Girls Rock Camp Rocks!

By Cindy Swirko The Gainesville Sun, Fla.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) As Cindy Swirko reports, the "Girls Rock Camp" concept started in Portland, Oregon, by women fans of the 1990s riot grrrl music movement of punk feminists. Gainesville's group is a nonprofit and holds the camp every summer for kids ages 9 to 17.

The Gainesville Sun, Fla.

From the soundcheck patter -- "Can I get a little more bass in my monitor, please" -- you'd think the girls onstage at High Dive Saturday were seasoned pros such as the Go-Go's or Throwing Muses.

But some of them strummed guitars, banged drums or fingered keyboards for the first time earlier in the week at the start of Gainesville Girls Rock Camp, an annual summer event to teach girls, trans and non-binary youth music, life skills, self-esteem and creativity.

The chance to release their inner rock star made the week a blast for the kids, many of whom said they plan to continue playing music.

"It was really fun. We get to learn a whole bunch of new things, we have a bunch of different workshops ... and we have instrument instruction," said Veronica Brown, 12, a student at Oak View Middle School. "I recommend it for pretty much anyone. I think I'll try to continue to play guitar."

Saturday was a big day -- the bands into which they were formed performed the songs they wrote for family and friends at High Dive, one of downtown Gainesville's long-standing clubs that has hosted luminaries including Nine Inch Nails, the Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney and others. It was formerly known as Common Grounds and Covered Dish.

The Girls Rock Camp concept started in Portland, Oregon, by women fans of the 1990s riot grrrl music movement of punk feminists. Gainesville's group is a nonprofit and holds the camp every summer for kids ages 9 to 17, said treasurer and board member Kentucky Costellow.

"Some of these kids have never touched an instrument before. On the application they get to choose from bass guitar, guitar, drums or keyboards," Costellow said. "They all have varied tastes in music. There isn't a specific genre, and we don't teach any particular style of music."

Still, the songs played and the clothes worn leaned more toward Bikini Kill than Beyonce. And the posters on the wall included the late, great Poly Styrene of the first generation punk band X-Ray Spex and blues rocker Janis Joplin.

Lily Coolican began learning to play the drums from the music teacher at Glen Springs Elementary. At rock camp, she played guitar.

"We learned how to write our own music and songs," Lily said. "I'd like to come back next year."

Veronica's mother, Jennifer Brown, said she liked the fact that the camp also had classes on empowerment, diversity and similar non-music topics.

Costellow said 35 kids attended the camp this year. They were placed into seven bands and paired with volunteers to help them learn music and write songs. During lunch, local bands come to camp to perform.

"They get to see women and trans playing music," Costellow said. "It shows support for local music, which we think is important." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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