“It’s all happening…”
Los Angeles had been warned. Something was coming. Something was happening, but what? What was all happening?
Those three words echoed through the hallways of the Immaculate Conception School (a private Downtown Los Angeles school) the weekend of July 24-25, 2010, via the both excited and at times incredulous verbal outcries (as well as via Facebook status updates)– all coming from a very diverse group of young women (young mostly in age, but even more importantly in spirit) hailing mainly from the Los Angeles area.
Women not afraid of a little heavy lifting– literally and figuratively, as amplifiers, drum kits, guitars, bass guitars, keyboards, and mic stands were all carried to their destinations for the week ahead. Destinations which consisted of the classrooms labeled as “The Drum Room ,” “The Guitar Room,” etc.
Guitars and Basses photo by TRAffIK
Drum Room Photo by Beth Schore
(click on images to enlarge)
Who said women can’t carry their own gear? Who said women can’t rock out just like the boys? Who said women can’t take up space?
Women can be found loading in their own gear, rocking out, and taking up space in music venues all across the world on any given day or night. Most everyone has been lucky enough to have had many exemplary female artists/musicians, musical pioneers if you will, that have paved the way so that it could become commonplace for a girl to “rock out” just as hard, if not harder than the boys on any stage on any night.
Unfortunately, as a young girl growing up you don’t always realize this. When we are young our circles of friends and experiences may be limited, our families/customs/cultures/social circles may define us at that time, or we may just not realize the vast amount of options and opportunities that exist for us to explore and choose what we eventually want to do and who we want to become.
In 2001, a group of women in Portland, OR came together to create something to address these and other issues. What they created would eventually branch off to include over 20 affiliates across the U.S. (expanding internationally into Sweden, Montreal, and Vancouver). So what was this phenomenon? Again, we ask what was all happening? What were all of these women coming together to create?
L.A. was to be on the lookout for the first installment of the Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles.
To give a little background on what inspired this, we look to the very first Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Summer Camp which took place in August, 2001, on the Portland State University Campus. This excerpt from their mission statement makes their intentions perfectly clear, “We want to eradicate all the limiting myths about music and gender that make girls afraid to speak up, sing out, and make noise. We want to abolish all the obsolete traditions that restrict many girls’ and women’s free musical expression and obstruct their access to the world of music. We seek to demonstrate—through lessons, mentorship, positive examples, and the shared experiences of the staff and volunteers—that every genre of music from the heaviest to the most delicate, and every technical job and creative endeavor in the music industry, is available to any girl or woman who wants to explore it.”
The further you delve into learning about the camps and those that volunteer and support it, the more you realize that statements like the following truly represent the underlying theme of all of the camps involved.
“It’s not just about rock ‘n’ roll, it’s about all musical genres. And it’s not just about being a musician, it’s about being an active agent in music culture and industry. We believe that by teaching these things, we can help girls develop—musically, mentally, and emotionally—toward their own ideas of who and what they want to be.”.
“It’s not just about being a musician, it’s about being an active agent in music culture and industry,” that’s something that many people, musically inclined or not, can get behind. That statement could also be used to describe the members of the eclectic rock-folk Los Angeles based band Raining Jane (pictured right – photo by Larissa Brantner-James). Having volunteered since 2005 at the Portland and Seattle camps two of the Raining Jane members, Becky Gebhardt (bass, guitar, sitar) and Mona Tavakoli (drums, vocals, percussion), were in disbelief that one didn’t exist in their home base of Los Angeles, and decided to begin the journey to give the city a much needed camp of their own.
They began with recruiting their own bandmates Chaska Potter (vocals, guitar) and Mai Bloomfield, (vocals, guitar, cello) as well as family members (Natasha and Newsha Tavakoli), and other close friends to begin laying the groundwork.
Hours and hours (adding up to days, weeks, and eventually months) of hard work were put in to start the process of giving the “City of Angels” a camp that could look past the glitz and glamour of a city where so many come to make their dreams come true. A camp that would strive to address the all too real issues that are associated with growing up that plague the female youth population of this city (as well as pretty much every city in the world) all the while teaching them the discipline and empowerment that can come through learning to play and eventually mastering a musical instrument, the motions of their bodies, or through finding their voice (whether it be used to communicate with band mates or an audience).
A phone call to John McKenna, Director of Marketing and Development for Immaculate Conception School, resulted in the ending of the search for the, at the time, yet-to- occur camp’s location. From the initial call, Tavakoli and Gebhardt were met with an alignment in the understanding of and a resonating with the new camp’s mission from McKenna who enthusiastically offered his support of the cause before, during, and after camp.
With the camp location secured, a “foot off of the brakes and full speed-ahead” attitude was adopted as a full-fledged campaign was initiated and executed to increase community awareness about the camp as well as to recruit the first round of campers and volunteers. With a presence at various community events such as the Silverlake Jubilee, the Don’t Knock the Rock Film and Music Festival (put on by mother-daughter team Allison and Tiffany Anders), FYF Presents events, as well as local farmers markets (pictured left, Rock Camp Volunteers at the El Serreno Farmer’s Market photo by Erin Hughes) and concerts throughout the city, the idea of the camp was enthusiastically well received– and also met with many incredulous utterings of “I can’t believe something like this didn’t already exist in L.A.!”
The volunteer meetings and fundraisers continued (among them one of the few official Runaways film preview screenings authorized by Apparition Films, which included a Q&A with Cherie Currie), the curriculum was planned, and the anticipation kept building.
photos by Maria Schriber
(Click on images to enlarge)
Taking the current economic state of the country into consideration, the members of Raining Jane decided to start a scholarship fund for the camp. Soon enough good friend singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles, a headlining artist on this year’s Lilith Fair, followed suit providing five scholarships to the camp. L.A. based band EZ Tiger also donated scholarships from funds donated by their fans. The Feeding the Soul Foundation, an Oceanside, CA organization that “brings community together in creative generosity” while “promoting local artists, foundations and businesses that make a positive difference by creating events that draw attention and opportunity to their talents and intents,” also donated scholarships (pictured right, scholarship check and Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls Volunteers –photo by Erin Hughes) to the camp from funds raised at their “Muse-ic” event (which featured performances from Tristan Prettyman, Alysse Fischer, and Jessie Payo).
“It’s all happening” (more…)