The D.C. Music Scene Spotlights Local Women Who Rock
By Jordan Snowden. Photos by Miranda Hontz, Justin Rodgers, Luke Andahazy
Nearly every month for the last year, we’ve put out a Women Who Rock column that highlights some of the strong female artists, promoters, bookers and other industry professionals who do great work for the community. Unfortunately, our coverage so far hasn’t even scratched the surface of the sheer amount of strong women in the music scene.
This is why we asked a few D.C. musicians to spotlight some of the artists they admire who haven’t been covered in our column yet. This feature could go on for entirety, and definitely isn’t a complete list by any means. Rather, it’s just a small fraction of the many rad women in D.C. who are keeping the music scene alive and thriving.
From our last Women Who Rock feature with Rock and Roll Hotel/DC9’s Molly Majorack, we got a ton of great suggestions for upcoming profiles, and we want to keep them coming. If you’ve got someone in mind, feel free to send us a line–email us at email@example.com, subject title “Women Who Rock.”
I want to say the three girls in The El Mansouris: Fiona, Sarah and Margot. They are so talented and bring a fresh sound to the D.C scene. I was blown away when I played with them this past August for the Babe City anniversary. I’m so excited to hear more music from them.
Michael Coltun of Les Rhinocéros
My favorite D.C. female artist would have to be singer and dancer Nakima Hawk. Nakima and I first performed together four or five years ago with Malian griot Cheick Hamala Diabate. More recently we [were] performing with Janka Nabay & The Bubu Gang. I was, and still am; amazed by the way she moves her body with such fluidity, and how much endurance she has when she performs. We’ve done 90 minute sets where she danced constantly with no signs of slowing down. She has so much energy that she can easily get people moving no matter how old they are. A hard working mother and teacher, Nakima is a force of a nature and is not to be overlooked in the D.C. community.
Adriana-Lucia Cotes of DAIS
Heidi Martin is an artist who rocks. She has 20-plus years of experience singing, writing poetry, and truly connecting with the bold and vibrant D.C. jazz scene that is the precursor for music and creative communities in D.C. I love not just her voice, which for me has the unique resemblance of Janis Joplin’s low rich rasp and Erykah Badu’s almost smoke like highs, but her authenticity in creating art, besides music, informed by her experiences. She is a joy to watch, meet and listen to and this mutli-talented artist reminds me of what the #werk can really accomplish: honoring culture and looking towards the future.
A few come to mind right off the bat. Nikki Smith is a killer guitarist and Melissa of Footwerk is probably one of the best vocalists I’ve ever seen live, and not just within the D.C scene, like ever.
Cathy DiToro has amazing stage presence, and More AM Than FM tugs at my heart strings because I love female fronted, or in this case all-female, punk bands, but perhaps I’ll go with Leah Gage for her versatility. She, like me, plays in multiple bands all with different styles. She’s a solid drummer, singer and live performer who commands attention, not to mention a genuinely nice person.
Ben Payes of Clones of Clones
We really dig Cruzie Beaux. I think people sort of questioned what would happen to Kristina after she left Drop Electric, but her debut EP and other, more recent releases really proved she’s an awesome songwriter and she knows how to make songs and sounds work well with her unique voice. We’re also big fans of Eau Claire. She’s a machine. She cranks out solid remix after solid remix and somehow finds time to network with blogs and plays shows around North America, all while working a pretty demanding day job.
Katie Alice Greer from Priests is one of the best performers in punk right now, and she’s been very influential in my growth in the punk scene. I really respect her emphasis on using her platform to educate and start discussions about important topics, and she isn’t afraid of confronting problematic people or things. Her lyrics are really front and center and always raise really interesting points and questions.
One of the first shows I booked was Priests and Give with one of my bands Black Sparks in March 2014, and I was really scared about working with bands who were older and really popular, but Katie was super nice throughout the whole process, which definitely helped me grow as a show promoter, and she’s been great ever since about answering any questions I’ve had. It usually feels like D.C. bands get ignored outside D.C., but it’s really great to see Priests getting a lot of attention from fans and other bands outside of D.C.
It’s always cool to see pictures of them playing to huge crowds outside of D.C, and at least once a month I freak out at some really popular band replying to one of her tweets or commenting on an Instagram picture. Grimes follows her on Twitter isn’t that crazy? She’s definitely waving the flag hard representing D.C. to the rest of the world, and there’s no better spokesperson for current D.C. music than her.
I do also want to say though, Snail Mail (Lindsey Jordan’s project) is the best new band in D.C., and nobody’s gonna be ready for that EP when it drops!
War On Women from Baltimore. They are an awesome band. We would mention them on a list of favorite local artists without hesitation. Gender not even being a consideration at all, they are one of the better acts playing right now, they just happen to have females in the band. They are a truly amazing band, writing and performing truly amazing music. War on Women is holding a benefit show for Government Issue’s John Stabb at Comet Ping Pong Saturday, March 12th.
There are tons of rad female acts and musicians all over the DMV, but I have to give a shout out to our good friend Ariana Stone of the band Psychic Subcreatures. Ariana has been a huge friend and supporter of ours for years, and she just got her band together a couple months ago.
While I haven’t gotten to see them yet, since I moved to California, I’ve heard some rough demos of their upcoming tape that got me extremely stoked. The band is a really cool mix of surf and garage-punk vibes, and her vocals have some serious bite. She’s headbanged and high-fived for nearly every other band in the D.C. scene over the past couple years, so I’m stoked to do the same for her soon since we’ll be playing with them this summer.