The Allman Sisters

Ashleigh Flynn’s new project breaks musical glass ceiling 

Longtime Portland singer-songwriter Ashleigh Flynn says there’s a glass ceiling for women in music. She wants her new band, The Riveters, to break it.

“I knew so many talented female musicians,” Flynn remembers of the lead-up to forming the project. “I’d never seen them in a band together.” 

More than anything, Flynn wanted The Riveters to be platform for the female talent among her colleagues. Even the name of the band is a nod to the classic WWII feminist icon, Rosie the Riveter. “We can rock as hard as any dude. Our music is as good,” Flynn says. 

Flynn grew up in Kentucky. For her, music has always been a refuge. “I was a rabid music listener. It’s been a constant thread,” she says.

When she was young, Flynn listened to a lot of what was happening locally, but her older sisters introduced her to Motown and classic rock as well as popular hits of the ’80s. 

Flynn started tinkering with writing her own songs in college. “I thought it was so cool you can do it yourself!” she says.

After heading out west, Flynn landed for a time in Eugene. “I love Eugene,” she says. “Sam Bond’s was my local watering hole.” She honed her skills there playing live. 

Many Riveters songs had been with Flynn for a while, but she considered them too rambunctious for her solo material. After forming The Riveters, the material began to evolve, and the other musicians in the group played a huge part in arranging the music, even influencing the way Flynn began to write going forward.

The song “You Will Remember” struts along over a Zeppelin-esque riff, or rather, it draws heavily from the wave of bands that followed Zeppelin — more Bad Company than Houses of the Holy. Elsewhere, “Fly Away” is an up-tempo tune with bluegrass influence, showing Flynn hasn’t completely strayed from Kentucky roots. 

The album closes with straight-up honky-tonk and the song “Big Hat, No Cattle.” You can imagine the Portland inspiration when Flynn sings “In fact, I’ve never ridden a horse in my life/ I’m just an urban dude in country duds.”

The Riveters’ eponymous debut came out in 2018, but there’s a live EP in the works “to showcase the virtuosity of the band,” Flynn says.

Other notable members of The Riveters include Nancy Luca on lead guitar and Jennifer Lynn Conlee-Drizos, known for her work with Portland indie folk-rockers The Decemberists. (Conlee-Drizos will not be at the Eugene show.) Chris Funk, also of The Decemberists, produced the debut and also has worked on the live EP.

 “Straight-up country rock” is how Flynn describes her work with The Riveters. “I always conceived of this project as sort of an Allman Sisters,” she adds.

Ashleigh Flynn and The Riveters play along with Eugene’s Fiddlin’ Big Sue Band 9 pm Friday, Dec. 20, at Sam Bond’s; $7, 21-plus.

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