IndieGrrl Detroit Show

Sunday, September 19th, 1999

Woodward Avenue Brewery, Ferndale, MI

by Stacy E. Lukasavitz

On Sunday, September 19, the IndieGrrl tour hit the Detroit area at the Woodward Avenue Brewery in Ferndale, MI. I had the pleasure of getting to know the performers the previous night at the Michigan State University show, which was held at Common Grounds Coffeehouse, a student-run organization in the basement of a residence hall. The next night I decided to attend the Detroit show on a whim, and little did I know that I would end up the M.C. for the evening!!

A Little About IndieGrrl …..

IndieGrrl began as the brainchild of Holly Figueroa in May of 1998, initially just as an email list for other female musicians on independent music labels to network and share information, ideas, and opinions about independent music from a woman’s perspective.

Since then, IndieGrrl has grown not only into a series of email lists, but also a national tour, somewhat comparable to Lilith Fair, only on a smaller (yet climbing) scale.

Audrey Becker

First up on stage was Detroit native Audrey Becker, singing her song “Little Archaeology.” Becker’s stage presence and appearance sort of gives the impression of a dark, “goth” (if you will), librarian, yet once she starts singing to you on stage, could be your best friend or little sister with her little girl-ish voice and simple, yet honest lyrics.

Becker followed her intro with her song “Wait and See,” a slower, almost “bluesier” feel to it, with a good toe-tapping rhythm. She then went into “Putty in Your Hands,” the lead track off her CD,  “Where I Draw The Line.” Next was my personal favorite song, “Sounds to Me,” a very honest ballad where the purity in Becker’s voice shines through. She uses similes and metaphors in a simplistic manner in her writing, easy enough for a child to understand, yet deep and powerful enough to go straight to anyone’s heart, taking no shortcuts.  Becker concluded her 25 minute set with the song, “Invisible Ink,” a darker, deeper song that the rest.  If one could compare Becker to anyone style-wise, she would be similar to Lisa Loeb, yet she keeps her sound an style her very own.

 Audrey Becker
 Leah Carla

Leah-Carla Gordone

From her very first song, “Let it Flow,” New York City-born Leah-Carla Gordone shows you what she’s all about right up front: Passion. She lets the passion flow straight out of her heart and right into your soul.

Her second song, “New Beginnings,” sucks you in right from the start, yet this one seems more like a personal one to her. Gordone mesmerizes the audience as she chants “you can’t do that to me, no, no,” singing more to the heavens than to the audience. Nonetheless, anyone can tell that she has a lot of fun on stage.

Next on her set list was, “Soul Sister,” a song about a love-hate relationship she once had. The honesty on this one is so intense it hurts, right down to the line “so let’s go, let’s roll with the punches,” where basically she has given up in trying to make the relationship work and is about to throw in the towel.

The following song, “Why?”, Gordone dedicated to another IndieGrrl performer, Cleveland’s Pepper McGowan. (McGowan couldn’t attend the show that night but had requested it regardless.) A very powerful, spiritual song, Gordone asks God (or the “Big Kahuna,” as she put it), “why did you spare me … and let the other ones go?” (I had a very hard time holding back the tears during this one.) Somehow Gordone strips herself of everything and bares her barest soul to the audience, letting you into the raw pain of her world, of her past.

She concluded her performance with “Great Mystery,” explaining to the crowd her respect to the Native Americans and how they refer to God as the “great mystery” because when it comes down to it, nobody really knows all the answers.

On stage, Gordone’s style is not unlike that of Ani DiFranco, yet there is something more raw about her presence, maybe it’s the blue hair, facial piercings, and tattoos that say to you, “This is who I am, this is what I’m about, this is how I feel, and this is what I love. Deal with it.”  Ani DiFranco might have a lot of balls, but Leah-Carla Gordone is the whole package.

 

Ellen Rosner

If there is a performer alive that would make you want to get up and jam with her on stage, her name is Ellen Rosner. This Chicago gal started her set  with “Jericho,” a song that starts out with a softer acoustic sound, yet as the song progresses it turns this romantic ballad full of inner frustration and biblical reference into a  really “rock out” live tune.

Next she played “The Perfect Malcontent,” which is also the title of her upcoming CD, to be released later this month. Rosner shows that she isn’t ashamed about being selfish with this one, singing, “I want more than my fair share, I want it all, I want it all, I want it all!” Her intense animation while performing this song resembles a little bratty kid having a fit, and the audience has much fun watching her on stage as she does performing it. Overheard from an audience member, “This song is one, big exclamation point!”

She followed her little “temper tantrum song” with “Everything is Rosie,” a more mellow number where her loud, soulful voice pierces the souls of the listeners almost as much as her powerful eyes do. But Rosner didn’t “chill out” for too long, she immediately burst into the explosive “Crash, Bang, Boom” where she was all over the stage again, full of “Hallelujah”’s and more energy than I’ve ever seen out of any single “girl with a guitar.”

After that song, Rosner took a slight dip on her roller coaster performance and slowed it down a bit with “Empty Bottle,” but brought it back up to speed and closed with her own intense, soul-filled cover of The Artist Formerly Known As Prince’s “Kiss.” By the time Ellen Rosner was finished with her 25 minute set, she had not only exhausted herself, but she exhausted the audience, so it was time for a break in the show.

 Ellen Rosner
 BeJae Fleming

BeJae Fleming

Iowa-based BeJae Fleming reminds me of the aunt that I never had but always wished I could hang out with. Her eclectic songwriting style is impossible to file under one certain genre. She began her set with “Don’t Want Nobody,” where she showed a hint of Bonnie Raitt’s raspiness and Edie Brickell’s “bohemianness.”

Her second number, “You Don’t Have To Go,” had the audience snapping their fingers and shaking their heads to this very bluesy tune, as she exhibited some of that rare, hard-to-find-these-days S-O-U-L. (This was my personal favorite song of hers that night, but I’m a sucker for the blues.)

After that she told a hilarious story about “corn rouging,”something that they do in Iowa either for fun or boredom, apparently. From that, she led into her song, “Iowa,” which had a little country, down-home folk sound to it. Her next song, “I Am A Diamond,” was one of those songs that brings chills to your skin with its honesty and soul-bearing lyrics as she belted, “I’m a diamond anyway…”

Fleming then told yet another hilarious anecdote, this time about her “extremist” friend who decided to go from ‘90’s style cyber-living to rustic,“no running water or electricity” life, proving herself not only a great performer but a vivid storyteller. From that she closed her set with “Turn It Up,” a tune with great rhythm and an awesome, belting verse, “turn it up ‘til the neighbors complain!” All in all, BeJae Fleming is one of those people that whether she’s on stage or just hanging out, is a LOT of fun.

 

Ani’s Whisper

The finale of the show was the Toronto-based band Ani’s Whisper, the only “band” of the night, consisting of Ani (pron.“a-KNEE,” not “AH-nee” like DiFranco) on vocals, Alex McMaster on cello, and Steve K. on guitar.  All I can say about them is WOW! Their sound is somewhat Celtic, comparable to that of Enya and Loreena McKennit, yet they have something more distinct about them. Ani has a powerful, enchanting voice incomparable to anything else I’ve ever heard, and her stage presence is simply mesmerizing.

They began their set with their song, “Goodness,” and instantly captured the attention and the hearts of the entire audience. Next they played “Beauty,” the title track of their CD. The chorus, “let the mystery be the mystery/beauty is forever…” does just that to the listener… takes them into a world of enigmatic sounds, thoughts, and everything you’ve ever wanted to experience, but were afraid to at the same time.

Ani’s Whisper continued with “I’ve Been Thinking,” the leading track off their album. It begins with a creepy slide from Alex and her cello, and develops into a tango with mystery as Ani’s voice, pure as silver, laments, “I enter into your dance/you enter my dance…” and takes you on a journey into the forbidden and unknown.

The journey didn’t end just yet, Ani still lured us into her world with “Falling,” a song, she says, is dedicated to women who want to try and be everything to everyone, and the struggle it creates. It’s somewhat of a depressing song, yet gets its point across, as the chorus repeats, “because I am a mother, a virgin and a whore.”

Ani lightened up the mood a little when she dedicated the song  “My Stomach,” to a certain person with intestinal discomfort, but we won’t go naming names. The tempo of this song and the repetition of the lyrics is reminiscent of Poe’s “Tell Tale Heart,” in which the madman’s paranoia overwhelms him.

The journey of Ani’s Whisper that night ended with “Whisper,” a very cryptic, passionate ballad, leaving the entire venue completely blown away. For a moment, the Woodward Avenue Brewery was completely silent; completely dumbfounded by the beauty and the talent that was just on the stage before them.

Ani’s Whisper

Ani’s Whisper

 

Ani’s Whisper

detroit group

For more information, see the following URL’s:

IndieGrrl:

http://www.indiegrrl.com

Audrey Becker:

http://www.turnaboutrecords.com/Home/Audrey_Becker/audrey_becker.html

Leah-Carla Gordone:

http://www.citientertainment.com/*/leah-carlagordone/

Pepper McGowan:

http://www.geocities.com/~tekdeth/

Ellen Rosner:

http://www.ellenrosner.com

BeJae Fleming:

http://129.186.123.55/bejae/

Ani’s Whisper:

http://www.interlog.com/~buttrfly/anis_whisper.html

October 1st, 1999