I’ve stayed away from gender specific topics so far, because…well…they’re gender specific. But this one bears some mentioning, and I’m going to take my experience this past weekend as an opportunity to herald the moment of the women for one time only in my blog.
A few months ago, I was asked to sub on bass for an all-girl hard rock band here in Vegas called Dangerous Curves. It was initially supposed to be a gig here and there but because of circumstances has become a permanent position. Saturday night the Curves rocked Fremont Street to a crowd of about 1,500 people throughout the night. And they blew the doors off the place.
I play and sub in with a lot of bands here in Vegas for a living. Most of them are all male. And it’s not uncommon for me to be the only female onstage in a whole night. I have gotten used to this as a musician – and some nights I even think of it as a very special place to live. I can take some comfort that the guys think I’m good enough to share the stage with them. And that most nights that I play I have a small gang of people that approach me afterwards and offer me kudos for my playing abilities. After years of hearing, “You’re pretty good…FOR A GIRL” I take it as a personal coup of sorts. Music is such a brutally sexist business that it really is nice when it appears that people are becoming gender blind.
Which is why playing with the Curves has been an extra special treat for me – because they all totally ROCK. And it’s been really inspiring sharing a stage with three women who not only really know how to play, but have chosen music that completely breaks the mold on what kind of music women “should” play. The Curves don’t really try to make a statement, but they very naturally do. Their motto: We came to rock. Hard. The fact that they’re wearing skirts is just an extra added bonus.
In the world of music, you can probably count all girl bands that have actually made it on just a couple of hands. You can count the actual number of female session players and players in well known rock bands on less than that. And producers…forget it. It has always been one of the biggest disappointments of my lifetime that women are so slowly gaining ground in the music world. Sometimes, it even feels like nothing is ever going to change.
But I do know that my rockin’ female “brethren” are out there and they all embody one simple belief that a lot of people, men and women alike, can learn from: You can’t be anything bigger in your life if you only listen to the people who put you down.
For years, whenever I heard the “for a girl” part of the “compliment,” I kept it in my back pocket as a reminder that I was going to refuse society’s tidy pink ribboned pigeon holing as a musician and a woman. It inspired me to work harder, to learn what the guys knew, to be opinionated and headstrong, and to explore realms of music that didn’t come naturally to me. And as I continue to push myself as a musician, I realize that I haven’t actually heard “for a girl” in awhile. Maybe it’s just that I’m not so girly anymore. Or maybe this is the tip of the iceberg of real change. Hey – one can dream.
It ain’t easy being green. Or a female musician. With the barrage of bullshit that we women hear constantly about our bodies and how we measure up in the beauty scheme all the time, it’s a wonder we ever get anywhere in life at all sometimes.
But someday…in the world of my dreams, every band has at least one girl in it.
Because it was awesome last weekend watching a large crowd of both men and women rocking out with their hands up, smiles on their faces, and the general attitude that regardless who was onstage doing the rocking – the rocking was good.
So – if you’re a girl out there reading this – or even if you’re not, but you have always wanted to be bigger and better as a musician, get out there. Practice, study, say yes to every opportunity to learn, don’t give up, pick up a new instrument, and rock your badass rockstar life.
The glamorous world of hauling your own equipment, getting paid dirt for your time, and standing in beer-soaked alleys at all hours of the night awaits you.
What the hell are you waiting for?