Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we love flowers and pretty things. But we of the rockmommy collective also love to rock. Here, a few of the coolest musical, creative and sustainable gift ideas for us.
Engage the Zoom-ready mama with real-time, virtual guitar lessons that connect her with awesome teachers and other rockstar parents. NYC Guitar School’s online lessons are the gift that keeps on giving: Choose from a variety of options (a monthly membership to dozens of drop-in classes on songwriting, guitar technique and more), private lessons, or weekly group classes (*use code new21 to get started for just $20).
Earth Day comes and goes every April, but rarely do I hear a song about the planet that gets stuck in my head, and lifts up my day. But after listening to Bronx, NYC family musician Fyütch’s new single ‘Pick it up (Earth Day Rap: Music Adventure for Kids!)’ that’s all changed.
The song has a cool, catchy dance beat, as Fyütch launches into the rallying cry, “pick it up/put it back/switch it up/swap it out” while showcasing dance moves with his crew in Central Park, NYC.
We recently caught up with the dad (whose name sounds like the first syllable of “Future”), to talk about zero waste, landfills, recycling and making social changes.
Rockmommy: So what inspired ‘Pick it Up’?
Fyütch: Earth Day has taken new importance in my life as a teacher and a Dad. I live in NYC and unfortunately there’s a lot of littering here. My daughter noticed pretty early on people throwing trash on the ground, like gum wrappers and napkins. At only 2 years old she asked me why they did that! So that was one conversation starter.
Next, this idea of refusing items we don’t need, finishing the food on our plate, turning off water when we brush our teeth are just basics. She loves to play at the playground, but sometimes I’m so tired I just turn on the iPad or TV for her. So I’m also challenging myself to be a good example to get up and be active. Most holidays and special days are reminders of things we should always be mindful of. I like to say everyday is Earth Day, because there’s always simple adjustments we can make to be more eco-friendly. My songs closely reflect my personal growth, hence the Earth Day song.
Rockmommy: In January, you released the track ‘Black Women in History.’ How did that come about?
Fyütch: Very quickly actually! During the 2020 Holidays I was with my family. We were enjoying the response to the Kwanzaa song featuring Pierce Freelon. I knew I wanted to follow that up with a song for Black History month. It all started with a few lyrics in my phone notes: “Black women in history. Gotta say it loud so it’s not a mystery.” I started making the beat on my parents’ couch right after Christmas.
I’m a fan of Rissi Palmer, so I emailed her and introduced myself. We spoke on the phone for the first time and hit it off. I pitched her the song idea and she loved it! I spoke to Snooknuk on the phone shortly after. I had just recently met her on a zoom call, and I really liked her music. So we kept in touch. I told her the idea and that Rissi was on board; and she was ecstatic!
On New Year’s Day I finished the beat and the lyrics, and sent them a rough demo. They recorded their parts within days! Thankfully, we all have green screens at home, so they sent me their video footage and I edited it the weekend before we released it. Very quick collaboration process, but honestly it didn’t seem rushed because we were all so excited to release this into the world.
Rockmommy: What do you hope to accomplish through your art?
Fyütch: Educate, entertain, and empower. Normalize telling the truth in school. The songs I make about social justice and racial equity shouldn’t be ‘radical.’ History isn’t squeaky clean. And the present isn’t perfect. Sometimes these honest, transparent conversations are difficult for adults to have, for teachers and parents to have. But kids are usually just fine tackling these complicated issues at face value with curiosity and excitement.
We don’t have all the answers all the time and it’s ok for them to know that. I can’t think of a better way to prepare them for a complicated world. Music and art in general are wonderful tools to teach and learn, especially at reaching different types of learners. In my family, there are a lot of teachers and pastors. I grew up with inspirational, community-minded people. So it’s just in my nature to want to inspire. I also think there’s something truly powerful about being a Black man in classrooms. I didn’t fully grasp it until my educator friends opened my eyes to it. There are kids from certain backgrounds whose entire impression of Black people comes from the media. So I’m very proud to represent and tell my truth, and hopefully open the door to different perspectives.
Rockmommy: What lessons do you hope to impart on the next generation?
Fyütch: Think for yourself. Do your own research. Ask lots of questions. Never settle. Dream big, set goals, and work hard for what you want. Work with each other to create the kind of world you want to live in. Empathy is key.
Rockmommy: How has parenthood influenced or shaped your perspective as a creator?
Fyütch: My daughter is my life. I really had that proverbial switch turn on in my brain as soon as she was born 3 years ago. My hustle kicked into overdrive. Everything I do is for her. It’s all about legacy at this point. How does she see me? What are my non-verbal cues teaching her? Patience is a word that comes to mind. I can’t bury myself into my work. I have to find balance. Trust the flow of the day. Have a schedule but be ready to adapt. Be present. Appreciate the time we have together. These are great lessons for life.
Not too long ago, she asked me why I was busy at the time. I jokingly told her “I’m working hard and trying to get rich so we can live wherever we want.” She said, “Daddy, we’re already rich.” Wow! The truth is we already have everything we need, and she knows that. Love, shelter, food, health. More money won’t equate to being a better Dad. So, I’m learning to trust the process and enjoy the journey. The same principles apply to my art. I don’t have to force creating. I’m in a great space where it just happens. And so far these genuine moments of creating have been striking a chord with my growing fan base and I’m super grateful.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.
Indie rock queen — and fellow rockmommy — Liz Phairis one of the greatest singer-songwriters of all time, and I’m so bummed that I didn’t get to see her last summer, in what would have been 2020’s most epic grunge reunion tour with Alanis Morisette and Garbage.
It would have marked the third or fourth time I’ve seen Phair since discoveringExile in Guyville eons ago, when her music spoke to everything I was feeling, coming of age. But while Guyville got me hooked on Phair, it’s Whip-Smart, whitechocolatespaceegg and other records that kept me coming back.
On April 17, Liz Phair turns 54.
Here are my top 10 favorite Liz Phair songs (and their respective albums). A few of them may surprise you!
#10 “Rock me” (Liz Phair)
“Just take off my dress/let’s mess with everybody’s mind” is probably the first thought that pops into my head when I’m crushing on someone. And the way Liz sings it, brash and unapologetic, on a record released when she was over 35, is so inspiring to us MILF rocker gals.
#9: “Flower” (Exile in Guyville)
I’ve fantasized about covering this sexually explicit, lyrically jaw-dropping song for years. The first time I heard it I felt alive in a way I had never felt before — I had no idea a woman could wield power with barely more than a whisper, and express her desires so openly. Of course, nowadays female artists say things much more graphic than Liz Phair did in this song, but in the 1990s and early 2000s, this track was something special.
It starts out as sweet and sappy, builds up to the chorus and then BOOM — we’re suddenly in the midst of Liz Phair’s relationship angst, with all of its glorious ebbs and flows.
Loaded with roaring guitars guitar hooks, Phair’s voice is clear and confident, transforming this rocking tune into a powerful anthem.
#6 “Polyester Bride” (whitechocolatespaceegg)
Beyond the addictive chorus and the catchy guitar hook, this song’s appeal lies in its thought-provoking question, repeated throughout: “Do you want to be a polyester bride?” In other words, do you want to surrender to the inevitable doldrums of wife life — or flee that fate to enjoy a life of adventure? Most of us chose the former at some point, perhaps by necessity, but still.
#5 “6’1” (Exile in Guyville)
This is the first track on Guyville and the first Liz Phair song I ever heard. And it kind of blew my mind. Here was this woman, whose voice wasn’t gravelly and raw like Courtney Love’s, or dramatic and bitter like Alanis Morisette’s. No, Phair’s vocals came out low, and almost monotone. Yet they still packed a punch, as she belted out, underneath the cascade of shimmery guitars, “I bet you fall in bed too easily… with the beautiful girls who are shyly brave.” You only get one chance to make a first impression. And after hearing ‘6’1,’ I became a Liz Phair fan for life.
#4 “Supernova” (Whip-Smart)
I love this bouncy, wah-pedal, pop-rock track, an ode to her ex. I especially love the part when she sings, “you f*ck like a volcano,” because when it comes to picking a mate, priorities matter.
#3 “Johnny Feelgood” (whitechocolatespaceegg)
I love a good bad boy, and “Johnny Feelgood” is dirty in the subtlest way, a homage to the ones we used to fall for but couldn’t hold down. It’s like she read my mind when she wrote this. Side note: it’s shocking that this isn’t everyone’s favorite whitechocolatespaceegg song, when Liz asks fans to share in Twitter polls. It’s most certainly my favorite on that album, and my third favorite Phair song of all time.
#2 “Mesmerizing” (Exile in Guyville)
OK, so this track, sandwiched in between the more popular “Canary” and “F*ck and Run” doesn’t make a lot of Liz Phair favorite-song lists. But I think it’s absolutely brilliant and I never skip over it when I’m listening to Guyville. The song is like sunlight on a foggy day, with breezy, lithe guitar strums, and a perfect lyrical hook, “I want to be… mesmerizing too.” It is so, so good.
#1 “F*ck and Run” (Exile in Guyville)
It’s no surprise that F&R is my favorite Liz Phair song, but can you blame me? It pretty much captures every emotion a woman feels after a one-night, intoxicated hookup, and the universal longing for something deeper, more meaningful, and even more traditional in the midst of it. It’s probably your favorite Liz Phair song too, or is it?
What is your favorite Liz Phair song? Comment, please!
It’s not every day you stumble upon a small-town, independent guitar store on a Main Street in America — especially these days, with so many online music outlets. But on Saturday, that’s exactly what happened, when my family decided to take a stroll through the picturesque town of Oneonta, N.Y., about 20 miles south of Cooperstown, N.Y., and stumbled upon Mountain Jam Guitars.
With no specific agenda except to window shop, we came upon the guitar hub almost by accident. I almost missed the nondescript silver sign, that marked the entrance to a guitar player’s candy store — stringed instruments of all shapes, sizes, and models, from the Gretsch G9201 Honeydipper Metal Resonators to cream-colored Fender Strats. Psychedelic pedals and ukuleles in rainbow hues filled out the space beautifully.
John, the owner and a self-proclaimed Deadhead, encouraged me to plug into a 30-watt Orange tube amp and test out one of his favorites: the D’Angelico Premier Series Grateful Dead Limited-Edition 50th Anniversary Semi-Hollow Electric Guitar in satin walnut, featuring Seymour Duncan humbuckers and artwork inspired by the Grateful Dead’s epic record American Beauty (the album that features beloved tracks “Sugar Magnolia” and “Ripple,” among others).
The tone was so beautiful that I forgot to check my tuning before launching into one of my originals, followed by an attempt at “Uncle John’s Band,” which I’d memorized all the lyrics to, but not the music.
My kids were getting antsy to go to the gaming store for Pokemon cards and trinkets, otherwise I would have stayed longer. But I bought a couple of packs of guitar pics and strings for the road.
I hope that Deadheads, guitar players and would-be musicians frequent these stores the next time they’re ready to invest in a new instrument, amp, or pedal. While I love online outlets like Sweetwater as much as anyone else, nothing can replicate the experience of plugging in and playing, soaking in the aura of a music shop, and engaging in a shopping experience that feels personalized and reflects the passion of its owner.
The the visit to Mountain Jam Guitars(145 Main Street, Oneonta, N.Y., 13820) made my trip to Oneonta, N.Y., a memorable one, and restored my faith in the small businesses that make small-town America so charming.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.
Children’s music artist Flor Bromleyloves blending so many genres of music that it’s hard to describe her sound. It’s jazzy, with a touch of island calypso, a dash of pop, and a folksy vibe.
But we can all agree it’s pure, universal sonic happiness, even when the rest of the world is crumbling. Flashback to just one year ago, when, in the midst of the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the Peruvian-born artist released her album Fiesta Global, and the catchy single ‘Fiesta de los Globos.’ It brought much-needed mirth to the long, drawn-out homeschooling days.
“Musically, I want to share the Latino-American experience through my songs with a new generation,” Flor tells Rockmommy.
So what’s next for 2021? We recently caught up with Flor to find out.
Rockmommy: What were the biggest challenges you encountered in the last 12 months?
Flor Bromley: Finding a time to create and allow the process to “just be” has been challenging. I also teach music classes and do live concert shows virtually, and even though the tech aspect has been manageable, Internet connections are not the most reliable. I’ve had a couple of ‘live online’ shows that have been interrupted, and I had to scramble my things and go to my neighbors or do the streaming from my car. I will never forget what 2020 has made me do lol.
Rockmommy: How did 2020 influence your music and creative process?
Flor Bromley: I dared to release an album in 2020. I’m really proud of what we were able to do with Fiesta Global, even in a pandemic year, thanks to Waldmania PR. The album was given great publicity and is on several “Best of 2020” lists by kindie bloggers/publications, and my virtual show “Fiesta with Flor” was mentioned on the grammy.comlist of music shows to watch during quarantine.
Rockmommy: Any recent or upcoming projects you’d like to share?
Flor Bromley: I’m releasing my third family album in late Summer 2021. This one is a dual language album (English/Spanish) and will be called “Pachamama” which means Mother Earth in Quechua, the language of my ancestors. This album has a lot of Peruvian influences, in sound and themes. It’s a Peruvian music mash-up, where I bring elements from my culture and mix them up with Hip-Hop, Pop, Bachata, Country, Tango, and more. The theme of the album has to do with valuing nature and taking care of our planet. If there is anything this past year has shown us is that we have no planet B and we need to appreciate all of the little (and big things) Mother Nature gives us everyday.
Rockmommy: What advice do you have on balancing parenthood with creative life?
Flor Bromley: Every day find a time for yourself to do something you really like by yourself. It could be listening to song in your car and singing while you go grocery shopping, eating a piece of chocolate by yourself without having to share with the littles, running, reading, watching a TV show.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.
Singer-songwriter Tracy Bonhamgained international fame for her iconic ’90s rock song “Mother Mother” — the post-grunge-era anthem for so many young adults getting their first taste of the real world. Fast forward to 2021, and Bonham’s now a mother herself (of a 10-year-old son), navigating the daily struggle of work-life balance and channeling her expansive musical talent into new projects.
This month, the singer-slash-guitarist-slash-violin player debuts her very first children’s album, with Melodeon Music House:Young Maestros Vol. 1, an energetic 11-song record for kids of all ages. It’s available now on all media platforms (iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, etc.), and CD.
Bonham fans — including older millennials and Gen X’ers of all ages who fell for her soaring vocals and angst-ridden rock in the pre-aughts — will be delighted to share this set of super-fun, danceable songs that highlight musical concepts the whole family can appreciate. The first single, “Me Symphony,” is my favorite so far, with its fun animation, big band vibe, and rhymes that linger in the listener’s mind, hours later: “I lost my tuba in Aruba/I lost my piano in Indiana.”
My kids love the joyful, silly ‘Let’s Take The Subway,’ which might be the only song I’ve heard that cheerfully name-drops the NYC C Train, B Train, and the elusive G train (which I’ve still never managed to catch).
We recently caught up with Bonham to find out what’s next:
Rockmommy: Hi Tracy! How did ‘Young Maestros’ record come about?
Tracy Bonham: Everyone was forced to stop during the pandemic. I don’t like being told what to do so I was pretty mad at the world. I would say F**k COVID to myself… often. During this time my bassist and collaborator, Rene, and I were figuring out how to create a business plan for my music education music curriculum and remote classes. I had been teaching my original curriculum at the Brooklyn Preschool of Science for a number of years, and little did I know it would become a laboratory for this new endeavor!
In October, I had an incredibly uplifting conversation with my manager, Patrice Fehlen, where we decided that we would jump head-first into releasing an album of my music education songs.These songs had been laying around for years and thankfully they had already been recorded and mixed a few years prior with my dear friend and founder of Gowanus Music Club, Josh Margolis. Josh is a musician, a teacher, a business owner and another music enthusiast / music theory nerd. We recorded and mixed these songs over the course of six years knowing that someday it would become something really cool. However, my career as a singer-songwriter, and being a parent, would always kick the project to the back burner. Once Patrice and I put it out into the universe, that early October day, the whole thing started to take shape. Rene became my business partner and we started creating Melodeon Music House with the first album release, and accompanying music education program, called Young Maestros Vol. 1, slated for release on April 16, 2021.
Rockmommy: The video for ‘Me Symphony’ is so fun, and all the songs on this record are so great! Did you ever think you’d make a children’s album/family record in your pre-parenting days? Is it wild to think about that?
Tracy Bonham: It is totally wild to think about. I have never been one to follow trends and I probably would balk if someone told me (pre-parenting) that I would follow the ranks of artists who make children’s albums after they become parents. When I started writing these songs, they were meant to be teaching tools.
Rockmommy: So my rock band Trashing Violet covers “Mother Mother.” It’s one of my favorites. Is it a blessing or a burden to have one iconic song because you have so much other great music?
Tracy Bonham: I would rather have one iconic song than no iconic song! Thank you for saying that about my other songs, but if they didn’t have ‘Mother Mother’ as the beacon, they might not have reached so many people. That song was iconic because it touched a universal nerve. Pretty much everyone can relate to it in some way. I don’t think I nailed that kind of transparency and universality with any of my other songs.
Rockmommy: What are you most hopeful for in 2021?
Tracy Bonham: I am really hopeful the vaccine will give people their lives back. I hope the people of the world can heal and rise out of this pandemic in a more thoughtful and mindful way. I especially hope that in 2021, the United States and all of its inhabitants, from whatever political affiliation, can heal in a psychic way. The patriarchal system is being challenged and I am so excited to experience the age of femininity taking shape.
Rockmommy: What is your advice on balancing parenting and creative life?
Tracy Bonham: My advice to any creatives out there who are new to parenting — do not freak out thinking you will get writers block or lose your creativity. First of all, you have just done the most creative thing there is to do in the history of creation! You have created a family.
For both men and women, your creativity is on fire! It is what you do with it from this day forward that matters. Whether it is creating a loving environment and an inspiring relationship for the child to thrive in, or whether it is taking care of your individual muse by creating loving boundaries for your art to cultivate on it’s own, these things you CAN do and will do if you believe you can. Of course, it is incredibly hard to find the time and energy when you are a parent of a young child. But what I found was that creativity FOUND me as long as I stayed open to it.
I would be changing a diaper, singing to my son, and a new melody would come out of my mouth. Of course, I would be singing the word “diaper, diaper baby, diaper, diaper baby” but I was creating a future melody for a future song. I always kept my iPhone nearby so that I could hit record on the voice memo app and save the fleeting but inspired moment for when I had a half hour to myself (yes, that is possible) to go back and listen and create something out of it. I guess what I am saying is, please don’t think creativity goes out the window just because you have a new focus. Remain open to possibility. It may come in different forms. But creativity will always be available for you if you are available for it.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.
Women make up at least 50 percent of new guitar buyers, and are some of the most powerful strummers and soloists in bands all over the world. As a result, we’re seeing an influx of signature guitars designed by our favorite female guitarists in rock and other genres.
Here are five new ones unveiled in 2020 and 2021.
Orianthi Gibson SJ-200 Custom
Making its debut this May, rock guitar goddess Orianthi’s jaw-dropping stunner of an axe is #1 on my wish list. Features include a special neck modeled after a Gibson ES 345, a redesigned pickguard with Lotus Flowers (her name means “flower” in Greek, she says), as well as mother-of-pearl dot inlays in the neck. In this video, she calls it an “acoustic guitar for lead guitar players.” I call it a dream.
H.E.R. Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar Chrome Glow
On September 20, Fender unveiled the brand’s first-ever signature guitar by a black artist, and it’s pretty spectacular — the guitar features a mid-‘60s “C” shape maple neck, Vintage Noiseless™ pickups and an anodized aluminum pick guard.
We’ve been obsessed with Nita Strauss’ JIVA for some time — it’s light as a feather, perfect for metal solos, and super-durable. The JIVAJR sports many of the same features as the original (and all of the beauty) but at a much more affordable price point. The new model features a “quilted maple top with 3-ply binding on a meranti body bolted to a Wizard III maple neck with a 24-fret ebony fingerboard,” which features those cool ‘Beaten Path’ EKG-style inlays and luminescent side dot markers.
Yvette Youngis Ibanez’s second-ever female signature artist, which is fitting, since the Covet guitarist is a finger-tapping, musical sensation. The YY10 Signature Electric Guitar in Slime Green Sparkle — inspired by one of Young’s custom Ibanez Talmans — features a one-piece maple neck and maple fretboard, alder body and Seymour Duncan Five-Two neck pickups.
Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the founder and editor of Rockmommy.