Isle of Palms, SC – “The Bikini Contest” – The Windjammer – May 31, 1999

The boys can’t stop talking about Vonda, the bartender from the Windjammer, but there were hundreds of beautiful sunbathing beauties at the gig yesterday. They distracted the band, traipsing past the stage from the beach to changing room, glistening with water beading off oiled suntans in glittery suits. Brian did some “Three’s Company” double takes that Jack Ritter would have applauded.
The Windjammer is right on the ocean. We hadn’t seen an actual beach in over six months so while the buffed bodies distracted me I was more mesmerized by waves and soft sand.

Buoys, fishing nets, and surfboards decorated the wind-swept venue. Posters of hot babes and surfers on waves hung about the colorful bar running opposite the stage. A mirror set behind the bar revealed the sight of our pale, hairy legs awkwardly dancing on our comically tall stage.

There was no time for a sound check when we arrived late. I rushed into the bathroom to change out of my traveling clothes. The floor was wet, sandy, and slightly treacherous. I balanced on one flip-flop while trying to aim my legs through a skirt. Women, mistakenly entering my stall due to a broken latch, offered apologetic exits. Two girls argued outside the door whether or not to try their fake I.D.s at the bar.

I used a warped and gray mirror over a dripping sink to paint color into my vampire-white skin. Squinting, I moved closer to my gauzy reflection, accidentally bumping up against the counter, resulting in a huge wet mark on the front of my skirt. “Damn!” I had to laugh at myself as I rushed to get on stage. The boys had already started to play. The wet spot made it look like I’d had an accident myself.

Our first set is always hard in a barroom setting. It’s got slow, acoustic songs that do little to mask people trying to talk over you, to order a beer or pick up a date.

During intermission, there was a bikini contest. We knew it was coming. The band had been excited since Casey, our booking agent, inquired if I’d mind the contest happening during our show. I’d cheekily agreed, albeit with the condition that I too could perform in a bikini if I wished.
The boys wanted to be judges but it turned out to be one of those dignified ‘dog call for the prettiest girl’ contests. Personally, I cheered for every girl equally, believing they all deserved accolades for the courage it took to strut the stage, clad in dentil floss ittsy-bitsy bikinis in front of a Memorial Day crowd. When the contest concluded, I obliged people by tattooing their oily chests, arms, and backs with my autograph in black Sharpie. I signed so many greasy bodies, that my pen finally gave out.

The second set could have been great, had it not been for relentless requests from inebriated frat boys for “Carolina in my Mind,” one of my dad’s songs. Honestly, we didn’t know how to play it—an honest admission that shifted their focus to requesting Jimmy Buffett tunes instead. You’ve got to let this kind of shit roll off if you want to keep your head above water.

A fantastic crew from 96 The Wave—Miles, Mike, Ray, and Johnathan introduced themselves after the gig. They’d been plugging our show all day on their indie radio station. Amidst an industry flooded with stations playing the same few tracks, dictated by big labels and deep pockets, 96 The Wave promised to spin “Tomboy Bride.” It’s a rare thing to find such supporters in a world where independent voices are often overshadowed by corporate giants.

So what am I asking of you dear reader is this, be conscious of what you’re listening to. I mean listen to high-powered radio if that’s what you like. But also support Independent radio stations. There are hardly any left and they represent the freedom of speech and underground music. Listen to what you think is good! Not what people on the radio say is good…they only say it’s good ‘cus they’re getting paid to say it. Look for music that feeds your soul ‘cus God knows it’s out there in abundance and it’s not always on the Big Labels.

Boulder, CO – “Band-o-Babes” – The Fox Theater- April 22, 1999

Last night, a dozen badass babes stormed the stage at The Fox Theater for “The Women From Mars,” CD release party. Each of us had contributed a song to the compilation going on sale that night. Proceeds would go to fighting breast cancer and MS.

The song I contributed to the Women From Mars CD

“The Women from Mars” is a composite of Boulder-based-musician-babes who got sick being ships in the night due to hectic touring schedules and booked a monthly gig in town to support and inspire one another (and howl at the moon). No matter where we are in our travels, we do our best to make it back for these gigs (all of which support breast cancer awareness and prevention)

I met up with my songstress sisters early on the morning of the gig for a group radio interview at KCNU. A dusting of winter white covered crocus and daffodils. Snow in April is just one of the strange little quirks of living in Colorado. I cradled my unswaddled guitar to my chest attempting to keep my baby from going out of tune in the cold between car and station. Inside the lobby, Libby Kirkpatrick greeted me with warm coffee and praise for my song on the CD, “and I’m picky,” she added. Her soft brown curls threatened to spring like kamikaze pilots from her head. Moved by her sincere words, I felt a rush of gratitude.

As our estrogen rich collective filled the halls drinking coffee and laughing over road tales, Libby suggested I teach the other girls backups to my “Red Room.” I felt honored by their willingness to lend their voices to lifting MY music onto the airwaves. With my orange bunny hat in hand, the morning’s joy set the stage for the upcoming show.

Backstage, downstairs, in the blue lights of the green room, we primped, trying on wigs, high-top tube socks, tiaras and taffeta tutus. We bartered in horror stories from our travels and consoled each other’s laments and losses. We learned each other’s songs, going two and three at a time into the dimly lit bathroom with guitars to rehearse harmonies without disturbing the camaraderie of our sisters outside.

The stage was lit up with candles and feather boas, guitars and a smattering of percussion instruments shaped like exotic fruit. The audience’s faces were glowing and adoring and supportive. The lineup was: Beth Quist, Maya Dorn, Jude Ponds, Nicole Jamrose, Marie Beer, Monica Augustine, Wendy Woo, Libby Kirkpatrick, Me, Maggie Simpson and Hannah Alkire.

Each Woman took the spotlight for a short set while the rest of us watched from the stairwell in admiration. The night went off without a hitch. All the ladies joined me for “Happy Now” and as our voices braided into one siren call, I thought how lucky I am to have such remarkable, beautiful and talented female friends. Friends, strong enough to support one another’s talent rather than see it as competition to try to tare down.

The snow, which had turned to rain, was pounding and cold when we loaded our instruments into the back alley around 3 a.m. I was buzzing as I kissed and hugged my tribe goodbye and drove home. When I walked in my front door, the electricity blew, leaving me to strip out of wet, clinging clothes in the dark. As I did so, I wondered suspiciously if my inner voltage had caused the blackout.

I don’t think I’ve ever slept so well.