We Won't Be Silent
Yer Girlfriend
Format: cassette

We Won't Be Silent (And Shouldn't Be!)

By Dallas Embry

A little over a year ago, six women, including engineer Janet Frank, got together to form a band "because of our determination to create and perform music with a folksy appeal to diverse audiences" and because " . . . we believe it is imperative to create music that not only advocates social change, but is also technically accomplished."

I first saw Yer Girlfriend perform in November '89, when they had a gymnasium full of people dancing to their music at the "Give Peace A Dance" benefit, where I was entertainment coordinator / stage manager. I was impressed.

They have now released We Won't Be Silent, a tape featuring the songwriting of Laura Shine and Carol Kraemer, who are also the vocalists of the group. Kraemer plays guitar, with Patty O. Veranda on flute and keyboards, Kathy Weisbach on bass and banjo, and Phyllis Free on drums.

Being neither gay nor lesbian, I'm not sure I should be the person reviewing their tape because all the songs, to one degree or another, speak most directly to that community. Having said that, and putting sexual politics aside for a moment, I remember that music is a universal language - so I'll forge ahead and do my best.

Side A begins with the title track, "We Won't Be Silent," a militant feminist song penned by Kraemer that has the chorus, "The time is now to take our rights / We'll keep marching on / We won't give up the fight/ The time is here to make a sound / We won't be silent / We won't back down." It features the folk/rock guitar of Kraemer with her lead vocals in harmony with Shine.

The second cut is "Full Moon," a really pretty love song again featuring Kraemer/Shine harmony sparsely accompanied by flute and guitar. The accompaniment creates the perfect atmosphere for gazing at the moon and wondering "is she in another place gazing at you too?"

"The Ballad of Kevin," featuring Shine's lead vocals and keyboard as lead instrument, is a soft rock tune about "coming out of the closet" and the repercussions of doing so. It has the bopping chorus "Hey Kevin / Are you going to heaven? / Were they gonna let you go yesterday / Before you said you were gay?" I find myself singing it now and then.

Kathy Weisbach's banjo is prominently featured on "Skippin' Home," a folk-flavored tune with some fine harmony by Shine/Kraemer, plus some excellent flute work by Veranda.

The final tune on the "A" side features the whole band on "Peace and Harmony," in which the following verse indicates where these women are "coming from":

When the people aren't hungry

And when the children aren't bruised

When our sisters and our brothers

Can love whomever we choose

When all people of color can be

Allowed to live equal and free

And when the power of just a few

Turns into the strength of us all

"We'll all be singing for joy

In peace and harmony."

The main strength of "Waiting" is the harmony on the chorus. "I Wanna Live" is a fairly pedestrian love song, but then comes "She's Not Somebody's Wife," where these women show they know how to rock 'n' roll. In this lesbian anthem they ask and answer, "Why does she have to fear for her child / her job and even her life / sometimes she feels so ashamed she's not playing the game / It's because she's not somebody's wife."

"Give Me Your Love" is another really pretty love song with Shine on lead vocal and some fine piano by Veranda. The tape ends with another of those songs with a chorus that I find myself singing at the odd moment. "Peace of Mind" begins with martial drums. It then swings into a folk-rocky piece with keyboard brass as the lead instrument, followed by the catchy chorus "Need a little piece in my world, yeah / Need a little piece in my mind.

In their bio Yer Girlfriend states "Like other female performers who find their political voices in the art form of music with broad appeal, we find that by getting toes tapping, we get a foot in the door in order to state our case -- and in a constructive manner; one that opens up dialogue by breaking down walls of homophobic prejudice and smashing traditional stereotypes about women."

You'll have to judge for yourself about that, but if you can put your sexual politics aside to hear some good music, do so and give these women a listen.

To catch them live, you'll have to go to The Carriage House (a local gay/lesbian bar) or see them at a women's festival or benefit performance. You'll have to hear them live to see them really rock 'n' roll and to get the neat twist they put on Bonnie Raitt's "Love Me Like a Man," which when done Yer Girlfriend style, comes out "Love me like I am."

I realize they won't be for everyone, but I have almost worn out their tape and I'm still listening and enjoying.