Antietam is an American rock band born on Derby Day, 1984. It has existed in its current form (Tim Harris, bass, Tara Key, guitar and Josh Madell, drums) since 1991.

Mr. Harris put it well in a press release last year. For a lot more than this, visit antietamtheband.com.

…And then there is Antietam, in which I play bass and Josh Madell drums. Our mate, Tara Key, has received a lot of adulation over the years for her fierce guitar playing, praise that invariably contains the word “female.” Now Tara likes praise as much as anyone, and she is not complaining, but I think she has always wanted to be viewed with the strummers she really tunes into – Mick Ronson, Neil Young, Ira Kaplan.

But a couple of decades in, I would like to offer a new perspective on Tara from a very close vantage point: she plays like a girl! Let me explain: Sometimes when Antietam has taken the stage in some far-flung place, some dude, yeah a dude, will come up after the set and sputter, “I don’t like alternative rock, but you guys…” What the gentleman is hearing are what I have to call Tara’s tasty licks (yes, I wish I had a better phrase than one that conjures large men abusing small guitars, but oh well) buried in the text. When Eric Clapton comes forward with a tasty lick, there is a large billboard and marketing campaign announcing, “Tasty lick here.”Tara asks that you dig a little deeper to discover something for yourself in a way that I can only describe as “female.” Oh she is fierce alright, but at the same time she doesn’t play gently into the night like an old-school woman player and she gives the lie to that school of rock criticism (sometimes from women themselves) that says women simply can’t play rock guitar (check out the sublime Marissa Paternoster).

When I suggested this new approach to Tara, she sort of cocked her head and said, “Mmmmmm.”


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