113007GailSilverman.JPGSix years ago musician Gail Silverman, tired of watching her fellow female rockers sitting on the sidelines, started her own record label, Revolutionary Records and a concert series called Girls Rock and Girls Rule (GRGR). What started out as just a one gig event has grown into a sort of small-scale hard rock Lilith Fair, with a rotating line-up of local musicians joining a roster of headliners whose tour this year has taken them through 12 cities. Part of the proceeds from the shows goes to support the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls, a New York City-based non-profit summer day camp that gives girls the chance to learn how to play musical instruments, write their own songs, perform, and learn different genres of music. Tonight the GRGR tour concludes with a 6th anniversary show at Ace of Clubs (9 Great Jones St.); the Willie Mae Rock Camp Band play their debut set to kick off the party, which starts at 7pm.

What is the Girls Rock and Girls Rule tour? GRGR was created to support independent music and provide a forum for girls who truly know how to rock! It is intended to give female musicians in the harder rock genres some much needed exposure and provide a platform for all the fantastic talent not having their voices heard, while also benefiting women and girls in the community. It began 6 years ago as an annual event and has in the past two years as grown into a full blown tour.

Are you one of the performers? Yes, my band's name is G-spot.

What kind of music is it?
It is rock/punk/pop and whatever other weird stuff I try to throw in at different times.

Please share the most memorable experience from this tour so far. There are several – but I think it is the strength of the bond that was fostered on the tour between the 4 core bands that traveled together. The leads of the bands Marisa Mini, Rew and Michele Jaffe from Loki the Grump also helped me organize the tour this year – even though we are all very different we really complement each other both musically and organizationally. The entire tour team was fantastic.And of course just getting to play music every night is a different city is amazing as well. Also there was this one time when we were driving from Elmira to Ithaca in the late afternoon and it was rainy and sunny at the same time and we saw a double full rainbow that was pretty fantastic!

What motivated you to start this organization?
When I started GRGR 6 years ago there were several organizations supporting women in music but they were more focused on the singer/songwriter and although I participated in some of them I didn’t necessarily feel that there was a place for my band and other heavier female rock bands that I knew. Also there is a real lack of exposure for women doing harder rock in radio, TV etc. Yet there are tons of very talented female artists doing everything from rock to punk to metal to hardcore and you just don’t see them getting recognized like their male counterparts.

What challenges do female recording artists face when dealing with the music industry?
The industry just doesn’t seem to want to recognize women doing heavier rock music and take any risks, artists are often not encouraged to be themselves – although I think this applies to music in general not just women. The music industry likes to play it safe and it’s about looks and image and not necessarily talent and originality. It’s a tough market; overall the business is changing and there are a lot of new opportunities with the internet etc. But it’s also very fragmented so the challenge is to break through the clutter, which we try to accomplish that with GRGR. This year’s tour featured over 35 bands in 12 cities and created a lot of buzz in the markets we were in.

Please tell us about the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls. Founded in 2004, Willie Mae is a NYC based non-profit summer day camp serving girls aged 8-18. Offering girls the chance to learn how to play musical instruments, write songs, perform, learn about different types of music, and generally “rock out” in a supportive environment that fosters self-confidence, self-esteem, creativity, tolerance, and collaboration. I volunteered there two summers ago as a counselor and band coach. The experience was so positive and inspiring – it was a whole week of encouraging young women to express themselves, working together and being surrounded by music that I really felt it was a perfect fit with what we were doing.

What female musicians inspire you? Janis Joplin, Ani Difranco, Alanis Morrisette (when she first came out), Joan Jett, Tina Turner and some of the most inspiring are all the great indie females I’ve gotten to experience over the past 6 years through the events and tour.

What was the first venue you played in New York and what do you remember about that show? As a band it was New Music Café (which is now the Canal Room). I remember how much fun it was to totally rock out on stage with a full band and the great crowd we had. It was a total rush! Also our original drummer quit the band because I went ahead and booked us the gig through a friend of mine – turned out we were ready but he wasn’t – so we found someone new and got him up to speed only a few weeks before the show!

What was the worst gig you played and why?
Also at New Music a few months later – my first lead guitarist refused to use a tuner and he went out of tune on stage and couldn’t get back in – I wasn’t that comfortable on guitar at that point and we had to play a song with just me, bass and drums while he tried to get in tune – he was pretty much out of tune the whole gig and we had a good crowd and a terrible gig! Oh well that’s the life of a musician!

What's your favorite place to hear live music in New York? I like Arlene’s Grocery a lot and it’s a great place to play as well. I have to confess there are a bunch new places and being so busy with the tour I haven’t had a chance to get out and see bands as much as I would like. Also we were just part of a show at a little hole in the wall called Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn that had unexpectedly amazing sound!

What neighborhood do you live in? What are its pros and cons? Chelsea. I’ve been here a long time; it’s a great location but recently has really become overly gentrified. It's getting more and more crowded and expensive! I miss when it was a little grittier and not so trendy!

Who is your favorite New York City band these days? My fellow GRGR Core bands for sure – Rewbee, Marisa Mini and Loki the Grump – I also love my friend Collette’s band Edible Red.

If you could change one thing about New York what would it be? I’d lower the rents so artists can keep living here making New York what it’s always been – a mecca for artists and creativity with some edge!