Category: Unfinished Mail
How the Ectophiles and FEMMUSIC Met – You Had Me at Ecto…
In May I received word that a catalog release was coming out from the artist, Happy Rhodes. If you’re a long time reader of FEMMUSIC the name comes up. For me Happy Rhodes is not only an outstanding artist, it was my introduction to her fan group in the early 90’s that is one reason FEMMUSIC exists today. I was in high school when I first found Happy Rhodes in the racks of a record store. Once I heard a song, I was hooked and had to get more. I ended up buying her first 10 CD’s. Rhodes story sounds similar to Ani DiFranco. Rhodes released 11 albums as an independent artist living in upstate NY between the late 80’s to the early 00’s. She did not tour extensively and her music and fans have an underground mystique to them.
The fans of Happy Rhodes are Ectos or Ectophiles. They get this name from 2 websites:
I can personally that the Ectophiles Guide to Good Music turned me on to many artists I never knew in the pre-streaming days. I never attended the Ectophile Convention nor saw Rhodes live. In finding artists I’d never heard of, it spurred an interest to find more. That interest continues to this day in the pages of FEMMUSIC.
Rhodes’ catalog release is called Ectotropia and brings together some of her oldest material in a CD or Vinyl. Rhodes has an amazing 4 octave range and fits into the ethereal world of dreampop. The album can be found at:
I hope FEMMUSIC inspires others to search for new & unknown artists as Rhodes did me. To all the Ectophiles out there I say THANK YOU.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Happy Rhodes
It’s the end of March and I’m already working on May and heading towards June. I’ve been listening to Sunflower Bean’s Twentytwo in Blue and loving it. I also have been thinking about the festival season. When I was younger another music journalist I respected would have the same column once a year on concert etiquette. I’ve emulated him in the past with my version. This year I decided to start fresh. For anyone who has had the person talking the entire night right next to you, the drunk or high idiot who is making a fool of themselves, and the person who has to record every second of the headliner with a cell phone as opposed to experiencing it, this list is for you:
- Talking – Did you come to the show to see the artist or to talk? If you’re going to talk through the entire night you’ve wasted your money and offended people around you. Go to a bar, go to a restaurant to talk. At the show more people than you WANT to hear the show.
- Screaming – Why are you screaming the artist’s name? Why are you screaming song names when the artist hasn’t asked for requests? The artist knows their own name and has a set list that most likely has your favorite song in it. If the artist asked for requests, then you can scream your favorite song.
- Singing – Congratulations! You know every lyric to every song that the artist is going to play. The people around you however paid to hear the artist sing them NOT you. If the artist invites you for a sing-a-long then feel free.
- Filming, txting, social media – Did you pay money to see a show through a 3″ screen? I didn’t. I want to experience every note and emotion in wide screen, full life. To do that I do not need to record every second of the show, photograph every second, or txt, instagram of FB everyone I know to prove that I was there. Surprisingly neither do you. It used to be if you wore the tour t-shirt the next day at school you proved you were there. Now you can instantly make your friends jealous by sending photos, clips from your phone. Just because you can…doesn’t mean you should. Experience a show LIVE not on a 3″ screen.
- Drunk/Stoned – How much of the show will you remember when you are drunk or stoned? How much will EVERYONE around you remember you if you are drunk or stoned? How many will record it and send it on social media with the quote “Look at this idiot!” Congratulations! You can get drunk or stoned anywhere. Guess what? Nobody cares. People paid money to see a show not to see you behave like an idiot.
These are a small few of the list of concert etiquette items that appear at every show, every summer. It is a funny thing that if you treat people around you with respect, they will treat you the same. If you don’t…then you can be forever immortalized on social media for being “that ass that ruined the show.” If you paid money to see a show…see a show. See, hear and experience with every sense. If not, why are you at the show at all?
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Concert Etiquette
Unfinished Mail – April 2018
I write this the day before Spring. Last month’s editorial I wrote the day before Vans Warped Tour announced it’s line-up. It only featured 4 female acts out of 60+. In the past Warped Tour has featured double digits. As this is the last year of the tour they will not have time to remedy it. This month we feature Sharptooth who is one of the four playing the tour.
In March we also saw the first caucuses and primaries of the political season. We expect to follow the political season closely this year as there are over 300 women candidates running in the US. This is a year of change and we want to reflect that.
March is also Spring Break and we are finding concerts filled with kids celebrating. It is a sign of the summer to come.
It is now April and we begin the festival season with our first local festival, FoCoMX. May is already overflowing with festivals we plan to preview. We are also being bombarded with new releases. That is not a bad thing. Many of the artists we like have new albums out, and many new artists who are attracting our attention are putting out new material before touring.
I’m surprising myself by reading a book or two a week now. As summer gets closer I don’t expect that to continue. This past weekend we finished Brotopia about sexism in Silicon Valley. It was enlightening and brought up many events that flew under our radar. It also continued to enforce how much work still needs to be done in all industries.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Spring is Here
Unfinished Mail – March 2018
Hooray! It’s March. I can finally get back to my regular schedule of barely sleeping and being pure ADD on music. In February I was close. March begins the insanity of touring acts to and from SXSW, Treefort, and other music fests. It means summer isn’t far behind.
Last month I had an interview with Holly Miranda. When it came to my usual question of discrimination, her response was “Umm, yeah.” In the midst of the #MeToo movement, I consider the question to be one of the most important to ask. FEMMUSIC is a niche music magazine focusing on women in music. The question goes to the heart of why we’re here. Not being able to elaborate on answers to tell a history is frustrating for me personally. I’ve been asking the question for 18 years now and the answers to it are a revelation. Whenever I get a lukewarm or tepid response I wonder, again, if I should be asking the question. Can it be changed? Can it be different?
I ask the question because, since before there was FEMMUSIC, there was discrimination in the music business. It can be found in venues, studios, clubs and it may have changed over time. It has not gone away. I see value to the question. It is the “why” for us existing. Do you have thoughts on this? Please e-mail us.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Questioning the Questions
Unfinished Mail – February 2018
February is the calm before the storm. In March are SXSW, Treefort Music Festival, Women’s History Month and the beginning of touring season. Already shows have been announced for October and the calendar is getting packed with dates. I’m already looking at dates for local music festivals and searching out new artists on a daily basis. The album release calendar is also heating up. Spring album releases are coming on strong before Record Store Day in April.
If you’re an artist February is the last month to finish up recording, packaging, and booking. In March it will be best to be on the road and preparing your own spring releases. It is also the time to get festival submissions in. Summer festivals are gold and getting submissions in as soon as possible makes your chances of getting booked that much higher.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: 2018 Heats Up
Unfinished Mail – January 2018
2018 is here. 2017 was a busy year with new releases by prominent artists and big tours. 2018 promises to be the same. 2018 brings with it new tours and new artists. Many of the new signings in 2017 will be hitting the road to promote their EP’s and albums as they come out. We’re already licking our lips about shows coming in March. 2018 also marks the end of Vans Warped Tour. This alternative music festival has shaped generations of fans and artists. We’ve also found it to be one of the most accepting of women artists.
FEMMUSIC will continue our annual issues in 2018. We will have previews of SXSW, Canadian Music Week, Australian Music Week, Melbourne Music Week, Loud Women Festival, and more. We also continue to look for those events that aren’t getting publicity and try to bring them to the forefront.
Typically in January & February we like to take on a broader issue in the music industry. In the past couple of years that has included interviews with women tour managers and women in studio production. As of this writing we are still looking for a subject and look forward to bringing it to you. FEMMUSIC is about women in the music industry not just musicians. We are also an activist site. It is not enough to watch from the sidelines. You need to take a stand and support it.
FEMMUSIC tries to support upcoming artists. We do this by featuring and interviewing them. We also work locally to try to provide artists and organizations with resources that come across our desk. We are a strong believer in arts funding and trying to find funding for artists. We also look for opportunities for gigs, events that might normally be thought of because they are not “music” exclusive. Sometimes our instincts prove true and we’ve heard from artists when our resources have helped. We look forward to doing more in 2018.
The year is just beginning and we hope to make it a great one.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Happy New Year!
Who knew that when we started 2017 that so many women would finally be given a voice, and so many still need to speak up. 2017 began with the Women’s March that brought optimism and unity when spirits seemed lost. Now in October it is a daily revelation of who is being accused of sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement has spread from beyond Hollywood to Congress. Sadly there are too few stories from the music industry. We’ve only seen a couple recently including:
The music industry is ripe for more scandals to come to light. In February the EEOC ruled that Hollywood has a systemic problem in discriminating against women:
We would love to see the same investigation done into the music industry. I was recently watched Play Your Gender, a film about women in music and why only 5% of producers are women. We hope to have a larger story on this soon. In the meantime you can more info at:
The question on everyone’s mind is “Will this finally make a difference?” The only way to change the system is to hire more positions in power with women. This is not a new concept. It is overdue. We are looking forward to a new paradigm for 2018 and have our fingers crossed we will see it.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: 2017 Year of the Woman
Unfinished Mail – November 2017
October began with the mass killing in Las Vegas. On of the best editorials we saw about it was this:
Concert security is one of my soapboxes. It is the constant struggle of keeping audience members safe without infringing on their rights. Las Vegas took it to another level with the shooter being no where near the venue. It presents a scary new step in terror. We mourn the victims in Las Vegas and hope that this will finally be the last event of its kind.
On an entirely different note, October had us in shows where we couldn’t see the artist. The biggest were Frankie Rose and Hundred Waters. Both decided that a smoke machine is better than a live performance. Hundred Waters was moved from a bigger venue. We heard the crew checked the smoke machine at sound check. They obviously didn’t care that the smoke completely obscured the band. You were lucky to see shadows.
Frankie Rose was a similar situation. Not only did she have a smoke machine going, she also asked that the lights be turned down when she got on stage. She was a black shadow on stage.
Both shows emphasized for us how visual a concert is. As an artist on stage you have a presence to deliver your message. If you hide behind smoke and shadows, you are telling your audience you don’t “want” to see them. On stage you are the master. It is both frightening & empowering to do a live show. The reason you are on stage (and above everyone else) is because you’ve earned it. You’ve proven you can play and perform. I’ve seen shows with amazing light shows that work to amplify the performance. Both of these shows I left early. There was no show to the show only shadows and smoke. Please let your audience see how good you are.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Seeing & Not Seeing
Unfinished Mail – October 2017
NOT THE MERCH GIRL
In August we caught the band Scars That Heal in Time. Kayla Smith was wearing a t-shirt that said “NOT THE MERCH GIRL” that had been made by her mother. To me it was an instant recognition of what happens every day. I’ve heard it from tour managers, and artists. They come to a venue and the expectation is that they are “friends of the band”, “groupies”, “the merch girl”, etc….not the band itself. I’ve been hearing stories for years and seeing a band blatantly point it out was wonderful. Personally I think Scars That Heal in Time should have that t-shirt in it’s merch. I know many artists who would wear that shirt.
I view the non recognition of the band “being” the band as sexism pure and simple. No man loading in gear is viewed the same way. A band deserves basic respect when loading in and through the night. If they are professional, the venue should be professional with them. If not, well…those are other stories. Women lugging in their own equipment are not viewed the same way. In some ways it is almost puritan based where a woman isn’t “expected” to do that. It’s 2017. Women are doing more than they were ever “expected” to do. They aren’t “just” the merch girl. They are the band that will kick your ass.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: NOT THE MERCH GIRL
Unfinished Mail – September 2017
What does it mean to “Fight Like A Girl?” We began to ask that question after receiving the following video at the beginning of August:
Zolita’s video is one of empowerment and sisterhoord and reflects the world of post the Womens’ March with the lyrics, “My Body, My Choice, My Rights and My Voice.” Zolita is the not the first artist to “fight like a girl.” We were quickly reminded of others including:
There are many others. You will also find many organizations that Fight Like A Girl including:
These organizations help to strengthen each other in times of illness or even abusive relationships.
Fight like a girl does not mean fight like a man. It is a measure of mental and spiritual resolve that keeps us going no matter what hardship life throws at us.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Fight Like A Girl
Unfinished Mail – August 2017
FEMMUSIC is now old enough to vote so look out at the 2018 elections. FEMMUSIC is old enough to drive. FEMMUSIC is old enough to rock!
18 years ago FEMMUSIC started. The year was 1999 and the internet was flooded with music sites who had lots of money. We didn’t. I’d expected FEMMUSIC would last 6 weeks, maybe. Instead through lots of hard work we’re turning 18. Rolling Stone is 50 this year so we have a ways to go.
Every year I do FEMMUSIC I find new artists. I often consider music to be a 3 minute love affair. The older I get the less I’m falling in love with the artist; the more I fall in love with the music. Often times I don’t consider myself a “fan.” Fans of artists know their catalog backwards & forwards, know the lyrics, and know the history. I go into shows cold wanting to fall in love with the music. If I’m lucky I do.
The older I get the more I consider my mission to teach as well as shine the spotlight on artists. I recently had someone giving me pointers on promoting what I was doing in the niche to gain advertisers. I’m long past hunting for money to keep FEMMUSIC going. The contracts I would have to sign are not worth the money. FEMMUSIC is a labor of love. Not a commodity.
This has been a good year for FEMMUSIC. I think last year we were busier. This year I love the team I’m working with. There is more I would have liked to have cover this year but there will be other opportunities. We won’t be stopping anytime soon.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Turning 18 - FEMMUSIC's 18th Anniversary
Unfinished Mail – July 2017
Do You Hear That?
It’s the sound of summer insanity. Lorde’s Melodrama hit the charts this week shortly after Katy Perry’s new album broke. Haim has a new album coming out and just announced their new tour. Everywhere you look new albums, new tours, new music is hitting the airwaves at a rate seen every summer. Summer is the bread and butter of the entertainment industry. The summer blockbuster films are as big as the summer music releases. Any artist that can be on the road is. Every tour is filled and we’re already booking the Fall. SXSW is already accepting applications for 2018.
This month we are previewing festivals worldwide. From Quebec to Sydney to London to Portland there is music everywhere. There is no time to slow down. We’re jumping at gigs to see artists we’ve been hearing about. As I finish up the July issue I’m already feeling the breath of August in my ear. Summer is the time to be out and drinking in the music. No one sits still now.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Do You Hear That?
On Monday May 22, 2017 another concert venue was attacked, this time in Manchester, England. Almost immediately after, the usual debate began of concert security. It is a hot button issue and my soapbox. I come from a weird mix of criminal justice and music. I’m also a strong believer in order.
The choice is simple. Do you want to have going to a concert be like going to the airport or not? Large venues and large tours already have metal detectors and bag searches, some of which pre-date the Pulse Nightclub attack. Do you want ALL large venues and large tours to be secure? Does that take away from your fun?
What about small venues? The smaller the venue the less money to be able to hire extra people, have metal detectors, etc….I love small venues for their intimacy. I also know the staff at many small venues. They are my friends and I find them outside of work. I worry about their security.
I have a tendency to think like a terrorist. What does that mean? I look at venues and wonder how easy it would be to have a scenario like Paris, like Pulse….there. Sadly the scenarios are too easy to imagine.
Live music keeps me alive. It is the blood in my veins. I’ll never stop going to live shows until I’m physically unable to. Terrorists win if we’re too scared to go. Be smart. Have fun. Never stop going.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Random Thoughts
Unfinished Mail – May 2017
It’s May and that means it’s festival season. It also means it is our annual reminder of how to play nice with others known as Concert Etiquette. We do this list every year in honor of all those memorable “for all the wrong reasons” shows we encounter every year.
When going to a concert we are all seeking the same thing: to have fun. The band is there for that. The audience is there for that. The problem is some people’s idea of fun, is not always the same as everyone else’s. Your behavior can, at a minimum, be considered rude, and, at a maximum, be illegal and enough to get you tossed from the venue. Here are the DO’s and DON’T’s of concerts:
1. DON’T sing every word to every song that the band is playing. They already know the words, and the people around paid to hear the band sing, not you.
2. DO sing to the band when they ask everyone to sing along.
3. DON’T scream out band members names at any opportunity. They know their own names and don’t need you to remind them.
4. DO scream & clap appreciation for solos, and songs with the rest of the audience.
5. DON’T talk through the band’s set. If you want to talk, go outside the venue or someplace where you don’t interfere with the rest of the audience. This is true of the opening act, or anyone who is performing. People paid to hear these people NOT you.
6. DON’T scream “Freebird” or any of the other usual song requests. The band has a set list. Some may ask for audience participation, but drunkenly screaming out something they NEVER play does not win you points.
7. DON’T get drunk. You may see yourself as the master of the universe when drunk but most likely, everyone around you doesn’t. If you get too drunk you WILL get tossed from a venue. If you don’t, and act like an ass, you will be remembered, ridiculed and punished.
8. DON’T get stoned. See number 7.
9. DON’T stand up for a song, or set when everyone around you is sitting down. You will block someone’s view and that ruins their fun.
10. DON’T text, talk or photograph the entire concert or set. In the smartphone era a generation has been raised to believe that you can’t actually brag that you were at a show without demonstrating you are AT a show. Professional photographers have the first 3 songs to capture the best of the band. They have better cameras and a better view than you. Take a few shots but remember the joy of a concert is BEING there. It is called a concert experience because everyone is present. If you can’t look up from your phone, you are not.
11. DON’T quote me the set. You may have seen the band 20 times and memorized their facebook, and twitter. You may be the ultimate fan and know them by name, age and social security number. If you want your band to get more popular it is because they attract NEW fans beyond just you. You want the person next to you to experience what you did as NEW. If you blab about every song, every second, they may walk out and that is a lost fan & sale for your band.
DO have fun. Remember that everyone around you wants to as well. Often times I go to shows to see how a band does live. I may have never seen them. I meet the excited fans who know every detail of the artist’s life. I learn some things from them, but the experience I get is to see them perform.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: DON’T scream Freebird
I’m writing this at the tail of March. March has been a roller coaster. I ended up having an emergency medical procedure come out of nowhere that instantly slowed me down when I wanted to speed up. I’m still recovering from that and am hard at work on the April issue.
This month’s issue focuses on 2 big festivals: Canadian Music Week & Vans Warped Tour. Canadian Music Week is a week-long festival that brings in artists from across the world. The majority are Canadian. It is a chance to see who is emerging after SXSW and also look North for new artists. CMW also includes the Music Cities Convention which is drawing our attention more than ever before. Music Cities brings in government officials to see what is working & not working for cities & the music industry. Our recent exploration into venue issues has made us a follower of music cities.
Vans Warped Tour is a multi-city alternative music festival. We’ve been covering it for years. The tour won’t start until later in the year but in April we try to find 1-2 artists to profile once the bands are announced. Last year VWT happened in Denver the same weekend as another festival. We did both. This year VWT is happening in June which is a welcome surprise.
April marks the first quarter of the year. Everything will only get busier after this. It is now concert season and soon it will be festival season. 2017 is becoming one of the biggest years for music releases, tours and festivals.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Unfinished Mail
Unfinished Mail – March 2017
It’s exactly mid-February, February 14, Valentine’s Day. I feel the March deadline breathing down my back. For February I’d hoped to present a multi-pronged feature on music venues. That has been delayed while I find more interviews. January and February are typically slow for me. Once March starts the accelerator is hit and doesn’t slow down for 9 months. Later this week I’m giving a speech to students about FEMMUSIC’s history & my daily process. It reviewing both it brings back memories.
In August FEMMUSIC will be having it’s 18th Anniversary. It is exciting and daunting at the same time. I strive to make FEMMUSIC better. It has become a more activist site than when I first began. I frequently will make a political or social message without saying it. I see my role as editor is to shine a light on artists. That means I give them voice to their issues. My own politics and social causes may be mentioned in my editorial but they shouldn’t always take front stage.
2017 is looking to be one of the biggest in music. There are more releases from more artists and more tours than before. This means the pressure is on for me & my staff to do more. The clock is ticking and I would like to not always be in catch up mode.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: The clock is ticking
I write this the day after Martin Luther King Jr Day in the US. Yesterday I watched a brilliant documentary on Nina Simone. It included a song I consider iconic. It is “Strange Fruit” about lynching in the United States. I first heard the song as part of a musical history of the blues in a stage show called “Ain’t Nothing But the Blues.” It stuck like glue with me.
Another song that stays with me is Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.” Years ago I saw Meika Pauley in person. She dissected this iconic song verse by verse and forever changed it in my mind.
This past year I saw Aldous Harding do Rob Orbison’s “Crying.” It was a slow dripping rendition that still clings to my heart.
Songs are living creatures. When you as a songwriter make them they take a life of their own. They can be wild creatures. A single song can change your set and your life. I remember at one time hearing “The song stands out.” If it is meant to do great things it will. This stands true whether it is done as an individual songwriter, a songwriter for hire, or a member of a band. The song has a voice that will speak to the audience…if it’s the right song. Be aware of the voice you create and know that the song may not always be yours.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: The Song
Unfinished Mail – January 2017
Happy New Year!
Both the January & February issues of 2017 began as early as August & September. After the overwhelming response to our February 2016 issue on Women Tour Managers we were hungry to try for bigger issues. This month we present Women In Studio Production. We are already accumulating leads for other large features. I personally view it as part of my mission to shine a light on the music industry as a whole…not just musicians.
2016 was one of FEMMUSIC’s biggest years. I think we did more than I ever thought possible. I now want to expand my thinking and redefine what can be done. That means aiming bigger. At the same time I don’t want to ignore our core of supporting emerging artists. I live for live shows and want to feed my music addiction as much as possible. I have always defined FEMMUSIC as an international magazine focusing on women in music. The international is more than a word. I seek out artists in different countries and with different experiences.
It is near Christmas weekend as I write this. My deadline is breathing down my back like a hungry dragon. It is as thrilling as it is scary. Look for more to come. I have Spring planned but Summer is always a wild creature. Keep reading and tell your friends. FEMMUSIC is more than about music.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: More Than About Music
Unfinished Mail – December 2016
My December began on October 12. That was the day I received my first e-mail from a label contact reminding me of all of their releases this year. Within the next week it was followed by word on Holiday releases.
I write this in early November I’m hard at work on 3 issues now. December’s “Best Of” is the most trouble free. This year I’ve tried to make FEMMUSIC better than it was. I’ve included more content. I’ve worked with more photographers. I’ve also looked at facets of the industry that are not just performers.
I feel a responsibility to do better. It challenges me. I hope it challenges you. After 17 years I think changing perspectives is vital to being new & original. It is also fun. As I get ready to change into year 18 again I must thank you all for your support in me. FEMMUSIC is here because of the readers. If no one came, I wouldn’t be writing. Thank you and I look forward to doing more for you in 2017.
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: Trouble Free
As of this writing, it has been nearly a year since the November 13 attack on the Le Bataclan in Paris that took 89 lives. For me personally, my reaction was similar to September 11. I was in shock. It was an intentional attack on a music venue during a concert. It chilled me to the core and started a fire on what needs to be done to stop it.
For others that fire started on June 10 when the Pulse Nightclub was attacked in Orlando. Forty-Nine people died in that attack. It was after that attack that major music venues in my area started putting up metal detectors. It has now been many months since that happened.
Now the questions dog me about whether we did the right thing. I can remember getting grief from many friends when I suggested that metal detectors should be at venues. I actually suggested more. Now my wish has come true. In a way I do have buyer’s remorse. It was easier to imagine a world before November 13 or June 10 just as it was easier to live in a world before September 11.
I’d hoped for this November issue to have a major expose about venue security nationwide. After many attempts I found I couldn’t get people on record about it. Luckily a friend at the Denver Post did do a comprehensive piece. Instead of an expose, I give you an aggregate of the last year of attacks worldwide. Did we do enough? Did we do too much? I will continue to go to live music venues. Will you?
Posted in Unfinished Mail Tagged with: security