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"Their energy was like nothing I had ever witnessed."
-- Tony DuShane, San Francisco Chronicle, August, 2006
"The hottest all-woman group ever to come out of the Bay Area."
-- BAM Magazine
"...a marvelous, criminally underrated female trio with great material... they're neither overtly feminist, sex-image-oriented or selfconscious, finding the ideal out by simply being an excellent rock band."
-- Ira Robbins, The New Trouser Press Record Guide, 1985
"The band really knows how to dominate a stage. They make no concessions to cuteness. The effect is at once exhilarating and sexy."
-- Leslie Goldberg, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, 1981
"...their music has the hard driven, raw energy that is the earmark of New Wave; they're just performing better than most anybody else around."
-- Catherine Peters, Pacific Sun
"The Contractions emerge as a dynamic, hard-hitting trio, exhibiting a blend of infectious rhythms and a highly danceable beat with contemporary lyrics and themes touching on the avante-garde."
-- John Sutton Smith, L.A. Weekly
"They create an atmosphere of warmth and alertness when they play. Their own personalities cause the warmth..the alertness comes from the danger of their music, music that's on the edge and constantly shifting."
-- Mark Leach, Toronto's SHADES
"Most important seems the fact that the Contractions are a new band, definitely not trend followers, their music defies any real attempt at categoraization"
-- Jonothan Formula, DAMAGE
"A dynamite Trio. Powerful. Eclectic. Their songs have so many intricate rhythm changes that sometimes you just get confused! The drummer is so good it's obscene. The bassist's fingers are moving so fast at times that they just become a blur. And the guitarist…combined the best minimal punk riffs, heavy metal power chords, jazz picking and controlled distortion…the audience loved them, and they loved the audience right back. Oh -- by the way -- they're all women."
-- e.a. Srere, Contempoculture Magazine, Austin, TX, 1980
THE CONTRACTIONS -- MARY KELLEY on lead guitar, KATHY PECK on bass, and DEBBIE HOPKINS on drums -- burned across the national Punk/New Wave scene from 1979 through 1985. One of the very first all-female rock bands to establish a national reputation, their rough-edged music mixed an urban garage-rock sound with a pop-punk sensibility and grabbed immediate fan and critical support. The "criminally underrated trio" according to Ira Robbins from Trouser Press is back together, compiling a new CD and brewing up more of their on-stage magic.
The Contractions held a unique position in the varied San Francisco punk scene in the early eighties, not just as one of the few all-girl bands, but more for the way they played. One moment they were playing straight-ahead rock'n'roll, a power-trio that brought to mind The Police -- Debbie a veteran drummer with jazz sensibilities, Kathy playing melodic bass lines on her Hofner, Mary with her Pete Townsend-windmill guitar moves -- then just when you thought you knew what you were listening to, the band became James Joyce and Link Wray wrapped into one, Mary singing poetry over slow, mesmerizing, watery guitar then tearing into a guitar solo worthy of Eric Clapton.
Many fans loved their shows for that element of surprise, and for the chemistry that happened between them, a strange combination of elements that would sometimes surge up and seem almost out of control. The Contractions made magic on stage. Every show was new.
In the context of louder-harder-faster that was punk rock, The Contractions could play it, but they could do more than just be loud, or fast, or hard. They embodied the best of rock'n'roll while infusing their music with poetics that bordered on performance art. The contrast between the performers' styles and images helped to create the tension in their triangle on stage, visually as well as musically. They stood out, and rapidly made their way through the clubs to be one of the top headliners of their day, playing to packed houses at The Mabuhay Gardens, the Deaf Club, Tool & Die, The Berkeley Square, and many other Bay Area venues.
The Contractions -- Debbie Hopkins, Mary Kelley and Kathy Peck -- have each followed their own musical pursuits, though they've periodically joined up for reunion shows. These shows prove to audiences, and each other, that they still tune in to a unique power triangle. The Contractions are in the process of compiling a new CD, playing and recording together again, and brewing up more of their on-stage magic.
FEMALE PIONEERS OF THE SAN FRANCISCO ROOTS PUNK/NEW WAVE SCENE UNITE FOR A RIVETING SHOW AT SLIM’S SEPT. 3rd
THE CONTRACTIONS, BONNIE HAYES & GUESTS — CD RELEASE PARTY
Girl groups were a sound: the Ronettes did it, Go-Go’s did it, the Bangles did it. The Contractions...well, they turned up the intensity to a whole new level and blew that “girl sound” right off the map. Their fans loved it. Record companies failed to understand it. But they helped to change the sound a “girl group” could make, and spearheaded an upswelling of gorilla girrrls and the like. So where are they now?
They’re back at it. They're releasing two CDs and a DVD, and playing live at Slim’s on Sunday evening, September 3rd, to celebrate the releases. This will be a head-turning all-female lineup with Bonnie Hayes playing in a Wild Combo that includes Vicki Randle and Teresa Trull.
The Contractions burned across the national Punk/New Wave scene from 1979 through 1985. Their rough-edged music mixed an urban garage-rock sound with a pop/new wave sensibility and grabbed immediate fan and critical support. One moment they were playing straight-ahead rock’n’roll, a classic power-trio — Debbie a veteran drummer with jazz sensibilities; Kathy on her Hofner playing a melodic bass-line; Mary with her Pete Townsend-windmill guitar strumming. Then, just when you thought you knew what you were listening to, the band would become James Joyce and Link Wray all wrapped into one, with Mary singing poetry over slow, mesmerizing, watery guitar, then tearing into a guitar solo worthy of Eric Clapton.
Fans love their shows for that element of surprise, and for the chemistry that happens between them — that strange combination of elements that sometimes surges up and seems almost out of control. The Contractions make magic on stage; every show is new.
The Slim’s gig will celebrate the release of two live recordings: one recorded in 1981 at S.I.R. in SF, the other in 2001 at Lennon Studios. A DVD of the 1981 show will also be released.
Double-heading the bill will be famed recording artist and producer Bonnie Hayes, whose songs have always been extraordinary, from "Shelly's Boyfriend", the post-punk badgirl anthem, to "Have A Heart" and "Love Letter" (the latter of which restored Bonnie Raitt to superstardom with the multi-platinum, multi-Grammy-winning CD Nick of Time). Writing for artists as diverse as Bette Midler, Robert Cray, Adam Ant, David Crosby, Booker T and the MG's, and Cher, Hayes has continued to craft songs one critic described as "sparkling clockwork mechanisms with a tendency to do the unexpected."
Performing with Bonnie are Vicki Randle and Teresa Trull, each fine performers and producers. Teresa Trull has made five of her own recordings, and is an accomplished producer of over 30 albums. Trull was named the Best Producer of an Independent Album at the New York Music Awards, and has performed and shared stages with Sheila E., David Sanborn, Joan Baez and many others. The San Francisco Chronicle has called Teresa Trull “absolutely magnificent.”
Vickie Randle is one of the most visible and hard-working musicians in America. For 14 years she has been the lead singer and percussionist of the acclaimed Tonight Show Band, and for most of her musical life she has been a staple in the studio and on the road. She has toured and/or recorded with Wayne Shorter, Lionel Richie, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion, Mickey Hart and many, many more, playing percussion, guitar, keys, bass, even harmonica as well as providing both background, lead and duet vocal duties in an extraordinary array of musical styles. She is currently releasing her first solo project, “Sleep City,” produced by pal Bonnie Hayes.
Doors open at Slim’s at 6:30pm and the show starts at 7pm. Tickets are $15 advance/door. Tickets are available in person at Slim's/Great American Music Hall box offices, at www.theContractions.com, or through www.tickets.com. For more information visit the Slim’s website at www.slims-sf.com.