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Tucson's Chick Magnet calls 'femmes to the front' at gigs

"Femmes to the front. And anyone else is an asshole." - local band the Frecks

Like many creative friendly college towns, Tucson is teeming with local artists, musicians, poets, performers and makers. This means that more often than not, dozens of talented folk are competing for the same few slots at the proverbial table, whether its a local gig, a gallery show or a spoken-word reading. New and emerging artists will often take a back-burner to established ones. And, often, these established artists are men — a legacy from a less equitable past that, intentionally or unintentionally, allows a gender gap in the arts to persist even in events and arts showcases that aim to be inclusive.

When local artist and musician Lano Romero Dash ran up against this all-too-familiar wall, she decided to flip the tables and create an arts festival that puts women and femmes first, creating the opportunities that were eluding Dash and her fellow talented female artists and performers. And so, Chick Magnet was born.

TucsonSentinel.com: How would you describe Chick Magnet to the uninitiated? 

Chick Magnet founder and organizer Lano Romero Dash: "Chick Magnet is an annual womxn-led annual Art Poetry & Music Festival. 'Womxn' is a more inclusive way of saying 'people who identify as female.'"

"Chick Magnet is a space created to share the creativity, beauty and depth of voice we have to offer the community. It is a space to celebrate the gentle, but fierce, creative, nurturing qualities of the feminine in all of us, no matter the gender."

"It is not a place where 'angry feminists' gather to hate men, but addresses a very real gender gap in the arts community.  At in it's inception, it was very consciously created to encourage more womxn in the scene to put themselves out there, as I was having trouble finding them myself."

"It's important that we share our creativity with one another and the community. I find myself more inspired and challenged to expand and grow myself as an artist when I'm in direct community with other artists, specifically womxn, because that's what I identify with."

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"I believe you can't do what you haven't seen demonstrated and Chick Magnet provides a platform for this vital demonstration of creativity.  It's also incredibly potent when womxn gather, against the grain, in a non-competitive, inclusive, and creative space.  It's very healing and grounding."

TS: How has the project evolved from its beginnings three years ago? What changes and challenges have come with time?

LRD: "The first year of Chick Magnet was something I watched unfurl in amazement, I had no idea it would be so well-received.

"I have never known what I'm doing, but each year it grows because people show up who truly resonate with the spirit of the event and want to be involved. Their enthusiasm and willingness to participate in the vision allows it to grow and also be shaped by them. 

"For example, poetry wasn't a part of the first year's event, then I met and became friends with poet, Sophie Daws. We realized she had been at the first Chick Magnet and loved it, and we started talking about adding poetry to the lineup. Sophie's booked the poets for two years in a row, and also been a participant.

"Since the first year, I've grown as an organizer and learned to navigate the process with more efficiency and foresight, and this, coupled with the fact that others have brought their amazing skill sets and resources and brains to the mix, has led to this being so much more than I had originally thought."

"The past two years I've held workshops leading up the event, where I invite people to come get crafty and help create the many handmade decorations and embellishments added to the venue to immerse audience members in the experience of Chick Magnet."

"The workshops this year were better than ever, as we began several weeks ago and have had many collaborators show up and add their flavor to the mix.  It's a really exciting to hold space for such genuine connection and creative expression to unfold, and it leaves people feeling a sense of ownership in what's being done with the festival."  

TS: "Do you think Tucson is more or less supportive of women artists and creators than a few years ago? What's working and what still needs work?"

LRD: "To me, it's less about Tucson's support of womxn artists and more about our own personal responsibility to make room for ourselves. The arts community in Tucson is 100 percent what we make it.There are some really cool, hardworking womxn out in the community doing their thing in such a great way."

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"For me community has gotten better, because I have made the choice to participate in it.  There's always an opportunity to show up and be a part of something, even if that means showing up to make it yourself. Choice is everything."

TS:  Tell us about the music lineup this year. 

LRD: "We've got Acorn Bcorn headlining the show, a local sister punk rock duo, and their performances are so inspiring as they play multiple instruments at once and bring so much energy. We've got a nice variety with new wave emo locals Cool Funeral, grunge rock - Feverfew , punk rock - Ditch Bank , and experimental loopy sweetness - westOasis, while Pheonix's newest shoegaze sweethearts Dovi, is coming down from Phoenix to play their first Tucson show.  I'll be performing as Lano, with my band as well as releasing my second full-length album."

TS: What else is in the works this year in terms of visual art, dance, poetry, mixed media and the like?

LRD: "Many helpful collaborative hands have shown up to the workshops to help us make some of the larger pieces that will help to accentuate the theme of the event (The Plant Queendom)."

"There will also be over 20 visual artists showing individual works in many different mediums including mosaic, weaving, paint, ceramics, projected video art and more - all from local artists like YuYu Shiratori, Marcy Ellis, Lesli Wood, Ondrea Bell, Ursula Basinger and many more.  And there will be several vendors with prints, zines, stickers, etc. so bring cash."

"There will be a dance performance by Perin Hailey McNelis. We have four poet performances from Sophie Daws, Julia Kinu, Claire Hong Meuschke, and Vasectomy (Kris Aman & Sally Roundhouse).  And the entire evening will be emceed by super funny participating artist Lex Gjurasic."  

TS: Chick Magnet seems to be a very grassroots, community-based, non-commercial effort and a pretty remarkable one at that. Assuming the event continues for many years to come, how would you like to see it grow?

LRD: "We would love to use Chick Magnet as a platform for more workshops and skill sharing within the arts community all year long, keeping a more steady rhythm and presence in the community, not just once a year.  And we hope to get better and better at building the container for Chick Magnet to happen."   

TS: Good luck with this year's event and thanks for making it alll happen! 

Chick Magnet takes place on Saturday at 191 Toole. Tickets are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the all-ages event runs until midnight. Featured bands include Acorn Bcorn. Cool Funeral, Lano, Feverfew, WestOasis, Dovi, and Ditch Bank. 

Ladytowne Live 

While Chick Magnet may be the biggest and most ambitious live arts/music event calling 'femmes to the front' in Tucson's creative community, it's far from alone in its focus. 

Case in point, local live feminist talk/variety show Ladytowne Live, which once again takes over the Club Congress stage next Wednesday night. The show, which evolved from a local LPFM radio show of the same name, features local artists, merchants, makers, performers and musicians, with a heavy focus on female and LGBTQ led endeavors.

This month's edition of Ladytowne features live music from Jillian Bessett along with performances by dance troupe Hawkinsdance, Burlesque performer Kitty Catonic, poet Sally Roundhouse, comedian Mel Blumenthal and live interviews with host Miranda Schubert and her guests. 

Ladytowne Live takes place at Club Congress on Wednesday, September 12 at 8 p.m. Free 21+ show.

June goes west 

Tucson-based singer-songwriter June West is a Montana native and though she's adapted well to her new desert home, West's music still evokes images of big skies, sweeping vistas and vast, endless plains. Still, West's forthcoming self-titled album is about as Tucson as it gets. Recorded by Matt Rendon at Midtown Island Studios and featuring a who's who of Tucson talent including The Myrrors' Conor "Catfish" Gallaher and Grant Beyschau, and Louise Le Hir Band's Adan Martinez Kee, "June West" makes its debut on September 14, but Tucson fans have a chance to pick up the album one day early, while helping West and her band kick off their coast to coast tour.

June West and her "soul band" of Gallaher, Beyschau and Kee, will play Exo Roast on Thursday night, September 13. Advance copies of the album will be available on vinyl and cassette at the venue. 

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The machines may be free, but there's still a cover

It's another blockbuster show at Cans Deli this Friday night, as a solid quartet of Tucson's best rock, post-punk and power-pop bands convene to make a joyful noise upon the Avenue. Free Machines and Lenguas Largas will bring the LOUD while Freezing Hands and local "supergroup" The Gem Show (featuring members of TWGS, Whispering Wires and The Wanda Junes) supply the hooks. With summer nearing its end, lineups this great will likely start to wane soon, so get thee hence while there are shows like this left to be seen!

Lenguas Largas, Free Machines, The Gem Show and Freezing Hands play Cans Deli on Friday at 8 p.m. $5 at the door, 21+ 

Mosh for mental health

Do you like your music EVEN LOUDER? Like, face-meltingly loud? Do you want to combine your love of heavy metal with your support of folks in our community struggling with mental health? 

Head over to head bang at the Rialto this Friday night as a half-dozen local metal bands lend their talents to a worthy cause at the Mosh For Mental Health. The lineup includes locals Sorrows Ruin, Bury Me Alive, Pyrotechnica, Minutes to Midnight, Decayer and Spear Brittany. Proceeds from the event go to support CTP employment services.

The Mosh For Mental Health takes place Friday at the Rialto Theatre. All ages. Tickets $5.

Screw ups?

Not musical, but plenty live, will be the grand opening of the new Unscrewed Theater comedy venue this weekend. Catch Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild as the special guest of the family-friendly performance on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

TucsonSentinel.com's own Dylan Smith will be the featured guest of the "uncensored" performance, appropriately enough, on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 at unscrewedtheater.org.

Check your local listings

Friday, Sept. 7

  • Zona Libre - 9 p.m. Brother John's 
  • Naim's A Jazz Trio - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Greg Morton - 6:30 p.m. La Cocina
  • Bryan Dean Trio - 9 p.m. The Parish
  • Natalie Pohanic - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern , 
  • Tucson Libertine League (Burlesque) - 8 p.m. 191 Toole
  • The Muffalettas - 7 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Santa Pachita - 7 p.m. Playground 
  • Heather Hardy - 6 p.m. Sand Reckoner Vineyards
  • Drop D w/ Push, The Endless Pursuit, One Block West - 7 p.m. House of Bards
  • Punk Bunny Texas Trash & The Trainwrecks, The Demons, Marching Powder - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Mosh For Mental Health: Pyrotechnica, Sorrows Ruin, Spear Brittany, Decayer, Minutes to Midnight, Bury Me Alive - 6:30 p.m Rialto
  • Free Machines, Lenguas Largas, The Gem Show, Freezing Hands - 8 p.m. Cans Deli Tucson 

Saturday, Sept. 8

  • Chick Magnet: Acorn Bcorn, Dovi, Cool Funeral, Lano, Feverfew, Westoasis, Ditch Bank - 6 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Joywave - 7 p.m. Club Congress
  • Bryan Dean & Koko Matsumoto - 5 p.m. Catalina Craft Pizza
  • Belinda Esquer - Tucson Hop Shop - 7 p.m. 
  • Eugene Bornow - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Eb Eberlein - 6:30 p.m. La Cocina
  • Dos Hombres - 9 p.m. Saint Charles Tavern
  • Michael P. & The Gullywashers - 6 p.m. Mercado San Augustin
  • Bryan Thomas Parker & Friends - 7 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Shane Cooley & The Midnight Girls - 8 p.m. Monterey Court
  • Zona Libre - 7 p.m. Playground
  • Leila Lopez & Brian Green - 6 p.m. Sand Reckoner Vineyards
  • City Boyz West - 9 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Hank Topless - 9 p.,. Dusty Monk Pub

Sunday, Sept. 9

  • Mik and the Funky Brunch - 12:30 p.m. La Cocina
  • Paul Charles - 5 p.m. Public Brewhouse
  • Legion of Mario - 3 p.m. Crooked Tooth
  • J.J. Grey & Mofro w/ Dragondeer - 7 p.m. Rialto
  • Jay Faircloth - 6:30 p.m. Noble Hops
  • The Dodges, All Harmless, Toylit, Leather Lung - 7 p.m. Spark Project Collective
  • Lead Pony, Black Medicine - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • TheJacks, Wyves - 7 p.m. Club Congress

Monday, Sept. 10

  • The Mountain Goats w/ Al Riggs - 7 p.m. 191 Toole
  • Hot Tuna w/ Steve Kimock -7 p.m. Rialto
  • Open Mic Night - 8 p.m. House of Bards

Tuesday, Sept. 11

  • Jazz Night: Tom Walbank,Steff Koeppen  - 6:30 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Amped Up Open Mic - 8:30 p.m. Club Congress

Wednesday, Sept. 12

  • FST! Female StoryTellers - 6 p.m. Cans Deli
  • E-10, Nef The Pharaoh, OMB Peezy - 7 p.m. Rialto
  • Little Cloud - 7 p.m. Public Brewhouse
  • Miss Lana Rebel & Kevin Michael Mayfield - 6 p.m. La Cocina
  • Open Mic Night - 7 p.m. Sky Bar
  • Paul Opocenski Project - 7 p.m. Tap & Bottle North
  • Ladytowne Live: w/ music by Jillian Bessett - 8 p/m. Club Congress

Thursday, Sept. 13

  • Louise Le Hir - 6:30 p.m. La Cocina
  • June West Record Release - 8 p.m. Exo Roast
  • Mike Kanne - 6 p.m. Brother John's
  • Mindful Musician's Jam - 8 p.m. Brother John's 
  • Fayuca, Of Good Nature, Black Bottom Lighters - 8 p.m. Cans Deli
  • George Howard - 7 p.m. Noble Hops
  • Kaia Chesney - 8:30 p.m. Tap & Bottle
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Chick Magnet

Birdwatch at last year's Chick Magnet

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