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Pop Music Reviews : A Night of Celebration for Olivia Records

“It’s been a long night, but it did move, didn’t it?” singer Cris Williamson remarked toward the end of the concert Saturday at UCLA’s Royce Hall celebrating the 15th anniversary of Olivia Records, the foremost label specializing in feminist or so-called “women’s” music.

She was right on both counts: The evening--featuring Olivia artists Williamson, Lucie Blue Tremblay, Tret Fure, Dianne Davidson, Nancy Vogl, Deidre McCalla--ran just under four hours, but time did fly because people (both on stage and in the packed house) were indeed having fun.

Hardly surprising, because the show was marked by such a great sense of levity and celebration, and an even greater sense of community. It seemed that once you came through the door, you belonged , a spirit reflected in the fact that every word sung or spoken was translated into sign language.

You felt this even if you clearly didn’t fit the profile of those that feminist music is typically made by and for. The first person on stage Saturday--comic Robin Tyler--picked up a common though inaccurate perception of the Olivia repertory: “ ‘Women’s’ music is a synonym for lesbian’s music.”

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And generally wonderful music.

Before bringing out all the performers for a huge sing-along finale, Williamson--Olivia’s best-known and best-selling artist--closed the show with a sparkling segment, loaded with outstanding songs and crisp backing by a band that included Fure and several wry asides.

You kind of wonder if a key criterion for joining the Olivia roster--beyond being enormously gifted--is having an excellent sense of humor. From opener McCalla’s spoof on guitar-hero antics to the intentional malapropisms of Tremblay (who preceded Williamson), these were funny folks with fine music. And much to celebrate.


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