Thursday, August 27, 2009

Jessica Hopper and Ghost Bees at Grimey's, 8/26/09

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2009 at 11:37 AM

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Check out the slideshow for more photos.

Lured by the promise of feminist empowerment, the Spin stopped by Grimey's on Wednesday to check out a reading of The Girls' Guide to Rocking by author/musician Jessica Hopper, and a quick set from Canadian twin sister-duo Ghost Bees (which should totally be the name of the next Nicholas Cage movie). We grabbed a beer, settled in, and the author soon took to the mic, comfortingly nestled in the store's record section.

Hopper told tales of her own rock experiences with friends, gave advice about touring, and spoke in general about her love for music. Teen girls are an audience who are talked down to with insulting regularity, but her writing style was anything but condescending. Her jumping-off-point seemed to be that any girl reading already knows what she wants to do and needs an understanding mentor rather than someone to hold her hand. 

Possibly because the book was written for kids, Hopper had the reading style of a teacher:  emphasizing long "U" sounds by glancing up with widened eyes, only to find a roomful of grownups drinking Old Style rather than the young women she seemed to be looking for.  We spotted only one girl in the crowd: 11ish, with long unkempt hair and teensy Chuck Taylors. She was already cooler than us at that very moment, let alone when we were 11, and we sincerely hoped she was already kicking ass on a drum kit or harmonica or whatever it is kids like nowadays.

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Hopper ended her reading with a cheerful "The end!" and Ghost Bees were moving in, bringing with them a guitar and mandolin. The Spin was more than slightly disappointed to hear a nearby gentleman whisper "My initial reaction: oh my God, they're so cute." Missing. The. Point. Digression aside, the sisters swiftly won over this Spinner with their witty banter before a note was plucked. We were worried the first song, titled "Vampires of the West Coast," was going to be about Twilight or something, but they assured the audience that actually about 15% of Canadians are vampires. Like 3,000 - 4,000. Basically the whole country.

The band is from Nova Scotia, and their mossy dirges reminded us more than a little of traditional folk songs from the province's namesake. The twins would rock back and forth as they played, making an unsettling amount of eye contact with one another to determine when they were going to jump back into the song after what we felt were too many false endings. Loads of things about them were unsettling, actually: their sparse playing and Siamese cat harmonies gives one the impression that something is sneaking up, ready to strike.

It all made sense when they explained using their soothing "Delicious Dish" voices: "We're really just an unconventional metal band." Of course! A song that ends with the line "the child was dead" is just about as metal as you can get, even if you're a folk duo.

Some post-show milling about caused us to overhear a man say, in regards to the Guide, "That's the kind of book you'd buy for your niece." Good idea! We picked up a copy for ours, and when we told Hopper that the recipient was slightly under the recommended age of 10-16, she still busted out some truth on the inscription: "Baby Spin, you are never too young to start rockin'!"

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