Pensacola, Florida
Tuesday September 17th 2019

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Leading Ladies

By Savannah Evanoff

If there isn’t a seat at the table, Melody Davis builds one.

Davis, one half of the local rap duo Cookies and Cake, once felt a tad slighted in the music community. After all, she is a woman in a band with another woman, she pointed out.

“In the beginning, we would play shows and we would open, and people would be like, ‘Oh, that’s cute. You guys are rappers,’” Davis said. “I was like, ‘No, take it seriously. We’re performing original material.’”

Tired of being the token women on a lineup, Davis sent out a call to female artists for a festival oriented around women. As the sixth annual Lady Fest approaches, she realizes it’s grown into something even more inclusive.

The music and arts festival has evolved into an event for the LGBTQ and non-binary communities.

“I wanted it to be people who don’t normally get a chance to be on stage and be paid attention to instead of being at a show where they’re just the opening band,” Davis said.

“I strive to make a thing people can come and play and everyone’s paying attention to them and they’re excited about the performers—and getting people to start their own bands. I like getting people who sometimes feel like they don’t have a space in the scene and getting them excited about being part of it.”

And yes, men can come, too.

Davis concocted the perfect recipe for Lady Fest 6, featuring musicians, comedians, dancers and other artists. And if anyone knows how to mix ingredients, it’s her.

The musician and activist is also a baker. She wears the oven mitts behind the sweet treats of Pretty Baked.

The proceeds from Saturday will go toward a future brick and mortar for Davis’ bakery.

Her dream is to have a space that offers more than just sweet treats.

“I want to do a community space where we could do open mic nights and people can come and play games with their friends and eat cupcakes—a place where people can feel safe to hang out at,” Davis said, “and eventually expand into a larger space that’s community oriented. I would love to teach vegan baking classes.”

If the music isn’t enough, Davis will undoubtedly lure in festivalgoers with her cookie-upon-entry tactic.

“I’m just going to be giving them away that night,” Davis said. “I figure that would be the best way to get the word out there if someone’s like, ‘I had this cupcake and it was vegan, and I want to give this girl money so she can open up a bakery.’”

Friday is mostly a night of “power pop lady bands,” Davis said. The evening will start with comedian Carol Rivers, continue with vocalist Mokoreen and features a few bands semi-new to the Pensacola music scene—Don’t Feed the Plants, Yam and Rat Daughter.

“I really love Rat Daughter,” Davis said. “It’s a two-piece, and I actually went and saw them a couple weeks ago and it’s very power punk. You can tell there’s a lot of emotion in those songs. I’m very excited to see them again.”

Friday also features a surprise band coming in from out of town, Pensacola acoustic duo Gene Therapy, Tallahassee bands My Fault/Your Fault and Cooper! and Panama City doomy disco band Death Cradle.

Cookies and Cake, Davis’ “riot girl rap group,” is the last performance that night. Their ammo is not only having fun but also pointing out stuff going on in the world—like in their anti-rape song “Short Skirt Tight Shirt.”

“I’ve heard men talk about slipping girls drugs and then they’re laughing about it like, ‘We’re just kidding,’” Davis said. “I don’t believe it … The song is calling out the rape culture and saying, ‘This has gotta stop. We gotta make it better.’ It’s kind of incredible to see a room full of women singing this song with us.”

Sometimes Davis spots a man reacting uncomfortably to the lyrics.

“It makes you wonder, ‘Are you not OK with consent?’” Davis said.

After Cookies and Cake, Davis has a killer gothic dark wave dance party play mix.

“We’re going to dance to some spooky music until chizuko shuts its doors,” Davis said.

Saturday’s schedule is equally diverse.

It will start with a Latin-style street dance lesson and demonstration, followed by comedian Olivia Searcy, who Davis suspects has performed at every Lady Fest.

That night will also include performances from Pensacola duo Ohioh, Tallahassee’s hyper enough, comedian Leah Holcomb, singer-songwriter Cat Grizzle, Future Hate from Mobile, Alabama and Blood Moon Pact—another of Davis’ musical projects. She calls it “witch punk and experi-metal.”

“Blood Moon Pact is like, ‘I want to burn the patriarchy to the ground,’” Davis said. “It’s very dark, very primal. It started out as me and two other people. One person was banging on a Lowe’s bucket and the other person was playing cello and we got another person who plays guitar.”

Both nights will feature artist vendors of all sorts. Davis is psyched to have her friend Kaylin Sparkles’ Hair Tinsel Booth.

“She will apply some really cool tinsel in your hair,” Davis said. “As someone she’s done this to, it lasts for like two months and people are like, ‘What’s that in your hair? Is it sparkly?’ It’s kind of awesome.”

Door money will benefit ARC-Southeast, which aims to help individuals in the South in accessing safe, compassionate and affordable reproductive care. There will be a donation jar set up for the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida. Pretty Baked, Saturn Collection and Hula Moon will auction off prizes to raise money for FavorHouse, a certified domestic violence center for Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

The festival has a bit of everything because Davis strives to make an event that won’t leave anyone out.

If there isn’t a seat at the table, Davis builds one, and then she bakes a batch of vegan oatmeal cream pies for everyone at it.

LADY FEST PENSACOLA
WHEN: 7:30  p.m. doors open; 8:30 p.m. show; Friday, Aug. 30-Saturday, Aug. 31
WHERE: chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
COST: $8 (each night)
DETAILS: facebook.com/ladyfestpensacola

LADY FEST PENSACOLA 2019 SCHEDULE

Friday at chizuko
Proceeds will benefit ARC-Southeast

8:30 p.m. Carol Rivers (comedy)
9 p.m. Mokoreen
9:20 p.m. Don’t Feed the Plants
9:50 p.m. Gene Therapy
10:20 p.m. Yam
10:40 p.m. surprise guest
11 p.m. Rat Daughter
11:45 p.m. My Fault//Your Fault
12:15 a.m. Cooper!
12:50 a.m. Death Cradle
1:20 a.m. Cookies and Cake
DarkWave Dance Party until close

Saturday at chizuko
Proceeds will benefit the Pretty Baked and Melody Davis’ dream of opening up a vegan bakery/community space

8:30 p.m. Emily Grace Bishop opens up the night with lessons and demonstration in Latin movement (street style)
9:45 p.m. Olivia Searcy (comedy)
10:10 p.m. Ohioh
10:45 p.m. hyper enough
11:11 p.m. Leah Holcomb (comedy)
11:50 p.m. Cat Grizzle
12:20 a.m. Future Hate
1 a.m. Blood Moon Pact

Each night will feature an array of artist and merchandise vendors. Shop pieces from Astral Thread, Organic Expression , The Book Pedaler, A Torn Artist, Tabbitha Manzanet, The art of Minxi, Mallory Luana Art, Saturn Collection, Keep Away from Cats jewelry, Claudia Lebrun Art, Beneath the Bark Jewelry, Kaylin Sparkles Hair Tinsel Booth, Art by Cass, Art by Shel and Kys Embroidery.