Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Mia Zapata, lead singer of The Gits
The Gits were a Seattle punk band led by the raw, blues-fueled voice of its lead singer Mia Zapata. The band formed at Antioch College in Ohio where Zapata famously jumped on a table during a party and launched into Bessie Smith covers. It's relayed as one of those college moments where, if you were there, drunk or sober, you've never forgotten it. The Gits soon moved to Seattle where they found underground fame, a community of fellow punk rockers (like the girl band 7 Year Bitch) and became part of a Seattle scene garnering lots of media attention because of its burgeoning grunge scene.
The Gits found their loyal following and after two album releases and a planned North American tour, they were poised to make it big. Atlantic Records was ready to sign them. But on July 7, 1993, Mia Zapata left The Comet Tavern where she'd been hanging out with friends and while on her walk home, she was attacked. Hours later, Zapata's body was found. She'd been beaten, raped and murdered. The tragedy struck the Seattle scene hard and mourners lined up for blocks at her wake.
A new documentary called The Gits will be screened Wednesday night at The Whistle Stop bar in South Park as a fundraiser for the San Diego Women's Film Festival . The story is so tragic, but so much of the film charts the band's formation and rise that it doesn't feel like a downer. There's a lot of concert footage, some rougher than others, but I kind of like the grainy, jumpy video. It's well-matched to the grungy dive bars The Gits played in and to their punk sensibility. Zapata is amazing to watch, if mostly because of her incredible voice. She sounds like Lucinda Williams, if Williams left her guitar behind and just went balls out, punk-rock style. The Gits screens at 9pm - The Whistle Stop is a good place to watch this kind of doc and all proceeds benefit the sixth year of the San Diego Women's Film Festival. Oh, and Joan Jett and Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill are both in the film - they were big fans of The Gits. This is one of those school night events that I like to recommend because it's unique in San Diego, the film and the venue are perfectly matched, and it's for a good cause.