Rew’s Last Stand: A Beloved NYC Rocker Mom Bids Farewell to Her Internet Show

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

When I first met Rew, at a Girls Rock & Girls Rule 2007 pre-tour meeting, I didn’t know what to make of her.

Here was this woman with the biggest smile I’d ever seen, donned in a black-on-black mishmash of punk-rock and glittery, childlike attire. She was funny and strange, but totally down to earth at the same time.

Soon after that initial meeting, I learned that she had two grade-school-age daughters, which shattered my ideas of what it meant to be a mother — weren’t women supposed to quit playing rock and roll when they became moms? Unless you’re famous and rich, isn’t there some unwritten rule that you spend your limited free time cooking and reading “Good Housekeeping?”

Apparently not.

It’s been about 10 years, and today, I’m also a mom and a rocker, like Rew. And still, she remains one of the coolest, if not the coolest, New York City musician mamas I’ve ever met.

So no one was more pleased than me when, soon after our second tour in 2008, Rew launched the first iteration of what would become “Rew & Who,” her weekly Internet show that gives every musical performer their “15 minutes of fame” and calls on them to confess their deepest, darkest “skeleton” in the closet.  The show is absolutely unlike any “behind-the-scenes” style music profile you’ve ever seen!

When I found out Rew & Who would soon bid adieu to the world of music, I felt a little sad. But I understood. Rew’s a busy musician, mom, and more. Juggling all these things is near impossible and something has to give.

The final “Rew & Who” show will air live on August 17, 2016, 4-6 p.m. at Otto’s Shrunken Head in NYC. (For more on Rew’s other ambitions, check out her April 2015 interview with Rockmommy.


Rew of “Rew & Who?”

Here, she answers some of Rockmommy’s burning questions:

Rockmommy: So, August 17, 2016 — is this really the last Rew & Who?

Rew: I hope so!!!

Rockmommy: Or are you continuing the show in another medium?

Rew: I want to start editing all the archives to make a series that can be timeless… we have so much footage of all the years of the show and I really want to WATCH it!!! We have been blessed with so many guests passing thru from NYC and the world and I would rather get it out there than have it rot sitting on YouTube.So editing it into a late-night show that can utilize all the precious moments is my dream for now.

Rockmommy: Why are you ending the show?

Rew: I am ending the show because I have timelessly put my heart and sole into it for so many years. I started as ReWBee’s World at Arizzma studios in Feb 2009 and then August of 2009 it turned into ReW & WhO? overnight. Then on May 19, 2010, Joey Ramone’s birthday, I moved the show to Otto’s Shrunken Head and it became my entire responsibility 100000000000000%. I have been so lucky with so many people who helped each week, Swami was the first to get me going, then Kate Perotti helped for long while, then Caroleen Stewart stuck it out till the very end. I have had some amazing interns as well, my wonderful daughter Harlee, Karen Monteiro, Zoe Davidson, Jonathan Locilento, Caroline Kaplan, Juan and the Fabulous  HooP. There were more too… and I thank them ALL from the bottom of my heart…They helped keep it going while they were there so much and I am eternally grateful.


Rew, hosting her show “Rew & Who” with some musical guests. 

Back to why I am ending… I am tapped out. I have also started acting and right now I got two lead parts in two films and I have so much work memorizing lines, rehearsing and shooting, that I cannot devote all my time to the show at this point. The show takes up ALL of my time — booking, confirming, organizing each week, and so much more. ReW & WhO? is a full-time job and … we still haven’t nailed our fairy god sponsor. So with that said, we appreciate all the donations we got along the way, just it hasn’t been enough to pay the rent so the time has come to close the door for now. THANK YOU OTTO’S SHRUNKEN HEAD, the Branded Saloon, Bungas Den, The Trinity in London and everywhere else we have done the show.


Rockmommy: When you look back at the last several years, what are you most proud of accomplishing, in terms of the show?

Rew: My most proud accomplishments are truly being so passionate about the show and barely ever missing a week. The show was so wonderful to me in the ability to meet so many people and I was able to really observe so much passion and talent that exists in this world.  I really am a believer that this world has so much good in it and ReW & WhO is a perfect example of that. I really feel so lucky making so many friends worldwide and really get inspired by everyone who passes through. I love the show’s ability to even disagree peacefully amongst each other no matter what the topic being said was at the moment.  The guests are my biggest accomplishment . The fact that they even wanted to be on the show and then there were so many who consistently want to return, that is just so overwhelmingly huge to me. I thank everyone who passed through and feel so lucky to be apart of this experience.

Rockmommy: Could you tell us about two or three of your favorite guests or moments?

Rew: Truthfully every guest had something to offer. Paul Zest Radio from Canada was a standout guest because he has been one of my biggest supporters of all time. The constant encouragement and kindness that he showed even before meeting us was overwhelming. And then when he visited NYC he was the WhO cohost twice that week (once at Otto’s and then the Brooklyn edition). He even brought us Elvis’ daughter [Elainee Presley] to both episodes, so there are two birds in one stone.

Alan Merrill has become a brother to me throughout the years and Jurgen & Marlowe have become family too as cohosts and non-blood family…my intern Zoe made this as her going away present..

Rockmommy: Who had the best “skeleton” in the closet?

Rew: Hmmm … another hard one to pinpoint. There have been so many amazing ones… some have gotten truly deep and some have even asked to edit them out!! Haha! The one that always was a stand out one my memory, at 14 minutes in from Keith of BITE.

Rockmommy: So with the show off your plate, what’s next for Rew?

Rew: Well as I said the acting is happening, I also will be releasing a single soon with Manta Ray Records, a label out of Baltimore I am working with. We began the song that was inspired from the documentary “AMY” —  I never in a million years knew I would see that film and come home and channel a song right after seeing it. Manta Ray wanted me to release a brand new track with them and that was the one they picked… so stay tuned for “Miss House of Wine” in the near future.

Rockmommy: How are your daughters doing? Are they following in your path as a musician?

Rew: My daughters are incredible and they are following their own paths!!! Eva Lin is actually performing her music and writing the most incredible songs. She has a residency performing every Wednesday in July at Rockwood Music Hall this summer and I am blown way by her. Harlee is pursuing film and she has been writing as she always has her entire life. She has a few screen plays on her hard drive just waiting to turn into masterpieces.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy

Ragnar Kjartansson’s Tinseled Female-Guitarist Art Piece ‘Woman in E’ Bothers Me: But is That the Point?

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Let’s start off with this: I am a mom, musician, and feminist. I am not — and have never been — an art critic.

I don’t write brilliant, cerebral dissertations about art exhibits and their overt and subliminal messages. I just like to consume.


Ragnar Kjartansson’s “Woman in E” (photo credit: Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit)

So when I first heard that The Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., was seeking female guitar players to participate in Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s performance-art piece — and that they would get paid to play an electric guitar — I was ecstatic! I had never heard of a performance-art installation that featured female electric guitarists, letting one after another showcase their dexterity on an axe. So I broadcasted the news on my blog Rockmommy’s Facebook page, hoping that my guitar-wielding pals in the D.C. area (which happens to be my hometown) would jump on this opportunity.

“Applicants will be selected based upon their availability, stage presence, and ability to tune, re-string, and play basic chords on an electric guitar,” the announcement said. The performance-art piece, entitled “Woman in E,” is part of a larger “survey exhibition” dedicated to the artist, which will run October 13, 2016, through January 8, 2017, at The Hirshhorn. Auditions were held in early July for the first 80 applicants (since so many qualified female guitarists were expected to apply).

So far, so good, I told myself. Finally, female guitarists were getting much-deserved recognition on a major scale.

However, when I inquired with The Hirshhorn Museum about the piece, in an effort to learn more so I could relay information to Rockmommy readers, many of whom are women who play the electric guitar exceptionally well, one of the press reps sent me a video that would end up leaving me unexpectedly angry and confused. As it turns out, “Woman in E” consists of a rotating cast of women, standing on a spinning pedestal and strumming the easiest guitar chord in the universe for two-hour clips!

“It’s just a lady on a pedestal playing melancholy chords,” Kjartansson explained in a video interview following the debut of the piece at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. “And it plays a little bit into A-minor and then goes into E-minor again.”

To be fair, Kjartansson admitted the exhibit “is a comment on feminism and objectification.”

Still, after watching the video, I felt put off: Who does this man think he is, showcasing  talented female guitarists —who are an underrepresented, objectified minority among musicians already — in such a limited capacity? Does Kjartansson actually know how to play guitar? (As I would learn later, he was, in fact, the lead guitarist for his band in high school.) Still, the negative judgments loomed large, and I found myself thinking: of course an exhibit like this would be created by a man!

After I’d cooled off, it occurred to me that sometimes one can’t always see the broader landscape, or the bigger vision, that drives an artist to create. You don’t get written up by lofty, high-brow media outlets like The New Yorker if you aren’t stirring debates or furthering conversations or moving people, right? Kjartansson is an impactful artist who does all of these things.

So I decided to take a closer look at some of the press materials associated with this piece and watch the video again.

I learned that “Woman in E” was conceived after the artist learned that an exhibit space he wanted to use had once served as a show room for cars. After learning this, he supposedly got the idea for using a gaudy, gold pedestal to “showcase” a performer like merchandise.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Kjartansson sought to hire a diverse cast of female guitarists.

“The performers are these super-cool Detroit ladies,” he said in the post-MOCA Detroit video interview. “They’re kind of like these Statues of Liberty or something.”

Third, Kjartansson’s art education, upbringing, and surroundings have all contributed to his worldview and artistic expression. Feminist art courses have inspired him to think a lot about issues such as how “violent” it can be to objectify a woman in art; his fascination with America, which can come across as disgust, comes from his being raised “in a socialist anti-American home.”

In one writeup for “Woman in E,” it as explained that “the protagonist powerfully embodies multiple tropes of femininity at once — she is a goddess, conqueror, and siren — but eludes a single narrative.”

This statement pretty much reiterates the message dispatched in the “official” write-up, which I was sent by Hirshhorn’s press rep:

“Kjartansson carries the key of E-minor to immersive hyperbole with Woman in E, an installation that walks a characteristic line of earnestness and caricature. An E-minor chord rings out in endless repetition from within a dazzling tinseled environment, its performer rotating slowly like an idol upon her pedestal … But the female performer here is ultimately powerful, as her audience is allowed to indulge in the melodrama of her evocative performance.”

It’s that last sentence I’m still not sure I agree with, even after sitting with my feelings for a few days.”Woman in E” certainly stirs discussions and inspires thoughts around feminism, femininity, and musicianship. But is the woman really “ultimately powerful” because she is strumming a melancholy minor chord, on display in a Miss America-style gown? I can’t imagine people walking away from this exhibit thinking of these women as “powerful” (though the melancholy expressions on some of the Detroit women’s faces as they strummed the E-minor chord definitely make an impression!).

Wouldn’t the subject be more “ultimately powerful” if she were playing something more complex, like the Pentatonic scale or some other minor scale, suited to her skill set?

Female guitarists are no longer novelties, so I’d love for art involving them to elevate consumers. I wish Kjartansson had given his troupe of dazzling guitar-wielding ladies some leeway to demonstrate their skills. That way, the piece could have still served its purpose as a “comment on female objectification,” but without leaving the art consumer with a limited impression of a woman’s musical potential.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

‘I Started a Band with my Toddler’: The Nap Skippers’ Julie Rustad on Life and Gigging with a Wee One

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Lots of musician parents dream of their offspring rocking the stage one day, perhaps after their kid finishes high school. But for drummer mom Julie Rustad and her guitarist husband Jon, their son Syver hadn’t even hit kindergarten before he started showing an interest in the big stage!

Today, the Tucson, Ariz.-based Rustads — Julie, Jon, and 5-year-old son Syver — rock out, family style, at all-ages events across the country with their band The Nap Skippers.

And for moms like me, who play guitar and sing, it’s pretty inspirational to watch.

Recently, mama Julie Rustad chatted with Rockmommy about what it’s like to start a band with your musically inclined toddler — from practicing to playing a gig in front of lots of other families and little ones. While creating a family band might not make sense for every rocker mom — especially if your child, like mine, hates performing — it’s pretty neat to see how the Rustads make it work.

(And if you want to listen while you read, check out their new single “I’m a Desert Dweller” on iTunes or Spotify). Or, check out our video page to catch a glimpse of the three-piece family band!

Rockmommy: How did you get started as a musician? 

Julie Rustad: When I lived in Philly I would play [drums] on cardboard boxes, and took one basic drumming class at Drexel. My first kit was a digital Yamaha kit because I lived in an apartment.

napskippers favorite

The Nap Skippers with Syver Rustad on guitar and lead vocals, and Julie Rusted on drums. Photo credit: SpryTime (Tucson Festival of Books)

My first band started when I moved to Tucson about 13 years ago and it was an all-girl rock band. It got started because the band, a three-piece, they needed a drummer. We called it Sara Bellum. I was out one night, and mentioned I was a self-taught drummer, and this guy I knew mentioned the band, and said, ‘these girls I know are looking for a female drummer. You should hook up with them.’ When I got in the band, I got an acoustic kit.

Rockmommy: How did things change when you became a mom?

JR: My son will be six in September, so he’s over five and a half and he’s my only child. Before I had him, I was in a band called Mozart Sister, and the HypnoGogs with my husband, Jon, and up until 8 months pregnant I was playing shows. Once I had my son, I realized it’s really hard to have an adult band with your spouse — you’ve got to get a sitter, because you’re going to be out, and practice is really hard because of the baby. The family band came as a natural way to do music. So things really shifted from “rock and roll” to family friendly music.

Rockmommy: How did that make you feel? 

JR: It’s really fun because our son’s a natural, to see him thrive is really fun. As for me, I do miss rocking out and that kind of thing. So it’s a balance of feelings.

napskippers second fave

The Rustads (with Jon on guitar and Syver on vocals) play Tucson Festival of Books. Photo by SpryTime

Rockmommy: How old was he when you got started? 

JR: He was 2 or 3. He’s the lead singer, and so … I think it was his second birthday we had a party at the Children’s Museum, and we said, ‘hey, let’s just play some music, some kids’ songs.’ Everyone loved it and that’s how our band was formed. If you go on, you’ll see live videos — he’s the lead and he sings all the songs, and plays different instruments — none obviously, he’s super proficient in — but he’ll strum guitar, or play harmonica. And the first song he wrote was when he was about 3 was called, “Cowboy Kitty.”

Rockmommy: How do you sit down and write a song with a three year old?

JR: I credit Jon, who would kind of sit with Syver, and make a tune while Syver would talk about the words, [like] about this cowboy kitty who’s riding a horse. Jon would come up with the melody and they would come up with it together. It’s almost like normal band practice when you’re writing music when you’re older and doing it too. He’s really humorous!

Rockmommy: Can you tell us about the name ‘Nap Skippers’?

JR: The funny part is he took naps up until the beginning of summer because he started camp, so he had been an awesome napper until he was five, so it’s kind of a joke. But the play on the name is that it sounds a little rebellious [like rock and roll].

Rockmommy: How often do you practice, and play gigs? 

JR: We practice maybe every two weeks. When we have a show, we’ll practice more. We play shows, and we’ve played for our county fairs. Why it took off is that there’s all these family-friendly venues that love having entertainment but family-friendly entertainment. Kids can relate to Syver because he’s a kid! And because he’s a kid, no two shows are ever the same. Sometimes he’ll come up with a weird joke, or do some new move.

Rockmommy: Does he have stage fright?

JR: He does not have any stage fright. We once played for 500 people in North Dakota. The more the better for him. That’s what I mean about him being a natural. I’d be such a shitty parent if I forced him to ‘do it’ or ‘go out there.’ But he loves it!

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The Nap Skippers. Photo credit: Trish Winter

Rockmommy: Don’t you have to have structure at shows? 

JR: He reads the order of the songs we play on paper. We’ve really kept the set kind of the same for a long time. He does like knowing the order of stuff, and we keep it pretty consistent, so if I try to switch the order he knows.

Practice is disjointed, but when there are people there, he feels like it’s a performance [and takes it seriously]. That’s what does it for him — having an audience. Once, when were going to audition for “America’s Got Talent,” one of the talent guys said, ‘send us a good video,’ so we kept recording us playing songs. But when I saw the videos I realized something was missing. Syver seemed kind of ‘blah’ so I asked one of his classmates and her family to come to our studio …  and that’s the video I ended up sending to “America’s Got Talent” — it was better when he had someone to play to. That’s what does it for him. He loves having an audience.

Rockmommy: Does he want to play any instruments?

JR: He says he wants to learn guitar. He’s five and a half, so now we think he’s ready to learn some of the chords.

Rockmommy: If someone wants to play music with their kids, what advice do you have? 

JR: Jon always has a guitar in the living room. I would say, definitely, keep your instruments out and allow for jamming and being spontaneous. Keep them accessible. And make it fun. Band practice is so random, it’s short and he’s all over the place. He’ll jump from the banjo to the ukulele — and Jon and I will hold down the guitar and drum parts — but, you know, he’s a kid. You’ve got to treat it loosely.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.

My Top 10 Favorite Hole Songs in Honor of Courtney Love’s 52nd Birthday

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Most of you know I’ve been a HUGE fan of Courtney Love and Hole since May 1994, when I read a review of “Live Through This,” and decided to buy the then-newly-released CD. Two months later, I rocked out at my very first Hole show (at the now-transformed WUST Radio Music Hall in Washington, D.C.) and found my goddess: Courtney Love was EVERYTHING. To this day, Hole is still one of my top five favorite bands (though I’m not the smitten teen I once was, especially when Courtney starts shows late on a weeknight).

On July 9, Courtney Love turns 52 (wow!). While the controversial rock mama continues to make headlines, I decided to get nostalgic and reminisce about the good ol’ days of grunge, while I hold onto hope that the late 1994 lineup, which includes Patty Schmel, Eric Erlandson, and Melissa Auf der Maur, will return to the stage.


Hole, during the “Live Through This” era. RIP, Kristen Pfaff.

Until then, I offer this list of my top 10 favorite Hole songs of all time:

#10 “Doll Parts” (Live Through This): Who doesn’t want to be the girl with the most cake? And who doesn’t totally dig Courtney Love with just an acoustic guitar, all stripped down?

#9 “Miss World” (Live Through This): This song is a powerful “f#ck you” to the beauty pageant industry. At the time it was written, mainstream America still had a fascination with these kinds of competitions, so for legions of young teens like me, it became our anthem.

#8 “Celebrity Skin” (Celebrity Skin): From the moment she demanded “Oh, make me over” I was hooked on this title track to Hole’s “Live Through This” follow-up.

#7 “Sugar Coma”: Let’s not confuse “Sugar Coma” with “Boys on The Radio,” a re-purposed version of the original, and a much more watered-down track. The original was perfect.

#6 “Best Sunday Dress”: There’s something sweet on the surface of this single, with the chord progression, which gives the lyrics “Put on my best Sunday dress/walk straight into this mess of mine” a more powerful punch.

#5 “Teenage Whore” (Pretty on the Inside): “Pretty on The Inside” is Hole’s rawest album. It’s gritty punk goodness, and “Teenage Whore” tells it like it is.

#4 “My Beautiful Son”: I’m not sure what this song is about, but I think it’s about having a transgender son? The 1993 track has me singing along every time.


Courtney Love

#3 “Pretty on the Inside” (Pretty on The Inside): I miss angry, super-grunge Courtney Love. I love the title track from this record because it comes on, unexpected.

#2 “Plump” (Live Through This): Because the guitar riffs and scream-singing is so awesome.

#1 “Violet” (Live Through This): I will always remember “Violet” as the song that got me hooked on Hole and grunge, with its proud, anthemic chorus, “go on, take everything, take everything!” I felt so many emotions hearing this song, and it still gets me giddy today!

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder of Rockmommy.

Awesome 5-Minute Abs Workout for Post-Natal Moms Who Rock

Pregnancy is one of the most physically demanding endeavors on your body. If you’re like me, strengthening your core after having a baby is a major priority (mainly to build strength and energy levels) but you’re shorter on time with a wee one in tow.

Brooklyn-area personal trainer Sharissa Reichert — a rockmommy who sings and plays the washboard in the band Milf & Dilf — can relate. For this reason, she’s created a fun, abs-centered workout called “Post-Natal Ab Recovery” that can be done in five minutes anywhere: the play room, your baby’s bedroom, or the garage, for example.

Each month, Sharissa will deliver a new five-minute workout to rockmommy readers. Check out June’s quickie workout if you missed it for more strengthening moves that’ll prep you for the day, or for the stage.



Disclaimer: The exercises featured in this or other videos are not intended as a substitute for medical guidance. Do not start any exercise program without consulting your physician or other qualified healthcare professional.