Singer-songwriter and guitarist Raine Stern is leaving Madison, but not before a final parting gift. Stern will be saying goodbye to the Midwest with her “Away to LA” show on Saturday, Nov. 13 at the Barrymore Theatre, 2090 Atwood Ave.
Stern’s farewell concert, which includes special guest LINE, is the latest in the Cap Times Live music series and the first to require purchased tickets. Tickets are $22 ($25 at the door) through barrymorelive.com and (608) 241-8864. All patrons must be masked and show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
So why is Stern, 23, leaving for Los Angeles (specifically Whittier, California)? Part of it, according to Stern, has to do with breaking through the “glass ceiling” a female rocker often endures, plus the opportunity to work with like-minded and similarly talented souls in a bigger backdrop.
“Madison’s music and art scene only has so much to offer,” she said. “I feel as though, for how unusual and gifted I am, Madison has not amplified my talent or my activism enough. The competition in L.A. is simply bigger and more challenging. I’m headed to L.A. to work with all kinds of incredible people, spanning from women-owned environmental organizations to music software engineers.”
In particular, Stern is excited to work with Whittier musician/producer Ronald “Menno" Froese, owner of AYAIC, a company that offers innovative sound mixing and mastering tools. She has three albums she plans to complete while in Los Angeles, titled “Into The Light,” “Pop Cult” and “Lonely Together.”
Activism towards social and environmental causes is one of the key inspirations for Stern's music, so much so that she says she wants to be the Greta Thunberg of rock for climate science. At Stern’s request, $1,000 of the proceeds of Saturday’s show will be donated to Clean Lakes Alliance.
In fact, Stern spent her early days of November in Glasgow at events surrounding the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP26), furthering her quest to spread environmental awareness.
“My shows in Europe were all related to spreading environmental awareness,” explained Stern. “And even more so, how do we bridge our gaps and connect over our common ground as people protecting our planet instead of staying in our confines/industries? Nothing is separate, so I’m enjoying collaborating with people outside of music in science, finance, etc.”
On Nov. 4 Stern performed music for a climate panel at the Extreme Hangout in Glasgow, and did another show on Nov. 7 advocating for sustainable touring using 100 percent renewable energy to power concerts.
On Thursday, she will perform in Scotland with some European acts for a show about “finding a passion in the world that helps a person engage in regeneration of things humans have had a negative effect on, using the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, whether it’s poverty, water, gender equality…everyone’s got something that matters to them that they can plug in to.”
Stern, who grew up in New Glarus and moved to Madison with her mother when she was 18, has been a popular draw at local music festivals and other gigs. She said she thrives on her band’s original music in which she cultivates every part of the instrumentation, having taught herself to play the guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums.
However, she’s very adept at putting her own stamp on other people’s songs. In 2020, during the self-quarantine days of the pandemic, she and her partner, Lydia Woessner, made a Youtube series, Quarantunes, of cover tunes, inviting listeners to request songs and to donate money to non-profits of their choice. Stern also earmarked 10 percent of the proceeds to go to the Humane Society.
But she achieved a national platform for her music and her activism last spring when she was a contestant on NBC’s wildly popular musical competition series “The Voice.” With her cover of MGMT’s ‘Electric Feel," Stern wowed several of the judges with her blues-rock guitar playing and singing.
“Raine, you’re about to have your moment in the music industry,” judge Blake Shelton said. “And you deserve it.”
Despite the newfound attention, Stern is adamant about doing more with music than just entertaining and making money.
“I am very disappointed in a lot of entertainers and leaders,” said Stern during a PBS Wisconsin’s "30-Minute Music Hour" special in early June 2020 when she was 21. “Because they have a lot of access to tools and money, and I don’t see enough of them utilizing that power to reach back into communities and encourage healing in people.
“So, I promise you as an entertainer and a leader I will not be that person.”