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Women of Rock showcases female vocalists in Southwest Michigan

By: Rebecca Thiele
Kalamazoo, MI
June 21, 2012

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Saturday night, Kzoo Music Scene will put on a show featuring all female vocalists from Southwest Michigan, like Julee Laurent of the Michigan City Vandals.  The concert, called Women of Rock, will be at the Globe Theatre in Kalamazoo. 

Though the lineup for Women of Rock sounds self-explanatory, many of the artists could fall into several different genres, like the D.J. Duktap. Founder of Kzoo Music Scene, Chris Falk, goes to hundreds of shows in town each year. He says the idea for Women of Rock has been milling around in his brain for a while.

[Chris Falk] “I would say out of those hundred shows, maybe 20 percent of those have had women in the band or women lead vocals in the band. I just felt that it was time to showcase the fact that there is a ton of women in this city that are in bands and that are awesome.”

One of those women is Megan Dooley of the band Top Heavy. Dooley says it’s sometimes hard for female musicians to be taken seriously because their work is immediately pegged as “chick music.”

[Megan Dooley] “Whenever I meet people and I tell them that I’m in a band, they’re like ‘Oh, how many other chicks do you have in the band?’ I’m like ‘I play with guys.’ And there’s a stigma I think with the kind of music that’s represented that people would expect to hear from a girl, I guess. With like the Lilith Fair scene in the early ‘90s. A lot of people just kind of expected me to be a folk singer. Which is great, I love folk music. But you know, there’s women do all kinds of genres of music everywhere. It’s not just fit into that one genre. So it was hard for people to kind of grasp that I was in a mostly male dominated genre of music and I liked it.”

Dooley says it’s even harder to be taken seriously as a solo artist, like Carrie McFerrin, a newly transplanted singer/songwriter from Atlanta.  

[Carrie McFerrin] “I often get the comment ‘Wow, you’re better than I thought you were going to be. You play the guitar better than I thought you would. So that’s always surprising, but I take it as a compliment.”

McFerrin says, like many artists playing at the concert, she’s just looking forward to meeting some of the few female musicians in rock.

[Carrie McFerrin] “I wish it would get to the point where there were just women musicians everywhere. So, I’m glad it does bring awareness that these are special groups that have these women that are at the forefront.”

But that doesn’t mean the number of female musicians isn’t growing. Chris Falk says Kzoo Music Scene is planning a second Women of Rock show because it couldn’t fit all of the local acts into one night. Megan Dooley says now it’s easier than ever for women to promote their own music.

[Megan Dooley] “Without having to rely on a record company, we can create and fund our own projects and release them ourselves. And there’s just so much more to be able to take in as a consumer. And you don’t have to rely on your favorite radio station to get up to date news on where your favorite artists are. You can just go find somebody that you like to listen to online. And with that, I think people are starting to realize that there is so much music that women are creating, especially in rock, that’s out there for them.”

Desi Taylor is one of the many female musicians playing at the concert who has paved her own way. Taylor started getting gigs when she was 17. Two years later she traveled all over Colorado playing guitar wherever she could.  

[Desi Taylor] “I would say when it comes down to it. It’s not about who’s singing it, woman or a man, young person, old person. It’s about the message that they’re sending and the feelings that their trying to communicate.”

The free concert Women of Rock will be at the Globe Theatre in Kalamazoo Saturday night.