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  WINDY CITY TIMES

'4 Women Only' gives female musicians a chance
by Andrew Davis
2008-08-27

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Kat Fitzgerald, an emcee at the Uncommon Ground on Devon, 1401 W. Devon, is a passionate advocate for gender equality—even in the arts. So when she saw what she perceived to be a gap regarding venues for female performers, she took action and started '4 Women Only,' a series taking place every Wednesday starting Sept. 3 ( taking place at the restaurant ) that lets women musicians showcase their talents.

'The problem with the music industry around [ the North Side ] is that there's a lot of music out there—especially in the gay community—but there's nothing out there for women,' Fitzgerald told Windy City Times. 'So, because I run the open mic at Uncommon Ground, I decided that I wanted to do something out at one of the venues.' She added that 'there is only one other venue: Heartland Cafe, which is a great place. You have Bill's Blues [ in Evanston ] —but [ as its name indicates ] , it's mostly blues.'

In describing what 4 Women Only will involve, she said that it 'is a series that [ involves ] four female performers for one month rotating in a line-up every Wednesday.' However, Fitzgerald has guaranteed that listeners won't hear four women stroking acoustic guitars all on the same night: 'I pick four performers who are unique to each other and who I feel will be able to collaborate [ down the road ] . So I won't pick competing musical styles or I won't pick performers who are identical to one another.

'For example, with the first one, Jeannie Tanner [ a 'jazz-pop' performed scheduled for September ] plays keyboards but her real instrument is the trumpet. However, Christine Knodle plays violin, but would rather play piano. So the two of them are going to work out a couple of songs together. Then, there's Lindsey [ Czechowicz ] , who plays guitar; she's a Melissa Etheridge-style power guitar player. So, they're going to blend together very well.' Fitzgerald, who will host the series, added that all types of music will be featured.

Although there are only three performers who Fitzgerald lined up for the first month ( Tanner, Knodle and Czechowicz ) , there is a flamenco/guitar player slated for the last Wednesday, 'so it works itself in,' Fitzgerald said with a smile.

Fitzgerald also has not ruled out having special guests stopping from time to time. 'I'll try to fit anybody in who might be coming through, as long as I get a few days' notice,' she said.

'It's for all women—gay women, bi women [ and ] women who just want to hang out with their girlfriends and not having to worry about being hit on by guys,' Fitzgerald said. However, despite the series' name, men are encouraged to attend and listen.

' [ Uncommon Ground ] is a nice restaurant [ and performance space ] ,' said Fitzgerald. 'People should feel welcome to come in, enjoy some nice food, have a glass of wine and listen to some great music.'

Aspiring performers ( and the aforementioned special guests ) should contact Kat Fitzgerald at Kat@LabrysChicago.com . For more about 4 Women Only, see www.uncommonground.com/artist_profile/artist_id/3949.


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