What: Buffalo Gals women songwriters showcase

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Volcanic Theatre Pub, 70 SW Century Drive, Bend

Cost: $10

Contact: volcanictheatrepub.com or 541-323-1881

Ani DiFranco was a “game-changer” for Jess Ryan.

The Bend singer-songwriter was 15 and lived in Vallejo, California, at the time she discovered the outspoken indie-folk rocker and activist. She bought her first acoustic guitar shortly after.

“It inspired me and gave me hope for — man, I could do that. I could play; I could tour; I could sell my tapes — because that’s what she was doing at that time,” Ryan, now 32, said. “She started her own record label when she was 19. She was a righteous babe — that’s her record label. I think it’s important for young people, or even adults — anyone aspiring to create art, whether that’s music or whatever else it might be — to have women there doing it and saying, ‘It’s possible, you can do this and you can pave your own way and get out there.”

In the ensuing years, Ryan honed her songwriting while traveling around the West, all the while remembering DiFranco’s example. At one point, she hosted a radio show titled “Crème Brûlée” that only featured women musicians, she said. So when Chico, California, based promoter and artist Julian Ruck approached her about performing as part of Buffalo Gals, an all-women songwriting showcase at Volcanic Theatre Pub on Friday, she jumped at the chance.

The showcase will feature eight acts — five from Bend and the rest from around the Pacific Northwest — ranging from professional touring musicians, such as Olympia, Washington, songwriter Alexa Jane, Eugene singer/rapper Elena Leona and Portland duo Complimentary Colors, to women just starting to perform. In fact, this will be the first show ever for Bend singer-songwriter and pianist Kourtni Perez, who performs under just the name Kourtni.

“I taught myself how to play the piano last year,” Perez said. “I’ve always really loved music, and I thought guitar would be the first thing (I would learn), because everyone’s like, oh, you can play guitar, it’s mobile and everyone kind of does it. But I suck at guitar — I just don’t have the guitar ability. But piano runs in my family, and I was lucky enough to get a keyboard a couple years ago and lugged it around from place to place. And then finally last year I just took it out and was like, I’m gonna teach myself.”

Sister duo She’s With Me, slated to open the show along with Kourtni, is another relative newcomer on the Bend scene. Crystal Pizzola, singer and songwriter with long-running Bend soul/rock group Tone Red, and Ryan are more established. In the last few years, Ryan has made a mark on the local rock scene with her eponymous five-piece band, which specializes in muscular, soul- and psych-inflected rock ’n’ roll.

Pianist/songwriter Shonna Lyn Cunningham, who performs as Shonna Lyn, will round out the Bend talent. The U.S. Navy veteran arrived in Bend in 2014 and has haunted local open mic nights since, at one point hosting one at the now-closed Hey Joe Coffee Bar in southwest Bend.

“Even though it’s easy to network and meet other musicians, it’s not always easy to find other people to play with — to actually collaborate with,” Cunningham said, “because most people have a pretty strong creative vision of what they want for themselves, and it’s not always easy to find people who want to be flexible and collaborate together. … It’s neat to see people coming together for a common purpose.”

Buffalo Gals will be the first event for We Play in Bend, one of about 100 localized, social-networking groups for musicians started by Ruck. There are currently Facebook groups for We Play in Chico, We Play in Fargo (North Dakota) (the two groups, along with the Bend group, that Ruck developed directly) and more. Through these groups, Ruck has hosted a number of “24-hour-a-day” music concerts, including one that lasted for 34 days at the Tacklebox Bar and Grill in Chico in 2015 — the longest such concert in history, he said (he hopes to bring something similar to Bend in the future).

“More people want to tour, but they just don’t know how to do it,” Ruck said. “I think that when people from Fargo join the Chico and Bend groups, and go, well now at least I have somewhere to start looking — at least I can connect with people that I know have been filtered through community-driven projects. It’s not just everybody in the community, it’s people that care. Ultimately, I’d like to see that kind of energy and that cooperation extend — that’s kind of my life’s work in a way.”

To that end, he hopes “Buffalo Gals” becomes an annual event in Bend spearheaded by women songwriters. That sounds good to Kourtni, 26, who recently performed a vocal hook on local rapper Amsterdam’s track “Never Rain.”

“I think it’s really important to just have a lot of community support,” Kourtni said. “That’s actually a big reason why I moved to Bend. Everybody just wants to help each other out and make each other grow. I just feel like there’s way too much hate and people bringing each other down, so I think that getting each other together not only as women but just as musicians to support each other is really important.”

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