What do baby mosh pits, girl bands, and social justice warriors have in common? A spot in little NoDa called Rock on 22nd. It’s a new collaborative space, housing Girls Rock Charlotte and Pachyderm Music Lab at 423 East 22nd Street.
Paul Sires and Ruth Ava Lyon, credited for setting the foundation for the NoDa Arts District, own property on East 22nd Street (located between Amelie’s and Abari Game Bar) and are shaping the new cultural center of NoDa. They have generously welcomed Pachyderm Music Lab and Girls Rock Charlotte into their kick-ass house at 423 East 22nd Street because they believe in the mission to give voices to folks through the arts.
Girls Rock Charlotte (GRC) is a nonprofit organization that uses music and the arts to teach youth confidence and compassion to stand up for themselves and each other. Kids ages 8-16 rock out in their summer music and film camps, where they form bands, make movies, attend girl power focused workshops, and end the week with a killer concert and film showcase. (See them in action on June 29 and August 3, at 7 pm at McGlohon Theatre.)
Now that GRC has a hub, they can offer year-round programming, with spring break programs, teacher work days, Amplify workshops at their new home base (they were doing monthly workshops at Behailu for the past few years), and a space to host their killer Women Rock Retreat.
GRC formed in 2014 and after witnessing the profound transformation that happened with the youth in just a week’s time, the idea came up that we could do something like this for women too. I started Lady Rockstars as a fun thing for GRC volunteers that wanted to have a similar experience in a spot once called Cube NoDa, and it grew.
Lady Rockstars is a 4-week class where women learn two songs on guitar or bass and then go rock an open mic. The camaraderie achieved in those few short weeks is epic and addictive. So much so, that every class I’ve ever done has had a repeat rockstar in it.
Eventually, it got to the point that I was ready to open up my own space, Pachyderm Music Lab. It was in a cool music instruction space in Indian Trail, off the beaten path. But the offerings of Pachyderm were so unique that we developed a cult following and it was in that space that BabyPUNK, an alternative music class for kids, was born.
BabyPUNK is a 45-minute music class for kids ages 0-7 that was created from my personal disdain for kids’ songs getting stuck in my head. When I created it, my daughter was a toddler and I was miserably attempting to do some kids’ music classes. I switched to playing music I liked, and kids and parents liked it as well. I use a kazoo for the lyric part. Each class has a different band focus and everyone gets a temporary tattoo and kazoo. The crowd favorites are the baby mosh pits and mom surfing. Kids’ music classes don’t have to make you regret your life choices and they are a really great way to connect with fellow rebellious fams.
The thing I love most about BabyPUNK is the long term impact it’s going to have on these kids. They are seeing a woman playing all these typically male-dominated instruments while they are becoming conscious humans. I hope that all of them grow up to see a musician as a musician and not a woman musician. I’ve noticed girls tend to be quieter and boys encouraged. In this space, we encourage everyone to make some noise.
Music completely transformed my life, saved it even, and it’s my life’s mission to spread that transformative healing to the people that need to find their voice most, the ones who have been silenced. And let’s face it; that’s women, children, LGBTQ people, and people of color. I’ve learned that when you create space for those folks to turn up the volume on their instruments, they’ll find power in all aspects of their lives.
If you want to learn more about my personal story of how music transformed my trauma into power, you can check out my 2018 TEDx Talk, “Women Turn Up the Volume.”
We are currently booking new students for our private lessons and group classes and actively recruiting volunteers to help with Girls Rock Charlotte summer camps. Give us a shout!