This ex-housewife/school teacher from Montreal has 2 passports, 3 divorces, and 4 university degrees. In 1979 she borrowed a friend’s husband for three weeks, and escaped across the continent in her orange VW, so that she could attend Mills College Center for Contemporary Music (CCM) in Oakland to learn from Terry Riley, Bob Ashley, Lou Harrison, David Behrman, and Maggi Payne. Golden graduated, wrote her first song when she was 40, and developed a following and reputation as the Joan Rivers, and Mae West, with a hint of Zappa, of the new music Bay Area experimental music scene.
In ’84 Burning Books, “one of the most exciting small presses in the country produced “Barbara Golden’s Home Cooking”, a music and recipe book, which delighted musicians, truck drivers, physicists, and chefs with its tasty recipes and tasteless songs. A second enlarged version of the book emerged in the early 90s, this one included a CD retrospective of Golden’s varied musical styles and genres which also sold out. (used copies have been sighted on Amazon). The CD was praised effusively by Sonoloco and Kyle Gann from the Village Voice.
Since 1985 Golden has produced, board operated, and hosted “Crack o’ Dawn", on KPFA Pacifica Radio, a contemporary music show and has interviewed the likes of Laurie Anderson, Leonard Cohen, LaMonte Young, Fakir Musafar, Fred Rzewski, Roscoe Mitchell, plus…. https://econtact.ca/12_2/interviews_golden.html
Golden is a multi disciplinary artist. She writes and performs raunchy topical songs with WIGband, the trashy gal duo.
Her films and vids have been shown internationally: Hiroshima, NYC, Montreal, Toronto, SF, Budapest, Prague, and most recently at the Sofia Queer Forum in Bulgaria.
Take Me Out To The Ballgame is distributed by Encyclopedia Britannica, and the WIGband films Lap Pool, and Trashy Girls, made with Helen Prince are classics.
Since 85 Golden has studied, and performed Balinese music in the States and in Bali playing bronze percussion, and bamboo flutes and marimbas… with Gamelan Sekar Jaya, Gamelan Gadung Kasturi, and the fusion band, Purnamasari.
She plays keyboard, and sings backup vocals with Richard Phillips in the indie rock band The Golden Path , and has collaborated with many indie groups including The Hub, Matmos, The Residents, Rotaleague, and Blectum from Blechdom.
Barb’s received residencies at Djerassi Arts Project inWoodside CA and Stiem in Amsterdam, hiked in Nepal, guest managed a women’s b and b in Montreal, played piano for kids’ dance classes with Oakland Parks and Rec Dept., worked for Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse, sold ads for Fine Print quarterly, was assistant to the comptroller at an upscale meat company, does simple bookkeeping for a few stars….and gives tons of cocktail parties and birthday celebrations at the drop of a hat.
In the 2000s, Golden has begun to write and perform short memoir pieces, usually accompanied by a variety of media, live computer graphics, live songs, or accompanying vids with visuals and music:
Bad Rep: teenage memories including an amorous family doctor. performed in 2017 at Mills College 50th anniversary celebration….
Green Card: timely immigration tales of a Canadian in the States being green carded and later, naturalized, hilarious, secrets, lies, sex, bureaucracy.
Transcontinental 77: a train trip across Canada, her way, Barb the slut de jour.
Me and Irving: nearly marrying Leonard Cohen’s mentor, the poet Irving Layton, on a Greek island
• • • • •
“Clothes with tons of cleavage. Whips and acting rough. Doing it with married men. That’s the trashy stuff.” So goes Trashy Girls (1986), one of the first songs I enjoyed by WIGband’s Barbara “Bambi” Golden and Johanna “Silver” Poethig. The United States was in the throes of theClinton administration at the time and thus this sound could not have been more appropriate in such a scandalous political climate! Ah, Clinton! Could it be that those eight years of prosperity and world-wide goodwill for the States were a direct result of our dearPresident being so well-serviced in the sexual sphere? Perhaps such Oval Office shenanigans might have helped us during those Reagan and Bush (both 41 and 43) years! You – the readers and listeners – are warmly invited to ponder these questions and others while celebrating and deploring with WIGband the fantasies, follies, foibles, and occasional good fortunes of four U.S. decades and five U.S. presidents.
WIGband have been entertaining and stimulating the Bay Area for many years with their videos, cabaret shows, songs and recipes and this compilation provides a comprehensive exploration of their work as well as the national events and attitudes that have sparked their creativity. For those of you who have been privileged to see WIGband in performance, enjoy the compilation, the memories, and the fun. For WIGband “virgins”, here is your chance to be challenged and changed but never chastised by this duo’s thought-provoking feminist works with a bite and a bit of sauce on top!
In all seriousness WIGband’s work would not be nearly as effective without the extraordinary training, backgrounds, and imaginations of Golden and Poethig. Golden, a graduate of Mills College where she studied with such pioneers as Terry Riley, Lou Harrison and Maggi Payne, is an accomplished creator and performer of electroacoustic music, keyboards in a rock band and world-traveling gamelan. Poethig, also a Mills graduate, creates marvelous murals and other public art projects and her paintings, sculptures and video works invite innovative and engaging social dialogue. Most interesting is the way each woman’s life experience informs her contributions to the art and music worlds in general and WIGband in particular. Golden, a self-described much-married, former housewife/schoolteacher and mother utilizes these sensibilities with a twist with her collections of songs and recipes and fabulous dinner parties. Poethig’s active experience in public spaces and places informs her witty and pithy observations and creations.
To understand WIGband’s repertoire, most of which is ably represented in this collection, is to gain something new and different from each listening experience. Concepts, lyrics, visuals, and music are conceived in coactive layers byGolden and Poethig and reveal themselves subtly and …er…not so subtly in each piece. A good example of this is the2010 video work, WIGband Stimulus Spa, featuring the song, The Scream, found in this collection. The stimulating and rejuvenating national legislation is echoed by the treatments offered in the spa with the same ambiguous and questionable results. Mixed in with this over-arching possible political sentiment are pointed commentaries about women’s body image issues as well as celebrity culture. As Scream states, “What have I eaten. It seemed so little at the time…Stimulus. It seemed so easy at the time” – the personal and political excesses catch up to you. The words, images and music spin trivialities upon first listen and viewing, but a shallow scratch of that surface reveals so much more beneath.
Other works are more direct. ClitEnvy (1994) with its innovative electronics, fast pace, and repetitive chant (“clit, clit, clit, clit, envy, envy, envy, envy…”) is every feminist’s best answer to this particular psychological theory balancing the fun with an underlying serious discussion of male and female sexuality and gender misunderstandings. The recently composedOccupy is easily the best anthem that particular political movement could adopt. With its pithy observations (“The Arab spring has turned to snow” and“Gay or straight you’ve caught your mate. Embrace the fun, ‘cuz before you know it divorce will come”) Occupy lets no one off the hook and reminds us that we had better do something to save ourselves but let’s at least do it to a catchy tune!
This silliness with substance, banality with a bite, “tastelessness with another serious side” to quote one of its members has always been the essence of WIGband. Though neither the presidents and their administrations nor many of their policies (thank goodness in some cases!) have survived or aged well, Bambi and Silver definitely are still going strong. So join me and jump into this lap pool of fun and enjoy being thoughtfully informed while being thoroughly entertained!
Elizabeth Hinkle Turner
Preface to WIGband: Four Decades Five Presidents
• • • • •