Monday, August 11, 2008

Willie Mae Rock Camp! Mary Poppins! Drums!

So Gail and I went to Rock Camp this weekend. The premise is that they will teach you an instrument (from scratch), you will form a band, you will write a song, you will play the song in front of an audience at the Knitting Factory, a real live rock venue. I may have been a little skeptical that these ladies would be able to teach me to drum on a set, something I have never been able to do--and that we would need a little miracle. I thought, when we were going, that it would be a preview to really learning how to play something. And that it was going to be more pretend music than anything else...

Boy, was I wrong.
Dude! They taught me how to play the drums! I know how to play the drums. and I love it. I mean, I really love it. Willie Mae Rock Camp was the greatest place I have ever been and possibly the greatest place I will ever be. The women who volunteer at this camp are perhaps the coolest, nicest, most encouraging people in the entire universe! (and i worked in residential life, so that's saying a lot) Every single thing you did, move you made, idea you had, someone said "yes. that's cool. that rocks. you're awesome." And they're sincere. And it was great.

So, yeah, I learned to play the drums.
And, though I'm not smiling here, I was smiling the entire weekend.
Here's Gail, whaling on her I'm not sure how to spell it.

So, the ladies who run things divided us into bands, based on some sort of magic formula, I'm certain, because a) they let Gail and me stay together and b)they gave us Gladys, possibly the most excellent and chill bass player in all the land.

So, on Friday, we had instrument instruction for a couple of hours, and then had a song writing workshop, and then broke up into our bands to figure out how to work together and write a song. We also had a band art workshop, where we learned how to silk screen shirts.
Gail, Gladys and I became the Robo Poppins. Originally, we were going to be the Punk Ass Poppins--with the tag line "Mary Poppins Gonna Cut You", but we decided to go less PG13 and more G. Also, I could draw a robot.
So, that's our band shirt, along with the other bands' shirts.
So, Friday night we had a lot of our song done. But there were problems with it. We needed some transition stuff, we needed a hook. Our song was about happy things, but it didn't sound happy, and it wasn't good enough to be ironically sad. On the way home from camp, Gail and I listened to a lot of music, and discovered how the songs that we listen to every day aren't that complicated musically even though they are interesting. Very cool. Also, over the weekend Gail and I learned how hard it is to be in a band, and now I know why bands break up and make up and why people love to play. Gail said she also learned why guitarists take so long to set up.
Saturday was more instrument instruction and then band practice and then more band practice. And some of the volunteers helped us with our song. And we took an awesome self-defense workshop (these ladies think of everything!). I got to play the drums for eight hours. My arms hurt, but I didn't care. Gail said I play a little like Animal from the muppets. And that may be true.
Sunday we took the train in, because it was SHOW DAY. And we practiced and practiced and practiced. And everything was kick ass awesome. Except I kept dropping my sticks. And we took band pictures:
And then Gladys' boyfriend Danny drove us to the Knitting Factory, and we waited in the rain for a while and then we went in and they set us up and it was time and we all played and everyone sounded good. There was an order list:
We were ninth. And everybody's songs were so different and so fun and we had kind of heard pieces of them and then it all came together! When it was our turn we went up and played our song "Welcome to our Happy Place" which was about all the things that make us happy, including bacon, daisies (Gail's favorite flower) and purple (Gladys' favorite color). And it was super fun.
And then it was over. And that was totally sad. But I am already totally ready to start taking drum lessons and G's gonna take guitar lessons and we are going to play all the time! At least I am. Check out the rest of my pictures on my flickr page
And the Ladies Rock Camp will be happening next summer and maybe you should go if you are a lady because it is the best time ever! And it actually pays for a scholarship program for Girl's Rock Camp, which gives girls from the city an opportunity to learn to play an instrument and become confident and learn to listen to their peers and support each other as females and work with all of these amazing people... you should go. You should go and bring your friends. Rock on, Robo Poppins.
If you want to see us/hear us go HERE: !


kathy c said...

Heather, You and Gail - and Gladys - were terrific!!! Ben showed me your video on You Tube - WOW. To learn something new and then perform in front of an audience - to learn it would appeal to me, but the performing, not so much. But you guys ROCK.

feathermar said...

Thanks, Kath!

I said...

I honestly wish I could've been there - especially after your father described the venue. Now go get your passport, puffin-lover!