Photo: Ma Rainey and her backing band in 1925. Via NotesOnTheRoad.com
When Gertrude "Ma" Rainey—known as "The Mother of Blues"—sang, "It's true I wear a collar and a tie… Talk to the gals just like any old man," in 1928′s "Prove It on Me," she was flirting with scandal, challenging the listener to catch her in a lesbian affair. It might not seem like a big deal to us now, but back then, pursuing same-sex relations could get you thrown in jail.
Top 40 music seems to be undergoing a sea change lately. Cher has a feminist song on the radio and in the club. Neko Case is Top 40 music seems to be undergoing a sea change lately. Cher has a feminist song on the radio and in the club. Neko Case is taking gender identity straight to task. Frank Ocean and Macklemore are topping the charts with songs that carve space for queer-friendly voices in the machismo-drenched worlds of R&B and hip-hop. Ann Powers at NPR declared 2013 "Country Music's Year of the Woman," and Jewly Hight at the Nashville Scene pointed out a similar trend last year, of female artists whose sounds still fit the country genre, but whose lyrics and personae push the boundaries of country femininity.
All of this points to something big: It's been a good year for not only women in music, but feminism in music.
A couple of years ago I saw ex-Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna speak in New York City, right before she donated her musical archives to New York University's Fales Library. I was struck by her acerbic wit, her 'I don't give a fuck' attitude.
While I was a teenager during the grunge and Riot Grrrl era, for some reason I was (at the time) more drawn to hyper-masculine, testosterone-saturated grunge and metal bands and was not that interested in what was happening on the other side of the scene. As Hanna's talk was intriguing, I took the opportunity to check out The Punk Singer, part of the Hot Docs Festival in Toronto.
About 10 minutes into the documentary, I knew that I had made a colossal mistake.
I love Stevie Nicks. Who doesn't? However, I came upon her music only within the last couple years—I'm by no means a Stevie expert. So I was excited to see In Your Dreams, the new film Nicks and collaborator Dave Stewart directed, at SXSW this month; the screening was a chance to learn more about Stevie from herself and an opportunity to wear a Stevie-approved ensemble (long flowing skirt obviously).
Tuesday kicked off SXSW Music, the world's biggest urban music festival. Bitch is in Austin for the festival all week, covering bands we love and think you'll love too. Read below the jump for highlights from our first of many 12+ hours days on the streets of Austin.
Bitch is at the SXSW music and interactive festival in Austin, Texas this week! SXSW is the largest music festival of its kind ON THE PLANET, with more than 2,500 official bands registered to play at 100+ venues around the city. Starting Wednesday, look out for daily roundups of what we're seeing while we're in town, and who we think you'll be seeing and hearing more from in 2013.
Let us know who you'd like us to cover, if you're not in town, and if you are, tell us who you're most excited to see!
What better way to celebrate the time of giving than by giving back to your favorite labels, artists and general-music-enablers and purchasing some of their finest goods for a friend? 2012 was a great year for music, so step away from the dangfangled Internets and go into the real world and buy some albums! (Or embrace the internet and shop from your favorite label's e-store!)