by Jamie H (read Part 1)
This past Saturday night at the Bagdad Theatre in Portland was a date and location that most of the 50 girls in the Rock Camp Studio session of Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls (RNRC4G) will have imprinted in their memories for life. For many, it was the first time they had performed in front of a large audience, been on stage with a band, or even played their instrument outside of the comfort of a rehearsal room. This session of rock camp was a first for the RNRC4G organization -- the week included a brand new audio engineering track for campers who had attended at least two previous rock camps.
The final two days at RNRC4G were noticeably less stressful than the previous three. Most of the bands had their songs worked out and were starting to build band solidarity in the silk-screening and band art workshops by making t-shirts, buttons and posters emblazoned with their bands’ names and logos. I have to say, it even inspired me to take a more DIY approach and make more of my own band’s merch.
At the end of the last day of camp, the volunteers and staff sat in a circle and passed around the evaluation forms that had been filled out by the campers. Many of the girls gave shout-outs to coaches and instructors who had been particularly inspiring to them, but most of feedback had a common theme -- “this camp changed my life because I could be myself.” (And also, “The building needs better air conditioning.” It was hot and sweaty in those practice spaces, but let’s focus on the life-changing thing.)
During the Showcase on Saturday, I had goose bumps and an ear-to-ear smile throughout the whole show. The girls’ excitement and the audience’s enthusiasm were overwhelmingly contagious, and it was incredible to see young girls perform a song with others who had previously been total strangers. There were some mistakes, of course, and lyrics forgotten, and planned dance moves that were never acted out, but it didn’t matter. The point was to instill that each girl that if she wanted to rock out, she should just go ahead and rock the heck out.
This is the performance by “indie rock” band The Rainboots, the group of three 11-year-olds and one 14-year old that I coached (please forgive the shaky camera work):
What happens after Rock Camp? A handful of bands or partial-bands have stuck together from previous camps and have gained recognition for themselves and RNRC4G. A few of the bands are the impossibly-hard-to-Google The Ready, who performed in the Portland segment of the Burn To Shine series, classic rock-inspired pre-teens Blubird,and Seattle’s own Ladies Rock Camp prodigies Another Perfect Crime. Hopefully, ALL of the girls will continue on with their instruments and form the next wave of independent bands to be aired on KEXP.
Learning to change a string