Hey friends. It's been a week, and I'm still not quite over the shock, exhaustion, anxiety, and pure joy that was our very first Lady Brain Fest. Here are a few special moments and memories I will never forget.
1. Cathryn Beeks And Her Little Pink Golf Cart, Too
Let me say it for the people in the back who haven't heard this yet. Lady Brain Fest would never have happened without Cathryn Beeks raising her hand at one of our earliest meet-ups and saying "Listen Local can host a festival at the ranch!" Together with her husband Jonny and our hosts at the San Dieguito Heritage Museum, they put in so much time and work into the nuts and bolts of this event. Everything from arranging A+ sound production to volunteers to vendors and pretty much everything else you can think of - Cathryn MADE.IT.HAPPEN. All hail the queen.
2. Local Media Love
Y'all, I've been hammering out indie press releases for a long time. Hundreds of hours and emails spent and sent over the course of my career. Sometimes I'm lucky enough to get 5-10 media hits per event or album release, and I'm thankful for every single one. The PR world is not for the thin-skinned. This was so different. We received so much local press for this event, i couldn't even keep up with it! We were on the morning and evening news several times. We were on the radio several times. We were PLAN A in San Diego Citybeat's “If I Were You" column. George Varga from the Union Tribune mentioned our festival in a roundup of some of the biggest touring acts to come through San Diego. Full-length interviews in the San Diego Troubadour, San Diego Reader, and Pacific Magazine. This was not only exciting from a promotional aspect as a young organization, but it proves my theory that there is something interesting, exciting, important, and newsworthy about women-identifying creatives working together in their community to lift each other up and to create (and promote) an event so rare as a 100% female-fronted festival. What's more, this press helps our members build their respective press portfolios, which helps move them along in their careers and exposes them to new opportunities. I'm so thankful to our members who helped make this event look good, and who went out of their way to facilitate and participate in press opportunities for this event. Special thanks to Olive Creative Strategies for their additional support! FURTHERMORE, I could not be more grateful for our local photographer and videographer friends who came out to document this experience. If I ever have kids, I want to tell them all about this day, and because of our photographer/videographer friends, I can show them, too.
3. The Best Ever Meeting in the Ladies Room
Let me preface by saying: my bad, we could have definitely used 1-2 more porta potties. We had no idea what the turnout would be, so we made our best guess. However, I found a silver lining to my (long, but not tooooo long) wait in line to use the restroom. There were a few women ahead of me in line and they were talking out loud, not holding back, about epidurals and other general being-a-woman stuff. It didn't matter that a man and a young boy were in earshot. AND. I. WAS. HERE. FOR. IT. No lie, this might have been my favorite moment of the entire day. I couldn't have been prouder to have helped create a space where women could talk about all the horrible, painful shit we go through and get shushed over. Next year the lines will be shorter, promise, but please promise me you will keep up the real talk.
4. People Helping. Just to Help.
An event like this has so many moving parts and requires so many helping hands. I tried to write down as many names as possible and I pretty much cleared Target out of thank you cards, but just know, if I somehow fail to get one to you, I will never run out of thanks for all those who so generously lent their time, skills, services, money, etc. to help make this event happen. Everything was built, shared, designed, streamed, organized, decorated, donated, crafted, cooked, served, and created with love. That translated into some pretty special energy at the event.
5. Christine Lafontant Playing Bass
In a moving Ladies Rock Camp-meets-Lady Brain Fest moment, I was so thrilled to watch as Becca Jay invited my friend Christine Lafontant up on stage to rock the bass for the band's final song. Christine has always been one of the coolest, kindest, most hilarious lady bosses I know, and she raised the bar this year when she joined Ladies Rock Camp (a fundraiser for Rock n Roll Camp for Girls San Diego) and picked up the bass for the first time ever. To see her confidently rocking out with Becca, Mikayla, and Paige (on her second-ever gig!) in front of the Lady Brain Fest crowd was a definite highlight.
6. Tori Roze Putting On a Writing, Singing, and Performing Clinic
Do people even know what a treasure we have in Tori Roze? The killer pipes, the funky band, the instruments that appear as if from nowhere, the sultry stanky goodness oozing out of every pore? DO THEY EVEN KNOW? I was a stress-case for months leading up to the festival, and I was a stress-case throughout the festival, right up until the very moment I saw Tori smack a vibraslap on her thigh during the last set of the day. That was the moment I finally relaxed and realized I was having a great time and that we did a great thing. All hail the queen. Yeah, I know I said it about Cathryn, but this is the kinda group that has a lot of effin' queens.
7. This Photo and All the Feels it Gives Me
Sometimes I joke that Lady Brain Collective was born out of my desire to make real friends, which is kind of true, but it goes a bit deeper than that. As a human, as a woman, as an artist, as someone who struggles hardcore with anxiety and dabbles in depression, as someone with a smartphone in 2019, I know loneliness. I know isolation. I know envy. I wanted Lady Brain to help build the kind of community social media tends to rob us of. A community of shared success and unfiltered real-life friendship in the real-life world. Good people and great moments. I look at this picture and think to myself: nailed it. I also look at this picture and think to myself: I have friends!
8. Kiddos and Doggos
I know some things about the Fest might change as we grow, but I really hope we can stay committed to the dog-and-family-friendly approach. Thanks to everyone who brought their cute kids and friendly pets to add to the good-time vibes!
9. This Souvenir Snap Back
With less than a week to go before the festival, I started to kick myself for running out of time and not having some sort of souvenir available for the festival. Shirts seemed like a daunting turn-around, what with all the sizes and trying to accomplish an order during the Fourth of July holiday. Enter Jules Stewart and her lightning-speed design skills as well as the equally fast T-shirt Mart. Before I knew it, there were 50 "Do No Harm. Take No Shit" hats loaded up in my car and on their way to Encinitas! I've always loved that phrase, and it turns out I'm not the only one - I'm so happy the hats were such a hit! (Want yours? They will be available at our August Community Gathering!)
10. Women's Rights = Human Rights
When I started giving serious thought to the Lady Brain Collective brand, I had a long chat with myself about much my own personal and political experiences would be a factor. It's definitely not required that all members think exactly like me (that would be boring anyway), but I think it's important for people to know as much as they can about those running the organizations that they support (or don't). I want to be transparent about the fact that Lady Brain's primary mission is to lift up and support women-identifying creatives in this community. But I also want to be clear in my understanding that this mission can't be fully realized without zooming out and asking ourselves why we need that support in the first place (cough, patriarchy). That conversation can't happen without zooming even further out and thinking about ALL those whose best efforts to survive and thrive are systemically thwarted by hate, ignorance, bigotry, greed, etc. This collective is about people actively taking care of each other, period. I am still learning and growing, and I will always strive to do better, to spread love, and to combat injustice with the time and resources I have. In that spirit, I will be donating the money my band earned from Lady Brain Fest online ticket sales to RAICES, a non-profit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees. Because how much fun can a festival really be when our asylum-seeking neighbors are enduring so much hardship just a few miles away? There are some deeply disturbing problems affecting this country and planet. We can't single-handedly solve them all in a day, but we also can't ignore them away. What we can do is lead with our hearts ask ourselves "what can I do just a little bit better for the world today?" And tomorrow, ask again.
Thank you to everyone for making the first annual Lady Brain Fest a success! Hope to see you next year!