Alibi V.24 No.37 • Sept 10-16, 2015 

Rock Reads

Hippie Chicks!

Sugar Magnolia in the modern age

Hippie Chick: A Tale of Love, Devotion & Surrender

Rocanrol culture is rife with celebratory rites. This is especially true in it's most lively manifestation, the rock concert—a timeless expression of joy that is sometimes laced with a certain longing for freedom that is a hallmark of the American experience. No group of people has been more successful in realizing that profound joie de vivre than the hippies.

Photographer Jay Blakesberg captures the quintessence of all that in his new, vibrantly realized book of photographs from the scene, Hippie Chick: A Tale of Love, Devotion & Surrender, to be released on Oct. 1, 2015 by Rock Out Books.

The collection of photographs and accompanying essays by Grace Slick, Edith Johnson and Grace Potter focuses on the poignant power of feminine influence upon a genre traditionally defined and glorified by patriarchy.

But as the images and text clearly note, women in audiences across the our nation are definitive arbiters of the joyous spirit contained within and without the genre.

Blakesberg’s viewpoint is primarily anthropological, but his documentation is far from sterile. His record of women as the center of rock's vitality is deeply human, sometimes provocative and beautifully realized. In conjunction with the book's upcoming release, Blakesberg commented, “These women have blazed a powerful trail, from the early 1960s through today, and have forever changed the face of women in pop culture. I hope these photos and words illustrate the positive vibes that this scene continues to generate.”

Blakesberg's vision eschews typical popular culture depictions of women, presenting images that, while sensual, are unencumbered by what we've come to expect in the mostly-male directed mass media. There are no garishly thin, overtly sexualized images in this book. Instead the photographer's subjects are deeply human, alive with nuance, natural beauty and a sense of intense individuality that make them interesting and honest representatives of human culture in general and the rock and roll subculture in particular. There's something intimate yet universal about the images captured by Blakesberg.

The writing that goes along with this super-saturated look at a culture on the verge of freedom from the norm maintains a healthy connection to the past while embracing the future. A colorful aplomb elucidates the hippie aesthetic as a living component of American thought, especially in Potter's lucid contribution—that the values contained therein (and extending past any sense of gender) are still a moveable feast. They become clear when Potter explains her connection to the spirit explored lovingly in Blakesberg's photos, “We are the living, breathing manifestation of every path they blazed, every war they protested, every song they loved…"

Much more than a picture book of happy hippies, Hippie Chick: A Tale of Love, Devotion & Surrender, is an unbound look at a part of American culture typically dismissed by a society overly concerned with a false sense of youth and beauty. It provides an earthy and earnest contrast to the plastic age and should be required reading for anyone with a rock and roll heart.