Featured Music: Wednesday, September 26, 2002
Women Rockin’ 4 Women
6pm Sat at Club Clearview, 2806 Elm St, Dallas. Admission price has not yet been determined by organizers. 214-939-0077.
Rock the Cause

Raising awareness and offering a good show make Women Rockin’ 4 Women a success.


This much you need to know: Women Rockin’ 4 Women, now in its fourth year, helps raise money for domestic violence prevention and is a great time. Bands of all stripes gleefully blow the roof off the place. Like last year, Women Rockin’ 4 Women will be in Deep Ellum, this time at Club Clearview.

The festival, well on its way to becoming an annual regional music event, is the brainchild of Tiffany Poinsett, singer/guitarist of the band Baby Jane Hudson (which will open this year’s event). Poinsett and Baby Jane drummer April Samuels oversee the festivities.

Poinsett’s dual passion for music and social awareness stretches back to her days in Lake Jackson, near Houston, where she founded the band the Deadbeats and worked with various alcohol and drug awareness programs. Samuels caught the drum bug at age five, majored in music at UNT, and played for several bands before meeting Poinsett and Baby Jane guitarist Derenda Hawkins in 1998. Soon after, she joined the band and began assisting with Women Rockin’ 4 Women.

Poinsett credits several inspirations for the birth of the festival. “That’s tough. There are many, many reasons,” she said. “I had a friend who suffered domestic violence, and her husband shot and killed her. I also studied psychology at [Texas] A&M and UT-Arlington, where just going to the hospital and seeing its effects for real, as opposed to in newspapers and tv, left a big mark.”

A desire to help combined with an interest in music led to the idea, according to Poinsett. “I love music more than anything,” she said. “I found Lilith Fair dull, though, and I thought I’d rather see great area bands. It sounded like a great theme to gather female musicians around.”

That “theme” features female musicians as well as raising awareness and funds for domestic violence prevention. As in previous years, festival proceeds will benefit the New Beginning Center in Garland.

The center offers, among other services, crisis intervention, shelter services, legal advocacy, and free training/presentations to groups on domestic violence issues. (See www.newbeginningcenter.org for further info.) New Beginning officials are thrilled with the efforts and success of the event.

“Women Rockin’ 4 Women is a great cause-awareness piece because it reaches people who may be unaware of the cultural and societal problems of domestic violence,” said Christina Coultas, the center’s community education coordinator. “It’s also amazing to see people willing to be so passionate about something.”

Andria Brannon, New Beginning’s community development director, said that the festival’s awareness-raising component is vital: It spreads the word that options exist, and while a concertgoer who picks up a flier may not need the information, he or she might know someone who does.

“This is a unique partnership,” said Brannon. Most domestic violence workers are used to seeking grants to support their work, she said. “This is my favorite type, though, where someone comes to us out of the goodness of their hearts, and [the event] centers on the success of women musicians, which goes along with working to empower our clients.”

In addition to raising several thousand dollars, the festival benefits the New Beginning Center in other ways. Coultas said various bands’ sales tables will feature informational material about the center. Both she and Samuels, separately, talked up last July’s Ridglea Theater event, which featured six bands and collected school supplies for area children.

Women Rockin’ 4 Women also promotes its presence at the Fort Worth Fall Music Festival and the Deep Ellum Arts Festival.

Although it’s been gaining popularity and credibility over time, the festival remains Metroplex-centric, which seems to suit Poinsett and Samuels just fine. Apart from a few big-name sponsors, such as Mars Music and the Hard Rock Café, Women Rockin’ 4 Women depends mostly on Deep Ellum-area sponsors that, according to Samuels, donate “lots of gift certificates and t-shirts we can toss out” to the crowd.

Both are also happy to continue working with local bands. “Before this, I didn’t realize there were so many female bands in the area, some really good ones, but you have to look for them,” Samuels said. “This brings them together in one place.”

Poinsett said there was some interest in approaching Joan Jett and Lisa Loeb at one point, but the problem with such well-knowns is paying their expenses, which would mean less money for the shelter. “I wouldn’t turn down or completely rule out a major act,” Poinsett said, “but I think it’s important to promote local bands and get them onstage working together, not competing.” Samuels said that her favorite part of the festival is the “big bit of fun grand finale,” in which all the musicians climb onstage to sing a female-empowering number like “I Will Survive” or “Respect.”

Keeping it local makes sense. The festival’s domestic violence message remains specific to its audience, and a lot of unknown Fort Worth-Dallas acts, like Lori Dreier, Amy Jo, and Girl, who are all performing this year, gain exposure.

As with most multiple-band bills, last year’s bands were a mixed bag, running the gamut from fair to great, with most coming in at very good. One of last year’s best moments was catching Lucy Loves Schroeder, then relatively new, on their way up. (While not yet a household name, the band has steadily ascended ever since.) Plus, there’s always the possibility that the next Sleater-Kinney could be among this season’s slate of bands. Ya never know.

For such a massive project, Women Rockin’ 4 Women appears to run largely problem-free. A few have grumbled over the fact that all the bands are not all-female and that several previous groups consisted of mainly guys plus token bass chicks. “Bands can be just one- to all-female,” Samuels said. “We concentrate more on raising money and the theme of female musicianship than whether the bands are boy-and-girl mixed.”

Poinsett said it is also important to realize that many men are involved with and support the festival. She added that, apart from some of the solo performers and Baby Jane Hudson, all of this year’s bands include men. Both festival organizers understand the reality that Fort Worth-Dallas isn’t exactly a hotbed of all-female bands.

Other growing pains have been minor, according to Poinsett. A tacky between-acts comedy bit at one of last year’s clubs didn’t go over well with a lot of people. Poinsett, who was in a different club at the time and only heard of the shtick afterwards, said she’s sure nothing like that will happen again.

“Overall, everything’s been positive,” she said. “The only problem we’ve had is that in past years I think a few bands have appeared for reasons other than ours, that is, their self-promotion versus domestic violence awareness, but that’s just a few. The majority have been totally behind what we’re doing.”

Such incidents are small potatoes, however, given that Women Rockin’ 4 Women succeeds in bringing attention to important issues while giving concertgoers their money’s worth.

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