"Recipe for success: start with three talented musicians. Stir in rich melodies, honky-tonk, and spicy-hot lyrics. Then add a bucketful of courage, the kind it takes to leave home and career in mid-life. Simmer for a few years in smoky roadhouses and cheap motels. The result? Saffire -- The Uppity Blues Women."
-- Ms. Magazine
What could be more fitting than a rabble-rousing evening of feminist humor, stellar harmonies and tight blues licks benefiting area women who need a little step-up toward self-sufficiency?
It's a marriage made in heaven (OK, girl heaven, maybe), and it's coming to the Fine Arts Center on Tuesday, May 22. The Women's Resource Agency's fundraising event will at once bring back Springs' favorites, Saffire -- The Uppity Blues Women, while raising much-needed funds to continue the agency's programs in support of at-risk girls and women in the community.
Founded in 1972, the Women's Resource Agency works primarily with women who are going through divorce and/or separation and find themselves, many for the first time, the sole economic support for themselves and their families. Some have never worked and many have not been in the work force for many years.
"They are in need, but not needy enough for government programs," explains WRA board member Karen Conway. "The Women's Resource Agency teaches them how to attain and maintain self-sufficiency."
The agency also works with high school-age girls through the InterCept program, an abstinence-based education program targeting high-risk adolescents in grades 8 through 12, aimed at keeping them in school, off drugs and out of gangs.
The empowerment of women is a subject near to the heart of Saffire -- The Uppity Blues Women, one that appears time and time again in their honky-tonk tunes, boogie-woogie rhythms and soul-searching ballads. And these ladies know whereof they speak. Together for eight years, the band started after two of the members' children had grown up and the musicians were well into their middle-age years.
But rest assured, their mellow age does nothing to temper their act. "These middle-age mothers kick booty ... self assured, rowdy, outrageous," said the Buffalo News about the uppity acoustic trio. Their new, soon-to-be-released album, Ain't Gonna Hush, proves once again that good musicianship mixed with a hearty dose of attitude makes this act one to remember.
As with their previous albums, Ain't Gonna Hush mixes up new original tunes with old blues, resulting in an album that combines inspiration with bawdy humor -- sort of a women's support group session emblazoned on CD.
The title song, belted out by band member Ann Rabson provides a perfect kickoff. "You told me to shut my mouth, but I ain't gonna hush," the lyrics yell while Rabson beats out her trademark, driving honky-tonk piano blues. A boogie-woogie beat infuses "Coffee Flavored Kisses," a traditional tune celebrating "java, java, java with a joy, joy."
"He Really Makes it Hard For Me to Sing the Blues," beholds the sensitive, thoughtful male partner, one who's "a perfect lover but a lousy muse," at least for blues singer and Saffire great Gaye Adegbalola whose vocals are the smokiest of the group.
Saffire gets political with "Blues for Sharon Bottoms," a protest song telling the true story of a 1993 Richmond, Va. court decision handing custody of a lesbian's child over to her mother who brought the suit, alleging Sharon was unfit due to her sexual orientation. "How low, low, low," admonishes the tune. "Sharon B's mama's a baby stealin' so-and-so."
Saffire, never afraid to get down and celebrate female sexuality, delivers in style with "Footprints on the Ceiling," an upbeat tune with a sexy swing: "The man I got's a thoroughbred/ He knows just what to do in bed/ ... While he's wheelin' and dealin'/ I'm leaving footprints on the ceiling." All that's missing is the audience response.
Tuesday night's event promises fun and fellowship (is there a female form of that word? Galship?), all for a very good cause. A silent auction, also to benefit the Women's Resource Agency, will be held immediately prior to the concert in the Fine Arts Center Theater Lounge from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and the concert is expected to be a sellout, so buy your tickets early.
Here's a chance to get down, sassy and uppity with the best of 'em.