Rock and Roll: Live Music Added to the Derby Season Ahead
Fast. Tough. Physical.
The words could be a decent description for either roller derby or the music scene. In this case, consider it for both.
Local musicians will be taking center stage during the upcoming Mad Rollin’ Dolls Flat Track Roller Derby season in Madison. For the first time, every home bout will be kicked off with the singing of the National Anthem by a well known solo artist or band. Some bouts will include a half-time show, and opportunity to get up-close-and-personal with the featured musicians. It’s something the women involved in derby already do, both pre-and-post bout. Meeting their family, friends, and fans is a big part of the appeal. And those involved in running the derby believe, partnering with performers is a natural step. “The Mad Rollin’ Dolls have a history of collaborating with, and supporting local music,” says long-time behind-the-scenes volunteer Jon Obst. “Heck, several of our league members are or have been members of local bands! And part of our founding mission is to always find ways of giving back to our community, and music is an integral part of that.”
The season opener will showcase singer/songwriter Beth Kille, and in a whole new way for her. The multi-music award winner is typically backed by other musicians, or at least her own guitar. But Saturday night, she’ll perform the National Anthem, “a capella,” as the dictionary defines it, “without instrumental accompaniment.” And though a tad nervous, the opportunity is too good to pass up.
“It’s great and one of the things I love most about Madison; the way people in the community support each other. For organizations or individuals who have next to nothing in advertising budgets, this kind of cross-promotional stuff is a no-brainer,” says Kille. “As Music Director for Girls Rock Camp and Ladies Rock Camp, I’ve also crossed paths with members of the Mad Rollin’ Dolls at various events and fundraisers. I’ve referred to them as our sisters in the roll part of rock and roll!”
One of those rollers, who also happens to cross to the rocker side of things is Victoria Echeverria, the lead singer and guitarist for the band Venus in Furs. Its brand of surf-punk aids in her sleek transformation between Vic the rock star, and her alter-ego derby star, Elle Machete. (Writers note: I must offer a disclosure here. I provided media training for the newest derby members a few years ago. It’s when I learned every woman has a performance name for their time on the track. Most told me they picked something representative of an interest, profession, nickname, or something silly they thought their supporters would enjoy. Elle Machete’s been part of the league for more than six years, and though I’ve never had the opportunity to directly ask what it means, she is a pivot player and blocker for her team, the Unholy Rollers.) Echeverria believes these opportunities are special and Kille takes the idea even further. “Both organizations– the derby, and the rock camps– do a lot to empower women. For myself, just doing this gig is a great opportunity to bring attention to both, along with hopefully gaining a few new fans for myself as a performer,” says Kille.
Meantime, expect music to be a main-stay at the derby this season. “We’ll warm up to music, we’ll play to music, we’ll party to music. Quite frankly, roller derby wouldn’t be the same without the support and motivation we are getting from Madison’s local musicians. This arrangement is perfect symbiosis,” Obst explains.
And a perfect blend of the fast, tough, and physical. Sounds like a perfect night of entertainment to me.
Mad Rollin’ Dolls and Musicians as scheduled for this season, below.
Doors at 5 p.m., action begins at 6 p.m., all bouts held at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum:
- December 7, 2013 - Beth Kille
- January 11, 2014 – Sunspot*
- February 1, 2014 – Lucas Cates*
- March 15, 2014 – Sigourney Weavers
- April 5, 2014 – Ida Jo
- April 26, 2014 (Semi-finals) – Mighty WheelHouse
- May 10, 2014 (Championships) - Sexy Ester*
*indicates time allotted for between-bout performance