Saturday, August 8, 2009


At the peak of the triple-digit temperatures last week, I found myself hunkered down on the floor of a tiny windowless practice room at rock camp every day, earplugs jammed in tight, listening to four 13-to-14-year-old girls figure out how to write a song from scratch together. 107 degrees and no air-conditioning, just a few strategically placed fans, and the volume turned up loud enough so that my fellow band coach could hear the keys, bass, and guitar over the drum kit that was two feet away. Every forty-five minutes we'd break to go grab handfuls of ice cubes or run outside and stand under the misting hose in the parking lot, then head back in for another attempt to hammer out the breakdown or a raucous six-minute jam.

It was awesome.

By Friday the song was finished, and the launch into the chorus--Deisha's lone eight kick-drum beats followed by Vivian's pulsing keys and Zoe's delicate guitar riff and Keziah's nodding bass and sweet voice--never failed to put a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. (Sleep deprivation also took its toll, I'll concede.) Casey Parks came out to visit during the last band practice and interviewed the girls about their process at camp, then posted a great article and video at the Oregonian. Watch it! (The below photo is Casey's, not mine.)

Though this was my seventh summer at rock camp, I'd never before managed a band. It seems I've done just about everything else--since 2003, I've done the morning and afternoon assemblies; since 2006, I've been on the board of directors; last summer, I assisted Tara with her noise-making and pedals workshop. I love all those things. But nothing before has matched the pride and love I felt when Jellyfish Rave took the stage at the showcase. I knelt on the floor front and center and the beam from my heart could have lit them as bright as the stagelights.