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