Girl Germs Tribute Night at The Turf Club

Kitten Forever at the Turf Club

Becca Martin-Marx

Photo Credit Tony Nelson

In the early 1990’s there was a zine called ‘Girl Germs’, created by two University of Oregon students with  the goal of promoting feminism in music. It was also the title of a song by Bratmobile which hit a nerve with Sally Hedberg and Dana Raidt. The music writers had found in their own experiences that the “cultural landscape is lacking in feminist representation, and we aim to fill that void a bit.” The native Minnesotans launched a website (girlgermsmpls.com) and had their first Tribute Night at the Mainroom of First Avenue in May of 2014. It went over well and was followed by a second Tribute Night at the Turf Club on January 10th of 2015. If the first Tribute night gave homage to the rockier side of female artists, the second nodded to their soul. One of the cool things about Girl Germs is that Dana and Sally pick female artists who they’ve found inspirational and enlist artists they respect from Minneapolis and St.Paul to cover them. While the goal is to honor the female artists, the performers are not all women. This has been a bit of a controversy but something that they feel strongly does not challenge the authenticity of their goal. I would agree, why only allow women to recognize the contributions of female artists?

Yoni Yum at the Turf Club

That aside, with each event posting the anticipation grew and the show did sell out, leaving some folks literally frozen out in the frigid MN night. The host for the evening was Sheela Namakkal who stood in for Andrea Swensson at the last minute. Namakkal handled her job with humor and grace. The opening act was the band Yoni Yum who performed several Marianne Faithful covers and an original song of their own. Songs from Faithful’s album ‘Broken English’ were crowd favorites. A moment of humor was had when lead vocalist Jessica Buns preluded the song ‘Why’d Ya Do It’ with an apology to her father regarding the sexually frank lyrics.

K Radio at the Turf ClubNeo-soul singer K.Raydio who just released her own album ‘One Drop’ commemorated Erykah Badu. She related a time in her life when she was done with school but directionless, ending up in Chicago to see Badu perform and that was the “spark” that ignited her  musical passion. Her version of Badu’s ‘Cleva’ was spot on and she ended the set with ‘Annie Don’t Wear No Panties’, a song that was funk, funk, funk.

Kitten Forever at the Turf Club

 “Bey”, Beyonce, what can I say? I now know that I prefer her songs covered by a three piece all women feminist punk band. Kitten Forever blew my mind from the first moment quoting Kathleen Hanna with a rousing “Girls to the front.” Their energy, switching instruments, singers…they owned ‘All The Single Ladies’ with bass thumping and high hats ringing! The song ‘Partition’ was their swooning moment. You just have to go see them.

Debbie Duncan & Alpha Consumer at the Turf ClubHere comes the non-controversy: the all male band Alpha Consumer jamming with the Blues singer Debbie Duncan in an awesome tribute to the one and only “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin. Cannot say enough about the members of Alpha Consumer-Jeremy Ylvisaker, J.T.Bates, and Michael Lewis excel at their art. Debbie Duncan is the real deal and bared her soul onstage. A touching moment was the dedication of the song ‘Dr. Feelgood (Love Is A Serious Business)’ to the late lead singer of the Divinyls-Chrissy Amphlett at the request of her widower Charley Drayton who had heard about the show.

Aby Wolf at the Turf Club

The closer was local enigma Aby Wolf. Who but Aby could embody the dramatic spirit of Kate Bush? Wolf is a joy to watch, her theatrical body language a punctuation to her beautiful voice. The song ‘Suspended in Gaffa’ was a vocal triumph. I had assumed ‘Running Up That Hill’ would garner the most audience adulation but the ethereal song ‘Wuthering Heights’ had people jumping up and down and thrusting lit lighters into the air. Outstanding.

Feminism and music, a valid topic that should be delved into deeper than what twitter feuds artists are engaged in. Girl Germs does it right and another lovely thing is that they were sponsored in part by the local organization She Rock She Rock who are a “Minnesota based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to empowering girls, women and female-identified folks through the art of music.” Do your part by going to these shows, taking your offspring to see the phenomenal female talent MN is home to, and check out She Rock She Rock and Girl Germs-they would love your support.

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