Punk Rock Rabbi
Uh-huh. After many years of touring rock musician Louisa Rachel Solomon knows how to unwind between shows she likes to get her whole band together to party at a hotel waterside, including when she's eight months pregnant. Picture of very visibly pregnant woman with her crew piled into a hot tub when a few random broS slip in with them. That's when Lewis gets up to go on her waterside run. Then saw this happening. Saw me going up the stairs to the waterside with my pregnant swimsuit body. And they're like one of you has to stop her and my bandmates our lake do they think they can stop her from going down the water slide like even if I wanted to stop her. That's not possible. She wants to go down the water slide. She's gonna go. This is the double shift the show about a new generation of working mothers. I'm your host, Catherine Goldstein every mother works, and this podcast is about our stories. It's not about parenting or kids. It's about us and challenging the world. We live in today. This season. You'll hear reported stories from Lyon, counting Uva to Greensboro, North Carolina from politicians musicians to sex workers and executives and the thing that all of these moms have in common is that they aren't willing to accept the way things are they're writing their own rules instead. That woman. You just heard that was Louisa Rachel Solomon, the front woman for queer feminist rock band with Jewish influences. The shawna's in. This nothing. A shonda in Yiddish is a disgrace or shame. So it's usually an insult that perhaps a grandmother would throw at a child we thought it was an appropriate reclamation. When we started the band. Rule that. In addition to being a musician and front woman with the shawna's. Louisa is also a thirty seven year old practicing Jew apparent to two year old Rosie and a radical political activist and all of these parts of Louisa feed into each other fighting for climate Justice and singing about mental health and observing Judaism for Louisa they are all related today. We'll explore this and get a big question that many of us face. How do you have a creative fulfilling professional life after having a kid? Louise's been asking big questions for a long time. She was always a deep thinker and a spiritual searcher ever since she was really young. I remember a lot of times being up in bed with insomnia as a little kid and feeling a lot of existential terror. I wanted to feel safe, and I felt a desire to reach out for something that might be comforting. I guess and it wasn't my parents. So what was it? And it was sort of this imagining that maybe there was something out there looking out for us. But also that made anything make any fucking sense. So connecting to God is a constant in Lewis life. And so is music. She started touring when she was twelve years old. So I was really really inspired by DIY punk it sounded bananas. I mean, it was a lot of screaming. I was learning. How to scream saying which blew out my voice, probably. In college. She met you lie Obermann, and they eventually became the core. Members of the shawna's in their twenties. The band started getting some traction and touring across the US, but the realities of traveling with an indie punk band are pretty exhausting playing house shows sleeping, then in the same room that you played in you know, drinking a lot of beer, even if you're not doing coke. Hanging out being up all night, you know, connecting with people talking about politics and big ideas. But like staying up all night and then having to get up for another. Maybe fifty an hour drive. Just being depleted and tired all the time. The financial logistics of touring could also be a bit tricky. We could totally stay afloat. If we were always touring. So we made enough money to pay for gas and food and put them in the Bank and all of that stuff. But we could never come home because at home there was rent, and we live in New York. So we would sell it our apartments when we were toying. So we never made enough money that we could be living in New York when we weren't touring and pay our rent without working jobs in her twenties. Lewis could have a life that revolved around the band. She was willing to quit her day job and lose health insurance. So she could tour, but by her early thirties things started to change. She married her bandmates brother Miller, and they decided to start a family and Louisa had no plans of leaving music or touring behind in twenty sixteen the shawna's recorded a new album Brighton. And the band went on tour while she was in her third trimester. My main symptom at that time was just exhaustion. I was used to going to bed at like nine PM during pregnancy. And of course, on tour, you're often performing at midnight. So it was challenging, but it was also really really exciting. And it felt very very good to get on stage and feel like myself. Being on stage for me feels very alive and having a living thing inside your body while doing that is you know, an experience I wouldn't trade for anything. But let's be honest. There are some pretty powerful societal expectations that once you get pregnant it's time to quote, unquote, settle down and give up parts of your old life like in Louise's case touring with a punk rock band. People often didn't know I was pregnant until I took my base off. And then would be like what the fuck, you know, and. I mean, some people think it's like really cool. Some people would say you're such a hero. And I found that almost it's very kind that people would say, but I found it almost as off putting as the people telling me I was like killing my baby by touring. Not quite as off putting as that. But it's like in either case, I felt like someone was making a oversized judgement of my actions as opposed to asking me like how do you feel about this or or saying that's really cool means a lot to me to see a pregnant person on stage playing I love that it meant something to people. But I was like I'm not a hero. I'm doing what I want to do the idea that a pregnant person is supposed to behave. A certain way is a very strong force in our culture. One Louisa has to fight back against often. My grandmother has that idea. She would always be telling me not to exercise not to go outside when I was pregnant. Oh, it's like pregnant, stay home tonight. Let militant care of you. And I'm like, I won't be happy. If I stay home. I want to go play music want to go down a waterslide. I'm much more concerned about what happens to this fetus, if I'm depressed than I am about what happens to the fetus. If I go down a water slide. So I think this is a great time to take a break and hear from our sponsors. Could listening. Make you a happier person at work or more engaged person. When you're with your family could listening keep you motivated with your health and fitness goals. There's never been a better time to start listening on audible with audible, you get access to an unbeatable selection of audiobooks, including bestsellers motivation mysteries thrillers, memoirs and more audible has the largest selection of audiobooks on the planet. And now with audible originals this election has gotten even more custom with content made just for members over the holidays. I read Michelle Obama's memoir becoming and it was so awesome. I couldn't put it down. And I see that audible has it as an audio book actually read by her which sounds totally incredible. 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Having a kid has made her reevaluate a bunch of things in her life, including how to make it work touring with the shawna's, which she started doing pretty soon after her baby was born Rosie was three months, so she could sleep in green rooms, and we had torn Annie's with us family members who are doing that job and two vehicles, and we figured it out, and we made it work. But as she got older and her sleep, gum more complicated. As tends to do that didn't seem like the best option. When I spoke to Louisa the shawna's were trying a new way of touring with a top. We decided to use my mother-in-law's house in Charlottesville as an anchor sort of a base usually at home at this point burqa Shem, she'll she'll sleep till six fifteen but in a at my grandmother's house, she wakes up at four forty five. It's such a nightmare. You're so tired. On tour. That's not really. An okay thing to happen. If you wanna be able to sing and perform. This. So for this tour Miller, and Rosie are camped out at Miller's mom's house as Louisa comes in and out of town. But for my partner, it's actually really hard because when he's experiencing is that he's getting left behind every single day. So it's like not in a way where he's angry at me about it. Because obviously we have agreements about this stuff. But it's like that's a big part of parenthood is that balance between the constant sense of weighty responsibility and the desire to experience some kind of freedom, but you want to be able to do it together. Yes. Freedom together, a feeling that is so allusive when you have a little kid to manage and babysitters are so expensive. But it's not just childcare logistics or the emotional toll of traveling that has made Louisa briefing things. It's the financial reality of being a moderately, but not wildly successful band. So all ready someone like. You know, my grandmother as an example to keep pulling her into this. But she's, you know, she's always going to be thinking when when are you going to stop doing that the playing of the shows at the clubs, you know, it's not safe, and it doesn't make good money. And in my twenties, I had some hope that though, it was unlikely maybe it would become sustainable financially. Right. And that hasn't happened. It's really hard to know what your next move is career wise when there's sort of nowhere to go. The we now realizes her professional pass doesn't just have to be about following one passion and feeling frustrated that it hasn't worked out exactly as she dreamed. Louisa is now exploring a second passion. She wants to become a rabbi. I'm very drawn to both music and the rabbinate for very similar reasons for me like when I sing on stage. It does feel like my job is to inspire hope and people as I take Asli choose willfully to hope myself. And that's the same reason. I wanna be a rabbi, you know, I wanna help people feel things I wanna help people keep their hope going. So that they're motivated to engage in political action to help make better world to practice having bonds with one another that are just so a love song is for me so much so so related to what I imagine talking about with a couple who wants to have a Jewish wedding that I'm sitting down with to plan their wedding ceremony. Anyway, coming of. Fucking weird. Under patriarch gate. That kid is fucked. Mother. Here you talk. I'm also thinking about how I've thought a lot about having a child is like the ultimate act of hope. Yes. And it's there so connected. Because to have to choose to have a child is to believe things will be beautiful and better it has it has to be right, right? There's no choice for me. I love this person. I need this person to have a future we have to make sure that that are little people get to have a future. Do you feel like that that has infused your music, and your perspective even more since she was born guess hundred percent? Yeah. Having having a child makes hope a non negotiable. Rather than giving up on her passions? Now that she's a parent what if life could be even more fulfilling now, what if she was just as inspired by her job every day as she is when she's playing music what if she could be a rocker and a rabbi, I mean, I don't know how that's going to go. I don't claim to have this figured out. But I also don't have it figured out how to tour with toddler like, it's something that I'm learning on the fly because I have to because I want to have to in the sense that it is what makes me fulfiled human being in the world. So I'm just like this is a good time to dive in. We'll see what happens. We'll work it out. I don't know how little off it together. But if anyone can figure it out, I think, it's me. So I'm going to try. I totally want you to be my rabbi. I am. I am drafting a patriot to fund my rabbinical education. And I'm trying to think about what it's how it's gonna work. And I'm like, I'll do a phone call with you to plan your next ritual or all all I will officiate your ritual. But know that I'm not a rabbi, but I'll do it. You just give me like five bucks a month. And then I will come and be your fake rabbi until I'm a real one. And a final quick tip for anyone out there looking to get pregnant Louisa offers, not just spiritual guidance. She also has some really helpful DIY techniques. In case you ever find yourself backstage at one of Washington DC's, most famous rock clubs and need to know if you're waiting and I needed to do that while in the green room, the black cat, and I had no Cup to into but I was super hardcore. And I took a water bottle and stabbed it with a fork repeatedly until I was able to tear it into a Cup. Then I was able to into it and assess that I was not in fact off feeling. Few things are more punk rock than peeing into a water bottle. So, you know. Thanks so much for listening to the very first episode of the double shift. Make sure you're subscribed to hear our future shows. And if you like what you heard, please leave us a review on your podcast app, and don't be shy. Tell your friends about us to see photos of a we follow us on Instagram at the double shift, and you can sign up for our newsletter at the double shift dot com. In two weeks. We're back with new episode from place, you might not think of as family friendly. It stay in Las Vegas or wherever your plans. Take it today. We're going inside a twenty four hour daycare in sin city. Our executive producer is there. Eventually our editor is Rachel McCarthy, and our editorial visor is Amy westervelt production assistance, from he Dale. Hi gushy. Baba? Jackie paulie, and nito mastery special. Thanks to the pin hook in Durham, North Carolina. Lewis Wallace Katie Ross, the Sean does and the southern documentary fund. Our theme song is by pale hound. And we're part of the critical frequency podcast network. The show is made possible in part through the generous support of the Ford Foundation. I'm your host, Catherine Goldstein, thanks for joining the double shift.