June Millington became a feminist hero by pioneering the all-women rock 'n' roll band Fanny in the early '70s. Yet Fanny's music was hardly revolutionary. Saturday night at d c space, Millington performed a benefit concert for the ERA as part of a week-long women's arts conference, and for all the radical feminist atmosphere, it could easily have been a straight commercial show by Maria Muldaur or Carly Simon.
"I'm trying to write songs with a groove to them," Millington told her audience, "but without the offensive lyrics." She has taken sexism out of dance music, but hasn't put much else back in its place. Her lyrics were vague cliches about romance, nature and strong women. Her melodies were bright and cheerful, but used familiar soft-rock formulas.
Millington proved to be a captivating singer, though only a competent rhythm guitarist. Her fragile voice occasionally fluttered up from the melody line into strong harmonies.
The evening's highlight was "Party Time," an up-tempo rocker with Jennifer Condos fingering a funky bass line and Lise Brown blowing peppery alto sax fills. Millington planted her Fender guitar on her hip, wincing as she banged out the chords, and the small hall came alive. The crowd had come to see a woman play gritty guitar, and they got it.