Hear Me Roar
Third year of Grrrlz Rock! kicks into gear
by Suzi Steffen
When promoter Cindy Ingram started booking gigs for bands three years ago, she noticed something weird.
|photo: Angie Ponso|
Almost everyone in the regional music industry was male. The bar owners, the sound people, the musicians — all guys. So she decided to change some things by organizing Grrrlz Rock!, a celebration of women in the music biz. Now in its third year, the festival has grown to a month-long pile of shows with numbers way up over last year’s events.
“Everyone gets a T-shirt,” Ingram says, “and this year, I had to order 420! That’s more than double the people from last year.”
Bands and singer-songwriters join dancers, comedians and, this year, a filmmaker and a panel on women and work, at venues all around town and even at the Axe and Fiddle in Cottage Grove.
The performers, no matter how many or few people they attract, split the proceeds from the events, and they all get paid the same amount. “I consider that to be fair and feminist,” Ingram says.
She still hasn’t found women to do most of the sound or a lot of women owning the venues. But she hopes that as Grrrlz Rock! goes on, that will change. After all, she didn’t go to college until she was in her early 30s and had kids. When she saw that most of her friends had degrees, she began to think that college wasn’t a goal out of her reach, and she eventually graduated from the UO.
With the celebration, she hopes to inspire a group of women and young musicians to set their own goals and figure out how to get there. “Being around people who can do it encourages people to stretch out a little bit and think they can do it, too,” she says, “whether that be performing or something else that feels kind of scary.”
Two jam sessions that involve any or all of the performers might advance that notion. Ingram doesn’t know whether more comedians, more rockers or more Americana-playing folks will show up, but she’s keeping it open for the Nov. 16 and 23 sessions at Luckey’s. And a panel at Davis’ on Nov. 15 features UO feminist philosophy prof Naomi Zack moderating a discussion among a judge, a game developer and other women involved in traditionally male-dominated fields.
“I feel like it’s my form of activism,” Ingram says. “I get a chance as a mom to have my kids be around all of these amazing people, and they see that if you have an idea and keep working at it, you can create new things.”
See our Calendar, www.grrrlzrock.com and occasional coverage throughout the month for more on Grrrlz Rock! events.
THIS WEEK’S GRRRLZ ROCK PICKS:
Scrambled Ape This five-piece band refers to the feel-good blend of global jazz sub-genres it plays as “Ottoman cartoon jazz,” and that’s an apt description for what they do. From New Orleans-style blues numbers to Eastern European styles, Scrambled Ape traverses the globe, from the Middle East all the way back home to the West Coast with their original compositions. 6 pm Friday, Nov. 7, Cozmic Pizza. $6. — Sara Brickner
Suzanne Benorden This Eugene songwriter won the Willamette Valley Folk Festival’s New Song Competition in 2003 with her track “Never Let U Down.” Benorden smacks of a PJ Harvey-esque riot grrrl sensibility, but with Southern flair, which might come from her Kansas upbringing. And yet, when she sings her empowered lyrics in that throaty growl, it’s all rock and roll. 6 pm Saturday, Nov. 8, Cozmic Pizza. $6. — Sara Brickner