Singer-songwriter Mai Tatro of the band Moonlight Drive-In is only 18 years old, but she has years of live-music gigs under her belt. Tatro has been writing and singing her own songs since she was 13, and her vocals are powerful, yet she's all too familiar with the difficulties of scoring bookings for a band fronted by a young woman. So when she heard this year's Femme Fest was seeking artist submissions, the Port Orange native jumped at the chance.
Festival co-creator Kristine Buckley says that when she founded Femme Fest with DJ Oski Gonzalez, the aim was to not only provide a platform for often-overlooked female talent but also gather acts from across the spectrum. "The goal was basically to get bands together who normally wouldn't play together," she says. "With Femme Fest, it's these bands that all feature at least one female... It all kind of meshes even though it's so diverse."
Now in its 11th year, Femme Fest began at Tobacco Road and then moved to Churchill's Pub. Buckley says that the format hasn't changed much over the years and that the festival has become an anticipated annual event. "People know what to expect and they look forward to it."
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Aimee Beah Moore of Shake 108's Local Love Live will host this year's shindig, which will include sets by 20 bands on three stages, a burlesque performance, poetry readings, vendors, and even a pamper room with massages.
Tatro says she is mostly looking forward to learning from her fellow performers. "I want to be able to spend the day watching other female musicians and learning," she says. "I've [spent] a lot of my musical life learning from watching male musicians and then trying to adapt what I learned from them as professionals and stage performers." Tatro is a self-professed goth girl who says she's excited to see the many ways femininity can be conveyed and celebrated onstage in the context of a rock 'n' roll show.
After playing Femme Fest last year, Adi Hernandez will return with her band Modern Mimes. She says their sound is difficult to classify, which can make it hard to fit into a standard lineup. Hers is exactly the kind of band Femme Fest looks to book. Does gender figure into Modern Mimes' ability to land gigs? Hernandez isn't sure. "I don't really get much into the political aspect of it," she says. "I just like to write music and do what I do, and hopefully people can relate to what I'm writing about."
FemmeFest. 8 p.m. Friday, March 16, at Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-757-1807; churchillspub.com. Tickets costs $10.