Girls Rock Camp with Raining Jane and Fender!
In summer 2005, Raining Jane rhythm section Becky Gebhardt (bass/guitar/sitar) and Mona Tavakoli (drums/vocals/percussion) spent a raucous week as volunteers at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Ore. Aside from a love for Portland itself, Gebhardt and Tavakoli also share a love for teaching young ladies how to rock out with appropriate skill and abandon. Fender chipped in with some instruments, amps and accessories.
The stated mission of Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp For Girls is “to encourage, engage and showcase the musical, artistic and individual talents of girls and young women ages 8-18, and empower them with tools for self-reliance as a means to enhance and affirm positive self-esteem.”
Founded in 2000 as a weeklong summer camp, the non-profit organization now offers a year-round schedule of music education, attracting students and instructors from all over the world. Many of the women who are the camp’s teachers, coaches and mentors have professional music experience. At camp, girls learn about songwriting and arranging, live sound, booking, merchandising and promotion, ’zine writing and publishing, roadie work and self-defense.
During their week at camp, Gebhardt and Tavakoli gave drum and bass guitar lessons, and also co-managed a band of four 10-year-olds named “Duh Girls.”
“It was truly inspiring, and it was a really amazing experience in terms of women teaching girls and having a really safe environment for young women to learn and not feel intimidated by outside societal pressures,” Tavakoli said.
A live band performed each day at lunchtime. About 20 all-girl bands formed at the camp, and on the final day each group performed an original song to a ballroom packed with families and friends.
“It was really awesome to see this whole new generation of young female songwriters and guitar players,” Gebhardt said. “It’s like the next generation of music. It’s exciting. It’s really cool to see the energy and the excitement about guitars and rock ‘n’ roll.”
In the weeks leading up to camp, Raining Jane approached Fender to see if it would be interested in getting involved; the company responded with 18 Squier guitars and basses, three amps, 50 cables and a big box of wristbands, picks and stickers.
“We were so honored to have Fender involved and helping to provide instruments and gear for young women who are learning,” Tavakoli said.
The camp’s website (www.girlsrockcamp.org) says that it was founded in order to dispel gender “myths and traditions” that restrict the involvement of girls and women in music, noting that “any technical job or creative endeavor in the music industry is achievable by any girl or woman,” and that at the camp, students “find they are given enormous amounts of support and opportunity to express themselves in any way they wish.”
Samantha Bellach, 17-year-old guitarist for the N.E.W.S., said the camp provided her with a “surreally enlightening experience.”
“The camp brought me to the affirmation that music and guitar have such a huge impact on my life, and should not be relegated as a mere hobby due to social constraints and misconceptions,” she said. “My hands are calloused for the first time in all the years I’ve played guitar, and I’m so ecstatic about this! However, the aches and pains experienced were appreciated in the sense that we could literally feel our creative desire and our music converge; becoming a tangible force that others were eager and willing to reckon with—especially at the showcase!
For further information about Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, visit www.girlsrockcamp.org.
Visit Raining Jane online at www.rainingjane.com. Umbrella optional.
Empower chords: Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls students, summer ’05.
Raining Jane’s Gebhardt (far left) and Tavakoli (center) with students.
Destinee rocks a Squier Stratocaster® guitar.
The Forest Fires, with Fender wristbands.
All photos by Shayla Hason