Review by Nancy Legato
Rating: (5 out of 5)
Friday, 10/24/2003, 9:00 PM
Feature presentation, $9 at Cecile Goldman Theater at the DCJCC
IT’S HARD TO believe it now, but remember when men’s voices were all you could hear on the radio? Occasionally, you’d get Pat Benatar or Heart or, if you were really lucky, Aretha, but mostly it was hour after hour of boys, boys, boys. You’d almost think women weren’t making music back then. But the truth is, women were making their own music, in a hundred different genres, using their own equipment, their own engineers, their own touring venues, and their own distribution companies.
Dee Mosbacher’s Radical Harmonies reminds us that there was a time when, to make music, women had to make it themselves. More importantly, it reminds us that women are still making that music, doin’ it for ourselves, at the same time creating the space for other female musicians, producers, engineers, sound and lighting technicians and marketers to succeed in the mainstream.
Radical Harmonies traces the origins and journeys of the women’s music movement back to the Â‘70s, before there was a concept called “women’s music.” Mosbacher follows that movement, in all its permutations and through its crises of identity and inclusion, using a startling array of footage from the last three decades and from many interviews. In the sheer volume of footage and inclusion of voices, Mosbacher (along with editors Lisa Ginsburg, Marla Leech, and Dina Maria Munsch) has managed a huge accomplishment.
The documentary tells the story not only of the evolution of women’s music and musicians, but also of the development of whole industries around women’s music and women’s music festivals. Mosbacher keeps the music center stage, but shines a light on all the ways in which that music infects and affects our lives. By including sign interpretation at music concerts for the first time to announcing the first sliding scale entrance fee to participating (not always successfully) in attempts to create a radically inclusive women’s culture, Mosbacher shows us more than the story that we thought we already knew about women’s music.