By MIKE CHAIKEN
Singer-songwriter Patti Rothberg first garnered the general public’s attention with her 1996 album, “Between the 1 and 9,” and her hit alternative single, “Inside.”
That set the stage for a whirlwind touring schedule that found her opening for celebrated acts such as Midnight Oil, Garbage, The Wallflowers, and the Black Crowes.
She’s currently on tour behind her latest album, 2017’s “Ephemeral.”
This weekend, she comes to Connecticut as one of the 18 musical performers taking part in the 11th annual Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day at Trinity-on-Main in New Britain.
SWAN Day is a nationwide movement that puts the focus on the accomplishment of female artists of all dimensions in a typically male-centric creative community.
We caught up with Rothberg via email to talk about life as a female artist and her latest creative endeavors.
OBSERVER: You first hit the music scene as a female artist in the mid-1990s. What was the atmosphere like at that time for a woman wanting to be taken seriously as a songwriter?
ROTHBERG: I wrote my first “song” during my junior year abroad in Paris studying painting where I just happened to be lucky enough to grab my guitar at the last minute and take it along in hopes to learn how to play it. I wanted to be in a band like Missing Persons…free and theatrical and wild like Frank Zappa or Black Sabbath. The last thing I wanted to do was to be in a “serious” band, even though the songs I ended up writing and covered some serious subject matter. Blame my subconscious.
O: From your own personal perspective, have things improved for women where you’re a musical artist plain and simple or is there still a dichotomy based on sex? How does this manifest itself?
R: All you have to do is listen to women’s lyrics.… Things for women are the same as they were years ago, we just see different shades of sexism. It’s just like getting a bigger box of Crayola with a built in sharpener. Female body parts make men salivate if she sings out of tune or like a bird…
O: There is that sense that women and men write music differently. From your point of view, does being a woman have anything to do with how you approach songwriting? How so or why not?
R: Since lyrics are so important to the way I write, I am a subjective prisoner of being a woman. There are the unavoidable wooing songs where I’m trying to win the heart back of some guy I’m pining for— but men stereotypically woo too. I don’t think this is particular to women at all. Women are sexy by expressing their point of view, using the differences in their vocal chords and in their minds and hearts. But, you can bet your bottom dollar that Patti Smith has been told she has a nice bottom…
O: You’ll be performing at SWAN Day, which is about supporting female artists? In 2018, why is this something that still needs to exist?
R: We have been through many of the same trials and tribulations. We have learned to respect each others’ different talents and similarities. It’s good to have different breeds and be proud of your Swan uniqueness.
O: What do you like about an event where the focus is on the creativity of women?
R: SWAN Day will show you a Betty Boop-type vendor who makes paintings right next to an androgynous couple of women with shaved heads who carve leather bracelets. SWAN pushes the envelope past a stereotypical beauty contest and shows just how much variety there is within the heading “women”… Women cook and clean as well as invent, create, write, break stereotypes like a piñata.
O: Let’s put the focus on you. What kind of creative projects are you working on these?
R: Technically, I started out as a live performer singing in the subway and playing my electric guitar. With my first album, “Between the 1 and the 9,” I got to show many things I can do— play bass, piano, guitar, stack vocal harmonies, write my own songs, paint the cover. It’s very much like my first book, “Extra Awesome,” which I wrote starting in 2010 in that I didn’t know I’d get another chance so I just threw the whole baby in with the bathwater. I just finished the sequel “Extra Awesome 2 The Tell All Book” and will be doing in store performances and book signings with photographer Richard Carroll. I just joined forces with Mr. Keith Cotton, who’s been my keyboard and piano player for years guesting on albums, to do a hotel/ piano dive tour of New York.
I put my first digital download out on Dec. 7, “Ephemeral,” which I think features my best songs yet. After that is my heavy metal album that I’ve been waiting to do for years “Behind Bars.”
SWAN Day will be held Saturday, April 14 from 5 p.m. to midnight at Trinity-On-Main, 69 Main St., New Britain. There will be 18 bands, burlesque, art, live art, body painting, pop up shoppes and galleries, drinks, dancing, and treats. Tickets are $22. For more information and a list of performers, go to www.SWANDayCT.com