The WiMN’s Front and Center is a weekly column that showcases accomplished women who work in the music and audio industries. We spotlight successful female performers, manufacturers, retailers, educators, managers, publicists, and everyone else in between. Want to be featured? Learn how here.
Front and Center: Singer-Songwriter, Director and Founder of Northern California Women’s Music Festival, Victoria Boyington
By Gabriella Steffenberg
Victoria Boyington is a singer-songwriter, musician, and the Director and Founder of the Northern California Women’s Music Festival (NCWMF), a non-profit women’s music festival taking place October 23 and 24 at the Fat Cat Music House & Lounge in Modesto, Calif.
She has two bands, a children’s band titled The Silly String Band, and a folk/punk/blues band called CallBox, for which she has been nominated for a Modesto Area Music Award for the past two years.
Boyington has a B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis in Language Development from the University of California, Santa Cruz. In addition, Boyington is a special education teacher in California. Check out the website for Northern California Women’s Music Festival here to learn more.
WiMN: What inspired you to learn to play guitar? Do you play any other instruments?
VB: Ella Jenkins and Woody Guthrie were my first inspirations. I originally learned to play guitar to be able to play songs with my children. Then I started writing my own songs. I have played the clarinet, but guitar and my voice are my main instruments. As a child, singing always gave me comfort. I sang everything all the time. I am sure my mom would have liked me to stop at times, but I loved singing.
WiMN: Tell us about one of your most memorable gigs.
VB: One of my most memorable gigs was recently. My band CallBox was nominated for a Modesto Area Music Award and we were asked to play the awards show. It was a great night, my band was on it that evening and the crowd was great.
Another memorable gig was playing with the tribute band that I was in called the All-American Brothers and Sisters. We played a Janis Joplin tribute show. I was able to sing “Piece of my Heart” and “Cry Baby.” It felt great dressing up like Janis Joplin and the band was awesome that night.
WiMN: When did you create your band CallBox, and how did you meet your band mates?
VB: I created CallBox in 2013. My husband Jimbo is a member of the band. We met through mutual musician friends who thought we should musically work together.
The first project we were in was in 2009. We were instantly attracted to each other and have never left each other’s side. Jimbo is a part of every project I am in because he is an amazing multi-talented musician. Our drummer Alex Sisco came on from the beginning in 2013. He was a long-time friend and drummer for Jimbo’s band Dirtfire. Navaz, who played bass for us until just recently, was a local female bass player that I had met when our bands played gigs together. Recently, due to work and school obligations she has resigned.
Now, we have added Jeremy Penick on guitar and moved Jimbo onto bass where he should be as he has always been known as a bassist. Jeremy has added a great dynamic to the band. He is a guitar player and songwriter. The band is ever-evolving and that is what makes CallBox so unique.
WiMN: Who are your major musical influences?
VB: My musical influences are Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday, Kate Bush, Björk, The Smiths, Paul McCartney and Wings, Ella Jenkins, Lead Belly, Barbara Dane, Odetta. I have so many favorites; it’s hard to put my finger on just one.
WiMN: Tell us more about your children’s music band, The Silly String Band. What made you want to play children’s music?
VB: Children’s music is a passion of mine. I was a pre-school teacher for three years and I was able to watch children blossom in a music-rich environment. I loved incorporating music into daily routines. The Silly String band is my three daughters and me. Our band focuses on family engaging performances where we pass out shakers and kazoos to the audience and ask them to play along. Our shows are such a joy to play.
WiMN: What’s your favorite genre to perform?
VB: My favorite genre is pop/punk and rock. I love to get the crowd going and to keep the pace going. I love to write songs that people can sing along to.
WiMN: What made you realize that you wanted to create a music festival?
VB: The festival began about five years ago. While on bed rest, I watched a documentary about Gloria Steinman. Two quotes of hers stood out to me, “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men,” and, “The best way for us to cultivate fearlessness in our daughters and other young women is by example. If they see their mothers and other women in their lives going forward despite fear, they’ll know it’s possible.”
These words meant so much to me. They had an impact on me. I wanted to stand up for women and make a difference in the community. The documentary highlighted the rise of Ms. Magazine and had a short piece on the National Women’s Music Festival. The National Women’s Music Festival happens each year in Middletown, Wis. I do not have the resources to attend, nor do many women on the west coast.
I thought, “Why don’t we have a women’s music festival in California?” There was definitely a need in the community for solidarity amongst women musicians. I wanted to create a foundation that would assist women of all ages while giving women of northern California an opportunity to display their talents in the fine arts.
Our committee now includes local women artists, promoters, poets, musicians, and community members committed to advancing women of all ages in the fine arts and business. Our motto is: Community for Every Woman.
I feel that we have a chance to make a positive impact on the women of Northern California and California by donating to agencies and programs that assist women such as the Women’s Haven Center, and through our enrichment grant opportunity which is open to women of all ages and is specifically focused on extracurricular activities such as self-defense classes, parenting, music, and art classes to name a few.
WiMN: Which artists would you love to see perform on the NCWMF stage?
VB: I would love to have Brandi Carlile, Joan Jett, Miranda Lambert, The Dixie Chicks, Annie Lennox, Wanda Jackson, The Breeders, Garbage, Björk, Kimbra. That list could get very exhaustive. There are so many great women musicians out there.
WiMN: What are your music plans for 2015?
VB: My music plans are to get my music recorded. I have an album full of songs that I need to get recorded. Write a new song every month. Play a few shows a month. Plan and deliver a great festival for 2015. Our line-up this year is so good with legendary performers like Tracy Bohnam, Lita Ford and Barbara Dane. I am so excited for everything this year brings.