Having only started rolling this spring, the Women of Rock sure have been rocking! From humble beginnings getting together to play The Ship Pub, to now playing the George Street Festival, these ladies are taking Newfoundland by storm
It all started with Sarah Furlong, who last November began to suffer from an undiagnosed case of postpartum depression. Fast-forward a year and a half later, and Furlong was hospitalized for major depression disorder. It was during this time that she had a moment of revelation.
“I realized that I was losing what I loved in my life, which was music. My whole life since the age of three right up until Sheridan College Music Theatre school in my 20s, that’s what I did,” said Furlong. “I played piano, and flute, and piccolo guitar and wrote music. I took a break for a very long time, and I realized that I was grieving the loss of music in my life.”
Beginnings of a band
After realizing what she was missing in life, Furlong went to Megan Barnes, who is now Women of Rock’s musical director, to put together a small show for fun. They were putting their heads together to think of other people to join their small group, when the idea to recruit OZFM’s Stephanie O’Brien came about. Prior to Furlong’s time at Sheridan College, O’Brien had given her vocal lessons.
“(Furlong) had reached out to me and they had already started putting something together and I was like, ‘Yeah I do. I want to. I wasn’t sure I had time for it, to be honest, with everything else going on, but I said, ‘No I need to make time for something that I really like to do, and do it for me.’”
After recruiting O’Brien, auditions for Women of Rock started taking place. Over 30 women of all ages came to audition, many of whom shared Furlong’s longing to bring music back in to their life. After it was over, five female singers and an all male backing band were chosen.
The Women of Rock
The main lineup for Women of Rock’s singers include Sarah Furlong, Stephanie O’Brien, Megan Barnes, OZFM’s Shannell Lewis and Alexis Hopkins-Dolomont.
The all male band consists of Mike Rose on guitar, Rob Pittman on drums, Lennie Earle on guitar, Jake Earle on bass and Cullam Bruce-Lockhart on keys. (Lockhart will be temporarily replaced by Melissa Butt during the George Street Festival.)
When the time came for the new group to play their show at The Ship in April, tickets were well past the point of being sold out.
“It was like, ‘Oh my God there’s like 370 people that want to come to the show!’ Like where are they sitting at The Ship?” So I asked Tony Murray, I said, ‘Tony can we move to The Rock House? He said, ‘Sarah, you know you’re taking a risk. This is your first show.’ And I said, “Yeah I’m taking a risk, but I’m willing to take the risk.’ So he let us move it to The Rock House, graciously.”
Risk & reward
The risk paid off for the group, The Rock House sold out. Then they did it again later in June, this time with 10 dynamite women electrifying The Rock House stage. These extra five women were recruited temporarily for the show as a way of supporting local female talent.
“We had girls up there onstage who have never been on stage before,” said Furlong. “It was all about giving women the opportunity who don’t get the opportunity, and giving someone the opportunity who needs it in their lives to express themselves or bring music back into their lives.”
After blowing down The Rock House in June, things only began to pick up for the talented locals. The group got a chance to play Smuggler’s Cove over the weekend of July 13, and are set to play the 2019 George Street Festival on August 2nd, along Billy & the Bruisers –Furlong’s uncle’s band. Both groups will be opening for acclaimed Canadian musician Randy Bachman that night.
Women of Rock is also set to play Katy Perry’s Roar for Nevaeh’s Lemonade Stand on July 27. Roar was the late Nevaeh Denine’s favourite song.
Rocking in the future
Things are looking bright for the future of the group. Not only have they been able to play some amazing shows already, as well as book some venues for the future, they have a great time doing it.
“When we come together, it’s something unique,” said Furlong. “There’s a really unique chemistry that I just love. I can’t get over it yet actually. I’m just still kind of taking it all in.”
What else does the group have in the works for us at the moment? The ladies were pretty tight-lipped, not wanting to give away any secrets before their time comes.
“We are in talks of a show in Central and a show on the West Coast sometime between now and Christmas,” said O’Brien. “The other ones are not a lot to talk about yet. One of them is really, really big. That’s a huge teaser. It is really, really, really big and we’re really shocked that like this is gonna be our show. I literally can’t say anything because there’s contracts and all that kind of stuff in the works. It’s exciting. It’s gonna be a lot of work, but it’s gonna be very exciting.”
Anyone looking to keep up with show times and other news about the Women of Rock can find them on Facebook at Women of Rock Productions.