Top Cincinnati Women in Rock Moments for 2015

This year was really great for female musicians in Cincinnati, Ohio. It seems like the ratio of men/women musicians is finally starting to even out. Roxie and I compiled a list of our favorite and most exciting events that took place in Cincinnati featuring seriously talented Women in Rock.

1. The Comet in Northside designates an artist in residence each month to host weekly shows for the entire month. The role typically features new bands in Cincinnati and thrusts them into the spotlight among peers and enthusiasts alike. In 10 out of the 12 months this year, bands with females in them were chosen to be the venue’s artist in residence. That is total domination! Featured artists over the course of 2015 included:

  • January: Young Heirlooms featured Kelly Fine on vocals and mandolin, and Laura Bock on upright bass.
  • February: Emily Ash performed in February mixing things up by singing jazz standards with a beautiful songbird voice.
  • March: Swim Team rocked the band room, fronted by Lillian Currens with her dynamic vocal and performance style. (They also opened at the reunion of local legend Ass Ponys last month!)
  • April: Prim got it right with their star Molly Sullivan, a very fine artist and composer in her own right.
  • May: Babe Rage. If you missed this residency or this band, you can’t go back. On each night of their residency, Rachelle Caplan, Jen Warren, and Daisy Caplan not only hosted guest performers, but actually composed entire collaborative sets of new material them every single week. You’ll never get to witness anything like this again, but if you’re good at using the internet, you may be able to catch a few recordings.
  • July: Jennifer Simone who I’ll let you learn about in her own words, “All improvised. All the time. Hailing from another planet, Jennifer Simone is an eclectic improvisational, future-soul artist… [w]ith a background in jazz.” Let’s just say she can make music out of anything you put in her hands, and it doesn’t even need to fit within one’s traditional concept of an instrument. Need I say more?
  • August: Cunt Storm, the feminist performance art collective dedicated to exposing patriarchal and neoliberal forms of political and interpersonal oppression took over. Who is Cunt Storm? They are you. (If not, they should be.)
  • September: Sour Ground featuring Abby Purvis on her signature key-tar with the Cincinnati D.I.Y. scene’s version of the Funk Brothers –Ava Roberts on bass and Izzi Krombholz on drums– brought true gonx aesthetic to life.
  • November: Hateflirt brought shimmering, introspective and polished pop-tones beats, and harmonies of Sarah Hanselman on bass and vocals, Veronique Allaer on guitar and vocals, and Kirsten Bladh playing exactly the right type of percussion.
  • December: Dream Tiger was the closest you can get to the cosmos without owning a tiger yourself.

Even on months that didn’t feature women as artists-in-residence, the Comet kept their regular show schedule very female-heavy. Be sure to stop by for a drink to show your respect, and celebrate with Tweens on New Years Eve. You can see the full schedule for The Comet here.

2. In October, Cincinnati had its first ever Ladyfest, an international staple of thriving arts communities promoting works by women — for everyone. For those not in the know, our 2015 Ladyfest Cincy was the product of brainwoman Rachelle Caplan coordinating feminists in collaboration across the city to share their inspiration, friendships, passions, talents, and connections. It worked. The Ladyfest Cincy community created a 100% woman-powered and celebratory showcase of art, music, activism, and informational workshops. I have so much to say, but it will probably be easiest to check out our article about the event here.

3. CityBeat’s 18th Annual Cincinnati Entertainment Awards reflected input from an entire population of music-lovers across the city. The award event featured performances from female nominees and winners including Sarah Davis and the always-impeccable Sylvia Mitchell via Arlo McKinley and the Lonesome Sound, Kelly Fine with the Young Heirlooms, Molly Sullivan and Dream Tiger, and even from some of our favorites: Wussy and Electric Citizen. You can check out CityBeat’s recap of the awards night here, plus articles containing our exclusive interviews with two of the winners: Lisa Walker from Wussy and Laura Dolan from Electric Citizen! The 19th annual CEAs are planned to take place January 31st of 2016, so stayed tuned for that!

4. Sleater-Kinney was kind enough to do a book signing and meet and greet at Shake It Records! That brought all of the fans out before their killer show at Bogart’s. Opening act, Waxahatchee charmed us with their well crafted indie rock songs. My personal highlight of the night was chatting with Corin Tucker during a drag show at Shooter’s post Bogart’s show.

5. My ultimate fangirl moment of 2015 occurred in September when I was lucky enough to interview Lori Barbero and Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland before their show at Madison Live. They were so incredibly cool to talk to and their show was unreal! They sounded perfect. I still freak out a little bit when I remember that night, it was like a time machine back to their prime in the 90s (except I’m now an adult and could watch them and drink beer). You can revisit my interview with them here.

6. There was a great showing of female musicians at Cincinnati’s Midpoint Music Festival including our favorites: Heartless Bastards, Kate Wakefield, Culture Queer, Prim, Leggy, Young Heirlooms and Ancient Warfare. Speaking of Ancient Warfare, our sweethearts from Lexington released their album Pale Horse this summer. The record is haunting and beautiful and you need to listen to it

7. Local dynamic performer, festival organizer, poet, and hip hop superstar Abiyah represented herself and Cincinnati at the 2015 Allied Media Conference up in Detroit this year via her strategy session “Odd Woman Out: Being a Female Hip Hop Artist and Promoter.” What could be better than two of the Midwest’s best rock cities collaborating in hip hop strategy sessions via such killer participants? I’ll answer that for you: nothing. Keep an eye out for more from Abiyah in the near future, because she is unstoppable.

8. Through the Haile Foundation’s People’s Liberty grant program, the stellar independent and MUSE choir musician Kate Wakefield has been teaming up with Nate May on a project that will definitely perk up some ears. Called State, the project will foster interest and understanding of the Urban Appalachian experience through a series of performances that include Kate Wakefield with other locals and will center around the world premiere of an oratorio about Appalachian migration to Cincinnati. Seriously great.

9. 2015 saw the debut of ultra female-oriented zine The Big “P” which appeared suddenly in the periodical racks and stacks of women and artist-friendly businesses and gathering spaces across urban neighborhoods of the city. The publication included tips on playing guitar, activism, collages inspiring inclusion and empowerment, and body-positive articles. Its single run to date was as strong as readers’ desire to see follow-up issues in 2016.

10. As a moment of reflection, Women in Rock turned 3 this year and I felt the need to create a manifesto to restate our goals and hopes with this site. Roxie and I have started having weekly meetings and creating editorial calendars so we can provide more content for you, our readers. We’ve reached out to our community and had a great response with women in rock who have so much to say! This can be seen in our Local Ladies Inspiration Playlist that came out over Thanksgiving. As the year ends, we continue to thrive and grow and hope to have an in-print zine come out during 2016! Thanks to all of the Women in Rock for inspiring us to write and share the great things you do!

An avid rock musician and enthusiast as well as a rock history buff.


    • Roxie Hennessey

      Jon, thanks for reading and for the recommendation! In this “Top Moments” post our aim was to provide an overview of key events in 2015 that highlighted woman-positive sea changes in the scene, venues, festivals, conferences etc., rather than focusing on individual bands, releases, and tours. Women in Rock definitely recognizes that there have been tons of great accomplishments by bands like Us, Today and will definitely check them out for the future. We’ll also continue to do our best to keep updating while everyone keeps the music coming! Please spread the word that bands interested in features can always get in touch with Women in Rock for a conversation via Facebook or email, as well. Contact information for contributors can be found on our “About” page.

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