about the Billings band Pope Jane is unusual
-- the name, the lineup, the song list. At the
band's debut last summer at MontanaFair, it's
original name Mother Lode was quite appropriate.
Bass player Holly Hoagland was eight months
pregnant with her third child at the show. The
band discovered, though, that the name was already
used by an '80s metal band, so they moved on,
choosing instead Pope Jane after a late-night
naming session at 4-B's.
for the all-female lineup in Pope Jane, once
again it was Hoagland's influence. "She
was on a mission to make it an all-female band,"
tells vocalist/guitarist Danielle Egnew. Egnew,
orginally from Billings, performed extensively
in the Northwest with her former Seattle-based
band Danielle Marae. She and drummer Kristen
Coyner met in the Northwest, Coyner's home area,
and came to Billings to perform together. Guitarist
Rita Brown had moved to the area three years
ago from Pennsylvania and was looking for a
band. Originally a drummer with jazz leanings,
Brown learned the guitar to fill a void in the
then, Pope Jane has performed all original music
throughout the Billings area, recorded a self-titled
cassette with 10 original songs and has made
plans to record a second tape this fall. "Basically,
the thing is we keep getting hired in place
of cover bands even though we were told you
can't be successful unless you do covers,"
Egnew said. Pope Jane has played several times
at Casey's and Magoo's in Billings and at Clyde's
in Powell, Wyo., and the Silver Dollar in Cody,
Wyo. "They loved us in Powell", Coyner
said. "The next weekend we played up here
and we had all these people come up to us who
were from Wyoming and drove up for the show."
is the band's primary songwriter, although every
member of Pope Jane has contributed at least
one song to the 60 original songs the band performs.
"We just figure it's a great opportunity
we have with all the people out there at our
shows to say something meaningful," Egnew
said. One of the band's songs, "Loophole,"
which Egnew wrote while still in Seattle, is
about a panhandler who turns out to be God.
The song has received some airplay on Billings'
Christian FM station KRSQ. Brown wrote the music
for a song, which Egnew added the lyrics to
and titled "Everybody Needs an Auntie Mame,"
as in the musical "Mame." The band's
most-requested song, "Rain," criticizes
those who "choose not to better their circumstances,
then complain about it," according to Egnew,
who wrote the song. "Two of our songs are
you left me and I'm so sad songs; the rest have
real thoughtful themes," Egnew said. Egnew's
voice is powerful and distinct, driving the
band's sound. Hoagland sets the groove with
her bass, creating a sense of balance to Egnew's
at-times blistering vocals. Brown's guitar is
complex and focused and Coyner displays a true
sense of dynamics on drums. Keyboardist in the
former Billings band Silenced, Hoagland switched
to the bass for Pope Jane partially because
of Silenced band mate Robin Martinez's influence.
Martinez is now Hoagland's instructor on bass.
four woman take their music seriously. They
hope their time playing in bars will enhance
their style for a recording contract. They've
made contacts at several recording companies,
sent their tape out to radio stations in more
than 20 states, some of which have given their
songs airplay, and are set to perform live on
a Great Falls public radio station. Meanwhile,
they've sold out of 500 copies of their first
tape through Barjon's bookstore in downtown
Billings and at their shows.