LuluFest Celebrates Female-Led Bands

May 26, 2017

Musician Peggy Stern created the Wall Street Jazz Festival in 2004 in Kingston, New York. That fest, which lasted for many years, focused specifically on jazz bands with female bandleaders. After moving to Austin in 2013, Stern decided to create a similar festival, but with one key difference: the focus was expanded from just jazz to something a little broader.

"This one is more eclectic," says Stern, "in that we're presenting Western swing music... Brazilian music and salsa music, and jazz." The decision to create a more diverse festival seemed natural to Stern once she'd spent a little time in Austin.

"I've become more eclectic since I'm in town," she says. "I'm playing Western swing music. When in Rome, do as the Romans. And I love it, actually. It's a whole new field for me that I wouldn't have gotten into if I hadn't moved to Austin, so I'm really happy about that."

The other core component remains, though. Like the Wall Street Jazz Festival, LuluFest focuses on female-led bands. Which is not to say that no men are allowed on stage -- there are plenty of male band members taking part in LuluFest, but they're all playing with female bandleaders. "I find that the tone of the music and the tone of the presentation is different," Stern says. "Females use a different muscle, I think, for music composition and presentation."

In addition to the music (which starts at 5:00 pm), there will be a handful of workshops as part of the fest. "The workshops are really open to anyone that is interested in learning more about how the music is played," Stern says. "Beginner musicians, intermediate, and advanced musicians... that's what the workshops are about."

Stern expects this to be the first of many LuluFests.  "It takes time to grow a festival," she says. "We'd like it to be two days, but this is our first year, so it'll be one day. We expect to be here for quite a while. "

LuluFest is Saturday, June 3, at the Jones Auditorium at St. Edward's University.