Showtime, Synergy!

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – July 14, 2005

It was only when I was introduced to cartoon characters Jem and the Holograms that I fully grasped the concept that chicks who rocked out could also potentially wield special powers to, figuratively speaking, kick the shit out of evil misfits. Kind of like the musicians taking part in this year’s Live 8 concerts. But they’re not fighting rival bands. They’re helping raise awareness about poverty and injustice. These Live 8 rock stars took to the stage to make a real difference in the world. But is it truly possible to rid the universe of evil with just our Stratocasters?

Albeit with a more modest goal in mind, Ladyfest Ottawa and Toronto’s Shameless Magazine ( will be joining forces this Saturday July 16 to co-present A Shameless Nation, an all-ages rock show with headliners Lesbians on Ecstasy (Montreal) – who play your favourite lesbian folksongs, electronic-style-as well as SS Cardiacs (Toronto), Les Alumettes (Ottawa) and Jayda (Ottawa). The purpose? To rock out, to have fun and celebrate ladies of all kinds! It’ll be truly, truly, truly outrageous!

So skip out of the Bluesfest for an hour and head down to Saw Gallery, 67 Nicholas Street, just a stone’s throw from City Hall anyway. Tickets $8 advance, $10 door at 7:30 p.m. All ages.

The fabulous all-girl line up is a fundraiser-taster for Ladyfest Ottawa, which takes place September 16, 17 and 18 this year for a weekend of music, workshops (last year’s offerings covered the gamut from “How to strip for your lover” to book-binding), a craft sale and other neat things.

Sure, all this won’t save the galaxy but by creating strong women, would you agree, you’re helping create strong leaders? Leaders who could play some part in helping win even the smallest battles like increasing girls’ self-esteem and obliterating the fear behind trying something new and, or, something typically reserved for boys.

“Ladyfest Ottawa does an amazing job of supporting women artists and musicians,” says Nicole Cohen, co-editor and co-publisher of Shameless, about why the collaboration for the July rock show was so important. Ladyfest and Shameless have similar outlooks on femme-positive initiatives.

Like Ladyfest, Shameless has a growing following, proving that young women want more from their magazines than tips about beauty and boys. The Summer 2005 issue features interviews with comics creators, as well as articles on Montreal’s “skirtboarders” all-girl skateboarding team, video games, being your own bike mechanic, becoming a DJ, a hot new sport called footbagging and much more. Their aim is to “bring independent, alternative media to as many young women in Canada as possible.”

Having enjoyed the first issue of Shameless released last year on a shoestring budget and volunteer help, Sarah Brown, volunteer organizer of Ladyfest told Shotgun that “it seemed like such a good fit” also to have the magazine on board.

Brown says girl-positive events create “a space where women feel comfortable.” For example, with the Ottawa music scene that is largely made up of men, Ladyfest “is that early place where girls can try things out. Ladyfest can help pull them [girls] out of their shell and give them a forum.”

But despite Ladyfest’s focus on ladies, “we’re always really clear that this is a festival that is open to everyone,” Brown says. Being an all-girl, indie event with “alternative” acts can be a bit intimidating to those girls who don’t fit in the scene, no? But Brown assured Shotgun readers this is a friendly event, very open to receiving everyone and all.

Ladyfest has been a success. While there has been a Ladyfest East and Ladyfest Toronto, Ladyfest Ottawa has outlasted them both. This year is the festival’s fourth consecutive run, thanks to a committed group of volunteers and the money raised at shows like the upcoming July gig, which helps pay for the bands, feed guests, rent facilities, run workshops and advertise.

The typical timeline for Ladyfest is: March is planning time, June is a craft sale, July features a show and August will hold “Boys Night Out,” where local guys-in-bands donate talent to raise money for the September festival. It’s not too late to celebrate your ladyhood-be a part of Ladyfest Ottawa 2005! Applications for performers and workshops can be found at: And, you’re invited to join the girls every Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Second Cup at the corner of Elgin and Lisgar for weekly meetings.


The number of opportunities in Ottawa and Gatineau for girls to cultivate a skill or craft is on the rise. Take Spins and Needles for example. They make then sell nifty arts and crafts, getting people to rethink the traditional shopping experience. McNabb Community Centre hosts a special all-girls skateboarding slot. R9 Connections have their all-girls snowboarding team. Local female musicians are adding up, with Tanya Janca, Red Fey and Leslie Dishslayer grabbing the mic. And local author Aviva Cohen (Sex and Sublimation) has injected fresh blood into, and I predict will dominate, the female literary scene around here.

With so many broads on the beat, who would want to miss this chance to catch the latest and the greatest in girl-power?

– Sylvie Hill