Tuned Women’s second set 

New faces contributing to this year’s ultimate mix tape

What: Tuned Women II

Where: MY (Millennium) Place

When: Thursday, Feb. 26 & Friday Feb. 27.

Tickets: $12 - $16

The story by now is fairly well known around these parts.

Around this time last year a plucky Aussie Community Youth Outreach Worker with an extensive performing resume back in her home country was making a name for herself on Whistler’s acoustic open-mic circuit.

Even so, Tessa McLoughlin, a.k.a. Tessa Amy, was having a hard time acquiring performing opportunities that would allow her to showcase her original material.

Not one to bow to pressure to perform cover tunes for the rest of her life, McLoughlin conceived an event whereby women with original material could come together and perform. A Lillith Fair for the Sea to Sky corridor, embracing all genres, ages, and attitudes.

Joining forces with MY Place staffer and singer/songwriter Gillie Easdon, the event became a reality and a fundraiser for McLoughlin’s Whistler Community Services women’s support group. The two held 22 auditions over five days. Including Easdon and McLoughlin, eight women were featured in last April’s event.

To put it crassly, the chicks gelled. It was, recalled Easdon, "the ultimate mix tape." Tuned Women was received with a standing ovation and enthusiasm that made the sequel inevitable.

Things have kicked up a notch this year. Including the founders there are now 10 Tuned Women. Auditions were held last November, giving this year’s all new crop an even longer time to simmer their talents together, and allowing the lineup to become more involved in each others’ performances.

The collaborative effort has been fostered further by a workshop funded by a grant from this year’s Celebration 2010-Whistler Arts Showcase, an annual celebration of the local arts community slated to take place every February in the years leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

This year’s musical offerings draw mostly from jazz, folk, blues and rock, accompanied primarily by guitar and piano. McLoughlin says she hopes to see the showcase diversify further in future years, incorporating female MCs, DJs and electronica producers, a genre she has also been exploring.

She can be forgiven for her belief that the sky is the limit for Tuned Women. Although McLoughlin will be migrating to the metropolis of Vancouver at the winter season’s end to pursue her music further, the growing arts community in Whistler is fostering more and more talented females. And the organizers hope they will be looking to the event as a flagship for its embrace of originality, it’s dedication to raw creativity, and for the incomparable artistic contributions that can come from its camaraderie.

"The popularity of the event last year, and hopefully this year, also indicates that there is a strong interest in listening, in enjoying and appreciating what we have in this corner of the world," says Easdon. "There is a huge scope in vocal style, musical genres, topics and rhythms. Artistic vocations need to be expressed and shared in order to develop and encourage not only the musicians themselves, but also the extended community as well as the closet and non-closet musicians that abound."

The unique nature of Tuned Women is certainly not lost on the participants.

"It’s about singing with the girls, which is my favourite thing, and benefiting from the support of other women," said Susan Holden, a three song-contributor. "That’s something that can’t be replaced."

Adds seasoned local, and fellow multiple song contributor Leanne Lamour, "It's also an opportunity to perform where it's more about the music than about selling booze."

Tuned Women II takes the stage at MY Place for two shows, Feb. 26 and 27. Both events start at 8 p.m. with reserved seating tickets ranging from $12 - $16. Proceeds from the performance will be divided between MY Place and the Whistler Community Services women’s support group.

Call 604-935-8410 for information.

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