The Farting Suffragettes take to the stage at Edinburgh's all-girl rock school showcase

"SIXTY-SIX per cent of live music acts performing on any given night in the UK currently feature no women on stage.

Tuesday, 14th January 2020, 4:50 pm
Girls Rock School Edinburgh

"Of 370 gigs listings on 12 October 2018, 69% of the acts were all male, and 9% all female - but half of those were solo artists. 74% of tickets sold for that site in 2017 were for all male acts, and of the 2018 summer festival headliners, 80% were male. But when 50 per cent of the population are women, we didn’t think that was acceptable," says Fiona Watt of Edinburgh's Girls Rock School.

She continues, "We’re turning that around by removing barriers to women playing music, by running a free school to encourage more women to form bands and perform."

Girls Rock School Edinburgh (GRSE) was founded in 2014 by Watt and local musicians Caroline Kemp and Clare Campbell, as a non-profit organisation running free music workshops open to all women, girls and transwomen regardless of age ability, in a relaxed, informal, supportive learning environment. Their aim is simple, to encourage more women to take up instruments or sing, and to start bands, to readdress the gender imbalance in both the local live music scene and music industry.

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Girls Rock School Edinburgh

"We think it’s really important to have more women musicians, to inspire other women and girls following them to do the same - making it the norm rather than the exception," explains Watt, adding, "We were inspired by the US Rock Camp for Girls, with their mission to build the self-esteem of women and girls through music creation and performance. We reserve places each term for asylum seekers and refugees."

The school runs two six week terms a year as well as one-off workshops throughout the year in event management, song writing, guitar maintenance. With up to 20 places for attendees at each of the workshops and 40 students attending the classes in drums, vocal, guitar, bass and keyboards, 500 women have now attended the school to date, with around 100 new bands formed as a result.

Some of those bands will feature at the Girls Rock School Winter Showcase on Saturday 25 January at the Wee Red Bar in Edinburgh Art College on Lauriston Place. Described as a 'riotous night of women making music' bands playing will cover all genres of music, from folk to punk, rock to disco, and everything in between.

Stepping into the spotlight on the night will be The Farting Suffragettes, a punky and feisty four piece fronted by confrontational Irish vocalist Claudine Quinn, with punchy songs on feminist issues.

Also on the bill are Blonde Secret, graduate Spanish vocalist Bego fronts this three woman rock band, Playing At The Bronze, which features GRSE graduate Anne Braae on vocals, The Harpies, fronted by graduate Tamara, Fingering At The Disoc, an established graduate act who write their own feminist anthems and The House Band ft Tania.

Completing the line-up are Grant, a graduate vocalist from the autumn term, Tides, a folk-rock band fronted by graduate Berni, graduate bands Dreadfully Penny, Side Piece and jagged alt-folk performer and established GRSE supporter Bethany Myers.

Though not a fundraiser for the school, the showcase is a not for profit event with any money raised after paying for the venue hire and band fees going back into the school to pay for venue hire, tutor expenses, and materials.

And for those interested in becoming a pupil at the Girls Rock Scool Edinburgh, Watt encourages, "There is no age limit, as long as you are over 18 we don’t mind what age you are. Our classes are a mix of all ages, and you don’t need previous experience. Classes are open to all, regardless of ability. To sign up, email [email protected]".

Girls Rock School Edinburgh Winter Showcase, Wee Red Bar, Edinburgh Art College, Lauriston Place, Saturday 25 January, 7pm-10pm, entry on door £5 (£3 concessions), 18+ (14+ if accompanied by adult)