Western Female is the vessel through which songwriter Melanie Beth Curran performs variations on the theme of Western Femininity. Through channels of American Old Time, Honky Tonk, Country Croon, French Chanson, Early Jazz, Torch, and Rock n’ Roll, Melanie gives her audience an experience of the places, people, and histories lingering below the surface of the western experience. Her work asks listeners to be entertained, but also invites examinations of the role of the female performer over the course of history. What can she sing about, how can her body move, how must she dress, what stories can she tell on stage, and how does the culture embrace her, commodity her, venerate her, or long for her demise?
Melanie hopes to impart to her audience the understanding that all people are artists, and that art can be made out of every day, quotidian experiences, free from the demands of an industry. Her songs, poems, and cover material focus in on people she knows personally, and the forgotten places they inhabit - as simple as a Washington State park-and-ride, as vast as the Lower East Side. Melanie’s performance style is culled from many places: The ten years she’s spent playing in the traditional music communities of North America and Europe, from her work as an historic tour guide, through travel experiences hitchhiking, busing, driving, and walking, and through her studies of ethnography, creative non-fiction, and American history in academic institutions. She currently lives in New York, and is moving to Bretagne, France in 2020 as a Fulbright Fellow, where she will write about the traditional Breton music community.
Her first full-length album, Hot Sauce in Kitsap County (2016) is “a warped travelogue and time capsule of Curran’s experiences” (Michael Moore, The Kitsap Sun). Hyper-local in focus, the songs serve to preserve what is not preservable: the shifting infrastructure of highways, sports stadiums, dive bars, and mulch recycling centers that make up beloved hometown landscape. Her forthcoming album (2019/2020) as Western Female, will explore the locations and musical states of a woman seeking performative salvation while encountering American history. Songs explore realms as disparate and disappearing as the Chelsea Hotel, the Corner of Virgil and Melrose, or Alcatraz Island today and during the Native American Occupation in the early 70s.
Like buildings, landscape, and language, Western Female’s performance lineup changes depending on the location of the performances. In an effort to create a local sound, Melanie taps into her vast network of musicians to create unique backing bands based on place. Western female in The Pacific Northwest will be different than in The Southwest, or California, or New York City. As entertaining as they are educational, performances by Western Female reward audiences who crave contact with the past, and a deeper sense of meaning in the present. Stylistic comparisons have been drawn to performers like Edith Piaf, Loretta Lynn, Bette MIdler, Bobbie Gentry, Ola Belle Reed, Eartha Kitt, Patti Smith, and Lady Gaga. With her pulse on the colloquial language of Americana, and with her personal experiences at the heart of her songwriting, Melanie Curran delivers performances meant to entrance, enliven, humor, and please, while bringing listeners closer to each other, and in tune with the broader musical memory of the west.