12/17/2020 0 Comments
Thanks to all who closed out 2020 with us at our final virtual meetup of the year! We held space and shared silence for all the losses we've experienced and witnessed this year, we expressed what we'd like to leave behind and take with us into the new year, and we participated in a guided throat chakra opening meditation facilitated by Lady Brain member Tori Roze of Roze Wellness. We highly recommend reaching out to Tori if you/your team are looking for a way to grieve and heal and grow with intention - she offers virtual Reiki sessions, Reiki-blessed jewelry, guided meditations, and more. Below are a couple snippets from Tori's session that may help you realign with your purpose and voice going into 2021.
Transcription: “And you can repeat these here with me if you'd like: I am understood. I am a good listener. I am authentic. I have integrity. I am honest. I speak my truth. I have a voice. I have a story I am worth knowing. I trust myself. I am a creative being. I have no limitations and I love myself warts and all."
Transcription: “When you're ready, you can open your eyes and wiggle your, and shake your body and jiggle and readjust and come back into this space. Stretch, get some water, do what you need to do. A really good thing at the end of this is to give yourself a hug. Cause we are all missing hugs, like big time. So if you actually give yourself a hug and hold it there for a minute, it actually has like the same effect feels pretty good. You can do this any time you feel like you need to be held to because you're literally holding your heart right now. Thank you everybody. I appreciate all of you guys really big time. And I want you all to just be out there flourishing being your most badass selves and sharing what it is you have to share because that's what you are here for. So share that stuff."
If you're a San Diego-based womxn or non-binary/gender non-conforming creative who is interested in building community, collective education, and resource sharing, we'd love to have you! Please register to join Lady Brain Collective here!
Finishing up our Queer+ Voices series for the month, here's an interview with Tori Roze, multi-talented artist, actress, writer, musician, model, Reiki practitioner, and performance coach who proudly identifies as a pansexual (“not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity") queer (“an umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities who are not heterosexual and cisgender - cisgender denotes or relates to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex") womxn (“an alternative spelling of woman, used especially in intersectional feminism a to avoid the suggestion of sexism perceived in the sequences m-a-n and m-e-n, and to be inclusive of trans and nonbinary womxn").
LBP: Tell us a little bit about your coming out experience(s). How has life changed for you since being “out”?
TR: The 1985 film Just One of the Guys, starring Joyce Hyser, was my initial queer confirmation. Her androgyny spoke directly to my little heart and gave me butterflies. I watched that movie, on repeat, when I was about 7 or 8 years old, maybe even earlier. I recognized something in her that existed in me; as I have always felt a strong sense of both my masculine and feminine sides despite the onslaught of societal pressure to exclusively “be a girl.” I’m magnetized to androgyny because it lives in the “grey area” of visually defining someone – it’s revolutionary. Androgyny is my favorite visual human expression because it neither denies nor confirms what is an acceptable gender performance. It just is.
In realizing my attraction to alternative forms of gender expression, I kept my hair short from the age of 8-15. When I was 12, I began to walk around my neighborhood in broad day light dressed as a boy. Baggy pants, loose shirt, backwards hat, super short hair, and skate shoes. My boobs hadn’t fully developed yet, so I felt like I could get away with it. The whole thing was part experiment and part comfortability: I wanted to see if anyone would even recognize me, to be honest (they didn’t). And since theatre was so prominent in my upbringing, I didn’t even question the fact that I liked dressing up in what some might consider “costumes” regularly. At some point I realized that we were all wearing costumes and performing in our own daily lives. And when you realize that, it’s yours to take advantage of so that you feel authentic in your own outward expression. I am not attracted to gender, either: I am attracted to the person and their heart, one hundred percent.
I found myself seeking out others who felt the same as I did towards gender expression. That’s when I discovered high-school theatre. The thespians (theatre-related peeps) at my school were extra in all the right ways (myself included). We were like a tight-knit family of intelligent weirdos who didn’t care what anyone thought. We needed that mutual support in order to find out where we wanted to fit into the world, not where we were being forced to. We are all still friends to this day. But high school is formative, and two specific things that brought to light my own sexuality happened in tandem, when I was 16 years old: Angelina Jolie in the movie Gia – who she played was vulnerable and gritty; full of fallibility and intrinsic beauty. I adored her reckless abandon to love and wanted such a passionate person in my own romantic life. The second thing that would change the trajectory of my future
was being kissed a friend of mine, who happened to be a girl.
High on the internal magic I felt after “the kiss to change all kisses” occurred, I ran to my high school sweetheart and disclosed the whole event...in detail. As someone who knew me extremely well and genuinely cared about my well-being, he suggested that I break up with him to explore this idea of dating womxn. He was my perfect mirror. He not only knew, but he embraced and accepted that I was interested in the same sex. Sometimes I can’t believe how mature our relationship was for a couple of sixteen-year-olds. It wouldn’t be until I was 21 years old that I would officially come out, though. I was only in serious relationships with men up until that point, with the occasional sexual encounter, lady-style. I knew I was bisexual in the physical sense, but I didn’t know how deeply homoromantic I was until I had experienced a real relationship with another womxn.
I was directing The Vagina Monologues at University of CA, Santa Cruz, where I was surrounded by 34 sexually-liberated womxn for several months in a row. There is nothing in the world that compares to that amount of awakened femxle energy – it’s electric. It was at this time that I finally took it upon myself to explore dating a femxle. It felt right and was supported in my current environment. At 21 years old, I couldn’t hide my new girlfriend, nor did I want to. I was elated to have found love and wanted to shout it from the rooftops! Love is SO beautiful, it’s a shame to have to hide that joy from anyone.
My younger sister was the first person I told. All of a sudden, things from our childhood started to make sense to her and she lit up with excitement. My parents and I are performers, meaning our lives are filled with creatives and people from different walks of life - so I was welcomed and accepted after a short period of time. My parents had to lay to rest the person who I’d been in their eyes for so long and the loss of those whom I used to be with. But something I love about my parents is their ability to grow and evolve. Once they saw my true happiness, they shared in that happiness by fully accepting who I was – and that’s really lucky.
Honestly, when all was said and done, it came as no surprise to anyone that I was queer– which is my personal identifying word of choice – it covers it all for me because there’s more non-specific room within it to move about because I feel like I exist within the fluid grey area. I know I am very fortunate to have been so well received. Personal authenticity was always encouraged and my upbringing supported that type of self-discovery. I’ve been a part of the queer community peripherally since I was a child; I’ve never felt so at home as I do here.
LBP: How do other aspects of your identity intersect (or perhaps clash) with your sexuality?
TR: I am white, curvaceous, and femme (feminine) looking, which often gives men and womxn alike the idea that I am a straight cis woman (meaning female, heterosexual, and heteroromantic). This assumption allows me to go into spaces where “others” are not normally permitted – which I see as a sort of personal rebellion on behalf of the queer community. And since I appear to be “straight” to the general public, there is usually a verbal or written instance where I publicly acknowledge that I am, in fact, queer. I have come out every single day because of the way I look.
One of my favorite things is to dismantle people’s assumptions of who I am based on how I look. These moments serve as short-hand educational lessons where my very existence begs for one to “not judge a book by its cover.” Because of my shape and the way I dress, I’m automatically sexualized. Because of how I present, I don’t market myself in a sexy way on purpose. The stereotypical mainstream beauty that prescribes to the male gaze – no thank you. I’m more of a funny girl full of conviction who wants you to actually listen to her words, not a girl who wants you to want her.
Music has allowed me the room to fully realize and express myself as an artist more than any other art form that I practice. Music isn’t based on what you look like. My foundational roots will always reside in the full-spectrum production realm of musical theatre, but music has my heart. I work and live in the fields of music, theatre, healing, body-positivity, and the arts. I very well might cease to participate in everything if I wasn’t allowed to find solace in each of these respective circles where I feel seen, heard, and truly understood.
The Diversionary Theatre in University Heights (San Diego) is one of the oldest queer theatres in the nation. When I graduated college in 2005 from the extremely forward-thinking and liberal-minded University of California, Santa Cruz; I moved back to San Diego to do productions there for a few years. I wanted to immerse myself in the queer theatre scene. It was nice to not only be cast for my talent, but for my queerness too – that finally counted for something. And because that counted, I felt like I was actually being seen as a whole person.
Conversely, there were always roles available in the mainstream theatre for me because my queerness didn’t walk through the door before I did. Not to mention that the shows being produced didn’t even include a role like that – it was too taboo. It saddens me that there are not nearly enough theatres or playwrights producing shows including queer femxle roles. I haven’t had many opportunities to play a role that resonates with a large portion of my identity unless it’s being offered specifically at a queer theatre. It’s still not ok to be queer, unless you are a male, in mainstream theatre. The theatrical art form seems to be an endless work in progress when it comes to relating to the current moment: continually striving towards it and rarely delivering…Which is why I have spent the majority of my time almost exclusively in music for the past twelve years.
Alignment with my personal beliefs is a big deal in all of my endeavors. I try to put forth a positive representation of queer culture any and everywhere I go by helping to highlight (through performance) the varying identities within our community. These spaces are sacred to the protection of otherness. “When you know better, do better” (Maya Angelou).
Image description: Square graphic with yellow background and large white quotation mark at the top. At bottom of square, large black text reads: "queer voices." In the middle, in black text, is a quote from Tori's interview. (Fifth paragraph of question 3). Under the quote, in bold black text reads: "~Tori Roze"
LBP: Pride is a celebration of liberation but also an acknowledgement of struggle, resistance, and revolution. Where do you see yourself in that celebration? Where do you see yourself in that struggle?TR: Pride means having integrity and standing up for what you believe in. Pride means we see and acknowledge each other. Pride means love wins. You love who you love and it’s not a choice. To be able to love whom my heart wants to without being persecuted or exiled is a big deal. That’s why I choose to stay in the United States – the pursuit of freedom. Although in this political climate, it’s sad to think that after all of the years of fighting for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, that the government could so easily exploit humanity’s current vulnerability. Every single person in the world deserves to feel free to love whomever they want without fear of judgement. The only time anyone should concern themselves with who I am sleeping with is if I’m trying to sleep with them. In other words: if I’m not going to bed with you, move along and mind ya business.
As it stands, activism is an every-single-day endeavor. On the NYC Subway, there is a saying that goes, “if you see something, say something.” This saying resonates with me. I care deeply about equality and fair-treatment of my fellow humans, whether we personally agree on things or not. Maybe that can be chalked up to my life-experience, because my circumstance is quite different than many others, but we each have our point where we were moved to engage in politics.
Childhood definitely shaped me as both a lover and an activist. I have a sister with special needs. That in and of itself has placed a beautiful filter over the entirety of my life. Because of my sister Autumn, compassion is at the forefront of who I am. Being protective towards those without voice or those who cannot protect themselves is how I unapologetically live. My parents didn’t have much to give us in terms of money and material possessions, but we did have love and support. That is the proud torch I carry with me wherever I go, no matter what the cause.
At the age of six, I was a lower-class white kid being bussed into primarily Black and Latino neighborhoods for elementary school in order to attend the magnet programs they had. These programs, specializing in different subjects like marine biology, physical education, performing arts, etc., brought kids together from all over the county, creating a mixed salad of culture and ethnicity. This provided my life a strong backbone wherein I honor and appreciate the difference between myself and the person next to me. I revere that difference; life would be so boring otherwise. And because I revere that difference, I protect that difference so that someday a little kid like me can fall deeply in love with their fellow humans all over again. Black Lives Matter. Brown Lives Matter. LGBTQIA+ Lives Matter. Those who are different than me matter. We are equal.
Speaking of equality, I’ve been married to the person of my dreams for the past three years. I’ve never been as happy and secure in myself as I am now. I fought for the right to marry by attending rallies and protests, voting, writing, calling, and by showing the eff up for years. To have a right (that I actually wish to exercise) bestowed upon me within my lifetime is astonishing and that’s called progress.
Happiness is infectious and contagious. This is what pride is promoting – the right to be happy and live in your personal truth. When people refer to living authentically, this is the exact thing to which they are referring. Do you find it a strange coincidence that the definition of the word “gay” literally means happiness? I sure don’t. Hate takes up a lot of energy and poisons the internal functioning system of a human. My belief is that you cannot truly hate anything that you have come to a level of understanding with (ex: you’ve spoken to people who have experience with said thing, or read about its contextual/historical point of origin). I’m here to continually promote mutual understanding and the abolition of hate at every turn I can.
LBP: As an artist, how does your “queerness" or sexual orientation show up in your creative work?
TR: Queerness is peppered throughout my creative life’s work. UCSC was a hotbed for queer life and expression, so it really began there for me. I’m stoked that being queer was so well- supported – enough so that I could come into my own both personally and creatively.
When writing lyrics, I typically like to use the word “you” when referring to someone – it leaves the song open to be universally relatable. There are a handful of times where I’m intentional about the fact that I like/love someone of the same gender. It’s a lot more-rare for me to do so, but when I specifically want the listener to take that in, I refer to her/she. Essentially, I want to perk the audience’s ears up to make sure they are paying attention in those moments. I also want to take the personal vulnerability a step further by essentially outing myself in those songs to prove that you can create a sound like mine (funky-jazzy-neo-soul) and be queer too. We come in all kinds of packages, y’all!
Songs where I allude to queer relations (whether or not I use she/her) are: Fibbin,’ Sweet Drank, Do You, I Try, She Does Not, Animal Instinct, Love Heroin, Bad Half, Selfless, Show Me, Oh Lord Please, Slow Down, Irish Coffee, Hiccup, and Just Say No. Just Say No digs into queer relations of all sorts, as it touches on the subject of one-night-stands and ulterior motives between all of the sexes. You can check out these tunes firsthand on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Bandcamp, Rhapsody, YouTube, etc. by searching for Tori Roze and The Hot Mess.
LBP: What queer-centered artists, shows, films, podcasts, authors, etc. are you into right now?
Authors/Playwrights: Roxanne Gay, Florence Given, Dr. Faith G. Harper, Kim Yaged, Patricia Cotter.
Books: Unf#ck Your Intimacy by Dr. Faith G. Harper***this book will change your life!
Shows/Films: These Thems (YouTube), Rupaul’s Drag Race (VH1), POSE (FX or Netflix), Legendary (HBO max), The F Word: A Foster-to-Adopt Story (www.thefwordseries.com), We're Here (HBO), Black Lady Sketch Show (HBO), The L Word (Showtime), Vida (Starz), Lip Service (Hulu or Netflix), Sense 8 (Netflix), Dragula (Netflix), Straight Up (Netflix).
LBP: What are some of your favorite LGBTQ+ organizations or businesses you'd recommend our readers look into, buy from, donate to, volunteer for, etc.?
Building Allies – learn how to be an awesome, informed, and impeccable ally for anyone who needs it.
The LGBTQIA+ Center, San Diego – a place for resources and programs specifically designed to benefit and aid those in the queer community.
We Are WildFang – gender non-conforming clothing.
Bindle and Keep – bespoke suits for all genders and body types.
The Marsha P Johnson Institute – support for black trans lives.
LBP: Is there anything else you'd like to mention in closing?
TR: Queer Folx Making Music, a night full of queer live original music, will be continuing with livestream performances. We had an incredible premier evening of performance back on March 5, 2020 at Gossip Grill and will be shifting the format online via livestream on September 3, 2020, thus expanding our reach and participation (Instagram Profile for viewing - @torirozebutt). Performers include Lindsay White, The Extraordinary Gentlemen, Abby Posner, and Lillian Lefranc. Tune into Instagram Live on September 3 at 6-8pm PST!
To connect with Tori Roze, visit http://www.torirozeandthehotmess.com/! We hope you enjoyed our Queer+ Voices series!
Welcome to Boss Ladies, the review column written by members for members! Today we'll hear Tori Roze's take on Jessie Lark's latest EP, entitled After Hours.
Image description: Photograph of Jessie Lark, barefoot and dressed in a blue nightgown and robe, sitting on a piano bench in front of a piano. Jessie's right hand is on the keys, and her left elbow is on the piano, with her left hand cradling her head. At bottom of photo in white text reads: "After (H)ours. Jessie Lark"
Mark my words: musical artist Jessie Lark, a.k.a. Jessica Lerner, is going to be a household name. A San Diego-based musician, Lark penetrates the music scene with her honest approach to creating sound at home. As an original songstress who knows the capacity of her heart AND her own personal playing/singing/writing ability, the fact that she practically does everything herself is testament to the beautifully realized and highly-marketable vision that is her debut EP, After Hours.
The EP boasts five “hearty” songs (pun intended), guiding the listener through varying emotions while maintaining an unshakable constant: Lark's dazzling voice. Her placement, nuance, and tonality are untouchable; her lyrics are paramount to the driving force of each song – she’s got a story (or five) to tell. It is a soothing pleasure to listen to Lark envelop your sonic sensors as she easily floats over the entirety of her voice.
Not only does Lark sing like a bird, but she caresses her piano like a lover whose touch will never tire. The musicianship on After Hours comes across as the much-needed complement to Lark’s pristine vocal expression - emotive and thoughtful. The album swirls with piano + synth + lead + backup vocals all provided by Lark, while intermittent “visitors” drop by on meticulously placed guitar (Lark's husband Kevin Viner and Austin Moorhead), saxophone (Dante Lewis), and synthesizer (Viner). The mix (Viner) is delicious, warm, and meaningful. The production (Viner) is diamond clear – this is some of the most cinematic and licensable music, and it’s all on one album: it’s undeniably good.
The first song off the EP, titled “Come On,” begins with gorgeously low piano notes resounding in the abyss. There is a grandness to the production: as if the room in which it was recorded had epically tall ceilings lending to a cathedral of open acoustics. Despite the openness of the sound, this song feels intimate and seductive. The vocals are yearningly confident. Lark paints us a picture of her dream lover, whom she wishes to possess. She enticingly repeats the chorus, “come on, come on, come on, don’t leave me this way...I know that you think about me...I promise I won’t behave.” The urgency of her message grows as the song continues - violins tug at imaginary heart strings as Lark’s volume and strength explode; she, acting as puppet master to the listener’s feelings. This song could easily be inserted into any film whose subject is forbidden love or secretive relations (like the unimaginably successful Twilight series). Lark leaves you hanging on until the very last note, as she hits a final breathy “t,” proclaiming “this is your green light.” Her delivery is so direct that you wish you were the fantasy she needed. This is definitely the most passionate song on the album; a smart choice by Lark as the first track one experiences.
Lark completely switches gears on the second tune, “Love Don’t Change.” Specifically, we’ve moved on to a modern country-pop jam and entered what seems like the world of a romantic-comedy: where lessons in love are a-plenty.
The scene is set with a slow-dancing guitar and piano softly embracing one another. Lark’s voice joins in solid two-part harmony, perfectly-pairing the music and the vocals like great wine and cheese. If Notting Hill hadn’t already existed, this song would belong on its soundtrack. The lyrics express loving reverence for an ex-partner who left a positive and permanent mark on Lark. It’s a story most of us can relate to; it’s also the stuff of great songwriting.
“Go Slow” immediately picks up the rhythmic pace. Playful bouncy guitar (Moorhead) and piano set the tempo – the vibe is road trip music. Flawless vocals and lyrics touch on the beginning phases of liking someone and not knowing where it’s headed. This is an easy-listening song, literally embodying the aural desire to “go slow.” The piano and guitar play in harmonious country-like unison, strengthening the rhythmic core that propels the song forward. The backup vocals add a touch of femininity as they gently appear in support of the chorus. You know a piece of music is well-balanced when all of the instruments as well as the vocals are highlighted; a prime example of masterful production.
“Fly Away” starts out like a proper singer-songwriter tune – piano and vocals. Self-reflective in nature, Lark speaks about letting someone go “over the rainbow,” describing her feelings of that loss as she feels “colder now.” There is an impenetrable dissonance underlying the tone of the song; it is almost as if Lark is acknowledging where there is light, there is also darkness – the good with the bad, new beginnings with bitter-sweet endings, and life with death. The saxophone (Lewis) tastefully sails over the melody, as if it symbolizes the person whom Lark was singing to. Lark ends the song like a prayer, quiet and gracefully calling out to God for the prompt reunion with her friend. This is an affectionately thoughtful love-note to the recently departed.
The final song, “Under These Sheets,” tells you everything you need to know from the title. Much like “Your Body is a Wonderland” by John Mayer, this song has a future being played on repeat at weddings. The lyrics are exactly what you would assume they would be – an exploration of the entirety of someone you love while being held in the safety of their personal warmth. A cozy feeling of security overtakes you as its catchy chorus reverberates in your head, “I’m never climbing out from under these sheets.” Romance oozes from the very fabric of this song. Like a lullaby hypnotizing you into a waltz, this song begs to be put on repeat.
Five songs aren’t nearly enough to satisfy the amount of Lark’s music one gets hungry for after hearing it for the first time. The production is excellent and the result of a thoroughly stunning dream-team (props to Viner for mixing/production and Geoff Pesche for mastering), but the true winner here is the songwriting. Great albums come from great music, period. The versatility and self-sufficiency with which Lark composes original music shows that she has a long and lucrative career awaiting her in the music business, whether it be performing the music herself or writing it for someone else. She’s so good, she can do it all. Lark is testament that those mind-blowing records can all be written and recorded at home.
Have a listen to the brilliant EP After Hours on Spotify as soon as you can. You can also catch Lark performing live on Instagram @jessielarkmusic - every Sunday at 3pm PST.
For more info: www.jessielark.com
Image description: White background with black vertical text on left side that reads: "boss ladies." At center is the artwork for Jessie Lark's EP (see above for description). Layered on top of photograph is a yellow circle with black text that reads: "artist Jessie Lark. ep After Hours. reviewed by Tori Roze."
Thanks to all who participated in June's Creative Process collaborative journal series - if you missed any of the entries, please click on the pictures below to read the work of members who contributed their writing, poems, music, etc. Don't forget to join us in July for Queer Voices, an interview series featuring some of Lady Brain Collective's LGBTQ+ members.
Image description: Two rows of three photos each. Top row, left to right: Lisa Brackmann, Susan Lipson, Lizzie Wann. Bottom row, left to right: Lindsay White, Tori Roze, and Mary Hamer. Click on individual image to see full blog and full image description.
Welcome back to “Creative Process" - a month-long journaling series from members of the Lady Brain Collective. Today we will lift up the writing of Tori Roze, the member who inspired this entire group project with the below work:
colorful writing pens overlaid on photo of Tori Roze, who is singing into a microphone.
original photo credit: Darci Fontenot
“From Mourning to Morning: Pandemic Sentiments” by Tori Roze
If you’re feeling out of whack lately, congratulations – you’re human and you’re absolutely not alone. Society at large is currently in a forced state of mourning: in mourning for the dreams we were each actively pursuing; in mourning for the ability to be able to plan for what we each want (and are not forced) to do next; in mourning for those suffering and dying at home and in hospitals without a single friend or family member by their side; in mourning for the black and brown lives that have been endlessly and unequivocally under fire since the dawn of colonial civilization; in mourning for in-person education being brought to a grinding halt; in mourning for job and economic loss; in mourning for the way basic things have functioned for SO long that we didn’t even notice we would miss them - things like going to work, missing THAT, for chrissakes!; in mourning for the small things we each enjoyed like being able to grab a coffee somewhere else other than your home or simply being able to stand near someone without the worry of your personal-space bubble in order to protect your health.
During the three month-long worldwide forced quarantine, the “world” as we know it has already changed. WE are different. WE are finally seeing where things have been falling short for decades, if not longer: governments are crumbling, healthcare systems are broken, racism has reached its absolute boiling point (...again), and with the actual control of resources - we, as a people, don’t have access to necessary supplies to even wipe our own butts, in a serious time of Global Pandemic crises.
We can’t eat, drink, smoke, exercise, share, protest, donate, meditate, cook, clean, bake, give, or create nearly ENOUGH to fill the huge void we are all aimlessly pushing through. Floundering is a thing (just keep swimming) and it’s being felt everywhere. FEEL IT! You’re human. You have feelings. Go through the full range of this emotion! There is NO blueprint or precedent for what we are experiencing in this historical moment: this IS the dawning!
At this massive tipping point of the collective consciousness, it is up to each of us as individuals to decide where it is we will fit into the future = this exact moment. We are at a moral crossroads having to prioritize between human life, resources, and money. We have our work cut out for us.
Only this time WE are banding together. We are inciting change now, here, today. WE are showing up and providing for each other. WE are coming up with grassroots solutions. WE are stepping in and fixing every little broken part of the systems that be AND the very morale of a people who exist without the proper guidance of a designated leader. We are CHANGING the world to the image WE, the people - the ones who are helping each other every day by showing up and standing together and protesting and feeding each other and making masks and donating and rallying together and sharing the load - WISH to SEE. And the Earth is HEALING in our moment of stillness - after years of use and abuse - because we’ve all been trying so desperately to “keep up with the Joneses” at a sprinter’s pace.
“It’s been a LONG, long time coming. But I know, but I know a CHANGE is gonna come. Oh yes, it is.” -Otis Redding
It is time to get DEEP with ourselves, the answers are inside of you/me/us. WE are inventing this as we go, so trust the process and yourself: because education is important, because community is important, because
jobs are important, because love is important, because animals are important, because the Earth is important, because the Ocean is important, because PEOPLE are important. Does any of modern civil society even matter if it doesn’t have people to make it function properly? No, it doesn’t. Today is proof.
Let’s embrace the change happening today because it’s our collective “baby” that we shall nurture together. But make sure to sit shiva long enough to have truly gotten over what the world as we once knew it was. Change is scary, but it’s the only thing we are each guaranteed in this life besides death. Be not afraid. Help each other. Listen to one another. Amplify the voices of those that need to be heard around the world. Show up. Call things out. Allow love, hope, and integrity to lead your actions. Just remember: mutual understanding will save the day, it always does.
Astra Kelly, Lady Brain Collective member, musician/songwriter, and founder of soulsong.life, is embarking on a new virtual adventure called Monday Meditations. The monthlong series will take place on Zoom and feature special guests Tori Roze (also a Lady Brain Collective member), Kelly Samuels, and Katy Bray. Participants can enjoy this guided meditation series from the comfort of their own homes every Monday in June at 6pm PDT. Whether you're new to meditation or an experienced practitioner, this is a powerful time to nurture the self and connect with others in a supported space of healing to find grounding, clarity, and inspiration for the coming season.
The meditations will be cumulative (though single/drop-in registrations are welcome) and meant to provide a multifaceted healing experience for body, mind, and spirit. Each day will begin with an opening check in, body scan, group energy exchange and will feature a different guided meditation experience each week.
Monday, June 1 - Breath Work and Chakra Centered Body Scan with Astra Kelly
Beginning with the breath, we'll get into the space, and settle in. It's a new month, a new day, a new dawn. We'll bring our focus to each body center for head to toe clearing and healing.
Monday, June 8 - Throat Chakra Freedom with Tori Roze
A focused throat chakra meditation and sound healing to help you find/speak/live in your own PERSONAL truth and self expression.
Monday, June 15 - Sound Vibration Meditation with Kelly Samuels
Change your vibration-change your manifestation. “A person hears sound through every pour of the body. The energy of sound charges the physical body with new life." - Hazrat Khan
Monday, June 22 - Expanded You with Katy Bray
Take a journey to your expanded self. Have you been experiencing the call of new energy? New aspects of yourself that are looking for expression? Or maybe you are feeling confused about what your next steps are. Either way, your expanded self, the next version of yourself is an energy that is available to you. Let's tap into it together so you can receive direct guidance and wisdom for the questions you have right now.
Monday, June 29 - Meet Your Spirit Guide Meditation and Reiki Attunement with Astra Kelly
A higher power can show up in many shapes and forms, this meditation will open the way to receive this type of insight or message. Reiki is taught by a series of “attunements" passed from master to student. It can be a powerful spiritual experience, as your energetic pathways are opened to allow chi/energy to flow more freely throughout the body.
Once you click on “tickets" for any of the events, you can register for one or multiple meditations. Suggested donation is $10-$20 per meditation (or whatever you can afford.) You will receive an email notification prior to each meditation you have registered for with a link to the Zoom meeting. Make sure to download the Zoom app in advance. For optimal audio and energetic experience, we recommend using head phones (if possible) and setting yourself up in a quiet space where you will be uninterrupted. Meditations will last 30-45mins.
After each meditation, you will receive both video and audio of the meditation as well as contact information for all practitioners in case you'd like to reach out for one on one sessions and/or other events.
Astra Kelly: www.astrakelly.com
Performing musician, vocal and songwriting coach, Usui Reiki Master/Teacher and founder of the Usui Reiki School of Light and Touch (Chicago, 1994), rehabilitative songwriting workshop facilitator for Jail Guitar Doors/Donovan State Prison, creator of soulsong.life: transformational songwriting workshops, spiritual practitioner and light worker. “The gift of healing reveals itself in many forms and is available to everyone, unconditionally. I am passionate about being in service through music, helping others tap in to their creative source, and witnessing it as a catalyst for profound human transformation and healing for people from all walks of life. In all of my endeavors, I advocate for wellbeing, personal transformation, and mental/emotional freedom. When the energy of the body is free-flowing, there is less likeliness for dis-ease and healing occurs on all levels - spiritual, mental, emotional and physical."
Tori Roze: www.rozewellness.com
Certified Reiki Energy Healing Practitioner, Body Work & Intuitive Medicine Practitioner, Crystal & Aromatherapy Healer, Body Positive Facilitator, Voice & Performance Instructor + Healer, Humanitarian, and Lover of Life. True healing is a comprehensive 360-degree matter = Mind + Body + Soul. Nothing is completely healed without addressing all of its components because we, as human beings, store our experiences in our whole bodies - meaning mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Having spent many years doing intuitive empathic energy work, I strive to clear and heal any energy flow blockages in my clients. The point is to align each client - correctly allowing their own version of “perfect harmony” within their mental/physical/emotional/spiritual self - to come forth in an effort of overall healing and well-being.
Kelly Samuels: www.joyrisingyogaandwellness.com
Owner of Joy Rising Yoga and Wellness RYT 200 Ingraham Method Reflexologist Tibetan Usui Reiki Ryoho Master Soul of Yoga 100 Hour Sound Healer. All matter in the known universe is made up of moving, vibrating particles. Everything you see or experience is the manifestation of this vibration. In sound assisted meditation we delve deep into the inner landscape, aligning our personal vibration with the instruments and intentions. The mind is easily soothed, the body relaxed, the soul elevated. Create greater harmony in your body, mind, spirit and life by connecting to the source of all things: SOUND! Experience a tapestry of sound with crystal bowls, harp, flute, chimes and voice as Kelly sets you free within yourself to discover what needs to be healed, released, relaxed or let go or brought in. All you have to do is breathe and be! “Life flows effortlessly with physical, mental, emotional and spiritual balance." -John St. Claire
Katy Bray: www.katybray.com
Katy Bray is a life-long clairvoyant, energy worker, and gifted empath whose direct and loving approach has been transformational for her clients — by guiding them to achieve the next level of success with greater confidence and authenticity. Katy is a Vedic Master, herbalist, student of Tantra, and dancer. Her body of work is called, “Energy Architecture” which is based on her work with thousands of people who started to reveal to her common energy patterns that people confront on their spiritual journey. She’s led more than 100 groups, teaching participants how to become more energy literate. Katy is an author, speaker, faculty at The Shift Network, a masterclass teacher at Wisdom From North, and a catalyst for all who seek her counsel.
The bad news? Our gigs (which were already under attack thanks to this trash bill named AB5) are cancelled as long as the quarantine is in effect. The good news? Artists are accustomed to a scrappy, resourceful life. We will get through this together. But we need our community's help. Thankfully, various San Diegan supporters of the Lady Brain Presents family have already reached out to ask how they can help their local womxn artists during this time. So we put together this special edition of Brain Candy, where we asked members one simple question: What are the top ways your community can support you NOW? Here are their answers, listed in order of response. We will be updating this blog as more members respond, so please check back in regularly, and show some love to the womxn who have worked tirelessly years through the years to bring you art, music, education, joy, healing, and entertainment.
You'll notice many requests for direct donations in addition to work for sale, services for hire, virtual entertainment, and exchange of goods. Please note that this crisis has brought on immediate financial insecurity, which can be a traumatic and difficult space to operate productively/creatively within. We are all doing our best to pull through it and help each other in the process. If you are in a position to help one or more members during this time, please do so. For those who do not have the means support financially, there are plenty of ways to support an artist at no cost - please interact with them on social media and feel free to ask them directly how you can help. We are grateful for any support in keeping our thriving womxn's art scene alive.
Writer, Photographer, Videographer, Graphic Designer
-Merch (books, prints) and Services (video editing, graphic design, commissions)
Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Vocal and Performance Coach, Healer
-Messy Cat Music voice/performance/acting lessons (619-316-4948)
-Roze Wellness virtual Reiki energy distance healing (619-316-4948)
-Music (Tori splits sales with the band)
Laura Jane Willcock
Musician, Singer, Songwriter, DJ, Producer
-Lux Records Music and Merch
-Paypal at email@example.com
Musician, Singer, Songwriter, Host, Producer, Photographer, Videographer
If you've shown support to the above artists in their immediate time of need, and you'd like to contribute further to the Lady Brain Collective as a whole, please find links below! Thank you for the love!
There are so many wonderful opportunities to show up for your creative community this month! Here are your official Marching orders. (We like puns, deal with it).
Thursday, March 5 - Queer Folx Making Music at Gossip Grill in Hillcrest
This new curated quarterly series includes queer acts from San Diego to Iowa representing a multitude of genres . Performers include Mandi Jo (R&B/NeoSoul), Khalil Bleux (R&B/Soul), Tori Roze (NeoSoul/Jazz), Girlboy (Soul-Hop), and Rika-Rai (Inspirational/Soul). $5 Cover, 21+, 7-10pm. More info
Saturday, March 7 - Lady Brain Presents Flim Flam Revue Takeover at Whistle Stop in South Park
This edition of Grampadrew's Flim Flam Revue is gonna be one for the books! Julia Sage hosts the first ever Lady Brain Presents Flim Flam Takeover, and these ladies are gonna bring the house down! Scheduled performers include Chloe Lou, Astra Kelly, Karina Frost, Stacey Barnett, Lisa Brackmann, Tori Roze, Mary Hamer, Alexis Tia, Marie Haddad, Jules Stewart, Marcia Claire, Donna Larsen, Melanie Medina, Amy Day, Marlo Smith, and more! A portion of bar proceeds will go to benefit RAINN, the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. No cover, 21+, 5-8pm. More info
Friday, March 13 - Calamity at Grand Ole BBQ Flinn Springs in El Cajon
Three sets of fun and original folk rock music with Calamity! No cover, all ages, 5-8pm. More info
Tuesday, March 17 - SDMA Showcase ft. Lindsay White at The Merrow in Hillcrest
Join Lindsay White as she celebrates her San Diego Music Award nomination for Best Pop Album with a full band performance (including Jules Stewart on drums) at this nominee showcase. Also on the bill are Evan Diamond and Kimmi Bitter. 21+, 8pm-Midnight More info
Thursday, March 19 - SDMA Showcase ft. The Spiritual Motels and Gaby Aparicio at Humphrey's Backstage Live in Point Loma
San Diego Music Awards Nominee Showcase at Humphrey's Backstage Live, featuring Lady Brain Collective members Gaby Aparicio and The Spiritual Motels (Amy Day), plus Berkley Hart, Trouble in the Wind, Mohavi Soul, and the Johnny Tarr Quintet. $10 Cover, 21+, 6-10pm. More info
Monday, March 23 - San Diego Music Awards at House of Blues Downtown
We know, we know, this guitar-playing astronaut is getting a lot of love in this particular edition of the Brain Candy blog! Here's the main event! Tickets are on sale now for the 29th annual San Diego Music Awards. We're very proud of our nominated members and can't wait to hang with them on this fun night supporting the Guitars for Schools Program. $36-75, Doors 6pm, Showtime 7:15pm. More info
Thursday, March 26 - Whitney Shay Album Release at Belly Up in Solana Beach
Celebrate the release of Whitney Shay's new album Stand Up! with The 44s and Anthony Cullins. $18 Advanced / $21 Day of Show / $32 Reserved. Doors 7pm, Showtime 7:30pm. 21+. 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
February is the shortest month of the year, but it is jam-packed with events from members of Lady Brain Collective. Mark your calendars for great music, art, and entertainment from the most creative womxn in town!
Saturday, February 1 - Corina Rose Collective Album Release w/ Shane Hall at EVE Encinitas
Groovy, funky spiritual soul and rock and roll! More info
Friday, February 7 - Donna Larsen and Messengers at Amplified Ale Works in Pacific Beach
Join Donna Larsen and Messengers for great-tasting ale and great-sounding Indie Pop and Rock! The Mediterranean restaurant upstairs will deliver your food right to the table so you don't have to miss a beat.
8-10pm. More info
Friday, February 7 - Lindsay White, Becca Jay, Veronica May at The Merrow in Hillcrest
Kick off the weekend with full band sets from Lindsay White (folk/rock), Becca Jay (jazz/pop), and Veronica May (rock) at The Merrow in Hillcrest. Also featuring Lady Brain Collective members Jules Stewart and Paige Miller! $10 cover, 21+. More info
Saturday, February 8 - Tori Roze & The Hot Mess at Amplified Ale Works in Pacific Beach
Tori Roze & The Hot Mess brings you funky-jazzy-Neo-soul original music and cover jams at your fabulous neighborhood brewery featuring 16 original brews and delicious Mediterranean grub. No cover. 8-10pm. More info
Friday, February 14 - Calamity at De Oro Mine Company in El Cajon
Come solo or bring your sweetie to “the Ford Pinto of bars" De Oro Mine Company on Valentine's Day. Join the Calamity gals for some self-love, great music, games, and raffles. Three full hours of fun beginning at 8pm, no cover. 21+. More info
Saturday, February 15 through Wednesday, February 19 - The Muse in Winter: A Creativity Retreat in Taos, N.M at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Restore, revitalize, and nourish your creative self where creative greats from Georgia O'Keefe to Martha Graham received creative inspiration. Writing, art, yoga, improv games for the intimidated beginner to the seasoned expert. With author/illustrator and creative coaching guru, Jill Badonsky. More info
Tuesday, February 18 - The Spiritual Motels and The Banduvloons with Touchtone at The Casbah
Come out and support Lady Brain members Amy Day, Karina Frost Moreno and KC Deichler as The Spiritual Motels and The Banduvloons make their Casbah debut! 9pm, $6, 21+. More info
Thursday, February 20 - Compassion: 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 on the very auspicious date of 2.20.2020. We will explore the theme of “compassion" in depth and write (and record!) a song together that reflects our shared perceptions and experiences. No musical skills necessary! 6-9p, $75. Advance registration required. More info
Saturday, February 29 - Lady Brain Presents “Love in the Round" Community Gathering in South Park
Please join us for this historic leap year event at a private residence in South Park, where we will explore various definitions of and experiences with love. Our host Bonnie Nicholls will kick off the night, followed by a Nashville-style songwriters round featuring Astra Kelly and Carissa Schroeder. We will also showcase art by Barbara Rutherford. $10 advance tickets. Limited capacity seating; please make sure to RSVP early! 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
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.
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