With LadyFestGR gearing up for its fourth year, the time to celebrate female-badassery is nigh.
The annual springtime rite is both a tribute to women in the community as well as a chance for female artists in the region to support a nonprofit of their collective choosing.
Held Saturday, April 4, the event blends cool workshops, exhibitions and performances — and, as always, a whole bunch of killer music from lady bands. Over the years, LadyFestGR has been an outlet for local artists such as Lady Ace Boogie, The Doctors’ Wives and Nobody’s Darlin’, in addition to national acts like Nite Jewel, The Blow, Invincible and Jean Grae.
April 4, 2015, noon–1 a.m.Multiple venues in downtown and Heartside Grand Rapids
Flushed, Rachel Gleason, Sarge Tha Dame, Zirilli, RIO, Brianne Ross, Rebel Kind, Yolonda Lavender, Casual Sweetheart, Hannah Rose Graves, Veloras, SuperDre, Sarah Jean Anderson variety show
Performances $10, workshops free, all agesladyfestgr.com
“I think that music is such an integral part of LadyFests all over the world because it’s a chance for women to tell their stories loudly,” said Jes Kramer, a member of the planning committee for LadyFestGR.
LadyFest started in Olympia, Wash. in 2000 and since then, “the name and spirit have been transferred to different events all around the world,” Kramer said. This year’s GR event features daytime performances throughout the Heartside Neighborhood and a stacked roster of night-time performances at the Pyramid Scheme.
“We feature as many genres as we can because we want to show people, especially younger attendees, that they aren’t limited to one thing,” Kramer said. “I’m really excited to have GR natives FLUSHED playing this year.”
While dudes are certainly encouraged to attend LadyFestGR events, the group follows a policy that requires all performers and presenters to self-identify as female.
“It’s something that we as a group discuss regularly,” Kramer said. “But the conclusion that we usually end up reaching is that, as long as it is difficult for us to find bands entirely made up of female or trans performers, it’s still a problem of underrepresentation.”
Kramer said the lack of local female bands and performers is evident after scoping out concert calendars at area music venues.
“It’s too hard to go out on a given day of the week and see more than maybe one woman on stage at a local venue,” she said. “The LadyfestGR committee, many of whom have children, want there to be an event where young kids can go and see women playing the drums, fixing bikes and breaking as many stereotypes as possible.”
All benefits from this year’s fest are going to Girls Rock! Grand Rapids, a nonprofit dedicated to helping local women learn how to shred. The group hosts an annual camp for 8-16 year old girls where they learn how to play an instrument, work together in a band, perform on stage and record an original song.
“The committee feels like the work they do is so crucial in boosting the self-esteem and amplifying the voices of local girls, and we’re proud to have them as a beneficiary this year,” Kramer said.