It’s the subtle suggestion to sing like a man. 

It’s the compliment on how you look rather than how your voice sounded.

It’s getting paid $50 less than the guy who was on stage last weekend. It’s the feeling of working twice as hard, and telling — no forcing — yourself to smile anyway. Take the gig, anyway.

Those are some of the reasons — it’s a long list — why Pamela Logan started the ILLOWA Women In Blues Association, a new female-focused blues society. 

“I know there’s a lot of women doing music here, but then I go to shows and there’s no women on stage,” Logan, 36, said. “There’s a huge gap.”

A few months ago, Logan, a Quad-City native, started floating the idea for a music club “run by women and for women” to friends. She’s not a musician, but she’s somewhat of a manager to her 17-year-old daughter, Juliana, who fronts the group Juliana & A Soul Purpose.

The response has been “overwhelming,” Logan said.

For Frankie Fontagne, a 25-year veteran of the Quad-City music scene, the idea is “long overdue.”

“When Pamela told me about this, I immediately said ‘You must’ve been reading my mind,” Fontagne said. “I see how women get overlooked and overshadowed. It has happened to all of us.”

To kick off the society, Logan is hosting a “Women in Blues” fundraiser show at 6 p.m Friday at Kavanaugh’s Hilltop Tavern, 228 30th St., Rock Island. The concert, billed as a tribute to blues women of the past, features a lineup of seven local and regional acts.

Logan said the society has about 15 members so far. She hopes to hold weekly meetings, open jams and help promote records and shows in the future. 

For now, coming together in one room is enough, said Susan Williams, a bassist who recently moved to the Quad-Cities from Chicago.

“When you’re a musician, you have to find the music,” Williams, 61, said. “We women have to fight a little harder — that’s not new."

“There’s something about knowing another woman has been through it,” Logan added. “It goes deeper than a lot of people realize.”

Logan has listened to her friends’ stories and struggles— hearing “no” from booking managers, singing backup over and over, experiencing stints of homelessness and deciding to give up. And, she said, they do it all with a “suck it up, buttercup” mentality.

“I really want to believe we can change that," she said. "If you don't stand up and do something about it, no one else will."

Those obstacles, big and small, are familiar for Fontagne.

“A lot of people think your sexuality has to take the front seat if you’re a woman and a singer,” she said. “I’m more interested in the integrity of the song and you listening to that than how I look.”

“It’s a man’s world," she added. "They didn’t write that song for no reason.” 

When talking about the woes of starving artists, it's easy to ask: Why not just give up? 

In response, Logan says this: “You’re given gifts for a reason. It’s not easy to pursue music fully and work a day job,” she said. “Other women do their craft and survive, so why can’t musicians?”

That’s part of the goal for ILLOWA Women In Blues Association — to keep musicians playing music and employed. By the way, men are welcome to join the association, too. Logan calls them "brothers in blues."  

"You know, it's refreshing to be around men who let the woman have the spotlight," Fontagne said. "This feels like it's just the beginning." 

At a recent practice for Friday's show, Logan grooved along to the group's rendition of a Bonnie Raitt tune called "Love Me Like a Man." 

"I just got goosebumps," Logan said. "There's no way a man could sing it like  that." 

And, if anything, that's what she hopes people acknowledge on Friday. 

“A lot of local musicians have the dream to play music, travel and just survive,” Logan said. “If I could make that happen for them, I'd die happy." 


Amanda Hancock is a reporter covering food, arts and entertainment in the Quad-Cities (and beyond).