The coolest band you’ve never heard of
Three Island-born female punk rockers who blazed their own trail
In the 1970s, Britain’s rising punk rock scene swept over the country’s rambunctious youth. Wildly popular bands like the Sex Pistols and the Clash performed for massive crowds and their influence spread to North America.
A world away in Saanich, BC, Jade Blade, Carmen “Scout” Michaud, and Dale Powers listened to their rambunctious records and soaked in the anti-establishment punk rock ethos. In 1977 the three highschoolers formed a band—the Dishrags were born.
The Dishrags were one of North America’s first all-female punk bands. In a music genre that was already obscure, they were an oddity in the male-dominated punk-rock scene. Jade Blade wailed on the guitar, Carmen “Scout” Michaud beat the drums, while Dale Powers slapped the bass. They all shared vocals.
Some audience members failed to appreciate the all-female trio and even threw beer bottles at the 14- and 15-year-old teens. At some gigs, establishment owners wouldn’t want them to play on the venue drum kits or use the amps because they thought girls would break them.
But the punk scene was mostly positive. They played in what was considered to be Vancouver’s very first punk rock concert at the Japanese Hall. They would continue to perform in Vancouver the following year (while still attending high school) and in 1979 opened for a band they had only two years earlier admired from afar.
In January 1979 they opened for the Clash at the Commodore Ballroom. After that show the Clash invited them to open again at their next stop in Seattle.
The band began with covers then moved into writing their own songs and worked with Modern Records out of Seattle. They released two 3-track Eps: Past is Past in 1979, and Death in the Family in 1980.
The band disbanded in 1980 for reasons known only fully to the band members. Fast forward to 1997 and they re-released all of their original recordings in an album called Love/Hate.
In 2010 the old band got back together. The documentary “Bloodied but Unbowed” spotlighted them, and in the same year they toured Japan with the Pointed Sticks.
Their legacy lives on in today’s rebellious punk youth. The group trailblazed for both the punk scene in BC and female punks. Today, women dressed in punk attire are sometimes referred to as dishrags.
Interview with the Dishrags in 2010:
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