The Dishrags

dishrags ramones lp

The first all-girl punk band in Vancouver, the Dishrags were the opening act at the first official punk concert in Vancouver, when the Furies played at the Japanese Hall on 30 July 1977. When the Furies were planning the show, there wasn’t another band to play with them (the Skulls hadn’t really formed yet). But singer/guitarist Chris Arnett remembered that his cousin Jill, back in Victoria, had told him that she had formed a band with her school friends. So Chris put out the call, and met the Dishrags at the ferry terminal. Singer/guitarist Jill became Jade Blade; she was joined by Dale Powers on bass, and Carmen Michaud, aka Scout, on drums. Their ages ranged from 14 to 15.

The Dishrags returned to Vancouver Island after this show, concentrating on high school and playing sporadically. In the meantime, both the Furies and Skulls had split up; so when the Dishrags played in Vancouver again in April 1978 with the Avengers and DOA, the teenagers were ironically the “oldest” punk band in Vancouver. They also helped inspire the formation of three other Vancouver female punk bands: the Visitors, Devices, and Zellots.

By the summer 1979, the Dishrags had played with nearly every other band in every punk venue in Vancouver. However, whereas their male counterparts worked their way up from opening acts to headliners, it seemed the Dishrags were condemned to the opening slot. Nearly all of their contemporaries had records out, too; but so far, their lone contribution was on the Vancouver Complication LP (I Don’t Love You). Things were different in Seattle, where audiences and promoters were more enthusiastic. Modern Productions approached the band about releasing a record, and that summer the Past Is Past 7-inch EP was recorded in Seattle. By the time it was released that fall, however, Dale had left the band, and was replaced by bassist Kim Henrickson and guitarist Susan MacGillviray from The Devices. In June 1980, they released the Death In The Family 7inch EP, another strong release that seemed to suggest the band was capable of a full-length album, but by the end of the summer they were disintegrating.

In 1997 a Dishrags restrospective CD, Love/Hate, collected their recorded output for the first time (Other People’s Music, Toronto). In 2006, the Dishrags reunited onstage, part of the concert celebrating the reissue of the Vancouver Complication CD. Based on a positive reception, they played a few other shows over the following year, including gigs with the reunited Furies to mark the 30th anniversary of punk in Vancouver.

Les sez: The Dishrags played vital punk rock and were way ahead of the game. I remember Terry David Mulligan sneering at them at a Battle of the Bands at Gary Taylor’s Rock Room. "They’re not even a band," he said. I replied, "They’re the only fucking band playing anything close to rock’n’roll that you’ll see on that stage tonight." They were also very nice people, very calm and, like little Florence Nightingales, they would look after anybody who got hurt or too drunk. They were the little mothers of the scene.

dishrags tree