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Girls of Summer - Part III: 
Girls, Girls, Girls of Lilith Fair
(A behind the scenes look at a coven of female music makers)
A Special Series by Rock n World's Debbie Seagle
click on photo's for larger image

Who in the hell is Lilith?

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away . . . no wait, that’s not right . . . All these religious zealots screaming is getting me mixed up.  Lets see . . . in the beginning there was Adam, yeah, that’s right.  Then there was Eve.  No, not really.  According to the earliest of religious writings, there were animals - lots of animals.  THEN there was Eve.  No, that’s not right either.  Then there was LILITH!  You may have heard your favorite television preacher lately talking dirt about poor Lilith.  Lilith, they say, was an evil temptress who refused to obey Adam and was cast out of Eden to wail and gnash her teeth for all eternity.  She has been portrayed as a baby killer, a seductress, a tramp . . . But what really happened?  Is that the whole story?  Na-ah!  Lilith was the earth’s first feminist.  According to religious doctrine, when Adam was finished naming all the creatures of the earth he became lonely and jealous that the animals had mates.  After coupling with many of these animals, he asked you-know-who to give him a mate like himself (the television preachers never tell that part - but look it up!)  Adam was given Lilith!  But Lilith "refused to lay beneath him" and was cast out of Eden.  So, having nowhere to go, and no particular attachments, girlfriend heads to the Red Sea and takes up with a bunch of party guys (demons).  So, what’s a girl to do?  When someone rejects the first man (Adam), what else can you do but call her a demon?   I say it’s a bad wrap!  I say she tried to compromise with Adam and he wasn’t buying it because he was the only game in town . . . but that backfired, didn’t it?  And that, as they say, is the rest of the story . . .

Now on with Our special on the Final Lilith Fair.
 

In a suburban town in Southern California the Coors Amphitheatre was quiet except for faint sounds of laughing and shouting from the nearby water park.  This peaceful scene was squashed like bubbles under a heard of charging elephants as more than twenty buses and trucks thundered into the compound.  The Lilith Fair road warriors come spilling from their buses, already into their well rehearsed routine.  There were instruments, equipment, merchandise and office supplies, but that’s just the beginning.  Next comes the ping pong table, basketball hoop, bikes, roller blades, hockey sticks, and a children’s swimming pool.  The parking lot fills with dogs (It’s been a long ride) and scrambling people, who are living on the road and taking along all the comforts of home.
 

Lilith Fair is the brain child of Canadian singer/song writer Sarah McLachlan and she has realized all she envisioned for it.  the fair showcases a wide variety of music genres and not only presents a super star line-up, but gives fans a chance to hear female fronted bands who are on the rise, or local talent.  On this day the  B-Stage (or second stage) line-up included a San Diego favorite Lisa Sanders, as well as Swedish folk-rock singer Tekla, L.A. club duo Murmurs, Beth Orton, Cibo Matto and Sixpence None The Richer.

Can all this peace, love and music be for real?  Lilith Fair was considered a joke by many in its first year, referred to as "est-Fest" and "Lilith Flail."  Stories were rampant in the tabloids of diva cat fights and lesbian love-ins.  In its second year, the music industry started to pay more attention to its growing following and consistently fluid and respectable line-ups.  The music fans took notice too, by selling out venues and buying CDs. In this third and final year it is bigger than ever.
 
 

Many of the main stage acts are veterans to the fair and many of the crew members have supported it all three years.  Why end such a successful run?  According to Sarah, she needs a rest but she doesn’t rule out the possibility of resurrecting things in five or ten years, because she still believes in the need for this type of musical enterprise.

The Lilith Fair road warriors will work from 9:00 am until midnight on this typical day.  There is a flurry of activity before the gates open at 3:00 pm.  Vendors are setting up booths, press liaison "Jocelyn" is briefing journalists prior to the press conference and check presentation (It has been the custom of the Lilith Fair organizers to donate $1 from every ticket sold in a particular town to a local charity that benefits women in need).   When the gates open, the venue becomes a sea of humanity.  People are milling through the village where you can purchase products made from hemp, silver jewelry, or body glitter for those o-so-special evenings out.  You can enter drawings to win a computer, learn about breast cancer research, or snag a few free condoms from local public health related agencies.  The Village stage and B-Stage heat up and run throughout the day and into the evening, so there is always great music to listen to while shopping, talking with old or new friends, or partaking of the venue’s assorted "concert food."

Behind the scenes there is calm and everyone is doing their own thing.  In the catering hall, tour chef "Jaimie" is preparing a buffet for his huge family.  Sheryl Crow walks into the crowd with her dog on a leash and is virtually unnoticed by the people who have been standing at the backstage entrance, waiting for autographs.  Some roadies are playing with a motorized skate board in the bus compound, while others are doing last minute checks of lighting, audio equipment and instruments..  Mya is being interviewed by a local television station in the press area and surprise VIP guest k.d. Lang is chatting with other performers.  Sean Lennon (of Cibo Matto) wanders around looking lost and everywhere there is music.

As the sun starts to fade, the main stage comes alive with the sounds of Luscious Jackson, who’s funky style of music gets the near capacity crowd moving.  Opening the main stage is a big job, as the crowds are tired from milling around in the village all afternoon in the sun. These New Yorkers played songs from their newest CD "Electric Honey" and ended their set with the whole band doing the pogo, including drummer Kate, who left her kit and pogoed to the front of the stage, swinging her  b-side.

Mya is up next, and she takes the ball from the girls of Luscious Jackson and runs with it. The 18 year old singing sensation was a silent little waif at the afternoon press conference, but someone flipped her switch when she stepped on the stage.  This teen R&B queen exudes confidence, soul and attitude as she sings and poses on the stage teasing, "Am I really do’in good?  Am I really okay?"  In answer to the cheers, she performed "What Cha Say?" Her sexy moves are contrasted with male hip hop dancers and she croons her silky R&B tunes like a snake charmer.

What came next was a surprise to at least 75% of the audience.  To put it simply, the "Dixie Chicks."  The mostly "rock" oriented fans probably did not come to the fair with the expectation of being floored by this country act, but these country sirens delivered a high energy set that included their hits "Wide Open Spaces, " "Tonight The Heart Ache’s On Me," and "That’s Your Trouble." It is easy to see why they are making inroads into pop charts.  These girls shot onto the stage in an explosion of color.  Feathers and beads were everywhere and their harmony and upbeat music grabbed everyone by the throat.  Its like being a little kid and not wanting to miss a single thing at the circus - sensory overload, but in a good way.

Next is Sheryl Crow and she keeps some of the country feel with "You’re My Favorite Mistake" and "You Don’t Bring Me Anything But Down."  Sheryl has been a mainstay of sorts for the Lilith Fair these past three years.  She is the only other act besides Sarah McLachlan who will appear for all the scheduled dates of the tour, with other artists rotating in and out of the line-up as it makes its way across the US.

Last but not least is Sarah McLachlan.   It was a sure sign that the night was coming to a close and this three year odyssey with it. She received cheers for "Adia," "I Will Remember You" and "Ice Cream," along with other cuts from her new Mirrorball CD.   Most of the artists from the day join her on stage for the finale as they all sing "Put A Little Love In Your Heart."

The audience seems satisfied, and this traveling circus is packed and ready to roll on to LA before the clock strikes midnight.  Will there be anyone to pick up next year where Sarah left off?  Is this concept one that needs to be taken farther down the road than Sarah wants to take it?  Stayed tuned for the spring of 2000 to find out!

All Photo's by Debbie Seagle. 
Debbie is the Associate Editor of RocknWorld.com

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