I'm scrolling through Facebook's events page, as I do. It's a neat little time killer.
Anyway, one event caught my eye, a multi-artist showcase, hosted by Downtown Radio 99.1 FM. It's one of those events serving dual purposes, besides the obvious financial ones: The first is to draw attention to the radio station's existence. The second is to use the station's clout to either legitimize or raise profiles of those performing; these particular artists appearing at an official station event is a transparent endorsement directly from the station. One inference drawn is that the balance of power is dominated by the station, one gifting artists with exposure otherwise unavailable to them.
The featured artists are familiar to anyone with even a cursory interest in Tucson music. Louise Le Hir. Adara Rae and the Homewreckers. Shooda Shook It, PIPELiGHTS and Leila Lopez. All artists are near or at the top of Tucson's music scene, significant because few bands locally have as devoted followings as Rae and PIPELiGHTS, few are as artistically accomplished as Le Hir, while few have the buzz or breadth of vision or the respect of their peers that Shooda Shook It and Lopez command.
This is more than a solid lineup, it's the upper echelon of local artistic achievement. And they're all performing at the same place on the same night. If I was involved in organizing the event, I'd think about calling attention to that—some of the best and biggest of Tucson on one bill. I mean, other than that, there's really only one other thing the performers have in common.
On DowntownRadio.org's homepage there's a large flyer for the show. It says, in big blocky letters, "WOMEN WHO ROCK TUCSON II." The flyer is for Facebook event I'm yakking about. Oh, and the "II" is there, according to DT Radio's webpage, because this event is a sequel to 2015's Women Who Rock Tucson I. I guess 2016 didn't need an event that showcased "women who rock Tucson." Huh. So they're pimping this sequel to a two-year-old event like it's something to be proud of?
Well trashing women is as rock 'n' roll as the electric guitar, sadly. We all know how rock's first golden era of protest music was based in lyrical metaphors detailing women as surrogate recipients for male hatred of society (The Stones' culture-shifter "Satisfaction" is a letter-perfect example.)
I played in a local band for a few years fronted by an immensely talented woman. I'd watch her get sweet-talked and patronized by sound engineers at our gigs.
The question in all this is how do we bring down the level of toxicity in the cultural equivalent of Fukushima? Well, giving artists and their accomplishments the respect they deserve—especially considering your radio station benefit concert needs them far more than they need you—would be one way to start; nobody's level of virtue goes up from grouping artists by their genitals. And a no-brainer situation like this, where the performers' achievements are so glaringly apparent that to ignore them takes considerable more effort than to acknowledge them, it would seem that just temporarily refraining cultural tone-deafness would be a step forward.
Downtown Radio's The Women Who Rock Tucson II show happens Saturday, Feb. 25 at The Screening Room, 127 E. Congress. Showtime is 8 p.m. $5. All ages.
Pipelights on Spotify: