Girls Rock Roulette 2017 - by Bria Barton

... some bigger girls are getting their chance to shine.

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An ensemble of rocker chicks is strumming, drumming and singing their way to New Brookland Tavern on Sept. 23 to show off what it means to have girl power.


Girls Rock Columbia is hosting Rock Roulette 2017, a fundraising event that goes toward funding their Girls Rock Camp and year-round programming.


Although Girls Rock strives to teach their younger members the splendors of music and self-confidence, on this night, some bigger girls are getting their chance to shine.


“At Girls Rock Camp, we always remind our campers that their most powerful instrument is their voice. It's really important to us that our adult volunteers and supporters have opportunities to use their voices just like our campers,” Jess Oliver, Girls Rock Columbia executive director, says. “We lead by example, so it's good to be able to empathize during camp week when we are asking them to do something that might be intimidating. This is a great opportunity for volunteers who might want to work on building up their confidence in front of an audience because they will have their band mates up there with them for support.”


Last month, the Girls Rock ladies were each assigned a band in preparation for Rock Roulette 2017. Over the last couple of weeks, their task has been to practice their instruments and compose at least one original song with their respective band members.


“I am most excited about the people who have never played an instrument. One of my band members is playing keyboard for the first time, and she showed up to rehearsal absolutely glowing,” Oliver says. “It helps me remember that, yeah, we are largely a summer camp for youth, but it's really important to empower each other too. We adults doubt ourselves sometimes and feel small and powerless too, so it's important to take the opportunity to do something brave and remember, ‘Oh yeah... I ROCK!’”


Those participating in Rock Roulette 2017 are also individually raising money for Girls Rock through their own Razoo links, which they have posted on their social media. Oliver encourages people to donate because every dollar goes “directly to Girls Rock Columbia's future programming.”


Oliver believes that the public should come out and support Rock Roulette 2017 because it might just be that inspirational push a person needs in order to step out of their comfort zone. Additionally, she says, “[Rock Roulette is] bound to be a fun and energetic night of community and positivity” and that the audience can expect to see “a lot of really big smiles.”


“I'm also really happy that we have some community members participating in Rock Roulette who have never volunteered with us,” Oliver says. “We want to continue to grow, and this is one way we can keep making connections.”


Rock Roulette 2017 begins at 8PM. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at They will also be available at the door.

Hoechella: Rock against the patriarchy by Ony Ratsimbaharison

hoechella Next month a festival to raise awareness on body-positivity, called Hoechella, will run August 26-27 at New Brookland Tavern. The festival, organized by local musician and stage actor/director, Kari Lebby, was created to combat “slut shaming, rape culture, and unjust legislation that affects people's bodily autonomy.” This event will be completely free, thanks to Girls Rock Columbia and Girls Rock Charleston, who procured funding for the event, Lebby says.

The decision to throw this event came from a desire to subvert the idea that expressing ones sexuality should be shamed and made to be a bad thing. “It isn’t a bad thing,” Lebby says. “What is a bad thing, however, is the marginalization of women, people of color, and queer people.” By holding this event, they wish to bring artists and leaders from these communities together for visibility and to encourage everyone to be comfortable with who they are, and to be informed about issues that affect us all.

The festival will feature local and regional acts, almost all of them including at least one member who is queer, a woman, or a person of color, according to Lebby. Debbie and the Skanks, Cyberbae, MyBrother MySister, Glittoris, and Can’t Kids will be performing, just to name a few. They cover a wide range of genres, which was another important factor in booking. This is to showcase diverse acts and to hopefully bridge some of the gaps in our ranging music scene.

Hoechella became a fully-realized festival in what seemed like no time at all, but that was not without the help from people and organizations in our community. “I just have crazy ideas, but it takes a ton of people to make it happen!” Lebby says about seeing Hoechella come to fruition. People from the organizations Girls Rock Columbia and Girls Rock Charleston, along with the staff at New Brookland Tavern helped to solidify their plan, while others helped with things like the organizing and designing of the logo.

Lebby hopes this event will encourage people to start speaking out against rape culture, body shaming, slut shaming, and unjust legislation. It will hopefully add a new spin on the typical shows we see here in Columbia, with added awareness and encouragement to be comfortable with one’s self and their personal choices.

For more information, check out

Full list of performers

Can't Kids, Say Brother, Debbie & the Skanks, MyBrother MySister, She Returns from War, Glittoris, Sandcastles, Paisley Marie, Del Sur, Cyberbae, BRBN, and Sugar St. Germain.

Girls Rock Columbia Rock Concert Announced - 20 Bands!


Girls Rock Columbia Campers Conclude Fourth Year of Camp with Rock Concert 20 bands comprised of 77 8-17 year olds take the stage Columbia, S.C.

Girls Rock Columbia campers from two sessions will let their confidence shine at a showcase this Saturday at Columbia Museum of Art. The showcase will last from 3pm until 5pm and the doors open at 2pm.

The camp, which concludes its fourth year of camp on Friday, extended its programming to two weeks this year. The first week of programming catered exclusively to teenagers and those teenagers applied what they learned as junior counsellors during the second camp session, for campers 8-12. In addition to learning a traditional rock instrument and writing a song, campers also participate in band coaching, and workshops; Audio Console Mixing, Stage Presence, Herstory of Women in Rock, Body Positivity, Building a Pedalboard, Rock Photography and Zine Making.

“Too often people look at youth as having the potential to be something powerful someday,” said Mollie Williamson, executive director, “but at Girls Rock Columbia we think it’s important to recognize that these kids are change makers today. They are brave, powerful and changing the word right now. It’s really incredible to see them recognize that in themselves over the span of five days. Kids who are too shy to speak into a mic the first day are playing drum solos and screaming out lyrics by the end of camp. Being a part of helping these youth recognize their potential for making positive long lasting changes in the community is something that I feel so proud to be involved with. These are a generation of kids who are going to change the world.”

In its fourth year of operation, Girls Rock Columbia has more than quadrupled in size. Girls Rock Columbia is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering a community of girls, trans* and non-binary youth in Columbia and empowering them through music education. The program encourages an environment that cultivates self-confidence, challenges gender stereotypes, promotes positive relationships, creativity, and leadership. The ultimate goal of Girls Rock Columbia is to empower everyone involved; both campers and volunteers, to take the sense of community learned from within the organization and carry that throughout the city they call home.

Admission to the showcase is $10 for adults and $5 for kids under 12. Children 3 and under are free. Doors open at 2pm. For more information about Girls Rock Columbia, please visit or follow on Twitter and Facebook.

What Volunteering for Girls Rock has taught me by Ony Ratsimbaharison

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I never had anything like Girls Rock when I was a child, but I’m so glad it exists. Girls Rock represents everything I hoped my world could be as a young girl, still so unaware of how systems of oppression were (and still are) working against me. It’s everything my soul was calling for when I was young and felt alone and misunderstood, unable to fully wield my voice.

The first time I volunteered for Girls Rock was at the Charleston camp in 2012. It was truly transformative and I gained a whole new perspective. The next year, I volunteered for Columbia’s first ever Girls Rock camp and I again learned so much from the experience. Volunteering for Girls Rock is more than just being a camp counselor or a glorified babysitter. It’s a place for campers and volunteers alike to reclaim their voices and use them to spread positivity and fight against the injustices we face in society—and, of course, to know that we rock!

"It’s a place for campers and volunteers alike to reclaim their voices"

One goal in growing up is to not repeat mistakes, and this applies to what we teach to the youth at Girls Rock. We want to save them from the horrible things we had to deal with. We want them to know that it’s okay, and it will get better, because it did for us. We need to advocate for them because our society deems it unnecessary for them to advocate for themselves, and they are often unheard. Girls Rock is one of the ways in which young people can feel comfortable enough to express themselves with no judgment or punishment. So here are just a few of the many things I’ve learned from Girls Rock:


While I’m no stranger to playing my music loud, offstage I’m sometimes more mild-mannered and quiet, as was encouraged of me and most young girls growing up. Every now and then, I need to remind myself that it’s okay for me to be loud. It’s okay to scream sometimes and let it all out. This is why at camp we have scream circles, where we each take turns letting out a scream, as loud as we can. It’s a great way to get everyone loosened up and a healthy reminder to release any emotions we might have, rather than to keep them bottled up inside us.


I can’t stress this enough. The campers at Girls Rock make art through music and other mediums during various workshops and down-time throughout the day. Being surrounded by so much creativity for a week is rejuvenating, to say the least. Seeing the way it affects the campers and their progress is awe-inspiring. They become more comfortable with themselves and start to trust their instincts. They also learn new ways to express themselves, and do it fearlessly.


The campers are taught different instruments for one week (many for the first time ever) and form bands and write songs, which are then performed for a large crowd of people at the end of the week. If that’s not bold and courageous then I don’t know what is. The fact that they are able to work through their nerves and put themselves out there in such a way is extremely inspiring. It reminds me to keep pushing to let go and take those risks I often overthink about.


So much more. One thing we stress at Girls Rock is to refrain from physical compliments. This is because even positive physical compliments reinforce the notion that we are valued by our physical appearance, another idea that is virtually inescapable for young girls in our society. Instead we try to give compliments about people’s strengths and personal achievements, which empowers them so much more.


"even positive physical compliments reinforce the notion that we are valued by our physical appearance..."



I’m always floored by the level of competence and sheer fierceness our campers exude. Not only are they capable of learning so much in so little time, they perform so gracefully under pressure. Being young is hard enough when you are taught to be “seen and not heard,” like most kids are. This is why it’s important to advocate for the youth. As soon as we are able to recognize their ability to teach us, we will be able learn from them.



Check out more about Girls Rock Columbia here!

Girls Rock the Block at First Thursday by Ony Ratsimbaharison

13318762_10104053847049937_1213391295_n On Thursday June 2 at 6 pm, Girls Rock Columbia will host a block party at Boyd Plaza in front of the Columbia Museum of Art. The event, called Girls Rock the Block will be held as part of First Thursday on Main, Columbia’s monthly arts event on Main Street. It’ll be a free event with live music and food by the Wurst Wagen. All proceeds will go to benefit Girls Rock Columbia, so that they can continue to enrich the lives of our community’s youth.

If you haven’t heard, Girls Rock Columbia is our local chapter of the Girls Rock Camp Alliance (GRCA), which is an international coalition of organizations that aims to empower women and girls through music education, to foster confidence and self-esteem. GRCA was founded in 2007 in Portland, OR, and now has over 60 camps worldwide.

This will be Columbia’s 4th annual Girls Rock Camp, and it will be bigger than ever. I spoke with Mollie Williamson, executive director of Girls Rock Columbia, about this event and all of the organization’s exciting developments.

Mollie Williamson working one-on-one with a young rock impresario

Instead of the usual one-week camp they’ve had in the past, this year Girls Rock Columbia will launch its two-week teen leadership program, where teens ages 13-17 will have camp the first week and return as teen leaders for the general camp the following week, which is for campers ages 8-12.

“They’ll be acting as peer mentors—repairing gear, facilitating workshops, and just largely contributing to things running smoothly,” Mollie said. “We’re super excited to give them the opportunity to lead!”

Girls Rock Columbia has also started an internship program this year and implemented their first board of directors in January. The camp itself has also grown; there will be 24 teen campers in the first week, and 84 during the general session, a huge jump from the original 17 campers its first year. In the past, campers were offered 10 workshops, and this year there will be 40.

With all these changes, Girls Rock needs as much help from the community as possible. The block party on Thursday is one way people can get involved, since proceeds will go to Girls Rock to help with programming. Live music will be performed by Jacksonville, FL electronic group Tomboi, and locals Can’t Kids and Paisley Marie, all of whom have been involved with Girls Rock.

“We’ll have a table at Girls Rock the Block, so stop by and shoot the breeze with us!” says Mollie.


For more information on Girls Rock Columbia and this fun event, check out

Jake Margle Offers a Run-Down on Artsy Halloween Events

The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli As Halloween approaches the Capitol City, venues and various stomping grounds are rolling out their festive best. From Columbia’s modest holes-in-the-wall to our more grandiose institutions, here are just a few of the smattering of events taking place on this Hallo-weekend.


The Tapp’s Center prides itself on tasteful, informing events, and their Halloween special is no different. On Friday they will be hosting Hell’s Belle’s, an event that will combine art–both visual and performing–and discussion. The evening starts at 7 and will be dedicated to exploring and showcasing the history of witchcraft, with the discussion centered around, “exploring feminine identity.” Columbia’s own Ritual Abjects will be conducting a sigil workshop and performance piece. There will be tarot and palm readings as well. Costumes are not mandatory, but encouraged. All donations from the evening will go towards the Tapp’s Nonprofit Programming and Auntie Bellum magazine, SC’s women’s magazine.


Toast Improv is putting on a special Halloween show, Friday at the Benson Theater. Doors open at 8:30 to a $5 cover. The show starts at 9, and according to Toast’s Facebook page, will be very “spoopy”–a term meaning comedic and spooky. Concessions will be provided, and if you know anything about Toast, so will the talent and laughs. Those weary of a cover charge will be pleased to know that all proceeds will be donated to aid the flood relief efforts in Columbia.


On Saturday the State Museum will again be hosting its annual Tricks and Treats gathering. If you’re looking for a more kid-friendly offering, look no further. All day the museum will be hosting a scavenger hunt, potions lab, crafts, balloon art, and a performance of “Hansel and Gretel” by the Columbia Marionette Theatre. Costumes are encouraged as well, with any child under 12 and in costume receiving $1 off admission.


2015 marks the fourth year of Sid & Nancy’s Halloween Explosion. A dance-filled evening starting at 8:30 on Saturday at New Brookland Tavern is sure to put anyone in a festive mood. Music will be provided by local DJ’s Alejandro Florez, Christian Barker, and QT Kapowski. Fort Psych, Columbia’s event and media gurus will supplementing the music with light displays as well. There will be a photo booth set up, so bring your costume game. The two most creative costumes will receive gift certificates to Indigo Rose Tattoo Studio, with first place winning a $100 credit, second place receiving a $60 credit. Those fearful of standing need not worry, as the “most basic” will receive a $10 gift card to Starbucks, and a $20 gift card to Target. There will be a $5 cover for those 21 and up, $10 for under 21. All proceeds will benefit Girls Rock Columbia.


The Whig is hosting the aptly and creatively named Whigoween Saturday at 9. Columbia’s favorite hidden gem is keeping tight-lipped on the details, but costumes are most definitely encouraged.

And there's always the Columbia City Ballet's performance of Draculapreviewed earlier this week by Alivia Seely.

-- Jake Margle

Addie Sims is Coming to Town -- at the SC State Museum

AddieSimsPainting We write about her in the next issue of Jasper (releasing on Sunday, March 16th with a party benefitting Girls Rock Columbia at the Art Bar on Park Street), but Addie will actually be making her contemporary debut the day before and we'd hate for you to miss it.

The South Carolina State Museum is celebrating Women’s History month by opening a virtual exhibit, The Art and Life of Addie Sims: A Look into Her World, which features works of art by South Carolina Civil War-era artist, Addie Sims.  The unveiling of the new virtual exhibit will take place during a public opening reception from 3 – 5 p.m. on Saturday, March 15 at the State Museum.

The virtual exhibit is comprised of original paintings by Sims, which tells the story of her struggles to pursue a career in art despite the social barriers and the intervention of the Civil War. The exhibit also features two portraits of family members painted in Charleston in the 1820s.

To celebrate the launch of the virtual exhibit, the museum will host an opening reception on Saturday, March 15.  This reception is a one-time opportunity for guests to see Sims’s original paintings on display.  After the reception, the museum will place the paintings in storage for conservation and preservation.  In addition, there will be a special talk by her relative, Rev. Tommy Sims, on her life and work, followed by the unveiling of the new virtual exhibit that is accessible through the museum’s website. Guests will be able to speak to some of Sims’s relatives who will be onsite.

“Women artists were rare for that time, so that makes this art important, especially for South Carolina,” said JoAnn Zeise, curator of history, S.C. State Museum. “Her story is also intriguing because she passionately wanted to be an artist rather than follow the traditional path for antebellum Southern women. I am excited to introduce the world to the great talent of this previously unknown artist.”

Sims’s paintings portray real-life slaves on her father’s plantations and are portraits of actual relatives. These portraits are personal and are not caricatures or idealized versions of black life so often portrayed by white artists of this period. The artwork depicts such scenes from her native Union County as a beautiful brook in “Nott’s Branch,” her grandfather in “Portrait of William Sims (‘Grandpa Billy’)” and an old-growth forest in “Forest Scene with Broken Trees.”

Sarah Adeline “Addie” Sims was born in 1828 in present-day Union County and grew up wanting to be an artist, an unusual occupation for a woman at that time. Studying both at Limestone Springs Female Academy (now Limestone University) and under the Bounetheau’s at Mrs. DuPre’s Seminary in Charleston, Addie mostly painted landscapes and portraits. She also carved small figures and cameos from a local rock called soapstone.

The State Museum would like to thank Sims’s descendents, who graciously donated pieces of her original artwork to the museum, which will hopefully inspire the public and researchers to delve into her life and the life on her plantation.

The opening reception is included with museum general admission or membership. The virtual exhibit will be accessible starting March 15 and will be available 24/7 and will be free of charge at


Young Women Need to Rock On!

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“I know I’m small in a way, but I know I’m strong.”

-- Indigo Girls


“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you're wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn't love you anymore.” 

 -- Lady Gaga


"Girls have got balls. They're just a little higher up is all."

-- Joan Jett

Monday is the Girls Rock Columbia camper application deadline so don't wait to read this post or to reach out to the young women in your life (ages 8 - 18) and direct them to the Soda City camp that will in all likelihood CHANGE THEIR LIVES.


Girls Rock Columbia is a one-week long day camp that exists to foster a community of girls ages 8-18 through music, performance, and various workshops. The program encourages an environment that cultivates self-confidence, challenges gender stereotypes, promotes positive female relationships, creativity, and leadership.  The ultimate goal of Girls Rock Columbia is to empower everyone involved; both campers and volunteers, to take the sense of community learned from within the organization and carry that throughout the city they call home.

Girls Rock Columbia will be held at Eau Claire High School the week of July 22nd  – 25th with a showcase of talent culminating the week.


We live in a world that still tells little girls to act like ladies -- which means being quiet; to sit like ladies -- which means in an unnatural posture with their knees tightly together and their hands helplessly in their laps; to dress like ladies -- which means with their feet bound and disabled, the perfection of their faces painted over, and their bodies tied up in ribbons and bows and zippers they can't even reach themselves. This is your chance to help a young woman you know or love set herself free with the music that's inside her.

Tell her how to apply online.

Don't know a young woman but want to be a part of this bad-ass movement to cultivate greatness among this generation?

Then volunteer!

Or, pull out that pretty little purse -- you know, the one you got on sale but still paid an exorbitant price for -- and let the money you have in it make a bigger statement than the purse itself, and flat-out MAKE IT HAPPEN!


(And here's a little something from 2009 about someone's pick for the 12 greatest female electric guitarists of the day.)