It seems only appropriate that the inspiration for the inaugural Northern California Women’s Music Festival came to its creator while watching a documentary on Gloria Steinem.
As one of the country’s most famous and iconic feminist leaders, Steinem is a perfect role model for the fledgling event. Festival founder and director Victoria Boyington said she was watching a film on the activist five years ago when the idea came to her.
“Part of that documentary had a snippet of the National Women’s Music Festival. In my mind, I thought, ‘Wouldn’t that be great if we had something here like that?’ So that’s where I came up with the name and how it all started,” she said.
Still, Boyington said she sat on the concept for a few years before slowly starting to share it with others to see if there was interest. Turns out, there sure was.
The first Northern California Women’s Music Festival on Saturday will bring close to 20 female performers and women-fronted bands to play together for an evening of music and art Saturday at the Prospect Theater Project in downtown Modesto.
Since having the idea, Boyington has turned the festival into a nonprofit with a committee of more than a dozen female artists from the area helping to spearhead the project.
The festival will feature 19 musicians and groups from the Central Valley and as far away as San Francisco. Artwork by Modesto area artists and poems by local writers also will be on display.
“We took the best of all the performers here. We know there are many more, but some couldn’t fit it into their schedule. It was timing and who answered the call first,” Boyington said.
Interest was so high to play the event that the committee had to cut off submissions, despite around 50 additional inquiries about performing.
“It’s quite a range of music and we really think there’s something for everyone,” said Boyington, who will play with her own folk-punk band, CallBox, out of Turlock.
Among other performers will be:• House of Orange – An eclectic Modesto band fronted by Irene Carrillo.
• Deborah Lee Yates – An internationally touring flutist from Santa Cruz.
• Sandra Dolores – A Sacramento singer-songwriter recently featured on Capital Public Radio’s “Insight.”
• Funstrummers Ukulele Band – Singing and strumming group out of Modesto whose members range in age from 30 to 91.
• Francesca Bavaro – A Modesto singer-songwriter who won Valley’s Got Talent in 2011.
• Mattéa Overstreet – A 19-year-old singer-songwriter from Modesto who has performed locally for three years.
For a full list of performers, visit www.northerncaliforniawomensmusicfestival.com/performers.
The event also will feature a songwriting contest overseen by Patty Castillo Davis, festival committee chairwoman and performer. There were seven submissions this year, and three of the musicians will play at the event.
Part of the mission of the event is to give back to the community. Five percent of the proceeds will be donated to Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus, which helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The remaining proceeds will go toward a women’s enrichment grant program that would allow area women to apply for funding for art projects.
Plans already are underway for next year’s event, which is slated for October in the State Theatre. But what Boyington said she wants this first festival to do most is pay forward the inspiration she received.
“Hopefully, moms will bring their daughters with them. I want to expose these young women, and women from all ages, to a wide range of music. I want them to be inspired by the performers,” she said. “Maybe they’ll be inspired to learn an instrument, pick up a paintbrush, write something.
“As women, we can all share all of our accomplishments with each other. I hope to have a really communal feeling at the festival.”