Hey, Ho! Let’s Go! The New Girl Rock’N’Roll Underground

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Girls Rock Rhode Island

Most of the women I met who had started camps had a similar story — they felt that a female voice was missing in their local music scene, and they wanted to do something about it. Natalie Walker at the Rain City Rock Camp For Girls put it best when she said:

I saw the Seattle music scene to be incredibly male-dominated, so reliant on proving that you were more ‘macho’, had the best-constructed pedal board, and had the greatest number of obscure records in your collection. At camp, I found myself in this room with 50 other women, and we were cheering for each other, and no one was trying to measure up to any sort of external standard, or some sort of level of virtuosity. As a woman, I wasn’t as encouraged to wank around on my guitar playing along to Pink Floyd when I was 13 like boys, but in camp we do. When we see a woman onstage, playing rock music, shouldn’t we see that she’s pushed through those barriers? Rock Camp showed me exactly what I had been feeling in my heart. Playing onstage and sharing your ‘voice’ is a big fucking deal! And people should cheer. We should cheer our faces off for that!

[Ed’s note. Credit where credit’s due. Natalie is one of the finest interns I’ve ever had the privilege of working alongside. She worked with me throughout the whole of my Nirvana book, and the book would’ve been far poorer without her. She also provided the travelogue that is the backbone of the entire first chapter. Thanks Natalie. I’m so stoked you’re part of all this – Everett]

At every camp we visited there was indeed a lot of cheering, coaching and a real rock community I had always dreamed of being in as a female musician. Behind every great rock star there is always someone inspiring them to become what they are, and between the camps and schools led by women a girls rock underground culture is beginning to establish itself. The camps and schools are inspiring the next PJ Harvey, Patti Smith, Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and Exene Cervenka to come into existence. Except this time it will be more than a few women who stand out, but an army of bands filled with women.

As Hilken Mancini told me of Girls Rock Boston:

Each and every girl who walks in the door, acting apologetic for taking up space, breathing in air, and being alive walks out the door proud, discovering her own true voice, and is no longer afraid of who or what she can be or will become. And she can play her instrument pretty damn good and loud too by then.

I can’t wait to see to see these female rock stars take over. They are coming and they can rock. Like the Ramones sang, “Hey, Ho! Let’s go!”

The Wild Buffins from Bay Area Girls Rock Camp.

For more information about any of the camps and schools listed above please visit their respective websites and donate time, money, support, or start your own camp:


Photo of Exene Cervenka and Joyce Raskin at the Stories book event in LA by Brett Stranaire

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