A guitar workshop at camp | Photo by Michelle Eigenheer
A guitar workshop at camp | Photo by Michelle Eigenheer

Last July, 40 girls and gender non-conforming youth gathered to learn the craft of rock ‘n’ roll. The weeklong Girls Rock Louisville camp was staffed by more than 70 volunteers, including many from Louisville’s music scene, and helped build self-esteem through music education.

The campers not only learned how to play instruments and sing, they formed seven bands and wrote and recorded an original song. The fantastic fruits of their labor are now being released on the nonprofit’s first compilation album, Girls Rock Louisville: 2016 Summer Camp Bands, at an in-store party at Guestroom Records on Saturday, Dec. 3.

The album was recorded courtesy of La La Land, mixed by Anne Gauthier and mastered at Black Lab Audio by Shelley Anderson. The seven songs cover various genres — from rock to rap — and are anything but sweet and sappy. In fact, you should throw out the very notion of rainbows and puppies, or sugar and spice — these girls are gritty, edgy and more naughty than nice.

Album artwork by camper Laura Mattingly
Album artwork by camper Laura Mattingly

Even in the very first song, titled “Not What a Girl Is,” the members of More Than Pieces chant Break down some walls, break down some barriers between lyrics addressing gender inequality.

Carrie Neumayer, co-founder and executive director of Girls Rock Louisville — and also a mainstay in our local music scene — tells Insider the success of the camp and album goes to the eagerness of the youth to learn and experience.

“These campers spent hours every day learning a new instrument and working hard to collaborate and connect with one another despite varying levels of experience and navigating different personalities and communication styles,” says Neumayer. “I credit our campers’ resiliency, their boldness, their kindness and their vast creativity to their music’s success. When you make music with others, it’s an act of bravery — you’re putting your heart and soul on the line. Every single one of our campers gave it their all, and I’m so proud of them.”

The intensive camp would not have been possible without the time and effort put in by the army of volunteers, she adds. From planning sessions to raising money to teaching someone how to play the drums, everyone involved with the camp went above and beyond to make sure the kids had a beneficial and fun experience.

Members of More Than Pieces | Photo by Michelle Eigenheer
Members of More Than Pieces | Photo by Michelle Eigenheer

“From fundraising efforts to hauling tons of heavy gear around to serving lunches to discussing intersectional feminism to teaching about chords and beats, our volunteers worked really hard,” says Neumayer. “We truly became a team, and each person’s contributions and participation was invaluable.”

Neumayer recalls one of her favorite moments from July’s camp. At the final showcase concert, after all the bands had performed in front of a live audience for the first time, there was a moment when everyone jumped on stage and sang the camp’s theme song, which includes the chorus: Making friends, making NOISE! Taking up space, hear our voice! Our place is in the revolution!

Members of Flawless Bosses | Photo by Michelle Eigenheer
Members of Flawless Bosses | Photo by Michelle Eigenheer

“To hear our campers and volunteers singing those words together after all we’d experienced that week was really emotional and powerful, and I’ll never forget it,” she says.

The all-ages in-store party will take place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, at Guestroom Records, 1806 Frankfort Ave. Attendees will be able to purchase the album for $8, or $5 digitally, and meet the young rockers.

A 2017 Girls Rock Louisville summer camp is scheduled for June 12-17 at Western Middle School. Registration information will be announced in the spring, so keep an eye on the organization’s website.

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Sara Havens
Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle (barbelleblog.com). She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."