Scarce’s Joyce Raskin: Teaching Girls to Rock, One Chord at a Time
Local rock dynamos Scarce have set sail for a week of West Coast dates in support of singer/bassist Joyce Raskin’s new YA novel, “My Misadventures as a Teenage Rock Star” (Houghton Mifflin) and Girls Rock!, a national organization that empowers girls through music.
It’s a cause that’s near and dear to Joyce’s heart, both as a mom and as someone who found music at exactly the right time.
“That’s what I love about Girls Rock! Doing music for the love of it is so positive and powerful. Their whole focus on the experience feels so punk rock —like a budding revolution!” She laughs. “It reminds me of growing up in DC at the height of the DIY Dischord scene. That community was so supportive, and Girls Rock Camps have that same spirit.”
Joyce volunteers at the Boston and RI rock camps as much as she can. Teaching teens has been a huge source of inspiration to her.
“It’s so cool how much they support each other. It’s all about playing and sharing and being in the moment. And whatever these girls do with it, they’re going to be amazing. They’re going to have these skills forever.”
She’s not just talking about barre chords and rock star moves. “The girls always ask me, ‘What’s your advice on becoming a rock star?’ and I always tell them, ‘As a woman, you’ve got to respect yourself. It’s important. Respect yourself and others will respect you. Focus on finding your own inner strength.”
ROCK N' ROLL FOREVER
Joyce’s music education began abruptly when he older brother Steven volunteered her for bass playing duties in a friend’s band. Amazingly, she said yes. “I worked so hard at it,” she says.
And she stuck with it, joining scrappy punk rock bands and finding inspiration in the community-minded and mixed-gender energy of the DC scene.
“I was so lucky to be a part of that community,” she says. “People like Ian [Mackaye, from Fugazi] were doing it out of passion. Music was so attainable. There was no focus on becoming a rock star —it was all about the music.”
Music quickly transformed her sense of self-worth. “It gave me the power to rise above teenage insecurity. I had a secret life outside of junior high misery.”
WHAT IT'S LIKE BEING A ROCK STAR, A TEENAGER + A GIRL —AT THE SAME TIME
“Misadventures” follows a similar trajectory. Joyce’s heroine, Alex, doesn’t have superpowers. She’s not model-pretty. She’s just a shy 14-year-old who picks up a bass and changes her life. (But not overnight.)
Joyce doesn’t sugarcoat what it’s like being a teenager. There are cliques, catfights and petty betrayals. Through it all —stumbles and triumphs alike— Alex picks herself up, dusts herself off and keeps going.
“Every step along the way is a little step, but she’s moving forward and figuring things out,” Joyce says. “In the end, Alex doesn’t become a rock star, but she becomes her own person.”
And isn’t that better than any fairy-tale ending?
LINKSGet in touch with Scarce on Twitter and Facebook. Listen to 6 new Scarce songs on Soundcloud.
TOUR DATESAll book events will feature a reading by Joyce and a performance by Scarce and other musical guests. Exene Cervenka will be joining them for the 7/24 reading at Stories Books & Café.
July 23, Pasadena:
Vromans Bookstore, 3pm
695 E. Colorado Blvd.
July 23, Los Angeles:
The Viper Room, 8pm sharp* (opening for the Posies)
8852 West Sunset Boulevard
July 24, Los Angeles:
Stories Books and Café, 4pm
1716 West Sunset Boulevard
July 24, Long Beach, Calif.:
Alex's Bar (562-434-8292)
2913 E. Anaheim St.(next to Auto Zone; entrance in back)
July 26 San Francisco:
Apple Store, 7pm*
One Stockton Street
July 27, San Francisco:
Girls Rock Camp lunchtime show
Grant and Green Saloon, 10 pm* (free)
1371 Grant Ave (btwn Green St & Vallejo St)
July 29, Portland, Oregon:
Girls Rock Camp lunchtime show
A Children's Place Bookstore, 5:30 pm
4807 NE Fremont Street Portland, OR
July 30 Seattle:
Rain City Rock Camp, 4:30 pm
The Blue Moon Tavern, 10:30pm*
712 NE 45th St (btwn N 7th & N 8th Ave)
July 31 Seattle:
Secret Garden Books, 2pm
2214 NW Market Street Seattle, WA
* = full rock show
JOYCE PHOTO BY TIM MAHONEY