From Ella Fitzgerald to Sleater-Kinney to Beyonce, women have been rocking the music world for as long as their XY counterparts. Too often the accomplishments of female musicians are overlooked, but in November, they take over Eugene once again for the Grrrlz Rock festival — a month-long concert series celebrating and showcasing Eugene’s rising female artists. For the full lineup visit wkly.ws/1u2, but be sure to check out these five kickass acts:
The Elena Leona Project
“ALL HAIL the FAIRY MOTHERS OF RAWWWWWWKKKKKKKK,” Eugene hip-hop artist Elena Leona posted about Grrrlz Rock on her Facebook page. After seeing another comment — “‘Hey, I’m a girl and I rock!’” in social media — the festival’s director and “Fairy Rockmother” Matrisha Armitage asked Leona to play. And rock she does, from the Dutch Bros.-infused lyrics of “1st Cup” to the catchy “Awe Yea,” Leona serves as one of Eugene’s only female hip-hop voices. Leona has sung her whole life and started playing guitar in eighth grade, but she first learned to make beats in a music production class at LCC.
The Elena Leona Project plays the 8:15 to 8:45 pm timeslot at the kickoff event 3 to 11 pm Saturday, Nov. 1, at Cozmic.
She’s Not Dead
She’s Not Dead will rock your tube socks off. The Portland-based four-piece alt-rocker band is the all-female second chapter to the all-male ’90s rock band Kill Hannah — except the former wears fishnet tights, knee-high socks and sparkly shorts. Frontwoman Kira Nesser and drummer Samantha Howell started the band in middle school, and as of June 14, they met a $4,000 Kickstarter goal to record the recently released album titled Monsters In My Head, an angsty study full of punk-rock guitar and emotional lyrics. They also caught the eye of metal-rock music video director Thomas Mignone (Slipknot, System of a Down), who recently filmed a video for album single “Crashing Down.”
She’s Not Dead performs 7:15 to 8 pm Saturday, Nov. 1, at Cozmic.
Broken Down Guitars
Five-piece Bend-based bluesy jam band Broken Down Guitars hosts its own Grrrlz Rock-style event, “Chicks with Picks,” for Central Oregon. “Being in a band has taught me to communicate,” singer and violinist Lilli Forbes says. “For young women that can give them a sense of self.” Forbes’ bandmate, singer and guitarist Stacie Johnson, encourages women to join bands instead of buying in to the diva image that women musicians often fall under. “When you’re with a group of people, it’s grounding,” she says.
Broken Down Guitars perform 9:45 to 11 pm Saturday, Nov. 1, at Cozmic.
Riley Estrada is still young enough to tell EW what colleges she’s applying to, but not too young to have her favorite career highlight be opening for the Shook Twins. And not too young to have self-produced an album, which was “a big endeavor,” she says. Almost 17, Estrada balances her own expressive singing and songwriting with a high school homework load. But Estrada didn’t pick up a guitar in a flurry of adolescent spontaneity — she’s been performing since age five, inspired and encouraged by her musical family (her parents met in a band and her sister, Grrrlz Rock director Armitrage, is a part of the Bajuana Tea duo).
Riley Estrada performs 3 pm Wednesday, Nov. 5, at Ophelia’s Place and 6:30 pm Saturday, Nov. 8, at Tsunami Books.
“I’ve never seen as many white rastas as that,” Norma Fraser says with a laugh. The Jamaican vocal legend is referring to her first trip to Eugene when she discovered that the community reminded her of Jamaica, inspiring her to move here. Fraser was signed to Jamaican Motown label Studio One Soul in the early 1960s, where she sang with Bob Marley & The Wailers (hear her on the ’74 deep cut “I Stand Predominate”). She also had several hit songs, including a reggae version of “The First Cut Is The Deepest.” For her Grrrlz Rock show, Fraser will perform a combination of original songs and reggae favorites. “I’d like to compliment Eugene for putting on a great event for girls and giving them a platform,” she says, “because they are the future.”
Norma Fraser performs 6 pm Saturday, Nov. 22, at Sam Bond’s; 21-plus.