I have wanted to photograph the band Dorothy since I received an email from their publicist last year. Unfortunately, I missed last year’s shows, but I finally saw them at Sacramento’s Ace of Spades on January 19th. It was worth the wait and the trip. I even saw a cool opening band Spirit Animal.
Below are the galleries and some thoughts.
I wish my positive review would help Dorothy Martin and her “can’t miss” band succeed, but I worry that I am not the best judge of contemporary music trends, and my review will only hurt. Dorothy has the music and the musicians to make it, but I don’t know if it’s their time.
When I saw Dorothy on January 19th, I was aware that Janis Joplin and Dolly Parton both shared that birthday. The music business is difficult, and leading women singers have had special challenges. If Janis and Dolly had become friends, perhaps Janis would have survived. Janis deserved a better support system consisting of people who understood her. (As I write this, I realize that Janis and Dolly might have been friends, and some challenges are still too great to overcome.)
Dorothy Martin recorded with Dolly Parton recently. While there is more support for women in the music industry, there are still challenges for women leading rock bands. Dorothy identified one of the challenges in her debut album ROCKISDEAD — there just aren’t that many rock bands now.
If rock music were alive and well, Dorothy might have a place filling large arenas. The band is that good. I felt transported to a different time when great guitar playing mattered and singers had charisma.
Even though I only photographed the first three songs, I stayed until the final song had finished. (I wanted to hear my favorite Dorothy song “Flawless.”) When Dorothy introduced “Flawless,” I realized that Dorothy Martin will have another challenge of being a woman in the industry. Besides being a revenge song about an ex, “Flawless” is a beautiful song.
In American popular music, many people associate the revenge song with Taylor Swift. Of course, Swift writes revenge songs, but she didn’t invent them nor does she own them. If Americans were more familiar with women musicians (or women’s anger), perhaps more songs like Flawless would have a chance at becoming jagged little anthems.
As for Spirit Animal, they are everything an opening band should be and more. As soon as they started playing, I remembered why I enjoyed photographing concerts. Spirit Animal played with energy.
Perhaps because I was back in Sacramento, I kept imagining that Spirit Animal was OKGo‘s spirit animal. It was as though OKGo had finally gotten off the treadmills, and decided to go on the road as a badass opening band. (I first saw the OKGo Treadmill Video in my Master’s of Educational Technology class at Sac State in 2006.) It seems like something OKGo would do. Maybe they will find each other next year in 2020.
When I photograph new bands, I wonder if they can fill a bigger stage some day. This band could. They engaged the audience and found ways for the crowd to participate. If I can remember, I will start asking other bands if they have a spirit animal… or an exercise routine.
Often I include a notes section on my old blog that provides more background and other photos. (I might add that later, but for now I will write more here.) For the blog post title, I borrowed the title of Joan Baez‘s memoir And A Voice to Sing With. In an interview, Dorothy Martin mentioned Baez as an influence. I also like how the title solves the problem I had explaining that Dorothy is the lead singer and the name of the band.
I also read several articles, including one by Steve Baltin. Baltin referred to Dorothy as “can’t miss” in his July, 2018 Forbes article.” (He recently wrote an article about Joplin.) I also may have met Steve at Grammy Camp several years ago. I don’t really know that Dorothy met Dolly. I had to trust the internet. Besides reading about Dorothy, I learned about their producer Linda Perry. Before Perry became a producer, she was a famous singer proving that there is life after Rock & Roll… or at least new life.