From October 15-17th, Cincinnati will bear witness to its first ever Ladyfest– “a multi-faceted 3 day festival promoting women involved in arts and activism.” I sat down with Rachelle Caplan, founder and lead organizer of Ladyfest Cincinnati, to learn about her goals and inspirations for the fest.
Rachelle’s first experience with a Ladyfest was in Chicago in 2007. She had just moved there from Florida and some friends suggested she look up the DIY fest, Ladyfest. Her friend texted her an address and a name. “She said go to this house on this day and you’ll meet awesome people.” Rachelle joined the art committee and the music committee. She thrived in the planning and learned a lot from the event. “The thing that was huge to me was it was organized by women… men were there supporting, but it was them being comfortable in the background.”
“After I did Ladyfest in Chicago, I thought I have to do that again.” Rachelle originally planned to take Ladyfest back to her friends in Florida, but felt that the culture wasn’t quite right there. After living in Cincinnati for awhile, she has seen the scene grow with “social consciousness” and “gender activism.” “The last two years there’s been an advent of new female musicians.” This combined with a willingness to help each other out in the scene made Cincinnati a perfect place to bring Ladyfest.
Ladyfest begins today at the Ice Cream Factory in Brighton. It will continue this weekend in Northside at Black Plastic, The Comet, Northside Tavern and The Northside Yacht Club. See the full schedule of events here.
Rachelle is also the bassist for local band, BABE RAGE. BABE RAGE was formed in 2014 with friend and fellow Ladyfest organizer, Jen Warren. They are joined on drums by Rachelle’s husband, Daisy. Rachelle says being in a band with Daisy, former Foxy Shazam bass player, is a learning experience. “I’m playing an instrument that he’s an expert at.”
As a member of the Cincinnati DIY scene through organizing Ladyfest and participating as a musician, Rachelle thinks Cincinnati is the “highest functioning DIY scene” around right now. Even with great DIY venues recently shutting down, “people aren’t discouraged, they’re more focused on how to we rebuild? What’s next?”
Rachelle is inspired by Patti Smith, Kim Gordon, Jarboe from Swans, Yoko Ono and Diamanda Galas– all strong and talented musicians. Her favorite part of organizing Ladyfest has been “being in a room with a group of women that would otherwise not be in a room together.”
Make sure to get out this weekend and celebrate a strong culture of talented and artistic women!