke following but I think they could hold their own, and did with many other bands. The Kitty Kill also was a great band, they brought a lot of melody and rhythm to their music. I always viewed PornBelt as a novelty band, novelty in the sense that we didn’t fit any particular genre and we definitely were not the kind of band that you would want to blast really loud while zooming down the highway (unless you were perhaps an escaped mental patient with a messiah complex). I like to think our shows were fun and intense -individually the musicians in PornBelt could have been stand out musicians in any other band- but PornBelt was more GWAR meets Smothers Brothers, in my mind- then a true band.

We did have a few stalkers, which I guess does qualify us as a real band.

Debbie was always the driving force in PornBelt. She was the one who got the practice space, networked, made flyers and booked the shows. As for me I was the lead screamer for PornBelt, though when we first formed I was slated to be the bass player. I couldn’t play bass, or any instrument for that matter so I transitioned to the lead screamer and I kinda sucked at that too- for example-the other members had to give me signals when to start ‘singing’, I also needed  to make cheat sheet of lyrics & I generally just winged it with a mic and a pair of well-worn knee pads.

I think towards the end of our time playing together, the last true line up of PornBelt was stellar-

Larissa was sheer force. she is so versatile on bass, shredding and fully engaged, she fucking brought it full on. Larissa also occasionally hopped on the guitar. As a side note, I was out of the Country for about a month and when I came back Larissa bought a van for PornBelt to tour in. The rest of PornBelt tricked out the van, so when I came back I remember being really confused that a van and what turned out to be an ill-fated tour were booked and ready to go.

Travis was our grounded player, he kept the music tight and worked with Larissa to come up with new musical arrangements for the lyrics, he also went between guitar and drums. When we gave each other A-Team characters names, of course Travis was Face because he is dreamy and the lady fans loved him.

Slamber did guitar and drums- (her and Travis would trade off on different songs). Slamber brought raw energy and a provocative appeal that would captivate and engage the audience.

Debbie introduced a lot of unique noise elements to the songs-kazoo, and various mic’d contraptions. Deb also sang what turned out to be some of best songs. Without Deb PornBelt would not have made it past our first basement show. Deb is a true PR machine, she is The Closer.

As for me, when I was in PornBelt I lived in Mission Hill, but I essentially cut my teeth in the Boston Punk scene of the 90’s. I left home fairly early, at 15- so I always felt I essentially spent my teen years growing up behind the Rat, drinking cheap vodka and hanging out in The Pit in Harvard Square. Having come from the Punk scene, labels and  designations were antithetic, that being the whole punk ethos-so it was sort of natural for me to get involved with a variegated music spectrum, though I did take a lot of heat from some punks over my love of Motown, Seals & Crofts, Michael Jackson, Guns n’ Roses-to name a few.  I think because I did not play an instrument my involvement with PornBelt was a bit different from the other band members. I just sort of showed up at gigs, it felt sort of happenstance. But, I loved writing lyrics. It felt great to capture a feeling or experience in a song. It was cathartic and I suppose therapeutic, to unload a torrent of emotion and weird ideas in lyric form. One of our songs was “Baby Sitter Fucker”, the idea for the song came to me when I was dating this guy that I kind of thought was a creep. It was as Oprah would say “An Aha moment”, I remember thinking- this guy, this dude that I am dating-he’s the kind of guy who would volunteer to drive the babysitter home after a date night and make the moves on a young girl, it was also inspired by the various indiscretions of the Kennedy family. The song “Covered Girl” was inspired by an experience with my father’s wife when I was about 12 years old, she told me I need to be demure if I wanted to get a man but that I was too tall anyway and guys don’t like tall girls (I’m 5’8, that’s not even tall). I am a picky eater so I wrote “portion cup” about my O.C.D. need to segment my food.”

-Merry

I would like to thank PornBelt for giving me everything I needed for this article and basically doing all the work for me! If you thirst for more PornBelt, check out their Facebook page.

If you or anyone you know has further information on the queer scene in Boston either past/present/or future, send me a line. Did you go to any of PornBelt’s shows? Tell me about it. Were you at other shows you wanna discuss? Got any pics, stickers, pins, pit-stained t-shirts, memories, or scars you wanna share? Do it. I want it all…give it to me. Please.

(Article by Tina Lafleur)