There are camps (s’mores, “Kumbayah”), there are band camps (field formations, show songs) and then there are band camps (electric guitars, amps, penning the next “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll”). The last is just part of the curriculum at Girls Rock Camp. The international movement, which has been building leadership skills and self-esteem since the initiative began in Portland, Ore., in 2007, has finally made its way to Asheville. Registration for the three-day band camp is open through Monday, June 30. The summer experience for girls and trans-youth — meaning anyone who identifies as a girl — is held Thursday-Saturday, July 10-12, 8 a.m.- 4 p.m. daily at The Mothlight. The camp culminates with a Sunday, July 13 performance at The Orange Peel.
Girls Rock Asheville vice president, songwriter Chelsea LaBate, says the all-female volunteer mentors are mostly working musicians who hope to inspire the next generation. “We’re living, breathing artists going through it all now,” LaBate says. Girls Rock Asheville founder Erin Kinard discovered the movement when she volunteered at the chapter in Charleston, S.C. Returning to Asheville, Kinard began looking for women to help get a local chapter started. LaBate was one of the first responders, and now more than 40 women are involved.
Each day, campers will learn to play instruments, team up to form bands, write original tunes and be coached on performance. Lunchtime concerts feature local all-girl bands followed by question-and-answer sessions. This is a rare opportunity for girls ages 8-16 not only to see a rock show up close and personal, but also to get a glimpse behind the scenes. The lineup includes punk act Zombie Queen, soul artist Lyric and the duo of Laura Blackley and Nancy Asch.
Although it’s called Girls Rock, it’s not just about rock ’n’ roll. Country, R&B, electronica and rap are all represented. Workshops topics include songwriting, media literacy and mechanics of sound. There’s also “Gender Identity in Music/‘Your body is an instrument,’” and “Music HERstory” — an exploration of successful female musicians spanning all races, economic levels and sexual identities.
There is even a course in self-defense, but according to LaBate it’s not about fighting off crowds of future fans. It’s all about empowerment. “When you have a voice, know your instrument, have access to the stage and feel the strength of your own body, you’re not a victim,” she says.
No previous musical experience is required. Tuition is on a slide scale from free to $250. Also, Girls Rock Asheville is accepting donations of instruments and musical equipment, which can be dropped off at the Odditorium, 1045 Haywood Road. Info at girlsrockasheville.org