I love a good rock n’ roll biography, and Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins, has put out so many of my favorite rocker mom tell-alls! And the most well-written and compelling memoir, by far, is Sonic Youth bassist-singer Kim Gordon’s “Girl in a Band.”
Gordon’s book tells the tale of an aspiring art student with an interesting family and cool friends who, by way of luck and talent, finds her way into the NYC’s 1980s punk- and indie-rock scene.
Kim Gordon’s “Girl in a Band”
The story unfolds as we are taken into her romance with bandmate Thurston Moore, her journey into motherhood and music, and the unravelling of her personal life years later. It’s a cathartic and beautiful story of a true art-rock visionary.
If you don’t have a copy of GIAB already, now you can win one signed by Ms. Gordon herself!
Dey Street Books will give away one signed copy of “Girl in a Band” to a Rockmommy reader! You can enter to win in one of two ways, throughout the entire month of June 2016:
Post a comment at the end of this blog — either on rock and roll, motherhood, music, Kim Gordon, or life in general — and make sure it includes your name and e-mail address.
We’ll get back to you in July with a winner!*
*Disclaimer (because we have to have these things): Contest is unlikely to change, but subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances. Winner will be selected based on a random drawing of names, and chosen by Rockmommy.
Every mom I know has insisted “I don’t have time” when it comes to a million different things — from writing thank-you notes to playing shows to exercising. And I can totally relate! So my trick is to try to squeeze in the extra stuff (like exercising, or practicing my guitar) into the nooks and crannies of my day. I figure it’s better to do something for 10 or 15 minutes than not do it at all — which is a trigger for slacking off completely.
For time-pressed moms like me — and who among the child-rearing set isn’t time-pressed? — my friend, personal trainer and mom Sharissa Reichert, who plays the washboard and sings in the band Milf & Dilf, put together some great “quickie” exercise videos for Rockmommy.
Our first exclusive, 3-minute video takes you through back lunges, ab work tailored to a mama’s post-baby body, and arm toning moves that’ll keep yours strong and sexy.
I got hooked on “The Voice” in Season 2, many years back, and will never forget the anger I felt when rocker Juliet Simms was denied victory. She should have won — critics knew it, her coach CeeLo knew it — but somehow Team Blake’s Jermaine Paul snagged the big prize (of course, Jermaine is a talented singer in his own right, but many of us expected Juliet to win!).
Since then, I’ve gotten excited over a handful of candidates — the standouts in my head are Matt McAndrew (Season 7, Team Adam), Cassadee Pope (Season 3, Team Blake), Michelle Chamuel (Season 4, Team Usher), and, of course, Jordan Smith (Season 9, Team Adam). All were the kind of candidates you just knew, at first listen, would make it to the finals (and they all did!).
I wasn’t planning on watching “The Voice” past the blind auditions this year, but something — rather, someone — captivated me in a way that few other “Voice” contestants have since Juliet Simms. I’m talking about Alisan Porter. Her rich, passionate, vocals are breathtakingly piercing — and utterly inspiring.
As many music and entertainment writers have noted, Alisan’s jaw-dropping vocals on her audition cover of Linda Ronstandt’s “Blue Bayou” — as well as Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby” and Aerosmith’s “Cryin’”– made her a true standout. A one in a million girl — and certainly someone who deserves the title of “The Voice” for the show’s 10th Season.
But while her voice is compelling, so is her personal story.
Alisan Porter’s entertainment career began in 1991, when the now 34-year-old mom of two scored a starring role in the movie Curly Sue. But instead of seeing her acting career take off, years later, Alisan found herself in the midst of alcohol addiction. And while she’s been sober for eight years, most of her energy up to this point has been focused on motherhood and marriage.
Should Alisan nab the victory on Tuesday night, it’ll represent a true comeback for someone who seems to truly deserve a comeback.
Another reason you should vote for Alisan Porter — either by downloading her song on iTunes, or voting for her on The Voice’s home page/app before Tuesday 10 a.m. ET — is that no one else like her has won the show. Finalist Hannah Huston (Team Pharrell) is the 20-something gal who can sing anything (kind of like Cassadee Pope … and dozens of other contestants); and country singer Adam Wakefield, while talented, is really just another version of Team Blake Season 7 winner Craig Wayne Boyd.
My second choice for winner, Iraqi-American bluesman Laith Al-Saadi, is also a true original — with his bellowing, big voice and out-of-this-world guitar soloing ability. But the show is called “The Voice” for a reason (no offense to guitarists!). A winner should bring something unique to the collective pop-rock vocal soundscape as well as a powerful contribution to the world of popular music.
Finally, it would be nice to see a female coach actually win this thing for once — especially someone as talented and nurturing as Christina Aguilera. The female coaches have the odds stacked against them on this show, since every season has only allowed for one female spot (and, as it looks, one minority spot), while bro-mancers Adam Levine and Blake Shelton remain the big mainstays. As a side note, wild gal Miley Cyrus and R&B piano mama Alicia Keys are sliding into the new judge slots for Season 11, replacing Pharrell and Christina Aguilera, so that should shake things up a bit!
Those of you who don’t follow the show should take a few minutes to listen to Alisan Porter for yourself (just do it before Tuesday!). I’d be shocked if any person, rockmommy or not, isn’t moved by her vocals and her presence.
The Voice Season 10 Final airs Monday, May 23, 2016, at 8 p.m. on NBC. For more on how to vote and download the official app of “The Voice,” check out the show’s home page.
— Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.
I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t a huge Beyonce fan back in the pre-2014 days, when the pop diva’s biggest hit was the cheesy bachelorette-party anthem “Single Ladies.” I like my music with a lot of edge, lyrically, musically, and vocally, and while Beyonce’s got the pipes, tracks like “Irreplaceable”didn’t deliver an earth-shattering sonic experience.
Beyonce’s “Lemonade” is one of the best records by a rockmommy — or anyone, really!
My feelings about Bey started to shift when, in 2013, I watched her rock the stage at the Super Bowl Halftime Show: Here was this powerful mama, flanked by an all-girl rock band, doing her thing with those curves and that voice. Months later, I downloaded “Drunk in Love,” her salacious duet with hubby Jay Z. It’s still one of my favorites.
Fast forward to 2016, when I’m hitting my midlife stride in the thick of marriage and young children — an experience that Beyonce, wife of Jay Z and mama of Blue Ivy, totally gets. As such, “Lemonade,” Beyonce’s 12-track album and one-hour video experience, is as profound and transformative as reviewers like Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield have promised.
Until I heard “Lemonade,” I had no plans to ever download anything by Beyonce, ever. But so many of my friends and musician peers rhapsodized about its profound artistry, seething-wife lyrics, and creative collaborations that I couldn’t help myself.
Kicking off with the etherial, captivating “Pray You Catch Me,”“Lemonade”takes the listener on a journey through anger and redemption (albeit, one that occasionally reminds me of lesser-known artist Imani Coppola). It’s hard to pick the best track, but I’m particularly drawn to “Hold Up,” with its hypnotic tempo and catchy pre-chorus (“Hold up, they don’t love you like I love you … slow down, they don’t love you like I love you…”). My other favorite, so far, is the rock-guitar-heavy Jack White collaboration “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” where she sings (presumably to Jay Z), “Who the fuck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy.”
Beyonce delivers the unexpected with these, as well as the country ditty “Daddy Lessons” and the eerie, trip-hoppy tune “6 Inches,” which features one of my favorite new artists The Weeknd.
While much of “Lemonade” flows with sultry vengeance and feminist undertones, Beyonce makes a powerful nod to racial inequality in “Formation” and the experience of African American women in “Freedom.”
And still, the more I listen, the more I discover. I’ve only owned this record for a few days, and I’ve already listened to it something like six times, each time unearthing some new gem or insight. That’s the mark of great art — you always take away something fresh from every encounter.
So seriously, download “Lemonade” now. You’ll be rockin’ out and hailing this pop-turned-rock-but-still-pop mother for weeks to come.
—- Marisa Torrieri Bloom is a writer, guitar teacher, mom, and the founder of Rockmommy.
I’ve been a “blogger” for more than a decade, and launched my first blog in 1999 — years before everyone had a blog. While a lot has changed since then (for one, my blog is a lot more “mature” and filled with less personal blabbering), I still love to write. Even more, I love to read.
Here are three blogs I’m digging this month:
#1: The Penny Hoarder: I stumbled upon this awesome personal-finance blog focused on saving money and never turned back (my first feature goes live this month, stay tuned!). Coupon-loving entrepreneur moms will love it the most. P.S.: If you’re a rock mommy like me, check out this totally comprehensive guide to teaching guitar lessons for spare cash.
Faith. It’s something all moms have to have, regardless of their spiritual orientation. And it’s something that rockmommy Dawn Botti, singer-guitarist of New Day Dawn, had to have a lot of when she went against her practical inner voice and said “yes” to a last-minute gig in Oklahoma in 2013 with just three weeks to figure out how she would take time off from her legal career, care for her son, and finesse her musical chops so she would be in prime form to hang with A-List metal acts.
Needless to say, she pulled it off.
New Day Dawn’s Dawn Botti
Botti’s talent is undeniable to anyone who listens to her sensual, powerhouse vocals on tracks like “Runaway” and “Life Impossible.” But it’s her dedication to pursuing what she loves (music, and yes — her day job too!) while putting her son and family first that is most admirable.
Today, Botti and the rest of her New Jersey based rock n’ roll band are better than ever, and prepping for some great shows this summer — including an opening spot for metal mama Lita Ford this August.
Here, in her own words, Botti tells us the tricks she uses to balance it all (hint: it has a lot to do with putting self-love before perfectionism):
Rockmommy: New Day Dawn has been around for some time — how did you learn to balance music with a career in law, too?
Dawn Botti: New Day Dawn grew out of a former project that my drummer husband and I were in from 1999 to 2003 (before parenthood) called Slushpuppy. The breakup of Slushpuppy was very emotional for me… almost like a divorce. So after that, I was looking to reclaim what I had lost and move it in a more positive direction, hence the name New Day Dawn. A few months into the new band I discovered that my husband and I were pregnant. I was worried the other members of the band wouldn’t want to continue working with me, but they were super supportive!
Dawn Botti in mama mode
I was able to continue to work on new music with the band while I was pregnant, and we took those nine or so months to write and start recording our first album. After my son Walker was born, we continued the recording (most of it was done right in my home so it was very convenient and I could be near the baby at all times). I was also working on getting my pre-baby body back and going through lots of emotional transitions. In these early years I struggled with the guilt anytime we had to leave our son with a babysitter to go play a local gig, or leave for a few days to play somewhere farther away. But ultimately when your child sees that you are following your passion and doing something you LOVE to do, then they WANT you to do it.
Rockmommy: The music industry is really competitive. How did you guys establish yourself in the New Jersey/New York music scene?
DB: There are no short cuts. We have made our fans literally one show at a time and then add social media to that and it’s one “like” at a time, one Twitter follower at a time. Fans expect a lot more interaction out of artists today. They want to feel like they know the artist as a friend, and in fact many of our fans have become dear friends over time. It’s also so important to support the other bands in the local scene. To get out and support other shows even when you are not playing. This is probably the toughest thing for me and I wish I could get out more — but there are only so many days in a week, and after you take away the nights spent on family and school affairs, band rehearsal, business dinners, and so on, there are very few nights left to just stay home and recharge or work out, let alone go out to see other bands.
Rockmommy: Has being a mom influenced your sound/music?
DB: My son, Walker, is now 11. Of course he has influenced my music — I don’t see how becoming a parent couldn’t influence any artist. It changes the very fiber of your being, your very core: You are just a different person and therefore think differently, feel differently, and see the world differently — and of course that comes out in your writing. One thing that is very important to me is that my child can always be proud of my music and could sing the lyrics out in public, or to his classmates. I was never an artist who used shock or overly sexual words or dress to get my point across anyway. But now I do put everything I do through a filter of “could I show my son that?” I guess that’s not very “rock and roll” of me — but I figure an artist needs to first be authentic before anything else.
Rockmommy: What are some of the challenges to balancing everything?
DB: The greatest challenges are lack of time and lack of energy. You can’t go 24/7 and yet you have enough to do to fill up 24/7 and more! You need to be kind to yourself, forgive yourself and know that you won’t ever cross off everything on your “to do” list. You have to forgive yourself that not every task will be accomplished at an A+ level. And most importantly, you need to embrace opportunities and just say “yes” even if you have NO IDEA how you are going to fit that thing into your schedule. For example, in 2013 we got a call three weeks before the date, and were asked if we wanted to be part of the lineup for ROCKLAHOMA out in Pryor, Oklahoma. The three-day lineup that year featured Guns n Roses, Alice in Chains, Cheap Trick, Dokken, Halestorm, and many other amazing bands. My practical brain was saying, “how the heck do we get the band out to Oklahoma from NJ in three weeks, what do I do with my son, how much is this gonna cost?” But out of my mouth came “Of course!” I still have no idea how we pulled it off, but I booked a short tour from New Jersey to Oklahoma and back again. We made the entire round trip in five days, and took my son with us. He was the best road warrior out of everybody! At the big festival I introduced Walker on stage (he was around 8 years old at this time), and after our set there was a huge line at our merch booth and many wanted him to sign the CD along with the band, and wanted to take photos with him. It was a great family memory and a once-in-a-lifetime experience that would have never happened if I listened to my practical — and often overwhelmed — mommy brain.
5. What advice do you have to other moms who don’t have the luxury of just playing music as their “job” (when they aren’t being parents)? To what extent can you have it all — a good relationship with your kids, a band, and a career?
Again, I think it’s all about maintaining balance and maintaining a good perspective. Don’t judge yourself against the other younger/non-parent bands — heck you can’t even judge yourself against the bands compromised of all men who may have kids, but have a wife or girlfriend home taking care of those kids while they are on the road… it’s just different for a mother. For a long time I tried to compartmentalize my life — I didn’t want people at work to know I played in a rock band for fear that I would lose credibility and respect, and I didn’t want fans and those in the music business to know that I was also a lawyer and a mom for fear that I would lose credibility and respect. But now I’m over all that. I don’t have to prove myself to anyone. My career as an entertainment executive/lawyer speaks for itself, and so does my music. My advice is don’t let ANYONE tell you what you can and can’t do. Remember you are running a marathon, not a sprint. Your goal is not to be “perfect” at everything… your goal should be about the experiences. If you focus on the experiences rather than grabbing the “prize” you will feel much more fulfilled and be better equipped to understand what to take on and what not to take on.
June 10: New Day Dawn with Eve 6; The Stanhope House, Stanhope, NJ
June 24: New Day Dawn with Among Us (Reunion Show); Mexicali Live, Teaneck. NJ
Aug 11: New Day Dawn with Lita Ford; Starland Ballroom, Sayerville, NJ
Purchases for show tickets may be made through New Day Dawn’s online store.