The Hippo


Jul 4, 2020








The “Leading Ladies of New England.” Courtesy photo.

Leading Ladies of New England

When: Friday, June 27
Where: Jewel Nightclub, Canal St., Manchester
Tickets: $10 – 21 and up
Lineup: Anaria, Blindspot, 95 Hyde, Carissa Johnson, Seven Spires, A Simple Complex 

Taking the lead
Women rock at Jewel showcase

By Michael Witthaus

 With so many excellent female-fronted bands in the area, devoting an evening to them is both brilliant and obvious — and it’s exactly what Manchester’s Jewel Nightclub will do at its June 26 Leading Ladies of New England rock ’n’ roll showcase.

Six acts are booked, and availability is the only reason it’s not a longer list, according to the show’s organizer. 
“There were actually more bands I wanted to bring on, like Taken, Leaving Eden and such,” said Dan Spinney, who plays guitar in Anaria, one of the bands performing. “We still got a good group. ... It’s going to be a fun show.”
The impetus for the event came from an emerging sense of solidarity among the acts, Spinney explained. 
“Over the past few years we have made a lot of relationships with other bands with female lead singers and we noticed a growing community; this follows that,” he said. “Some of the hardest-working bands just happen to be female-fronted. … We’ve played with all them before and we’re really excited about it.” 
Most impressive is the range of styles represented. Anaria is “American metal,” said Spinney, a twin guitar quintet with orchestral flourishes mixing with a harder edge, led by singer/lyricist Jessica Mercy. Carissa Johnson takes more cues from Sleater-Kenney than Evanescence, and her latest CD, For Now, is a straight-up rocker that recalls early aughts Boston bands Aloud and Damone.
A little over a year ago, 95 Hyde was known as the Jessica Prouty Band and played pop-tinged rock. But after a Nashville industry panel pegged them as a folk act before even hearing a note, the group changed its name. 
“We didn’t want any genre confusion,” Prouty said recently. 
They also moved to an old-school sound brimming with power chords, featuring Prouty singing like Pat Benatar in her prime.
Seven Spires has a European metal style, with operatic singing and hardcore screaming front woman Adrienne Cowan. Spinney is a big fan of the band, which met at Berklee College of Music. 
“Their lead guitarist just graduated at 18; their vocalist [Cowan] is a year older, and she has the showmanship, the personality, the voice and rock star attitude,” he said. 
Lawrence, Mass. based Blindspot consists of two instrumentalists and one singer but brings an engaging and accessible sound; a new single called “I Won’t Let Your Heart Break” is getting airplay on Frank-FM and other outlets. With lead vocalist Alexa Economou exuding nerdy charm, the trio has shared stages with Scott Weiland and Gin Blossoms and won a Jewel battle of the bands last December to open for Puddle of Mudd. 
Finally, an all-female fronted show is a bit bittersweet for A Simple Complex; lead singer Jess Vaughn will leave the band next month. Ironically, it’s been ASC’s most successful year yet; last April they were named Best Metal Act of 2015 at the New England Music Awards. Their work in progress, Left Behind, is now complete and will be released on July 10. It includes eight previously released songs, three new tracks and one revamped number.
Founder Mark Ingoldsby plans to part on a high note. 
“The band is quickly approaching our final days with our front woman of five years … but before she moves on to other musical endeavors, we look forward to releasing our long-anticipated album,” he said in an email. 
“Over the past four years, we’ve been cryptically unveiling pieces of this concept album three songs at a time,” he wrote. “Now, the full album and its long-awaited, dark tale are ready to be revealed. Although Jess will be greatly missed, ASC hopes to find a new vocalist to take her place and continue to evolve the band’s legacy.”
“Yeah, we love those guys. Jess has such a dynamic voice,” Spinney said. “She could be doing Iron Maiden stuff when she really belts it out — like, holy hell, where did that voice come from?   It’s unfortunate, but things change and people move on. At least it’s on good terms; something will work out for both parties.”
As seen in the June 25, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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