Thao and Mirah Perform at Bay Area Girls Rock Camp Benefit This Friday

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Future Thaos and Mirahs?
You may not know Chixx Mixx or Poison Apple Pie by name, but they're bands formed by Bay Area tween and teen girls, and they don't sound like what you might be picturing. As much as we all would like to think gender divides do not exist, it's the sad and simple truth that most bands are still made up of dudes.

So how often in life do you get to participate in something that's purely for the greater good? The Bay Area Girls Rock Camp, an offshoot of the national Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls, gives young girls the keys to music.

Through its after-school program and yearly summer camp, young wannabe rockers ages 8 to 18 take classes in instrument instruction, band formation, song writing, self-esteem and self-defense. They also get to learn the history of zines, create their own logos, and screen-print band t-shirts. Plus, bands come in and play during lunch every day.

"At that age you're so easily influenced and you're so open to learning, you're so open to being creative," says communications and development coordinator Natalie Ruiz Tofano I see the [program's] value in the girls when I'm with them.

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To fund programs like these, the organization throws a yearly rocker memorabilia, art auction, and live concert event. Now in its second year, the party, which takes place this Friday (Feb. 4), will feature a live performance by Mirah and Thao Nguyen.

This isn't Mirah's first foray into Girls Rock Camp participation. The K Records singer used to volunteer at the original Rock 'n' Roll Camp for Girls in Portland when she lived there. When she moved to San Francisco, some friends contacted her to get involved again locally.

"It is so incredibly inspiring to me, as a musician, as a performer, to see these kids get up and strut their amazing stuff," Mirah says. "Rock camp is a place for girls to feel their amazingness and power, which is so important in a society which too often is giving them just the opposite kind of message."

The show isn't Thao's introduction to the program either -- she volunteered at the Portland camp as both a guitar instructor and guitar tech.

"When I first started I felt more of a pressure to prove myself as a musician and as a guitarist in particular, because there is many a preconceived notion about how well a woman might play guitar," Thao says. "Now the atmosphere has shifted a bit and I care less and I set my guitar on fire and play with my teeth only for my own enjoyment."

Thao and Mirah announced their joint self-titled recording this week, which is due out April 26 on Kill Rock Stars.

The duo -- both established solo artists in their own right -- will play their new collaborative
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 songs and picks from their respective personal catalogs during the BAGRC benefit show Friday.

"Music can help you trust and have faith in yourself and your abilities," Thao says. "I want to be a part of anything that can help facilitate that kind of confidence and ambition in young women, I want to help show them it is possible to do what you love for a living."

The fundraiser's signed memorabilia is currently on Ebay, with all auctions ending at the event. There's an acoustic guitar drawn on by Ani DiFranco, items signed by Joan Jett and R.E.M., some signed Rosanne Cash lyrics, and a drawing by Melissa Auf der Maur.

As for the silent art auction at the event, there will be over are 60 pieces of art up for auction. There's a wide variety of paintings, drawings, photographs, mixed media, and sculptures created by local artists Crystal Morey, Amy Berk, Arthur Gonzalez, Bob Stang, Raw Art Letterpress, and Alina Chau. One BAGRC board member knows Pixar artists, so there will be pieces again by artists Nate Stanton, Tia Kratter, and Bobby Podesta.

The event space capacity is 300, and let's fill the place. It's for a good cause.

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