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Ladies Last: 3 Years Later

422239_4399433988246_1518247820_nThree years ago, I was working as the editor-in-chief for Twin Cities METRO, a now-defunct arts/food/lifestyle magazine here in Minneapolis. While I loved that job, loved our readers and loved my staff, what I really loved was that I had a lot of freedom to push boundaries. I could do things that were absurd like write horoscopes (I’m totally unqualified, mind you); conduct dream interviews with underrated innovators like John Waters and Wanda Jackson; and, best of all, introduce readers to important people and issues in the Twin Cities: the food deserts that plague our neighborhoods, the refugees leading humanitarian efforts in Minnesota and in their home countries; the little-known musicians, salt-of-the-earth chefs, and artists of color whom you would never—at least not at that time—see in other local magazines. (They were busy putting The Real Housewives of the Twin Cities on their covers. Seriously.)

One of those important issues no one was touching was gender inequality. After reading a report called Status of Women & Girls released by the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota in the winter of 2012, I was taken aback. The status in question was not good—at least not for those who were non-white, non-affluent or non-suburban. It was 2012 and women in Minnesota were still earning, on average, 80 cents on the dollar compared with Minnesota men doing the same jobs. The FBI had ranked Minneapolis among the top 13 U.S. cities for child prostitution and sex trafficking. The unintended-pregnancy rate for low-income women had increased 50% over the last decade. My senior editor, David Doody, and I started kicking around the idea of a feature that would not only highlight these injustices, disparities and inequities, it would hopefully make those who were somewhat oblivious (like I had been, despite identifying as a feminist) uncomfortable enough to want to do something about it. We decided to run it on the cover of the August issue, and I drafted my friend Holly Hilgenberg to help me sift through piles of statistics, interview notes and articles (immortalized here), and to co-write it.

As I mentioned, we had a lot of creative autonomy, and most people at our company were all for the article. It wasn’t a battle to get the feature in the magazine; getting it on the cover, however, was a veritable Battle Royale of wills. Food deserts, elderly country singers and humanitarians don’t sell magazines, even if those who do buy them love it—and apparently neither did feminism back in 2012.

In the name of respect and professionalism, I’ll spare you all the gory details, but let’s just say it took a lot to get feminism on the cover of what was actually a pretty progressive magazine. Office gender dynamics were not the only issue at play (the future of the magazine was tentative at this time, and things were overall very tense), but there were power struggles I honestly don’t think would have existed had the magazine been led by two men instead of two (non-doormat) women: myself, and our art director, Liz Gardner. It took a lot of proverbial blood and sweat, and plenty of literal tears, yelling, throwing things, a little dishonesty, cigarettes, temper tantrums, whiskey and exhaustion to get the simple suggestion that women might not be equal after all—complete with hot-pink cover—on newsstands alongside Edina’s Best Pet Stylists and Gawdy Kenwood Mansions No One Would Ever Want Even if They Could Afford It.

But we did it, and I’m glad we did because that issue turned out to be our second-to-last one. By the time the article was halfway written, we were defeated and knew the end was near, but we kept going. And people got it! After the issue came out, my inbox and Twitter mentions were flooded with support. A little bird also told me the company sold out of reprints of that issue and had to reorder (that never happens).

Little did Holly​ and I know, in subsequent years riot grrrl would become cool again, hardworking female musicians would start getting some majorly overdue attention from local media, and celebs would be clamoring to be the poster child for feminism. Sally and I would launch the Girl Germs events to a captive, supportive audience and sell out venues with a scrappy brand of feminism that includes Kitten Forever deconstructing Beyonce, a sweaty mosh pit made up of mostly women, and indie-rock dudes paying heartfelt tributes to the women who helped shape their lives.

As we start planning the next GG tribute night (yep!), I can’t help but reflect on that struggle three years ago and where we are now. Culturally, things are pretty good. But I like to think that article serves as a reminder that being a feminist doesn’t just mean you love Bikini Kill, follow Lena Dunham on Twitter, and read Jezebel or BUST. It means you care about the day-to-day lives of women—yourself, the ones you live and work with, the ones you might never meet. It means you are disgusted at—and unsatisfied with—the fact that you STILL don’t make as much as a man in your exact same job does. That your art, efforts and opinions don’t carry the same weight or clout as a man’s do. That you get shamed for putting your kids in daycare (which, btw, who can even afford) but get shamed if you choose to stay home with them. That you get shamed for choosing not to have kids in the first place, or shamed for having them when society doesn’t feel you should. That you can’t take a walk or go to a party without being prepared to fight off a sexual predator (and it’s on you to prevent attacks, not on men to stop attacking, of course). That women and children are still bought and sold in our own backyards. That if you are a woman of color or who comes from poverty, you are often automatically at even more of a disadvantage.

You care about all that, and you are going to do something about it.

I’ve uploaded a PDF of the article here if you’d like to read it.

xo Dana

Photo by Bo Hakala
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This Woman’s Work: Aby Wolf Reflects on Discovering Kate Bush’s Artistry and Music

We asked the illustrious Aby Wolf to headline this go-around of our tribute night, and her choice of Kate Bush made so much sense to us. We can’t wait to hear her take on the weird, wonderful world of Kate. Here’s what Aby had to say about her discovery of Kate’s artistry and music:

“You MAHST listen to Kate Boosh” 

I’m a huge fan of Kate Bush’s music. She’s a beautiful, brave, zany badass super babe, and I’m incredibly inspired by her as an artist, a performer, and as a human. This is how I came across her complex and unconventional pop music:

The first time I traveled outside of the U.S, I took off 4 weeks of work from the Wedge Co-op deli and headed to Mexico with a boy I was dating. I was 23 years old, a baby toddler in the great big woods. Matt spoke pretty fluent Spanish; I could order enchiladas and find el baño. I showed up at the airport with the batiked cotton duffel bag my stepmom had bought for me in Bali, which dissolved into a pile of broken straps after an hour of trying to wear it like a backpack. Spent about a quarter of my meager budget for the trip within the first couple hours in Mexico City purchasing a sturdy Oakley backpack from a shop on the zócalo mall.

After a few days in Mexico City, a solid week in Guadalajara, and a brief stint in Oaxaca, we bused ourselves to the tiny oceanside village of San Agustinillo to find Steve, a friend of a friend who promised to put us up for a week or so at his beachy homestead. On our first day there, the dudes went out after lunch and I sat at Steve’s handmade wooden kitchen table all afternoon, making abstract paintings with the little kit of art supplies I’d brought along. I’d been feeling like a tag-along for the whole trip, and I was grateful for some personal time to reflect. Steve had a CD boom box and a stack of discs on his desk, many of which were titles I hadn’t heard of. I randomly picked up Jeff Buckley’s “Grace” and pushed play. As the music started I realized it had been a couple of weeks since I’d heard any music sung in English at all, let alone a record that made my heart explode with inspiration. I listened to the entire album about four times through as I painted and it made me excited to keep my ears perked for more.

Matt and I hung out at Steve’s in San Agustinillo for over a week. We explored the town, made new friends and then we broke up. One of the last outings we went on together was a sunrise boat tour. We woke early, walked down the beach to the neighboring ville of Mazunte, and joined a group of tourists gathered around a pile of cold, soggy life jackets in the dim morning light. There were about 14 of us, folks from all over the world. We set out onto the waves in two motorboats, killing the engines a couple of times so one of the muscular guides could dive off the boat and surface holding a massive sea turtle for us all to wow and photograph. After returning to shore a couple hours later, Matt headed back to Steve’s house for the day and I decided to check out the continental breakfast at the nearby beach cafe.

Scan 2                  The “cafe” directly above this charming sign consisted of one table on the porch of the tour guide’s beach house.

Scan 1

Breakfast was strong coffee and fresh bread with butter. A few folks from the boat ride also stopped to hang out and drink coffee as we chatted and I drew in my journal. We were waited on by a lovely young woman from the tour, who was dating the man who owned the boats and the cafe. She spoke good English in an accent I couldn’t place and was very friendly. We started talking about music and I mentioned having just heard Jeff Buckley for the first time. Her eyes went wide and she asked “have you ever heard Kate Boosh?!” I said I hadn’t. She raved and raved about how much she loved her music and her wild videos, and I made a note in my journal that said “KATE BUSH HOUNDS OF LOVE.”

When I finally got back to Minneapolis, I hit up the Lake Street Cheapo and sure enough, came across “Hounds of Love” in the used bins. Upon first listen, I thought it was some of the weirdest pop music I’d ever heard. It took a long time for me to digest the whole album, but the cover photograph struck me right away. The shot of Kate embracing two silky dogs amidst a backdrop of swirling purple fabric is sexy, strange and magical, but also funny in a trickster kind of way. Her expression is one of a supremely confident and powerful WOMAN in charge.


A couple years later after I bought my first laptop, I recall spending hours at the Nicollet Spyhouse falling down the Kate Bush YouTube rabbit hole, chugging coffee and watching video after insane video.  When I first started performing my own singer/songwritery tunes around town, I worked a cover of “Running Up That Hill” into the set, and it was always the most fun of the night for me.  I’m still discovering gems in her amazing repertoire, and I’ll leave you with one of my favorite deep cuts.


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14 Essential Feminist Artists, Courtesy of Kitten Forever

In 2014 Beyonce forged a proud and visible stance as a feminist, and–among other things–it cultivated even more discussion of the F word that became so obnoxiously divisive amongst, well, everyone. Whatever your thoughts on her music, persona or intentions, it’s been interesting to see feminism reach the mainstream on a new level, and the dialogue that’s surrounding it is key to advancing the cause.

At our next tribute night this Saturday, local party-punk trio Kitten Forever will be taking on the fierce, feminist (and perhaps most importantly, extremely dance-able) music of Queen Bey. In honor of Beyonce’s contributions to the feminist conversation, we asked Corrie Harrigan of KF to compile a list of fearless, unapologetic, proud feminist artists you need to know.

Indigo Girls

This may seem like a boring pick, but Indigo girls have long been outspoken activists on behalf of women, glbtq persons, the environment, Native American rights, and more, since forming as duo in 1985. Most recently they became one of the first high profile artists to publicly denounce Michigan Womyn’s festival for it’s policy of exclusion towards transgender women, stating that they will cease their long term participation in the event, which people such as Kathleen Hanna have still yet to do…


Screaming Females

I remember playing with Marissa Paternoster and company in a tiny basement in 2007 and thinking, this girl is the best guitar player I have ever seen. Since then then world has taken note and Paternoster has been declared “Best Guitar Shredder” by the Village Voice in 2009 and ranked the 77th Greatest Guitarist of all Time by Spin Magazine in 2012. Despite her gender being mentioned alongside all these accolades, it’s an awesome thing to see a young queer woman being recognized for her extraordinary talents.

Nicki Minaj


Osa Atoe

Her old band New Bloods was amazing, but since they broke Atoe has been busy running No More Fiction, a promotion company putting on shows in New Orleans that strictly focuses on women, queers, and POC artists. She was a part of the POC Zine project with her work “Shotgun Seamstress”, as well as helping to organize Not Enough Fest, a festival in which young queer people start bands for the purpose of playing their first show at the fest. She is getting shit done and it’s all the right shit.




Claire Boucher wrote this awesome thing about sexism in the music industry and she is frequently outspoken on her Tumblr and Twitter about feminist issues.


Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad are still in high school (maybe they JUST graduated?) but they are making unapologetic, beautiful, amazing work for their age. They are outspoken feminists writing songs about growing up, falling in love, slut shaming, and fear at an age when I was wearing a Coal Chamber t-shirt and slamming doors in my mom’s face. They are my main source of hope for the future right now.


Pussy Riot

A Russian feminist punk group whose membership is a constant rotation of around 11 young women. They stage crazy guerrilla protest performances and in 2012 two of PR members were imprisoned for participating in a protest inside Moscow’s Cathedral of the Christ Savior. They have since been released and based on some stuff on Instagram they seem to be working with JD Samson and Le Tigre on a new collaboration, which is insanely exciting.

Others to check out:

Perfect Pussy


Mannequin Pussy

Katie and Allison Crutchfield’s bands

Tobi Vail



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Girl Gems: The Men of Alpha Consumer Tell Us About Their Influences (+ a Debbie Duncan Announcement!)

A lot of people ask us why male musicians are involved in Girl Germs, and our intentions behind inviting talented dude bands like Night Moves, Strange Names, Fury Things and Alpha Consumer to perform at our tribute nights. After all, isn’t the point to celebrate women? Don’t male artists also get influenced by women?

Those are legitimate question, of course, but our philosophy is that booking only female artists would minimize the impact and importance of the musicians we’re honoring. As we mentioned in an interview with the Star Tribune, to us it’s equally sexist to assume the only people influenced by female musicians are other female musicians, because that is so not the case!

Jeremy Ylvisaker On Joan Jett + Playing Girl Germs 

“I owe my love of the guitar and millions of subsequent tiny decisions to the first time I heard Joan Jett sing ‘I love rock n roll’ on the radio,” says Jeremy Ylvisaker of Alpha Consumer, an all-male trio who will be playing this Saturday’s Girl Germs tribute night.

“I wanted to be her,” he remembers. “I figure playing a Girl Germs show brings me slightly closer to my original goal somehow.”

We’re interested in how everyone experiences and interprets the music of the amazing female artists we pay tribute to. For us, being inclusive of all genders—with the common goal of celebrating and reflecting women’s often-overlooked contributions and accomplishments—is the only way to paint a holistic picture of these women’s impact on music.

With that said, we’re super excited that Jeremy’s band Alpha Consumer will be joining us at the Turf Club. Jeremy and his band mates, Mike Lewis and JT Bates, have collaborated with the likes of Brother Ali, Bon Iver and Andrew Bird. Alpha Consumer has been described as “The Modern Lovers meets Talking Heads but heavier,” and its members are veterans of venerable projects the Cloak Ox, Dosh, Fog, Happy Apple and Gayngs, to name just a few. They’re also no strangers to covering female artists; they’ve even worked the Runaway’s “Cherry Bomb” into a few of their sets, the discovery of which kinda made Team Girl Germs fall in love with them.

Mike Lewis On Debbie Duncan + Aretha’s Influence

We’re equally excited to announce that the one and only Debbie Duncan, a legendary jazz, blues and singer, will be joining Alpha Consumer for their set of Aretha Franklin covers! Here’s what Mike had to say about Debbie’s and Aretha’s influence on him:

I’ve been listening to Debbie Duncan sing for as much of my life as I can remember.  My dad is a musician as well and would take me to hear Debbie sing whenever he could when I was a kid.  Eventually my own compass led me in a similar direction as my father’s, and I’ve now had the chance to play with Debbie, if only occasionally, over the past 20 years or so.  Every time I’ve ever heard her sing, as a child or an adult, on stage with her or in the crowd listening, brings about the same familiar feeling.  It’s a feeling of being brought close and having something explained to you.  Maybe something you knew all along but didn’t know how to live in or let yourself feel.  Many artists make beautiful art, but some are able to help you know who you are through the sheer will of their honesty.  Debbie was the first artist other than my father to open my heart in that way.  Aretha is another such artist who has been doing the same on an impossibly large scale for most of her life, and when I threw out the idea of Alpha Consumer playing her music for the girl germs show, it hinged severely on whether or not Debbie felt up for it.  Playing at 11pm on a Saturday night at the Turf Club with a rock and roll band falls well outside of her wheelhouse these days, but it also sounded dangerous enough to be fun… thankfully she felt the same way, and here we are. 

Some time in the summer before my freshman year in high school my aunt Wendy gave me a mix tape.  Side A was a mix of Primus songs off of Frizzle Fry and Sailing the Seas of Cheese, and side B was all Aretha Franklin… an odd pairing perhaps, but utterly perfect for me at the time.  I wore that tape out.  Loved the Primus, but found myself rewinding the B side at least a couple times before letting it flip back over.  It’s not that I hadn’t heard Aretha yet, but that was my first full immersion in her music, and it ignited a major growth spurt in me not just as a musician but as a person.  Quite obviously adolescence can be a brutally fertile time and, at risk of being too precious about it, I think listening to such an incredibly empowered and empowering woman helped shape my burgeoning thoughts on what kind of man I wanted to be.  Suffice it to say that what she sang, how she sang it and who she sang it with, (especially the records with the Swampers as the rhythm section), blew my thirteen-year-old mind out and continues to do so on a regular basis.

JT Bates’ Top 5 Most Influential Female Artists

We asked drummer JT to clue us in to some of his favorite influential female artists, and he picked some pretty amazing ones:

The Runaways

Rock and Roll.


Sister Rosetta Tharp

Alpha Consumer has contributed many, many of the 1.3 million views of this video.  Holy buckets.


Carmen McRae

It feels like Carmen is speaking directly to you when she sings.  Like she’s looking out for everyone, everywhere.


Rickie Lee Jones



Billie Holiday

Tried to write about this.  Deleted everything.  Just listen, please.

—Dana Raidt


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Smile, Cry, Overcome and/or Shake Your Ass with K.Raydio’s Girl Germs Mix

We honestly can’t think of anyone better to take on a larger-than-life artist like Erykah Badu than K.Raydio. This hip hop-, soul-, R&B- and jazz-inspired Minneapolis musician (nee Krysta Rayford) has an eclectic, genre-defying sound that is perfectly suited to Badu’s elusive, experimental music.

We asked Krysta to put together a mix of female artists who have shaped her unique style, and it’s (no surprise) a total banger. Listen to it via Spotify here, or use the player below. Catch her channeling Badu’s genius this Saturday at the Turf Club!

This mix of essential womyn artists spans from songs that I grew up listening to as a kid to music that inspired me to pursue music as a young woman. At some point in my life, every song on this mix made a lightbulb flash above my head with inspiration: to smile, cry, overcome, and/or shake my ass. Nostalgia hit me pretty hard when I was making this, and there were many other brilliant artists that I would have loved to include. I can honestly say that every one of these womyn have made my life better via music. Enjoyyyy.  —K.Raydio


—Dana Raidt


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Lady Sings the Blues: a Portrait of Marianne Faithfull by Jess Buns of Yoni Yum

mf2incredible drawing by Jess Buns

“When I listen to Marianne Faithfull, I can hear the blues in her voice. In her book, she speaks about having always had the blues, and how she couldn’t bear it if she didn’t have ’em. I feel that way often; perhaps that is why I am drawn to her music and feel so connected to it. You can hear her pain and struggle, her frustration in songs like “Sister Morphine,” “Brain Drain” and “Broken English”. Hearing the transformation of her voice from album to album is intoxicating. I am so grateful that her music came into my life and can’t wait to cover her songs at Girl Germs! She’s the smokey rock and roll goddess I hope to be one day.” – Jess Buns of Yoni Yum

Marianne Faithfull’s music has long been steeped in a bitter amalgam of heartbreak and personal despair. In the ‘60s the break of her career as a successful songwriter seemed inevitable, and for a while, it was. Her honeyed voice and demure presence exuded components of stardom and she gained traction releasing popular singles and even penning seminal songs like “Sister Morphine” for a certain Dartford quartet (The Rolling Stones). But severe ongoing drug addiction and tumultuous relationships blurred focus from Marianne, the promising, emotionally-charged musician and honed in on a woman who was losing her sense of being, both physically and spiritually. When Faithfull re-emerged full-force in 1979 with one of her most acclaimed albums “Broken English,” listeners were shocked by the drastic transformation years of drug abuse had implemented on her voice. Gone was the velvety resonance and in its place a deeper register and a weathered harshness.

But overpowering any of the aforementioned fluctuations was a woman (still flawed and still very much struggling) who had jerked the reigns of her life with every feeble ounce of strength that she had to spare. Her pain was palpable, and she harnessed her new vocal aesthetic like it was a proud battle scar. It’s worthy of note to mention that many male counterparts in rock ‘n’roll who had similar drug addiction struggles at the time were not held to task or pushed to the back of the shelf in the way that Marianne was as a female musician. Listening to her songs today is an emotional undertaking: the pain, rage, tenderness and unabashed hope nestled deep within darkness is a testament to Faithfull’s inherent bravery and cements her importance as one of the most inspiring female musicians of our time.

These truths are something that I know Jess holds holds a deep understanding and respect of. When I asked her to create this drawing (how talented is she?) and, really, anytime we’ve discussed Marianne thus far she’s expressed the kind of deeply-entrenched relationship that I can only understand in terms of myself with certain writers and musicians; it’s a relationship that’s equal parts agonizing and inspiring in the way that it dares you to create while simultaneously unlocking the paralyzing fear of failure or averageness. I think Marianne could relate to that assessment of her music and  I also think it’s evident that there couldn’t be a better local group to interpret this nuanced queen.

-Sally Hedberg

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Yay for She Rock She Rock!

We’re very excited to have She Rock She Rock as a sponsor for our next Girl Germs Tribute Night. Not does SRSR produce a very popular and successful Girls Rock n Roll Retreat, this organization (which empowers women and girls through music) offers ladies’ rock camps, music lessons, all-female jam sessions, and kids’ after-school programs. This summer they’ll be piloting the Sisters of Sound Initiative, which brings girls ages 14-18 together for 5 days to collectively write a song, record it while learning all about digital audio, and attending workshops on media literacy, body image, healthy relationships and gender bias. They’ll also put on a concert for the community at the end of the program!

To get more info or to chat with the ladies of SRSR about enrolling your daughter (or yourself!) in one of these awesome programs, check out their website and make sure to stop by their table at our next tribute night, Saturday, January 10 at the Turf Club. (Get tickets here!)