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Six rock chicks and one knee fracture

by Jordan Green

When the last note is played the guitar player hits the floor. The final song in Sin Tax’s set, a cover of Blondie’s “X-Offender,” begins with cowbell player and singer Marilyn Wolf waxing about some fine muscled boy in a ’60s bad-girl siren voice that summons the Shangri-Las. Then the tempo throttles up and the tone advances a decade into the punk-rock miasma that defines the disaffected, snarling attitude of these scene veterans who proudly advertise their ages as somewhere in the neighborhood of a half century. Doug Baker wears an untucked Hawaiian-style shirt dotted with little multicolored guitars. His thinning gray hair only underscores an attitude of vicious cool. He thrashes around, wresting stinging notes from his instrument, and then sits on the stage riser, wiping his forehead and catching his breath. Then, as if prompted by an afterthought, he stands up, steps onto the stage and leaps into the air. He lands just as the song screeches to a halt. He falls against fellow guitarist Dave McLean, his head resting against his bandmate’s foot. Baker wears a look of puzzlement as he sprawls across the floor and the other members break down their rigs. “Doug, are you okay?” comes a voice in the audience. “Doug, you did it buddy.” “That’s rock and roll.” Actually, the evening’s entertainment wasn’t supposed to be so much about male bravado. And no one was supposed to get hurt tonight at Two Art Chicks. “I thought it was part of the show,” says bass player Nancy McCurry, who is also promoting her solo CD, I Need A Wife. She shrugs, adding, “He’ll be all right.” Soon the paramedics from Guilford County EMS are wheeling Baker out the door on a stretcher. As Wolf walks away from the stage, Sin Tax’s other rock chick receives a friendly squeeze on the arm from Melissa Micca, bass player for the significantly younger band Little Mascara, who are slated to play next. “I love your shoes,” Micca says. “I haven’t figured out how to wear heels onstage yet.” She possesses an impish smile, and wavy black hair cascades down her back. Tonight she’s wearing a light charcoal gray mini dress. When she plays the bass, she thrusts her hips out and gently sways to the rhythm. Like front-woman Jesse Derusha, Micca’s stage presence channels sexuality in the service of rock’s raw cathartic power. They play straight-up garage punk that incorporates the raunchy strut of the Rolling Stones and the speed of the New York Dolls, and wears its debt to the Runaways and Joan Jett on its sleeve. The theme of the evening is “two rock chicks,” honoring the two women who play in each of the three bands. They span the generations from the early twenties to the early fifties, but share a commonality of being the creative drivers of their respective bands, taking no shit and embracing fun. The opening band, Winston-Salem’s Red Lipstick Society, features Amanda Dunn and Jill Martin slinging acoustic guitars and sass in a crack eclectic acoustic band that includes a stand-up bass player, a lead acoustic guitarist and a drummer. Stylistically they lean toward folk and alt-country, but they certainly rock too. Befitting an egalitarian posture, Red Lipstick Society also includes significant vocal and instrumental turns by its male members, including bassist Will Hoyme and guitarist David Long, a player with an old-time pedigree. “I feel like women have that extra edge and a little more to prove,” says Jenny Maness, a local poet drafted to emcee the event. Her duties have included interviewing the six women, writing personal introductions and reciting haikus inspired by each of the bands. “It sort of reinforced my belief just on an esoteric note Ð then we’ll rock out, I promise,” she tells the audience, “…there’s a perception that women are catty and always trying to get a leg up – no pun intended – but that’s not the impression I got at all from talking to these women.”

Postscript: David McLean reports that his bandmate, Doug Baker, had surgery for a knee fracture on July 21. The guitar player is expected to remain in the hospital through at least Tuesday and be on crutches for six weeks. Baker is among the many Americans with no health insurance. The band is soliciting donations to help cover his hospital bills at myspace.com/meetsintax.

To comment on this story, e-mail Jordan Green at jordan@yesweekly.com.

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