“[Toshi Reagon] has one of the sweetest, purest voices in contemporary music. None of that would matter if she weren’t so good at what she does: writing and singing songs that move you with their honesty and passion.”—LA Weekly
, the Walker Art Center’s time-honored celebration of lesbian and queer women’s culture returns for a 14th year as curator Eleanor Savage invokes the history of women’s music as an inspirational and revolutionary force. Toshi Reagon, known for her genre-bending style, crosses innovative rock with soul-influenced, blues-tinged folk that promises to set you off in hand-clapping, foot-stomping delight. Terry Dame opens the evening with her mesmerizing five-piece ensemble, the Electric Junkyard Gamelan, performing all original compositions on instruments she designed and built. Dyke Night 14 takes place at 8 pm Friday-Saturday, June 25-26, at the Woman’s Club of Minneapolis, 410 Oak Grove Street, in Minneapolis.
Tickets for Dyke Night 14 are $20 ($18 Walker members) and are available by calling the Walker box office at 612.375.7622; or visit www.walkerart.org/tickets/. Patrons with special needs are asked to call two weeks in advance.
As an already seasoned live performer, Reagon jumped into the spotlight when Lenny Kravitz tapped her to open for him on his first world tour. Elvis Costello, who was hooked after one high-energy evening in NYC, invited Reagon and her band Big Lovely to back him up on a Late Show with David Letterman appearance.
Born in Atlanta and raised in Washington, DC, Reagon cites her musical abilities from her family, particularly her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon. Both parents belonged to SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) The Freedom Singers, a folk group that sprung from the Civil Rights movement and toured the country to educate and entertain through song. Her rich musical heritage led her to become saturated in many traditional styles of music, feeding her desire to explore a range of music that was not as accessible, from blues to Kiss. Admittedly, Reagon says that she attempts to “take whatever I’m really into and try to learn it and put it into music.” Believing music is the way she deals with her political energy, Reagon once told Curve magazine, “From where you are, from who you are in your everyday life, that’s where you make change. . . Whatever your gig is, make change through your strength.” Reagon’s previous albums are her 1994 self-released debut The Rejected Stone (Smithsonian Folkways); the 1997 album Kindness, which brought her to the attention of many critics, converting them into longtime fans; and the acclaimed 1999 release The Righteous Ones and 2002’s Toshi, both available on Razor & Tie.
Terry Dame is a composer, multi-instrumentalist, and instrument builder. She has been working in New York City since 1987, composing and performing for theater, dance, film, video, and concerts. She has collaborated with performing artists Lisa Kron, Marty Pottenger, Jennifer Miller and The Split Britches Theater Company, choreographer Jennifer Monson, and filmmakers Judith Helfand and Maria Maggenti.
Dame is the musical director, composer, and saxophonist with the seven-piece group Monkey on a Rail and is a founding member of the improvisation trio Trophy Wife. She also directs and composes for Electric Junkyard Gamelan, a percussion-based ensemble which performs on invented and object instruments designed and built by Dame. She has been composer-in-residence and saxophonist with Jennifer Miller’s New York based Circus Amok since 1994, and has received commissioning funds from the Mary Cary Flagler Charitable Trust and the Meet the Composer Fund. Dame is also a member of Gamelan Dharma Swara, a traditional Balinese Gamelan ensemble based at the Indonesian Consulate in New York. Other recent projects include a score for Judith Helfand’s award-winning documentary Blue Vinyl and a commission by performing artist Mary Pottenger. Dame holds an MFA in performance and composition from the California Institute of the Arts where she studied traditional Persian, Hindustani, and Carnatic music with master musicians Hossien Alizadeh, Rajeev Taranath, and Poovalur Srinivassan. She has also studied Balinese Gamelan with I Nyomen Wenten, and composition with Wadada Leo Smith and Morton Subotnik.
Eleanor Savage, Dyke Night curator since 1994, is a media artist and Program Director for Naked Stages (a mentorship program for emerging performance artists funded by the Jerome Foundation). Savage was also the founder and producer of Vulva Riot Cabaret and Forbidden Fruit Radio at KFAI. Dyke Night was the brainchild of former Walker Art Center Performing Arts Curator John Killacky and local performance artist Chris Cinque. In recent years, Savage has expanded the Dyke Night stage, which began as a community event, to present national and international artists.