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Another rant about art 

Music is not a competition. Art is not a competition. All musicians have something to offer. Whatever music, theatre, film, literature, art that you're putting out there, someone, somewhere likes it. All art has value. Even if you don’t want it to. The second you write a song, create a piece of art, it has life outside of you. You don’t have any control over it. It’s like giving birth. You created it, but now it’s something else. It’s organic. It grows and changes, and you just get to watch and see what happens.

I’m so incredibly lucky to be in this town, to be around these people, to be here, now. No, I’m not famous. No, I’m not making enough money from music/writing to support myself. Yes, I still have a day job. (But even my day job is awesome, and I’m so grateful to have it! It’s the kind of job that allows me the flexibility to play music, to write plays, to be in a graduate school program for writing, to travel to Mexico for a month, to hang out at The Star Bar or The Earl on week nights and see amazing get the picture.) But none of that matters. As long as I can write songs and sing them (along the side of extremely talented musicians, even!), as long as I can write plays and poems and stories, as long as I can go see other plays and other musicians and go to art museums and poetry readings, as long as I can share, experience, support, and create ART, I’m happy. And that’s what I do. So I’m happy.

Hey, artists. Let’s celebrate and support each other. We all have different songs to sing. (Sometimes, we can even harmonize with each other.) We all have different stories to tell. And let’s all just take a second and realize how good we have it, how fortunate we are.

:- )

Hippie rants! 

by Beverly Crawford

So I needed to write a blog. ( And you're thinking, "Oh, God, here comes Sara gushing about all of the AWESOME music again!") Haha. And...that is true.

My life is overflowing with good music. Right here in Atlanta! First of all, Monday night, I went to play at the Open Mic Night at Eddie's Attic. Now, typically, I'm not really a fan of making music a competition, and the Eddie's Attic Open Mic is a competitive event. At the end of the night, there is a top 3, and they all get to play an extra song. Then one person wins, and there's prize money, and they get to go on to the big Open Mic tournament they have twice a year. Usually, when music becomes a competition, I feel like the atmosphere is a lot more judgmental and critical, and there's not as much support for your fellow musician, but I think Eddie's Attic is just the opposite. Yes, it's a competition, but I think all of the musicians are really supportive of each other. Everyone actually listens to you while you're playing there, which is not true of many other venues. And I think they've done a great job at setting up a really cool atmosphere where musicians can really share their art.

I saw tons of great artists Monday night! The most memorable for me was a group called Momentary Prophets. You should definitely check out their music! I really loved their whole energy and their songs are very well-crafted.

Then, Wednesday, I went out to Smith's Olde Bar for the 500 Songs for Kids benefit. What a great show! They spend a week counting down the 500 greatest era-defining songs, with 500 artists covering each song! And all of the money goes towards the Songs for Kids Foundation, which is a really, really great cause. Check out some of the things they do on their website! 500 Songs for Kids is still going on tonight and tomorrow night, so make it out if you can! Or just stop by the website and donate! I saw some really great musicians on Wednesday! Drivin' N' Cryin' actually stopped by to ROCK out Tom Petty's "American Girl." There were tons of other amazing musicians playing that night, all coming together to support a great cause. It was actually really cool. And I thought my cover of Dolly's "9 to 5" went really well. I might even break that one out at future shows sometime!

There is just SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC! Everywhere!!! On the internet, on independent and college radio stations, in local venues and bars, everywhere!! It's so exciting! Sometimes I feel like I'm going to explode, like I'm just going to bubble over from all of the SPECTACULAR music! I think I'm going to post another music sharing podcast coming up, too! Mostly local music, I think. So look for that! You'll see more of what I'm talking about when you can listen to it!

There are a lot of really great things going on in my life right now. First of all, I'm completely STOKED about the backing band!! We finally have a new name by the way, Sara Crawford and the Cult Following. Our set for the Lenny's show is sounding awesome! We're playing the full band versions of a bunch of my Unsent Letters songs, bringing back a few of my favorite Novo Luna songs (I sang with both Adrian and Geoff in Novo Luna), playing some new songs (I have a new 50's-sounding piano tune called "Hipster Haircut" which I'm particularly excited about) and a kickass cover! And Goodland, Strangelove, and Wade in the Rhythm will all be playing, too! I can't WAIT!

Also, I'm turning 25 this Sunday! I'm pretty excited. 24 was cool, but I am really looking forward to 25. I love New Years and birthdays! It feels like you get a chance to start over. I mean, you get a chance to start over every single day, really, but those two holidays seem to be symbolic of that. If you feel like getting me a birthday present, all I really want is for you to come see me and the backing band on May 14th at Lennys, May 20th at Smith's Olde Bar, and/or May 29th at Cool Beans! :-)

And I'm gearing up for two really exciting things. Hedwig and the Angry Inch and my first semester of graduate school in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico! As most of you know, I'm starting graduate school this summer. I'm doing the University of New Orlean's low residency MFA in creative writing with a focus in playwriting. I opted to do this program because summer semesters are in person doing a study abroad, and fall/spring semesters are online. I thought it'd be ideal because I can travel and have new experiences but also stay in Atlanta and continue to be a part of the wonderful music and theatre scenes that are here, which I've fallen in love with. So, this July, I'll be starting the grad school experience! I'll be in Mexico from July 3rd to July 31st, and I could not be more PSYCHED !

I feel like everything is just flowing effortlessly. I made some health decisions recently, and I've been surrounding myself with amazing, positive, loving people. Sometimes I'm just completely giddy. I'll just go on random laughing fits over seemingly nothing because there's just so much joy! I've also been doing a lot of self-work, spiritually and otherwise, making a lot of self-discoveries. I feel like I'm starting to find the love within myself, which makes it so much easier to love others because it's a more pure love, it's not a love based on needing approval or co-dependency. It's a constant journey though, a process! I just feel like finally my eyes have been opened and I can actually appreciate and see my growth, my journey, the lessons I am learning, and that's a really amazing thing. It definitely helps to have so many incredible people in my life who inspire me every day.

Now that I've gone on a total hippie rant. Haha. It's okay. I can accept my hippiness. I still have a job and take showers, so I'm not a COMPLETE hippie, right?

Well, guys, the weather outside is gorgeous, everything is beautiful, and on any given day, there are at least ten incredible things to do here in Atlanta. Go see a play! Go to an art gallery! Go see a band! Go see an independent film! Go try a new beer! Go for a walk in the park! Go read a book of poems! Go tell someone you appreciate then! Go make a mixy for someone! Draw someone a picture! Drive around aimlessly just to listen to good music! There is SO much to do, so much beauty in the world, so much love, so much to be happy about! So go be happy. :-)

Something to be gained 

Symphony of Light by Florian Kehrer

I decided to actually write a somewhat personal blog. It's not something I do often, but sometimes I feel like sharing more than my art.

So. I was watching the episode of Oprah where Ellen was on, and she was talking about how after she came out on her show, she didn't work for three years. And she was depressed and going through a difficult time, but then she said that's when you really do your soul searching and kind of figure out who you are. It was really kind of inspirational for me, because I feel like that's where I am right now. And Ellen seems like such a genuinely loving and happy person now (I absolutely love her show), and I don't think she would be if she hadn't had that difficult time. (Yes, I am aware that this is a celebrity on television that I don't know. But I really think her happiness and love for people is sincere. You'd have to be pretty...ridiculous to fake that for so many years.)

Anyway. So here I am, coming out of a three and half year long relationship (off and on, but still), and I'm having to kind of start all over. I'm at a point where I have to do a lot of soul searching, myself, and sort of rebuild myself. I think I'm doing well so far. I started seeing a spiritual counselor. I've only seen her once, but so far it is really helping. She pointed out things that I wasn't even aware of about myself, and she's really helping me to figure out ways to get rid of the things that aren't working for me. Along those lines, I've been reading helpful spiritual books (first The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and now The Proof by James Twyman - my counselor let me borrow her autographed copy!), I've been practicing meditation and affirmations, and I've been doing my best to try to completely accept my emotions and thoughts, who I am, and what I'm going through right now. I know it's all an important part of my journey. Also, I've been keeping up with exercising, walking more outside now that it's slowly but surely getting warmer, hanging out with lots of supportive and loving friends and family, keeping myself incredibly busy with playwriting, music, and work, going to support other artists, etc. I'm still going through an extremely difficult time. Some moments, I feel like screaming. And there's a lot of anger and sadness and hurt. But I think this time, I am at least able to appreciate those things because I know they're teaching me something.

What I'm saying is, I know now that I am important and that I have a purpose. We all are. You are important. You're here for a reason. I'm here for a reason. And maybe I don't quite know it yet. I really hope that my purpose is to be someone's Billy Corgan, someone's Morrissey, someone's Radiohead, someone's Stephen Chbosky, someone's Sarah Ruhl. The songs that save someone else's life. To give someone else a moment of pure artistic magic, like so many artists have done for me.

I guess I wanted to share that for those of you who may be going through difficult times. It's important to keep in mind that there is always something to be gained in a situation. There's always something to be learned, an opportunity for growth. And I hope you won't forget that. I hope I won't forget it, either.

No longer singing with Long Absent Friends 

Photo by Alisha Gaspard

I'm no longer singing with Long Absent Friends. It's really a shame that right after Alisha takes all of these badass photos, the band basically falls apart. (Or at least my part in the band.) In all of the bands that I've been in, I've never been in a band with someone that I've dated, until Long Absent Friends. And now that the relationship has ended, I just think it would be way too hard for me to continue with the band. I don't want to go the Fleetwood Mac or No Doubt route. It would be different if we were about to get signed or go on tour or something. I might troop it out in that case. But as it is, I have enough on my plate.

So, I'm basically going through two break ups at once. It's one of the hardest things that I've experienced in my life. Last time I went through a break up this bad, I had Novo Luna (previous band) and my apprenticeship with Horizon. I wrote The Spins, one of my favorite plays that I've written, and I sung my heart out with the guys in Novo Luna. It's a little harder now. But I still have my solo music. I still have playwriting. I am starting up the MFA program this summer, and I'm excited to beginning working on new plays.

I don't know if the guys are going to continue the band or not. If so, they'll probably change names and go in a different direction. I wish them the absolute best of luck. Truly, these are some of the most talented musicians I have ever played with, and I really think they could go far. Also, I have included all of the photos from the photoshoot with Alisha on my photos/videos page for those of you who want to see.

I'll never forget the emotional roller coaster that was Long Absent Friends, though. I've learned a lot by being in the band. I've grown as an artist. Every experience offers growth and development and has something for you to gain. I'm going to miss the songs, though. Music seems to be the most fleeting art. Especially if you don't record your songs. We wrote all of these songs, some of them were truly the most beautiful songs I've ever sang or been a part of in any band, and now they're just gone. I feel like the whole theme of the band was always very fleeting, though. The name Long Absent Friends. Referring to the friendships that come and go. Nostalgic looks back at the past. Even in one of our songs, "Gone," I sang, "What's gone may haunt us, but not define us, whatever leaves must return." The idea was that even though there are a lot of people that you have lost, fleeting moments that have come and gone, the people that you love and the moments that you share never really leave. They become a part of you, deep in your blood. And I believe there's something bigger that connects all of us. So we're never really alone.

It's hard, though, to see all of that in the middle of so much loss. I'm trying to think of this more as change than loss. A new beginning. A new opportunity for growth and new experiences. I'm trying my best to think positively, to appreciate what's happened, and not to be sad about it all. Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's really hard. Sometimes it's nearly impossible. But even all of this despair is worth something. It's giving me something. An experience, a feeling, growth.

I'll leave you with a video montage of Long Absent Friends from a Haiti benifit show that we played in January, filmed/edited by Change Before Going Productions:

Random thoughts - Music, theatre, and awesomeness 

Photo by Oberonia Photography

I thought I'd just write a random blog.

Blog. Isn't that word funny? Say it twenty times. It's kind of funny, isn't it?

I'm listening to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros at the moment, and it's making me feel rather optimistic, I must say. There has been a lot of great music that I've been listening to lately. I promise I will have my music sharing podcast ready by next week. So, I was watching an abbreviated version of American Idol the other day (abbreviated as in recorded on the DVR and fast fowarded through most of it). I don't really know why. All that show is is a glorified karaoke contest. And then even when there's someone on there that I actually like (it does happen Bo Bice) when they get off the show and make an album, they make them sing these really shitty pop songs, which of course they didn't write. Why can't we have American Open Mic Night? Where we get original artists on there to do their original songs? I guess no one would watch that. People don't want to hear new music. But that can't be totally true, can it? They play new music on the radio. They used to play new music on MTV back when they actually played music videos. So let's get some new original music on American Idol. Let's have American Open Mic Night! (Yeah, that will still probably never happen.)

There are a lot of live shows that I'm excited about. Recently, I got to see Laura Veirs at the Star Bar. She and her backing band (the Hall of Flames) played a really killer set. I still think the Star Bar is a weird venue for her, though, and I would have liked to see her at Eddie's Attic or somewhere like that. There's always tons of trendy people just being loud and obnoxious in the Star Bar. Usually the bands are so loud there, though, that it doesn't really matter. And people who want to listen to the music can, and people who want to be loud and obnoxious can, and it works out for everyone! Laura Veirs, though, had a more mellow set than any other band I've ever seen there, and at times it was hard to listen. I swear, there was this girl standing behind me who did not stop talking the entire set! It would have been hillarious if I weren't trying to listen to Laura Veirs. It was getting ridiculous. The viola player (Alex Guy) would be in the middle of a really amazing part, and the girl behind me would just be rambling on..."You know, I played violin in high school, and I was really bad! I just never practiced, you know? I was like the 15th chair! They had 14 chairs on stage and they shoved me off stage halfway in the curtain! It was awful! I just didn't care about it, though. And then it wasn't until later that I was like 'Oh, man, I really should have practiced!'" Meanwhile, we're all thinking, "Hey, why don't you shut up so we can listen to someone who can play?" It was still a really great show though, and I'm really loving her new album, July Flame. I almost bought it on vinyl when I was at the show, but it was 20 bucks, and I was broke. (I don't really know what I was expecting...hehe.)

I have this new obsession with listening to vinyl records. It feels like a much more tangible music listening experience than listening to songs on an MP3 player or even a CD. My vinyl collection so far is pretty tiny, but I just added Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins and Teen Dream by Beach House to it. One of my old favorites and one of my new favorites. Speaking of Beach House, I'm so incredibly in love with Teen Dream. If you haven't listened to it, I recommend doing that!

(But I'm foreshadowing my music sharing podcast now!)

In other news, I got to see The Tales of Edgar Allan Poe at The Center for Puppetry Arts last weekend. I hadn't seen a show there since I was a kid, and I had never been to their museum. They have so many cool things in there! Pieces from The Labyrinth and all of these Jim Henson puppets and Fraggle Rock stuff and other really interesting puppets. I feel like CGI kind of killed the art of the puppet, at least in movies. Anyway, I really loved how they wove all of the Edgar Allan Poe stories together, all of the interesting musical instruments that the musical accompanist was playing, and of course the actual puppets themselves. The puppets and the set were very innovative and creepy. And seeing a number of Poe's stories back to back like that reminds you of how disturbing they all are. But the whole show was very well done. I definitely plan on going to see another show there sometime soon.

Tomorrow is a good day for me both in terms of theatre and music. During the day, I'm having my first read-through of Community Service, the play that I'm working on for the Horizon Theatre Apprentice Company. So this year's apprentices will get to see it for the first time tomorrow. I really hope they like it! It's a completely ridiculous comedy filled with art made out of PBR cans (P-B-Art if you will), gender neutral pronouns, Jeopardy! questions, and slightly gay rednecks. Anyway, after that, I'm heading over to the Gwinnett Center to see Muse and the Silversun Pickups with my little brother, who got tickets for Christmas, and is taking me! (Because he rocks. Read his music blog.) Then on Sunday, we're doing a Long Absent Friends photoshoot with Alisha Gaspard, who if you'll recall took all of the badass Painted cast photos (and the photo above!). So, this weekend is looking pretty exciting for me, in spite of it being the LONGEST WINTER EVER.

In other news, I have found that there are some people out there who are always going to do whatever they can to bring you down. This is something that a lot of people I care about have been having issues with lately, something I've been having issues with lately. And I'm not just talking about in the artistic community, either. This applies to life in general. I'd just like to say, though, than nine times out of ten, these people are just really insecure and unhappy with their own lives, and the only way they know to try to be happy is to make other people unhappy. Or instead of outwardly projecting how insecure they are, they outwardly project condescending arrogance and act like they're better than other people. I'm trying really hard not to be judgmental, here. I don't think most of these people are consciously aware of what they're doing. But I think it's important to just try to do the best you can for who you are and not worry about other people who appear to be unsupportive or negative towards you. For every unsupportive bitchy person I have in my life, there are at least ten other people who are supportive and understand that I'm doing the best I can with what I've got. Just some food for thought. I guess the moral of this story is "Some people are bitches, but don't let them get you down." (Didn't I say that at one of my shows recently? I feel like that's becoming a slogan. Haha.)

But February is almost over, spring is almost here! and there are so many awesome things to be excited about right now. There's Girl Scout cookies, Beach House shows, people around me getting married and having babies and being very excited about the new stages in their lives, hillarious theatre, pool games, cheap beer, Bad Cat calendars, crafty glittery projects, Rocky Horror, old books, Radiohead, live music, dancing, being goofy, crying for no reason, life. There are so many wonderful people doing wonderful things all around me, so much to laugh about and dance around to and learn from and love.

(Yes, I'm being a hippy. It's okay, though, because I still take showers and have a job. :-p)

Random thoughts - why I'm not a music critic, Horizon Theatre rocks, other ramblings about art 

For the Love of Music by pa gillet on flickr

I feel like updating a totally random blog. (Because that's really what I should be doing right now...But I seem to be the queen of procrastinating by distracting myself with totally useless activities on the internet. "OH! I need to take this 'Which Literary Movement Are You?' Quiz on Facebook!")

I'm currently listening to The Killers. Say what you want, but I love The Killers. This is why no one can call me a music snob. Because, sure, I may listen to totally obscure bands who no one has ever heard of (except maybe their roommates when they're playing really loud in the apartment), but I also love The Killers, Michael Jackson, Lady Antebellum, and Hanson. Yes, Hanson. I said it! Those kids were like 13 when they first came out, and they all played instruments and wrote their own songs, which is more than you can say for most of the Disney-channel teen pop stars of today. And you know, in an mmm-bop, it really is all gone, people.

I have some super exciting things coming up that I'm, well, excited about. Playing a benefit show for Haiti with Long Absent Friends, my upcoming poetry book, upcoming play production. (The Apprentice Company at Horizon Theatre will be performing one of my plays in May.) (I'd tell you more about the play, but it's still in development...*cough*.) (That's the procrastinating playwright's way of saying "I'm still writing it.") Anyway, I'm really excited to be working with Horizon again. They're just a really great theatre company with great people. The building feels a little bit like home to me. Ever since my time in the Young Playwrights Festival in the summer of 2008, I've felt really comfortable there, like I can just write and express myself as an artist and grow and develop. The workshops I've been through there, whether it was at the YPF or during my time as a playwriting apprentice last year, have been the most helpful workshops ever. No one was snooty or pretentious, but they told me how it was. I heart Horizon Theatre. They're supportive of new works and local playwrights, and they just put on really great plays.

You know, on a totally different subject, I had a lot of fun during my time being an album reviewer for Have You Heard and Atlanta Guardian, and I learned a lot, but I don't think being a critic is for me. Ultimately, I feel like all art has value (yes, even Rebecca Martin's album that I totally trashed on Have You Heard). Because while I might fall asleep when listening to Rebecca Martin, someone else somewhere could pop that CD in and be in tears, thinking it's the most beautiful thing they've ever heard. All art is subjective, all art has value, and I don't really think that there's much value in comparing art. For example, how can you compare Bob Dylan to Radiohead and say which one is "better"? Sure, there are some technical standards in any art form. But does being able to play the guitar better than any other person make you a better artist? There are some paintings that I've seen where you could tell the artist was extremely talented, but they didn't make me feel anything. There was no emotion in them. And I was watching American Idol the other night (I don't know why!) and I was thinking a lot of my absolute favorite singers would be crucified if they went on that show as unknown musicians (Billy Corgan, Thom Yorke, Bob Dylan, Victoria Legrand, etc.). Every person is approaching art from a different perspective, every one values art for different reasons. It's completely subjective. So, yes, the blank canvas that someone just hung on the wall and called it "emptiness" is art, I think. You might not get anything out of it. Maybe it didn't even take any talent to create. But it's still art because it's the meaningful expression of something. So, basically what I'm saying is screw the critics. Sure, it can be fun to read reviews. Sometimes it's even fun to write them. But I think I'd rather focus on the positive aspects of a piece of art and try to get something out of the art that I come across. (I'm not saying criticism isn't valid or other people shouldn't be picky about their art, but I'm just saying. It's not for me. And everyone, artists, critics, and audience members alike, should always keep in mind that all art is subjective and opinions are simply just opinions.)

I feel like I rant about that a lot. I guess it just bothers me when people make fun of other people for liking certain things, like The Killers or Twilight. Sure, Twilight is not a great classic work of literature, but it makes a lot of people happy to read it. So, basically, I'm sick of people who have this "I'm better than you because the art that I read/watch/observe/listen to is better and more intelligent that the art that you read/watch/observe/listen to." No, it's not. There is no quantifyable to way to argue that War and Peace is better than Twilight, even if most scholars would agree that it is. Basically, I think people should just let other people be happy and stop bitching about it. That's really what I'm tired of, I guess. Bitching. (And when I say bitching I don't mean "poking fun at" or "being sarcastic.") I'm not even saying that I don't bitch about things (because I certainly do), but I guess I just wish that people on a whole would be more positive about things, maybe myself included, or at least that's what I'm trying to do.

I'm not preaching or anything like that. I'm simply just rambling. Writing down my thoughts. I mean, I don't really know anymore than anyone else does.

Recently, my parents got me a record player for Christmas. My record collection is somewhat limited at the moment. (Probably due to the fact that I didn't have a record player before.) It consists of a Lou Reed record I bought for 3 dollars in Canada, two David Bowie records, The Boggles LIVE at the Star Bar in 2000, and two Beatles records that aren't technically mine (but I've been trying to get them back to their owner for a while and she seems to have forgotten about does that make them mine? Or am I just holding them? Either way.) So, I've been listening to a record every night. It's sort of my bedtime ritual. I'll sit down, put a record on, and write in my journal. I'm quickly running out of records to listen to, though, so I'll soon have to dip into my parents' extensive collection. I've decided I'm just going to listen to all of them, even though I know some of them I probably won't like. It's good to give new things a shot, though.

The new Beach House album (which...isn't...technically out yet) is absolutely amazing. I can't stop listening to it. It's in my car, it's in my room, it's on my iTunes work playlist. It's just...incredible. I'm completely in love with it. I can't even explain to you why. Maybe that's why I can't be a CD reviewer, because I feel like words don't do music justice. Sometimes I just want to write a play where a character walks on stage and just plays a really amazing album and just sits in a chair and makes the audience listen to it. Somehow, I think I'd have a hard time getting a theatre to pick that one up, though. Haha.

Songs that were playing while I wrote this:
1. Read My Mind - The Killers
2. Rhinoceros - Smashing Pumpkins
3. Real Love - Beach House
4. Hail Mary - Pomplamoose
5. Phonytown - Rogue Wave
6. Like Treasure - Editors
7. Better Times - Beach House
8. One Love - Bob Marley

Reflecting on my musical projects 

First of all, thank you SO much to everyone for all of the support with my CD release! I was almost in tears at the end of the CD release show last Friday because I just simply couldn't believe how many people were there, how enthusiastic the audience was, and how excited everyone was to pick up a copy of Unsent Letters. I think it was the best solo show I've had, and I really appreciate the fact that there are so many people in my life who are so supportive of me and my music.

Recently, I saw a picture of a band that I was in in high school called Population 2.

There we all are, Kyndal Foshee (who played guitar and sang), Brandon Rich (who wasn't actually in the band you can see from his shirt...was our "crew"), Jessie Gayhart (who played drums), me (I played guitar and sang), and Bre Hicks (who played bass). I realized that the date on that picture was August 13th, 2000, which means I've technically been a musical performer for nearly a decade. It doesn't seem like it's been that long!

Population 2 was a great experience! We were all really young (14 when we started!), and most of us were still learning how to play our instruments, really. But we wrote really fun songs, expressed ourselves, and actually played shows! I've performed in some way (chorus, dancing, theatre, etc.) ever since I was five years old, but this was my first experience with being in a band, writing songs on guitar, working with other musicians.

After Pop 2 broke up, I wasn't in another band again until I was just out of high school. Ruby.

This band was definitely a great experience for me. I got the opportunity to play real gigs in real music venues downtown, and I worked really hard to fine tune my craft, learning how to become a better musical performer and how to write better vocal melodies. I sang with Ruby off and on from 2004 to late 2006. I think in that time, I grew enormously as a songwriter and a performer, and I learned a lot about working with other musicians.

In 2009, I joined up with Novo Luna.

I had so much fun with these guys, and I really, really loved the vocal melodies that I came up with to their music. I sang my heart out in this band! Every now and then I will still hum the songs to myself. And all of the guys in Novo Luna are incredibly talented! I'm really excited to see what kind of music they put out next as we've all gone our separate ways and started new projects.

So I'm looking back and sort of reflecting, and I've realized that bands are a lot like relationships. Each band has taught me so much, I've had so many unique experienced with all of these bands. The music was very different in all of them. Population 2 was a mix of alternative, rock, and just extreme silliness. Ruby was mostly classic rock sounding. Novo Luna was a mix of blues, funk, and alternative.

I'm so glad that I got the chance to perform with all of these people, though, and have all of these experiences. Each band brings some new lesson, each time you work with a new musician (or any artist, really) you give something to each other. Even negative experiences I've had have taught me more about myself as a musician and sometimes even as a person.

And now, I'm going on a "new journey," if you will, with a new band. Long Absent Friends.

I'm really excited about this band because it's more along the lines of the music I frequently listen to (i.e. Stars, Smashing Pumpkins, Broken Social Scene, Slowdive, Arcade Fire, etc.). I love all kinds of music, but most of the time you will find indie/alternative in my CD player. Also, I have the opportunity to play piano in this band on almost every song, which is new and very exciting for me. So we have some upcoming first shows:
  • Sunday, December 27th - 10:00 pm - Smith's Olde Bar - The Atlanta Room - 21+ - 5 dollars
  • Friday, January 8th - 8:00 pm - Red Light Cafe - all ages - 7 dollars
I'm really looking forward to these shows! I'm excited to play all of these songs that we've been working really hard on over the past few months for everyone. This band is completely different from bands I've been in previously, and it's very different from my solo stuff as well, but I really like the way the music is developing. We even have a violinist (Kyle Weisse). I've never played with a violinist before so it's really interesting! Michael Tillman is playing guitar and singing. (I've always wanted to be in a band that had male and female singers.) His guitar work is a mix of heartbreaking emotion, catchy hooks, and an interesting manipulation of sounds. To top it all off, we have a really tight rhythm section with Kyle Hilkin (from the popular Incubus tribute band, Human Magic Marker) on drums and Ben Hopper on bass. It's just enthralling to be able to write music and play with such talented musicians. Also, for the first show, we're covering two of my absolute favorite songs, "Wake Up" by Arcade Fire and "Tonight, Tonight," by the Smashing Pumpkins.

Anyway, I just wanted to say a big thank you to everyone who supports me. I feel like a lot of you have been on this crazy ride with me, always coming out to share and experience my various musical projects. The CD release show really hit me hard with that fact, and I just wanted to tell all of you how much that means to me. It's very difficult to be an artist, especially an unknown artist. There are many times when you put your entire self out there in your art just to be crushed up and spit on, and with all of the rejection and criticism, it's really nice when you have a group of people who will always support you and appreciate the art that you create. So to everyone who has ever come to see one of my shows, bought one of my CDs, played music with me, booked me for a show, taken the time to listen to my music, I just wanted to say thank you.

To my fellow artists 

Photo by Beverly Crawford

There is always going to be someone somewhere who doesn't like your art. There's always going to be some asshole who says that all of your songs sound the same and they're bored out of their mind when listening to them. There's always going to be the poetry editor who calls your poems "trite" and "cliche" and "amateur." There's always going to be the film festival who doesn't accept your film. There's always going to be the director who doesn't want to cast you in the play because they don't like the way you performed that one scene. There's always going to be the people who scoff at your paintings and turn up their noses. For every single piece of art that you put out there, whether your a singer/songwriter playing a show for five people at a coffee shop or Steven Spielberg releasing a new blockbuster film, someone somewhere is going to think that it's shit. (I have even been this person before! I've definitely been harshly honest about art I haven't liked before. But I said those things only after giving a disclaimer that the artists should take my opinion with a grain of salt.) That's because all art is completely subjective.

And for those of us who haven't had a "breakthrough" yet, for those of us who are unknown by most people, there are going to be way more rejections and criticisms than there are selections and praise. The trick is getting rejected over and over and over again and not caring. The trick is to keep going, to keep creating art, to stay true to yourself and your vision, no matter what anyone might say. And at the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're famous. It doesn't matter if that breakthrough moment ever comes. You do it because it's who you are. It's what you love to do. I can't say I've gotten there completely. Every now and then I'll get a criticism or rejection that still stings. But I could never, ever stop writing or playing music or creating, no matter what anyone thinks.

There are moments, though, that make it all worth it. Standing ovations, getting an acceptance letter for once, when one person tells you that your song helped them in a way that so many songs have helped you. And I just wanted to say that even if no one reads this silly little blog of mine, I think it's important. Because there are so many artists that have helped me and inspired me over the years. And not just big artists like Radiohead and Neil Labute and Morrissey and Stephen Chbosky, but local playwrights and actors and theatre groups, local bands and musicians, local painters and photographers. There have been many moments, here in Atlanta, sitting at open mic nights at coffee shops and bars, watching bands at The Earl or The Star Bar or the Red Light Cafe, looking at art on the walls in Octane, sitting in the audience at Actor's Express or the Horizon Theatre, moments when art has inspired, touched, moved me, changed my perspective. Many local, independent, and unknown artists have caused these moments for me--too many to even name.

And I just wanted to say that. If you are an artist of any kind, and you're reading this, and you ever have those bad days filled with rejection letters and criticisms just keep in mind that probably somewhere someone had one of those life-changing moment with your work. And don't stop making your art. Don't get discouraged. Because there is a place for it. And you are someone's Morrissey, whether or not you know it.


Atlanta Pride Parade 2009, Picture from Creative Loafing

Well, I had loads of fun at Pride on Sunday. (Originally, I planned to make it out on Saturday and play guitar for a little bit, but it was all cold and instead, I went Sunday for the parade.) I did end up giving out all of the sampler CDs that I made. Some people seemed pretty excited that I was just giving out my music to random people. Taking self-promotion to the streets, I called it. (Oh, and if you happened to get one of my CDs and that led you to this website, drop me a comment!)

Anyway, one of my favorite things about Pride is seeing parents supporting their gay daughters or sons, seeing churches that don't condemn people for their sexual orientation, seeing politicians who actually support the LGBT community. I just love seeing all of the acceptance, open love, and support.

I suppose the main reason that I go to Pride every year is because I don't see gender when I look at people. In fact, I don't really even believe in gender. I think there should be a word for that. Gender-free maybe? (Although I've only heard one other person use that. So maybe I should give this person credit? Though I'm not sure she coined the phrase? I'll get back to you on that. Haha.)  Sure, there is biology. There is such a thing as biological sex. But sex (like ethnicity) does not define anything about a person. I'm not saying everyone is completely alike, and there are no differences. But I think the main differences are individual and not based on biological sex, ethnicity, etc. It's a whole slew of things, really. Background, culture, family, genetics. Gender is a social construct. (So is race, really.) And when I look at a person, I don't want to see a black person, a white person, a man, a woman, I just want to see the person and get to know s/he for who s/he is, regardless of that person's sex, race, or biology. I realize that this is sometimes impossible, based on the way we as humans feel the need to classify and label things in our minds. Even our language is very "gendered." There is no gender-neutral pronoun, which makes us further have to put everyone in these strict categories. "Boy" or "girl." "He" or "she." I have some friends who use gender-neutral pronouns like "ze," "zir," "zirself," etc. I think that's an excellent idea, really. Maybe I'll start trying that.

And with that belief, I think that love happens without regard to sex, race, or biology, too. When I see a homosexual couple, I don't really even think to myself "oh, it's a gay couple." It's more like "Oh, it's a couple. Two people." I don't even necessarily like labels like "gay," "straight," "bisexual," etc., though I do understand why they might be necessary for some people. But basically, what I'm trying to say is, I go to Pride because I am proud to be gender-free.

In a bloggy mood... 

Photo by Beverly Crawford.

Yes, as in my mom took that photo. I really like her photography. It's mostly nature shots, but I think they're all really full of life. You might even see one of her photos on my poetry book cover, Coiled and Swallowed, when it comes out next summer or fall.

Well, it's autumn, and I'm listening to the Cockteau Twins, and I'm in a rather bloggy mood. That should be a new word. Bloggy.

Things have been going really well for me lately. I'm getting a lot done artistically, I'm being a pretty productive employee, I have been reading a lot more this year, exercising more, being a healthier person, and most importantly, I have the most supportive and awesome family and friends. Everyone in my life has really been there for me lately, even my friends who have moved to other states, and I really, really appreciate it. More than any of you probably know. I'm just really grateful. There's so much negativity on the internet these days (I'm definitely not excluded from that!), but I just wanted to take a second and say that I genuinely appreciate everyone in my life. Even if the contact we have seems insignificant. Even if it's just a facebook comment every now and then. I still really appreciate it. So many people have supported me, especially in my artistic efforts, and I really just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for coming to my shows, thank you for listening to my music or reading my poetry, thank you for coming to see my plays, thank you for reading my random blogs. Haha. Really. I can't even begin to express how much that means to me. And you're awesome.

Speaking of being positive, I made a bunch of "sampler CDs" to take with me to Pride this Saturday. I was planning on handing them out to promote my new CD. They have three tracks, "Excommunicated," "Cyclone," and "Wait," all of which will be on Unsent Letters. I decided it'd be cool if I decorated the CDs myself with sharpies. Different colored sharpies! Most of them just say "Sara Crawford" and list the names of the tracks, but on some of them I put random little positive messages like, "Thanks for supporting local music!" or "Sara Crawford (thinks you're awesome)" or "I love people who listen to new music! You just made my day!" I put all of the CDs in little (multicolored) sleeves with a little (multicolored) piece of paper that has printed information about my CD, so from the outside of the sleeve, you can't see what's written on the actual CD. I just know that if I picked up a CD from someone at a festival and got home and opened it up to a message like "Yeah! You're awesome!" it would definitely make me smile. So hopefully, I'll get to spread some love on Saturday. (But not in an obnoxious way? Haha.) I was thinking maybe some time next month, I'll make some more sampler CDs with happy messages and put them in random coffee shops and places around town where people will pick them up.

Anyway. That's all for tonight. Thanks for, rather.

Songs listened to while I typed this:
1. Lorelei - Cocteau Twins
2. Dancing - Elisa
3. Morning Bell/Amnesiac - Radiohead
4. She's Got You High - Mumm-Ra
5. Soldier On - The Temper Trap
6. Light My Fire - The Doors

And you should listen, too:

KSU radio interview, my love for the Neil Labute and the New Moon soundtrack, daily Radiohead fix 

I had a really awesome time at KSU Owl Radio on Story with Amie Flanagan. It was kind of weird to be back on campus at KSU but not as a student. I actually parked in visitor parking, which made me feel odd. Or maybe "old" is a better word. Haha. Either way, I had a lot of fun on the show. We talked about Unsent Letters, my old bands, Painted and playwriting, how I hate it when people spell my name with an "h", other random things. I played "Cyclone" and "You Told Me" on air. Amie is a lot of fun, so everyone listen to her show! It comes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 10:00 am. She asked me if I wanted to come back sometime soon, so be on the lookout for that! Also, hopefully, I'll have a copy of the interview that I can put up here as a podcast file so you guys can listen if you didn't catch it yesterday.

Also, over the weekend, I went and saw This is How it Goes, a play by Neil Labute from Coup de Theatre Atlanta. It's a shame I waited until closing night to go see this play because I would have definitely recommended that everyone go check it out! It was just an excellent play. First of all, Neil Labute may be one of my favorite playwrights (The Shape of Things, Reasons to be Pretty). His plays are controversial, filled with unique structures and narratives, well constructed, and extremely thought-provoking. His characters are just so real and often extremely messed up. I really liked This is How it Goes for all of these reasons, but I think Coup de Theatre did an excellent job staging the brilliantly-written play. It was just well directed, well cast, well acted, well done. So good job, Coup de Theatre! This was the first show I've seen from them, and I'll definitely be checking out more as you all should, too. (PLUS, Radiohead playing at the beginning and/or end of a play or movie is always a great idea.)

Alright, I don't care what you Twilight-haters have to say, the Twilight Saga: New Moon soundtrack is out, and it is awesome. Highlights for me inclue Thom Yorke's mysterious "Hearing Damage," Lykke Li's poignant "Possibiliy", the sincere track, "Satellite Heart" by Anya Marina, "I Belong to You (New Moon Remix)" by Muse (which was also awesome on The Resistance, but I really like the remix), "Roslyn" by Bon Iver and St. Vincent whose voices blend perfectly together, and of course "Slow Life" by Grizzly Bear featuring Victoria Legrand (from Beach House). I was lucky enough to see Grizzly Bear and Beach House here in Atlanta a few weeks ago, and during Grizzly Bear's set, Victoria Legrand came back onstage to do "Slow Life" with them, which was an incredibly moving performance. So, there you go. We all know that the Twilight books are not going to be taught in literature classes in colleges or anything, and we all know Kristen Stewart is maybe the worst actress ever, but you just can't hate on a movie with that good of a soundtrack, people! (Even though it's not out yet.) (The Twilight books/movies are a bit of a guilty pleasure for me, though, I must admit and I'm very excited that this movie will combine my love for vampire books AND obscure indie bands. Who would have thought it?)

I've decided I should start posting more videos and photos in my blogs/on my website to make it more entertaining. I've had this song stuck in my head ever since they played it before This is How it Goes the other night. (Good choice, once again, Coup de Theatre!) So here is the "Song of the Day" I suppose.

A mixy for the decade: Songs that define me from 2000 - 2009 

Today was one of the first days that it actually felt like autumn, and autumn is such a time of nostalgia and reflection, at least for me. I thought it’d be nice to do a reflective post about music I have loved over the past decade.

There was this note floating around on Facebook where you were supposed to name ten albums that you loved, one for each year of this decade (2000-2009). I really enjoyed reading my friends’ various choices. And then one night, Michael and I were sitting at Highlands, and we decided it would be fun to take this concept and make a mixy (“mixy” is my word for mix CD…incase you couldn’t figure that out) with one song from each album. But not just one song that you loved, but one song that defined the whole year for you, who you were, what you were doing, etc.

I had so much fun that I though I would write about my mixy. (Note: I did this not based on what albums came out that year, but what I was listening to. When I was a teenager, I wasn’t as up to date on what albums were coming out as I am now, and sometimes I wouldn’t find out about an album until a year or two after it came out.)

1. 2000 - “Indie Queen” by Marvelous 3 from HEY! Album (1998) – This song was my anthem. I was completely OBSESSED with Marvelous 3 from the ages of…I’d say 13 to 17. (And even now, at 24, I love to pop in HEY! Album, turn it up all the way, and dance around like an idiot.) In 2000, I was 14 for half of the year, 15 for the other half. I think every 15-year-old needs an anthem, a song that makes he or she go “THIS IS MY SONG! IT WAS WRITTEN SPECIFICALLY FOR ME! AND NO ONE ELSE GETS IT!” This was completely that for me. And even though Butch Walker was probably singing about something WAY different than a slightly artistic/dorky/eccentric 15-year-old suburban white girl, I will forever think he’s singing to me when he says, “How do you feel about that? How do you like it when they touch your face and turn the page and make you feel like a waste of space?”

2. 2001 - “Maybe Someday” by The Cure from Bloodflowers (2000) – I remember when I was in 10th grade, I had this really cool English teacher who wore all black and often mentioned bands like The Cure and The Smiths that I had heard of but had never really listened to, aside from “Asleep” by The Smiths, which was mentioned in my favorite book, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. One day, I was I watching MTV (back when they played music), taping some music videos on my VCR, and a commercial came on for The Cure’s new album, Bloodflowers. They played a snippet of “Maybe Someday” on the commercial. I kept rewinding the tape to watch it over and over, until I could get someone to take me to Media Play to grab a copy. I was completely in awe when I listened to it. The album sounded like who I was that year, 16, overly emotional, learning about love and loss for the first time (really), finding my place…I was in love. This is one of those albums that I always go back to, time and time again, and it always makes me feel like I’m 16, discovering it for the first time. And yet, each time I listen to it, it has something new to tell me.

3. 2002 - “In Repair” by Our Lady Peace from
Spiritual Machines (2001) – So, I was 16 and 17 in 2002 and starting to feel a little upset that certain people I had crushes on (or…crazy obsessions with, either way) thought I was way too intense and emotional. I took refuge in CCT, a theatre group that was beginning to become like a family to me, and my friendship with Amanda. The two of us would just drive around endlessly in my Malibu. One day, we were driving, and she showed me this album, Spiritual Machines. I remember all of the countless times I drove down Sewell Mill Road to West Side Story rehearsals, blasting this album, with my windows rolled down. Just as my friendship with Amanda and my various experiences with CCT made me feel like it was okay to be who I was, intense and emotional and all, this album made me feel exactly the same way. It’s the kind of album that takes you somewhere, that tells a story. And Raine Maida has such an unconventional, unique voice. It really grabbed me. This album was a mix of great songwriting, passion, and solid’ rock music with a unique twist. I can still go back to it, particularly this track, “In Repair,” and it always makes me feel better.

4. 2003 – “Kevlar Soul” by Kent from Hagnesta Hill (2000) – I discovered Kent at Music Midtown in 1999 when my friend Kyndal and I were walking around, and they played “If You Were Here.” Kyndal grabbed me and said, “Wait! I know this song!” and we stuck around to listen to them. It turned out, they were actually awesome. I bought Isola, their first English album. Then, randomly, in 2003, I searched online to see what they were up to and I discovered they had made another English album. I ordered it immediately, and as soon as I played it, I was completely giddy. I listened to this album over and over and over, completely obsessed over it. This song in particular sticks out in my head, though, because I remember driving around with Kayesha in Atlanta, listening to it, happy I could share this obscure Swedish band with someone, and we’d sing together, “I have time on my side/Making diamonds of coal/She put a hole, through my kevlar soul.”

5. 2004 – “The World is Full of Crashing Bores” by Morrissey from You Are the Quarry (2004) My knowledge of Morrissey consisted of listening to “Asleep” by The Smiths because it was mentioned in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the couple of times I had heard their self-titled album in Adam’s car, but I never paid much attention. When You Are the Quarry came out, though, Adam bought a copy, and he was listening to it when Kayesha and I were in the car. I remember when “I Have Forgiven Jesus” came on, I could hardly breathe. I rushed out and got a copy the next day. I listened to this album over and over and over, every single song. This is the album that started the Morrissey obsession, particularly this song, which became another one of my anthems. Because even when I was having super emotional, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, “no one understands me” days, Morrissey was always there for me, singing “This world, I am afraid is designed for crashing bores/I am not one, I am not one, you don’t understand, you don’t understand/And yet you can take me in your arms and love me, love me.” This is one of the reasons I have a Morrissey tattoo with the lyrics, “Don’t forget the songs that made you cry/And the songs that saved your life.” And I will never, ever forget the first moment I fell in love with You Are the Quarry.

6. 2005 – “Wake Up” by Arcade Fire from Funeral (2004)– 2005 was sort of a tough year for me, full of transitions. I was having a seriously hard time adjusting to the changes that life was bringing. Nothing else better summed this up than Funeral, particularly “Wake Up.” Even now, I get a little choked up every time I hear vocalist Win Butler sing, “If the children don't grow up,/our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up./We're just a million little gods causin' rain storms turnin' every good thing to rust./I guess we'll just have to adjust.” (And oh my God, now it’s in the Where the Wild Things Are trailer and I seriously almost cry every time I see it. Nostalgia and childhood and one of my favorite childhood books AND this song? It’s too much!) (But in a good way!)

7. 2006 – “Dragonfly” by My Brightest Diamond from Bring Me the Workhorse (2006) – 2006 was probably one of the best years of my life. I turned 21, had amazing times hanging out with some completely amazing people. And when two of my old friends from high school died, I realized how important it was to let people know that you appreciate them. I reconnected with my old high school friends because of this, and out of tragedy, we all grew closer. Some amazing things happened to me that year though. I started taking my English major classes at KSU, including classes with my favorite professors, I was in a really great writing group, I started a new, amazing relationship, and I started writing Painted towards the end of the year. This song, for me, really represents that whole year. My friend, Lauryn, showed me this album, and that was another I-can’t-breathe-this-is-so-good moment. Between Shara Worden’s completely breathtakingly flawless voice and the interesting almost orchestral music underneath her, I was almost in shock. I played Bring Me the Workhorse nonstop. And this song is very symbolic for me. It’s a song about recognizing the risks involved in loving and doing it anyway. It’s song about being “afraid of flying” but doing it anyway.

8. 2007 – “Bodysnatchers” by Radiohead from In Rainbows (2007) – OHMYGODRADIOHEAD. Okay, first of all, I had been waiting for a new Radiohead album for what seemed like forever. And soon, they announced that they were essentially giving it away for free on their website. I think I paid 5 bucks (better than nothing!) and this was another album that I was completely in love with from the moment that I listened to it. At first, I would have told you that “Bodysnatchers” was fun but not my favorite track on the album, but after a few listens, I became completely obsessed. I remember one night just sitting in my room writing almost an essay in my journal on how In Rainbows was an album that took you on a “personal journey” (which led to Darcie’s obsession with that phrase in my short play “The Economist”), and I think this track “Bodysnatchers,” is the track where I realized that it was, indeed, a personal journey. It’s the moment where the song completely changes and takes you somewhere you had no idea you were going, when Thom York sings “Has the light gone out for you?/Because the light's gone for me.” And then somehow, it builds and builds and builds and spits you right back out where you were. OH THE BRILLIANCE! This is also relevant to 2007 because basically the entire year of 2007 was centered around Painted. I started working on the play late 2006, and I continued working on it, revising and editing, having a small reading in February(ish), having my formal staged reading in June, and of course producing the play in late September/early October. (God, I can’t believe that was two years ago.) Painted was very much a personal journey for me, and right when the play was over, In Rainbows came out. It all felt very symbolic. One personal journey to another. Theatre to music and then somehow back to theatre and back to music and literature and it’s all just one huge cycle of art and life and love and “personal journeys” for me.

9. 2008 – “Open Book” by Ed Harcourt from
Strangers (2005) – 2008 was a difficult year for me for many reasons. I graduated from college in May, it was a time of huge transitions, a lot of my really close friends had moved across the country or were in the process of moving, lots of relationship drama. One of the things that really got me through this year was my discovery of Ed Harcourt, particularly this album, Strangers. Another “personal journey” album, I remember driving around listening to the haunting piano and heartbreaking vocals/lyrics on this track, “Open Book,” over and over. And I sang along with him, “As children make their way to class/I sit and raise another glass/Cause you don’t dwell much on the past when it keeps haunting you…Well my life keeps on spinnin’/It’s this drunken procession/I can’t learn my lessons.” In feeling heartbroken, nostalgic, and grief, the only thing that makes me feel better is a song that expresses all of those things and makes me realize that even though I’m immersed in all of those emotions, so is someone else. And Ed Harcourt gets it, which makes me feel connected to him, and then it turns out, we’re not isolated. We’re all connected through art and the human experience. It’s like “The Waste Land.”

10. 2009 – “40 Day Dream” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros from Up from Below (2009) – On a much happier note, 2009 has been a much happier year, and that’s why I picked this song/album for 2009. First of all, I love the album because the whole thing is like a dream, a story. It’s completely crazy. Parts of it will make you think you’re in the 1960s, parts of it will make you feel the way a really good shoegaze album makes you feel, parts of it will make you think you’re in a Western, parts of it will make you think you might be listening to a less cult-y version of the Polyphonic Spree. And while there have been a lot of albums that I feel in love with in 2009, I remember popping in Up from Below, and “40 Day Dream” came on, and within seconds, I was grinning from cheek to cheek. I love that giddy feeling you get the first time you listen to a really great CD that you know is going to make you happy for a very long time, and that’s how I felt the very first time I listened to this song. “I been sleepin for 60 days and/Nobody better pinch me/Bitch I swear I’ll go crazy/She got jumper cable lips/She got sunset on her breath now/I inhaled just a little bit /Now I got no fear of death.”

So, there are my ten albums/songs that define me from 2000 to 2009. How about you? What are your's?

Sexism in music 

Why is it that bands who have female vocalists are bands with a "token chick singer" while bands who have male vocalists are just regular bands? Why is it that in music reviews, (male) critics can talk purely about the quality of a band's music and performance if they have all male members, but if a band has a female member, often times the critic MUST make a comment on the attractiveness of said member, irregardless of her musical abilities? Why is it that some males don't want to listen to bands with female vocalists (even the ones who try to be "heavier" and thus "more masculine") because they think that it's "gay" or it will make them look like "pussies"? And why is it that women who bring up these issues are just being "bitches" who get "offended" too easily?