Friday on My Mind: Seattle Women Who Rock

Goodness at Mural Amphitheatre in 2008 / photo by Rich Britton

It’s Friday again so it’s time for Friday on My Mind, our weekly blog post we look at videos centered around one common theme. This is a collaborative effort between KEXP and King 5 News.

With a sound more accessible than, but derived from metal and punk, grunge took the world by storm during the early 90’s. The way was paved by bands like Green River and Soundgarden at the end of the 80’s and the commercial breakthrough of Nirvana in 1992, brought the sound to the masses. Many of the female artists that emerged during this time, managed to be overlooked by the mainstream such as Mia Zapata, Kim Virant, Carrie Akre, Amy Denio, Kim Warnick, just to name a few. Inspired by those women, Cornish Arts teacher Gretta Harley and Seattle mainstay Sara Rudinoff have collaborated and written a play entitled These Streets. While the story line and characters are fictional, the inspiration is drawn from the likes of a number of creative female artists that while off the radar for many outside of Seattle, were just as relevant and prolific as the well-known names and faces associated with Seattle’s grunge scene. The play will be opening at ACT Theatre’s Fall’s Theatre this upcoming week with a preview show on Thursday Feb. 21st and the show will run through March 10th. The play will include original music composed by the creators, but will also include music of that era from 66 Saints, The Gits, Hammerbox, Faster Tiger, 7 year Bitch and more. Along with the theatrical component of These Streets, a historical and educational component has been coordinated in which 40 oral histories have been filmed and are being presented for viewing at the University of Washington. And in conjunction and response to this play and the celebration of these trailblazing women, Mayor Mike McGinn has issued a proclamation that the City of Seattle will recognize the month of February as Seattle Women Who Rock Month.

And now here are a few of those artists:

Goodness - “Electricity, Electricity”

Fronted by Carrie Akre, who is a formidable musician that more people should know about. Goodness was formed and fronted by Carrie who had formerly been in the band Hammerbox. Hammerbox and Goodness varied from the other grunge related bands at that time due to the fact that they were led by a female. After hardships with a major labels with both Hammerbox and Goodness, Carrie was inspired to form her own label, Good-Ink Records. Goodness lasted until 1998 before calling it quits. Since then, Carrie Akre now has five solo albums under her belt, and continues to release music.

The Gits - “Seaweed” (Live)

The Gits were a major part of the Seattle music scene and grunge movement during the late 80’s and early 90’s, although they remain somewhat obscure to those outside of the Pacific Northwest. The spirit and guiding force behind The Gits was front woman Mia Zapata. She was taken too soon. What if. Irony of tough exterior. While it’s hard to not become overwhelmed by the horrible way in which Mia Zapata was murdered in 1993, it must be remembered to not let the horrendous nature of her death overshadow the fact that The Gits embodied DIY spirit through the accomplishment of nationally and internationally touring without the backing of a major label, they were positioned to breakthrough and be huge. Enter the Conquering Chicken, along with two live recordings were released after Zapata’s murder. The remaining members recorded with Joan Jett on vocals under the name of Evil Stig, which was Gits Live spelled backwards.

Fastbacks - “Waste of Time”

Fastbacks were formed in 1979, by founders, bassist/ singer Kim Warnick and Ken Bloch, who had met and become friends while in High School during the late 70’s. During their time as a band they went through 20 drummers. One of their earliest drummers was a 15-year old named Duff McKagen, who left the band when he moved to Los Angeles. He later went on to be in a little band named Guns & Roses. Fastbacks opened for the likes of The Ramones, John Cale, and Public Image Limited throughout their band career. They broke up in 2002, but performed a reunion show during the West Seattle Summer Music Festival back on July 8, 2011.

Honorable Mentions:

7 Year Bitch - “Hip Like Junk”

Influenced by Mia Zapata, their very first show was as openers for The Gits. Featuring members from a previous band called Barbie’s Dream Car, 7 Year Bitch formed in 1990 in Seattle. They were signed to the local label C/Z Records through which they released their debut album, Sick ‘Em in 1992. Shortly after their guitarist, passed away from a heroin related incident, and fairly soon after, the murder of Mia Zapata took place. Both losses deeply affected the band and in 1994 in honor of their lost friends, they released their next album, ¡Viva Zapata! , which was also named for Mia and as well 7 Year Bitch drummer, Valerie Agnew helped form Home Alive, the Seattle organization that works towards teaching self-defense to women and awareness of bringing an end to violence towards women. 7 Year Bitch released their fourth and final album, Gato Negro, on a major label in 1996. “Hip Like Junk” is from that album.

Bikini Kill - “Resist Psychic Death” (Live)

Bikini Kill formed in Olympia, Washington back in October 1990. Bikini Kill were considered one of the pioneers of Riot Grrrl movement. Bikini Kill believed that if all girls started bands the world would change. They actively encouraged women and girls to start bands as a means of cultural resistance. Ian MacKaye produced their self titled Bikini Kill EP. They broke up in 1997.

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3 Comments

  1. Scott Crawford
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    While I think a month of observation for prominent women in the Seattle Grunge scene is important, I don’t agree with it’s overlapping of Black History Month. I don’t think there has been near enough work done on such a recent trauma (civil rights movement was about 50 years ago). I think declaring Women Who Rock Month during the same month as Black History Month isn’t a good idea. Like I said above, I think we should keep this month simply as Black History Month to honor the struggle of people of African descent in the United States, and of the struggle of the prominent figures in the Civil Rights Movement for equal rights not of just a gender, but of a people who had been oppressed for the color of their skin.

  2. nagakiri
    Posted February 19, 2013 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Seeing Blind, who are recording their third album. Jessika and Melissa are amazing!

  3. CaraD
    Posted May 25, 2013 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Tangerine are a pretty legit new indie pop band and they are 2/4 female! (female singer/female drummer)

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