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"Female Musicians find their common chord" To counter the isolating feeling of playing L.A. clubs. Founded by Female Guitarist Shredmistress Rynata

LOS ANGELES TIMES, MAY 8, 2003 – POP MUSIC
By Lina Lecaro, Special to The Times

The statuesque female guitarist known as Shredmistress Rynata got a start that was anything but auspicious when she moved to L.A. from San Francisco with the idea of boosting her musical career. "When I started playing in L.A. it was the worst," Rynata says. "You hit the stage and you have nothing in common with the other bands. No one talks to each other and we’re all isolated. Then you get rushed off the stage and you walk away feeling like, ‘Why did I do this?’ I didn’t get paid, hardly anybody was there. Nobody cared. I wanted to break through that."

After a particularly discouraging night — she went to a talented gal pal’s otherwise empty gig — Rynata decided to do something about it. "We were driving after the show and my friend was extremely distraught," says Rynata, a member of the heavy-rock group Glamazon. "I said ‘Stop the car, I have an idea.’ I decided that we had to learn how to work together, to network, to do something else other than just fending for ourselves."

FemMuse was born.

Years later, the local organization continues to unite, promote and generally champion female musicians through its Web site – FemMuse.com which features online chats and message boards, job opportunities, services and referrals — and regular shows around town. Lately, FemMuse has attracted a sizable following at the Derby in Los Feliz. "It’s about time the women get their night in the spotlight," says Derby co-owner Tammi Gower. "A girl’s gotta rock somewhere."

The diverse musical gatherings feature everything from country to folk (usually the first hour is slotted for acoustic acts) to funk, and to the Shredmistress’ territory: full-on heavy metal, climaxing with a wild jam session with other FemMuse members. The group’s next informal jam is slated for May 31 at Manny’s Music, and its next full-evening performance is June 11 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Beverly Center.

Rynata’s FemMuse co-directors, Kathryn Grimm and Eileen Carey are examples of the group’s idea of community. Both front bands with male musicians backing them, they represent different musical genres and both found FemMuse at a time when they needed an extra dose of inspiration.

"I was surfing on the Net and I ended up on the FemMuse site," says Grimm, who has been playing around L.A. for 15 years in such acts as the Screamin’ Sirens, as well as teaching music. "We started corresponding and I came to a show. There were a lot of women performers and cool people, and it got me excited about booking shows again."

Carey met Rynata one night when she was passing out fliers (FemMuse promotes both its own shows and those of individual members). "We started to talk about networking and shows, " Carey says. "I wanted to not only get musicians more involved, but also bring in the industry more."

Though FemMuse has yet to snag any superstar performers or label interest, their strong member roster includes some real up-and-comers as well as endorsements from ex-Romeo Void singer Debora Iyall and producer Mary Guibert (Jeff Buckley’s mom), clubs including the Derby, and several area companies (all of which donate to FemMuse’s raffle giveaways at shows).

"It’s an alien concept here, this whole networking and jamming thing," Rynata says. But thanks to promotion, the disheartening experience her friend endured is starting to change. The musician feels that FemMuse still has a ways to go. "There’s still prejudice against women musicians, especially those over 30," she says. "We’re just starting to bridge the gap."

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