When Sara Marcus started writing her latest book, Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution, she may have not been trying to spearhead a new feminist movement amongst young, DIY-minded girls. But half a year later (her book came out via Harper Perennial in September), it's clear that she did, and this weekend's Ladyfest Easthampton in Northampton, MA is proof.Over three days at Smith College and Flywheel Collective Arts Center, Ladyfest Easthampton (which starts today and runs through Sunday) will feature workshops like "I'm Not The Merch Girl - Putting Out Records, Booking Shows & What It Means To Be A Woman Who Does Things Behind The Scenes," screenings and discussions of films like From The Back of The Room: A History of Women in Punk, plus performances by bands like Hott Mess, Talk Normal, Quilty, and Mirror/Dash (a.k.a. Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon). Repping Boston will be bands including Banditas, Shepherdess, Foreign Objects, and Curmudgeon. According to 26-year-old Ladyfest Easthampton organizer Erika Elizabeth, Girls to the Front was an "instrumental" inspiration in making this weekend's shows, panel discussions, hands-on workshops, and film screenings happen. When they started planning the festival, several of the organizers were reading Girls to the Front, a book that Elizabeth says shows how the legacy of riot-grrrl "spans into more contemporary stuff and what's going on today, and how the flame of riot-grrrl is being carried."
"There's this renewed energy," Elizabeth said. The book has proven to be particularly inspiring to a younger generation of girls (myself included) who play, organize, and document music, but were only toddlers during the early-`90s riot-grrrl movement. Coinciding with Ladyfest Northampton, Ladyfest Deep South is happening in Tuscaloosa, Alabama this weekend as well. Another similar festival, Clitfest, goes down this July in DC. (They're not a new tradition though: Ladyfest Easthampton also celebrates the ten year anniversary of a Ladyfest held at Flywheel in 2001. The first ever Ladyfest was in Olympia, Washington in August 2000, with Sleater-Kinney, The Gossip, Bratmobile, and others.)
Although all of the bands and workshops are Lady-centric, Ladyfest is not just for grrrls: the festival is open to all, and is important for anyone of any gender identity, Elizabeth said. "It's valuable for everyone ... for anyone interested in the role of women in the DIY scene or interested in supporting female musicians. We're celebrating women, but it isn't limited to only women."
For more information & the full Ladyfest Easthampton schedule visit their website and Facebook page.