Camper Ava Hosson Gigantes participates in the Girl Rock History workshop
Photo by Lainie Basman
Judging solely by the blip-bloop and flim-flammery kids these days listen to, you’d be hard pressed to be hopeful for the future of rock ’n’ roll.
Luckily, today’s teenage girls will be tomorrow’s rock stars — uh, well, make that in four years’ time (and with parental permission).
Montreal’s Rock Camp for Girls takes in girls aged 10–17, many of whom have never touched a guitar or a pair of drumsticks, and churns out newly formed rockers who go on to perform an original song composed and written with only one intensive week’s worth of practice.
That’s more than some major acts can say.
Jennifer Duffin, who co-founded Rock Camp for Girls Montreal with Carina Foran in 2009, says 34 girls enrolled this year and are playing their little hearts out as you read this. The fruits of their week-long labour will be showcased at the Ukrainian Federation on Saturday, July 21 for proud mamas, papas and the general public to witness (as they bawl their eyes out).
“They’ll get to see six bands perform a brand new, original song they just wrote in five days, after just [meeting] each other,” Duffin says.
Girls who enroll in the rock camp make their top-three instrument picks from vocals, guitar, bass, keyboard and drums. The counsellors form the groups, assign the instruments and coach the girls in the fine art of making bitchin’ music. The girls also have the privilege of eating their PB&J while catching a live lunchtime performance each day of the week-long camp.
Inspired by the women behind the original girls’ rock camp in Oregon, Duffin and Foran — both graduates of Concordia’s Simone de Beauvoir Institute — organized their first rock camp three summers ago.
Since then, creating a community from nothing and changing the way hundreds of girls feel about themselves, if only for a fleeting moment, has been incredibly satisfying. But although they started the camp with the intention of empowering young girls, Duffin wasn’t entirely prepared for the way it would empower her personally.
“It’s totally changed my life. [It’s shown me that] I can do anything I want,” she says.
Those who attend Saturday’s showcase should bring a handful of tissues — there’s nary a dry eye in the house by the final cymbal crash. The pride and joy is simply contagious, Duffin says.
“The campers who are performing, when you see them just coming off the stage, you can tell their lives have been changed,” she says. “It might be in a small way, but it has a huge impact.”
Looks like the future of rock ‘n’ roll isn’t so bleak. ■
The Rock Camp for Girls Montreal showcase happens Saturday, July 21 at the Ukrainian Federation (5213 Hutchison), 6 p.m. PWYC with $15 suggested donation. Proceeds go to future Montreal rock camps for girls.