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Women Rock: Giving Female Musicians a Chance To Be Heard

Aaron Schallié

vANCOUVER – Surprisingly, a clear evening graced the West Coast this March, and what better way to spend it than indoors. Fortunately, club going in Vancouver has changed recently due to legislation passed by the WCB making smoking in clubs illegal. This makes the experience much more pleasurable, as you no longer take that oh so familiar club ambiance home with you in your hair and clothes. Couple that with a good cause, and you have a very promising Tuesday evening in Vancouver's historical Gastown.

Women Rock is now officially an annual fund-raiser due to the success of its inaugural evening, March 7th, at the eclectic Purple Onion Cabaret. The event showcased local female talent from left of the Rockies, with proceeds going towards raising money for a Canadian Post-Secondary scholarship. The brains behind it all, Joyelle Brandt, (a University of B.C. student with a work load as unforgiving as they come) came up with the idea after noticing there wasn't such a scholarship available when she graduated High School.

The evening's line-up was packed between the two rooms in the Cabaret. Next time I would suggest wearing comfortable shoes, as there tended to be a lot of running back-and-forth between the two rooms. The first is the Lounge, the smaller of the two rooms with a definite hep-cat feel—with a tiny stage in the corner, several comfy couches, and a cigar bar that is now more form than function. The larger of the two sports two bars and a large stage that looks out on the dance floor. The line-up included Rose Ranger, Perpetuum, 9V Adaptor, Chanelle Dupre, Joyelle Brandt Trio, and Carmelina Cupo in the large room; and Tammy Brimmer, Laura Doyle, Katrina Bishop, Teena Davis, Shelley Lennox, and Jenny Galt in the lounge.

However, three of these artists definitely stole the show.

Teena Davis was the first performer that truly captivated the audience. Her performance in the lounge was all about control and harmony, and she accomplished that with an incredible range. Quietly introducing the next songs and ending them with an infectious little giggle that lit up the room, Teena welcomed the audience with her own brand of blue-eyed soul. Tenna was diva without overdoing, and ended her set with an apology for running overtime. I'm sure the audience would have been happy to hear plenty more.

Jenny Galt was the last to play the lounge that evening, and with a performance like hers you find yourself yearning for encores even after the lights come back on. There is definitely something about a performer that makes the audience feel good and comfortable in a crowded public setting. Whether or not Jenny was trying, she had this way of making you feel like you were listening to her CD in your favourite armchair at home in front of the fire. At the same time she made sure to make eye contact with everyone in that intimate little room—a feeling you can only get at a live show. There are so many compliments to bestow upon Jenny Galt, but one word sums it all up… happy. Jenny was happy to be there, happy to play her music and all around… happy. I look forward to reviewing her CD in the coming months as she was the most listenable of the evening. Definitely watch out for her in the future.

Carmelina Cupo, the last act of the night, brought everyone back to the main room. With confidence and power, Carmelina took the crowd for a ride with tracks from her new CD "I Don't Look Like You." Proud of her Italian heritage (she even captivated the room with a song in her native tongue), she stunned everyone with her surprisingly catchy dance songs. It's nice to see motivation like that of producer Daren Staten of Synergy Records, who is two-for-two for signing both Carmelina Cupo and Teena Davis. Both of these acts are destined to do well in the future.

Let's not forget the purpose of the evening. The Women Rock Scholarship will be awarded to a female grade 12 student this summer who is interested in entering the music business as a contemporary singer or singer/songwriter. Applicants must send in a demo tape and an outline of how they will use the funds—whether for education, recording, equipment, or other expenses. The scholarship includes $1000, a day of recording at Vogville Recording Studio, and a membership to the Pacific Music Industry Association. Application deadlines are June 15th and a panel of Vancouver musicians and other industry professionals will choose the winner. Check the Women Rock website for more info.

Check out some of the sites mentioned in this article:

Aaron Schallié is very involved with the Vancouver/west coast music scene and is cancon's west coast correspondent.

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