The ladies of the blues, feminism, + witchy things

I had no idea what I was going to write about for this deep-in-October post. But then, last night, a gang of 4 empowered, bad ass, incredibly talented women reached down into my soul and set it on fire. And, in one moment last night, I realized I was witnessing some modern ladies of the blues honor the wild, pioneering, often-unknown blues women of the past. Almost immediately, I felt a long line of womanist power running through the past 100 years. Feminists. Witches. Women claiming + expressing exactly who they are. And, I knew that I needed to share this with you – because I was moved, I was grooving, I was inspired, and I was witnessing + partaking in something sacred. But, more than anything, this is exactly the witchy vibe that this October is all about.

Let me begin with how this evening came about. Our friend, Jackie, messaged me on Monday and asked me if we wanted to go to a blues concert with her. It was going to be in this new-ish underground venue called BlÃ¥ Kaktus (Blue Cactus). Just that totally piqued our interest. It felt funky from the very beginning. But, then when we found out that the the artists performing were called Ladies Got the Blues + that they’d be covering blues women of the past. And that sounded freaking amazing.

So, we planned a girl’s night. Dinner out + then the blues. I had such a good feeling about these plans and we were all looking forward to it all week long.

After dinner we walked in the cold, dark October night air to an old, historic building downtown that has been reclaimed as a cultural center with stages + venues for concerts, plays, and other creative activities. The thing is, all of these places are super intimate, cozy, and funky. Now, I’d never been in, but I have been dying to book something there. My intuition told me that it would be just the place that I would love.

Hallarna (the name of the block of buildings) was first built in 1872 and used for various unsuccessful factory business. Eventually, since it was set in a culturally-driven area, I think the energy just took over and it became a place for artists, thespians, and creatives.

We entered the blues pub, which only “pops up” every other Friday when they have a concert, through a red door on the southwestern corner of the historic place. They literally only put up the sign on the nights there are concerts, making it feel like you’ve stumbled into some secret society. It feels even more secret when you pass through the entry and head directly downstairs into a dark, warm cellar.

The room was intimate and perfect. A small stage (and a larger unused one off to one side), cafe tables, bar tables, chairs, and a bar. We found our way to the back near the bar and prepared for what we knew would be an incredible night. I felt it in my bones.

Within minutes, 4 gorgeous women climbed up on the stage, sat down with their respective instruments, a keyboard, a box for percussion, a harmonica, and an electric guitar, and started belting out songs from the depths of their soul which went straight into the depths of mine.

Ladies Got the Blues Quartet is a stripped-down version of the mighty the music collective that has taken blues-Sweden by storm. The concept is simple and powerful: women interpret women in the blues genre from the birth of the blues until today. In the repertoire you can hear music legends like Big Mama Thornton, Bessie Smith and Aretha Franklin but also modern blues women like Brittany Howard and Tanya Blount from The War and the Treaty. The band wants to both praise and interpret their idols, at the same time as they want to highlight today’s active female blues musicians and show that the genre is alive and current.

from Ladies Got the Blues

They sang + played, I danced + soaked it up. And, somewhere, in the middle of it all, I started thinking about October + the season of the witch, which runs from now until mid-december. I thought back to my previous post where I shared my thoughts about what makes a witch – why I think that we shouldn’t be afraid of embracing our inner witch, and that being a witch simply means (according to me) being a person, usually comfortable with feminine expression, who is connected to their own power.

As the night went on, I knew that I was seeing four “witches”, four women using their own unique powers of music to tell a story, share their love for the blues, and honor the mostly unknown, unheard of, unrecognized women of the blues. And by simply tapping into their musical power, they were moving the story forward.

Ladies Got the Blues is just four modern women in a long line of blues witches, of feminists, of women who claim their own power + use it to bring about change, whether intentionally or not. But, these women from the birth of the blues from the 1920s to the 50s to the 70s to today are feminists in the greatest sense. They are putting their feminism, their power, their rights, their life, their music, their thoughts, their feelings, their womanhood proudly on display through their music. Expressing exactly who they are. Going against the status quo. They sing of love, sex, drugs, getting stoned, being free, and all that it means to be a woman. Now, I don’t know if there is any better example of a witchy, powerful, creative, passionate, evolved, woke woman than these blues mothers from the past + from today.

To be honest, though, I haven’t given blues music, much less blues women, much attention. I know I love the groove of the music, but I have not ever taken the time to learn much about these powerful, inspiring women. For example, who knew that Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog is a cover?!?! What the fuck? It was first recorded by Big Mama Thornton in 1952. Yet another women who has been overlooked and whose story has not been told.

All of these ladies of the blue have now become heroes to me. I am filled to the brim with respect, inspiration, and motivation by their stories and music. I am sitting here today going down a rabbit hole, researching many of the women the group covered last night. In any case, ALL of these woman, including Ladies Got the Blues, have woken a whole separate side of feminism within me. And I am so grateful I was able to share this night with my love + our friend. It felt like we were also a part of this long line of womanist history.

There is no holding back in these ladies of the blues. There is no hiding in their witchy, womanly ways. And, if I want to even be a teeny tiny bit like them, then I will spend some time during this dark season of the year to explore my inner, bluesy, sultry, witchy self. What is it that is my biggest passion? And how can I express that? Because I simply must. We all need to.

The world needs our passion, our voices, our stories, our incredibly strong, powerful energy. So, let’s get out their + make the music that comes from our souls. Find your inner witch, unearth your power, and make your voice heard.

xoxo. liz.

You’re gonna need a playlist, right? Good thing I made one as I created this post. Hehe. Explore the female greats from the birth of blues to a few current blues feminists as well. The group last night covered a few of the songs. So, if you are ready for a m o o d, then click right here or listen below, and give your soul an empowering treat!

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