Gearing up for 2019 International Women’s Day

By Francesca Farruggio

OUR DAY HAS COME. The annual celebration in respect to theforce that womanhood is today couldn’t have come at a better time. As the repercussions of the “Me Too Movement” currently dominate the media world, women of all ages, races and socio-economic backgrounds have shown how powerful we can be when we join together as one.

For those of you who need some background, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th every year as a focal point in the movement for women’s rights (thank you Wikipedia) After the Socialist Party of Americaorganized a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909, in New York, the 1910 International Socialist Women’s Conferencesuggested a Women’s Day be held annually. After women gained suffrage in Soviet Russia in 1917, March 8th became a national holiday there. The day was then predominantly celebrated by the socialist movement and communist countries until it was adopted in 1975 by the United Nations.

We are now fortunate enough to live in a society that prioritizes women’s rights. Whether politically, professionally, or socially, there are women AND men out there who make it their mission to work each day towards a more gender-balanced world. Today is a time to recognize these people and spread the idea that women of all culture, race, and religion are worth fighting for.

From the beginning, women have always been second best to men. We were never the breadwinners or the decisionmakers. We cared for our children and kept a commendable environment for our husbands to come home to.

The past decades have brought nothing but victory for those fighting for women’s rights so we could show that yes, we can do BOTH – women can do it all! It’s the small, but inspiring victories that women achieve each day that will continue to build a world where we are not superior, but equal to men. I think the main thing we should focus on this year is acknowledging the power that women have as a unit.

No matter how little your victory might seem, it counts! Your husband is completely capable of making the cookies for the bake sale if you need the night off, just like YOU are equipped to manage a hedge fund if that is your dream. #TheFutureIsFemale

Woman– you are just as smart, purposeful, and competent as any man. Say it to yourself twenty times if that’s what you need to believe it. Hell – scream it as you shred your most empowering chords on the guitar.

Just make sure you acknowledge that this day is to celebrate YOUR force in this crazy world, and no person can ever take that away from you.

#RockOnLikeMadonnaMomma

Francesca Farruggio is a contributing writer for Rockmommy.

Making the Parent Band Work

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Since becoming a homeowner, I’ve fallen in love with my guitar all over again. My favorite nights are those where I’m sitting on my back porch in the summertime, strumming my guitar underneath the stars.

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Me, playing solo in Brooklyn 

But over the last year or two, I’ve also felt a little lonely, sitting on the porch by myself. I missed the camaraderie of playing music in a band — the collaborative songwriting process, the laughter, and the sonic thrill of electric guitar, drums and bass rattling a rehearsal space.

[RELATED: Playing a Rock Gig While Pregnant: Advice From Mamas Who’ve Done it]

In September, I decided I needed to do something about these feelings. I needed to start a new band. Not just to play covers — Connecticut has enough cover bands — but originals too. And I wanted other adults who understood exactly how I felt, balancing work, personal commitments, family and free time. 

I wanted a parent band. 

The problem was, I didn’t have a network of friends ready to jam — those friends lived in the city. In Connecticut, most of the parents I’m friends with aren’t in bands and don’t play instruments. There isn’t a bassist or a drummer around every corner.

Still, I stayed focused on my goal. I’m too old to settle for something that doesn’t make me happy, especially when time is involved. Everything I do, from updating Rockmommy to working to working out takes time away from my precious kids.

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Me and my Gibson SG, rocking out at rehearsal

So I put an ad on Craigslist, which led me to meet Doug, a bassist and guitarist who happened to be a dad of two young boys — close in age to mine. And then I posted a call for a drummer on Facebook. Little did I know that my college bestie Jason’s brother Nick, a dad of four, played drums. I recruited my guitarist friend Anna, whom I’d jammed with a bit in 2017 and 2018. 

Two months later, we’re a band with a name (unveiled soon) and a set list of 11 or 12 songs (a combination of originals and covers). I don’t know what’s going to happen next week, or whether we’ll still be playing this time next year. But I’m grateful I made the decision to follow my heart and not settle. 

It’s not always easy. Yesterday morning, schools closed because of the snow, which, coupled with my insomnia, made me cranky and exhausted. When I remembered I had band practice that night, I thought about calling in sick. I also didn’t want to part with $20/hour for a babysitter. 

But I’m so glad I persevered. 

While so many things are harder when you’re a parent — from brushing your teeth in the morning to making a band work — it’s important to follow your heart. While I still love playing solo, having a parent band is amazing. I’m so grateful for this moment in time, and everyone —from my sitters to my husband — who has helped me make it work. 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Bohemian Rhapsody: The Rockstar Movie That Caught Me By Surprise

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

Bohemian Rhapsody — the biopic about Freddie Mercury, which celebrates Queen’s music — was not what I expected it to be. It was better. 

But I almost didn’t see it. With so much Oscar buzz around Lady Gaga and A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody was not at the top of my “must view” list. 

I love Queen’s songs: “We will Rock You,” “Another One Bites the Dust” and “We Are the Champions” are regulars on my iTunes playlists. But time is limited when you’re a parent of young children. Going to the movies typically means seeing a cartoon with a Disney princess, angry bird or Lego ninja. 

Also, I already knew the story of Freddie Mercury — or at least I thought I knew it. I’d heard the songs, and read articles from time to time about the lead singer of Queen who wrote epic rock n’ roll anthems and eventually died because of AIDS-related complications. But as it turned out, what I knew barely scratched the surface of who Mercury was, or his profound legacy. Bohemian Rhapsody, the movie, digs much deeper. 

Fortunately, life often has a way of giving me what I need. And last week, as I settled into my seat for a flight to Orlando, there it was, in the Delta movie queue. Ready to watch. 

I was hooked on the sweet, charismatic Mercury (Rami Malek) within the first few opening scenes, watching him slinging suitcases onto a truck at Heathrow and bicker with his dad before heading out to the local club to see an up-and-coming band. 

Malek did a tremendous job portraying Mercury in his transformation into the person he was “meant to be”: from the lonely, sweet, shy, conflicted 20 something,  into the dazzling performer with the multidimensional voice who wielded his microphone stand like a scepter. The portrayal was far from “boring” — Mercury’s favorite term for anything that didn’t push, or challenge, artistic boundaries. Gwilym Lee and Ben Hardy, who played band members Brian May and Roger Taylor, respectively, also delivered spectacular performances, as did Lucy Boynton as Freddie’s love — and best friend — Mary Austin. It definitely helped that the real-life May and Taylor served as creative consultants for the movie. 

At 2+ hours, the movie is a longer one (I was cut off as my plane landed, so I ended up watching it again on the return flight). But it’s worth watching, start to finish, again and again. While Rhapsody has endured criticism for a few supposed historical inaccuracies, anyone who plays music in band should not miss this gem of a movie.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

5 More Great Signature Guitars Inspired and Designed by Female Guitarists

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

From St. Vincent’s Ernie Ball Music Man guitar to Orianthi’s PRS, signature guitars by and for women are no longer an anomaly for the occasional, rogue female guitarist who shreds like she belongs in a headlining band. 

As a sequel to our first guide on female-inspired and designed guitars, we offer five more signature guitars from some of the best (female) musicians around.

Nita Strauss’ Ibanez JIVA10 Signature Electric Guitar. Unveiled in summer 2018 as Strauss embarked on another U.S. tour with Alice Cooper, this “deep space blonde” electric guitar is lightweight and ideal for the mobile rocker who likes to move around onstage. The guitar’s Edge Zero II bridge features a lower profile design for comfort, a stud lock function for superior tuning stability, signature DiMarzio pickups and more. Watch Strauss demo the guitar in this video. 

[RELATED: 5 Reasons Why I’m Swooning Over Guitarist Nita Strauss’ Signature Ibanez JIVA]

Courtney Cox Signature Caparison Guitars Horus-M3 CC. Like Strauss’ guitar, this baby — the first signature model for the Iron Maidens’ lead guitarist — is durable and made for a shredder. Features include a full 27-finger fretboard (for screaming solos), a custom-wound Caparison hum buckers, and maple center section so you can play high-pitched solos or warmer tones. 

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Courtney Cox Signature Caparison Guitars Horus-M3 CC

B.C. Rich Lita Ford Signature Warlock Electric Guitar. The wicked-looking 2012 guitar played by the mother of metal features an “onyx-colored beveled mahogany” body, mahogany neck, and ebony fretboard. We’re digging the “black widow” design on the lower bout. It also features two dual humbucker pickups: a Seymour Duncan SH-4 (neck) and a Seymour Duncan SH-6 (bridge). 

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B.C. Rich Lita Ford Signature Warlock Electric Guitar

Ovation Kaki King Signature Artist Elite Acoustic Electric Guitar. This guitar, a collaboration between King collaborated with the Ovation R&D team, is a high-performance instrument with single cutaway body with a AAA Solid Spruce top with quarter-swan scalloped “X” bracing. The satin-finished, five-piece mahogany/maple neck has an ebony fretboard with 20 fully accessible frets (but 24 frets on the high-E string). 

1996 Bonnie Raitt Signature Stratocaster. Blues rocker Raitt was one of the first women to get her own signature guitar from Fender. This baby — which is no longer in production — features a slim “C” shaped neck, clean tone and a gorgeous finish. 

Want to try one out? Be sure to call your local guitar or music store first (or check an online retailer’s return policy ). Happy jam time! 

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.

Children’s Music Artist Sukey Molloy on the Importance of Movement, Learning and Growing

By Sukey Molloy

During the critical first years of life, very young children need action-based learning to nourish and organize the developing brain.

Did you know that movement is an essential part of each child’s growth and education? Movement nourishes the brain, stimulates the body, and opens the feelings. Infants and young children need lots of fun and developmentally appropriate sensory-motor learning activities throughout each day to acquire important physical, emotional, and cognitive skills.

Movement play and songprovide the developing brain with the food and nourishment it needs. In fact, the postures and physical skills we learn by age ten are the ones we will take through life. In the earliest years, it’s important to expose each child to as many movement, sound and rhythmic possibilities as possible in order to give a wide and expansive vocabulary for expression and health.

When learning new skills, each child has his or her very own individual learning style! Learning to read for instance, can involve the whole body! Providing a ‘multi-sensory’ approach to learning stimulates both hemispheres of the brain, allowing learning to go deeper.

What is this a picture of?

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To the left side of the brain, it is something represented by the symbols C A T

To the right side of the brain, it is something soft and furry that sounds like M E O W

Both are true! Children need to play with different learning styles that include both hemispheres of the brain in order to discover and develop an inner, and individual motivation.

Sukey Molloy is a children’s music artist, educator and author.

On Taking Chances and Embarking on New Adventures Post-Kids

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom

From the moment I set foot on my first airplane at age 4, I’ve always loved traveling — from exploring Disney World as a little girl to setting foot in Amsterdam, Rome, London, Paris, Belize and countless other places as an adult.img_3850

I’ve slept on floors of friends’ ramshackle houses, exhausted from playing back-to-back rock shows. I’ve enjoyed plush hotel beds in foreign cities and quaint countrysides with my family — especially my grandmother Mary, who would take me wherever she wanted to go, regardless of my age. One of my fondest memories is of the time she took me to a casino on Paradise Island (the Bahamas) and insisted that I was 18 (I was 12, maybe 13 at the time).

These days, I spend more time envying my friends’ travel pics on Instagram — especially my parent friends — than I do actually traveling. I’m not a touring musician by any stretch of the word, and taking kids anywhere is expensive. As a result, I’m grounded most of the time. I have a bucket list, of course — it includes Greece, Hawaii, Croatia, among other destinations — but it’s not something I’m actively checking off.

So when my husband surprised me on our anniversary with a trip to Jamaica, I was ecstatic — but a little less enthusiastic than I would have been 10 years ago. My adventure “muscle” is out of shape. Could I really bring myself to go to another country for a few days? Sure, we’d gone to Nashville for two nights in 2015, and a honeymoon in 2010 in Belize, but times have changed. We’re in the middle of a government shutdown and the current political climate is anxiety-inducing.

I need only look at photos from my youth to realize that I miss my old, whimsical self. The one who wasn’t afraid of plane flights or long security lines. The one who favored grit, not glamour. The one who could be wowed by a flock of dirty pigeons in Venice, Italy, or muscled Gods in Venice, California. This girl is still inside me, I just need to dig her out. Yeah, the one who tried Haggis in Scotland while her distressed parents looked on. I want that girl back! img_3851

I guess my message is this: Try not to let life and parenthood make you forget who you are. Sure, you’re older and wiser (and likely more considerate and careful), but you don’t need to forget how to be curious, and embrace the unknown. I write this to myself as much as anyone else, hoping the words will sink in if I push hard enough on the computer keys. Maybe they will.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy. 

Camp Crush’s Jennifer Deale Gets Real About Politics and Relationships with ‘Run’ EP

by Marisa Torrieri Bloom 

Camp Crush, the Portland, Ore.-based wife-husband duo of Jennifer Deale (synths, keys, vocals) and Chris Spicer (drums, vocals), is known for embedding important social messages into sonically luscious New Wave pop.

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Camp Crush: Parents and partners Chris Spicer and Jennifer Deale.

Onstage and on screen, Camp Crush aims to stimulate conversation, as evidenced by band’s deeply moving May 2018 EP She’s Got It, or the single “Take Me Back.” 

[RELATED: Camp Crush’s Jennifer Deale on Parenthood, Music, Feminism and Carving Out a New Sound]

In their downtime, they’re just regular parents, trying to give their two young children the best, most balanced life possible in a progressive-leaning town. But over the past two years, under the eye of a Conservative-leaning legislative and executive branch, new and unexpected challenges have arisen. Specifically, the political divisiveness has wielded significant impact on interpersonal relationships, and challenged the deepest of friendships.  

Camp Crush’s new EP Run, out Feb. 1, is the culmination of these challenges, a set of songs about the divisiveness that dealt huge personal blows. It’s an album about human connection, but also the tragedy of human disconnection. But Deale also wants it to be a record about hope. 

Rockmommy caught up with Deale to talk about parenting her son and daughter, making music with her partner (and coparent) Spicer, and navigating political differences in the quest for a peaceful world. 

Rockmommy: What’s the backstory for this record? How did it come about? 

Jennifer Deale: With this whole new societal landscape we’re all living in, all of a sudden everything is divisive, and every single issue is incredibly important to everyone you know. It’s true the stakes are very high for everyone involved. And one thing I didn’t expect when this happened was the fallout between my family, my friends, my neighbors. I think the world is experiencing this wariness of human connection, they’re afraid of being attacked, saying the wrong thing. As musicians, we’ve seen that people aren’t going out as much. Or if you know you’re on a different side than someone, there’s distancing that happens. But a huge part of being a musician is building community — with your fans, with venues … and from a musician standpoint, we’ve seen the impact of [this distancing]. It really led to us writing these songs. Human connection is the answer. If we can get face to face with people, we can see them as human. 

Rockmommy: Is your music community political? 

Jennifer Deale: Obviously Portland [Oregon] is a very progressive city, but even within that there are these sub-genres that divide. Maybe you’re progressive, but you’re not progressive enough. Or it’s Bernie bros verses Clinton voters. And then you start subdividing. And we’re just like, ‘hey, let’s find some humanity. Let’s do the good that inspires you.’ If we can focus less on some differences, the world would be so much better. 

Rockmommy: With so many divisive issues, how is that possible to come together? 

Jennifer Deale: If you listen to our music, you know we don’t back down from our stances. There are some base issues we care about — like our safety and about equal rights. But at Thanksgiving, do you not attend because you’ll be around family who feels different? I’m not about meeting in the middle, but I can show a decent amount of respect.

Rockmommy: So let’s talk about the album. 

Jennifer Deale: ‘Run,’ the first song we released, is featured with an animated music video that Chris made. That song is about that human connection. I say, ‘I want to run away’ … I don’t want to deal with the complications of society the way it is.’ But instead of running away, we should run to each other. Find community. ‘Vicious Life’ I wrote about losing friendships after this political divide happened.

Rockmommy: Why is this music important to your children, the next generation?

Jennifer Deale: It’s important to show we can still learn and grow. We want to show our kids that we’re not making blanket decisions. It’s important that we teach our kids to have an open mind.

Marisa Torrieri Bloom is the editor and founder of Rockmommy.