When California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recently called uncooperative state legislators a bunch of "girlie men," it's safe to assume he wasn't promoting a mixed-gender -- and gender-bending -- outfit from the bohemian Northeast. But the members of Girlyman, the musical trio playing at Iota on Tuesday, can thank the governor for giving them a publicity boost as they celebrate their first CD, "Remember Who I Am."
The new album will be released nationally Tuesday by Daemon Records, the small Southern imprint founded by the Indigo Girls' Amy Ray, so the show will be a CD release party as well as a concert.
Childhood friends Doris Muramatsu and Ty (Tammy) Greenstein, who previously played as a duo called the Garden Verge, met Boston Music Award winner Nate Borofsky at Sarah Lawrence College and wound up sharing an apartment together in Brooklyn in 2001. As Greenstein describes that period in the group's press bio, "It was a 'hey-you-got-your-chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter' situation."
The friends promptly began to blend their voices, creating beautiful three-part harmonies. Adding to the musical complexity is the fact that all three switch off songwriting duties, lead vocals and a variety of instruments, including guitar, banjo and mandolin.
Girlyman is reminiscent of Peter, Paul and Mary -- only edgier and with a clear distaste for traditional gender stereotypes. Borofsky might take the stage wearing eyeliner and lipstick. Greenstein has one love song on "Remember Who I Am" directed at a woman, another written for a man. Throughout, the album has a gentle, tender vibe, including a lovely cover of George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord." Already this year, Girlyman has won the 2004 Independent Music Award in the Folk/Singer-Songwriter category and the 2004 Outmusic Award for Outstanding New Recording Duo or Group.
The "girlie men" phrase originated in a vintage "Saturday Night Live" sketch featuring Teutonic bodybuilders Hans and Franz, comical macho men who were clearly modeled after Schwarzenegger. The musical Girlyman claims no intended tribute to "SNL" or to Schwarzenegger, though the irony of the supreme action hero inadvertently helping the group pump up its press clips is one it clearly appreciates. You can find a link to the trio's take on the California girlie-man standoff by visiting www.girlyman.com.
-- MARIANNE MEYER
Iota Club & Cafe is at 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Admission is $10 at the door (tickets are not sold in advance) and limited to those 21 and older with valid ID. For more information, call 703-522-8340 or visit www.iotaclubandcafe.com.
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