Entertainment » Theatre

Portland Puts Women Center Stage at Siren Nation Music and Arts Festival

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Tuesday Nov 3, 2015

From November 4-15, Portland comes alive with the 9th Annual Siren Nation Music and Arts Festival, a stunning musical line-up, a night of the best lady comedians from the NW, a visual art show with 40 outstanding NW artists, an art and craft sale and free workshops.

"In everyday life the relatively small number of women we see on stage or in leadership roles isn't because there is a lack of badass women doing or creating brilliant work, it's only that there are fewer opportunities that give them the space to share what they do," said workshop organizer Beth Olson. "Our goal is to support, encourage, connect and make more visible the work that woman (and girls) are doing locally and beyond. That's not just something that other women can appreciate; having those stories and those voices are important for the creative community as a whole."

The festival is brought to you by Siren Nation, a unique arts organization that showcases and creates performance and exhibition opportunities for women throughout the year. They also produce an annual festival showcasing the original work of women working in music, film, performance and visual art.

Among the many components of the 9th Annual Siren Nation Music and Arts Festival is The Broadcast, an an all-women storytelling night that offers an opportunity to empower and elevate women from all walks of life as they bare their souls on stage in front of a live audience.

As part of Siren Nation, The Broadcast aims to give women a platform to be heard, to promote their work and foster a community of strong and successful women that inspire each other and take the world by storm. The theme for the show on Nov. 11 is "Feels Like the First Time," and you can expect hilarious, scandalous and touching stories from both professional performers and novices alike.

Featured storytellers include painter Anna Magruder, activist/poet/multimedia artist Jamondria Harris, bartender Rebekah Wagner, and accordion diva Jet Black Pearl (Jetty Swart). The host, comedian Amy Miller, provides the biting wit that glues it all together.

"There will also be a chance for audience members to enter their names in a drawing to get on stage and tell a story," said organizer Ashley Haight. "I cannot wait to see what all of these talented women have to share about their 1st times. This is a storytelling night that's unlike any other; join us!"

There will also be a comedy night, "Hell Hath No Funny." Organizer Amy Miller said that she thinks the comedy portion was a necessary addition, because the festival showcases local women from all of the arts, and the women of Portland comedy were getting too influential on our local arts scene to ignore.

"I try to book a comedy lineup for Siren Nation that represents a broad range of perspectives and backgrounds," Miller explained. "While most of the comedians come from the Pacific Northwest, we've now started to bring up special guests from other scenes, like Karinda Dobbins. Karinda and I started comedy together in Oakland and she is one of my favorite people. She's so dryly captivating on stage and talks about everything from being a mom to a teenager to being a queer black woman from Detroit and what it was like to come out to her family."

There will also be a workshop component, featuring educational opportunities in a wide variety of practical and creative skills. So for example, they have Food Swap 101 with the hosts of PDX Food Swap; Bike Maintenance with Gladys Bikes; Poetry with Tanya Dickinson; and an aromatherapy workshop with massage therapist Robin LaCosse.

"We also have a couple of panels, Podcasting and Funding Creativity, which I think will be incredible resources for attendees," said workshop organizer Ashley Brittner. "That was my main focus for the whole lineup, was making sure these were going to be great resources. I hope the folks that attend these workshops will leave with an idea for a project, a new contact for collaboration, or new DIY skills."

Olson added that, after a lot of talk recently about "the Big One" earthquake happening in the PNW eventually, they have included a Disaster Preparedness class this year.

"Over the course of the year we meet a lot of hardworking and awesomely talented women who own businesses or have unique experiences to share and so we reach out to them to hopefully create a mix of workshops that people will find enjoyable as well as useful," said Olson. "And we get to help creative women reach out to people in the community and make connections to potential clients/listeners/collaborators in a way that is really unique. Plus, you get to drink everywhere in the Kennedy School so having a couple beers while learning new skills makes my nerdy little heart race with happiness."

Brittner echoed this sentiment, saying that she was most looking forward to seeing how all of these great folks come together in these workshops, and what comes from that collaboration, adding, "I almost view them as catalysts for creativity. I am also very much looking forward to the comedy show, Hell Hath No Funny. I am big fans of the folks involved with that."

"It's really cool for me because no other music festival in Portland has been inclusive of stand-up comedy, despite comedy lineups being added to most other festivals nationally," said Miller. "Leave it to the women to blaze the trail!"

Siren Nation's mission is to inspire and empower women of all ages to create their own art and to highlight the many achievements of women in the arts. They focus their attention on the work of women artists and help to create equal opportunities in creative professions.

"The Siren Nation Festival is so instrumental in what we do as an organization," said Brittner. "We get to put on a huge lineup of art, comedy, music and other performances by some very talented women. It is such a tangible representation of our mission, which I think is so important. We create a space for women to showcase their passion, and I believe very strongly in creating that space."

Check out the full schedule:

Wednesday, Nov. 4: Hell Hath No Funny - Siren Nation's Comedy Showcase
At the Secret Society.
$10/$12. This event is 21 and over. Join Siren Nation for their bi-annual comedy show featuring some of the funniest ladies in the business! Hosted by Caitlin Weierhauser. Featuring Karinda Dobbins, Dinah Foley, Amy Miller
Thursday, Nov. 5: Group art show: Paths to the Pacific Northwest Show! At the Albina Press on Hawthorne. 5012 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215. 6-8 p.m. All Ages. FREE. Featuring 40 women artists from the Pacific NW at the Albina Press on Hawthorne Blvd.
Friday, Nov. 6: Erin McKeown and Natalia Zukerman At the Alberta Rose Theatre Doors at 7 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. $15 Advance / $18 At the Door. Erin McKeown is a musician, writer, and producer known internationally for her prolific disregard of stylistic boundaries. Her brash and clever electric guitar playing is something to see. Her singing voice is truly unique -- clear, cool, and collected. Over the course of seven studio albums and thousands of live performances, Erin has developed and refined a distinct and challenging mix of American musical styles.
Friday, Nov. 6: The Cats Meow - Burlesque Show
At The Secret Society
Doors at 7:30 p.m. Show at 8 p.m. Step back in time and into a Speakeasy where you can drink, dance and enjoy live variety entertainment & classic burlesque all to the live music of Pink Lady & John Bennett Jazz Band! Featuring: Zora Von Pavonine, Mae Zing, Pink Lady DiAnn, Portland Rhythm Shakers. Additional cast: Zora Von Pavonine, Pink Lady DiAnn and more!
Saturday, Nov. 7: The Libertine Bells
At the Secret Society
Show at 6 p.m. $5. ALL AGES
The Libertine Belles are a female vocal swing trio based in Portland Oregon. Our set lists include vintage jazz music and original songs that conjure up Tin Pan Alley! 
Saturday, Nov. 7: The Rachel Mann Band w/ The Earnest Lovers & Waysiders. At The Secret Society Doors: 8:30 p.m. / Show: 9 p.m. $8 in advance / $10 at the door. Rachel Mann has brought a special blend of country & folk with her on her recent arrival on the Portland music scene. Making waves as a new voice not to be missed, she will delight listeners with her original tunes as well as covers of some tried and true favorites. She looks forward to sharing the stage with some of her favorite musicians for this exciting show!
Sunday, Nov. 8th: Kate Bush Tribute Night. CLOUDBUST WITH US: A TRIBUTE TO KATE BUSH
At Holocene 8:30 p.m. show. $8 adv. / $10 Door. Cover songs performed live by Sara Jackson-Holman, Johanna Warren, Unicorn Domination, Coco Columbia, Lynnae Gryffin, Patricia et Cameron, Moniker with LKN and Ali Clarys. Dance performance by Lucy Lee Yim

Tuesday, November 10: The Doubleclicks, Jackie Kashian and Molley Lewis. At The Doug Fir Lounge
Doors: 7:30 p.m. / Show: 8 p.m. $10-12 - 21+ only.
The Doubleclicks- Angela Webber and Aubrey Webber - are sisters. Since launching their band in 2011 with a weekly new-song YouTube project and the animated music video for their Dungeons & Dragons love song, The Doubleclicks have toured their clever brand of folk music around the country, usually in comic shops, game stores or in their fans' living rooms. The duo has also performed at w00tstock shows with Paul & Storm and Wil Wheaton, and entertained audiences at pop culture, gaming and sci-fi conventions.

Wednesday, November 11: The Broadcast: Live Storytelling Event At the Secret Society. Doors: 7:30 p.m. / Show: 8 p.m. $10 advance / $12 door. Featuring women from all walks of life telling true stories live in front of an audience. Theme: Feels Like the First Time. Hosted By: Amy Miller
Storytellers: Jamondria Harris, Anna Magruder, Jetty Swart, Rebekah Wagner

Thursday, November 12: The Famous Haydell Sisters At Rialto Corner Bar. 401 SW Alder St.
8-10 p.m. 21+. FREE. The Famous Haydell Sisters Comeback Tour is a musical comedy routine featuring sisters Maybelle (Sadie Bowman) and Mattie (Donna Kay Yarborough) as a pair of 1990s child stars who are making a comeback 20 years after their last concert.

Thursday, November 12: Micachu & The Shapes At Holocene
Doors at 7:30 p.m., music at 8 p.m. $12 advance / $14 day of show. Micachu and the Shapes' Mica Levi earned acclaimed for the score for the sci-fi thriller "Under the Skin." This year, she's back with the band for the follow-up to 2012's Never. Good Sad Happy Bad is out September 11 via Rough Trade.

Friday, November 13: TOPS, PURO INSTINCT, IS/IS
At the Doug Fir Lounge
Doors: 8 p.m. / Show: 9 p.m. $12. 21+ only. TOPS form precious balances. They create emotionally powerful sonic experiences with a contemporary understanding of the classic song structures that have guided pop music since the beginning. A close listen will reveal their assurance as musicians, but their experience derives from playing in warehouse lofts rather than going to school. There is a place for each note in their songs. Complexity disappears behind a veil of familiarity.

Saturday, November 14: DJ Anjali w/ the incredible Kid. At the Goodfoot Pub and Lounge
9 p.m. $5. 21+. A Desi-Latino Soundclash: Take the sultry vibe of the Latin American Tropics, combine with the rhythm of India ("Taal") and stir into Tropitaal -- a Desi/Latino Soundclash where the hottest club sounds from India and Latin America go head to head in an all-night dance-off of epic proportions. Resident DJs Anjali & The Incredible Kid combine their deep passions and deep crates from across the spectrum of Caribbean, Indian and Latin vibes.

Sunday, November 15: Siren Nation Art and Craft Sale At the McMenamins Kennedy School Gym.
10-4 p.m. FREE. ALL AGES!
40 art and craft vendors selling original and handmade products from around Oregon. http://www.mcmenamins.com/KennedySchool

Sunday, November 15: Siren Nation Workshops: At the McMenamins Kennedy School Gym.
11-5 p.m. FREE. ALL AGES!
Siren Nation will be offering a day free workshops on a wide range of topics at the McMenamins Kennedy School classrooms. http://www.mcmenamins.com/KennedySchool

For individual tickets, visit the venue websites. For information, visit www.sirennation.org

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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