Blues, Brass and Bravery: Hear authentic sounds from three female musicians

We welcome you to Rochester Women Magazine’s artist column, our first in an ongoing series featuring women in the arts. There’s nothing like good music that vibrates your bones, moves your soul, makes your heart beat faster or raises the hair on the back of your neck. This issue’s arts column highlights three must-see female musicians from Rochester who do just that. Check out the local live theatre scene this winter as well.

Annie Mack Band

Annie Mack is one busy woman. As I write this, she is headed to Switzerland to perform at the Lucerne Blues Festival. Whether gracing local, national or world stages, Annie Mack has been building significant recognition for her music.

Mack is known for her powerhouse vocals and meaningful lyrics based off personal experiences. Last year’s EP, “Tell It Like It Is,” introduced a new folk sound combined with her authentic blues. Even though she has been making music since 2012, First Avenue recently recognized her as one of the best new bands of 2018, and she is scheduled in their line-up for January 4 in Minneapolis. She also has two upcoming shows at Riverside Casino in Iowa, but don’t miss her here in Rochester: Monday, January 21, she is performing at Mayo Clinic in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

EP “Tell It Like It Is” available on iTunes

Loud Mouth Brass

Encouraged by her mother and aunt to sing and play music, Becca Combs-Cawley has been a musical performer since she was a child. In high school, she sidelined study hall to learn how to play the tuba, which led to a scholarship at Butler University in Indiana. Teaching brought Combs-Cawley to Minnesota before settling in Rochester. Immediately she got involved with the local community band. It was her way of getting connected with a social scene as well as live her passion for music. Through these connections, Loud Mouth Brass was formed and has been making the circuit opening for Cloud Cult and Har Mar Superstar.

A six-person brass ensemble, Loud Mouth Brass is composed of several band directors and other local musical talents in Rochester. Combs-Cawley plays tuba alongside Ryan Donohue on tenor sax, Eric Stashek on baritone sax, Jon Knutson on trumpet, John Sievers on trombone and Nick Novotny on drums. While they began playing covers, this past year the band released original songs on their EP “Loud and Proud.”
January 18: Music video release, Olde Pine Theater in Pine Island, 7:15 p.m.
February 22: Big Turn Music Festival, Red Wing, 5:30 p.m.
March 12: Canvas and Chardonnay

EP “Loud and Proud” available on iTunes and Spotify


Fika (pronounced “fee-kah”) is a Swedish ritual of taking time each day to socialize with friends over coffee and cake. This concept of stepping back from the day intrigued Emily Nelson and helped her find new flow to her life as a college student studying abroad in Europe. When she returned to Rochester, she felt led in new directions, and is now teaching music at Pure Rock Studios and creating her own music.

This past year she released her first single under the name “VILD,” the Swedish word for “wild.” The track is called “Why/Fall.” The simple guitar and vocals speak to our inner fears, yet have a soothing lullaby-quality to calm them at the same time. Nelson’s sound is inspired by her upbringing listening to The Cranberries and Enya. She has performed both locally and nationally and will be at Canvas and Chardonnay in January. She is also releasing another single that will have a more energetic spirit.

“Why/Fall” available on iTunes and Spotify

Joy Blewett is a local freelance writer, designer and art teacher.

Local Live Theatre

Rochester Civic Theatre Company

February 8-24: “Diary of Anne Frank”

Women on Wednesdays

Free event 5:30-7:30 p.m.

January 23: Being a Caretaker for a Loved One

February 20: Swiping for Love, The Dating Scene in Rochester

Rochester Repertory Theatre

January 11-27: “Three Hots and a Cot”