‘Folk-Funk’ Bassist Laura Love Kicks off EL's Women in the Arts Festival

Thursday, November 8, 2018, 9:57 am
By: 
Christopher A. Wardell

In conjunction with the Ten Pound Fiddle Concert Series, the 33rd annual Women in the Arts Festival (WITA) is set for November 9th and 10th and will be headlined by singer-songwriter Laura Love.

The festival will be held at Edgewood United Church and tickets are $20 for the general public, $18 for Fiddle Members, and $5 for students.

Love, who was born in Nebraska but is now based in the Northwest, is back on the road after taking almost a decade off from performing live. The musician, whose music has been described as Afro-Centric, recently returned to the stage for several folk festivals and other high profile concerts. For her show at WITA, Love will be backed by Tammy Cook, a veteran mid-Michigan musician and a member of the Riot Grrrl-inspired punk band, Scary Women.

As a bassist, Love is well known for her ability to slide between musical genres, including hip-hop, folk, field hollers, and gospel.

According to Susan Frazier, one of the festival’s organizers, landing Love for the festival has been a longtime dream finally realized.

“Some of our committee members had seen her perform at other festivals and brought her name up,” Frazier said. “It took a few years to make it happen in part because she took some time off of touring. Our vision is to have influential women's music performers come to our festival and to make it as diverse as we can. We also try to choose performers who otherwise wouldn't make it to our part of the world.”

Frazier runs the mid-Michigan music label Goldenrod Music, which features music from other womyn artists including Holly Near, Nervous But Excited, and Sweet Honey In The Rock.

According to Frazier, working with the Ten Pound Fiddle and the Fiddle’s Concert Booker Sally Potter to help produce the music was an easy decision -- a decision that has worked out for both parties.

“For years, the Fiddle tried to not have female performers on the second weekend of November so as not to conflict with this festival,” Frazier said. “Several years ago, the group Emma's Revolution was coming to town, and it was the only weekend that worked. Rather than compete against each other for the same audience, Sally brought the idea to us and we went with it. It's been a great partnership.”

In addition to Love, the festival has a slew of other performers throughout the weekend including Latina Comic Mimi Gonzalez, singer-songwriter Jaime Marvin, Voices of the Revolution, a spoken word group formed by Two Broads and a Butch (Susan Harris, Laurie Hollinger and Tari Muñiz), as well as Sistrum, a women’s choral group from Lansing.

Local musician Barb Barton will also perform, and storyteller Su Penn is set to take the stage again for the first time in many years.

The festival will feature an artists’ market, and there will be food available courtesy of the Sistrum Café. The market will include artists and craftswomen selling items ranging from pottery, glass art, fiber art, paintings and jewelry, to personal care products, homemade jellies and jams, books, coffee, and women’s music.

Since 1985, the festival has evolved, but the goal has remained the same.

“WITA’s purpose is to promote and give visibility to women in the arts, both visual and performing arts,” Frazier said. “To facilitate the training of women in the technical aspects of performance production, and to promote an international network of women’s culture.”

More information on the Women in the Arts Festival is available here.