By Jennie Wood
When Shannon Wright played a rare show in Boston recently, ailment cialis I was reminded of the lasting impact of Ladyfest Midwest. Ironically, drugstore Wright hates to tour even though she is known for her intense, primal live performances. She completely gives herself over to the music on stage, as if her life depends on the very next note. It’s a performance that’s hard to forget. I remember the first time I experienced it: Friday, August 17th at the Empty Bottle, the second night of Ladyfest Midwest.
During the eight months I worked on planning and organizing Ladyfest Midwest, it was easy to lose track of the why – why an arts festival. Between the four-hour long meetings that often left more questions than answers, making fundraising calls, booking artists, and promoting the event, it became easy to forget – for me at least – why we were doing it or why I’d become involved in the first place.
Once the festival started there was still much for the festival organizers to do. All of us wore multiple hats, active in several committees with a long list of responsibilities that weekend – performers had to be picked up at the airport, venues needed to be staffed, money had to be collected and deposited so it could eventually be donated to Chicago Women’s Health Center and Women in the Director’s Chair. Many of us shuffled back and forth from locations across the city – the Congress, Empty Bottle, Schubas, Chopin Theater, Subterranean, the Hideout and many – making sure that performers, volunteers, and venues had what they needed. And, some of us even performed at the festival.
Running around, it was hard to stop and take it all in. On Friday night of the festival, I went to the Empty Bottle to manage the show – pay the musicians, make sure their sets started on time, organize the volunteers, and keep the venue staff happy. By the end of the night, things were running smoothly and I was able to watch the headliner, Shannon Wright. To this day, this set still stands out in my mind as one of the most amazing sets I’ve ever seen – and I have seen a lot of effing shows! Until Ladyfest Midwest, I’d never seen Shannon Wright perform or anyone like her. It was the gift the festival gave to me and watching her perform made all the hard work worth it. Watching her, I remembered or perhaps truly realized for the first time, why Ladyfest Midwest.
Discovering one of my all time favorite musicians wasn’t the only gift Ladyfest Midwest gave me. As an organizer, I learned valuable skills that have helped me in every job I’ve had since. As a musician, I got to perform with my band and proudly share a bill with other performers I greatly admire: Cyndi Elliott, Sally Timms, and Eleventh Dream Day’s Janet Bean. As a member of a community, I also made some lasting friendships. All that and Ladyfest Midwest exposed me to some really great music, music that has been a soundtrack to my last ten years.