Published on May 2nd, 2013 | by Jessica Mickey0
Review: Girl Power on a Saturday Afternoon
Rhythm is My Business: Performances by Local Female Musicians
Charleston County Public Library, April 27
On Sat. April 27, the downtown Charleston County Public Library’s auditorium buzzed with XX goodness (as in chromosomes; get your mind out of the the gutter). Billed as “Rhythm is My Business: Performances by Local Female Musicians,” Stefanie Bannister, Dorothea Hudson, Jordan Igoe (Happy Story Hour), and Lily Slay (The Royal Tinfoil) presented a very laid-back, casual afternoon of acoustic showmanship, skillful vocals, and a glimpse inside their own songwriting processes.
Reference Assistant Megan Summers kicked off the performances with a shout out to Charleston’s Girls Rock! program, a perfect match to what the audience was about to witness.
Lily Slay took the stage first, singing and strumming a “song about minimum wage.” Wigged out in a long red mane, she stomped softly (it was a library gig, after all), but her charisma was not so muted. Seeing Slay perform so stripped-down with just a mic and a guitar brought newfound appreciation for the songstress. Most locals have probably seen her commanding a loud, busy room in front of a full band, but here, in this capacity, her songwriting and guitar skills shined through, as did her honey-and-bourbon-flavored vocals.
Slay introduced her songs with small tidbits of what they were inspired by, such as two songs back-to-back that told the tale of a friendship gone sour and the sweet reconciliation, summer romance in Charleston, and perhaps the crowd favorite, a hilarious set-up of a self-important Jersey stereotype she once met who claimed he could get her on David Letterman’s show. This encounter resulted in an oh-so-funny-because-it’s-true ditty sung from the man’s perspective, made even more comical by the addition of a kazoo. Slay definitely set the bar high for the rest of the performers.
Next up was Dorothea Hudson, who began her set with a cover, “Glory Box” by Portishead. Her husky vocals and basic guitar style complimented each other well, but following Slay, she seemed to be out of place. I think most of the audience would agree: we were there to hear original music. She followed up her first song with “Love in Vain” by the Rolling Stones before moving on to some originals, which, once again compared to Slay’s songwriting prowess, seemed to be the B-side of the program. Hudson had some chops, but she seemed to lack the confidence to draw listeners in — at least for now. That’s something that she will no doubt be able to develop over time.
Jordan Igoe set herself up on the stage, seated and unassuming. The first thing that struck me was just what an extremely emotive performer she is. Her whole body subtly rocked with each strum and hum, and her smoky, dulcet tone conveyed everything one needed to know. Every syllable she uttered was sincere, which is probably why she introduced one of her newer songs by letting the audience know that she didn’t personally experience it, so not to worry. The song, “Bloodhound,” told the tale of what could be a Flannery O’Connor story of obsession, insanity, and pain — a Southern gothic tale that haunted me even days later. She shook and growled as she played it, making it quite possibly the highlight of the event.
Igoe ended her set with a song about fighting through depression by choosing happiness, which she admitted was a common theme in many of her tunes.
The final performer of the afternoon, Stefanie Bannister, could be called the sweetheart of this particular rodeo. She skillfully strummed and plucked at her ukulele as she sang sweetly and softly, her eyes forever roaming skyward. She played her originals chronologically as she wrote them, claiming they would start simple and become more evolved as the gig went on; however, her so-called “simple” songs were anything but. Delicate, charming, and solidly on the positive side of “twee,” she was a much-appreciated and rewarding lullaby to the entire show.
Looking over to a mother with her two young girls during parts of the program, my heart couldn’t help but flutter. I hope that this, possibly their first introduction to some of Charleston’s best singer-songwriters (who just happen to be females), all with their own distinct style and skill set, would inspire them to ask for a guitar for Christmas next year. Rock on, ladies.
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