Monday, June 8, 2009

Indiegrrl Festival Rocks Spencer,VA

I believe there is nothing like a true appreciation for the arts, whether it’s painting, theater, music, poetry or what ever format that it can take the shape of. Well, just recently in our back yard of Spencer, VA this took place. On Saturday, May 30th locals and a few out of towners were treated to our first Indiegrrl Festival. The festival was part of the new library dedication at the Spencer Penn School.

Now, I know some of you may be scratching your heads wondering "What the heck is Indiegrrl?" Well, it’s an organization that was created back in 1998 by songwriter Holly "Figueroa" O’Reilly. In October of 2005, the wheel was turned over to Martinsville’s own Vicki Blankenship and she began her drive. Now, for the what is it part. It’s a non-profit organization that creates an opportunity for women in the arts, whether spoken, music, painting, comedy, authors, etc., to showcase their talents. It also creates a type of social network for them and creates an opportunity to educate their own communities. They have festivals all across the country to help share their gifts with others.

The festival in Spencer was the first for our area and was scheduled from 10:00am until 6:00pm. There were over 25 vendors selling their arts and crafts and some delicious food also. Vicki had lined up some great talent for the show, which offered a wide variety from blues to newgrass to acoustic americana. Each artist was given one hour to entertain the crowd. The day kicked off with Broda, from Farmville,VA, who performed songs from her "Spiral Staircase" CD. She included such favorites as "Rosemary’s Picnic" and "Mulligan Game". She also played "Don’t Sell Yourself Short" which was submitted and included on a sampler by OG Magazine to be given out on the West coast at different events. Now that’s some major exposure right there! "This is actually my second event that I have been a part of and I am just as honored to do this show as I was the first one. I couldn’t be more excited," said Broda after her performance.

Next up was Spartanburg, South Carolina’s Leslie Berry who performed songs from all of her three CDs. She offered songs with very powerful lyrics including "Story of You" from her latest CD "Was It Blue" which was dedicated to all the grandmothers in the crowd. Leslie has such a gentle, yet powerful voice that really takes you by surprise. "I think shows like this one are a great networking opportunity and helps the musicians out by helping us get signed or helping us make our CD. It’s the spirit of Indiegrrl, that’s what it’s all about," responded Leslie.

The Near Misses from Charlotte,NC were next. They are 3 very talented women who have the most amazing harmonies that I think I have ever heard live. Their sound is somewhat country/newgrass. They played a set consisting of songs from their two CDs including "Pretty Enough" from their newest CD "Marigold". They were in great spirits joking around during their entire set. "Everyone here has been really sweet to us and this is such a good cause. We think it’s a very cool event and the vendor support is awesome. We just wish that the community would have come out a little stronger to support it," said the ladies as they packed up to head back to another show that night in Charlotte.

Melissa Reaves from Boone,NC was up next and performed a set that included some amazing effects using a seven second delay foot pedal. Her set was a mix of blues and rock and included a slowed down version of AC-DC’s "You Shook Me All Night Long’ which was amazing. She closed her set with a touching acoustic version of John Lennon’s "Imagine". "I’m excited to be a part of this event. We need all the help and support we can get from the community. It’s not uncommon for the first event like this to have a small turnout, but hopefully we can build on it. It’s a tough time right now, but something like this can only enrich your community," said Melissa.

Next up was the show’s organizer Vicki Blankenship who performed a short set of very emotional and heart felt songs. There’s nothing like watching a performer who genuinely gets into their music like Vicki does. Her set did include a couple of tracks from her upcoming third CD "Elements" which is due out in August. "Blue Flame Trance" was an incredible song done by Vicki solo but will include a full band on the CD.

We were treated to Norfolk, VA’s award winning musician Julie Clark as the show’s closer. She has won the Virginia Music Award for Folk/Acoustic Artist of the Year. She was armed with her acoustic guitar and sung us songs from her two CDs. She, like all of the artists that appeared, have an uncanny knack for telling great stories. They don’t sing just to sing, they invite you in and have you sit down and they tell you a story with each and every song that they sing. "Feel Free" is a perfect example of Julie sharing with us problems she had with her mom as she was growing up. She closed with an unbelievable cover of "People Get Ready". "I just love the small town aspect of this plus the library dedication was very nice too. I’m a big library girl and that part was extra special to me. I just love it here, the scenery is just so beautiful," said Julie.

I spoke to Vicki afterwards about the day’s event. "The vendor turnout that we had was amazing, I just wish we would have had the community come out in stronger numbers. It’s hard to pull off an event like this without their support. The people who did come out really loved it and they did support the vendors. The artists that were here did a great job too. We tried to include different types of music to entertain the people. We had alot of talent here and award winning talent too. Broda and Leslie are actually board members of Indiegrrl. It is hard to pull these off and not go in the hole because we still have to pay the artists. I am excited to have Binding Time Cafe behind us and supporting us."

For those who did attend, you know what you were treated to. For those who didn’t, it was a day full of amazingly talented women who performed their hearts out. It was close to 90 degrees and these women were pouring their souls out under the beating sun. The turnout was low and that was a disappointment for many. It was such a positive event and a missed educational opportunity for many to show the young girls in our community the power that the female body and mind is capable of. Hopefully, there will be a second festival next year and we as a community can turn out and support a little stronger.

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