Difficult Women

Difficult Women

BandFolkSpoken Word

DIFFICULT WOMEN: The term used by the Salem Puritans to identify women that were to be hung as witches and their property seized. "DIFFICULT WOMEN is poignant and lyrical. It revives our faith in the virtues of personal expression under extreme pressure.' THE MELBOURNE STAR OBSERVER

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Biography

DIFFICULT WOMEN has been performing concerts in the Australian and International Art and Folk Festivals since its inception in 1993. Using the acting, narrating and singing skills of LIN VAN HEK and the musical and arranging talents of multi-instrumentalist, JOE DOLCE, DIFFICULT WOMEN brings to life on stage, in concert format, some of our most important and controversial women artists, women who were labelled ‘difficult’ in their day due to their willingness to go against the accepted norm for what it meant to be a woman artist.

DIFFICULT WOMEN has been a pioneering force since the mid-90s, presenting FRIDA KAHLO, SYLVIA PLATH, and VIRGINIA WOOLF to audiences almost a decade before the film producers of Hollywood discovered them. In addition to these now well-known women artists, DIFFICULT WOMEN also brings women to the stage who still remain unknown or marginalized: Australian pioneer feminist LOUSIA LAWSON, the mother of Henry Lawson, who founded the first newspaper totally run by women in the 1890’s THE DAWN, and operated it successfully for 15 years. African-American slave pioneers HARRIET TUBMAN, who organized the Underground Railroad, and SOJOURNER TRUTH, who combined freedom for women with freedom for slaves and was a fierce and innovative orator, even thought she could neither read nor write English. MEMPHIS MINNIE, the first electric guitar player, who defeated Chicagoan, BIG BILL BROOZNEY, in The Great Male Vs Female Guitar Contest. French Sculptor CAMILLE CLAUDEL, Russian diarist SONYA TOLSTOI, New Zealand writer KATHERINE MANSFIELD, and many others. Joe and Lin have forged a beautiful harmony blend from 25 years of singing together and their most recent CD, FLOWER, was selected as Top Ten Release of the Year by Rhythms Magazine.

LIN VAN HEK, as a published SPINIFEX PRESS author, has a long background in women’s writing. Born and raised in Melbourne, she lived for many years in India and Belgium. She was the lead singer of the electro-dance band, SKIN THE WIG, in the 80s, and a song she wrote and recorded was part of the first TERMINATOR film in the US! She recorded a solo CD ‘River of Life,’ featuring songs of New Zealand writer, Kath Tait, and is featured on the GIRLZONE recordings, which were produced solely by women. She has published two novels: The Hanging Girl, and The Ballad of Siddy Church, and has just completed her third, El Libro de Plata and the Difficult Women’s Notebook, and several books of short stories. She has had stories published in recent years in two Spinifex Press anthologies: Cat Tales: The Meaning of Cats in Women’s Lives, and Horse Dreams: The Meaning of Horses in Women’s Lives. She is a previous winner the Melbourne Age Short Story Contest. Lin is also a respected designer, with her own label, LIN VAN HEK DESIGN, working in collaboration with women entrepreneurs, in the mountain villages of North Vietnam, travelling there many times a year.

JOE DOLCE, Musical Director, has been a professional musician, composer and entertainer for over 35 years. Their common love for words and music, and the wonderful ‘difficult’ women that have inspired them both, led them to develop this unique way of combining literature and music, to create something quite special, intimate and entertaining, and an inspiration for any creative person.

Lyrics

RIVER OF LIFE

Written By: Kath Tait


She was born in a middle-class town,
She could've gone up and she could've gone down,
But she just went around and around,
On a downward spiral

One morning so fair and fine,
She saw the way the moon did shine
Straight on down the wayward line,
Southwards of survival.

She could've been a lady, she could've been a wife
But she fell into the river of life
Swimming in a pool of trouble and strife
She really loved the danger
Oh the river of life, it rolls and flows
Down by the banks where the brambles grow
Swimming around in trouble and strife
Way down low in the river of life.

Oh, the hills of thorn and valley of scorn,
Rambling like she was gypsy born,
Travelling on through weather and storm,
Without a thought for danger.
She was young and looking for fun,
Thinking of things she had never done,
So lost in sweet oblivion,
She welcomed in the stranger.

But the stranger he was a wanton rake,
He took all her money and he called her a fake,
And he rolled her around like an old earthquake,
And left her there for plunder.
Now a heart gone mad might never be found,
Lie in the dirt and roll around,
She was always on the rebound,
And she never would go under.

She could've been a lady, she could've been a wife
But she fell into the river of life
Swimming in a pool of trouble and strife
She really loved the danger
Oh the river of life, it rolls and flows
Down by the banks where the brambles grow
Swimming around in trouble and strife
Way down low in the river of life.

Oh the woman of character wins in the end,
The river of life will be your friend,
Don’t trail apart like a true upstart
The river of life has made her.
Like a flood she will surely rise,
High as the hills in the clear blues skies,
She never was a lady but she was wise,
And nothing much could change her.

She could've been a lady, she could've been a wife
But she fell into the river of life
Swimming in a pool of trouble and strife
She really loved the danger
Oh the river of life, it rolls and flows
Down by the banks where the brambles grow
Swimming around in trouble and strife
Way down low in the river of life.

STEEL-HEARTED ANNIE

Written By: Kath Tait

Steel-Hearted Annie came home from work
Through the park in the dark where the rapist lurked.
Behind the bushes and about to attack
With the cold wind whistling across his back.
He pounced on Annie ‘cause she was slim
‘Cause she looked so frail and feminine,
But he wouldn’t have done it if he only knew
That she was a master of Kung Fu.

Steel-Hearted Annie with an iron will,
Looks about as frail as a daffodil,
But you don’t take a chance on a small slim dame,
With a punch like a piston on a steam train.

Steel-Hearted Annie don’t like to pose,
Like a trembling victim in a movie show.
She gets mad when she’s in distress,
Like an animal in the wilderness.
There’s nothing that she wouldn’t do to survive,
Got a strong desire to stay alive,
And she looks cute in pink or blue,
But she is a master of Kung Fu.

Steel-Hearted Annie with an iron will,
Looks about as frail as a daffodil,
But you don’t take a chance on a small slim dame,
With a punch like a piston on a steam train.

Steel-Hearted Annie lived near a jail,
Where a psycho killer was released on bail.
He crept steathily through the night,
He broke into her house to give her fright.
And the cold wind whistled down the window frames,
Made a sound like a ghost rattling chains,
But the psycho killer ran for his life,
When he saw Annie coming with a carving knife.

Steel-Hearted Annie with an iron will,
Looks about as frail as a daffodil,
But you don’t take a chance on a small slim dame,
With a punch like a piston on a steam train.

Steel-Hearted Annie told all her friends,
‘We’ve got to stand up to violence.’
She went to classes and learned to fight,
Now she’s not afraid to walk around at night.
A great big shock in a little tin can,
A little firecracker with a great big bang,
So just be careful what you do,
‘Cause Annie’s now a master of Kung Fu.

A QUE VER SALE

Written By: Joe Dolce

At the Henry Ford Hospital in New York,
Frida’s precious lifeline was cut.
Frida Kahlo wet her hospital bed,
With her tears and with her blood.

And her dreams flew about the room
Like ribbons held by doves.

Frida Kahlo held Diego Rivera
On the afternoon of August Twenty-one
And they watched the solar eclipse,
The moon covered the sun.

A Que Ver Sale,
Let’s see how it works out.
A Que Ver Sale,
I love you more than my own skin.

At the eclipse of the sun,
The temperature was extreme,
They watched it together through smoked glass,
It was ninety-nine degrees.

Frida Kahlo loved Diego Rivera
With her tears and with her blood,
And her dreams flew about the room
Like ribbons held by doves.

A Que Ver Sale,
Let’s see how it works out.
A Que Ver Sale,
I love you more than my own skin.

THE BALLAD OF SIDDY CHURCH

Written By: Lin Van Hek

THE BALLAD OF SIDDY CHURCH
(excerpt from the novel written by Lin Van Hek)

Filled with larger-than-life, strong, willful and unconventional women, 'The Ballad of Siddy Church' tells the story of Eadie Wilt and her family. Central to this family is Siddy Church.

" I grew up with the poetry of aunties. . . . . my grandmother was a difficult woman, you could not get around it. She was born on three different occasions in three different locations and she said her name was Siddy Church. Late at night she would sit like a giant weighted toad, her heavy lidded eyes turning with her head, her pupils like magic bullets about to gun down any real conspiracies in the room. Her past was too big and diverse for her to govern, people talked about her shady past. She had relinquished her right to her own story. . ."

" Lin Van Hek writes like an angel giving the devil her due- I love it!" Keri Hulme, Booker Prize winning author of 'The Bone People'

"Eadie Wilt, the narrator of this magical novel from Australia, is a girl raised in a houseful of women, or, as she says, among the poetry of aunties. The most formidable of these grand females is her grandmother, Siddy, who was married to Joe Flood and then fell in love with a woman old enough to be her mother. Eadie Wilt hears fabulous tales of her iconoclastic grandmother's adventures and uses the tales to inspire her own rebellion. She runs away to join an aboriginal settlement for a while, misbehaves at school, mocks the sacred texts of Hemingway, and has dubious relations with women. Lin Van Hek's prose is fast paced, quirky, and lush." Amazon.Com, Lesbian Studies Editor's Recommended Book

" In the seventy entries for this award, the quality and strength of a number of the first novels submitted alongside many major Australian writers made this a rich year for fiction. In particular, the judges wished to commend . . . The Ballad of Siddy Church, by Lin Van Hek. It was exciting to find such (an) immensely varied and accomplished voice . . ." Australian Premier's Literary Awards, Judges' Reports

" I quickly felt myself sink into the characters, the emotions, the events of a book set in the stifling hot shelves of Australia during World War II. I gave up the idea of sleep. By the time you've read the first three chapters, it's already too late. . .It's a startling read full of staggering highs and multiple lows . . . Praise be to writer Lin Van Hek who held the narrative with a strong hand and a lethal eye. The thread is never lost, the movements complete, the skill of a writer who packaged the events of life into poetry." Glenn Robbins, PANDORA

SLAVEWOMAN

Written By: Joe Dolce

Slavewoman in the shadows.
It's time that you went free.
The plantation is burning,
And its time for us to flee.

The Patriarch is dying,
In the Master bedroom suite,
His servants have deserted him,
And his house is in defeat.

I travelled down from Alberta,
North from Morganville,
When I saw the black smoke rising,
Which led me to your cell.

The lock has long since rusted,
And there's no need for a key.
Your Will is all that stands between,
You and your liberty.

There's a consciousness a raisin,'
People are joining hands.
There's a mighty wind a blowin',
All across this divided land,
dum da dee da dee da dee dum.

Slavewoman can you hear me?
I'll help you if I can,
To find the Underground Railroad,
To the North freeholding lands.

Sister, slavery is finished,
It's just a matter of time,
Every law will someday fall,
That justifies this crime.

You may think I'm the enemy,
You may hold me in doubt,
But there are many sympathisers,
Still afraid of speaking out.

There's a consciousness a raisin,'
People are joining hands.
There's a mighty wind a blowin',
All across this divided land,
dum da dee da dee da dee dum.

I stepped into her cell now,
To help her to her feet.
The air was suffocating,
From the dreary Southern heat.

The wooden cell was empty,
No one greeted me,
The slavewoman had long since gone,
To meet her destiny.

There's a consciousness a raisin,'
People are joining hands.
There's a mighty wind a blowin',
All across this divided land,
dum da dee da dee da dee dum.

Discography

'Black Pepper with A Hint of Violets' - CD
'River of Life ' - CD - LIN VAN HEK (songs of Kath Tait)
'Flower' - CD (songs of Lin Van Hek and Joe Dolce)

Set List

A Difficult Women show is usually presented in concert format.

Sets can vary from a full one hour and 15 minute show, with no intermission, to short 20 - 45 minute sets, suitable for folk and arts festivals.

The entire Difficult Women repertoire comprises about four hours of vignettes and songs.