First Aid: Ladyfest and its fundraisers place women and marginalized voices at the forefront

Ellen Kempner of Palehound.

As made clear by a recent Hard Rock Café shirt and last night’s election results, there’s still a fair amount of legwork that needs to be done for women to gain warranted respect and equal treatment. That applies in music scenes across the country and everywhere else.

Luckily, Ladyfest didn’t need prompts to start shining the well-deserved spotlight on female artists of Boston. The arts and music festival continues to fundraise its April event this week, beginning with an open mic night at Hostelling International this Thursday, November 10. The all-ages fundraiser will feature performances from Palehound guitarist Ellen Kempner and solo artist Sage Schmett, as well as welcome musicians in the audience to share their skills.

Like many Boston DIY events, each fundraiser unites Boston area artists from underrepresented backgrounds through music, art, and workshops by and for people from groups who have been marginalized, all leading up to the spring, when Ladyfest takes over the Cambridge YMCA from April 14 to 16.


Fundraisers, and the fest itself, also support and donate to the Girls Rock Campaign Boston and Rosie’s Place, a South End homeless shelter for women.

“It is important for Boston and the greater New England community to maintain the support network of DIY music and arts for people at the margins,” Ladyfest organizers tell Vanyaland. “We want to see more and more young artists and musicians who feel valued, allowed, invited, and supported, and hope they can use this space/community to find their voices. That’s how many of us got involved in music and art, and we think it is important to maintain.”

Leading up to the 2017 Ladyfest, the organization has scheduled benefits for every month, which range from an art show to a film night featuring local filmmakers to a pedal tasting party to a karaoke night. “We’re really trying to broaden the scope of who we include in our events by creating a diverse set of benefit events and various opportunities for individuals to get involved,” the group adds.


Ladyfest will hold an open meeting on December 4 at Industry Lab and encourages people to attend to give feedback on the fundraisers and festival itself. With a smorgasbord offering of female talent from Boston (just peep this year’s BMA nominations), there’s plenty to celebrate at Ladyfest 2017, but in the meantime, jam out with anyone and everyone at these safe-space, all-ages fundraisers. Here are the most immediate upcoming Ladyfest fundraisers and events:

November 10: Open Mic Night, featuring Sage Schmett and Palehound’s Ellen Kempner, at Hostelling International, 19 Stuart St. in Boston, MA. 7 p.m., all ages.

December 4: LadyFest Open Meeting, at Industry Lab, 288 Norfolk St. in Cambridge, MA. 2 p.m., all ages.

December 9: Local Filmmaker Showcase, in collaboration with Under the Underground, at Hostelling International, 19 Stuart St. in Boston, MA. 7 p.m., all ages.


December 23: Karaoke at ONCE Sommerville, 156 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA. 9 p.m., all ages.

Palehound photo by Chad Kemenshine.