The Sisters are Doin’ It For Themselves …

Posted: January 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves…

Current mood: thankful Category: Music

Way back when I started playing guitar (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) there were very few good visible women guitarists, or musicians at all for that matter… at least when it came to rock music. There were a few… Joni Mitchell certainly was amazing. There were some singers. But I hardly ever saw a woman with an electric guitar. And I wanted to rock. I started playing bass and electric guitar in bands. I mainly ended up with guys who were several years older than me with years of experience. Finally Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart showed up… Suddenly there were these women who could ROCK. The were doing Zeppelin covers even and pulling them off. People didn’t know what to do with them. I needed to see that. I had no other female friends who played. I was fortunate to have some great guys to play with who thought it was cool that I was a girl and I could play. I had plenty of guys around who didn’t though. Plenty who wouldn’t take me seriously. My own parents wouldn’t give me lessons or let me play the drums when I was young “because I was a girl.” I can remember one of the first times I did a gig in high school playing with some college aged guys… we went up on the stage… we were playing hard core rock… and when I went to pick up the bass to put it on people actually laughed… they thought I was kidding and making a joke. The laugh was on them. Then… and now I always have the element of surprise.

I wish I could say that things were very different now and that we live in a more “enlightened” times where there is not that kind of discrimination against the concept of good female musicians. But I still see it every day when I’m teaching. I think that this generation is not as hung up on gender roles and that they are more likely to accept the fact that females could be good musicians. But my male students still don’t want to play with the females. Frankly it pisses me off. And I try to combat it as much as possible. But I see my female student’s frustration. They want to play with other people. But I’m on a mission now. I want to make sure that they ROCK. I want them to excel. I want them to be able to hold their own with the guys and command respect because they are great players.

And I want them to know about the women who’ve gone before them to pave the way… There are so many. Just like I try to expose them to all kinds of music, I want them to know that there are some great players in all different kinds of music that they can look to as incredible role models. I want them to know about Bonnie Riatt and Rory Block… and their ability to rip your heart out with their amazing voices and blues licks, and Ann and Nancy Wilson and their ballsey rock n’ roll. I want them to know about the great singer/songwriters like Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin and Patty Larkin. I want them to hear the different musical visions of Kaki King and Ani DiFranco. I want them to hear some of the great female country artists who have been owning the stage for decades now. And I want them to have the chance to see women like Vicki Randle, the amazing singer and multi-instrumentalist who they can see every week night playing in the band on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno. These women have helped pave the way for the next generation to step up and bring it. These women have inspired me to play on, regardless of what anyone … male or female thought about me playing. I’m hoping that I can help raise up a tribe of female musicians, young and old, who can play the music in their souls. And I am thankful for each one of them. They inspire me. I’m also thankful for the male musicians in my life who saw me as a musician first and were willing to put aside gender bias and let me be a part of their lives.
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