'STEELING' THE SHOW
She wants to see more women accepted in Americana rock and roll music, but it's not necessarily a social justice movement for Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters, an all-female group from Portland.
Flynn thinks she and her band, like many groups in a male-dominated industry, simply deserve to be heard.
"We're good and you're going to love us, if you give us a listen," Flynn says.
The iconic Rosie the Riveter serves as their inspiration. When men went to battlefields in World War II, women rose up and helped the country chug along. It's a powerful image — Rosie in her bandana, rolling up her sleeve, flexing her muscle and saying, "We Can Do It!"
"I was inspired by these women, and how do I convey what I mean?" says Flynn, a self-described "tomboy" of the band, on branding her group around Rosie the Riveter.
"We're in a genre that is pretty male-dominated, and in an industry where there is sexism and glass ceilings."
Flynn, a vocalist/songwriter/acoustic guitarist who has toured with Todd Snider and The Wood Brothers, started the band with guitarist Nancy Luca.
"I went out and saw her (Luca) and was like, 'Holy cow, this woman shreds.' … I wanted to find players who were women who were really good and soulful and who I could relate to."
She adds: "I've had bands here and there, but nothing like this one."
The rest of the Riveters are Carmen Paradise (bass), Jolie Clausen (drums), Jenny Conlee (organ/piano), Kathryn Claire (fiddle/background vocal) and Ara Lee (background vocals).
The band put out its debut, 10-song album, "Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters," in September and will play at a vinyl album release party Dec. 21 at Mississippi Studios. It was produced by Chris Funk (of The Decemberists) and recorded at Halfling Studios in Portland. The album was supported by a Regional Arts & Culture Council grant and Oregon Arts Commission fellowship.
"Songs of determination and desire, hope, vengeance and humor" publicity says about the album.
"People have loved it," Flynn says. "We're chugging along, got some good press, got this great tour (started last week). The more people are exposed to the band, the more opportunity we'll have to reach the tipping point where we become a thing."
Indeed, they're still working at it, she adds. It's good music with a good message, it just needs a following.
"It's so hard anymore. It takes a lot of blood, sweat and tears and some luck," Flynn says. "We just want a chance to play as much as possible out in the world. It's our first foray. Hopefully, folks will dig it."
Funk digs it. "He's an honorary Rosie," Flynn adds. "He has been such a dear friend to me. He's probably the reason I pursued music for better or worse."
A Kentucky native, Flynn moved to Oregon in the mid-1990s, and lived in a Forest Service cabin on the McKenzie River outside Eugene, depressed about the death of a friend.
She wrote a song about her friend and played it at a local coffee shop. It turned into a regular gig there.
"Chris Funk came in and said, 'Hey, you're pretty good, do you want a side guy?'" she recalls. "We became instant friends." She started writing more songs, and put out some records (including "A Million Stars") after befriending Funk and others in the Portland music scene.
Now it's Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters, and Flynn has high hopes, especially with inspiration from Rosie the Riveter.
"I grew up with a feminist divorcee mom and was exposed to women in the work force at a young age," she says. "I was playing in Americana rock as a tomboy, but I didn't fit in. Rosie spoke to me, the notion that women put on pants and do as good a job as any man.
"We're trying to bust through stereotypes."