Even in Madison in 2010, more men than women join local rock bands, aspire to be DJs or try to make a go of it as a rap artist or hip-hop producer. But for one night, on Friday, Oct. 15, Madison's live-music calendar features a lot more female performers than usual.
That's because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and for the third consecutive year, the Madison affiliate of the national nonprofit Susan G. Komen for the Cure is taking its prevention campaign to local music venues.
Women Rock for the Cure features 16 performers entertaining on seven stages, from the east side to the west side. They'll represent a wide variety of genres and styles.
"We wanted the music to be diverse and to appeal to different audiences, because this is an awareness event, and breast cancer doesn't know a person's age or socioeconomic status," says Laura Richards, development director for Komen Madison.
Richards says that, in 2008, the organizers considered having the event in one big venue. "But then we decided we might reach more people by spreading it out across the community." An all-volunteer organizing committee approached club owners, who helped invite bands and solo artists.
If you attend the event, where you go will likely be decided by your taste in music. If you're an acoustic-roots music fan, check in to the Brink Lounge by 7 p.m. Friday. You'll be treated to the swooning vocal harmonies of Little Red Wolf. The Madison quartet's instrumentation includes viola, accordion, keys, guitars, bass and drums. On songs like "Bella in the Elm," the band turns up its amps and rocks. The folk-rock of Madison's Beth Kille and Racine's Liza Day is also in the Brink lineup.
At the Inferno, the evening's most alternative show begins at 9 p.m. with two all-female rock bands and one coed punk group. Dharmonic Deluxe mixes its keyboard work with bluesy, psychedelic guitar rock for a raw, jagged sound. With apologies to Aretha, the Deluxe's synth is played by Urethra Franklin. Venus in Furs brings B-52's-style surf-guitar to its highly danceable pop-punk songs. The trio describes its sound as "gritty body moving surf rock disco shit straight outta the Midwest." The Type uses heavy distortion to ground its garage-rock melodies. On MySpace, the band says it's influenced by "booze, getting dumped via text message, bitter cold Wisconsin winters and that time of the month," among other things.
Starting at 8:30 p.m., the program at the Hemingway Lounge features plenty of variety. The drums-'n'-guitar duo of Alex Fulton and Erika Zar perform as the Hemlines. Their lo-fi sound may be stripped down, but it's fueled by indie-rock energy. Fulton drummed for Charlemagne and, along with Zar, also performs in the Runners-Up. Sarah Hastings plays saxophone and sings in Blue Beyond, a blues-rock band that adds elements of soul and jazz to its sound.
Is Celtic music your thing? Head to Brocach on the Capitol Square at 5:30 p.m. to see the Currach. Jazz? At 8 p.m., the Tom Gullion Quartet performs at Inn on the Park (yes, some male musicians will be rocking for the cure, too). Country? Check out Tuscan Road at the Club Tavern (9 p.m.).
Even cover bands are represented. The all-female cover band Wicked Lily plays the Club Tavern, too, while the Brandymans perform at the Claddagh Irish Pub (9 p.m.).
Richards notes that 75% of funds raised will stay in Madison. She says the local Komen affiliate provides grants to help uninsured and underinsured women gain access to preventative care and treatment.
"But this isn't a huge fundraiser for us," she says. "It's mostly a fun way to do an awareness event."