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The Hot Mamas interview: we spoke to the brave ladies and learn more about what happens Live at Clementine Cafe

Opening up a can of honesty for all the sad, disillusioned and broken-hearted, Shenandoah Valley’s The Hot Mamas guide into their debut 9-track album Live at Clementine Cafe, how the first 12 months have been as a band, cute resumes, dancing with aliens, being an all-female band, banjo energy and what it’s like entertaining crowds live on stage.

Llewelyn: Hello, The Hot Mamas. We really appreciate you chatting with us and taking a break from making music. Firstly, did you all go to school together or how did the band first start and connect creatively?

The Hot Mamas: Maria and Mallory both played ukulele and kazoo so, despite becoming good friends after some major life changes and swapping songs on porches in Staunton in the summer of 2021 they didn’t feel they could form a musical group together. Meanwhile, Casey and Jess had been connected through a local choral group and played various open mics together. In May 2022 Mallory was asked to fill a last-minute gig at a local winery and decided to invite Maria and Casey (she didn’t really know Jess yet) to play the show with her. Within one week the trio worked up a three-hour playlist and Jess came to the show and wrote the cutest resume on scratch paper (despite being a professional resume writer) and the rest is history!

Llewelyn: Live at Clementine Cafe. We love each of the 9-track equally and our bodies can’t stop grooving. How did the process start and please let us know who was involved & what the vision was.

The Hot Mamas: The Hot Mamas spent a lot of the summer of 2022 getting to know each other, sharing original songs and recording videos to have content to send to venues to play out. Most Monday evenings they would gather on Mallory’s back porch and one person would bring a new song or even a song idea (like Seafaring Wenches—Casey wrote Verse 1 and the chorus and the other gals helped each other write all of the rest of the verses—much of it based on some true stories!) and then play it down a few times, work on arranging it fully and then record a video at the end of the night of the 2-3 song we may have introduced.

By the fall The Hot Mamas had a great collection of original material and were in high demand with a lot of local fans begging for an album. The problem: they had no funds to make a record.

Jess and Mallory found out about a local grant through the Arts Council of the Valley, did a lot of research, submitted the application and…more history was made! The Hot Mamas received $1500 toward their record and that was enough to give them the inspiration to go for it.

Through a lot of help from fans (donated funds totalled almost $1500), a lot of hustlin’ and a ton of dedication, The Hot Mamas were able to record this album live (saved the cost of studio hours) in front of a sold-out crowd and capture, not only a great collection of songs but the energy and love that comes with a live performance of The Hot Mamas. Much of the magic you hear is to the credit of Gordon Davies—sound man extraordinaire. He is one of the best around and always records the performances at Clementine Café so The Hot Mamas just had to have it mixed and mastered. The amazing artwork was by one of Maria’s BFFs, Sydney Bronaugh.

Llewelyn: Who is the messiest & happiest person in the band and what other fun quirks do you all have that you don’t mind sharing with our readers?

The Hot Mamas: Messiest person—that’s probably Mallory—she has an eight-year-old and far too many children’s drum sets!
Happiest person—hmmmm…Maria is our beautiful princess butterfly.

More info here: EPK

Llewelyn: You’ve stated that your songs focus on empowered storytelling through the feminist lens. We’re so inspired by this statement. What does it mean to be an all-female band who are superbly honest lyrically?

The Hot Mamas: It is freeing. It is our first opportunity, collectively, to be in an all-female band. (Mallory for one has dreamed of being in an all-female project since the 2nd grade when she fell in love with The Bangles.) Most previous projects we have been in were not spaces where we could be fully honest in our writing. A lot of men we have worked with did not want to push a feminist agenda or were not comfortable doing so. It also feels very necessary to be the voice for other women. We are living in times where our rights to bodily autonomy are being stripped away across the nation. We have a song called “It’s Not Okay” that sounds like a fun, upbeat jazzy prohibition tune and then you realize it is talking about abortion rights. We have a song about the names women are called and how we are treated differently in professional settings called “If You Can’t Love Her Then Leave Her.” And we really would like to put out another record full of the songs we can’t sing at family events but that point out misogyny and female suppression. Songs about red flags we all have ignored and about a local political leader that tried to slander one of us and ended up resigning and leaving town instead. We have a lot more songs in the works for that.

Llewelyn: There are so many different instruments going on which is fantastic. Please explain to us all the intricacies behind the sound and who performs each one.

The Hot Mamas: Sadly, digital albums don’t show the backside cover art. I can attach an image of that later but it answers this question.
The Hot Mamas are:
Maria Leckey (accordion, ukulele, banjo, toy piano, kazoo, auxiliary percussion, vocals)
Mallory McKendry (jug bass, banjo, kazoo, vocals)
Casey Rolfe (bodhrán, washboard, ukulele, vocals)
Jess Young (ukulele, clarinet, banjo, toy piano, auxiliary percussion, vocals)

We were all primarily playing the ukulele when we started playing together. It’s like the modern-day “girl musician” cliché but we genuinely love ukes! However, we also all have a background in various instruments so we have steadily been working on developing our instrumentation to make the most impact. For example, we realize we need a bit more mids and bass range in our sound so Mallory plays a hand-crafted jug bass made by a friend out of a 2×4 and an old, plastic water jug. And Jess is working on getting some kind of cigar box guitar. And we want to add a simple bass drum for Casey. When she’s not around we have a suitcase drum we play with feet. And Maria has steadily been swapping the accordion in for the ukulele.

Llewelyn: If a UFO landed when you were performing live and aliens joined the crowd, what would you say to them? Also, if they were friendly, would you get them to get on that dancefloor?

The Hot Mamas: Hello friends!!! Glook glook glarken flark!! The Hot Mamas are the rulers of our planet! Welcome to the Hot Girl fun! Be nice. Also, C’mon and party down with us! Here’s a tambourine.

Llewelyn: Last question. What does the future hold? Lots of gigs and tours on the horizon and what should we keep an eye out for?

The Hot Mamas: The Hot Mamas are playing concerts all over the Shenandoah Valley this summer and touring through Hampton Roads to play a great listening venue Victorian Station—The Big Pink July 15. We are also playing Steppin’ Out Fest in Blacksburg on August 4 and at The Blackboard in Lewis, WV on August 5 with a female duo called Ma’am.

We have a member getting married this fall and one starting a Masters in Songwriting with Berklee Online so we may spend more time focusing on writing and recording and a little less time on live performance. But we will be pushing forward and would love to tour more once we settle into these life changes.

We do plan to be releasing new singles every few months and will start on that goal in a couple of weeks! So be on the lookout for more fresh music from The Hot Mamas!

Caresses all bad moods away on Spotify.

See more moves and gig news on IG.

Interview by Llewelyn Screen

Frances Gein has released her infectiously antagonist proggy grunge-pop hit Lest for Stress

Frances Gein

The 90s-inspired LGBTQ+ singer-songwriter, Frances Gein, made her debut in 2021 after learning guitar during the pandemic – not that her latest single, Lest for Stress, will let you believe it.

The stellar grungy sad-pop hit will remind you of how sweet it was to discover your reigning rock icons as you lose yourself in the choral energy of the guitars and realise just how infectious The Scotland-based artist’s magnetic attitude is.

There are a few hints to hole in the lyricism, but sonically, Lest for Stress carries the same angsty soul as Blondie and The Pretenders while teasing hints of prog rock that lend themselves to the unpredictability of the earworm.

In her own words

“Lest for Stress is an angsty sarcastic social critique of being broke. It’s not a revolutionary song, but it’s a fuck you to everything, everyone, and even myself”.

She’s the icon we never knew we needed.

The single is due for official release on February 11th, 2022. You can check it out for yourself on Spotify.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Follow You Though: Terry Blade feels rather aggrieved on ‘Eaten Alive’

Taken from his brand new 10-track ‘Neo Queer‘ album, Terry Blade shows us that trapped place that is forcing his mind to wonder why he is in this situation, to begin with on ‘Eaten Alive‘.

Terry Blade is an award-winning Washington, DC-born LGBTQ+ singer-songwriter who is now based in Chicago, Illinois.

He has drawn comparisons to artists such as Meshell Ndegeocello, Macy Gray, and Antony and the Johnsons.” ~ Terry Blade

Featuring such a tremendous beat that is smooth and illuminating, Terry Blade is rather superb on a tale that urges himself to avoid listening too much to someone who he knows should be in his past already.

With vocals that catch your attention quickly and bring you fully into this worrying picture, this is a track to play when you are trying to find the strength deep inside you to seek that escape door and move into calmer waters.

Eaten Alive‘ from the highly respected Chicago, Illinois-based multi-genre musician Terry Blade, is that striking story about feeling like you are locked away with someone who doesn’t respect you but demands that you respect them. The message is real and has your heart beating – as you peek through the curtains – and see someone who is so unhappy but can’t seem to break away just yet.

Listen to this quality single on Spotify and see more via the IG music page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Peace And Love: Craymo calls for that much-needed unity on ‘One Love One World (We Are One)’

Bringing us the Freedom mix to remember those tragic events on 9/11 twenty years ago, Craymo reminds us to heal and hope for a better future on the inspiring new single ‘One Love One World (We Are One)‘.

Craig Raymo aka Craymo, is an award-winning singer-songwriter and proudly LGBTQ artist from Orlando, Florida, who brings us a new reggaeton beat to boost proceedings to a whole new level.

Since 1989, when he first appeared on Star Search, Craymo has shared his gift with the world, and the world has taken notice. He’s licensed a plethora of songs in television shows and indie films for the last two decades, and he’s proven that his star only burns brighter as the years go on.” ~ Craymo

One Love One World (We Are One)‘ from Orlando, Florida-based indie Pop/Rock solo artist Craymo, is a lend-a-hand track that has a true message of helping those in need during this tough time for many millions. He sings with such a positive energy that makes you feel like a shining glow is coming from the majestic mountains above, that helps us grow and join forces again. After so much time inside, its up to us to be strong and assist those who have been down in the dumps lately.

We aren’t all totally free, until we are all happy and doing what we love.

Hear this uplifting anthem on Soundcloud and see more of his important work via IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Your Lies: Dundee alt-rock artist Frances Gein knows that someday she will be fine on break-up track ‘Mud’

As she bravely crawls away from the past relationship that ended so traumatically, Frances Gein wades through the darkness to find her light again on the terrific new single ‘Mud‘.

Frances Gein is an inspiring LGBTQ+ alternative rock/pop artist from Dundee, Scotland. She blends topics about mental health, loneliness, and existential dread into her music creations, as she aims to mix grunge and beauty together.

She began learning guitar at the start of the lockdown in 2020 to deal with personal trauma but fell in love with the art of song writing.” ~ Frances Gein

With a gritty and honest flow streaming genuinely withing her veins, she leads us into this heartbreaking story of being with someone who selfishly just wanted to take away your energy all for themselves. Without truly caring for you – they showed you their true intentions eventually – that let you away from that toxic web of doom, so you could heal up to love properly like you truly deserve and smell that romantic perfume.

Inspired by the poetry of William Wordsworth, ‘Mud’ looks back at abusive relationship with a sarcastic tone.” ~ Frances Gein

Mud‘ from the talented Scottish alt-rock/pop solo artist Frances Gein, is the story of knowing that sometime in the future you will be okay. Right now however, you are still steaming with the vivid memory of not being loved properly by a former lover who let you down badly. She sings with a real maturity and takes us on a movie-like journey through the mess that you didn’t want to endure, but certainly learnt from.

Sometimes you have to be at your absolute lowest, to reach the exciting highs that will complete your hungry soul.

Hear this new single via the Spotify music channel and see more on her IG.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

Sarah Proctor has released her essential LGBTQ+ ballad, Tired

In her latest single, ‘Tired’, Sarah Proctor treated her ever-growing fanbase to a stripped-back world-weary piano ballad that evades heteronormative stereotypes and hyper-normalised queer archetypes to paint a depiction of two women in love.

The semi-orchestral ballad carries all of the tenderness of a single by Bill Ryder-Jones, Tom Odell, Daughter and Bon Ivor. As her gentle, profound vocal timbre resonates above the sombrely minimalist keys, the vulnerability almost starts to feel like gravity.

As a queer woman who often feels ostracised by many facets of LGBTQ+ culture, it is beyond refreshing to find a relatable voice, a sincere artist looking to introduce reality onto the airwaves.

Since making her debut in 2020, the UK artist has garnered over 1 million streams on Spotify alone. Fans from all over the globe are drawn to the UK-born, LA-based artist’s intoxicatingly honest take on romanticism away from hyper-sexual toxic narratives.

The official video for Tired premiered on August 20th; you can check it out for yourselves by heading over to YouTube.

Review by Amelia Vandergast

Stumble Inside: Canadian singer Xana and her lover don’t make it past the ‘Kitchen Light’

Xana is at her enchantingly brilliant best with her brightly performed new single about never giving up on who you truly desire called ‘Kitchen Light‘.

Xana is a massively talented Queer Canadian indie alternative-pop artist who fuses in some ravishing indie rock and exciting electronic vibrations. She has a wonderfully elegant style that is stacked full of class, and has your whole body in absolute raptures.

I write songs about women and things that drive me mad.” – Xana

You feel her love towards her friend and things gets rather racy as the obvious tension between them is so palpable, as her eyes are locked and only want to be close to one person. This a catchy song so sumptuously delivered, it has your excited heart beating so fast – as you remember when you were with someone splendidly incredible – who you wanted to kiss so passionately all night long.

Xana’s music encompasses themes of LGBTQ romance, female empowerment, sex positivity, self reflection and discovery.” – Xana

Kitchen Light‘ from the proudly LGBTQ Canadian pop artist Xana, beams blisteringly into our hearts with a lovers bow and has you feeling so hopeful again. This sweet story tells us that you could of given up as they were perhaps going to stay with someone else, but you told them how you felt and the dynamics changed.

This is a terrifically sung single that heats up the cold night, and has you feeling like you should tell your crush how you truly feel too. You just never know how it might turn out.

Stream this brand new single on Spotify and check out her IG music page for more beautiful vibrations.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen

His Number: Proud London based LGBTQ+ artist Lewie Fox is tired of the excuses on ‘THRU UR PHONE’

As he looked inside deeply to see what was really going on, Lewie Foxx knows that his partner is playing away from where he should with the passionate new single called ‘THRU UR PHONE‘.

Lewie Foxx is a London-based queer indie pop/dance artist. He makes that passionate music that is loud and proud, as he sings about issues that are tough to face in this harsh world.

Lewie’s musical influences are eclectic to say the least, but one artist in particular inspired him like no other: the incomparable George Michael. After hearing ‘Spinning The Wheel’ back in ‘96, Lewie finally found a musical idol he could follow and relate to more and more as he grew older.” – Lewie Foxx

With a knowing tone, you feel his heart-beating vibration emanating from your curious speakers. He has such a pure voice and the exposing-the-lies lyrics open up the naked curtains to show who is for real, and who really isn’t.

THRU UR PHONE‘ from London-based indie pop/dance artist Lewie Foxx, is a screenshot of his life as he sings with so much zest and vigor. He looks for the exit as grew disillusioned with the games and mistrust that grew over time, as he just wants to be happy and be with someone who is truly caring. This is a spark-filled single that will have you pondering whether your lover is truly there for you, or being sneaky, and getting their attention elsewhere.

Stream this new sensual single on Spotify and see more via his IG page.

Reviewed by Llewelyn Screen