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During my rounds of SXSW showcases and parties this week, I am also doing some short stops to promote my book, including one at a party for the Austin Girls Rock camp. It wasn't an official SXSW thing, it wasn't about hyping bands or furthering any agenda outside of inspiring and entertaining teen and preteen rock campers and their siblings and parents. Sadly, it's the only show I've been to that offered free face painting.
Camper band Charlie Bell was two junior high school girls and an eight-year-old boy drummer who had an arrow-shaped Mohawk shaved into his head. They had a song about taking the train to Coney Island—a very Ramones topic—but their sound began and ended with Lou Reed's "Vicious."
Up next was X front woman Exene Cervenka, playing songs off her latest album for Bloodshot. All the punk parents in attendance were giddy and the kiddos were curious—Cervenka has a palpable rock-star presence and a cool look that probably half the women in the crowd grew up emulating. While she waited for her abbreviated band (backup singer and pedal steel player) to set up, Exene began talking about how excited she was about rock camps, about the girls there and what they're doing—what their interest meant for Austin's future music scene, this generation of young women playing music. It was incredibly touching, especially considering that Cervenka came out the the fertile LA scene, where she played alongside a lot of incredible and iconic punk women during a time where attitudes toward them were neither charitable nor enlightened. You could tell how much it delighted her to see 11-year-old guitarists in the front row.