An Open Letter to Phog Lounge

Dear Phog Lounge,

You have been host to a great many female artists and have been supportive of women-oriented events like Smash the Glass and the Women’s Studies Student Association’s launch of their feminist publication, Are We There Yet. This is exactly why we were so disappointed to learn that you have not yet included any female-artist headliners in your upcoming – and very well known – event, Phog Phest. In fact, there isn’t a single woman in any of the six headlining bands.

Because Phog is an alternative venue (arguably, the most popular in Windsor Ontario), we would like to express our frustration that you have decided to host an all-male line-up, despite having access to many prominent female artists.

It would benefit the community greatly to support female artists, like you have in the past, by including them in your Phog Phest 3. Thanks for taking the time to read this and for considering our concerns.


Milk and Vodka

*This letter does not represent CJAM. The views and opinions expressed in the letter only represent its hosts, Nicole and Meghan.


14 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Phog Lounge

  1. That’s lovely…

    We were all commenting recently about how few local bands, that actually book shows at Phog, have female members. The Locusts Have No King and James O-L and The Villains come to mind as locals that have women in the bands, but they played last year…and we went out of our way to not have anyone play this year that played last year.

    We even invited ASK to play this event, thinking Nancy Drew was still in the band, and she’s NOT anymore.

    I think your observation is something valid worth addressing to the entire music community. We look at the current scene, and particularly the bands that play Phog, and we don’t see women in bands…almost ever.

    Tara Watts has enlisted my help to look for ANY WOMEN in Windsor that would like to accompany her in a rock and roll project, and she has received ZERO response. Like, none. There aren’t enough women in the scene (that play at Phog / that I see regularly) as far as I can tell.

    There are lots of female solo artists, but as far as Phog Phest 3 was concerned…we wanted full band sounds for all of the performers. I even asked Den-igan if she planned on assembling a ful band behind her, because her music/voice are PHENOMENAL…but would be exceedingly awesome (in my opinion) if she had a full band behind her.

    Am I being short-sighted? Are there more local acts that I’m missing? Again, as an organizer of PHOG Phest, I book bands that have graced PHOG’s stage throughout the year. I know there are several other bands with women in them, but they just haven’t requested shows at Phog yet…

    • Well said Tom. And, as a woman who is very excited to see every band on the ticket, I must say I was somewhat offended by this post when I first read it.

      To me, it sounds as if the person/people who wrote this letter are wanting to get on the bill, hoping that you’ll cave under the pressure of being labelled as a sexist, which is so far from the truth, the mere notion is ridiculous. I simply don’t like that the author’s are trying to pull the feminist card in order to get what they want.

      I didn’t even think twice about why there weren’t any woman performing. I love the bands that Tom has brought in for this show. These bands were booked for a few reasons. 1) People like them. 2) They’ve played phog. 3) They draw out the crowds. What sex the band members just so happen to be has absolutely nothing to do with it.

      Don’t get me wrong. I would love to see more women musicians with full rockin’ bands behind them in Windsor and I would support them – if they were good. Period. Male or female? – It doesn’t really matter to me when it comes to music.

  2. I understand your frustrations, but i don’t see it’s fair to pin Tom for ‘deciding’ to make the lineup all male, it just happened that way. Plenty of females have been featured at phog phest and the pack AD headlined the first one!
    Phog Phest may not include and women, but I’m quite sure they’ll be plenty of acts in the future.

  3. I genuinely think that this “open letter” is an opportunity to discuss the larger issue of women in Windsor/Essex music. Milk & Vodka care about the music scene…and I think we can use this as an opportunity to discuss the bigger issue.

    Bands with prominent female members that played Phog have either disbanded or left town. Peace Leeches, Citywide Vacuum, Dead Heat, Brass Knuckles, and more are gone.

    Two For The Cascade, Meters To Miles, and a few others are still here, with shining female members though…

    • Bands that have women in but have not been mentioned include: The Monday Milkmen, Kenneth MacLeod and the Windsor Salt Band, Perpetuate, Luna Borealis

  4. Its a sad day when people can hide behind the their computer and hurl insults and accusations at good people who work hard for something better. Maybe PhogFest needs more women, more black, more jews and more gingers. I too think the mime community should be represented and some native throatsinging always seems to be ignored. But I do NOT think ANYONE would hint at such biasness in person. So you can continue to throw your stones from the dark or you can make a band and help and good thing become great! Shame on you ‘Milk and Vodka’, shame. Keep up the good work Thom.

  5. Thanks everyone for the responses! Believe it or not, as a host from Milk and Vodka, we really appreciate the feedback (well… except for booblicker’s comments. I mean, “commie?” this is … ridiculous. For several reasons). We know that Phog is an incredibly important venue for so many people (including us!) which is why we have and will continue to support the venue. We’re not pushing for a boycott – we were just pointing out a troubling observation, and we really appreciate Tom for taking it as just that – and not as an attack on himself or his establishment. While many people disagree with us, which we respect, there are also people who noticed the lack of female musicians and seemed to appreciate us pointing it out (as seen on the comments M&Vs facebook). Making this a discussion about the lack of females in the music scene in Windsor might be helpful!

    I am also excited to see the bands – and plan to join the phestivities. We know of Phog’s history in supporting so many female artists as well as women in the community – that’s why we have supported Phog and continue to promote it on our program. Like we said earlier, this is EXACTLY why we were surprised and subsequently wrote this letter. We wouldn’t have noticed if it were a music festival hosted by other venues, because so many other venues don’t showcase female artists at ALL (hence, we only support and promote a select few).

    As for “getting on the bill” – hilarious accusation, but alas, no. Although, for those who would take this approach just a little tip: posing as a feminist to get people to do what you want is a TERRIBLE idea, in fact, being or pretending to be a feminist will only make your life incredibly difficult.

  6. Tom, you are right. This letter was meant to inspire an open discussion about female artists in both the local and national level. As a host’s of Milk and Vodka ( a radio program dedicated to feminist issues and promoting women in music) we felt as though it was our “duty” to make this observation. And we recognize your continual commitment to female artists throughout the year. And as Meghan said, we will continue to support Phog and are looking forward the Phog Phest!

    Surly you know that systemic gender inequalities are not your fault (we definitely don’t think so), but we did see this as an opportunity to address the gender inequalities that happen in the music and art world (just to name a few…)

  7. Why not have just gone into phog and talked to tom before writing this? It really does seem like you jumped the gun on the issue. Also, Tom, Alan Penner is right, why no native throatsinging? Do you hate natives? GAH I am so frustrated!

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