Y'all, who remembers when I was a DJ & Sports Director (FIRST GIRL EVER) at WUAG 103.1 FM? Let's take a moment to give it up for college and independent radio stations. I always thought I knew a lot about "independent" music until I started working at WUAG. Music has always been a huge part of my life. My dad was a jazz musician for the early part of his life before settling onto a traditional routine of work and family. He still plays his trumpet at Church on SUndays and for all his kids on their birthdays. My mom was a lover of a music and a dancer - always the first one on the dance floor. They met at club where my dad was playing in the band and she worked as a cocktail waitress. My parents have long been divorced but, still to this day, when a Earth, WInd & Fire or K.C. and the Sunshine band song comes on the radio, my mama puts her hands in the air, snaps her fingers and wiggle her hips and swoon: "Ohhhhhh, Lish! Your father used to play this in the baaaaaaand."
I was pretty much immersed in Top 40 pop jams from every era, discovered Hip-Hop through my first boyfriend and the Grunge Era dominated my teen years (not Riot Grrrl, oddly enough). Madonna, Janet Jackson, Salt N Pepa: these were the feminist icons I had known in music. The Indigo Girls were about as indie as I had gotten. It was in college and even more so in grad school, that I was introduced to women outside of the mass media making their own music, writing their own songs about their experiences. ALL their experiences not just the sellable ones. I was introduced to Liz Phair via her self-titled and had to find my way to Exile in Guyville. I met Heather McEntire (Mount Moriah) in a women’s studies class and saw her perform for the first time (and many times after) at a house show. College radio and the independent music scene also introduced me to a new type of species: dudes who like women. Trust me, there are plenty of indie rock douchebags out there but my experience in college radio was stacked full of dudes who saw women as artists, peers and friends. This was new to me.
It’s important to note that music - even the most independent - has consistently excluded women on all levels. From the earliest era of pop and rock to what we still celebrate today music is still, predominantly, a masculine space. Don’t agree? Check out Madonna's acceptance speech Billboard’s Women in Music 2016, consider the invisibility of women of color and queer women from the forefront of almost all genres of music, or ask yourself why Jessica Hopper’s 2015 book is titled “The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic.“ The first. In 2015.
Tonight I was invited to be a guest DJ on The Clambake with host Penny Dreadful, radically vulnerable lady DJ who dedicates her two hour show to music by non-dudes. IT WAS SO FUN. We had lovely dialogues between sets discussing making mixtapes for crushes, radical vulnerability, and how much we love loud ladies who make feminist music. My favorite part was playing tracks by new favorites I've discovered in Chicago: Celine Neon, The Cell Phones, Jamila Woods. And plenty of old faves from the WUAG days: Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mount Moriah, the everybodyfields. Shout out to the Lesley Gore track introduced to me by Lindsey Charles when she performed it on Feminist Happy Hour last month. IT WAS LIFE CHANGING.
To make it easy, I was limited to Spotify selections and also non-explicit because of the FCC and all that hoo-ha. But for you, dear readers/listeners, I have added a few extra explicit tracks that I couldn't play on air! If you love any of these artists go out there and PAY FOR THEIR MUSIC OR BUY TICKETS TO THEIR SHOWS. If you're in Chicago, let me know. I'll probably be there too! Follow the playlist on Spotify and here's the archived list via WLUW.