Buy my LP, support Planned Parenthood

pink vinyl

I am proud to stand with Planned Parenthood. In honor of Pink Out Day, if you buy my (pink) LP “Return of the Woman” in the next 24 hours, proceeds will go directly to Planned Parenthood. Not only that, I will match your donation. So, buy my (pink) record for $10 (that includes shipping) and $20 goes to Planned Parenthood. Additionally, gifts made today to PP are doubled so your 10 bucks becomes 40 bucks. Please stand with me to give women critical medical care and ensure we keep the right to make our own health care decisions. Plus, you get a free record (and help me get rid of these boxes)! Do it! (CD and digital sales are doubled and donated also, but they’re not pink.) Click here to buy!

Fun Fun Fun Fest for Culture Map

I haven’t been singing for my supper so I wrote for it for Culture Map:

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Look what we did!

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Wow! Thanks to everyone who supported the She’s a Rainbow: Esme Barrera tribute record Indiegogo campaign! We almost doubled our goal and we raised enough money for over 20 girls to go to Girls Rock Camp Austin through the Esme Barrera Unlimited Possibilities Scholarship Fund! The outpouring of generosity is a testament to Esme’s spirit and friendship. It’s my hope that every time you play the record you’ll be reminded to be kind and open and live fully in the moment, just like our friend. I’m really proud of this project and I hope that seeing the band at the memorial service or with the Polyphonic Spree helped facilitate some healing. I wanted to post the story of how the band came together and how the record came to be. This was originally posted in the campaign updates.

How did the Esme Barrera Fan Club come to be?

I was on the Board of Directors at Girls Rock Austin when Esme was killed and we had a lot of discussion of how we could memorialize our friend and beloved volunteer. We wanted to show the community how much Esme meant to us as a volunteer and as a person. We wrote a press release expressing our grief and decided to name our scholarship fund after Esme, by calling it the “Esme Barrera Unlimited Possibilities Scholarship Fund.” It didn’t seem like enough. I knew Linda Maher, my co-organizer on this campaign, was arranging an Austin memorial in addition to the service in Esme’s hometown of El Paso. I knew the perfect song and I had an army of brilliant musicians at my disposal – my and Esme’s fellow volunteers at Girls Rock Camp. Inspired by Terri Lord’s suggestion of a drum line, I asked Linda if we could perform a song in Esme’s honor at the memorial. I talked to a core group – Terri leading percussion, Cari Palazzolo on keys and Akina Adderley as vocal arranger. Once they were on board I put the call out to the volunteers who’d worked with Esme. I didn’t know what to expect but everyone jumped on board. Under any other circumstance, organizing almost forty people would be a huge challenge – it can be hard enough to get four people in the same room for a band practice, but to say this was different would be an understatement. Everyone dropped everything and miraculously, the whole thing came together in just a few days. After the four of us came up with an arrangement, we had a full band rehearsal on a Sunday afternoon at the Scottish Rite Theater. Except for the two keyboards and the violins placed in front of microphones, the instrumentation was to be totally acoustic – marching band style drums, acoustic guitars, ukuleles, horns, and lots of bells and percussion. There were too many of us to try to make it into a rock band. There wasn’t a lead singer, just all of our voices together trying to convey the sadness of our loss and the respect and love we have for Esme. I was blown away by the magical coming together and the response we got.

How did this recording happen?

After the Austin memorial, Linda showed Benjamin Hotchkiss the video of the Fan Club performing “She’s a Rainbow” at the memorial. Linda commented how cool it would be to release the song as a 7” single. Benjamin, a local musician and producer, sprung into action. He called Kyle Crusham, who works at Tequila Mockingbird. Kyle talked to his bosses who immediately gave him the go-ahead and “She’s a Rainbow” was recorded in two emotional nights last February. The first night we did basic tracks – two full drum kits, piano, guitars, violins and saxophone. The second night we had a choir of around twenty women, added some glockenspiels and oboe, and started mixing. Benjamin and Kyle worked hard on the mix after the initial recording and we let it rest for over a year.

Things were really intense after Esme died but the beauty that happened was pretty amazing to watch. Love came pouring out, not just out of all corners of Austin, but from all over the county. Esme’s life inspired many who’d never met her and those of us who knew her felt the immediate need to do SOMETHING. Some held benefits for her family, made mixtapes and playlists, dedicated performances, hosted art shows and softball games, and much to our surprise, they suggested that mourners should contribute to Girls Rock Austin. This song and recording is what our little corner of the Esme universe did.

And then?

It took some time to heal. We let the recording rest and got ourselves back together. A year and a half later, we still feel our loss – hard. But we’re ready to share this with the world. We’re excited to do that on Esme’s favorite format – vinyl. We’re confident that this recording captures Esme’s beautiful spirit and we want people to have that experience, even if it’s just for the time it takes to play this song. Also, we hope you’ll pledge generously and help send some awesome kids to Girls Rock Camp Austin through the Esme Barrera Unlimited Possibilities Scholarship Fund.

About the B-side:

Christina Arellano is a seventeen year old singer-songwriter and guitarist from Tyler, Texas. She met Esme at Girls Rock Camp and was so saddened by her death she immediately wrote this moving song in tribute. She performed it, along with the Esme Barrera Fan Club, at the Austin memorial. She recorded this version in one take, and it first aired on Linda’s show the Clear Spot on KOOP 91.7.

Melissa Bryan
Austin, TX
July 8, 2013

About the Polyphonic Spree show:

After the Austin memorial, the Polyphonic Spree heard about our tribute to Esme and asked us to perform “She’s a Rainbow” with them at their Austin show last February. They’d already been covering the song (unbeknown to me) for years but they let us take the lead. We ran through it once at sound check and it turned out pretty amazing – over 50 people on stage – and done with absolute reverence to Esme. The band donated a good portion of their merch sales to the then newly created EBUPSF, funded a couple of scholarships and singer Tim DeLaughter talked up Girls Rock Camp and told the audience how inspiring Esme’s spirit was to him. Here’s a short video from our performance. Pretty amazing, eh?

She’s a Rainbow: a tribute to Esme Barrera

She’s a Rainbow: Esme Barrera tribute record and Girls Rock Austin Scholarship Fund

Help us make a record to commemorate Esme Barrera’s awesomeness — and send 10 young women for an empowering week of music camp with Girls Rock Austin. Support our Indiegogo Campaign!

esme and scarlett

Esme Barrera was a fixture in Austin’s underground music community – a bighearted music fan, a record store clerk, a Girls Rock Austin volunteer, a video star, and a ball of light and positivity to everyone she came in contact with. She was also a student, a special needs teaching assistant, and a devoted daughter and sister. After her tragic death on New Year’s Day 2012, almost forty of Austin’s finest female musicians (and Esme’s fellow Girls Rock Austin volunteers) came together to perform The Rolling Stones’ “She’s A Rainbow” at her Austin memorial. The song was then recorded with the generous help of Benjamin Hotchkiss and Kyle Crusham at Tequila Mockingbird.

EBFC band

A year and a half later, Esme’s friends, coworkers, family, students, and campers still feel her loss–but her colorful energy continues to radiate throughout the community. The recording of “She’s a Rainbow” captures Esme’s beautiful spirit and helps it live on for the world to experience through Esme’s favorite medium – records! Specifically, red vinyl 45s! Digital downloads are also available for the turntable deprived.

Your donation will help fund the production of “She’s a Rainbow” 7″ records and jackets, performed by the Esme Barerra Fan Club, and fund scholarships for girls to participate in Girls Rock Austin music programs.

Esme inspired people far and wide, and many others have written about her. Read Summer Anne Burton’s moving tribute “The year without Esme” on Buzzfeed. The Austin Chronicle and the Austin American Statesman also wrote eloquently about Esme.

We’re excited to offer this as a community project – and we want you to join us and help us get the record out. We believe in the power of the individual to make a difference and in the power of the collective to have an even greater impact. We are stronger together and we want to do this with you!

Ultimate Campaign Goal: $5950

$2000* – Record pressing, jacket printing, promotion and distribution of records.

$3950 will go directly into the Esme Barrera Unlimited Possibilities Scholarship Fund to provide full Girls Rock Austin scholarships to 10 girls who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go to an empowering music education program like this. Full fare girls rock camp tuition is $395. GRA aims to provides scholarships to half our campers. This summer, our four camps will serve almost one hundred eighty girls. That’s almost ninety girls that will have a Girls Rock experience thanks to this fund.

Any money raised beyond this campaign’s goal will provide more opportunities for girls in need.

NOTE: Most music camps are for-profit, costing 2-3 times as much as GRA’s programs and often teach students to play cover songs instead of encouraging students to experience the thrill of writing their own original material. The B-side of “She’s a Rainbow” will feature an original song about Esme composed and performed by former Girls Rock Camper, Christina Arellano.

What You Get For Participating  

Depending on your level of donation, you’ll get to experience the amazing recording of the Esme Barrera Fan Club performing “She’s a Rainbow,” backed with Christina Arellano’s “For Esme,” and special Girls Rock Austin events and merchandise.  Your contribution will be tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The record release party will be held at the Spiderhouse Ballroom on August 4th, 2013, from 4-8pm to commemorate Esme’s birthday.  Some of Esme’s favorite Austin bands will be performing as well as Girls Rock Camper bands. Copies of the 7-inch will be available for sale and pick-up at the event.

*Admission is subject to capacity of the venue. First come, first served.
**For Austin residents, records will be available for pick up at the release party or at Waterloo Records for a limited time following the event. Non-local orders will be mailed. Please allow for extra shipping charges for deliveries outside of the contiguous 48 US states. 

Contact us at to request mailing, or if you have any questions about this campaign.

The Impact You’ll Have

Esme was passionate about Girls Rock Austin, and we strive to keep her name and memory alive by providing a safe space for girls from all backgrounds to develop their own musical and personal voices. This scholarship helps bring kids to camp, many of whom wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford to come. Our programs provide music instruction, a variety of workshops, and performances by local bands in a positive, all-female environment. Leadership opportunities are provided for campers to build self-esteem, increase self-efficacy, and find their own voices through a collaborative and supportive creative process. We are a nonprofit dedicated to building a community of empowered girls and women, who have the confidence to pursue their goals any field.

Here are a few highlights of our accomplishments over the years:

  • 100 to 120 girls aged 10-17 have attended Girls Rock Camp here in Austin every summer since 2008.  Not counting returning campers, we have served over 350 girls.

  • Nearly half of the girls who attend Girls Rock Camp have done so on full or partial scholarship, and affording this expense is the bulk of our fundraising activity.  We are the only rock camp in Austin with a mission to serve girls from low-income backgrounds.

  • GRA has been partnering with the Settlement Home for Children since 2011, and last summer we enabled 9 girls in residential foster care to attend the camp entirely for free.  This year we will serve 12 girls from the Settlement Home for Children.

  • The annual Ladies Rock Camp program provides a venue for women to experience the joys of rock camp while raising scholarship funds for girls.  We have provided an empowering experience to 60+ women aged 18-88 through Ladies Rock Camp.

  • GRA has been backed by community and business sponsorships, allowing us to broaden our reach and provide top-notch programming to more girls.  We have been awarded grants by the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division and Texas Commission on the Arts, and received corporate support from Maurice’s, SXSW, and Guitar Center.

Our goals for 2013 include:

  • Increasing camp to three summer sessions to meet the growing demand for girls ages 10 to 17, and establishing a new program for girls ages 7 to 9.  This summer, we will serve nearly 180 girls.

  • Exploring options for after-school programming in the Fall semester, and continuing to expand our outreach and partnerships with other organizations to make this growth possible.

Other Ways You Can Help

Share this campaign! Facebook, tweet, pin, tumble, email, and call your friends on tin cans! Tell them about this amazing person, and how they can keep her memory alive and support Girls Rock Austin.

We understand if money is not the best way for you to contribute.  There are still a lot of ways you can get involved with the girls rock camp movement and help to support Esme’s legacy of community involvement.  We have a record of four camp sessions this summer, twice as much we normally have! Girls Rock Austin depends on the hard work, advice, and support of many individual volunteers, donors, and business sponsors. Volunteers are essential to both the existence and the spirit of our nonprofit camps, and music experience is not necessary for all positions. Check out the webpage for volunteer opportunities:

Thank you!

*Special thanks to Chicago Mastering Servicefor generously donating mastering service and to Gerard Cosloy at Matador Records and 12XU Records and Richard Lynn at Super Secret Records for their help.


Huffington Post today!

Thanks to Mary Pauline Lowry for writing about me and my album in the Huffington Post.

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New! Return of the Woman video!

Directed by Heather Webb.

Record Release Party, art show and dance party! With John Wesley Coleman III and the Sisters Grimmm!

Melissa Bryan record release party/art show/dance party

Obsolete Industries, 1700 E. 12th Street

Free. All ages. Open to the public. BYOB.

The Sisters Grimmm kick it off with a short set at 8:30. Gerard Cosloy and Lori Barbero spin records early in the evening, DJ Sue and KOOP’s Stronger than Dirt host Scott Gardner play the dance jamz after the live music.

Dear friends,

After three and a half years of labor as intensive as the Octomum –  had she squeezed every last pup out herself (sans epidural) AND while married to Jon Gosselin**, I am finally freaking releasing my first ever solo album, Return of the Woman.

Now that the torture is over, the drinking and whoring begin. I am having a party. Par-TAY, PAR-TAY. Fortunately, Mr. Billy Bishop finally realized the only way he will stop hearing about the money he owes me is if he’d help me throw this here shindig at his Obsolete Industries studio, at 1700 East 12th Street.

We’re gonna eat some h’orderves, which you’re gonna bring.  Yep, bring food. Seriously, I’m asking you to bring food to MY par-tay. There might be some beer, but you need to bring more. Hey ho!

As for the art show, I’ve asked a bunch of my musician/artists and artist/photographers who-hang-with-musicians pals to show their work. You will be inspired because they all rule. (If you’d like to participate, please send me a message!)

My close personal friends Lori Barbero and Gerard Cosloy will provide the between the bands jamz and DJ Sue and KOOP’s Scott Gardner will round out the evening with a dance party like no other.

You will provide the good good vibes.

Live music will start around 8PM with Girls Rock Camp superstars The Sisters Grimmm,  The sister are Zoe, 12, on bass and Mia, 10, on guitar. After their set, Mia will challenge you to a finger tap-off and Mia will embarrass you. Next, Goner Record’s pistol toting bad boy (and backup singer on 2 songs on Return of the Woman) John Wesley Coleman III, will play with his own band of superstars. The incomparable Terri Lord and Chepo Pena (Sincola uber-rhythm section, for you old folks) and the Diamond Smuggler’s improv anti-hero John Ratliff will accompany me with some extra special guests. You’ll have to wait and see.

I considered registering for my big day at Stockholm-syndrome-survivors-r-us, but after much deliberation I decided to simply be grateful for the good things. Meaning lots of you, my dog, my stacks of self help books and the makers of hydrocodone. That said, if you’d like to fork over for a Breville conical burr coffee grinder, I’d take it happily.

This is a really big deal for me and I hope to see lots of friends out. I’ve even rented a porta-potty. (Trust me, it’s better than Billy’s bathroom.)  I’m already praying it’s purple, like the one the CoA has planted in my front yard.  (Hey, screw renting, does anyone have a truck?) And with that last bit of temptation, I sincerely hope to see you October 1!!!

Art/photos by:

Billy Bishop

Aasim Syed

Allyson Lipkin

Alfonso Rabago

Bill Jeffery

Chepo Peña

Conner O’Leary

Darin Hooks

John Wesley Coleman III

Jon Chamberlain

Laura Matthews

Lisa Dirocco

Marisa Pool

Melissa Bryan

Nic Armstrong

Renate Winter

Terri Lord

**I’ve been informed that the Octomom has nothing to do with John Gosslin, except that they are both cursed with 8 children and there have been rumors of a reality show where they date. If you already knew this, SHAME on you.



Jealous Monday!

I’m excited to play the first Jealous Monday tonight!! It’s with Rocky & Wildcat and my new favorites, Bobby Jealousy at 29th Street Ballroom (2906 Fruth Street). We’ll be collecting non-perishable food for the Capital Area Food Band to help the central Texas fire relief efforts. Their requests:

Water and enhanced water such as Gatorade; ready to eat meals preferably with pull-up, pop tops or foil packets such as chili, stew, canned pasta w/sauce; single serving snacks such as protein or granola bars; single serving foods that do not require refrigeration such as Lunchables; diapers and baby formula.

Also, I’ll have t-shirts!! Proceeds from sales will benefit the Women’s Media Center.

On Russia, and being scared.

My album comes out in less than three weeks. I wrote a thing from my past self to my present self about being terrified. A little context from Wiki Travel Russia:

Obtaining a Russian visa is a costly, time-consuming, and often frustrating process. Most visitors should start the process at least two months in advance, but it can be done in a few weeks if you are willing to spend a little extra. For citizens of EU-Schengen countries, this will cost €35 and take three days (or even the next day), instead of the usual 4-10 days. There is also a way to get a visa in just a few days, but for citizens of some countries, this will cost a couple hundred dollars.

Dear Melissa,

Remember that time you were sitting on that train and you handed your passport to the cherubic Finnish border Guard and Cherubic Finnish Border Guard raised his eyebrows at you and said “you’re going to Russia…ALONE?” and you said “Yes, why? WHY? TELL ME!” and Cherubic Finnish Border Guard gave you a look like you’d just killed a kitten, shook his head and walked away. Remember that? Remember the quaking quaking quaking in your guts and how you wanted to puke and scream and cry all at the same time?

Remember how your Swedish friends begged you not to go to Russia because nobody goes to Russia and you were going to get kidnapped by the mafia and held for ransom and remember how you spent most of your time in Stockholm sitting in the internet cafe full of Swedish nerds playing Doom even though it was was the beginning of the internet and the internet was as slow as a bread line but you needed to figure how to get into Russia because it wasn’t easy you had to had to have an invitation and a visa and a lot of money and if you call the Russian embassy in Stockholm you better speak Russian or a least a little Swedish and you can only do that on Tuesdays from 2-4 and Fridays from 10-11. Do you remember all that time you spent before you left trying to figure it out you called the Russian embassy in Washington DC but it was like the cold war on the line with all the grunts and the barking and the disparaging tones and your time was tight because the buddy pass the super nice Delta employee you knew from the YMCA gave you was about to expire because you kept waiting for the right opportunity to present itself and waiting and then you just said fuck it, I’m getting on the plane.

Remember how the whole time you were in Stockholm pretty and clean Stockholm the city without grit you were with good friends eating fresh and delicious food you were thinking about Russia and how would you get in there YOU HAD TO DO IT and you were worried because you had even marched into your boss’ offices and told her you were going to be gone for a while and she said you can’t just march in here and say you’re going to be gone that long and you said I am going I hope I have a job when I get back. You didn’t even know where this Russia obsession started but it was probably with the nukes and the hiding under the desks and the USSR and the perestroika which was only like 10 years previous but most likely it started with Olga Korbut in 1976. And you could never be Olga Korbut but goddammit you could go to Russia.

So you decided to sail the high seas on a casino boat over to Helsinki, a city where every young woman looked like you with their short blond hair leather jacket tight pants a place where your guide book said there was a travel agency that would sell you a tourist visa to Russia in an hour the only place in the world you could get such a thing and you don’t know why you didn’t just call them to make sure and you wished you hadn’t spent all that time worrying and sitting in internet cafes because you didn’t trust going all the way to Finland to maybe not get into Russia. But hooray the book was right and the agent was so friendly besides that you met a nice American businessman who lives in St. Petersburg and has to come back to this agency every 6 months to get his visa renewed and he assured you that Russia is very safe and the mafia will only mess with you if you are a business person doing business, like him, and he gave you his card and told you that if you got into trouble you could call him. So you spent the night in a sanitized youth hostel and got up the next morning and went to the orderly Helsinki train station, and despite the quaking you took your clean comfortable seat by the window.

Remember how the scenery changed and maybe if this was a perfect metaphor the change would have been the opposite but things are never perfect and the outside of the train window changed from lush and beautiful and clean and as soon as Cherubic Finnish Border Guard got off the train things became dirty and poor and it looked like maybe a nuclear bomb had gone off. Remember how you felt bad because the decrepitness kinda turned you on and you didn’t realize it yet but you really like to find the beauty in struggle and how you feel so at home in places where people have to fight.

Remember how you stepped out of that train into a crush of a crowd and you’d never seen people so eager to get into a train station and you just wanted to stand and look at the bright blue sky and the leaves falling off the trees and and the strange letters on the signs and all those men who wanted to take you places in their taxis but for once because of the quaking you had arranged to have someone pick you up — someone you found on the internet so who knows she could have been in the mafia but she turned out to be a regular woman who had a job she had to go back to so her teenage daughter’s boyfriend drove you around St. Petersburg in a teeny rusted car while he explained in broken English that there are no rules to the road in Russia which he didn’t really need to tell you because, holy shit are we really gonna drive in the middle of the oncoming traffic, and when you saw the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood it was the most amazing thing you’d ever seen, sticking out like a technicolor lollipop among shoeboxes and he said “eh, that’s not much.”

Remember how you went immediately to the cafe your guide book said the expats hung out in and when they brought your food they also brought a shot glass of clear liquid and you were convinced it was poison because you know Russia is very dangerous and you only drank half of it because you didn’t want to get drunk and lose your mind besides that the poison even though the women in the fur coats and the perfectly fluffy hair and manicured nails were drinking the poison but they were probably mafia women and mafia women are immune to poison until they’re not.

And then you finally took a gulp of air and interrupted a couple with notebooks who were speaking the Queen’s English and you asked the woman is it safe here and she laughed and said oh my gosh yes, don’t worry, I was scared at first too, but I feel safer here than I do in London, I even walk around at all hours of the night, just be smart.

You knew you had to do it, so you went out and wandered Nevsky Prospekt alone and felt the cold air on your face and when a smiling woman approached you asking a friendly question in Russian, suddenly it was as if someone took the Kremlin off your back. So you mastered the strange letters and made new friends who were instant soul mates and ate blinis and kabobs from the street and guzzled Baltika and the vodka was no longer poisonous and you looked unsuccessfully for record stores and tourist information in English and you took 20 minute taxi rides for 4 dollars and and accidentally ate at Subway which you only realized when you recognized the yellow wallpaper but oh my god you were so hungry and you went to the countryside and the castle Peterhof on a Marshrut decorated with pompoms and fringe blasting crazy music and ate your weight in pickled carrots and you even tried to go to a ballet and you hitchhiked your way across the city with the Russian guy and went to a neon filled dance club with women in spandex dresses and men in polyester suits and gold chains and you stood overwhelmed in the Hermitage where the sun shone on the Picassos and despite the daunting hugeness and the grey clad school children darting about and the dirt and the piles of concrete in the corners and the peeling paint it was just so so so goddamn beautiful and even though you weren’t supposed to you touched the mosaics inside the technicolor lollipop church like you’d never touched anything before and gasped in awe at the colored spirals against the blue sky and you got that grand feeling of love in your gut like you might explode you though eh, that’s not much, MY ASS.

And so Melissa, if you could just remember how determined you were and how hard you worked and how fucking scary it was and how St. Petersburg became the best place you’d ever been and now you know there were so many more places yet to see and so much more greatness yet to come, I think that would help you a lot right now.




We will chomp you

We will chomp you.



Tonight at Beerland, 711 Red River, Austin, Tejas.