I’ve always been drawn to women who rock. I think it takes immense courage for a woman to dive into a profession that is male-dominated, and when that profession involves standing onstage in front of people eager to dismiss them with comments like, “You’re pretty good, for a girl,” well, that requires more than just courage.
It also requires a thick skin and enough drive to succeed to make quitting in the face of sexism, harassment and objectification unfathomable.
I had the pleasure of sitting down the other day with Kaylene Widdoes (20) and Lauren Seveney (23) of local alt-rock band Keys & Corridors to talk about their band’s origins and plans for the future, as well as the ups and downs of being women who rock.
Widdoes and Seveney are the creative forces behind the creation and music of Keys & Corridors. After attending high school together locally then following their own paths for a couple of years, the two reconnected two years ago and decided to form a band.
Widdoes sings lead vocals and Seveney plays rhythm guitar, and both women write the band’s music and lyrics. They brought lead guitarist Jeremiah Sanchez (22), bass player Kyle Miner (18), and drummer Austin Melaney (22) on board and Keys & Corridors was born.
The band has accomplished quite a bit in two years. They’ve played at the past two Porch Rokr Festivals in Highland Square. They’ve released their debut record, “Thieves,” and have shared the stage with the likes of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, A Skylit Drive, Wolves at the Gate, Gungor, Courage My Love, Mike Mains & the Branches, Come Wind and the Orphan the Poet. They have played venues throughout Northeast Ohio and are currently finalizing the schedule for their second tour for which they plan to announce the lineup very soon.
I first heard Keys and Corridors’ music a few months back when a friend e-mailed me a link to one of their music videos. After watching the video, I was impressed and wanted to hear more.
I checked out their show at the Outpost in Kent, and I was quite disappointed. The video I had watched showcased the band’s musical talents, radio-ready songs and Widdoes’ excellent vocals. The sound system at the Outpost – no match for systems at Akron venues like Musica, The Empire, and Jilly’s –cheated listeners of the opportunity to hear the music the way it was intended to be heard. To be fair, the Outpost had booked bands that night that were more hard rock and heavy metal, less alt/indie rock, and I imagine that’s what they were prepared for.
While I was disappointed with the show, there were some positives. First, I cannot say enough good things about drummer Melaney. Hearing him was not a problem, and I liked what I heard. Second, the members of Keys & Corridors have a cohesive, energetic vibe. They look as though they belong together onstage and as if they are loving every moment of being there.
Third and most importantly, I stopped at the Keys & Corridors merchandise table on my way out of the Outpost and purchased their record, “Thieves.” I got it my car and popped it into my CD player and was pleased to discover that their music video was no fluke. The rest of the CD was as enjoyable as the title track that had captured my attention in the first place.
Pitfalls of a male-dominated industry
Fast forward a little bit to my sit down with Widdoes and Seveney and their experience as women in the male-dominated music business. When I asked her about the pitfalls, Widdoes said, “I don’t like it when we get lumped together. It’s cool to have shows with all girl-fronted bands as long as it’s not just a lazy thing like, ‘They’re girls so let’s get some other bands with girls.’ Sometimes the lineups don’t make sense when that happens.”
When I asked what they hope the future holds for them, their answers varied. Widdoes loves to make music and to tour, and she said she would like to be able to consistently earn a living doing what she loves. For Seveney, she wants be able to use the music to share the things that matter to her and spread those messages as far as possible. Seveney said, “I think I have a story to tell, and I’d like to be able to tell it.”
As for the near future, Seveney and Widdoes are anxious to finalize their summer tour schedule. Some places they are particularly excited about include Chicago, Detroit, Louisville and St. Louis. Of St. Louis, Seveney said, “By far we found our most receptive crowd there. For some reason people in St. Louis love us.”
Widdoes shared her excitement about plans that are in the works for a late summer East Coast tour. “We didn’t do that last year, so we’re really excited about it.”
When I suggested some coastal stops at places like Myrtle Beach, the two women’s faces lit up and Widdoes said, “That would definitely be awesome.”
Whether or not they make it to the Carolina coast this summer, I have no doubt that the future will bring sunny skies for the two young, talented, smart women and their talented (and lucky) Keys & Corridors bandmates.
As for me? I am looking forward to their April 16 show at Jupiter Studios at 346 E. Main St. in Alliance, and eventually getting to see and hear them at one of Akron’s fine music venues.
To learn more about Keys & Corridors go to www.facebook.com/KeysCorridors/timeline.