We’re three days away from Something From a Dream, a night produced by PVDlive and the Columbus Cooperative, bringing together the area’s best talent to celebrate the music of Tom Petty. More than fifteen local acts are lined up to honor the legend upstairs at the Columbus Theatre on Friday, December 29th, with all proceeds going to Girls Rock! Rhode Island.
A volunteer-based non-profit that uses music creation and critical thinking to foster empowerment, collaborative relationships, and the development of healthy identities in girls and women, Girls Rock! RI has been leveraging music to inspire women for nine years and counting. From camps, to classes, to gear loans, the organization offers a variety of music programs, underscored by a mission to empower individuals and communities to join together and create positive change for themselves and for society as a whole.
We caught up with Executive Director, Hilary Jones, to learn how the proceeds from Friday’s event will impact the organization.
PVDlive: What was your journey in music that sparked the inspiration to start this program?
Hilary: I have been playing guitar since I was 14 and in bands since I was 16. I am also a psychology and gender studies major. When I first heard about the concept of a Girls Rock Camp (which started in Portland, OR in 2001), I thought, “this is AMAZING!” and for me, it was the perfect mix of everything I cared about.
I grew up in Fargo, ND, and moved to RI in 2002 for grad school. When I finished grad school in 2008, I volunteered at the Girls Rock Camp in Brooklyn, and I was hooked. After that, some friends and I started meeting every other week in my kitchen to make it happen, and here we are today!
PVDlive: What are the range of programs offered by Girls Rock?
Hilary: Our flagship program is our Girls Rock Camp, where youth ages 11-18 learn an instrument, join a band, write a song, and perform it live in just 5 days. Campers also attend workshops on topics like media literacy, healthy relationships, and power & privilege. We now have two camps, one for middle school and one for high school.
We also have a Ladies Rock Camp, which follows the same concept of the Girls Rock Camp, but in just 3 days for adults! We also have Group Music Lessons for youth and adults, a gear loan program, and weekly youth drop-in and gender discussion group programs.
PVDlive: Can you estimate how many people have been a part of this?
Hilary: We have had more than 1,000 participants in our programming since we first started.
PVDlive: That’s impressive! Do you find that people that participate in these programs continue playing or being involved with music?
Hilary: For us, participants can be “successful” in our programs whether or not they continue playing music. The main goal is for them to have a better understanding of who they are, a larger view of the range of potential options for themselves in the world (whether that’s careers, personal identities, or beyond), and the opportunity to express themselves and feel like their voices and experiences are heard and valued. We see music as a medium rather than as the outcome itself.
That said, we love music and we love it when our participants keep playing! We have had a large number of participants continue on, playing in college (some majoring in music-related fields), playing with their bands from camp, with other Girls Rock Camp or Ladies Rock Camp alumnae, or other local musicians.
Some bands/solo projects featuring alumnae musicians that are currently active and playing out include: Rose Moon, Wavelength, Skylar Batz, Francesca Binder, Prophecy Girl, Foxx Doll, the Debutantes, and Swampbirds.
PVDlive: Jen Long, of the Swampbirds is on the bill for Friday! It’s remarkable to think that Girls Rock! has helped bring these groups together. How has Providence in general supported this organization?
Hilary: The Providence community has really made Girls Rock! RI a reality! We are a volunteer-based non-profit with only two staff members. That means that 50 volunteers come together to make each camp happen– whether they are leading a bass lesson or making everyone lunch! We have also received support in the form of donations of money and music gear from the community! We can’t keep the lights on without money and we can’t play music without gear, so that’s huge! There are also a great number of folks who come out to our events, whether it’s program showcases or events like the Tom Petty tribute night.
PVDlive: We’re expecting a great turnout for the Tom Petty event, where we’re donating 100% of proceeds to Girls Rock! RI. What sort of things will the contributions from this event help to fund?
Hilary: Two-thirds of participants in our fee-based programs receive a full or partial scholarship to attend, and our non-fee-based programs are free. So, you can expect that contributions will ensure that our programs are accessible to all!
PVDlive: We are proud to support such a worthy cause! See you at the show!
Registration is open for the Girls Rock! RI Winter programs, including a new session of 10-week Group Music Lessons for youth and adults, starting January 20th, Youth Gender Discussion Group, starting January 22nd, and Ladies Rock Camp, March 16th-18th. No experience is necessary, and scholarships are available.
interview by Sarah Goodrich
photo credit Cat Laine (Painted Foot Photography)
PVDlive & The Columbus Cooperative Present:
‘SOMETHING FROM A DREAM’
A Tom Petty Tribute Night
When: 8:00 pm, December 29, 2017
Where: Columbus Theatre
Price: $10 advance / $12 day of show