Yes, music is a feeling kind of thing, a healing kind of thing, or a party. It will get your body moving or calm your body down. It's an old time sing-along or a brand new song. This is JD Doyle and on Queer Music Heritage this month you'll find out music is all those things and more. It's another one of my deep history shows and I'm calling it "Lesbians On Cassette." And this is actually Part 2 of that theme, as I did the first show in November of 2008. I've culled through the approximately 450 women's music tapes in my collection, and came up with three hours of, I think, interesting recordings.
Here's the criteria, an artist's recording could only have been released on cassette tape, not on vinyl or CD, or reissued on CD. So this puts us mostly in the 1980s and 90s, with releases almost exclusively by independent artists. These were artists I very much doubt you would have had a chance to hear on the radio, as they generally sold their tapes at live performances, in coffee houses, or the few women's bookstores, because that was really the only means they had of getting their music out there. They had no label backing, so tapes were also cheaper to produce than the other formats, and some were even homemade, or made as demos.
I think the opening song was perfect to start the show. It was of course called "Music" and was by Paula Walowitz. The cassette was called "Last Night at School Street," from 1990, and was recorded at the Mountain Moving Coffeehouse, in Chicago.
By the way the music you've been hearing under this introduction, of course comes from a cassette, from 1990 by the duo Galloway and Lee, which was comprised of Barb Galloway and Cacy Lee. Barb Galloway is also known for being in a couple of historic lesbian bands, Baba Yaga and the Fabulous Dyketones. I picked the title song from the Galloway & Lee cassette, called "Something Special," and let's hear a little more of it, without my talking over it.
Galloway & Lee - Something Special (1990)
And from Galloway & Lee we go to Pattie Weber and Rita Harrington, when they were known as the duo Second Wind. From their 1990 tape just called "Second Wind," here's "It's Time To Let Go."
Wind - It's Time To Let Go (1990)
After Second Wind we heard "The Too Long Song" by Petronella. That duo was Lucia Russett and Sandy Opatow, and Sandy can now be heard as part of the excellent duo Emma's Revolution.
Outsiders - Time Won't Let Me (1966, clip)
Okay, I grew up in Ohio, and that Ohio band The Outsiders had a huge national hit and especially a statewide hit with their song "Time Won't Let Me." So, why did I play a clip of it? Well, while then Ohio artist Gayle Marie was not in the band, she played organ on the original studio recording of the song. That was 1966 and it took until 1982 to release her own album, "Night Rainbow." Her follow-up release from 1984, "Double Talk" contained the song "Love's Got a Hold on Me."
Marie - Love's Got a Hold on Me (1984)
If you detected a bit of humor in the song "Cleanin'" you shouldn't have been surprised. It was by Linda Severt from her 1993 cassette "I Can't Wait." In addition to being a member of the Laura Love Band, she was a member of a group I love, Venus Envy, who did the classic album "I'll Be a Homo For Christmas." From their 1990 release, "Unarmed and Dangerous," was the song "Venus."
And here's another duo with a sense of humor. In 1993 Theresa Chandler and Karen Ripley released a very funny tape called "I Survived a Femme," and on it they did a variety of styles, as you'll see, starting with the title track.
& Ripley - I Survived a Femme (1993)
Two by Chandler & Ripley, "I Survived a Femme," and "Show Me Where It Hurts." And Robin Flower provided lead guitar and some of the backups on their album. In the mid 80s a band showed it's respect for women's music pioneer Ginni Clemmens by naming themselves after one of her most honored songs, "Solid Ground." They were a Boston area group and another pioneer, Susan Abod produced their release. So here's the band Solid Ground, doing the song "Solid Ground," I'm following them with a special live recording by Ginni Clemmens.
Ground - Solid Ground (mid-80s)
Some of you may recognize that song as "Best Friend (The Unicorn Song)," a much beloved women's music classic written by Margie Adam. That recording of Ginni Clemmens singing it is from the 1975 National Women's Music Festival, the second year they held the festival, and while it was an amateur recording dating back 35 years, its history was too good to pass up.
These next two songs are by Portland artist Nan Collie, who also happens to be a member of the group Motherlode. But she had a solo release in 1991 called "I Will Listen," and from it I'm taking the track "Wings of Song." And after that is a very political song called "I'm a Teacher," from 1992. I'll give you its background after you hear it.
Collie - Wings of Song (1991)
a Teacher" by Nan Collie, and playing congas on that track was
Maureen Kelly. You may have gathered that the lyrics were objecting
to homophobic assertions that gay and lesbian teachers were a danger
to children. If you listened very closely you heard the phrase about
"O.C.A bigots." O.C.A. was the Oregon Citizens Alliance,
a very conservative Christian political activist organization that
tried to do lots of damage in the 80s and 90s. In 1992 they sponsored
a referendum Measure 9, which would have amended the state constitution
to prevent the adoption of what they called any "special rights"
for GLBT people. This was a very galvanizing referendum, and it was
ultimately narrowly defeated, by 52% to 48%.
& The Family Values Band - They'll Get You Anyway (1992)
That parody of "Love Potion #9" was called "Ballot Measure Number 9," with new lyrics by lesbian columnist Shelly Sheklow, who is also a member of the comedy troupe Wymprov. That's spelled w-y-m-p-r-o-v, and I kinda broke my rule for this show. That song was not from a cassette, but a special CD single, but when else would I get a chance to play together two songs about Ballot Measure #9.
This is JD Doyle and I thank you for joining me with this very special journey through the world of Lesbians on Cassette, and I've got two more hours to share with you. That of course is found on my site, queermusicheritage.com. I'm closing with a wonderful group called Destiny. They were Mary Jo Paranzino, Mary Abt and Diana Bitting, and unfortunately they released only one recording, in 1992, and called it "We Are Destiny." It's got a lot of good material on it and I'll give you a couple more in the other segments, but this time here's Destiny and "Lesbian Lover."
Destiny - Lesbian Lover (1992)
Narissa Bond - What Does Love Mean (1996)
Very nice. That was Narissa Bond and the song "What Does Love Mean" from a 1996 cassette tape. That was her first release and was called "A Free Spirit Can't Run Fast in High Heels." And this is JD Doyle welcoming you back for Part 2 of "Lesbians on Cassette."
I adore this next artist. She's Lisa Koch and around 1991 she and Julie Wolf released a cassette sampler tape, and I've picked two songs from it to prove they can sing pretty and also sing pretty twisted. First up is the Bette Midler song "Hello In There."
Koch & Julie Wolf - Hello In There (1991)
The song "Naral, Naral" may remind you of Lisa Koch's work in the duo Dos Falopia, and she was also in the group Venus Envy. There's a Venus Envy song I wanted to play in Part 1 but didn't have room, so here it is now, from their "Unarmed and Dangerous" cassette, "She's Not There."
Envy - She's Not There (1990)
Yes, there is lesbian rock. That was Girls In The Nose, with Kay Turner on lead vocals and the band also included my friend Gretchen Phillips. "Starpower" came from their self-titled 1990 release, and was a cover of a Sonic Youth song. And I'm going to bring beat way down, with Karen Hellyer and the song "Hangin' With The Boys," from her 1993 release "Peon Queen,"
Hellyer - Hangin' With the Boys (1993)
And what an interesting set that was. After Karen Hellyer was Monica Grant and a bit of "PMS," from her 1989 tape "Harbor Girl," followed by "Monogamy" by the Cowgirl Sweethearts, from their 1994 release, "The Cowgirl Collection." Closing the set was "The Faucet," by a Canadian band called the Wyrd Sisters, from their debut recording, "Leave a Little Light," from 1992.
Going through the cassettes for this show, I found it common to see artists helping each other out. For example on Monica Grant's recording she had backup help from Therese Chandler and Gayle Marie, who you've heard already, and this artist, Melanie Monsur.
Monsur - Blues on the Run (1987)
From Melanie Monsur's 1987 release "Dragonfly" you heard "Blues on the Run." And then you heard two from Jane Howard. From her 1983 tape "Bare Bones" came "Look at What the Cat Just Dragged In Blues," and then from a 1979 release called "Anyone I Can Sing To" was the song "Mama."
Before we finish this segment, are you ready for some lesbian erotica? I happened upon a tape from 1986 called "Bedtime Stories," by Sienna, and I can't resist giving you a taste, and I also couldn't resist putting a little music under it.
Sienna - Bedtime Stories, The Layover (1986)
Well, even I think that was hot, and it goes on for another 17 minutes, which you can hear on my website. I promised you more from the group Destiny, and I said on Part 1 that their 1992 tape was their only release, which is true, but the two Marys of the group, Mary Paranzino and Mary Abt joined with Jon Arterton of the Flirtations in 2001 to release a CD billed as by the Three Marys. Also on Part 1 I could not play this closing song, due to a language issue. That segment will air on broadcast radio, on the show Queer Voices on KPFT, but any additional parts are always internet only. So here's the wonderfully strong voice of Mary Paranzino from Destiny, and "Homophobic Blues."
Destiny - Homophobic Blues (1992)
Bobbi Carmitchell - Over the Rainbow (1987)
I think that was a very nice version of "Over the Rainbow." It was by Bobbi Carmitchell from her 1987 solo release "Crossing the Line." And I said solo release because she is also well known for her work with her sister Anne, as the Carmitchell Sisters. This is JD Doyle and thanks for joining me for the third and last part of "Lesbians on Cassette."
In keeping with my quest to only play music from cassettes, I've got a series of tapes by Janis Ian, that she called "Work Tapes," part of sort of songwriting instruction by tape she was doing in the 90s. I'm starting with some commercials she did that were on one of the tapes, as an example of that genre, and then following with a beautiful song called "All the Way Home." That Work Tape was from 1996 and I could not figure out if this song was ever released by her on a recording.
Ian - Commercials (1994)
Following Janis Ian was an artist whose voice I just loved, Zonna. And I'm pleased that I got to know her a little before she died in December of 2003. I first was in contact with her around 2000 and in the summer of 2003 I was in New York City visiting a friend of mine, Ed Mannix. That weekend he sponsored a house concert and as I was the out-of-towner he asked me who I wanted to see perform. I immediately said Zonna. She had not been performing much in the prior years but she agreed, and it was a treat to see her in person. That turned out to be her last performance.
Next are two instrumentals, of a classical nature. In the mid-80s the duo Musica Femina issued their first two releases, and they specialized in showcasing the music of women composers. But they also do their own writing. They are Kristan Aspen and Janna MacAuslan and from each of those two tapes I've chosen compositions they wrote. From the 1984 release written by Kristan is "New Beginnings" and from their release the next year is "April Toye" by Janna.
Femina - New Beginnings (1984)
Musica Femina was Jamie Anderson and "Where the Water Runs Deep,"
taken from her debut recording from 1986, "Heart Resort."
She later re-recorded the song for her "Three Bridges" CD.
Now, she was not crazy about me playing music from that tape, but
she said it would be okay as long as folks knew this was vintage Jamie,
and here's how she phrased it, "back when I couldn't find my
musical butt with both hands." And I want to give a special thanks
to Jamie. She recently moved to Canada and had to make some tough
decisions about what she had to part with, and that meant I inherited
about 30 tapes from her collection, and if it wasn't for that I probably
wouldn't have tried to do another edition of "Lesbians on Cassette."
She essentially furnished about half of this show.
In The Nose - Hey, Chastity (1992)
Following Girls In The Nose I gave you a comedy routine by Linda Moakes, from her 1987 tape "Pearls of Laughter." So that was kind of fun. And that's a weak lead-in to a tape called "Wouldn't It Be Fun?" It was released in 1990 by Leah Zicari, and from it is a song about lesbian crushes, called "Martina."
Zicari - Martina (1990)
And that was DJ Adler and her rambling essay called "Politically Correct." That's from her 1982 recording "Here & Now." Up next is Tracey Rose and "Lesbian Rap," from her 1996 tape "White Girl Raps." And I'm going to go from rap to doo wop.
Rose - Lesbian Rap (1996)
That was called "#1," and I couldn't resist grabbing one more track from Chandler & Ripley and their tape "I Survived a Femme."
These next three tracks are all from live recordings from the 1977 National Women's Music Festival, and you'll first hear Margie Adam singing "I've Got a Fury." The studio version of it can be heard on her 1976 album, "Songwriter." She'll be followed by a group I know nothing about, the New Haven Night Angels, doing their song "We're Going To Make It."
Adam - I've Got a Fury (1977)
The third song of that set was by Izquierda, and that group was a pioneering one. Led by Naomi Littlebear Morena, with members including Kristan Aspen, who you heard in Musica Femina, Izetta Smith, Robin Chilstrom and others.
Okay, that was a bit over three hours of "Lesbians on Cassette." This is JD Doyle thanking you for putting up with my love of digging deep into our history. I'm closing this segment with the same act I used to close Parts 1 and 2, Destiny. Again, from their recording "We Are Destiny," here's "It's Alright."
- It's Alright (1992)