Un Bio de Emch
The short of it:
The Secret Emchy Society plays foot stompin' heart breakin' cowboy songs about good friends and hard times. Frontperson Cindy Emch sings deeply personal, fearless, and passionate ballads for the marginalized and festive alike. Pairs well with whisky and hitting the streets.
While Secret Emchy Society does have a rotating cast of musicians depending on geography - the current Bay Area line up features Hans Winold on bass and Eric 'Scratch' Ingerson on drums.
She has previously sung, strummed, and squeezeboxed her way around the country with the bands Vagabondage, Rhubarb Whiskey, Sinners Tonic, Oakland Wine Drinkers Union, Jerk Church, and Feral.
Emchy is also published poet / writer. She has been interviewed on PirateCat Radio, FCC Free Radio, OutsiderWriters.com, ReadThisMagazine.co.uk, Drinks with Tony (Radio Valencia) and on NPR for her writing, her music, and her propensity for being in car accidents that are not her fault. She has also been featured in the Accordion Babes Calendar.
She has published five chapbooks, founded / hosted / curated the Queer Open Mic for five years, and featured at dozens of spoken word showcases including Sister Spit, the Radar Reading series, K'vetch, Writers With Drinks, as well as co-hosted a queer radio show with Lynn Breedlove.
She believes that art can change the world and that it's not so hard to be nice to people. She also thinks that dirt smells like magic and gets lost in the woods on purpose.
The long of it:
Cindy Emch was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan on September 11. She attended Michigan State University and interned at On Our Backs magazine. After MSU she moved to the Bay Area to live in Oakland, CA and work for Stormy Leather. Her next job was for the SF LGBT Film Festival (Frameline). It was through her work at Frameline that she began curating films and publishing her pop culture writings. Her next position of note was for AtomFilms.com where she was the Programming Manager for AtomFilms and AtomUploads.com - part of the MTV Networks family. After a few years she moved on to Jaman.com, a company specializing in streaming international and art house cinema on the web. She left Jaman to pursue freelance consulting work and returned to Frameline and help create a long range strategy for the marketing and online community aspects of both the Distribution and Festival arms of the organization. Until early 2016 she was working as the lead editor for Music Videos / Live Nation Events at Yahoo! After being laid off she opted to pursue her music full time and make the Secret Emchy Society her primary project.
Cindy learned to perform as a young child singing along to her Mother practicing 1920's cabaret songs on the accordion. She lifted up the musical mantle herself when she taught herself guitar using a Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen songbook at the tender age of 14 while working as a Boat Launch Guard in rural Michigan. It was many years later that she was inspired by her friends Geoff Berner and Mark Growden and picked up an accordion herself. The next day she answered a blog comment about her new instrument from John Flaw and Vagabondage was born. In the next couple of years Vagabondage began playing frequently throughout the Bay Area with bands like T Sisters, Birds Eat Baby, Geoff Berner and more. Meanwhile Cindy also started up a bluegrass / murder ballad band with Patrick McMains (stagename Boylamayka Sazerac) formerly of the Berkeley pop punk band Subincision, and Rhubarb Whiskey was also born. While Cindy got happier and happier songwriting and playing with the guys, she decided to hit the road and went on the Hobo Love Tour: an accordion and poetry cabaret with midwestern cohort One Beer Prophet. A few years later on a random visit, Rhubarb Whiskey and One Beer Prophet realized after jamming together that they too were a band and the Oakland Wine Drinkers Union, Local 88 came into the world. In late 2011 she began collaborating with Maximus Barnaby (founder of Boylesque) and Sean Malroy (The Sweet Trade, Rhubarb Whiskey) to create a queer flavored musical set in the Weimar era based on the writings of Hans Schwitter which is still in progress. She is also working with New York based accordionist Seth Bethford on a three part murder ballads operetta based on real life crimes that they have been touched by. In late 2012 Rhubarb Whiskey experienced some geographical troubles, but powered through them to release their second full length album Same Sad End, featuring guest vocals by Juno-nominated Carolyn Mark in early 2013. Cindy began recording her solo EP Feral. During the course of recording her collaborations with Ed Cagnacci and Norman Carley were explosive enough that a new band Feral (named after the EP) was formed. In early 2014 Cindy and Sean released an EP from their queer Rhubarb side project Sinners Tonic. Then in April of 2014 Cindy finally released her solo EP. In December of 2014 Vagabondage released their Slow Room Bar EP. In February of 2015 Feral was featured for the second year in a row at the Couch by Couchwest festival, and the proceeded to join Carolyn Mark in April for her Guns & Winos West Coast Tour. Feral, Sinners Tonic, OWDU, and Rhubarb Whiskey went on hiatus in late 2015 so that Cindy could focus on Secret Emchy Society. In 2016 Cindy was proud to lend guest backing vocals (along with Neko Case) on the new album by Carolyn Mark - who is a long-time contributor and enabler of the Secret Emchy Society. Cindy's solo project SES collects musicians where ever it goes - and now has regional backing bands in Victoria, Vancouver, Portland, and the Bay Area. Cindy has toured the Vancouver Islands and Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles with this group - and the late summer / fall of 2017 plans to take the act to the Midwest, Southwest, American South, and British Columbia.
Cindy Emch's first San Francisco feature was at the first Labrynth Alley Arts Salon in 1998. She has since featured at Writers With Drinks, RADAR, Writers Village (part of SF Pride), Smack Dab, K'vetsch, SFinX, The Perpetual Motion Road Show, the 24 Hour Poetry Event (with California College of the Arts), Art for Autism, Sizzle (with Femina Potens), the National Queer Arts Festival, Poems Under the Dome and more.
She has been a curator for the National Queer Arts Festival since 1995 and has been the recipient of a Creating Community grant from the Queer Cultural Center. In 2004 she felt the need for an inclusive and open community space to share art across all gender, orientation, age and cultural lines and so founded the Queer Open Mic in San Francisco. Cindy handed this event over to Sarah Dopp in 2008 so that she could focus more on her musical pursuits. She also co-hosted the Unka Lynnee & Aunty Cindy Show with Lynn Breedlove on Pirate Cat Radio (piratecatradio.com) for two years. Podcasts of the show are available at archive.com. She is currently working on a chapbook based on the literal and figurative feminist mythologies inspired by the Black Woods. She was recently published in the fashion anthology It's So You edited by Michelle Tea.
Queer Open Mic
Cindy founded the Queer Open Mic at the Three Dollar Bill Cafe. The first feature was recovering slam poet Lauren Wheeler. In late 2005 Sherily Connelly joined as a co-host. Lynn Breedlove was a sometimes Guest Co-Host during this time. When Sherilyn stepped down Mollena Williams took over the co-host role. Later when Cindy stepped down as founder / curator Mollena and Sarah Dopp took the helm. Currently Baruch and Blythe are co-hosts and curators. Queer Open Mic is a community resource, gathering space and performance venue for folks of all varieties to come together to connect through art. Past features have included Daphne Gottlieb, Michelle Tea, Meliza Banales, Cooper Bombardier, Storm Florez, Thea Hillman, Fran Varian, Juba Kalamka, Heathen Machinery,Ryka Aoki de la Cruz, solidad de costa, Tina Butcher, Lynn Breedlove, Jackie Strano, Tim'm West, Shar Rednour, Yankee Sheila, Hazel Pine, Neely Bat, Jen Cross, Tara Jepsen, Horehound Stillpoint and more. The current status of this hootenanny can be found at www.queeropenmic.com
Unka Lynnee & Aunty Cindy Show
Cindy Emch began co-hosting this queer advice / eclectic radio show with Lynn Breedlove in December of 2004 and co-helmed the mic until February of 2007. The show was described as Old skool nu skool i didnt go to skool. we play queer, chick, trans and garden variety tunes… punk rock, musicals, chick cock rock, math rock, gay vaudevillian shit from the twenties and weird pop culture archival shit that we find laying around san clamsdisco. in between folks can call up with questions about gender, trans identity, body modification, hormones, feminism, dating,femmes, butches, and general queer bot issues. ROCK ON WIT YER SOX ON. Existing as a combination pop culture melting pot and showcase of queer artists, guest performers include Meliza Banales, Daphne Gottlieb, Katastrophe, Michelle Tea, Cooper Lee, Heather Gold, Kelly Lee Beardsley, Frances Varian, Annie Sprinkle and more.