Women artists, poets, musicians gather for Foxfest

Steven Sonoras
Special to The Detroit News

It’s ladies’ night at Tangent Gallery this Saturday. Five female-fronted Detroit Rock bands and a host of female poets and artists will come together to support three local women’s charities as part of the second annual Foxfest Music & Art Festival.

Proceeds collected at the door will benefit three Detroit based women’s groups: Alternatives for Girls, Girls Rock Detroit and Genesis House. Congregation of Every 1 will also collect goods at the door to distribute to local homeless shelters.

Event coordinator Sue Summers says she wanted to celebrate the women of Detroit in the most inclusive way possible.

“I wanted to to host a showcase featuring women musicians of all genres of music, from rock to folk, along with artists and poets, and have a festival where men would feel welcome to attend, unlike Lilith Fair,” Summers says. “I also wanted the proceeds to benefit women’s groups so I selected three local non-profit groups: a shelter for teens, a shelter for abused women, and a summer music camp for teens.”

Fiery Detroit rock band She Hound will headline the show, supported by Stooges-influenced power trio White Shag, romantic pop rock group Bonehead, acoustic blues band Ms. Willa Rae and the Minor Arcana, and a special group performance from local songbirds Audra Kubat, Emily Rose, Michelle Held and Alison Lewis.

The event also features seven local women artists, a dozen local vendors, and poetry readings by Dena Luckett, Lianna Trimble, and Veronica Frick.

Foxfest provides the perfect opportunity for Detroit’s women artists and performers to showcase their skills in a city where artists, regardless of gender, often struggle to make ends meet.

“The choice to be an artist, especially in Detroit, is a difficult one,” says poet Dena Luckett. “Societally, there is still a stigma that surrounds being an artist full-time. As a woman, I felt like I had to choose between supporting my family with a full-time career and devoting myself to writing. Add into this the reality that poetry isn’t as popular as other types of literature or art and, frankly, the opportunities to perform are limited.”

White Shag leader Laura Mendozza says Detroit needs more events like Foxfest, because even in 2015 being a female rocker has its challenges.

“Do you know how many times I’ve explained to people that I’m not the roadie or the tour manager, but the bassist and lead singer?” Mendozza says. “Receiving recognition as a female rocker is hard. I remember walking in with my bass amp to a gig at New Way Bar and some guy telling me, ‘Where I come from, women don’t carry amps like that.’ We female rockers who really rock are far and few between, but when we rock we rock like no other. Do we not get enough recognition? Of course not.”

Summers says that regardless of the discrimination women artists still face, female representation in the arts is at an all-time peak. She says she had an overwhelming amount of interest from local performers who wanted to appear at Foxfest, but she had to turn many away due to the venue’s limited space.

“I think the local music scene and art scenes are very strongly represented by women, now more than ever,” she says. “It’s evident in the number of art shows around town and the bands playing that there are more women than ever making an impact on the music an art scene here and worldwide. I can only see it growing with the next generation of musicians and artists.”

Steven Sonoras is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.

Foxfest Music & Art Festival

8 p.m. Saturday

Tangent Gallery

715 E. Milwaukee, Detroit

TIckets $10

(313) 873-2955