Fender Hosts Girl Rock Nation Workshop

Fender Hosts Girl Rock Nation Workshop & Party to Celebrate Women in Music

Christmas arrived early this year for 30 young girls from the Variety Boys & Girls Club of Boyle Heights.  At the end of a three-hour Girl Rock Nation workshop at the House of Rock in Santa Monica, Calif., on Tuesday, Fender gifted the girls with their very own acoustic guitars.

 Fender artist Nik West lends some support to her new bass student. 

“Our members, and specifically our female members, are unfortunately underexposed to the arts and resources specifically in the field of music,” said Variety Heights Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Cris Arzate. “Fender and Girl Rock Nation not only provided our girls with an amazing workshop, but gave each of them their own acoustic guitar. Our club will now be able to hire a music instructor to continue what Fender and Girl Rock Nation has started.”

Initially launched by Fender in 2010, the Girl Rock Nation platform strives to encourage and empower women to participate in music. It’s an ongoing advocacy effort that aligns nicely with the goals of Rock ‘N Roll Camp for Girls Los Angeles, whose volunteer team designed the afternoon workshop of instruction on guitar, bass and songwriting.

The young students were also treated to several live performances by both Rock Camp LA instructors and Fender artists.

Radical Classical and Fender’s own Pauline France paired for a demonstration on classical guitar, followed by a double dose of bass from Sugarland’s Annie Clements and Nik West, who had just returned from a trip playing for Prince.  The bassists performed a cover of Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’.”

“I hate to see programs getting cut in schools,” said Clements, who flew in from Nashville for the workshop. “It’s really heartbreaking. I can’t imagine growing up without music. So I’m a big believer in things like Rock Camp and Girl Rock Nation, and anything that gives these kids a chance to have music in their lives.”

Following two hours of hands-on clinics on bass and guitar, the students and instructors reconvened for an all-out jam of the White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army.”

“It’s an amazing experience every time you work with kids because they always come in with such a curious spirit,” said Rock Camp LA guitar instructor Meg Toohey. “They are very eager to get a hold of an instrument and once you get them making sounds and get them going with a chord and they start playing the first semblance of a song, it’s just really magical to see the look on their faces.”

During the final hour, Camila Grey and Leisha Hailey from Uh Huh Her and singer-songwriter Lucy Schwartz each performed one of their songs and discussed the songwriting process behind them. Rapper Mecca Dawn, who was spending the afternoon at the Blue Microphone Studio at the House of Rock, also dropped by to perform a song with some help from West on bass.

Rock Camp LA instructor Meg Toohey helps a beginner musician learn her first chord. 

Hopefully by exposing these impressionable kids to so many talented female musicians and equipping them with their own guitars, they will be inspired and motivated to continue their journey in music.

“I grew up in a different time when there were a lot more female musicians that were in the public eye,” said Toohey. “I was attracted to the guitar by seeing Bonnie Raitt play guitar, and seeing the Go-Gos and the Bangles. I think that one of the reasons that working with young girls is so important is because there is not as much mainstream attention on great female instrumentalist, and we’re out there. They’re everywhere. I’m excited to work with an organization that promotes getting women behind instruments and putting them in the forefront and not being afraid of making a noise, making a sound.”

The celebration of women in music continued into the evening with Fender and Girl Rock Nation hosting a party at the House of Rock that again featured live performances by Schwartz, West and Clements, Icelandic female trio The Charlies and Two Piece Extra Spicy, a duo that met and formed this past summer at the Rock Camp L.A.

The 12-year-old Claudia Dunn and 11-year-old Oona Foley absolutely stole the show with a four-song jaw-dropping set that was both spicy and spunky.

Two Piece Extra Spicy. Photo by Josh Giroux

“We kind of realized after meeting at camp that we both really liked the White Stripes, and when camp was over, I was like ‘Well, come to my house because I have an empty garage,’” said Foley.

“And the first day after camp we came up with our band name and wrote our first song,” added Dunn.

 The girls also shared their enthusiasm for Rock Camp L.A.

“It is just — I didn’t even know happiness until I went to camp,” said Dunn. “It is so perfect. It’s the happiest place on earth. It’s not even like real life. It’s better than Disneyland.”

And even when put on the spot to sing the Rock Camp L.A. theme song, “We Rock L.A.,” the gals delivered with total aplomb.  

Undoubtedly, Two Piece Extra Spicy are future female rock stars in the making, which is the heart and soul behind Girl Rock Nation and Rock Camp LA. 

View more photos from the workshop here

View more photos from the party here


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