On Saturday, March 22, 2014, local non-profit Girls Rock Santa Barbara (GRSB) will host its second annual benefit showcase at Marjorie Luke Theatre downtown.

“Push: An Evening of Music & Dance” will feature dozens of talented performers from an array of fields — musicians, aerialists, dancers, spoken word performers — and all for one spectacular cause.

GRSB was founded in 2012 by Jen Baron and is a sister-organization to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls, which started in Portland in 2001. Girls Rock SB, and its many sister groups, aim to create a place for girls to learn to play music — and to generally rock out. Of course, the mission of these groups goes much deeper than that. Learning to play and perform gives girls confidence. It is a unique and extremely powerful experience.

Now, the public has a chance to not only support Girls Rock but to enjoy a fantastic performance while doing so. The show begins at 7 p.m. with a silent auction at 6 p.m. Last year’s event was sold out, and this year’s promises to be just as spectacular. Tickets and information can be found online at www.girlsrocksb.org.

Executive Director — and rocker in her own right — Jen Baron was kind enough to answer some of Artsweek’s questions in an interview via email this week. She shared the story of how Girls Rock got started and what guests can expect from the show, as well as the names of a few of her own rock-goddess idols.


AW: How and when did GRSB come about? Did you have a connection to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, or did you hear about it and just think, “This is a great idea…”?


JB: It actually happened the opposite way. I had the idea and started to research other programs out there and came across Portland’s camp. In that process of discovery, I found the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. I applied to be a member and we are now an officially certified Girls Rock Camp, which basically means there is a set of values we all strive to maintain. People sometimes think it’s a franchise and that I paid some money and received a box of materials. That’s not what it is at all. Every camp is its own non-profit and its own entity. While we support each other, I had to do all the ground work myself. It’s been a huge learning experience for me.


AW: What has your personal experience with music been?


JB: My father was a musician. It has always been a huge part of my life and [a] deep love for me. I started singing when I was around three or four. I picked up the guitar at 10 and have never looked back.


AW: Who are your ass-kicking, lady rocker inspirations?


JB: Oh man — there are so many … I loved grunge/alternative rock as a teen, so Hole was a huge influence on me. Currently Meg Myers, who played our benefit show last year, is my absolute favorite. You should definitely check out her new EP Make a Shadow.


AW: How many girls have gone through or been affected by GRSB?


JB: This summer will be our one year mark and we have had around 350 girls go through our program between our summer and after school sessions. The girls love it and just keep coming back for more, which is awesome! It means what we’re doing is working!


AW: How was last year’s benefit received?


JB: We sold out the Marjorie Luke Theatre last year and expect to do the same this year. The reviews were hands down, a not-to-miss, one-of-a-kind, NYC caliber show.


AW: What is your goal for “Push”? Is there a specific project within Girls Rock that the proceeds will go towards?


JB: As a brand new non-profit, grants and funding are hard to come by. Something amazing has happened with our program — the program is growing at the speed of light, which means to keep up with the demands of the program we need major funding. I have pretty much been running every aspect of this non-profit. I work 60+ hours a week right now, which isn’t sustainable. The money raised will go 100 percent back into the organization. Scholarships, musical instruments for our girls, rental space, overhead costs…


AW: What can guests expect to experience at the show? Can you describe one of the planned performances?


JB: I like to describe it as Cirque du Soliel meets a killer rock concert. Personally, I like to put my energy into creating a show that is unique and goes against the grain a little bit. I like to keep people in awe and on their toes.

We have so many amazing pieces this year. Luminario Ballet is coming up from Los Angeles, which is a huge honor. They are performing an aerial piece set to Led Zeppelin. This year, one of our Jr. High bands, The Nameless, is performing a song they wrote this winter. I’m pretty excited for that. They wrote this No Doubt-esque song that will blow your mind. Airealistic Circus and Flying, who works with Cirque du Soliel and is currently on tour with Miley Cyrus, has four exquisite pieces. Everything they do is an incredible experience.


AW: What are some of the ways that people can get involved with GRSB?


JB: We are always looking for volunteers, especially during our summer programs. No musical experience is needed. We also have some pretty cool internships in Winter and Spring quarter for writing and editing, event planning, and public relations and marketing. We offer instrument instruction in bass, guitar, keys, drums, electric violin, vocals and DJ skill and are always looking for great instructors or volunteers.

If you’re interested you can go online and fill out our application: www.girlsrocksb.org/volunteer-application.


A version of this story appeared on page 10 of Thursday, March 6, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.