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My Weekend at Ladies Rock Camp

Virginia Frances1 Comment

Three weeks after Ladies Rock Camp I'm still totally blown away by what four complete strangers can accomplish in just two and a half days. 


In my 33 years on this planet, one might say I've dabbled in music. I played the clarinet in middle school (what 90s girl didn't?!). I took piano lessons. I sang in my high school choir. I learned acoustic guitar and was pretty into the youth group worship thing for a while. I've had a number of jam session phases in my life with various people. For a few years in my early twenties I was sort of in a band.....and by that I mean, I stood quietly side-stage (or sometimes in the mosh pit) at countless hardcore shows as a "band groupie" for the guy I was dating. All my life I've been craving a rock band experience of my own and the opportunity just never quite presented itself to me.......until Rain City Rock Camp!!!! 

On my Rock Camp application I had selected drums as my first choice instrument (the aforementioned boyfriend was a drummer), vocals as second choice, guitar as third. As such, I had been mentally preparing myself to be a drummer for months but when I arrived on the first day of Camp and saw the word "vocalist" on my name tag my heart dropped. I mean...I can sing, but the thought of being the front woman for a rock and roll band totally terrified me. But, as the great Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want.....but you get what you need." Throughout the weekend I realized that finding my voice, both literally and figuratively, was exactly what I needed. 

To put it simply, Ladies Rock Camp exceeded all my wildest expectations. It's hard to put into words the many feelings from that weekend but I'd like to share 7 REASONS WHY ROCK CAMP ROCKED MY WORLD in hopes that I might convince you to participate in the next one so that you can feel all those magical feelings for yourself!

1. The vibe! Imagine a room full of 40+ womxn diverse in age, sexual orientation, racial identity, and of various professional/life experiences all coming together to ROCK. More importantly, coming together to share in a new experience and encourage and empower one another. We started each morning with rock aerobics and ended the day with a dance parties and karaoke. What happened in between was pure magic. 


2. The process! From Friday to Sunday our daily Camp schedule included everything we needed to progress toward our live show. Over the course of 2.5 days we had 4 band rehearsals, 2 instrument specific coaching sessions, a song writing workshop, a pedal workshop, as well as some super rad bonus workshops (can't give everything away on here!) Plus all our delicious meals and snacks were prepared for us all weekend, which was awesome!

3. The coaches! Each band was assigned a coach or team of coaches. My band had the most amazing coaches (shoutout to Darcey & Lisa!!!) who knew exactly when to jump in when we needed support and also when to hold back when they trusted we could work it out on our own. They were the best cheerleaders/behind-the-scenes photographers/word-smithers/hypebeasts we could have ever asked for. In addition to band coaches, each instrument was assigned a coach. In my case, I got to work with the other six band vocalists coached by the incredible Shaina Shephard (singer for BearAxe). Shaina was amazing! She helped me learn new breathing techniques and also helped me work through a serious mental block I was having in unleashing my power voice.

4. Karaoke night! Hands down THE BEST karaoke I've ever witnessed happened on Saturday night of Rock Camp. Notable performances included Adra Boo KILLING Cardi B Bodak Yellow, Caley Murray slaying us with Alicia Keys and Selena Whitake-Paquit's EPIC dramatization of the Beatles Come Together. It was so much FUN!!!

5. Glam squad!  We had pro hair and makeup artists onsite before our big debut show. This was a surprise to me that day and it totally made me feel like a rock star. I LOVED my 90s gothglam look! Andi Puzl did band photos for each band, which made it all so official!

6. The bands! My band was 1 of 7 that formed that weekend. Every single one of the bands blew me away on performance night. It was so inspiring to see how each individual person grew (many learned their instruments for the first time that weekend!) and how each band really truly came together. I've had the lines of all the bands' songs replaying in my head ever since, like an anthem to a theme song I've been waiting for my entire life. "Burn it down!"........"I won't be contained"...... "All is mind."..... "The sun's gonna rise up, will you rise too?" My band though, something very special happened between us that weekend. At our first band practice we just sort of stood around staring at each other for the first 30 minutes, not sure where to begin. And then slowly over each practice we started to build our song. It was a truly collaborative process that kept me in the moment the entire time. It felt really good. By our final rehearsal we had our song down and even threw in some last minute changes that really pulled it all together. I'm so grateful for Bunnie, Ilsa and Amy T for being so incredibly amazing in every way and for empowering me throughout the weekend and especially on performance night! 

7. The LRC staff! Seriously, Rain City staff and volunteers thought of everything to make the weekend as wonderful as it was! Plus they're all amazing people, badass musicians, and I want to become best friends with all of them (especially Jeanne Mitchell who makes the most hilarious faces!) SUPER DUPER SHOUTOUT TO OUR CAMP DIRECTOR  EXTRAORDINAIRE THE ONE AND ONLY ADRA BOO!!! Thank you for giving us so much of yourself!! You are truly AH-MAZING!

So, that's it! I hope you're at least a little curious about Ladies Rock Camp after all that. Check out the Rain City Rock Camp website where you can find out more info and apply to be a part of the next one!! And....maybe I'll see you there, because I still want to show those drums whose boss!

And lastly.....without further adieu I give you VELVET VOLTAGE!!! The video below is from the world debut of our song we wrote at Camp. Thanks to our band coach, Darcey, for the footage- even if it is sideways :)


Happy National Thrift Shop Day!!!

Virginia FrancesComment

The question I get asked most by all you lovely people is: What are your favorite thrift shops? I can't believe its taken me this long to publicly respond, but better late than never right?! Above all, I strive to shop at thrift stores that support the work of non-profit organizations. It’s a win-win because I get rad stuff and the money I spend goes back into the community to support things like after-school programs for kids and emergency shelter for women fleeing domestic violence.

So...without further ado, here’s my list. You can click on the links to see photos of some of the fab (mostly vintage) items I’ve purchased and to learn more about each thrift shop and the Organizations they support <3

Seattle, WA

Olympia, WA

Longview, WA

Montana (from the Great Vintage Road Trip!)


That's it for now! Feel free to leave a comment with some of your fav spots to thrift. Let's spread the thrift shop love!! Queue Macklemore! HAPPY THRIFTING!!!!