MORRISBURG– ‘Rosie the Riveter’ was part of the US military’s drive, 1939-45, to encourage women to join the work force during the massive War effort. The 40s poster, featuring a determined ‘Rosie’, was hugely popular and very successful.
In later years, this iconic image of a strong and capable woman gradually moved away from the area of military propaganda: ultimately, ‘Rosie’ emerged as a symbol of new feminism and of the modern woman.
That original Rosie would be thrilled with her 2019 musical namesakes.
Coming to the St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage on March 23 at 7 p.m., for one exciting show, are the group Rosie & the Riveters, featuring Allyson Reigh, Alexis Normand and Farideh Olsen.
“I’ve seen them live several times, and they are absolutely fantastic,” said Sandra Whitworth, president of the SLAS. “They are spectacular singers, their harmonies will delight everyone…And they are fun.”
The group’s 2018 release, Ms Behave, hit the top ten US folk music charts for 17 weeks. They have been featured on the CBC, Parade Magazine, Rolling Stone Country, PopMatters and have appeared on Samantha Bee. Critics love them. Growing numbers of fans adore them.
I had the opportunity to talk to Allyson Reigh about the very unique musical force that is Rosie & the Riveters.
“We like to say that we write and perform folk/pop,” Allyson said. “It’s actually a bit tricky to pin down our style. We’re too folk for pop people, too pop for folk people. We aren’t locked into one genre.”
Actually, Rosie & the Riveters, who, in their earlier releases adopted the look and feel of vintage 1940, are currently, as Allyson explained it, in the process of “re-branding ourselves.”
“We used to take our inspiration from the past. (Check out 2015’s release ‘Red Dress’). But currently our albums reflect music we want to hear and sing ourselves. We are definitely moving in new directions. We are not vintage-inspired any more.
We appreciate musical history: that’s where the group began with the look and feel of the past. But that is not our focus these days. We are aiming for a more contemporary feel and sound. No more pin curls! But we are keeping our name, and that iconic feel it brings.”
The three musicians have recently found themselves drawn to the sound, style and feel of classic Mo’Town.
“Well, I think the music is…groovy,” Allyson laughed. “The Mo’Town style appeared during a time of high social change, and created exciting melodies and rhythms.”
With their noted ability to create stunning harmonies, exploring a new style comes naturally.
“Farideh, Alexis and I come from very different musical backgrounds,” Allyson said. “But we are all used to singing harmonies. A lot of our harmonies can be credited to Alexis. She ensures our sound is ‘on point’ and blended. Farideh and I, well, we pick up music, harmonies and songs quickly, which really helps.”
It also helps that the musicians, all very good friends who have toured together since 2011, are individually skilled song writers. With Ms Behave, they contributed equally, work-shopping some 40 original songs down to the 12 which made up the final album.
Rosie & the Riveters’ lyrics reflect a passion for “creating a different musical narrative for girls and women,” Allyson explained. “We want to emphasize that women work well together, that our music is empowering. I see us as part of a conversation with women and girls, teaching them that they have value and worth. Value is not based on your looks or how others see you. And whatever you do, be sure that you have fun.”
20 per cent of the Riveters’ profits go into women’s projects and businesses around the world.
Rosie & the Riveters put on a stage show that has literally wowed audiences across Canada and the US.
“In Morrisburg, we will be presenting a live show that we’ve been working on for a while. I think it will be both dynamic and engaging,” Allyson said. “It’s great to connect with a new audience and to get to know each other. We’re excited to come to the SLAS since we’ve heard that the audiences here are warm and fun.”
Rosie & the Riveters, with their exuberant and unique blend of wit, compelling lyrics and extraordinary harmonies will make their concert at Upper Canada Playhouse on Saturday, March 23, one which music lovers won’t want to miss.
“Music will always be a powerful, passionate part of our lives,” said Allyson Reigh. “So will connecting with our audiences.”
Tickets for Rosie & the Riveters are $20 in advance or $25 at the door.