Rock out for a good cause on Friday as the Girls Rock North Carolina group celebrates their 10th year with a Boys Rock for Girls Rock benefit concert featuring a host of local artists.
Girls Rock North Carolina, a nonprofit that aims to empower girls and women to become positive influences in their communities through music, will host the show at Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw. Over the last 10 years, the GRNC has held over 40 music programs for girls in Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh.
The male acts will be playing covers of songs by female artists who have inspired and influenced their passion for music, as well as their own original songs, throughout the night. They also will collaborate and play mash-ups.
Stuart McLamb, the frontman for the Love Language, is one of the performers at Friday’s benefit, along with Phil Cook, the Mountain Goats and the Beast.
McLamb, reached by email this week, said he has always been inspired by female performers.
“When I posted the first song I wrote for the Love Language (‘Two Rabbits’) online back in 2007, I had sped it up slightly so that it sounded like a girl singing,” he said. “I had this whole idea that the Love Language would be a secret, recording-only project and I wouldn’t reveal my identity. I posted an old picture of my grandmother and put that the song was performed by ‘Eva Kate,’ which was her name. There was something so liberating about it not being me and it being this other person. I left it up like that for a week before I decided to own up to it.
“I was listening at the time to a lot of Etta James, old random gospel records, lot’s of early ’60s girls groups like the Crystals, the Shirelles, the Ronnettes,” McLamb said.
Cook, a member of the band Megafaun, said the list of female artists who have inspired him is “pretty endless,” citing Rickie Lee Jones, Gillian Welch, Nina Simone, Mavis Staples, Dorothy Love Coates and many others. He said he enjoys singing songs originally written for or performed by women.
“I think singing from a female perspective, swapping pronouns and such, is good practice for male singers,” Cook said. “My old friend used to cover ‘Are You Strong Enough To Be My Man?’ by Sheryl Crow. He did it in all sincerity and with integrity, and it was so powerful.”
McLamb will be performing with Thomas Simpson, who plays drums in the Love Language, and with friend Mark Connor on bass.
“We’re doing mostly upbeat rockers with a few prettier songs mixed in as well,” McLamb said. “I just hope people have a good time and hopefully if I do my job right, they’ll be, like, ‘How in the hell did a guy hit that note?’”
Angling for visibility
Collier Reeves, a representative of GRNC, said the organization hopes to promote more of a community through the Boys Rock for Girls Rock event. Proceeds from the show will support the GRNC group.
“It’s going to be about celebrating our accomplishments for the last 10 years,” she said. “We also want to increase our visibility within the community.”
Heather Cook of Shindigs, the event planning company coordinating the show, said she wanted Friday’s concert – the first of its kind to be held in the Triangle area – to be very fun and inspiring.
“All of the other events to celebrate Girls Rock’s 10th year have been focused on the involvement of girls and women,” she said. “This time, the guys wanted to be involved, so we came up with the idea of Boys Rock for Girls Rock.”
McLamb said he was on board with the event as soon as Heather Cook reached out to him.
“I do feel like music scenes can be a bit boys club at times, and that’s so lame,” McLamb said. “The more diversity, the better for everyone. The more exposure Girls Rock N.C. gets, the better for the future music scene that’s right around the corner.”