Bohemian Rhapsody: The Rockstar Movie That Caught Me By Surprise

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Bohemian Rhapsody — the biopic about Freddie Mercury, which celebrates Queen’s music — was not what I expected it to be. It was better. 

But I almost didn’t see it. With so much Oscar buzz around Lady Gaga and A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody was not at the top of my “must view” list. 

I love Queen’s songs: “We will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Are the Champions” are regulars on my iTunes playlists. But time is limited when you’re a parent of young children. Going to the movies typically means seeing a cartoon with a Disney princess, angry bird or Lego ninja. 

Also, I already knew the story of Freddie Mercury — or at least I thought I knew it. I’d heard the songs, and read articles from time to time about the lead singer of Queen who wrote epic rock n’ roll anthems and eventually died because of AIDS-related complications. But as it turned out, what I knew barely scratched the surface of who Mercury was, or his profound legacy. Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie, digs much deeper. 

Fortunately, life often has a way of giving me what I need. And last week, as I settled into my seat for a flight to Orlando, there it was, in the Delta movie queue. Ready to watch. 

I was hooked on the sweet, charismatic Mercury (Rami Malek) within the first few opening scenes, watching him slinging suitcases onto a truck at Heathrow and bicker with his dad before heading out to the local club to see an up-and-coming band. 

Malek did a tremendous job portraying Mercury in his transformation into the person he was “meant to be”: from the lonely, sweet, shy, conflicted 20 something,  into the dazzling performer with the multidimensional voice who wielded his microphone stand like a scepter. The portrayal was far from “boring” — Mercury’s favorite term for anything that didn’t push, or challenge, artistic boundaries. Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy, who played band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, respectively, also delivered spectacular performances, as did Lucy Boynton as Freddie’s love — and best friend — Mary Austin. It definitely helped that the real-life May and Taylor served as creative consultants for the movie. 

At 2+ hours, the movie is a longer one (I was cut off as my plane landed, so I ended up watching it again on the return flight). But it’s worth watching, start to finish, again and again. While Rhapsody has endured criticism for a few supposed historical inaccuracies, anyone who plays music in band should not miss this gem of a movie.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

5 More Great Signature Guitars Inspired and Designed by Female Guitarists

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

From St. Vincent’s Ernie Ball Music Man guitar to Orianthi’s PRS, signature guitars by and for women are no longer an anomaly for the occasional, rogue female guitarist who shreds like she belongs in a headlining band. 

As a sequel to our first guide on female-inspired and designed guitars, we offer five more signature guitars from some of the best (female) musicians around.

Nita Strauss’ Ibanez JIVA10 Signature Electric Guitar. Unveiled in summer 2018 as Strauss embarked on another U.S. tour with Alice Cooper, this “deep space blonde” electric guitar is lightweight and ideal for the mobile rocker who likes to move around onstage. The guitar’s Edge Zero II bridge features a lower profile design for comfort, a stud lock function for superior tuning stability, signature DiMarzio pickups and more. Watch Strauss demo the guitar in this video. 

[RELATED: 5 Reasons Why I’m Swooning Over Guitarist Nita Strauss’ Signature Ibanez JIVA]

Courtney Cox Signature Caparison Guitars Horus-M3 CC. Like Strauss’ guitar, this baby — the first signature model for the Iron Maidens’ lead guitarist — is durable and made for a shredder. Features include a full 27-finger fretboard (for screaming solos), a custom-wound Caparison hum buckers, and maple center section so you can play high-pitched solos or warmer tones. 

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Courtney Cox Signature Caparison Guitars Horus-M3 CC

B.C. Rich Lita Ford Signature Warlock Electric Guitar. The wicked-looking 2012 guitar played by the mother of metal features an “onyx-colored beveled mahogany” body, mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard. We’re digging the “black widow” design on the lower bout. It also features two dual humbucker pickups: a Seymour Duncan SH-4 (neck) and a Seymour Duncan SH-6 (bridge). 

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B.C. Rich Lita Ford Signature Warlock Electric Guitar

Ovation Kaki King Signature Artist Elite Acoustic Electric Guitar. This guitar, a collaboration between King collaborated with the Ovation R&D team, is a high-performance instrument with single cutaway body with a AAA Solid Spruce top with quarter-swan scalloped “X” bracing. The satin-finished, five-piece mahogany/maple neck has an ebony fretboard with 20 fully accessible frets (but 24 frets on the high-E string). 

1996 Bonnie Raitt Signature Stratocaster. Blues rocker Raitt was one of the first women to get her own signature guitar from Fender. This baby — which is no longer in production — features a slim “C” shaped neck, clean tone and a gorgeous finish. 

Want to try one out? Be sure to call your local guitar or music store first (or check an online retailer’s return policy ). Happy jam time! 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Children’s Music Artist Sukey Molloy on the Importance of Movement, Learning and Growing

By Sukey Molloy

During the critical first years of life, very young children need action-based learning to nourish and organize the developing brain.

Did you know that movement is an essential part of each child’s growth and education? Movement nourishes the brain, stimulates the body, and opens the feelings. Infants and young children need lots of fun and developmentally appropriate sensory-motor learning activities throughout each day to acquire important physical, emotional, and cognitive skills.

Movement play and songprovide the developing brain with the food and nourishment it needs. In fact, the postures and physical skills we learn by age ten are the ones we will take through life. In the earliest years, it’s important to expose each child to as many movement, sound and rhythmic possibilities as possible in order to give a wide and expansive vocabulary for expression and health.

When learning new skills, each child has his or her very own individual learning style! Learning to read for instance, can involve the whole body! Providing a ‘multi-sensory’ approach to learning stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, allowing learning to go deeper.

What is this a picture of?

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To the left side of the brain, it is something represented by the symbols C A T

To the right side of the brain, it is something soft and furry that sounds like M E O W

Both are true! Children need to play with different learning styles that include both hemispheres of the brain in order to discover and develop an inner, and individual motivation.

Sukey Molloy is a children’s music artist, educator and author.

On Taking Chances and Embarking on New Adventures Post-Kids

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

From the moment I set foot on my first airplane at age 4, I’ve always loved traveling — from exploring Disney World as a little girl to setting foot in Amsterdam, Rome, London, Paris, Belize and countless other places as an adult.img_3850

I’ve slept on floors of friends’ ramshackle houses, exhausted from playing back-to-back rock shows. I’ve enjoyed plush hotel beds in foreign cities and quaint countrysides with my family — especially my grandmother Mary, who would take me wherever she wanted to go, regardless of my age. One of my fondest memories is of the time she took me to a casino on Paradise Island (the Bahamas) and insisted that I was 18 (I was 12, maybe 13 at the time).

These days, I spend more time envying my friends’ travel pics on Instagram — especially my parent friends — than I do actually traveling. I’m not a touring musician by any stretch of the word, and taking kids anywhere is expensive. As a result, I’m grounded most of the time. I have a bucket list, of course — it includes Greece, Hawaii, Croatia, among other destinations — but it’s not something I’m actively checking off.

So when my husband surprised me on our anniversary with a trip to Jamaica, I was ecstatic — but a little less enthusiastic than I would have been 10 years ago. My adventure “muscle” is out of shape. Could I really bring myself to go to another country for a few days? Sure, we’d gone to Nashville for two nights in 2015, and a honeymoon in 2010 in Belize, but times have changed. We’re in the middle of a government shutdown and the current political climate is anxiety-inducing.

I need only look at photos from my youth to realize that I miss my old, whimsical self. The one who wasn’t afraid of plane flights or long security lines. The one who favored grit, not glamour. The one who could be wowed by a flock of dirty pigeons in Venice, Italy, or muscled Gods in Venice, California. This girl is still inside me, I just need to dig her out. Yeah, the one who tried Haggis in Scotland while her distressed parents looked on. I want that girl back! img_3851

I guess my message is this: Try not to let life and parenthood make you forget who you are. Sure, you’re older and wiser (and likely more considerate and careful), but you don’t need to forget how to be curious, and embrace the unknown. I write this to myself as much as anyone else, hoping the words will sink in if I push hard enough on the computer keys. Maybe they will.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Camp Crush’s Jennifer Deale Gets Real About Politics and Relationships with ‘Run’ EP

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

Camp Crush, the Portland, Ore.-based wife-husband duo of Jennifer Deale (synths, keys, vocals) and Chris Spicer (drums, vocals), is known for embedding important social messages into sonically luscious New Wave pop.

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Camp Crush: Parents and partners Chris Spicer and Jennifer Deale.

Onstage and on screen, Camp Crush aims to stimulate conversation, as evidenced by band’s deeply moving May 2018 EP She’s Got It, or the single “Take Me Back.” 

[RELATED: Camp Crush’s Jennifer Deale on Parenthood, Music, Feminism and Carving Out a New Sound]

In their downtime, they’re just regular parents, trying to give their two young children the best, most balanced life possible in a progressive-leaning town. But over the past two years, under the eye of a Conservative-leaning legislative and executive branch, new and unexpected challenges have arisen. Specifically, the political divisiveness has wielded significant impact on interpersonal relationships, and challenged the deepest of friendships.  

Camp Crush’s new EP Run, out Feb. 1, is the culmination of these challenges, a set of songs about the divisiveness that dealt huge personal blows. It’s an album about human connection, but also the tragedy of human disconnection. But Deale also wants it to be a record about hope. 

Rockmommy caught up with Deale to talk about parenting her son and daughter, making music with her partner (and coparent) Spicer, and navigating political differences in the quest for a peaceful world. 

Rockmommy: What’s the backstory for this record? How did it come about? 

Jennifer Deale: With this whole new societal landscape we’re all living in, all of a sudden everything is divisive, and every single issue is incredibly important to everyone you know. It’s true the stakes are very high for everyone involved. And one thing I didn’t expect when this happened was the fallout between my family, my friends, my neighbors. I think the world is experiencing this wariness of human connection, they’re afraid of being attacked, saying the wrong thing. As musicians, we’ve seen that people aren’t going out as much. Or if you know you’re on a different side than someone, there’s distancing that happens. But a huge part of being a musician is building community — with your fans, with venues … and from a musician standpoint, we’ve seen the impact of [this distancing]. It really led to us writing these songs. Human connection is the answer. If we can get face to face with people, we can see them as human. 

Rockmommy: Is your music community political? 

Jennifer Deale: Obviously Portland [Oregon] is a very progressive city, but even within that there are these sub-genres that divide. Maybe you’re progressive, but you’re not progressive enough. Or it’s Bernie bros verses Clinton voters. And then you start subdividing. And we’re just like, ‘hey, let’s find some humanity. Let’s do the good that inspires you.’ If we can focus less on some differences, the world would be so much better. 

Rockmommy: With so many divisive issues, how is that possible to come together? 

Jennifer Deale: If you listen to our music, you know we don’t back down from our stances. There are some base issues we care about — like our safety and about equal rights. But at Thanksgiving, do you not attend because you’ll be around family who feels different? I’m not about meeting in the middle, but I can show a decent amount of respect.

Rockmommy: So let’s talk about the album. 

Jennifer Deale: ‘Run,’ the first song we released, is featured with an animated music video that Chris made. That song is about that human connection. I say, ‘I want to run away’ … I don’t want to deal with the complications of society the way it is.’ But instead of running away, we should run to each other. Find community. ‘Vicious Life’ I wrote about losing friendships after this political divide happened.

Rockmommy: Why is this music important to your children, the next generation?

Jennifer Deale: It’s important to show we can still learn and grow. We want to show our kids that we’re not making blanket decisions. It’s important that we teach our kids to have an open mind.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

An Ode to my 2009 Pre-Rockmommy Self

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Have you done the #10yearchallenge yet? I know it’s a Facebook gimmick, and more than one of my loved ones believed the whole thing is designed to snag personal data that helps Facebook. But it’s fun! And with today’s hostile political climate, fun is much-needed. So I’ve participated (hopefully I won’t come to regret this decision).

As such, note the difference between 2008/2009 rockstar me and me today (well, in 2018, so close enough).

There’s an unexpected upside to posting these pics, though. It makes me think about who I was in my pre-kiddo days, when I had hours to twiddle away, playing guitar and writing. Who am I kidding? I was a freelance writer and guitar teacher, just like I am today. Only I spent more time engaging in income-generating work, volunteering for rock n’ roll camps, and actually being on tour — twice — with Girls Rock Girls Rule.

One night, Zack and I went out to a punk show in Brooklyn to see my lead guitarist Bryant Furey’s other band. There was a cool photo booth and I got some random pics taken.

Just to show everyone how cool I was, I present you my Yeah Yeah Yeahs-inspired, glove and pink camisole photo. I had cool hair too, thanks to my friend Paris.

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What are some of your best memories from the pre-parent days?

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

New Year’s Guitar Goals: 10 Minutes Per Day

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

I’m not really one for New Year’s Resolutions, but I do start off every January 1 with the intention to be a better person and a better parent and spouse. But I’m also feeling a little bummed that most nights, I’m too exhausted to practice music, and most days, I’m too busy parenting or working to make like Nita Strauss and bust out solos left and right.

And so goes the life of the busy parent!


I wouldn’t have it any other way — I love my kids and they are everything to me. But I needed to do something to motivate myself just a little more on the nights I don’t have band practice, because unless I have a show coming up, it’s sometimes hard to motivate myself to play.

A wise person once told me, “pick up your guitar every single day, even if it’s only for five minutes.” That got me thinking, “if I can pick up my guitar for five minutes, then why not 10 minutes?” Sure, it would be nice to play guitar for three hours per day (outside of teaching), but the way my life is right now, that’s impossible. But 10 minutes? I can handle that!

With my busy life, 10 minutes every single day is harder than I thought it would be. Still, I’m happy to say that on Day 7, I’ve managed to fit in 10 minutes every single day — even when it means I have to sneak off into another room and play quietly while my kids are watching Ninjago. Even when it means I’m going to bed super late because it takes 10 minutes to motivate myself not to skip a day.

And as a result, I feel much better about life. I’m doing something small every day to nurture my skills and bring music into my life.

So now, I’m going to throw this question to the readers: What can you do for 10 minutes every day that feeds your soul? Post in the comments below.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.