Girls Got Rhythm Fest: Girls just wanna have rock ‘n’ roll

The first Girls Got Rhythm Fest drew crowds to St. Paul this weekend. A&E talked with Dana Raidt, a Radio K alumna and organizer of the festival.

Caroline and the Treats graced the stage at the first night of the Girls Got Rhythm Fest on Friday, May 11 at the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul.

Marisa Wojcik

Caroline and the Treats graced the stage at the first night of the Girls Got Rhythm Fest on Friday, May 11 at the Amsterdam Bar in St. Paul.

Sarah Harper

Not everyone can say that they’ve seen Ronnie Spector perform “Be My Baby” live. But the folks who attended this weekend’s Girls Got Rhythm Fest at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall can brag about that and a whole lot more.

The brand new festival boasted a lineup of about a dozen bands that ran the girl rock gamut, from veteran national acts like the Muffs and Pierced Arrows to fresh-faced local rockers like Hot Rash and L’Assassins to Spector herself, who spritzed a few tender eyes with her rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Time is On My Side.” 

After Spector’s Saturday night performance, the 5.6.7.8.’s, from Tokyo, Japan, revved up the crowd with their surfy woo hoos. The band, who made an appearance in “Kill Bill: Volume 1,” danced and mingled and handed out Japanese candy throughout the entire weekend.

After it was all over, A&E got on the phone with Dana Raidt, the woman behind the women. Raidt is the Metro Magazine editor and University of St. Thomas alumna who organized the festival with musician Travis Ramin.  Here’s what Raidt had to say about the festival:

 

So I want to talk to you about the Girls Got Rhythm Fest. How do you think it went?

I think it went very well, way more smoothly than I could have ever imagined. Especially bringing in ten different bands, many of them from other countries and across the country. You know, that can always be a recipe for a disaster. But everything went really smoothly.

Yeah, did you have a favorite part?

It’s hard to choose because I feel like all the bands are my babies or something – I can’t choose between them. But I really really loved seeing Pierced Arrows and the Muffs on Friday.  Pierced Arrows always have such great energy. They’re total pros. They just come in and rock out anytime they play. And then the Muffs were great – I’ve never seen them before and they don’t play that often, so it was really good to see them. And then, of course, Ronnie. I definitely cried during her set. I cried when she did the Rolling Stones cover. I saw the 5.6.7.8.’s play three times in two days, and that was really great too.

Oh yeah, they played at the 331 Club, right? On Sunday night?

Yeah, did you go that?

No, I didn’t.

It was crazy. It was like Beatle-mania. We had to sneak them in the back. It was insane. It was so packed in there. It was so exciting. Everyone was so excited to see them. They fed off of that positive energy.

How did you feel about the turn-out to the fest?

We didn’t really know what to expect. So, we really didn’t know what was realistic at all. The Amsterdam had never done anything like this before, and we’ve never done anything like this before. We thought it could either sell out, or no one would show up or any number of scenarios. But I was pretty happy. I mean, obviously, I would have liked more people to go, but I think now that we’ve done this first one and there was a decent turn-out,  it will just build off that if we do this next year. So, I’m happy with it.

Everyone who came seemed so into it. And it was such a wide variety of people. There were punk kids, and my mom was there, and people of her age group. Then at the all ages show on Sunday, people brought their, like, 11-year-old kids. That was exciting to see – the diversity of the crowd.

How did you prepare for this festival? Where did the idea come from?

Well, Travis [Ramin] is my co-organizer. He and I have been friends for a really long time. I’ve known him since I was eighteen years old. So, twelve years. We’ve always had really similar music taste. And he’s a musician and a producer and has worked with a ton of musicians – he worked with a lot of people who played, like Nikki Corvette and the Little Girls. He’s toured with them.

I did Girl Germs on Radio K, which turned into a podcast. And Travis was doing a podcast called Jazzed Up and Bonkers. So we were both doing our separate podcasts and were trying to come up with some ways we could work together because we both have similar music taste. We were hanging out at his house last summer and he brought up the idea of doing a festival. He’d done one before at the Turf Club, back in like, 2001-ish, so he had a little bit of experience doing this kind of thing. Nothing on this scale. We figured with our combined experience and the people we knew… I booked all of the in-studios at Radio K when I was music director there. He has experience in the music industry too. And I have  a lot of experience with PR and marketing and journalism. We just kind of went for it. Luckily it worked out.

Do you feel like the festival me your goals and expectations?

It was hard on Friday and Saturday, because I was so busy to even see the forest for the trees at that point. But once we got to Sunday and things had calmed down a little bit, I worked the merch table during the all ages show. I was watching like, 6, 7 and 8-year-old girls dance to the 5.6.7.8.s, and it kind of hit me. Like, this is a really cool thing, to be seeing these female-fronted bands and being exposed to this at such a young age. Maybe this will change their lives. It was a really positive experience for me. It exceeded all of my expectations.

One last question: are there plans to do this again next year?

We haven’t officially talked about it yet. We’re kind of taking the week off. We’re going to talk about it. We’re going to meet with the club soon and recap everything and take stock. Financially, if it makes sense, I would love to do it again. Especially, knowing all I know now after the first year, I feel like it would be easier. If the club is interested and if Travis is interested, I would definitely do it again.