Showing posts with label non-profit. Show all posts
Showing posts with label non-profit. Show all posts

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Salif Keita to appear with SFJAZZ promoting the cause of the African Albino

African musician Salif Keita is an albino: a term used for those individuals with albinism. Albinism, as you probably know, is a congenital disorder characterized by the absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes. What you might not know is that in some countries on the African continent, these individuals are often killed because of the superstitious beliefs associated with albinism.

Keita’s new album La Difference is a dedication to these people and a statement bringing attention to the cause. While Keita has always been a speaker for those with albinism, this album is the first time he sings about the deeply personal and painful subject. In two performances (8PM and 10:30PM) this Friday, Keita will appear at Bimbo’s 365 with SFJAZZ.

The story of the 61-year-old’s life is the ultimate “rising above all obstacles to achieve greatness” tale. Keita is of royal heritage, which because of Mali’s strict caste system, is supposed to have kept him from being a musician. Being a musician and a storyteller in Malian tradition is the job of a griot. So Keita was outcast from his family and community on two accounts, that of his chosen profession and his condition.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The second Bay Area Ladies Rock Camp a raging success

Me at Ladies Rock Camp 2009 playing the bass with Mama and the Tweets

Just this last weekend was the Bay Area Ladies Rock Camp. I wasn't a camper this year, but put in some time making dinner for the 25 campers and 20 volunteers. I also went to the showcase on Sunday. It was a lot of fun and moving as always (I always cry a little).

I am proud to have been responsible for two of the campers this year: my friends Marla and Crystal. Both learned to play the drums. Marla is in this video below with the crazy green eye-shadow. Crystal, originally from Vancouver, came up from LA for Rock Camp.

Crystal said:
It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life! I've learned that you can do anything and it's never too late...

After the performances, numerous people came up to me to give me hugs and high fives. They couldn't believe it was my first time picking up drumsticks 3 days ago. They were amazed at how great I was.

Being someone who is generally uncomfortable with praise, it was so crazy. Who knew I was a drummer? Even though I've always wanted to do it, it wasn't until now that I took the opportunity to do so. I'm so glad I did it. As it turns out, I AM a drummer.
Each Lady Rock Camper's tuition for the weekend goes directly to a girl camper that would not be able to afford it otherwise. At the Bay Area camp, 50% of the girl campers are on some kind of scholarship.

Rock Camps are popping up all over the country and all over the world. There might be one in your city. I HIGHLY recommend that you check it out for yourself, your mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, step-mom and friends. It is super fun and maybe one of the best weekends you will ever have.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I was a guest blogger for Girls Rock Camp Austin for South by Southwest: Those Darlins and Girl in a Coma, supporting bands who support the community

Girl in a Coma will play Girl's Rock Camp's Showcase at SXSW

Rock Camp has been around long enough that it is not just about the girls anymore. While the girl campers who sign up for Rock Camp all around the country (and the world) are the fire that keep it all going, Camp is just as much about the adult woman who support it: whether it be the staff, volunteers or the bands who play.

Girl in a Coma and Those Darlins are two bands that I have become a fan of due to their involvement in Rock Camp. It’s a musical symbiotic relationship. Women have a history of solidarity and this is no exception. BUT, and hear me on this, it takes GOOD music to hold my attention as a fan, it doesn’t matter who makes it.

Girl in a Coma played the Girls Rock Camp 2009 SXSW Showcase and I have been a supporter since. READ MORE ON THE ROCK CAMP BLOG HERE.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Kronos Quartet continues to push the boundaries of the string quartet

Jon Rose's "Music for 4 Fences"
Photo: Christina Johnson

It must be so much fun to be in the Kronos Quartet. Violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, violist Hank Dutt and cellist Jeffrey Zeigler walk out on stage and just emanate cool. They wear denim and leather, have messy hair, awesome lighting, prerecorded electronic tracks and enjoy making noise, both traditionally beautiful and ugly. Oh, and they also dedicated their entire performance to the late historian Howard Zinn. These guys are hip. The best part is that three out of four of them are old enough to be my Dad. My Dad is cool, but certainly not like this. (Love you, Dad!)

Friday night I attended the third of four performances all featuring Jon Rose’s piece “Music from 4 Fences.” Each of the four nights also included compositions by Terry Riley, Damon Albarn of Blur & Gorillaz, (what doesn’t that guy do?) John Zorn, Clint Mansell (Requiem for a Dream soundtrack), and Bryce Dessner of The National. I got to hear the Mansell piece in all of its intense glory.

One of the more interesting pieces they played was commissioned for the Kronos a couple yeas ago by the Palestinian collective, the Ramallah Underground called “Tashweesh.”


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A request to help support and protect All-Ages performances spaces

These guys need a safe place to party too

Remember being under 21 and wanting to go out? I lived in Los Angeles and still ended up getting a fake ID. I mean I missed freaking PAUL SIMON at the House of Blues because I was under 21. I ended up hanging out outside with the doormen and watching the show on the monitor for smokers. That was not right, people. People under the age of 21 need a variety of places to go, that aren't just punk clubs. Not all kids are interested in that kind of music.

This is a notice from my friend Cary (from the band At Dusk) who has worked tirelessly to support and maintain All-Ages entertainment spaces across the country. I've gone ahead and signed up (you have to give Pepsi an email, but you have to specifically sign up for mailing lists, so don't worry about spam) please do the same if you feel that this is a cause worth supporting:
As I'm among friends and family here I'll spare you a long pitch and just ask for your help in securing a $50,000 grant from Pepsi for a non-profit organization called the All-Ages Movement Project (AMP) that advocates for and support people nationwide in starting, running and maintaining all-ages arts and music spaces.

They are in an online competition to be one of the ten most vote-getting applicant projects among hundreds by the end of February. If they finish in the top ten, they will receive $50,000 that will allow the organization publish a how-to book, organize a series of workshops and conferences, and take on some much needed staff. Everyone (or, technically, every email) can vote once a day through February 28 at:

Since you know me, you also know how important the cause of all-ages access to music and art is to me, and I can assure you that if AMP is able to make these projects happen it will help address some critical issues in creative communities across the country.

Any help you could offer over the few days by voting and encouraging others to vote through facebook, twitter, emails etc. would be greatly appreciated. You will not receive Pepsi spam unless you specifically check a box requesting to, so don't worry about that.

***Vote daily through February to help bring all-ages music and art to every town.***

Saturday, December 12, 2009

CMASH and Classical Revolution bringing concert music back to the people

A note to my classical/concert musician friends:

If you are into performing music for not just folks in concert halls, please do yourself a favor and check out the organization Classical Revolution. They might put on shows near you.

A note to my composer friends:

Check out CMASH, a Bay Area collective of musicians and composers.


Friday, December 4, 2009

By Area Girls Rock Camp Silent Auction round up

Poison Apple Pie: Emmalee, Torrey and Jasmine

Just wanted to report that the fundraiser was a success! I don't know how much money was raised, but there were over 65 pieces of art donated and most of them were bid on. Everything I donated was sold which is very excited for me! Thanks again Jen, Lauren, Jemal, Jessica, Diana and Erin .

Poison Apple Pie played a fabulous set including "Superman" by R.E.M., "21 Guns" by Green day, "Don't Stop Believin" by Journey (complete with the intro that Torrey and I worked on last week), and originals "I Need a Chainsaw," "Flying Swines of Doom" and my favorite, "I Don't Want to Hug You." The last one sounds like a 1960s garage band tune. They've just been getting better and better and better. I can't believe they are all only 12.

I sold two lessons, one to someone I know and one to someone I don't know. Should be interesting!

Anyway, everyone did a fabulous job and I am very happy to have been part of it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Local Bay Area artists featured in silent auction: Proceeds go to Bay Area Girls Rock Camp

Print by Jen Oaks

Artists and musicians are cut from the same cloth, but how often do the two communities get to directly support each other? Dozens of Bay Area artists have donated handmade items to raise money for the Bay Area Girls Rock Camp in a silent auction occurring this coming Friday, December 4th 7-10pm at Local 123 in Berkeley.

Just in time for the holidays, there will be everything from handmade earrings and jam to paintings, prints and sculptures. Check out the slideshow for a sneak peak. Homemade items can be special holiday gifts! Many items will start bidding at $10.

I'm auctioning off 4 music lessons starting at $20 each. Been meaning to pick up that guitar? Want to learn some piano? Always wanted to learn about African music? Bollywood? I can probably teach you about it.

These are some of the pieces that my friends Jessica, Erin, Diana, Jemal, Jen and Lauren donated. THANK YOU SO MUCH GUYS! I am so grateful that you are helping to support Girls Rock Camp, an organization that I have put so much of my own time and energy into.

Click here to read the article on and check out the slideshow of some of the other art that will be there (I think my friends donated the best stuff, but I'm biased).

Also, "my" girls, Poison Apple Pie will be performing at the event. It's been so much fun to see Emalee, Jasmine and Torrey progress as a band. Can't wait to see what they're going to play.

Homemade Peach and Strawberry jam by Diana Kowalsky (I made the labels)

earrings by Jessica Hilberman

Painting by Erin Wapple

Doodles by Jemal Diamond

Sunday, October 11, 2009

President Obama declares October National Arts and Humanities Month: celebrating music education

Like February is African American History Month and March is Women's History Month, President Obama has declared October National Arts and Humanities Month. There are events planned all over the country this month to celebrate.

According to the National Agency of State Arts Agencies, National Arts and Humanities Month's four primary goals are to:

- Create a national, state and local focus on the arts and humanities through the media (which is where I come in)

- Encourage the active participation of individuals, as well as arts, humanities and other interested organizations nationwide (keep on reading... there's a list of my favorite music organizations, please comment below and tell us what yours is!)

- Provide an opportunity for federal, state and local business, government and civic leaders to declare their support for the arts and humanities

- Establish a highly visible vehicle for raising public awareness about the arts and humanities

The proclamation by President Obama states:
"Every American deserves an opportunity to study, understand, and contribute to the arts and humanities. This must begin in our schools, where children may have their first and most important exposure to these disciplines."
I'm glad to see the federal government at least showing some kind of public support for the arts and humanities. We can talk all day about how we need to put arts education back into our schools, but until the cash shows up, that's all it is: talk. And until schools start seeing this money, we have arts organizations to help take the place of music and art education.

To read more of my article click here

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Photos from the History of Women in Rock Girls Rock Camp workshop

Always More to Hear has made it to the big screen!

I thought this would be very meta... pictures of the blog on the blog. For those of you who teach using youtube videos, this is a great way to get everything in the same place. Putting everything on a blog was very helpful. This way, campers can go back to the entry, watch the whole video and learn more if they want to.

One of the Girls Rock staff members borrowed a digital projector from a friend, so all we needed was internet and a computer. We also got the audio patched through the PA so the music was nice and loud.  Big Mama's Hound Dog sounded really good.

For the most part the campers seemed to like the workshop, it gave them some down time to basically sit and watch tv.  Who wouldn't like that? I hope I get to lead this workshop next year, it's really fun.

Jennie introduces the workshop

Martha and the Vandellas "Dancing in the Street"

Sleater-Kinney and Riot Grrrl

Dolly Parton and her "Coat of Many Colors"

Monday, July 6, 2009

Girls Rock Camp: celebrating and encouraging women in music: past, present & future

Why girls? Why a Girls Rock Camp?

Someone has actually asked me that.


Have you ever watched Mtv? (Especially now that it only schedules reality television.) Have you seen the dozens of blatant sexualized covers of RollingStone Magazine?

Why are there so many more men in popular music than women? And why are most of the women in popular music singers? Where are all the female instrumentalists?

Do you want to see more women on TV being real women rather than over sexed school girls?

Aretha Franklin, Wanda Jackson, Joan Jett, Sleater Kinney, Queen Latifah, and Bjork: these are someof the famous woman that Girls Rock Camp (GRC) uses as role models. But GRC also seeks to shine the light on every day role models: our cool sisters, the girl next door and the band that plays in that small club on Fridays.

This Saturday, July 11 at 2pm at the Metro Oakland Opera House you will be able to see the 70 or so girls perform their original songs that they will write with their bands this week. Whether or not they ever pick up these instruments again, GRC hopes to inspire each and every one of them to be powerful and true to themselves. I highly recommend that you pencil this show into your weekend. You will not regret it. I usually spend the whole two hours smiling with tears in my eyes. It's amazing what these kids can do in a week.

Read more of my Article here

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Bay Area Ladies Rock Camp: Day 1

Day 1: Intros, band formation, instrument instruction, songwriting workshop, practice, practice, practice, and play rock band!

So far I am loving this.

I was a little worried going into this about several things: what would the other campers be like? Would I be able to sing? Would my band suck? How terrible would I be at playing the bass? Would my musical background be an advantage or a disadvantage?

Everyone has been so great. I love my band. We have two guitarists and TWO bass players. And you know what? it's perfect.  I can sing and play guitar just fine, but sing and play bass at the same time? I think so! 

Our song is great (it's a little AC/DC-esque) and our band name is going to be nerdy and awesome (let me just say that a certain social networking site is going to get a shout out).  It's so interesting how I can't write a song by myself to save my life, but as soon as I have other people's ideas around me, it becomes so easy.

There are 24 women of all ages signed up: moms, aunts, and girls right out of college.  There are a couple women in from Southern California and even from the East Coast. Everyone is so excited to be there and we are all having a ball. Tomorrow is going to be tiring, but I'm super excited about it. 

I'm very inspired by these women to keep it up after this weekend and maybe try getting a band together. 

Maybe I'll even learn another key.

Our showcase is this Sunday May 3 at the Starry Plough in Berkeley at 3pm. 3101 Shattuck Ave Berkeley, CA 94705