Music Blog

{June 1, 2007}   Jody Bleyle

Jody Bleyle is an American multi-instrumental musician, songwriter and independent record label owner.

Jody Bleyle first gained public attention in the Pacific Northwest music scene of the 1990s, in the Portland, Oregon-based band Hazel. The group, formed in 1992, released two albums on the Subpop label, to critical acclaim. Jody Bleyle played drums and sang for the band.

In 1993, Jody teamed up with Donna Dresch and Kaia Wilson to create the band Team Dresch, in which she played guitar and sang. The group’s first release was a single on the Kill Rock Stars label, which immediately garnered them much attention and they quickly became one of the defining bands of the Queercore scene. Their first LP, Personal Best, was co-released on both Dresch’s label Chainsaw Records and Bleyle’s label Candy Ass Records. Candy Ass Records went on to issue recordings by a number of bands including Hazel, Cypher In The Snow, and New Bad Things but is best known for the 1995 release of the double album compilation Free To Fight.

Free To Fight was a multi media project incorporating both recordings by artists such as Lois Maffeo, Excuse 17, Heavens to Betsy, Fifth Column, and Bleyle’s own band Team Dresch, as well as a seventy-two page booklet featuring writers and artists such as bell hooks, Bridget Irish, and Roberta Gregory. The recording and booklet featured self defense instructions for women, and Team Dresch toured with instructor Alice Stagg, who demonstrated defensive tactics onstage before the band performed. Jody Bleyel was interviewed for the film She’s Real, Worse Than Queer by Lucy Thane, in which she speaks about her record label and in particular, the Free To Fight project. This recording was later followed by a Free To Fight split single by the bands Sleater-Kinney and Cypher In The Snow.

In the late 1990s Team Dresch broke up after releasing a number of singles and another LP, Captain, My Captain. After the breakup, Jody joined with Tamala Poljak of Longstocking and Whitney Stillcorn of The Little Deaths to form the band Infinite Xs. In 2002, the group released a recording on Chainsaw Records. Also in the early 2000s, Jody began performing with her brother in the group Family Outing. The band played at the Homo-A-GoGo festival in Olympia, Washington in 2002.

In 2004, Jody toured with Amy Ray, playing bass. She left during the tour, since she was pregnant. In the summer of 2004, Team Dresch reunited for a one night only concert at the biannual Homo-A-Go-Go festival. Afterwards, the band members decided to reunite for a series of concerts and Team Dresch has been touring and recording again since then.

In 2004, the group Lesbians On Ecstasy released their first album, Lesbians On Ecstasy featuring a revamped cover version of the Team Dresch song “Screwing Yer Courage”, retitled “Summer Luv”; Jody Bleyle remixed this version for the followup Lesbians On Ecstasy album entitled Giggles In The Dark, released in 2005.

{June 1, 2007}   Björk

Björk Guðmundsdóttir (born November 21, 1965 in Reykjavík, Iceland) is an Icelandic singer/songwriter and composer, as well as an occasional actress. She is best known for her expressive range and an interest in many kinds of music, including pop, alternative rock, jazz, ambient music, electronica, folk, and classical music. She has won numerous awards, and has received 12 Grammy Award nominations and an Academy Award nomination. Her record label, One Little Indian, reported in 2003 that she has sold more than 15 million albums worldwide. Her most recent album, Volta, was released worldwide on 8 May 2007. She was ranked #36 on VH1’s “The 100 Greatest Women in Rock and Roll”.

{June 1, 2007}   Kat Bjelland

Kat Bjelland (Katherine Bjelland, born December 8, 1963) was the lead singer and guitarist of the rock band Babes in Toyland. She is also the lead singer/guitarist and founder of the band Katastrophy Wife. Bjelland is known for her loud, dramatic, and powerful vocal range, as well as her keen, intense physical presence.

{June 1, 2007}   Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth “Z” Anne Berg (born June 28, 1986) is the lead singer and guitarist for the band The Like. Her father is American guitarist and music producer Tony Berg.

Berg attended Crossroads High School in Los Angeles. She has a brother, Thomas Berg, who was formerly the lead singer and guitarist for the band The Bandits, which broke up in early March of 2007. Thomas now sings for the band “Thetan Level Seven”. Her sister, Alex Berg, is an artist, and helped create The Like’s website.

Recently she has contributed vocals to the Bright Eyes albums Four Winds and Cassadaga.

{June 1, 2007}   Cia Berg

Cia Berg (born 2 December 1963), now known as Cia Soro, is a Swedish television presenter and singer. She was at one time the lead singer of the Swedish rock band Whale, whose single “Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe” dominated MTV on Alternative Nation when VJ Kennedy was hosting it.

During the first part of the 1980s, she presented the television programme Bagen, which showed music videos. In the 1990s, she became a presenter for Swedish music television channel ZTV.

Between 1983 and 1984, she was a member of the musical group Ubangi, together with artists such as Thomas ‘Orup’ Eriksson. The group released a number of singles, and its collected works were later released as a CD entitled Oh No, I’m Pregnant. Also in the 1980s, she recorded a duet with Alexander Bard, Johnny Johnny, as part of his Barbie project.

From 1995 to 1999, Berg was a member of Whale together with Henrik Schyffert and Gordon Cyrus, and it was with Whale that Berg gained some recognition.

{June 1, 2007}   Pat Benatar

Pat Benatar was born in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York to a Polish/Irish family. She initially studied voice and opera, following in the footsteps of her mother while growing up in Lindenhurst, New York, on Long Island.

A 1971 graduate of Lindenhurst High School, in 1971 she married her high school sweetheart, Dennis T. Benatar, acquiring the surname with which she became famous.Dennis also has a sister named Pat Benatar.

She immediately moved to Richmond, Virginia with her husband, where she worked as a bank clerk and sang gigs at night. She would later remark that her time at the bank was unpleasant, partly because of her obsession with keeping all the bills face up and turned in the same direction, causing her to be one of the slowest tellers. She and her husband moved to New York in 1975, and the two divorced in 1979.

Once in New York, Pat then began to pursue her singing career in earnest. She was discovered at an amateur-night contest in the New York City comedy club Catch a Rising Star in 1977. After performing successfully several times at the club, Benatar finally found her onstage persona in the form of a wild Halloween costume (catwoman) which she had worn as a joke. In several interviews, Benatar recounted her realization for the new audience reaction: “The crowd was always polite, but this time they went out of their minds,” Benatar would later report. “It was the same songs, sung the same way, and I thought, ‘Oh my god…it’s these clothes and this makeup!'” Because of that performance, she was signed to Chrysalis Records by its founder Terry Ellis.

Her single, “Heartbreaker”, was released in late 1979 and was an immediate hit, climbing to #23 in the US. Her debut LP, In the Heat of the Night, was even more successful, reaching #12 and establishing Benatar as a new force in rock. The LP featured a cover of John Cougar Mellencamp’s “I Need a Lover” as well as the single “We Live for Love”, an effective fusion of rock and new wave that saw it reach the US Top 30 and become a hit as far away as Australia.

In August 1980, Benatar released her second LP, Crimes of Passion, featuring her signature song “Hit Me with Your Best Shot”. The single was her first to break the US Top 10 and sold over a million copies, going gold. The album reached US #2 in January 1981 (behind John Lennon’s Double Fantasy) and a month later, Benatar won her first Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance of 1980. Other singles released from Crimes of Passion were “Treat Me Right” (US #18) and a cover of the Young Rascals’ “You Better Run” (US #42, AUS #31), which gained some later notoriety when it was the second music video played on MTV, after the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star”. The album remained on the US album charts for 93 weeks.

Benatar’s first (and only) US chart-topper was the LP Precious Time, released in August 1981. It was also her first to chart in the UK, reaching #30. The album’s lead single, “Fire and Ice”, was another big hit (US #17, AUS #30) and would win Benatar her second Grammy Award, this time for Best Female Rock Performance of 1981.

In February 1982, Benatar married her lead guitarist Neil Giraldo, with whom she would have two daughters, Haley and Hana.

A hit single, “Shadows Of The Night” (US #13, AUS #19), heralded a new LP, Get Nervous, released in late 1982. The album was another smash, reaching US #4, and the single would garner Benatar yet another Grammy, for Best Female Rock Performance of 1982. The follow-up single, “Little Too Late” was also successful, hitting US #20. The WWII-themed music vido for “Shadows Of The Night” featured then-unknown actors Judge Reinhold and Bill Paxton as an American fighter copilot and a German radio operator, respectively.

By 1983, Benatar had established a reputation for writing about ‘tough’ subject matter, with a significant amount of songs featuring a “battle” metaphor. This was best exemplified by one of the biggest hits of her career, “Love Is a Battlefield”, released in December 1983. By now her sound had mellowed from hard rock to more atmospheric pop and the story-based video clip for “Love Is a Battlefield” was aimed squarely at MTV, even featuring Benatar in a Michael Jackson inspired group dance number. This new pop direction was a huge commercial success, with the single peaking at #5 in the US, her first hit single in the UK at #49, and #1 in Australia for five weeks. The song would also net Benatar her fourth consecutive Grammy Award, for Best Female Rock Performance of 1983. A live album, Live from Earth, from which “Love Is a Battlefield” was one of two studio recorded tracks, hit US #13.

In late 1984, the single “We Belong” became another Top 5 smash in the US (also hitting UK #22 and AUS #7) but the LP Tropico became her first studio album since the 1979 debut to fail to crack the US Top 10, reaching only #14 (AUS #9). A second single release, “Ooh Ooh Song”, continued this trend by struggling to US #36.

Benatar would hit the US Top 10 once more, with the single “Invincible” in 1985, but her days of assured commercial success in the US were over. “Sex As A Weapon” would only climb as high as #28 in January 1986 and LP Seven The Hard Way barely dented the US Top 30, peaking at #26.

At the same time, her appeal in the UK began to grow, with a 1987 greatest hits LP, Best Shots, reaching #6 and re-released singles “Love Is A Battlefield” and “Shadows Of The Night” charting at #17 and #50, respectively. Her standing in Australia (always Benatar’s most successful territory outside of the US), also remained undiminished, with Seven The Hard Way hitting the Top 10, and Best Shots and 1988’s Wide Awake In Dreamland the Top 20. A single lifted from the latter, “All Fired Up” (written by Kerryn Tolhurst, ex-The Dingoes) went Top 20 in the USA and UK and was a #2 smash in Australia, becoming one of the biggest hits of 1988 in that country.

Benatar won four consecutive Grammy Awards for “Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female” from 1980 to 1983, and was nominated four additional times in 1985, 1986, 1988, and 1989. She is also the winner of three American Music Awards (Favorite Female Pop/Rock Vocalist of 1981 and 1983, and Favorite Female Pop/Rock Video Artist of 1985) and was Rolling Stone magazine’s Favorite Female Vocalist twice. Benatar will be inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2007. Based on number of songs and their charted positions, Billboard magazine ranks her as the most successful female rock vocalist of all time.

{June 1, 2007}   Edyta Bartosiewicz

Edyta Bartosiewicz (born January 11, 1966 in Warsaw) is a Polish rock singer, composer and songwriter. Her career has been awarded by five Fryderyks. In Poland, she’s known for her highly reflective and unusual lyrics.

{June 1, 2007}   Niki Barr

Niki Barr is an American musician, based in Denton, Maryland, who is most known for her tours overseas performing for U.S. troops.

She has toured overseas locations through Armed Forces Entertainment, operated by the U.S. military (distinct from the USO which is independent of the military). Her first overseas tour went to Japan, Diego Garcia, and Singapore in 2003. Her most extensive tour was in late 2005, which involved seven countries. Countries that she’s performed in include Afghanistan, Bahrain, Djibouti, Saudi-Arabia, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. In March – April 2007, the band returned to the same theater to do their most recent AFE sponsored tour.

She also worked locally with the United Service Organization of Metropolitan Washington, D.C..

{June 1, 2007}   Jack Killed Jill

Jack Killed Jill is a San Francisco Bay Area band that was the brain child of Revik Delfin and Steve Korbay. Formed in 1994, Jack Killed Jill spent a lot of their time that year refining their sound. The band consisted of members from various bands such as the Ex-Deadbeats, the Wynona Riders and Complete Disorder (the latter two releasing material on Lookout Records). In the winter of 1994, Jack Killed Jill toured extensively throughout the western half of the United States and parts of Canada. JKJ hooked up with MDC and JFA for most of the tour and later recorded a split 7″ with JFA. After the ’94 tour, Jack Killed Jill began writing more songs. The buzz was on about Jack Killed Jill. While writing new material, many independent and major labels were contacting JKJ to sign them up. Disillusioned with the whole music business and what it had become, Jack Killed Jill felt they had to sign on to a label that would work with them and give them the attention they disserved. There ethics and beliefs pointed them to New Red Archives.

On May 17 1995, New Red Archives recorded a live record at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco called “Live at the Bottom of the Hill” which featured Jack Killed Jill, the Swingin’ Utters, Social Unrest and the Nukes. The show was sold out. Jack Killed Jill contributed 5 songs. There would also be a full length video of the whole show to follow. The video for “Live at the Bottom of the Hill” includes interviews with all bands.

Jack Killed Jill recorded a split 7″ with JFA after the “Well” tour. The 7″ was released on New Red Archives with blue vinyl. “But I’m Not Fucked Up” would also appear on Jack Killed Jill’s second record “In Stereo”.

The recording of “In Stereo”, Jack Killed Jill’s second release on New Red Archives, took all of one week in January of 1997. Michael Valladares of Critical Mass performed the saxophone solo on the song “Repeat Offenders”.

Jack Killed Jill… replaces Eric Matson in the summer of 1999 with Chris Baldassari. Chris’ first show with Jack Killed Jill… was with Dee Dee Ramone at Club Cocodrie in San Francisco. Chris was then replaced with Gabriel in 2002.

Quickly, after a couple of warm up shows, JKJ retreated to the studio to write some new material. The result was “Hello Neighbor” released on 15 November 2001 on Geykido Comet Records. This marked the first release on Geykido Comet Records. The record was recorded in two days at House of Faith with Bart Thurber as producer. “Hello Neighbor” contains 10 new songs. The song “You don’t own me” by Lesley Gore can also be found on “Hello Neighbor”.

{June 1, 2007}   Caroline Azar

Caroline Azar is a director, actor, and playwright. As well, she was the lead singer, keyboardist and co-lyricist of the band Fifth Column.

This experimental all-women punk band began in the mid 1980s in Toronto, Ontario. The band released three albums, several cassettes and three singles, the best known being “All Women Are Bitches, Repeat!”, released on the independent record label K Records. Despite the controversy surrounding the song, it was named ‘Single of the Week’ in the UK music magazine Melody Maker. The song was also included on the bands’ last full-length recording, 36-C. Their previous albums were To Sir With Hate and All-Time Queen Of The World, put out by the band themselves. Their most recent release was the song “Imbecile”, which appeared on the Fields and Streams compilation in 2002 on the Kill Rock Stars label.

Along with G.B. Jones, Jena von Brucker, Johnny, Rex, and others, Caroline Azar was one of the editors of Double Bill, a zine that was sometimes referred to as an “anti-zine” and provoked much commentary from its inception in 1991 until 2001, when it ceased publication.

Caroline has also recorded with several other bands including Kickstand from New York , Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet , Greek Buck, and The Hidden Cameras from Toronto.

She has directed over 20 plays and acted in a number of films and stage productions, such as the performance of Cut by Kevin Killian, The Molly Murders by Anthony Furey and Phae by Julian Doucet. As well as being a story editor and dramaturg for other writers, Azar has also written several plays, including Satan’s Mistress, The Surreal Detective vs John Nothing and Man-O-Rexic. Man-O-Rexic featured songs written in collaboration with Fifth Column alumni G. B. Jones and Beverly Breckenridge along with Joel Gibb of The Hidden Cameras.

et cetera