For Joyce Walker and Cathy Schneider, the promoters behind IndyIndie.com, working with musicians has always been up close and personal. They got their start nearly a decade ago doing performer care for the National Women’s Music Festival for five years, and continue to work with festivals and provide a venue for traveling performers, particularly female performers. Sometimes they’ll run the show through their living room or clubhouse; other times it’ll be Out Word Bound bookstore or another local venue.
NUVO: Last time we talked was when NUVO wrote about house parties last May; what have you been up to since then?
Schneider: We just came from a festival; we’re always helping more than anything, we’re lending our support this year. We’re going to have a small one in September. There are a lot of festivals out there. The Michigan Women’s Music Festival has been around 30 years, the National Women’s Music Festival in Illinois, 30 years, and they’re struggling. It’s a tough thing financially. So this year we’re giving our support to the festivals that have fought and helped us to be here. We’re going to continue to go on and do what we do best, the smaller shows. Our thrust is independent women’s music. In the summer we don’t do any shows at all. People have so much to do already. It’s beautiful outside. We’re strictly spring and winter, with a few in the fall. We’ve been spending a lot more time going out and helping some other people get started.
NUVO: How do you line up your acts?
Schneider: We don’t ever ask anybody. It’s all artists who are passing through just desperate for a venue. We’ve tried a couple of coffeehouses and Jesus Metropolitan Community Church and Northeast United Church of Christ. We’ve been talking to Radio Radio. We don’t want to get too big. We want to keep it small and intimate. We are doing more shows. We’re doing the bookstore, and we have tried some other venues, because we just keep getting requests from artists that want to play in Indy, but there isn’t a place for them. They aren’t always suitable to a clubhouse or a living room. Plus we have a friend in Cincinnati and one in Columbus and they’re getting a series started. They’re doing real well. There’s a whole lot of really good musicians out there, and a lot of people who really like the music. And grass-roots level music is so exciting.
NUVO: This kind of music tends to have a political edge to it; is that true with the musicians you’re seeing?
Schneider: Their message is anything but unpolitical! Every musician that we have in here has several songs that they’ve written about the state of affairs. One of our favorite bands, Ember Swift, just wrote a song about having an intervention in America. She’s Canadian and says that we’re going to have to have an intervention, where they come and save us.
NUVO: What are you seeing as far as independent women’s music these days?Schneider: We’re seeing a lot of growth. There was a time when women carved the way for women to record and get venues and so on, and they’re all much older now, and there seems to be a space. So now we have a whole new group of women coming through. In the past two years we’ve had a growth spurt in independent women’s music, because these other women have made the ability for them to make a living with women’s music. It’s all word of mouth, it’s an underground, grass-roots thing. We never advertise. You come and you find it and you stay there and it’s home. People like Ember Swift and all these musicians continue to pass through, they continue the culture. They take everything they learn in Indianapolis and take it with them. They take us and everything that we have to give them and they keep it alive.