The founders of Les Femmes Qui Rock are pleased. They’re also exhausted. Since its inception some 18 months ago, the organization founded as a showcase for female artists has changed venues twice, conducted eight months of weekly shows, and created a budding network for local and regional acts. Now the concert series is taking a short break to let its founders plot their next course of action.
Les Femmes Qui Rock was started by three local performers, Soraya, Linda Regan, and Austin Tyler Meade. (They’ve since been joined by singer/songwriter Moe Loughran.) The first showcase was held at 328 Performance Hall in July 1997, and it went so well the three women decided to mount shows on a regular basis. In January, Les Femmes Qui Rock set up a weekly Wednesday-night gig at the Exit/In. The shows didn’t let up until August.
“The artists have been so supportive,” says Soraya. “Several played two or three times.” The result, she says, is that “we now have something already built up for regional acts coming here.” The organization points to the steady stream of local and regional acts who’ve taken part in its showcases, from Nashville rockers such as Marshall Chapman and Porcelain to highly touted out-of-towners like Cincinnati’s Over the Rhine and Austin’s Trish Murphy.
When the shows ended three months ago, they were drawing an average of 100 to 120 people a night. So why shut down? Soraya says the weekly shows left the organization drained of energy; when the showcases resume next year, they’ll probably be monthly or bimonthly. “We stopped to put more into it,” she explains.
The organization hopes eventually to set up other Les Femmes chapters in other cities, with the goal of creating a viable touring network for female rock acts across the Southeast. Right now, the group is focusing its attention on a combination CD release and three-day showcase coming up next spring. The four members got the idea when they were asked to host and perform at the LMNOP Music Conference’s first “Women in Rock” symposium next April in New Orleans. They decided to compile a 15-band CD sampler in time for the conference; the CD will be released locally in March, with a showcase to follow April 8-10 at 12th & Porter. A portion of the proceeds will go to Gilda’s Club of Nashville.
Les Femmes Qui Rock is accepting applications for the CD sampler through Jan. 8, 1999. Each applicant must be a female or female-fronted band from the Nashville area and must send a $15 application fee, an application, a bio, a tape of either two or three songs, and a photo. All chosen acts will be notified by Jan. 22; after that they must submit a DAT copy of their song and cough up a $75 processing fee. For more information, e-mail LFQR@hotmail.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org, or send a query to LFQR, 2817 West End Ave., 126-226, Nashville, TN 37203.
The envelope, please
Nominations for the fifth annual Nashville Music Awards were released last week. As expected, Lucinda Williams and Steve Earle led the balloting with three nominations apiece, among them Americana Album of the Year and Artist/Songwriter of the Year. Other multiple nominees include Josh Rouse, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Jim Lauderdale, Edgar Meyer, Nichole Nordeman, and the late Rich Mullins and a Ragamuffin Band.
Of the artists who didn’t get nominated, the most alarming omission is Tom House, the subject of a glowing tribute by Greil Marcus in December’s issue of Esquire. Also odd is the shut-out of country vocalist Allison Moorer, perhaps Nashville’s most highly touted major-label signing all year.
But there are some pleasant surprises as wellfor instance, the Guitarist of the Year category forsakes many of Music Row’s usual suspects in favor of Jay Joyce, Buddy Miller, Jack Pearson, Redd Volkaert, and Biff Watson. Check the Nashville Music Awards Web site at http://www.nashvillemusicawards.org, for a full list of nominees and an online ballot. The awards will be handed out Feb. 10, 1999; tickets for the award show go on sale Jan. 15.
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