International Womans Day

International Womans Day

66 Days to start a band and perform a gig? Women can do anything!


Stayfree director Caroline McLavy was delighted to hear about and support a project that aims to get more women playing instruments and forming bands. Although there are quite a few women musicians already in Leicester, there aren’t very many female drummers, bass players and electric guitar players.

Ruth Miller from Unglamorous Music approached Caroline with an idea for a weekly session where non-musician women could have a go at playing different instruments and learn from Ruth how to work together to write original simple songs, starting as a new year resolution on January 1st and culminating with gigs on International Women’s Day – just 66 days later.

Every Sunday at Stayfree, about 15-20 women learned how to put a garage band together, starting with basics like plugging in the instruments and going on to stage presence and structuring the songs. The new musicians were supported with a Facebook group with tutorials – and women around the UK also joined in, booking their first gigs in their local small venues.

Ruth had expected each new band to come up with one original song, but the women were so inspired that a total of 18 new songs were written and played by the four new bands at two venues – a lunchtime gig at Leicester University’s Attenborough Arts Centre and a packed evening gig at Duffy’s Bar. Stayfree Music helped by providing backline for all the bands.

“It was a brilliant experience for their first gigs, and we also raised £400 for charity from people’s kind donations. All the bands created such amazing songs from the perspective of ordinary women that the crowd just loved it all.” Ruth said, and promised that there will be more gigs, and a new series of beginner workshops starting at Stayfree very soon.

The brand new bands are Chrissie and the Start ups, Velvet Crisis, Wonky Portraits and Dada Women. Also performing on the day were more experienced women artists, The Verinos, Caroline McLavy and Heather McDowall.

If you’re a woman interested in learning to play in a band, visit to find out when sessions start again.

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