by John Wenz
While rock has traditionally reinforced societal gender norms, it's always been refreshing to see the faces able to break out from the norm. Even if Heidi Ore reported that at Mercy Rule shows, she might be the only female band member on the bill that night, that's still one woman who can inspire a female audience member to pick up an instrument and to know that music isn't just a boy's game. And if Riot Grrrl revolutions could hit Omaha, the sky is the limit.
So it's refereshing to see so many female musicians out there taking (and commanding) the stage today in Nebraska music. Whether it's a cover band or an original group, that is one more step toward a takeover from the old norms to a bright and better world. I've had a blast delving into Nebraska's musical past in this Echoes series during March, in honor of National Women's History Month. And I know there's so many bands and artists I missed — whether the works of Amy Huffman; the all-female, all-awesome Mister Baby; the performance art duo Hornrimjobs; the synth-punky obscure goodness of Calypso Machine Gun; Suzy Dreamer's many Nightmares; or any number of acts forgotten by time but not their fans.
And right now, there are some wonderful bands out there, bands much better covered by X-Rated columnist Hilary Stohs-Krause. In Lincoln, bands like Gloworm and The Betties spring immediately to mind. The former remind me of the works of Kristin Hersh and Throwing Muses. The latter, a throwback to the crooning country of the Grand Ol' Opry. Ember Schrag has released some of the more important folk music to come out of here in some time, and is preparing to launch a spring tour with Conneticut songstress Kath Bloom. Teal Gardner of UUVVWWZ is a tried and true rock star just waiting for her day in the sun. And Hilary's recent feature on the Clawfoot House Women's Salon was heartening and encouraging, not only to see local artists honing their craft, but also to see discussions on gender norms on the local level.
Much of this column focuses on the past — my forté as a history nerd. But bands like Edge of Arbor, Kaycee and the Captain, Mynabirds (featured in the above photo), Blue Bird, Honey and Darling, Platte River Rain, All Young Girls are Machine Guns and Escape Clause have been making waves locally, and prominently feature strong female musicians.
And here I am, a cis-gendered man trying to tackle an issue dear to me, but in some ways removed from me. I feel like female voices are important ... so why am I trying to channel it through my own, distinctly male dynamic of thinking? But this should be a discussion on gender norms, not a shelving of voices. And locally, we men should foster and encourage a strong female presence, whether in the Omaha, Lincoln, Norfolk or Columbus — whereever music is happening.
Because you know what? Cis-gendered heteronormativity is just so boring. Words like "she rocks for a girl" are so cliché. The female member of a band shouldn't be seen as an accessory, but a vital voice in the band's arrangement.
It's great to see fresh female faces out there, making music — but I'd like to see it go farther. Female-fronted hardcore! Some thrash metal! More local hip-hop MCs with distinctly female flavor and topics, like Breathless (aka Honey B [pictured]).
Let's move forward so that future Echoes columns can feature some of the most fantasticly strong local women to arise out of this state. And I'd love to hear what you think. Have you enjoyed the women-focused Echoes columns? Who did I miss that drives you nuts? Which women music artists are you most excited about? Post in the comments below. Let's hear your voice.
John Wenz is the listings editor for Hear Nebraska. He does not turn down free food, which the kind editors of this establishment just brought him. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.