women shall overcome

The Ethical Debating Society @ LOUD WOMEN, The Veg Bar. Copyright Keira Anee 2015
by cassie fox

Last year, as part of the inaugural We Shall Overcome (WSO) festival, I put on a gig in London.  WSO had 200-plus gigs UK-wide in aide of anti-austerity charities and foodbanks – a massive show of solidarity against an oppressive Tory government.

But it was yet another ‘leftie festie’ ringing the bell for community spirit, but forgetting to include half of the population: nearly all of the events were run by men and featured the same old ‘man bands’. No fun being the only woman at any of those shows.

So, I called my WSO gig ‘LOUD WOMEN’, and sought to redress the balance a little. We had six awesome female acts: BlindnessDream NailsArgonautEmily C SmithJanine Booth, and my own band, The Wimmins’ Institute. The venue was the Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park (a club now tragically closed and in the hands of corporate developers).

The gig was a storming success, with a sisterly and inclusive atmosphere, huge fun had, and a big fat wadge of cash raised for our chosen charity, Women’s Aid.

With so many other amazing female musicians needing a supportive platform, it seemed daft not to put on another gig, and another, and another … a year on and LOUD WOMEN has staged 21 events, showcasing 63 women-led acts, and raised over £1,800 for Women’s Aid.

The WSO festival returns this year between 1st and 9th October, with 250 (and counting) gigs lined up across the country. A slightly less man-heavy feel to the festival this year, but, once again, the line-ups of nearly all the gigs listed are predominantly male. With women consistently hit hardest by government cuts, it’s depressing to see female artists omitted from events, or given a low billing.

But LOUD WOMEN will of course be staging our own WSO gig – on 7thOctober at Tottenham’s T.Chances. This year we’re doing it as a sisterly collaboration with Beth White and Who Run the Worldpromotions, and we’ve got The Empty PageDream NailsLittle Fists, and Charmpit playing, and, of course, Janine Booth doing some poetry. Full details here.

A few other WSO events bucking the man-band trend:

  • The brilliantly-named Walthamstow women’s music collective She17 is holding a WSO event in the afternoon of 9th October at Hucks Wine Bar, this one in aid of Age UK. The line-up includes More PeasBeth WhiteMariache17 and Sulk.
  • The Wimmins’ Institute will be joining an otherwise all-male gig on 1st October at Leytonstone Ex Servicemens Club.
  • My very favourite venue in Wales, Le Pub in Newport, is hosting several WSO events, including 8th October with Helen LoveThe School and spoken word artist Renn.
  • Glossop Labour Club is putting on an afternoon of female acoustic artists on 9thOctoberLesley Anne DaviesEliza P and Lauren Davidson
  • In Nottingham on 9th October there’s an ‘alternative Sunday service’, including the Bread and Roses Theatre Troupe, the Clarion Choir, and the perfectly named Rosa’s Lovely Daughters.
  • Ulveston hosts US folk duo Hungrytown, and singer songwriter Louise Mary Martin on 7th October

LOUD WOMEN BFFs Argonaut are also getting involved with WSO by releasing an EP in support of Disabled People Against Cuts. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for a great new video too.

After WSO, my full attention goes back to the regular LOUD WOMEN nights, and the next one is a doozy. 21 October at the Hope & Anchor in Islington. Playing are Bratakus (riot grrrl sisters flying down for the gig from the North of Scotland); Madonnatron (hotly tipped punks you may have heard live in session on Radio 6 with Marc Riley this week); Emily C Smith (a LOUD WOMEN returnee – I love her powerful voice); and Brutalistas (DIY sistas with attitute). Tickets £5, and as usual we’ll be raffling CDs, books, and bits-and-bobs from the bottom of our handbags towards the Women’s Aid fund.


Originally published in the new LOUD WOMEN monthly column in The Morning Star newspaper.

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