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Girls Rock Camp: Fostering the Next Generation of Fem-Rock [Showcase Saturday]

By Candace Birkelbach in Arts and Entertainment on July 31, 2009 3:39 PM

As we all know, girls freaking rock. And girls who strap on a guitar—perhaps decked out in blue hair and studded arm bracelets—and perform on stage, rock even more. Girls Rock Camp of Austin is dedicated to empowering girls and women of all backgrounds and abilities through music education and performance. The organization hosts week-long camps throughout the year where girls aged 10 to 17 learn how to write songs, work together and eventually perform a live showcase in front of 400 people in an Austin venue. Campers also explore the history of women in rock and meet professionals in journalism, public relations, talent management and audio engineering. The current camp session ends this weekend, with the fun culminating in a showcase Saturday afternoon at The Parish Room. The feeling of accomplishment and empowerment is sure to color the air.

As Emily Marks, director of Girls Rock Camp Austin, said, "if you can play on stage in front of 400 people, you can do anything."

Gals regardless of experience or ability to play are encouraged to sign up for the camp which provides the opportunity to rock out in an inspiring, supportive, all-female environment. Who needs men, anyway?

We stopped by the camp grounds at Austin Studios Thursday to see how the girls rock skills were coming along. Sounds of bass drum, electric guitar and fun leaked through the air as the campers got some practice time in before lunchtime. And oh, what a special lunch it was. Sack lunches seemed subpar compared to the afternoon entrainment, an up-close performance from San Antonio girl rock power group, Girl in a Coma. The garage-punk performers showed the teens how confidence and persistence can translate into success, if you want it and work hard enough. Plenty of talent was brewing during the practice session. It was like tiny bands forming in each room of Austin Studios, already using drum kits and amps to drown out any ability for others to hear. If anything, the Girl in a Coma performance probably helped solidify what the campers already know about music.

"A lot of people think we're School of Rock for chicks, but we're totally different than that," Marks said. "This isn’t a talent contest. It’s about helping girls develop confidence and creative skills that will serve them for the rest of their lives.”

Saturday’s showcase will also feature a silent auction for autographed rock items both classic and contemporary, gift certificates from local merchants, and SXSW wristbands. All proceeds support scholarships for low-income campers.

Girls interested in learning the rules to rocking out should register here. Campers needing more information can write an email, or call 512-809-7799. Girls Rock Camp survives greatly though donations and volunteers. If you like their message, get off your butt and help them out.