5 Heavy Metal Artists I Wish would Make a Children’s Record

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

In 2016, I interviewed a ton of rock mamas who made children’s music — from big name rockers like Amy Lee of Evanescence and Priscilla Ahn to kid-music-genre mainstays like Laurie Berkner.

But I couldn’t help but wonder, as my kids and I jammed out to each of these ladies’ records, what would an Axl Rose children’s album sound like? Or one by Ozzy Osborne?

And so I arrive at this list: The five heavy metal artists whom I wish would make a children’s record:

1. Alice Cooper. The shock rocker and “Trash” talker in eyeliner (and dad) would definitely have my attention if he wrote an alternate version of “Poison” with lyrics that touched on the dangers of drinking tonics in the medicine cabinet (or breaking into Dad’s pillbox and downing his cholesterol medication).

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Rockmommy Lita Ford

2. Slash. The lead guitar virtuoso with the killer black hair would bring legions of toddlers to the Hair Metal Nation station if he recorded an electric-guitar version of “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and planted a face-melting spider-solo (whereupon his fingers crawled down the neck of the guitar) at the end of the song. No doubt his sons would be jamming out to this tune, too.

3. Lita Ford. The mother of metal (and two grown boys) shreds with the best of them, and sings with the best of them, too. Who wouldn’t love to hear “Kiss me Deadly” reimagined with PG-rated lyrics that 4-year-olds could enjoy? Let’s see … “I went to the play date last Saturday Night … didn’t get to play, got in a fight. Oh no! It ain’t no big thing!” 

4. Glenn Danzig. Deep down, Mr. D. is definitely a mama’s boy (I mean, c’mon, he has a song called “Mother,” right?). I’d love him to turn that “Mother” song into a kid-friendly version so 5th graders everywhere could sing, “mama? Do you wanna bang heads with me?” Or maybe he could try rewriting the lyrics to Lucifuge’s “Long way Back from Hell” so kids would hear his big voice atop a cool, dive-bomb guitar tune?

5. Sepultura. We need more gravelly death metal vocals in children’s music, because they pay homage to Cookie Monster. And they help children who aren’t aspiring to be Adele have more realistic goals (e.g., to sound like Cookie Monster). Brazilian heavy metal band Sepultura, who wrote one of my favorite records (Chaos A.D.) and has another tour coming up (how they’ve managed to survive with all those lineup changes is beyond me) is well positioned for this kind of project.

Did I miss any good ones? I’d love to hear any other ideas for a heavy metal children’s album, so please post in the comments and thoughts below.

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

Finding Gratitude in Playing Solo Shows When You Don’t Have Time for a Band

By necessity — for lack of time and resources — I’ve defaulted to the category of “solo” artist. And in November, I’ll bring my one-woman act (Marisa Mini) to two venues: Branded Saloon in Brooklyn, and The Lumberyard in Redding, CT.

In some ways, this is a blessing. It’s also the way I started, and the way many (if not most) of us start playing music. Flying solo, I have the ultimate flexibility in my set list: If I feel like playing an old tune from 2003, I can pay it. If I want to play the tune with a cool reverb effect, I don’t have to run this by anyone. Ultimately, it’s my decision to go with the reverb. Or with the flanger, etc.

I have complete creative control over wardrobe, too: I can’t tell a bassist to wear a sexy leotard (I wouldn’t do that anyway, but still!). If I’m feeling like a leotard, I’ll put one on. Or if I’m just in an Vans-and-jeans mood, that works, too.

Yet as thrilling as it is to play a set that I control, there’s something lonely about the prospect of playing a solo show. Especially because I know how wonderful and fun it is to collaborate with other musicians.

If I have more time by myself, I can get into a self-critical mode, second guessing my song choices or even whether or not I can hit notes in my head voice. Also, without the live sounding board of a band, I don’t know if the set arrangement I’ve considered represents the right choice.

The vibe of a solo show is different from the vibe of a full-band show — and this kind of sucks sometimes. I don’t want to be a “coffeehouse girl” — I want to be a full-fledged rock and roller! But the sole act of playing guitar all by myself, only accompanied by a microphone and an amp, screams “coffeehouse girl.”

There’s also something terrifying too. When you’re playing with a band, the entire team shares the blame when a mistake is made. Because if you sound shitty, it doesn’t matter if it’s because the guitar is out of tune or the drums are ill-timed with the bass.

When you’re solo, you are the one who is credited for your amazing pipes or clever lyrics. But you’re also the one who is frowned upon when you play the wrong note.

I can no longer blame “the drummer” if there isn’t a drummer to blame!

The bottom line is that I simply don’t have time for anything else but a solo show. I don’t have time to search high and low for musicians, or to even drive to a rehearsal space that’s more than 10 miles in from my home. I don’t have time to argue with bandmates about how a set should or shouldn’t be arranged. I only have time to finesse my guitar chops in the comfort of my own home, and to sing when no one is listening.

But I can promise you this: I play an engaging and sonically inspiring set at both my Brooklyn and Redding shows this month. I know this because I’m practicing my tail off, sneaking in guitar-fingering exercises ever hour or so, while my kids are in preschool.

So I hope to see some of you there!

Saturday, November 5

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Branded Saloon, Brooklyn, CT (with the Girls Rock & Girls Rule Crew)

Saturday, November 19,

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The Lumberyard, Redding, CT (with Catalina Shortwave, Fuzzqueen, and others)

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.

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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.

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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 napskippers.com, 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.

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

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.

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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.

This Weekend in Philly: Rocker Moms Get Their Music On for a Truly Empowering and Cool Event

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Philadelphia is overflowing with great music shows and one-of-a-kind arts events — so many, in fact, that it’s hard to pin down just one thing to do over the weekend. But if you’re a parent who wants to support other parents — or if you’re looking for something you’ve never seen before — we’ve got the “to do” for you, literally.

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RABIES SHOT plays their debut show at this weekend’s First Time’s a Charm Showcase, which benefits Girls Rock Philly.

On Saturday, June 4, punk-rock-influenced band RABIES SHOT — a brand new, four-piece group headed by the mom-and-pop team of Eleni K. and multi-instrumentalist Bruce Howze, along with keys/sax/backup vocalist Yoni Kroll, and vocalist/keyboardist Charles Smith — is playing the First Time’s a Charm showcase, an event that is centered on the contributions of female-identified, trans* and queer folks and people of color in the DIY/punk community in Philadelphia.

The showcase is just what the name suggests: A sonic experience featuring new musical projects by groups who meet at least two of the following criteria: 1. one or more members that identify as female, trans, queer, and/or a person of color; 2. one or more members of a band playing for the first time; and 3. one or more members of the band playing an instrument they have never played before. Proceeds of the $10 event, to be held at PhilaMOCA on Friday, June 3 & Saturday, June 4, will benefit Girls Rock Philly.

We’ve got our eye on RABIES SHOT — which Howze describes as a “heavy, electronic punk band” — because it’s the first time Eleni, who shares son Thomas, 2, and daughter Stella, 5, with him, will play an instrument at a show. It’s also total proof that becoming a mom doesn’t mean you have to quit your creative life!

“Eleni taught herself to play bass after the kids went to bed over the last 10 months or so, having never played an instrument,” Howze tells Rockmommy. “I own a recording and rehearsal studio so we started going to the studio once a week when we had a sitter instead of ‘date nights’ and she wrote a few songs with me on drums and guitar. That stuff is sitting on the shelf.”

Want to hear more?

Check out this stream of the RABIES SHOT demo. The band’s debut EP will be available for download/purchase this weekend!

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

How to Win a Signed Copy of Kim Gordon’s ‘Girl in a Band’

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.

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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:

  1. Like our Facebook page (Go to facebook.com/rockmommy1 and hit the “Like” button)
  1. 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.

Why Rockin’ Mama — and Team Christina protégée — Alisan Porter Should Win The Voice

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

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.

8 Perfect Mother’s Day Ideas for Rocker Moms

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

She’s spirited, strong, and plays in a rock-and-roll band. And if she’s also a mom, she’s hoping for some good loot on May 8th. If you’re looking for something special to give a rockmommy for Mother’s Day, here are some great ideas:

1. Yunko Guitar Cookie Cutter set, $14.52: The rockmommy in your life is no cookie cutter lady, but if she likes to bake and decorate, she’ll love these cool, stainless steel cookie cutters. The set features an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, and music notes.

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Girl in a Band: a Memoir by Kim Gordon

2. Girl in a Band: a Memoir by Kim Gordon, $9.99 and up: Sonic Youth singer-bassist Gordon’s poignant page turner takes the reader on an inspiring journey through California and 1980s punk-rock New York to marriage and motherhood. Grab a gift card so she can download to her tablet or e-reader. Or splurge for the hardcover copy.

3. Bohemian Guitars’ Boho Honey guitar, $299. Gift mom with one of the coolest-looking guitars she’s ever seen! Made of recycled materials, this white-and-golden beauty features a metal hollow body, basswood frame, and built-in guitar stand. Plus, if you buy before May 8th and use the code RockMommy at checkout, you’ll get 15% off! Just be sure to order by May 5th to guarantee Mother’s Day delivery.

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Bohemian Guitars’ Boho Honey Guitar

4. Christina Aguilera MasterClass, $90: Is the rock mama you love an aspiring singer? If so, she’ll love having some “me” time to indulge in 23 video lessons taught by one of the greatest pop-rock singers (and mom of two) of the past two decades.

5. Cooperstand Ecco-G guitar/bass stand, $24.95: If mom’s always got her hands full with gear on her way to gigs, this environmentally friendly guitar/bass/ukulele/mandolin stand is flexible and compact (it fits into the back pocket of jeans!) — and made from first-run recycled ABS composite materials.

6. SkunkWerkz stainless steel Drummer coffee mug, $22.95: Coffee-loving drummer moms will go nuts over this cool, portable coffee mug, which may be personalized with their name — or anything else (like “drummer mommy”).

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“Flowers in a Vase” guitar pic

7. Flowers in a Vase — Pierre-Auguste Renoir Guitar Pic, $8.20: Give the timeless gift of flowers while helping mom strum her favorite tunes. These gorgeous floral guitar pics — which come in sets of five — are available in standard or triangle shape.

 

8. TOMS Rainbow Music Notes Women’s Classics, $59: Moms are always on the go, so if the mom in your life is a musician, you’ll earn double points for picking out these cool, comfy kicks.

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