Welcome to Boss Ladies, the review column written by members for members! In this special holiday edition, Carissa Schroeder reviews “Just a Sad Xmas," new from Tori Roze and The Hot Mess.
You’re at a bar – the kind that is still “cash only” – the kind where the bartender’s a certified asshole unless you’re a regular. Green glitter naugahyde covers the booths along the wall; it’s December and gobs of tinsel wind around the ceiling, competing for attention with the disco ball, eternally spinning over the black and white checkered dance floor. You swill your Wild Turkey old-fashioned and mash the bright red maraschino cherry and orange wedge together in the bottom of your rocks glass.
Now, imagine a Christmas song coming on the jukebox. But not the jolly, saccharine, Hallmark kind. This kind of Christmas song – a sad and soulful one – warms you like the whiskey, from the inside out. It’s noisy, it’s busy, and it’s got some stank on it. The fat bass lines (played by Harley Magsino) and the criss-crossing vocal riffs (cue guest artist Nina Leilani Deering) create the perfect holiday storm.
That’s exactly where Tori Roze and The Hot Mess take me with their version of 1969’s lost ode to the holidays, “Just a Sad Xmas.” If you’re already a fan of Roze, you won’t be disappointed. (If you’re not already a fan, it’s time
to catch up). She shows up on the track with nothing less than her signature style of vocals – soulful, free-flowing, expectation-bending, and seemingly effortless. Deering executes the backing vocals just as they should be – with the intentionality of a lead vocal but the timbre and intensity of a supporting part. Her tone choices are the perfect complement to Tori’s.
The cover is an underground cut, originally written by Ida Sands of The Soul Duo, about getting dumped right in the middle of the holidays (ouch). Brought back to life with a respect for the genre, thanks to Rashaad Graham’s clean and simple drumming and Alan Sanderson’s production style, the track remains closely related to the original while fitting into the Hot Mess setlist seamlessly. Props to the band, overall, for having the discipline (and musical maturity) to not overplay. Johnny Alexander achieved the ideal guitar tone for the song, making really
tasteful choices in his playing. How the hell Deering was able to pull off an accordion track in a song that could easily be on the soundtrack for a holiday themed installment of the Shaft franchise, I’ll never know. But it works.
The traditional, quoted Christmas lyrics (such as “Jingle Bells”) sprinkled through the song set the scene for us. The protagonist of the song is lamenting, “why can’t loneliness let me be” while being physically surrounded by the joy of the season. About halfway through the song, the tone changes from wallowing in the misfortune of the circumstances, to looking forward to a “New Year’s resolution” to reunite the love affair.
The listener never gets to know if the couple in question does, in fact, reunite – but you can absolutely put yourself in the shoes of someone, turning the facts over and over in their mind, trying to make sense of the juxtaposition of “green, red and blue (…) lights and décor” and a mood that is “grim, gray, and black.”
Overall, this is a solid pull from the Hot Mess crew. If you, yourself, were experiencing a less than joyful holiday season (perhaps drinking alone at a dive bar), this would be the kind of song that would get you swaying on your stool – or maybe even up on the dance floor. With this kind of late sixties soul laying the foundation for the sonic landscape, you might even snag yourself a new lover. This thing’s got some ass on it.
Support by downloading “Just a Sad Xmas” on iTunes on or after December 7.
Thanks to friends at the San Diego Troubadour for interviewing Lady Brain Presents founder/organizer Lindsay White about the collective's upcoming Holiday Party and Clothing Drive! Read the full interview here, and please join us on December 8 at The Holding Company!
Thank you to 91x Loudspeaker host Tim Pyles for inviting Lady Brain Collective members Lindsay White, Julia Sage, Chloe Lou, and Miki Vale onto the show to play our music and talk about our upcoming Lady Brain Presents Holiday Party and Clothing Drive. We love and appreciate the team at Loudspeaker for supporting local artists - yay for womxn on the radio!
In our latest Boss Ladies review, Heather Marie shares her take on “Wondrous Woman," the latest single from Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres.
Press play and discover that “Wondrous Woman” by Julia Sage and the Bad Hombres is a deliciously dirty blues track. Employing a style reminiscent of gritty, soul-pounding, hip-swaying Chicago Blues, the band transports me to the Windy City of yore, where smoke still filled the rooms of dark and dingy dive bars, the drinks were cheap and stiff, and where the best blues players of all time were laying infinite claim to the blues sound stage. Instantly, I want to light up a smoke and sip whiskey on the rocks (which I do).
Chad Pittman (bass) and Tom Peart (drums) establish an infectiously sensual groove that holds deep in the pocket all the way through. Matthew Strachota’s intensely satisfying electric guitar tone is the bedrock for his profoundly emotive riffs, which bring to mind Muddy Water-like blues licks infused with roadhouse rebel undertones. I’m instantaneously spellbound when Sage’s voice enters the mix. It’s deep, sultry, and intimate on a level that’s almost disarming. I feel the real. I’m struck by the way Strachota’s guitar consorts with her vocals; it’s as if I’m listening to a duet at times. He plays with feeling and intent, from which is born a sound that so perfectly emulates authentic human emotion, it becomes another voice itself.
When I turn my attention to the lyrics, I am even more enamored. “Wondrous Woman” is an anthem of female strength and independence. Each carefully constructed line bellows liberation and unapologetic feminine resilience. It’s hard to pick a favorite verse, because I love them all, so here’s merely one fantastic example:
I’m not a woman
who speaks empty words
I’m not a woman
who follows the herds
I’m the kind of woman
who’s free as a bird
The well-calculated chorus, both from a musical and lyrical perspective, is a sonorous soliloquy that teems with a gloriously gut-punching tenacity; it hails as the antithesis to feminine uncertainty. Sage’s voice unfurls into a low-hanging howl of a crescendo as she affirms “I’m Strong” and “True” in a way that packs pure, guttural, goose-bump worthy punches. I believe every word she sings because I can tell she believes it, too.
as the wind that lifts your wings
as the voices of the angels who sing
as the honey you only taste in your dreams
a woman who lives in eternal spring
I could ramble on for days how great this song is line by line, note by note, and beat by beat. This is truly authentic stuff here and it’s beyond refreshing to hear. Bravo to Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres (which also include the incredibly talented GrandpaDrew and Natasha Cruz) for keeping genuinely good and undeniably cool original music circulating in the San Diego music scene. I’m sold. You’re turn, now. Go check it out.
Thanks to SD Voyager for chatting up Lady Brain Presents founder/organizer Lindsay White about her work and vision for our local womxn's creative collective. In the interview, she shares her vision and goals for Lady Brain and discusses some challenges facing today's artists and activists. Read the full article here.
Happy holiday season to all our friends and readers! If you're looking to fill up your seasonal social calendar with amazing art, music, education, and creativity, the Lady Brain Collective has you covered for fun things to do in San Diego in the coming weeks:
Saturday, November 30 - Creativi-Tea With Jill Badonsky at Liberty Station
Get a creativity high over high tea with author, artist, and creativity coach Jill Badonsky. New ideas, fresh approaches, and a more authentic voice are not easy when we overthink our writing and admonish our attempts with harsh self-talk. We will defy these obstacles with the use of visual images, storytelling, multimedia triggers, and off-beat beginnings over high tea, champagne cocktails, and delectable high tea delicacies. 1-4pm. More info/Register
Tuesday, December 3 - WTF is Happening When I Sing? Live Online Training with The Bold Vocal
This free, live training event from The Bold Vocal covers the basic science of singing. You'll learn about the three systems of singing in the human body and how they work together to produce rich, supported and powerful sound. Every singer should know this stuff -- it's how we increase range, energize tone, and prevent injury. 12-1 PM, Free, no experience required. Registered participants will receive a video playback via email that is theirs to keep. More info/Register
Sunday, December 8 - Lady Brain Presents: Home is Where the Art is Holiday Party at The Holding Company in Ocean Beach
Lady Brain Presents will host its first annual holiday party and winter clothing drive titled “Home is Where the Art is,” with performances by Chloe Lou and The Liddells (retro rock/soul), Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres (South Americana), Miki Vale, (hip-hop) and special guests including emcee Tori Roze. In addition to musical performances, the event will feature a raffle, a collaborative art activity for all attendees, and a winter clothing drive to benefit North County Lifeline’s LifeSpring Program, which offers transitional housing for former foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness. Guests are encouraged to bring (preferably new) beanies, gloves, scarves, socks, blankets. Free, 4-8pm, 21+. More info
Tuesday, December 10 - Acceptance: A soulsong.life Transformative Songwriting Workshop with Astra Kelly at The Lotus Room in Hillcrest
Experience growth, healing, and connection through music by tapping into the creative source. As a group, we will explore the theme of “acceptance" in depth and write a song together that reflects our shared perceptions and experiences. No musical skills necessary! 6-9pm, $60 (Special holiday rate to make it easier to give yourself this gift!) Advance registration required. More info/Register
Friday, December 20 - Tori Roze and The Hot Mess SPECIAL Xmas Show at Bar Pink in North Park
This funky jazzy neo-soul brings you a SPECIAL Xmas version of themselves, including soulful holiday mashups and funky non-denominational tunes to put a smile on your face through the New Year. There will also be a limited edition EP available for purchase by Tori Roze and Johnny Alexander called “Classy Xmas” to stuff those stockings at home! Free, 7-10pm, 21+. More info
Sunday, December 22 - Carissa's Birthday Show ft. Golden Howl at Sycamore Den in Normal Heights
This Lady Brain-laden event will be headlined by Golden Howl (featuring collective members Marlo Smith, Rachel Riba, and Jules Stewart). Birthday girl Carissa Schroeder will open the evening with a solo set of original music on the beautiful (albeit slightly out of tune) piano at Sycamore Den. Situated nicely between Carissa's birthday (12/20) and the end of year holidays, CS invites you to celebrate with an evening of goddess-y, all-the-feels music, perfect cocktails, delivery ramen, and skeeball. It's a win-win-win-win. Free, 8-10pm. More info
Attention Business Owners: Advertise Your Company on the Brain Candy Blog!
Rather than spend your advertising dollars on sponsored Facebook/Instagram ads and seemingly fake engagement, our advertising partnership offers genuine organic engagement increases your company's visibility as well as its reputation for supporting the community and empowering local womxn creatives. More info
Thanks to all who attended yesterday's branding and marketing workshop at the IDEA1 rooftop clubhouse. Our presenter, Alyssa Douglas from City 6 Studios, provided a ton of great information about developing brand identity, following through with consistent social media content and engagement, and outsourcing tasks in order to free up time.
According to Alyssa, one of the greatest ways to stay on-brand is to create and stick to a style guide. Not sure what that is? Here are some visual examples of various style guides from some brands you may recognize. Not sure how to build your own style guide? We suggest contacting Alyssa for guidance - she is a total pro, and she really cares about helping local creatives succeed. That's her brand! And we know she means it - not only did she donate her time and energy to this workshop, she is also a workshop sponsor and makes it possible for Lady Brain Presents to continue providing educational resources to our members.
If you are a womxn-identifying creative in San Diego who wants to learn more about Lady Brain Collective and our monthly workshops, take a look at our FAQ page for info. If you or your company believe in our collective's mission of empowering and educating members, please consider becoming a Lady Brain Lover. We rely on community support to keep this Lady Brian train running full steam ahead.
Save the date! On Sunday, December 8, Lady Brain Presents will host its first annual holiday party at The Holding Company (5046 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA). The free, 21+ concert, titled “Home is Where the Art is,” will run from 4-8pm and features performances by Chloe Lou and The Liddells (retro rock/soul), Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres (South Americana), Miki Vale, (hip-hop) and special guests including emcee Tori Roze.
In addition to musical performances, the event will feature a raffle, a collaborative art activity for all attendees, and a winter clothing drive to benefit North County Lifeline’s LifeSpring Program, which offers transitional housing for former foster youth and youth experiencing homelessness. Guests are encouraged to bring (preferably new) beanies, gloves, scarves, socks, blankets.
“This holiday showcase doubles as an anniversary party for Lady Brain Collective,” says Lady Brain Presents organizer Lindsay White. “Just a year ago we were a small group of 12, and now we have over 100 members connecting and collaborating throughout the community. It’s a beautiful thing.”
Home is Where the Art is - Holiday Party & Winter Clothing Drive
hosted by Lady Brain Presents
DATE: Sunday, December 8, 2019
LOCATION: The Holding Company -5046 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA
NO COVER, 21+
Chloe Lou and The Liddells
Julia Sage and The Bad Hombres
& special guests!
Emceed by Tori Roze.
WHAT TO BRING:
-(preferably new) beanies, gloves, scarves, socks, blankets for our winter clothing drive
-cash for raffle/merch
WHAT TO WEAR:
We had such a wonderful day at yesterday's community gathering! Special thanks to the Lipson family for hosting us at their beautiful home, to all our featured performers, guest artist Amanda Pulis, and to Susan Lipson for facilitating a wonderful creative writing exercise for all attendees. We work hard to build safe spaces for our members and the community to create, connect, express, and be vulnerable with each other. Mission accomplished!
The theme of this month's gathering was A Way With Words - each performer was asked to share not only their work, but also the inspiration and stories that inspired each piece. We heard about several topics ranging from mental health to grief to aging and more. The common denominator was that each artist combined creativity and resilience to process, heal, and help others. What a beautiful way to cope and connect!
Community gatherings are special because we get to showcase our members' work to the community and because we ask guests to tap into their own creativity. It was wonderful to see so many attendees not only participate in our writing exercise, but also jump up on the mic to share their newly written pieces.
Don't miss out on the next community gathering! We hope you'll join us for next month's holiday party and clothing drive on 12/8 at The Holding Company in Ocean Beach. Want to know more about our showcases? Be sure to sign up for email updates, plus you can also always find showcase info on our homepage. Lastly, if you believe in our cause, please consider becoming a Lady Brain Lover or sponsor so we can continue bringing these awesome events to San Diego!
Greetings, friends! Welcome to our new series Talking the Talk. In each interview, we ask Lady Brain Collective members to talk about the personal, professional and creative walks they walk. We'll chat about their passions and pursuits, entrepreneurship efforts, and more. We hope you'll follow along and discover your next favorite artist! First up, an interview with author, poet, teacher, and songwriter Susan Lipson. In addition to curating, hosting, and performing at this month's community gathering entitled “A Way With Words," Lipson will also be facilitating an optional creative writing activity for all attendees. Read on to learn more about this kind, creative soul.
LB: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How is creativity at work in your life and/or career?
SL: As I’ve stated on my website, I work at “inspiring awe for words and awesome writing.” In addition to teaching creative writing lessons and workshops for over 20 years in San Diego County, and doing occasional freelance editorial work for other authors and agent-clients, I regularly write poetry and poetic prose for kids, teens, and adults. I have published three books (one children’s novel, one instructional text for teachers of writing and their students, and one poetry book), and have edited and coached many more works into print as a freelance editor and former literary agent. Although I have composed dozens of songs, I have never mastered music theory or played any instrument well, and yet a few of my spiritual songs have found their way into synagogue and interfaith music programs in which I have sung them as a soloist, sometimes backed by a choir. I also write two blogs, “Writing Memorable Words” and “Writing for Students and Teachers.” As a mom, I poured my own creativity directly onto my three kids, now all in their 20’s, all multi-talented creative artists in LA.
LB: What made you want to be a part of the Lady Brain Collective?
SL: I attended the Lady Brain Festival last summer and felt the tangible supportiveness for fellow artists in the air, even as I felt blown away by all the talented women striving together to fill hearts with their music. I then decided to lend my voice to Lindsay White's group recording of “Let Love Lead the Way,” and even brought one of my singer daughters to sing with us, too. That joyful experience made me want to become more involved. Unlike other professional artist groups I have joined, I detected no competition among these women, and no wariness of my enthusiasm for supporting my fellow artists. I may be older than many Lady Brains, but I have a forever-young spirit, and I hope to deepen my connections with other Lady Brain artists through attending more events in the future.
LB: You've performed at a community gathering before, but this time you are also hosting and were involved in the planning of the showcase. Thank you for contributing so much to the collective! For those unfamiliar with community gatherings, how would you describe them and why should people attend on November 17?
SL: I am thrilled to host a community gathering, which enables artists to share their passion-powered works with new audiences, in intimate settings, and to broaden their fan bases by personally connecting with people whom they might never have met without their fellow Lady Brain connections.
LB: What new releases or projects are you currently working on? Where can people find more information?
SL: I recently published a book of poetry, Disillusions of Grandeur—and Other Eye-Openers, which I have been reading from at poetry open mic nights in the past month since the book arrived. The book is available exclusively from Amazon, or from me personally (for an autographed copy), and I promise that you need not be a poetry scholar or even a regular poetry reader or a to connect with my poems. I write poetic words to move you, not impress or confuse you. I also maintain an active poetic presence on my Instagram, @susanllipson, often pairing my poetry-evoking photos with short poems or poetic thoughts. Please buy my book and follow my poetic meanderings online!
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