Rock This World Like a Girl!
By Valerie L. Cason
If I were to make a prediction for what 2016 holds for Antigone Rising (AR), it would begin with saying that 2015 is “last time” you see them in your rearview mirror. The last few months for New York based band have seen them cross the globe as U.S. Government Cultural Ambassadors for what would prove to be a “game changer” in their lives. The impact of their music and appearances gave birth to their foundation Girl Bands Rock which was officially kicked off just last month at the annual BeachFest and can already be seen making an impact through outreach programs
Only two song titles weaved into the introduction of the amazing band named for one of the first feminists that stood up for what she believed at a time when that just was not done. Antigone of Greek mythology seems to pale in comparison to what the four women that make up Antigone Rising have accomplished and should the indications of where they are headed play out, they may cement themselves into the history books. Founding members Cathy and Kristen Henderson along with Dena Tauriello and Nini Camps make up the band and I had the chance recently to chat with Cathy.
The usual question and answer format was tosses out in favor of a more organic and free-flowing conversation, but the primary topic would be the evolution to date of the Girl Bands Rock, the non-profit brainchild of Antigone Rising. With just over two months since its formal kickoff the state of the foundation as described by Henderson as absolutely growing by leaps and bounds.
The state of the music industry is currently devoid of the all female bands that were much more prevalent in the 70s and 80s with groups such as The Bangles, The Go-Go’s, and The Runaways along with top 10 hits that were worldwide. Upon Antigone Rising going overseas and playing in Israel, Vietnam, and Palestine they started to see the overwhelming reception from girls as well as boys to the music and the message, a message deeper than they ever imagined. That message and impact led them to realize this was something that needed to be done back home in the U.S. as well, and thus Girl Bands Rock was born.
With the fuel to start their own foundation at home and they are conducting outreach with schools all over the country. And while focused on being inspirational to young girls and music the foundation is not exclusive to either, with the message instead towards all young people to pursue anything they want regardless of traditional gender roles in society. “The foundation is solely based on equality, and giving everybody the chance and the tools to be their best creative self.” “It is designed for every young person to follow that spark, whatever that is within them,” Cathy Henderson. The foundation reaches persons of all ages from elementary school age through college, keeping its primary basis on the youth.
Knowing you have a greater purpose and that purpose becoming clear has been a side revelation to the rise of Girl Bands Rock, in that Antigone Rising’s members collectively are realizing that this is perhaps their greater calling. With the focus of most bands being to reach the masses of audience and spread the music as far as possible, they may have hit upon that greater purpose of themselves as a band. The foundation according the Henderson, “is snowballing.” The interest has been so high that corporations and people have come forward with donations, cementing the importance that they are in the right place doing exactly what they should be doing right now.
Knowing how much and how important the need for such a program is, Antigone Rising is placing a majority of their focus on growing this foundation and expanding its reach. Writing, playing, and producing music goes hand in hand with this effort and along with running their own label Rising Shine Records. Being in a position of independence sometimes comes at a price in a business based on the heavy marketing machine, but Antigone Rising benefits from being able to make decisions quickly and on their own terms and so far, those decisions are paying off.
Post interview I decided to give their latest release another listen after more insight from our chat, and it only got better. The latest EP, Whiskey & Wine Volume 2 is their five track release and is yet another non-traditional aspect of these multifaceted artists. With the standard album cycle of full length albums being spread out over a longer calendar reach, Antigone Rising takes the stay on the radar more often approach. Under today’s digital download music model the music is consumed much more rapidly, so with songs released as singles via digital sales, once the ladies accumulate enough for an EP, the physical CD becomes available.
The five tracks on Volume 2 lack nothing in a full-out delivery of quality tracks with nothing to be skipped. Game Changer says everything you need to know about this last year. And while based on the real life actions of a teenage girl standing up for something she believes in, the theme bears full resonance to the grit of Cathy, Kristen, Dena, and Nini. The remaining tracks grab you with the boot kicking beat and harmonies for days, along with lyrics that reach deep into places you may not even recognize about yourself and your own surroundings. Closing out the EP is ‘The Last Time’, and as I listen all I can think is this had better not be the last time I ever hear from these voices, because they absolutely rock with heart, emotion, and confidence of self beyond imagination.
World Cafe Live, Philadelphia, PA
Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA
Antigone Rising Wine & Whiskey Volume 2
All photos courtesy of ILDK Media Publicity.