Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Ten Commandments of Being an Awesome Female Texas Artist - by Arwyn Benson of Calamity Janes

There are few things I love more than sharing great musical moments with other musicians... particularly musicians that I can relate to, who are real,  who draw me in, and who CREATE music. These moments are heaven-sent, rare, and the very reason that music is my first love. Being "relatable" as a female artist is essential and it goes hand-in-hand with being real- about yourself, about your music, and with other females. There is a lot of insecurity in this industry- particularly in the Estrogen Ocean. Gentlemen, I can’t speak for you. I don’t have the necessary amount of Caveman blood running through my veins…and also, I have an excessive amount of hair products, nail polish, lipstick and glitter around my house that simply won’t allow for it. For those of us with boobs though, this Ocean is RIPE with sharks who are hell-bent on eating us ALIVE for the SLIGHEST perceived indiscretion- and I mean SLIGHTEST.
Hair too big? *eyeroll*
Too much makeup? “FAKE!”
Not enough makeup? “OMG UGLY TROLL!”
Too Skinny? “Does she do drugs? I’ll bet she’s a coke head! EAT A STEAK AND A ROLL!!”
Not Skinny Enough? “GROSS! Why would you EVEN? STOP EATING!”
Heaven forbid we actually play MUSIC well, and say….. enter a competition, and WIN. That’s cause for a public march to the guillotine right there. There’s something about a grown ass woman standing in front of the stage slurring/screaming “You no talent bitches! YOU SUCK” after her son’s band loses to your band in a competition. That always turns me into something my daddy affectionately referred to as his “little redneck girl” and makes me want to break my hand-crafted Tony Lama’s off in said woman’s ass.
Then… there are GLORIOUS moments, like the one I got to partake in on stage last night with 5 other female artists, singing their asses off to songs they wrote, singing back up harmony to each other’s stuff and generally being awesome to one another that restore my faith in this scene… and also inspired me to get up this morning and start this blog series: The 10 Commandments of Being an Awesome Female Texas Artist. Today’s commandment is simple and universally applicable: Don’t Be An Asshole.
Just don’t.
Men- you have it EASY. Don’t believe me? Operate a curling iron without burning every finger on both hands and turning your head into a Chia-pet. Yeahhhh….. Still not convinced? Eyelash curlers and mascara application without poking your eye out. No? Not convinced enough? Periods, childbirth and breastfeeding (BOOM baby- ALL the most terrifying things about having funbags and a uterus in one statement!)
It’s tricky to be a woman in a man’s world. I know, I know! “That comment will set women back 150 years! Blasphemy! Draw and quarter! Tar and Feather! Lynch Mob!” Well, calm your tits. I have a point to make. Our bra-burning momma’s, Rosie the Riveter Grandma’s and Suffragette Great-Grandma’s put a great deal of effort into creating the more equal world we get to live in now. While it’s still a man’s world… or at least a man’s music scene… it’s DEFINITELY the other women in the music scene who can make or break another female artist. We can be real assholes to each other.
I’ve seen it happen to good people- good artists that I know personally, and ones I don’t know. Hell, it’s happened to us! All women are judgey, hypocritical, shallow, narcissistic, jealous, fickle and possessive. Women are moody little balls of unchecked hormones running around in nature, wreaking havoc and causing mayhem.  I don’t stand apart from that statement at all.  I’m often all of those things before I even leave the house. And it’s greatly exaggerated if I leave my house without having coffee first. I’m basically a fun-sized national security concern. I’m on cup #2 this morning, so I’m back down to only a Threat Level Blue (say what you will but I liked the color coded system).  But I digress.
Ladies, on any given day, we are all those things, with a sprinkle of sunshine, a manicure, cute shoes, a little lipstick and a dab of perfume. And we use those things to the detriment of others-particularly other women who we perceive as a threat to our Crown. Sounds DUMB right? It is. That’s all before the music even starts. We can be even MORE snarky (if that’s even POSSIBLE) once the music starts! Things I’ve heard from women in the audience while other women are performing:
 “LORD! Pitchy! Pitchy!”
“Someone lied to her!”
“I’ll bet she doesn’t write her own music!”
“She wiggles so much when she sings”
“I can’t stand her voice”
“I don’t like female country singers”
It’s mean right? That movie “Mean Girls” wasn’t too far removed from the catty nature of the music scene. And that’s just what’s coming from the audience. I’ve heard some pretty shitty comments come from female musicians too! But what for?
Music is the one thing I love above everything. It’s sacred. It’s holy. It’s the place I find myself when the entire world has gone crazy. The writing, the instruments, the creative force- music is the beginning and end for me. I’m not big on talking for extended amounts of time (contrary to the massive amount of words in this blog post), but you put me in a room with other musicians of the non-asshole variety, and our musical conversation- the one that happens when the instruments are playing, and we are singing with and for each other- will be nearly endless. That happened on stage last night at Girls Night Out at Love and War in Texas, Plano. 6 ladies and 2 gentlemen on stage, 6 guitars, two percussion instruments, voices with a story that needed to be heard. My favorite part of last night was the fact that we fan-girl-ed one another after pretty much every song. It was uplifting. It was refreshing. Every person on that stage humbled my musical soul. I was the LEAST talented person on stage last night and I LOVED it!! It challenged me. It grew me. It lit me UP! That’s what I live for!
These musical moments are REALLY why we subject ourselves to the harsh scrutiny, the often mean-spirited judgment, the smoky bars, the shitty comments from other musicians fans, the drunk dude standing at the foot of the stage yelling at you to “PLAY SOME COUNTRY MUSIC!” We practice for hours, trek hundreds of miles hauling equipment that is worth more than our vehicles often for less pay than a fast food worker gets to play for half-appreciative bar owners just to experience those few glorious moments on stage where nothing and no one else matters; for that one person in the bar that you’ve noticed from the stage, who has said nothing, but comes up to you after the show and quietly tells you they love your music; for the other people on stage with you; for the healing power that music has to restore a tired soul.
That’s really what’s missing from our music scene. Admiration. Respect. Appreciation of people and their craft. Yes, there are some jerks in this business. Those are the people I DON’T go support. Those are the people I don’t spend my hard earned money on. In all seriousness- being an asshole or allowing your fans to be assholes to other musicians- with boobs or without- isn’t okay, man. It just isn’t. We all fight the same battles. We all worry the same worries. We all struggle with writers block. We all have bills to pay, mouths to feed, and things to say. WE ARE THE SAME PEOPLE. So why, then, do we treat each other so poorly? I guess this is a basic human question too.
As we ramp up for our weekend of being road dogs and stage warriors, remember what we are doing, why we do it and who we are REALLY doing it for. Now, go make some music and don’t be an asshole.





Next blog in the series: Commandment #2: “Support… It Ain’t Just About Push- Up Bras ”

1 comment :

  1. Rock on Sister! I enjoyed your blog immensely.

    ReplyDelete