Welcoming 2020 at the Rock Mansion

Have you been to a show at Rock Mansion? If you haven’t, you’re missing out! Amy Tyson rebuilt the Dorchester home herself over a period of years and it’s the most welcoming place in town to play a show. She sets up her PA from her home studio in the dining room and it’s an instant safe space for Queers, misfits, artists, and their allies to debut new material, new projects, and show off their talents.

Pam Nicholas welcomes you to Rock Mansion

On December 31, 2019, Rock Mansion welcomed the end of a tough year by celebrating 3 bands and one artist. Up first was New Recording 23, which is Pam Nicholas from Pop Smear, Shiva Speedway, and the current Dowager, and Amy Tyson of Fur Purse and Rock Mansion ownership. They are an instrumental rock project and are amazing. Pam is a force on the drums and Amy Tyson wails on her Ibanez like nobody’s business.

New Recording 23

David Champagne played solo next. He was a small package with a lot of heart and I linked here to his web page for more info about his music and upcoming shows with his other projects. Most of his other shows, if not all, are sold out, but you can get a sense of his sound at the link provided.

David Champagne

After a short break came Bicker. According to Eve Belfer-Ahern, Bicker can be described as, “Bicker is me n claire (Passey) (of FurPurse with Eve and Amy Tyson) and Ella from lady pills and Adam from Stompbox and Chris from black cat guitar, FIRST SHOW!!”

Bicker at Rock Mansion 2020
Bicker at Rock Mansion 2020

Bicker ruled! If you like Fur Purse, watch out for Bicker! I took like 50 photos I swear to God. I wish I had a video, but you’ll just have to keep your eyes open for their next show.

Claire, Ella, and Adam of Bicker
Eve of Bicker with the crowd

If you want to see New Recording 23 again, you have to bother Amy and Pam to keep it up, which they better!

New Recording 23 at Rock Mansion 2020

Holy Ghost was supposed to play, but one of the women, Mary Beth Cahill got sick. Suzanne Hinton says about Holy Ghost, “This will be the first show for Holy Ghost, me and Mary Beth Cahill (we used to have a band called Looker).” I hope to see Holy Ghost come together again in the new year.

New Year’s Eve at Rock Mansion 2020 Flier by Suzanne Hinton

The final band of the night, Argo Arkestra, was supposed to bring the extravaganza with sci-fi covers and the like, but I missed it because I had to leave before they went on. Christopher Carmelovich describes the Argo Arkestra as, “Argo Arkestra is Noell Dorsey (Guillermo Sexo/Major Stars/Beautiful Weekend), Aaron Bennett (Crystal Understanding/Death Shepherd/Planet of Adventure), Ernie Kim (Tristan Da Cunha), me (Planet of Adventure), Adam Brilla (Broken River Prophet), Bear Brown (Ho-Ag/Gun Mother), Tyler Derryberry (Ho-Ag/Planet of Adventure/Squirty Worm), and Brian Church (Tristan Da Cunha, who won’t be there this time).”

Argo Arkestra by Georgia Young

There could not have been a better party with a better group of people to ring in 2020. The Rock Mansion 2020 is a place to watch. Words can’t really describe what the Rock Mansion means to me and I hope you have the chance to experience it for yourself so you don’t have to wonder what all the fuss is about. It’s not open to the public,it’s a private home with small private parties,  but if you’re nice and get to know these amazing women, maybe you’ll be invited to the next show.

In Thrust We Trust : Q&A With Thrust Club

Thrust Club is a four piece band hailing from Boston, which band member Sally Bunch describes as:

Thrust Club’s sound is a garage dance party where everyone is invited—a kick-drum that lifts you out of your seat, crunchy guitar chords under a layer of keys that’s sometimes smooth, sometimes ominous, and vocals that coo, scream, and everything in between, warning and complaining about but also celebrating the experience of being a woman. Thrust Club formed in February 2012 at Ladies Rock Camp, a 3-day fundraising event for Girls Rock Campaign Boston where women pick up instruments they have likely never played, form bands, write a song, and perform it live. After rocking the showcase at TT the Bear’s with “In Thrust We Trust,” singer Bethany Leavey, keyboardist Bonnie Joyce, drummer JC Climent, and guitarist Sally Bunch decided they were having too much fun to call it a weekend.

In spring 2012, they began practicing in a JP basement and pulled together a 5-song set to play at their first show, at the Middle East Upstairs in July 2012. Since then, Thrust Club has performed at Great Scott, the Midway, Milky Way, O’Brien’s, Precinct, and elsewhere, and in July 2013 released the EP Greetings from Mt. Thrustmore, available by download at http://thrustclub.bandcamp.com/. All members volunteer at GRCB’s summer sessions for Girls and Ladies Rock Camp, and believe in demonstrating and promoting girls’ and women’s to express themselves through music and other means.

The ladies answered some questions for us about Boston, queerness, women, and rock n’ roll.

What brought you to Boston?

Bethany: I was born and raised in the Boston suburbs and went to college at Northeastern University. With the exception of a short six-month stint in Chicago, I’ve never lived anywhere else. I’m what you’d call a lifer 🙂

Bonnie: My family moved to Ipswich when I was 16 and I bopped around throughout Massachusetts then finally moved to Jamaica Plain when I was 25. My brother’s girlfriend at the time had a room in her apartment that needed subletting, and I had a wad of cash in a tissue box rather than a bank account. I stuck around!

Sally: I came here in the 80s to attend BU and after graduation I made Boston my permanent home. I knew I wanted to attend college in a city, to be near cool radio stations, clubs, and bands, though I didn’t start venturing out to the Rat or TTs and other clubs until I was a senior.

JC: I moved here on a whim with my boyfriend 12 years ago for absolutely no reason other than we had a brief discussion one night where I said, “I’ve always wanted to live in Boston…” and he said, “me too…” and then we just did it! We move here in the middle of a blizzard in February 2003 with $500 savings, no job prospects and no friends here. I think we’ve done pretty well for ourselves.

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

Bethany: Ladies Rock Camp Boston and Girls Rock Campaign Boston have introduced me to the HUGE number of queer women involved in the Boston music community! It seems like I hardly ever go to or play a show where there isn’t at least one queer woman on the bill.

Bonnie: Thrust Club has been living in a bubble of it for the past two years, so I’ll have to say yes, because it’s something we’ve gravitated towards. We’ve been mentored and supported so well by the Girls Rock Boston community. We’ve played exactly one show where there weren’t women in any of the other bands on the bill and I’d like to keep it that way.

Sally: I do, and feel part of this growing community of bands I go see and play on the bill with, including Fur Purse, Weather Weapon, Viva Gina, Sleep Crimes, Kitchenettes, etc.

JC: I hadn’t paid attention until I attended my first Ladies Rock Camp (LRC) in February of 2011 and met the most amazing group of women I have ever known! I have since done LRC twice more and now consider myself a retired camper. I still volunteer for LRC and Girls Rock Campaign Boston (GRCB), where I teach bass and coach bands.

at rock camp officialDo you have any sense of a history of a queer scene here or is the past a faded memory?

Bethany: Like Bonnie said, the queer scene wasn’t something I really knew a whole lot about until I became involved in GRCB/LRCB. I was aware of a handful of queer women in the folk and singer/songwriter scene, but I didn’t really have a sense of a queer presence in the Boston rock scene until the last few years.

Bonnie: I don’t have a sense of it, but I wasn’t so keenly paying attention until a couple years ago.

Sally: I don’t have a sense of it; there may have been stuff going on that I wasn’t aware of, particularly in the nineties and early 2000s when for various reasons I wasn’t paying attention

JC: There is definitely at least a mini queer scene happening here! Bands like Viva Gina and Unstraight are definitely holding it down.

What made you decide to join a band?

Bethany: I joined my first band in high school (Holla, LittleMatchGirl!) I’ve always felt like being in a band was an inevitability for me. I knew that I wanted to make music, but I didn’t know quite how to go about it. I was lucky enough to have a few friends who felt the same way, and we decided we’d figure this whole “writing music” thing out together. We were an all-girl band by default because none of the guys we knew wanted to play with us.

Bonnie: Man! For a while there I was going out to see bands play like every dang night. I knew I wanted to do it but I had this really limited view like all the people who were in bands probably started out when they were wicked young or were so much more talented than I could ever be or whatever. I was hanging around with Radio Control and Streight Angular a lot, both bands with lady drummers–Kristina Otero and Theresa Polk, and was really inspired by them. Kristina blew me away with this story about playing a show on a Brookline Community Access TV show after having only a very brief experience of playing drums. My memory is fuzzy but it was something like a few weeks or months. (NOTE: I have contacted her asking for details but it’s early on a Saturday morning so I haven’t yet heard back)

When I heard about Girls Rock Camp I had a reaction you hear about a lot of women having, like, “Ugh! I wish they’d had this when I was a kid and then I’d be living in this alternate reality where I’m in a band!” And then the next year they ran it for adult ladies but I was too shy to do it. I became friends with Charlotte, Stud, and Tam, who were involved as campers and counselors and they urged me to sign up. I’m so lucky Thrust Club wanted to stay together!

Sally: I had these opportunities through Ladies Rock Camp that I never thought I would have. I just thought I’d come away with some friends to see other bands with. But in 2011 two of my rock camp band mates invited me to join the band they were forming. And then the following year Thrust Club wanted to keep going, and though at the time I didn’t really think of myself as a guitarist in the long term, I’m glad we’re still at it.

JC: After my first LRC, I realized that I wanted to start a band but didn’t really know how or whom to ask. I was already in Adam PC, but I wanted my own thing too. When Thrust Club formed during my second LRC in 2012, I got extremely lucky to join a band where all the members were local, we were making music we were all into, and decided to keep going!

dolled up

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

Bethany: I would not be the vocalist that I am today without Monique Powell of Save Ferris and Beth Ditto of Gossip. Bif Naked, Gwen Stefani, and Carrie Brownstien taught me how to yelp and twist my voice and, of course, Kathleen Hannah showed me how to scream my head off.

In terms of songwriting, I really admire the poetic simplicity of Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, Kimya Dawson, The Moldy Peaches, The Mountain Goats and The Ramones.

The Ramones and Velvet Underground have served as a general inspiration for me – They didn’t have any special musical training, they just had instruments and a desire to make noise.

Bonnie: Like Sally, a lot of my longtime listening has been to dudes. Whatever, I’ll name them. I love Bruce Springsteen, Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, The Mountain Goats, The Magnetic Fields, The Kinks. Right now I’m trying to figure out how to make my keyboard to make sounds like The Doors made.

Since becoming a lady in a band I’ve become more lady-centric in my tastes. I’ve loved Tegan and Sara forever and I’m super enjoying this pop turn they’re taking these days. We can sound pretty Riot Grrrl but I’ve only started listening to a lot of those bands once we’d already begun doing it. We just like yelling, so that’s how it turned out. There’s a lot to yell about!

A lot of my idols are Boston women in bands who I’ve actually had the chance to interact with, and who over time have become my peers.

Sally: I must admit that most of the music I listened to when I was younger was created by dudes, with a few exceptions including Tina Weymouth, Chrissy Hynde, and of course Patti Smith. I guess I identify with Patti the most because she’s a writer who stumbled into playing music. Going back now and listening to some of the female bands like Sleater Kinney made me realize how they are influencing me know. And I have guitarist envy every time I see Marisa Paternoster play.

JC: When I was about 6 or 7, I wanted to sing like Debbie Gibson! But I’ve also been into Joan Jett, Cyndi Lauper, Blondie, and Heart for as long as I can remember. Kathleen Hanna has been a huge influence on me ever since I discovered Bikini Kill around the age of 16. Kim Deal is my biggest bass inspiration and Janet Weiss is my biggest drum inspiration! And I’ve had a crush on Carrie Brownstein since high school.

roller derby

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

Bethany: There are always barriers to overcome, I think, but it seems like things are getting better. There is definitely a growing queer female presence in the Boston music scene with performers going out and supporting each other.

Bonnie: I hope so, because it’s something that we’re actively trying to achieve. You’ve got to do a lot of good stuff to edge out the bad stuff. There’s nothing like a shopping trip for your gear to remind you that discrimination still exists, though.

Sally: I imagine they are, though I’ve only been at it for a couple of years and we’re in a progressive city and part of this amazing, supportive community.

JC: Things can ALWAYS get better for females and for queers everywhere! But I think as long as we have each other’s backs and continue to nurture and support our scene, shit is good.

Are you in any other bands?

Bethany: In addition to Thrust Club, I front Boston riot-doom band Sleep Crimes. I also have several ongoing side projects: The Sitcom Moms, my acoustic, punk rock, mashup cover band with my hetero lifemate (and former LittleMatchGirl bassist ) Eve Gravel, Das Oopsie, a ukulele duo with Rainy Logan of Eye Witness/Rotating Strawberry Madonna, and Muscleshucker, Sleep Crimes’ acoustic corporate events alter-ego.

Bonnie: Not right now, but I would be open to it. In 2013 I played bass in a second Ladies Rock Camp band, a hip hop band called Slam Juice. We had a mere 3 days of bliss and sort of tried to stay together after camp, but it didn’t happen. Ladies if you are reading this, know that I still love you and would jump at the chance to reunite.

Sally: Until last summer I played bass in another band, Seamstress, with two other women from my LRC band and another friend on accordion. We had a unique sound and I was proud of what we accomplished those two years we were active.

JC: I am also in Adam PC, where I play bass and some percussion, as well as do back-up vocals.

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

Bethany: Oh my gosh, so many! I don’t think I could ever pick just one. My very first show with my very first band was huge for me. It sort of felt like we were pulling off this huge ruse, like “Oh my God, they actually think we’re a BAND?!?!?” Playing NYC on Thrust Club’s first band-iversary was so amazing. I was standing on stage thinking “…A year ago, we didn’t exist, and now we’re recording and EP and playing Brooklyn!” It is also the most amazing feeling to have people singing the words of your song back to you. I don’t think that will ever get old. AND HOW COULD I FORGET OPENING FOR JD SAMSON & MEN?!?!?!? That might be my biggest fangirl moment.

Bonnie: This is a really tough question, because there have been so many and I always feel so lucky to have them. Sorry, Tina, I can’t pick a single proudest moment so here’s a list. Playing our first show at the Middle East Upstairs was a huge honor. Being asked to open for JD Samson & MEN was another thrill, and I tip my hat to our drummer for having the guts to send them our music when they put out a call. JC is a promotional dynamo. Our first band practice after we got the news, we kicked things off with a group squeal. I was a nervous wreck at the show itself and could barely speak to JD Samson, but I’m proud I managed to eke out a thank you. Playing the TomTom/GRCB Lady Drummer showcase was certainly a highlight, and watching the video that was made at that show makes me so happy. I’m excited we’re booked to be a lunchtime band at Girls Rock Camp in July. Anytime we’re mentioned in print or on blogs, I’m like, “What?! This is happening?! Cool!”

Sally: I’d have to agree with JC about playing that show with JD Samson and Men is up there, as well as earlier that month playing at the Tom Tom/GRCB benefit. In addition, having our first post-LRCB gig at the Middle East, and pulling that together. I could go on…I guess the whole Thrust Club experience has been one proud moment.

JC: I think the biggest “holy shit!” moment for me was Thrust Club being asked to open for JD Samson & MEN for their Boston tour date at Great Scott. The proudest moment is every single second I spend with Thrust Club and being grateful/ astonished at how well the four of us work together.

men and thrust club

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

Bethany: Do it. Just get out there and do it. Don’t worry about whether or not you’re good or bad or not sounding the way you want to. Get involved in GRCB/LRCB. You will meet so many inspiring women, even if you just come to an event. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t, either.

Bonnie: You don’t have to lock yourself in a room until you’re perfect before you start performing. Just get out there. As for the people you form a band with, just go with your gut. Have patience with yourself when you’re struggling on the learning curve. If there is someone at a show you’d like to emulate, go up to them and talk to them. Most people in bands are just regular people and they’ll be friends with you. Blab nonstop about what you’re doing. Write to Thrust Club. We’d love to book a show with you.

Seek out spaces where you truly feel like anything goes. If you can swing it, get your butt to Ladies Rock Camp. It is both the most fun and the most empowering thing I’ve ever done. If you can’t afford it, volunteer for them. They still need volunteers for the Girls’ sessions in June and July. If that’s not possible, go to a GRCB-affiliated event and talk to everyone; we’re a friendly bunch. We got really advice at Rock Camp that I often think of to this day. One of Thrust Club’s band coaches, KJ Parish, was a taskmaster extraordinaire that weekend, and she said, “Being in a band is all about making decisions and moving on.” Just keep at it. Another bit that stuck with me is when Angela Sawyer of Weirdo Records told us something along the lines of, “It is your job as a musician to be as yourself as you can possibly be.” I think back to that one whenever I start to feel inadequate or like I ought to affect more of a persona or look better onstage.

Sally: I would say just go for it. Get involved with Girls Rock Campaign Boston to meet other female musicians and help inspire girls. If that’s not available, go see and support other bands and get to know them. And if there’s some little gremlin on your shoulder saying you’re not good enough at your instrument or you’re too old tell it to shut the fuck up.

JC: JUST GO FOR IT!!! Attend a rock camp session, meet some ladies, go to all the rock shows, meet some more ladies, practice your instrument, sing in the shower or in front of the mirror, and don’t ever be embarrassed or let anyone tell you that you can’t do something

at rock camp

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

Bethany: Well, Sleep Crimes DOES have the Improper Bostonian’s Most Eligible queer woman banging the skins 😉 Viva Gina is a fucking force of nature, I would like to see them featured everywhere.

Bonnie: Sleep Crimes. Haven’t you heard that their drummer Jasmine Hagans is the most eligible lesbian in Boston?!

Sally: Any of the above-mentioned bands who haven’t been featured. Also others we haven’t played with including Unstraight and Wet Dress.

JC: Definitely loved the features on Fur Purse and Shepherdess.

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.


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.


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 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.”


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)