The New York-based trio, made up of Ty Greenstein, Doris Muramatsu and Nate Borofsky, scheduled their very first rehearsal for Sept. 11, 2001. According to Borofsky on their Web site, girlyman.com, the events of that day “brought us into touch with our own mortality. We realized that we wanted to have fun, to do what felt right to us and to not take ourselves too seriously. We started out by calling ourselves Girlyman.”
Since then, Girlyman has put out two albums, Remember Who I Am and Little Star, with a third on the way. They’ve won two Outmusic Awards and were nominated for a GLAAD Media Award last year. They’ve toured with the Indigo Girls – actually, they’re signed with Daemon Records, Amy Ray’s label – and finished a tour last year with Dar Williams. And they’re coming to the Bay Area for the second time this year since March, when they played the Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse in Berkeley.
“The Bay Area just seems like a really good fit with us,” Muramatsu said.
Girlyman’s style varies wildly, veering from the upbeat “girlygrass”(their version of bluegrass) of “Kittery Tide” to haunting, melancholy pieces such as “St. Peter’s Bones,” with striking harmonies being the common thread in all their music. All three members take turns writing songs and switch lead roles.
While their harmony-driven style is what has generated the most press (the Washington Post has written of them, “Beautiful three-part harmonies with a clear distaste for traditional gender stereotypes”), their lyrics are nothing to sneeze at, either.
“On The Air” is the story of a has-been TV host: “It was made up in ring/Back when Bob Hope was king/Back when every choice felt right/Back when life was black and white.”
But Girlyman also has a sense of ironic humor; “Maori,” which was inspired by a trip to New Zealand, begins: “When I first met you, I said/’My God, get away,/You smell like fish heads.’/And you followed me around all day.”
As if that weren’t enough, Girlyman’s concerts also feature witty stage banter. During previous concerts, they have announced their mandolin’s “coming out,” and Greenstein has flourished a pink barrette that she supposedly wears in order to avoid being mistaken for a man when entering women’s restrooms.
Girlyman will be playing the Cafe du Nord in San Francisco on Nov. 14 and the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on Nov. 16. Check girlyman.com for details, to purchase tickets and hear clips of their songs. Their last concert at the Freight & Salvage was sold out, so buy your tickets early!
Muramatsu said, “We’re really looking forward to coming to the West Coast and seeing everybody!”