Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Best Little Guitar Giveaway in Texas

Thanks to all for participating in our first online giveaway. Your support means the world to our organization, especially our girls. We were able to raise funds to provide six full scholarships to our summer camp. The winner of the Takamine guitar is Caroline Kenny. Congratulations, Caroline.

A special thank you to Jody Williams of BMI music and Girls Rock Austin Board member for making this fundraiser possible.

Finally, thank you to Ms. Dolly Parton. Girls Rock Austin will always love you.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Buzz of Transgression: Viv Albertine

Sometimes the fact that more people don't know about the Slits seems like a crime.

The late 1970s in Europe (mostly England) practically were a girls’ rock camp. In the pared-down blur of punk and its aftermath, girls picked up instruments, formed bands, wrote songs, recorded, and played – regardless of their levels of musical skill or experience. What's interesting and exciting is that these girls often didn't aspire to play like boys, or at least like the famous ones; they ignored the rules of classic rock (of which the rules of punk rock were often a simpler, but no less constricting, form), taking new and weird approaches to almost every aspect of rock music, including song structures, chord progressions, scales, melodies, and instrumentation.

Even as they grew more experienced, bands like the Slits, the Raincoats, X-Ray-Spex, the Au Pairs, and Kleenex continued to push the boundaries of rock and pop. Most also embraced some form of feminism (as well as other political positions), but their approach was personal, their outrage and refusal based on their experiences as young women and girls rebelling at expectations about what kinds of lives they were supposed to lead. To some, the resulting music was unbearable; others felt like it was something they'd been waiting all their lives to hear.

If the Slits were one of the most raucous and unschooled of what are sometimes called "post-punk" bands, they also seemed to have be having the most fun, possibly because they didn’t seem worried about being chaotic, caustic, or obnoxious. Viv Albertine was already a fixture of the London’s punk scene when she joined vocalist Ari Up (then 15 years old), drummer Palmolive, and bassist Tessa Pollitt in the Slits in 1977. Albertine, then a novice guitarist, credits her friend Keith Levene (of PiL) for teaching her that “any sounds can go together,” among other things; her sound has always been and remains distinctive, sometimes challenging, and the opposite of predictable.

After the Slits broke up in 1983, Albertine went film school and became a director as well as a mother. She didn’t play a guitar again until she was asked to join in a Slits reunion in 2008. Practicing for that event, she found herself writing new songs. She played a few shows with the reunited Slits, then left to perform and record solo. (Somewhere in there, she also started making ceramics.) She recently opened for the (also) reunited Raincoats on tour, and her Flesh EP was released this week.

Winging her way toward SXSW, Albertine graciously answered a few questions for the Girls Rock Austin blog via e-mail:

It seems like there's a through line from the politics of the time you started playing music and your new work, but this time it's expressed more emotionally, unguardedly. How has your view of the expectations of women and girls changed as you've experienced some of the traditional milestones of womanhood?

Expectations of girls and women are the same as they were in Victorian times! I know this now. From being a mother and a daughter and a wife and a girlfriend.

The thing is that motherhood and child-rearing are either undervalued or deified. Neither is right. It's a hard, lonely slog. Yes, there are good bits, beautiful bits. But to do it right – something so important – it's very, very hard. If you don't work so you can give your children the love and attention that they would like from you, you lose status in the eyes of your partner, your peers, and your children.

Let's be honest about this: If you want to do it right, you'll sacrifice a lot. Too much, I think. You have to do it not so well and be a bit of a disappointment. Tough. They'll get over it. You have a duty to live your life.

The song "Confessions of a MILF" reminds me of a documentary a friend of mine worked on called Who Does She Think She Is?, in which female artists talk about having to make a choice between being all-out artists and having children. Do you think women have to choose, in a way that men don't?

Guilt guilt guilt coming your way if you are an artist and a mother. Everything I've read on the subject, every woman feels she's let her kids down – from Yoko Ono to Louise Bourgeois and Niki De Saint Phalle.

If you have a partner who does not support you in your work, it is impossible. You cannot function as either an artist or a mother. You have to get out.

What is your songwriting process?

I write songs in different ways. Sometimes they slide out ready done. Two drafts and they are there. This type of song comes from the unconscious. I didn't know it was there. It's bizarre. Like someone else wrote it. It will start with words, a flow of thoughts that I don't analyze or edit. Every bit of rubbish, I write down. No judging. I will have a pain or burning feeling in my chest. Or a flutter of excitement or buzz of transgression. I won't look at it again for a couple days. It's too embarrassing, I think. Then, when I go back, I take out the bits that repeat or pad. It has to be succinct. This can be painful – losing sections that are heartfelt – but you have to be brutal. That is the legacy of the Seventies for me: strictness, directness, honesty, and meaning. I still find the song embarrassing, but i have learnt to live with this feeling. These are often the songs that touch people most.

Do you have any advice for girls in the arts?

Find out if you really are compelled to do it. To express yourself creatively.

If you are this sort of person and you deny it – by trying to conform, trying to fit in, trying to please, trying to impress, trying to be rich. By being too scared to fail, to look stupid, to make mistakes, to be criticised, to be ridiculed, to look ugly, to look unfeminine, to be lonely ... you will live a long, slow, and painful death of a life. Good luck with that!

Monday, March 15, 2010

I support bands who support rock camp and who, of course, make good, fun, interesting music.

Rock Camp has been around long enough that it is not just about the girls anymore. While the girl campers who sign up for Rock Camp all around the country (and the world) are the fire that keep it all going, Camp is just as much about the adult woman who support it: whether it be the staff, volunteers or the bands who play.

Girl in a Coma and Those Darlins are two bands that I have become a fan of due to their involvement in Rock Camp. It’s a musical symbiotic relationship. Women have a history of solidarity and this is no exception. BUT, and hear me on this, it takes GOOD music to hold my attention as a fan, it doesn’t matter who makes it.

Girl in a Coma played the Girls Rock Camp 2009 SXSW Showcase and I have been a supporter since. This band has a signature sound revolving around little sister Nina Diaz’s powerful voice. Her guitar skills are pretty awesome too. Big sister Phannie Diaz keeps a mean beat and high school friend Jenn Alva is the tough of the group, with her snarky and hot stage banter with hecklers and fans.

Girl in a Coma takes an active role in their various communities. In an interview with Nina last year, she told me “It just so happens that we have a lot to stand for: we are vegetarians, we are a band with two lesbians, we stand up for things, we are happy to help out and we are happy to ask for help when we need it.”

As San Antonio natives, they have already conquered Texas as Latinas. They opened for Morrissey and gained fans through his community. They are ardent supporters of the LGBT community playing festivals like Homo-a-Gogo in San Francisco. After all, solidarity is not just something that women practice.

Those Darlins I discovered through a Rolling Stone e-newsletter, happening to notice in the tagline that the three front women of the band met through the Rock Camp of the South. Of course that sparked my interest. Kelley is one of the founders of Southern Girls Rock Camp in Tennessee, Nikki’s boyfriend was a volunteer (Rock Camp of the South encourages men to volunteer) and Jessi was a camper (she now teaches workshops). They keep busy by continuing to volunteer for camp in the summers and tour right before and after.

I love Those Darlins for their humor and authenticity. They are from the South, and they write their songs and dress accordingly, drawing their inspiration from nature and growing up in a rural area. It’s not just any band than can get away with writing a song about eating an entire chicken on the verge of going bad (“Whole Damn Thing”).

The Darlins are firm in their belief of being aware of how they are seen as female musicians. “It’s important that any woman who’s in the music business, especially one that’s on stage, are going to scrutinized a little bit more so than males,” Jessi told me in an interview. “People are going to be paying attention to their musicianship a lot more. People will just consider it differently. It’s important to remember that if you are a woman you can take advantage of that. Just keep it mind that people are paying attention to for a reason that is unfair but you can still lead by example. You don’t have to sell your soul or whatever. You just have to remember that you’re always an example to others, other women and young girls. You have to remember what you’re doing.”

One of the things that has always bothered me about the gender imbalance in popular music (other than the gender imbalance itself) is that women who are popular music artists tend to be solo artists, rather than in bands. Male musicians, of course, come both as soloists and in a band. So, when I do see bands like Girl in a Coma and Those Darlins that has female musicians, or is all female, I take special notice. If that band takes an active role in their communities and above all makes good entertaining music, that is a band worth supporting to the end.

Girl in a Coma will be playing the Girls Rock Camp day party at 4:10 Friday, March 19th at Café Mundi, 1701 E. 5th St FREE

Those Darlins will be playing at 1am Wednesday night, March 17 at Submerged, 333 E. 2nd St. Show is open to the public with priority access for SXSW registrants with badges. $10 at the door.

Link to Girl in a Coma interview with Nina Diaz

Link to Those Darlins article/interview with Jessi Darlin

Written by Jamie Freedman

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Girls Rock Austin volunteers ROCK!

Last night the Mohawk hosted two bands fronted by Girls Rock Austin volunteers.  Carrie Clark, below,  helms noise popsters Sixteen Deluxe, who played their first show in over a decade.  Carrie volunteered as a band coach in the summer of 2008 and hopes to return this summer, schedule permitting.  She's recently been sponsored by Daisy Rock and is shown here playing her silver glitter Rock Candy Classic -- so Carrie!

Ume, featuring GRA band coach and guitar instructor Lauren Langer Larson, is playing the GRA official SXSW showcase at Submerged this Wednesday.  Both Ume and Sixteen Deluxe are playing several free day parties during SXSW.  Check their web sites for details.  

Our thanks to both bands for supporting GRA.  Thanks also to Todd V. Wolfson for sharing these photos.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Charlie Belle

Jendayi is a singer, song-writer, and lead guitarist for the band Charlie Belle, a local group comprised of four members – Jendayi, Gyasi, Maya, and Michelle – their ages ranging from 9 to 16 years old. Jendayi and Gyasi are sister and brother and had already formed a band when they moved from Philadelphia to Austin. The pair reconnected with a family friend after which Maya joined the band. The lineup was complete once Jendayi and Michelle met at Girls Rock Camp over the summer. They changed their name to Charlie Belle and have been together for over a year. You may have seen them perform last year during SXSW or in the documentary Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnet Fields. Proving that you’re never too young to have a music career, their website notes: “Yeah we're kids, but we rock. We are Charlie Belle.”

Charlie Belle will be performing at the SXSW Girls Rock Camp Austin day party on Friday March 19th. In anticipation of the day party, we caught up with Jendayi and asked for her thoughts on writing her own material, performing on stage, and what advice she would give to girls who want to rock.

What or who inspired to you to start making music? Was there a particular album/artist/band that inspired you?

When I was seven, I went to the Paul Green School of Rock Music. I was the youngest guitarist there so I had a lot of people to look up to. I especially admired one guitarist named Gina. She was the best guitarist I’ve ever met in person.

You’re a singer, song-writer, and lead guitarist for Charlie Belle – do you prefer one of these positions over the others? If so which one and why?

Out of those three, I prefer being a songwriter because my music is still out there. And anyone can stand up and sing a song, or anyone who practices enough can be a lead guitarist, but once your singing and playing is your own, nobody will take it away from you.

Tell me about your song-writing process. How do you come up with ideas for songs?

First I fiddle around and come up with a good riff. And instead of waiting to write the lyrics I immediately start making things up as I go along. If I have paper in front of me, I write it down. If not, I try to remember it.

What is it like performing in front of a live audience?

At first, it feels scary every single time, but when I play my first song, my fear turns into energy that I send out to the audience.

You’ve been to Girls Rock Camp three times now, once in Philadelphia, and twice here in Austin. What have you learned being a camper at Girls Rock Camp?

I would say anyone is out there. People who go to Girls Rock Camp could be [part of] your future band. Sometimes it could even be the girls you would never think would be in a band with you.

What advice would you give to a young girl who’s thinking about picking up an instrument, writing a song, or forming a band?

I would tell them that if they kind of like what they’re doing, they should keep doing it, because it’s going to get better, and they’re going to grow to love it.

For more information on Charlie Belle please visit their website (please link this:

Article By Kristen Lambert

Exene Cervenka

Really, Exene Cervenka doesn't need an introduction. "Punk legend" should suffice.

In 1977, she co-founded X with John Doe. Fusing Chuck Berry riffs and Beat poetry about Los Angeles's decay and unrest, X went on to become a seminal band for the oft-overlooked West Coast punk scene. Cervenka co-fronted the group, writing much of their material. While guitarist Billy Zoom may have more to do with fans picking up an axe, Cervenka assuredly influenced several boys and girls to scribble poems, fit it around some chords, pick up a microphone, and let it rip.

In addition, Cervenka intermittently records with Doe and X drummer DJ Bonebrake as a member of country group The Knitters, a side project formed with Dave Alvin and Jonny Ray Bartel in 1982. She also formed Auntie Christ with Rancid's Matt Freeman in the late 1990s and The Original Sinners in the 2000s. She has released a few books of poetry, recorded spoken word, and put together several art exhibits.

Cervenka has also struck out on her own. Last year, she released Somewhere Gone on Bloodshot, a collection of political songs that fuse punk and her country roots. Her SXSW performances in support of that album were highlights for me last spring. As a lead-in to her free West Coast record store tour in April, I can't wait to see her take the stage next week at the Girls Rock Camp Austin SXSW day party.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Official SXSW showcase

Our official SXSW showcase on Wednesday, March 17, is sponsored by BMI.  SXSW Badges and wristbands are admitted free (and first), or you can pay a small cover charge which supports Girls Rock Austin.  Totally worth it!  Get there early!

Watch this space for information on the bands playing our official showcase and day party!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


(333 E 2nd St) (21+)
Girls Rock Austin
Kitten8:00 p.m.Los Angeles CARock
Cocktail Slippers9:00 p.m.Oslo NORWAYRock
Ume10:00 p.m.Austin TXAlternative
Beaches11:00 p.m.Melbourne VICRock
The Coathangers12:00 a.m.Atlanta GAPunk
Those Darlins1:00 a.m.Murfreesboro TNRock

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Girls Rock Austin SXSW Day Party

We are thrilled to announce our 3rd annual SXSW day party on Friday, March 19 at Cafe Mundi.  Bands start promptly at noon and end at 6PM.  No badges or wristbands.  We're FREE, all ages, and open to the public.  So put your dancing shoes on and join us!  

We're featuring an international lineup of rock campers (Charlie Belle), awesome volunteers (Darling New Neighbors, Akina Adderley, Rosie Flores), punk and rock rock legends (Exene Cervenka, Viv Albertine, Rosie Flores), underground heroes (Girl in a Coma, Bo-peep, White Mystery) and the literally big-in-Japan (Chatmonchy). Jessica Hopper will read from her book The Girls' Guide to Rocking.  Rock Your Face face painters will be on hand to give your mug that special something extra.

Girls Rock Austin is proud to be sponsored by Blackheart Records. WIN a guitar signed by Joan Jett. Pick up swag from the new movie "The Runaways."

After eleven years of vital service to the Austin arts and music community, Cafe Mundi will be closing its doors on March 21. We're thrilled (and somewhat saddened) to be a part of their final weekend celebration. We thank them for their support.

12 noon Charlie Belle - (Austin, TX)
12:30 Darling New Neighbors (Austin, TX)
1:05 Jessica Hopper reading from The Girls' Guide to Rocking (Chicago, IL)
1:20 Exene Cervenka (Los Angeles, CA)
2:00 Akina Adderley and the Vintage Playboys (Austin, TX)
2:35 Chatmonchy (Japan)
3:05 Bo-peep (Japan)
3:35 White Mystery (featuring Miss Alex White) (Chicago, IL)
4:10 Girl in a Coma (San Antonio, TX)
4:50 Viv Albertine (of the Slits) (London, UK)
5:30 Rosie Flores (Austin, TX)

Proceeds from the guitar giveaway and merchandise sales will benefit Girls Rock Austin. We are proud to organize Girls Rock Camp Austin, the only nonprofit camp in Austin where accomplished women musicians teach girls at all skill levels—from absolute beginners to rock-n-roll prodigies—in an all-female learning environment. See for more info about Summer 2010 camps.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Best Little Guitar Giveaway in Texas

Yesterday Girls Rock Austin launched its fundraising season with The Best Little Guitar Giveaway in Texas, an online promotion using social media. Behold! A brand new Takamine "Jasmine" guitar, and it is signed by Dolly Parton! Ten dollars enters your name twice in the drawing, which will be held March 16.