Music News & Reviews

‘United We Rise’ concert in SLO invites women musicians to raise their voices

Rose Hall and Shea Kelly of Hot Tina will perform Saturday at the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo as part of “United We Rise: A Concert for Change.”
Rose Hall and Shea Kelly of Hot Tina will perform Saturday at the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo as part of “United We Rise: A Concert for Change.”

Central Coast musicians and poets are raising their voices in support of empowerment, unity and human rights.

More than 20 women will come together Saturday at the Fremont Theatre in San Luis Obispo for “United We Rise: A Concert for Change.”

The collaborative concert, which takes place from 2 to 4 p.m., kicks off immediately after Women’s March San Luis Obispo, being billed as a non-violent, non-partisan rally held in solidarity with the national Women’s March on Washington. (It is not officially affiliated with either march.)

Concert co-organizer and emcee Korie Newman said “United We Rise” will serve as “a nice culmination and celebration of what we believe so important.”

“I am beyond inspired and excited to be able to collaborate and put together a project that none of us ladies have ever done before,” said Newman, whose company, Good Medicine Presents, is presenting the concert with Numbskull Productions. “We are so excited to be able to come together with the community.”

Co-organizer Shawna Marie said the inspiration for “United We Rise” arose from a conversation she had with singer Inga Swearingen about Women’s March San Luis Obispo. Swearingen and another vocalist, Melody Klemin, are scheduled to perform at the event.

“I thought, ‘Man, this would be such a good opportunity to leverage these people that are showing up in support of this movement, and to tie music and musical performance to that,’ ” said Marie, lead singer of funk band Captain Nasty. “To me, music and activism is a very powerful combination.”

She worked with Newman to put together an all-female lineup of performers.

“We all loved the idea of uniting our voices to show our courage and our concern about this new (presidential) administration,” Swearingen wrote in an email.

“Ever since the election, I’ve been grappling with what I can do,” she added. “Our rights, our safety, our health and our families are being threatened. Yet I am inspired and empowered by the voices that are speaking out. I want to be one of those voices.”

So do Klemin, Kristen Black, Colleen Gnos and Erin Inglish, among others. The “United We Rise” lineup includes members of several female-fronted or all-female bands playing everything from funk to folk: Back Bay Betty, Hot Tina, Mama Tumba and Hayley and the Crushers, plus The Kicks, The Tipsy Gypsies, Zen Mountain Poets and Foxx & Rice.

Rather than perform with their respective groups, Marie said the musicians will collaborate onstage – many for the first time.

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon will deliver a speech halfway through the concert. Also in store are poetry and spoken word performances.

Proceeds will benefit Women’s March San Luis Obispo.

With its emphasis on community-building, Marie sees “United We Rise: A Concert for Change” as a direct rebuke to President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office Friday, and the principles he represents.

“The president-elect is someone who has threatened the civil rights of many different minorities in this country,” she said. “It’s not the time to stay silent on these key issues. … There is way too much at stake.”

“My hope is to ignite a sense of urgency,” Marie continued, “to build a strong community based in love and togetherness and creavity. … That’s what this concert is representing.”

Said Swearingen, “It is so important for us to spread the message of inclusivity and equality for all.”

United We Rise: A Concert for Change

2 to 4 p.m. Saturday

Fremont Theatre, 1025 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo


805-748-0749 or,