About rockmommyct

I am a mother, writer, rock and roll musician, and guitar teacher.

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.

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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.

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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.

Get Your Gig Listed on Rockmommy

There’s lots of places you can go to find gigs to play and attend, from your local online community news site to the physical newspaper. Here at Rockmommy, we strive to promote events involving rocker moms and dads first, but you don’t have to be a parent to submit a gig/event or even have it listed on our gigs page (0r included in our forthcoming monthly newsletter).

What we’re looking for is cool, fun music-driven events for grown-ups and kids — especially those that feature parents — that have some kind of interesting aspect to them. Is your gig being held at a daycare or a library? Or, are you a mom in a hardcore band playing your first post-baby gig at a nightclub? Let us know what’s awesome about it, and send links to your band, too!

Also: Please include information such as a.) whether it’s all ages; b.) cost; c.) location (city and state); d.) venue, and e.) date & time.

For now, submit gigs here: marisa.torrieri@gmail.com

 

Reflections on the Christina Grimmie Tragedy: Why it Hits Home for Musician Moms

— by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

It’s been a crazy month. Between processing heaps of terrible news while balancing motherhood and life, I haven’t had much time to mull over a particularly disturbing incident that has rattled me since Newtown: the shooting death of up-and-coming Voice singer Christina Grimmie at age 22.

Obviously, I felt numb and stunned after I heard the news of her June 10, 2016, passing. I’d gotten to “know” her as a contestant on The Voice, which I watch pretty regularly. She had a perfect voice, and a sunny, bubbly disposition that made her an easy favorite.

Unfortunately, I barely had time to dwell on the sadness over her passing when another, bigger Orlando-area tragedy struck the next night, which ended with the death of 49 innocent club-goers.

The Pulse tragedy overshadowed Grimmie’s death, understandably because of its magnitude, but it didn’t lessen its impact. Now that a couple of weeks have passed, and the reality of what happened to Grimmie has “settled” in, I’ve had some time to think about why her death affected me so much.

As a female musician who’s fronted several bands, I am familiar with fan obsession (albeit to a lesser degree). I’ve never been famous — my biggest accomplishments in the performance/songwriter realm never amounted to a fraction of what Grimmie amassed — but I’ve had a handful of fans (mostly men) who’ve made me uncomfortable at one time or another. Usually, these creepy dudes would leave me alone after I made it clear that their e-mails/Myspace messages/proposals of love were unrequited.

Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones who never “made it.” The more famous a musician gets, the more likely it becomes that he or she will encounter some truly psychologically “off” fans and/or obsessive types. While my heart goes out to those individuals whose dispositions stray far from “normal” (any of us could have been born with, or developed, a stigmatizing mental illness), I feel more sorry for those who achieve any degree of fame at the expense of safety.

Former Voice winner Craig Wayne Boyd encapsulated my feelings — and those of several musicians — when he told Taste of Country, “Any artist will tell you, the meet and greets, and the personal connection to the fans, that’s a lot of why we do what we do … for that time and intimate moment to be violated like it was in this instance is devastating.”

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Christina Grimmie

The Grimmie tragedy has impacted bigger-name acts as well. Singer Meghan Trainor freaked out so much that she told Page Six she planned to beef up security. “I go out all the time without security, and you just never know,” she told the publication. “You have no idea who’s out there obsessed with you to the point that they would do something like that.”

Beyond being a musician, I’m also a mom in an era of instant fame and YouTube sensations. It’s easier than ever for crazed fans from all over the world to encounter and become obsessed with an up-and-coming entertainer. Today, my oldest child is closer in age to 22-year-old Grimmie than I am. It’s a sobering reminder that what happened to Grimmie could happen to my son(s), or any of my friends’ children should they decide to pursue music and become reasonably successful.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.

For Trophy Wife’s Katy Otto, Motherhood Inspires New Creative Endeavors — and an Appreciation for Free Time

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

As any new parent will tell you, having a baby shifts your world in unimaginable ways.

Yet there are some new moms, between diapers and deadlines and sleepless nights, who seem truly unstoppable in continuing their life’s journey, babe on their hip, embracing motherhood while strengthening their purpose, motivated to find new meaning in their life, work, and service.

Katy Otto is one of these women.

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Katy Otto with her son David, now 1.

When Otto, the drummer and singer of Trophy Wife, the band she shares with co-collaborator/musician friend Diane Foglizzo, isn’t busy raising her one-year-old son David with her partner, she’s busy creating art and continuing her activism for numerous issues — such as LGBT rights, gender equality, and a focus on parenting that is less about what you have and more about what you do and how you choose to live.

We interviewed Otto recently to learn more about her quest to balance working (at Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania!), music (she also has her own label, Exotic Fever), and motherhood.

Check out our full Q&A  — especially if you’re a rocker mom looking for some good, gritty inspiration on getting your groove back.

Rockmommy: You’ve been a mom for a little more than a year and recently you played your first show in a while. What was the experience like?

Katy Otto: The first show I played post-birth was with my band Trophy Wife in Durham, N.C., at the Pinhook on December 11. My son David was just over six months old. The show was a bit of a drive from where my band lives in Philly, so we took David with us and dropped him off on the way at my parents’ house in Bowie, Maryland. He stayed with my folks overnight for the evening of the show.

The Pinhook was celebrating its seventh anniversary. The space is a queer punk club in the south, and it means a great deal to our band. We were honored that they invited us to play, and while we had thought about waiting a bit more to get out and play a show, this seemed like the right time to do it. I was still nursing at the time, so I pumped in the club (with a cover on) basically just in the middle of the room. It was pretty intense but felt like one of the most punk things I’ve ever done, actually. The sound guy looked a little surprised but rolled with it. Everyone was very accommodating — I stored my milk under the bar by a keg.

The show itself was incredible. We were overwhelmed by the amount of support people in Durham showed us, some even knowing our lyrics. I think it had been the longest stretch in my life I had gone not playing music in front of people since I started as a teenager. I was very nervous, but once our set started, that all evaporated. I felt very whole and like myself being able to be in my element like that, particularly with my bandmate Diane.

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Katy and David

Rockmommy: Are you still creating new music with Trophy Wife, and Diane Foglizzo?

Katy Otto: Yup! Diane and I have written four songs since our last album: two while I was pregnant and two since David’s birth. We’ve been playing out and even traveling here and there for shows. It’s been great. I’ve also been grateful for the support of my partner, family, and friends in helping to provide childcare so I can rehearse and play out. I also play in a four-piece band in Philly called Callowhill that is finalizing songs for our first full length. We have a seven inch/digital EP out.

Rockmommy: Do you think it is more challenging to keep up with the Philly rock scene you were an active participant in now that you are a parent?

Katy Otto: I am not able to go out to shows I am not playing as much, but I still feel very connected to Philly’s underground music community. I moved to Philly six years ago after living in the D.C. metro area my whole life. I am so glad I made that decision. Philadelphia is extraordinary in terms of the music, art, and activism people are involved in. I also know a number of other creative parents and recently did a series of interviews while I was on maternity leave with people on balancing parenting and creative practice. If you are interested in reading them they are here: http://www.fvckthemedia.com/issue63/frontpage

Rockmommy: Do you think mom musicians, in general, have it harder than other musicians (e.g., single men, dads, etc.)? In what ways?

Katy Otto: I don’t think anything is that cut and dry. I don’t think gender is binary. I think there are many factors at play, including the support networks people have, as well as other resources such as money. I have been fortunate in weaving together a strong web of support to allow me to continue my musical practice. I also have very understanding band mates in both of my active bands. There are some aspects of societal gender roles that have meant that, in general, I think there are more challenges for a mother even just perceptually when she is away from her child and out in the world doing things. For example, I’ve had even “progressive” male friends ask me when I’ve been at a show I am about to play if my partner Chris is “babysitting.” It really is mind boggling. I think one time I said, “Who would he be babysitting?” Dads parent their children. They don’t babysit their own children. This is an annoying kind of question, but I also think any single parent is going to obviously have a host of different challenges that I don’t have as a co-parent managing childcare and an outside life, regardless of gender.

I will say that I know a number of cis men in hetero relationships who are musicians who I have seen have a very different experience than I have. They have said to me that becoming a parent didn’t vastly impact their ability to tour, etc., or the activity of their band, but in a lot of these cases I’ve seen that that is because their female partner bears the brunt of child rearing duties. When I did my interview series, I did interview men who play in bands, but I specifically chose to speak with men who I knew where playing a very active role in their children’s lives — including some single fathers. I think the question you pose is complex and I don’t think there is a clearcut answer.

Rockmommy: How has motherhood influenced your music, or creativity in general?

Katy Otto: I view the time I have to play music now as more precious than ever, and I value it as sacred. I feel drive to be out and present in the world, doing the thing that has meant the most to me since I was a teen. I want to have both – motherhood and a creative life. I think there are also all kinds of ways to be a mother, and we can challenge that definition all the time. My bandmate recently got me an awesome book called Revolutionary Mothering. It provides a lot of excellent conversations on motherhood as experienced by queer women, women of color, and low income women. It really has challenged a lot of stereotypes I’ve seen and absorbed in the dominant culture about motherhood since I was a child. I am incredibly grateful for this book and can’t recommend it enough.

I am also only just learning how motherhood will affect my creativity, since I am new to this. It’s been hard to eke out the same space and time to create, but again I feel so grateful when I have it that I think I pour a lot into it. I am interested in building networks and relationships with other mothers and parents so we can pitch in and help each other out with child care and support as we all continue to create in the world. I want my child to be part of a beloved community of mutuality, and working towards that also seems like its own kind of creative practice. I have always felt like community organizing and social justice work, indeed political imagination in general, were urgent forms of creative practice.

I also think my interest in heavy, dissonant music has only continued to grow the older I get. So far I think motherhood has only added to that.

Rockmommy: We always like to ask rockmommies about balance — have you found a way to balance your motherhood, work, and other endeavors? Or is it something you’re still working toward?

Katy Otto: This is a constant work in progress, and I know many other mothers know much more than I do. I have not been afraid to reach out and ask for support, and I’ve been humbled and lucky to receive it. I have a partner who is very committed to an equitable sharing of childcare and other domestic work. We both work full time too, so we’re continuing to negotiate what that looks like. He is very dedicated to jiu jitsu practice, and I try to make sure he has enough time out of the house for that, too. We check in about scheduling regularly. It’s a lot to balance work, creative life, parenting, and time for our relationship with each other. A key has been the help of friends and family. David, my son, has a beautiful array of other people in his life. This feels really positive to me and right for our family.

Recently Trophy Wife played a benefit show for Decarcerate PA in Pittsburgh that offered childcare on site, in a room with sound protection. That was an incredible experience — David’s first trip as a roadie. Part of how it worked was the combination of a supportive partner who understands my need to drive across the state and play music in DIY venues, a bandmate who is incredibly accommodating to a person with a child, and a community that actively supports and welcomes parents. The show was a release for the second edition of the zine “Women in Sound” by Madeleine Campbell. She is a phenomenal human being and you should definitely check her zine out here.

Rockmommy: What is the best motherhood advice you’ve received, which is worthy of being passed along?

Katy Otto: I hold on to something that Ian MacKaye of all people told me, when I had a lengthy conversation with him while pregnant. He basically shared the idea that the single best way for me to parent was to continue being my authentic self. It’s been important for me to know that when I am living in the world as the person I’ve worked hard to be, that will help me be who my child needs. The instinct to parent is in our bones. We can make the roads by walking, as the book I mentioned Revolutionary Mothering emphasizes. We can reject blueprints and paradigms that aren’t right for us, some of which reinforce dangerous binaries and stereotypes. I continue to be inspired by so many of my friends who parent and create with beauty, imagination, and courage — and I’m particularly grateful for all the folks who allowed me to interview them for the series I mentioned before. I hope to keep adding to it, and I hope it can be part of ongoing conversations.

— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy

Ladies Rock Camp: A Badass, Three-Day Rockin’ Mommy Getaway

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

As you know, summers fill up fast! But if you’re aching for a couple of days to yourself to do something creative, rather than the usual mommy-spa-or-Vegas girlfriends getaway, consider Ladies Rock Camp.

Ladies Rock Camp is a three-day event, held at various locations throughout the country, which serves two purposes: 1.) to give women the chance to try a new instrument/form a band in a nurturing, non-intimidating, testosterone-laden environment, and 2.) support respective girls’ rock camps all over the country.

The New York-area LRC, which benefits the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls (also in NYC), will be held June 24-26, 2016, at The Blue School, located in Lower Manhattan at 241 Water Street, NY, NY. Enrollment is still open, but filling up fast, so grab your spot!

As a former teacher for LRC (I taught vocals at the grown-up camp, and guitar at the girls’ camp), I can attest to how awesome it is. Everyone who attended — whether they’d been in a band before and decided to try a new instrument or never played at all — had a fabulous time learning, jamming, and mingling with the other ladies. Some brought friends, but you don’t need a buddy to go — just an open mind and a positive attitude.

As noted, proceeds benefit the respective girls’ rock camps linked with each LRC.

If you’re not in the New York area, that’s OK, too. There are tons of other options for 2016 and 2017. Bookmark these links to the respective ladies rock camps in different cities so you can stay up to date on the camp nearest you:

Boston

Los Angeles

Seattle

Philadelphia 

Portland, Oregon

—- Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.

Eight Cool Father’s Day Gifts for the Rockdaddy in Your Life

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Most days, we’re all about the rockmommy — like the mama who nurses/bottle-feeds her babe while playing the drums with her 5-year-old, or the one who spent the last weekend helping her grade-schooler master the G chord.

But in June, we’re all about the dudes for Father’s Day. If the papa in your life is a rock daddy — or wants to be one — here are six gifts he’ll love more than a Gap card.

Moby

Moby’s memoir

1. Bamboo Guitar cutting board, $23.99: What better way to chop up some fresh veggies than with this cool cutting board shaped like dad’s electric guitar?

2. Audioengine HD6 Premium Powered Speakers, $750: Whether Dad loves Led Zeppelin, Prince, or Pink, he’ll have a blast listening to his favorite tunes on this badass speaker set with built-in amplifiers.

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Audioengine HD6 Premium Powered Speakers

3. Toca Freestyle ColorSound Djembe drum, $29.99. Get dada his own drum like this seven-inch, metallic red one, so he can play buy the fire, or jam with the kids (they’ll love it too!).

4. Rock and Roll Guitar Bottle Opener, $14.99: Dad will love having his favorite fizzy drink or beer with a vintage-looking bottle opener that celebrates his rock-and-roll style!

5. Moby’s Porcelain: A Memoir, $16.27: Give the father in your life a great beach read. DJ Moby’s newly released, highly rated memoir promises a “piercingly tender, funny, and harrowing account of the path from suburban poverty and alienation to a life of beauty, squalor and unlikely success out of the NYC club scene of the late ’80s and ’90s.”

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Rock n’ Roll Guitar Bottle Opener

6. Drummer luggage tag, $11.15: If dad’s a “Travelin’ Man” — and one who happens to play drums — this is the perfect little gift to show him you’re thinking of him when he’s not behind the kit. Plus, it’s a cool way to ensure dad’s luggage stands out in an airport’s baggage claim area.

7. Bruce Springsteen Framed Photo Collage, $44.99: Remind pops of how much fun he had at the last Springsteen show he attended. Seeing this cool collage on the walls will lift his spirits during diaper duty.

8. Vans C&L Old Skool sneakers, $65: If daddy is nostalgic for the days he enjoyed the Vans Warped Tour, these cool kicks will help him feel at home again.
—- Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.