Action Camp hosts an ‘action camp’ for musicians and bands of all levels | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Action Camp hosts an ‘action camp’ for musicians and bands of all levels

click to enlarge Maura Jacob from Action Camp - CP PHOTO: MEGAN GLOECKLER
CP photo: Megan Gloeckler
Maura Jacob from Action Camp
In college, Maura Jacob and her friends would hold what she called “action camp skill shares.” Students would get together and talk about topics ranging from protests, to how to be safe on campus, or how to fix a bike. Jacob, who is now in Pittsburgh doom-pop band, Action Camp, which she co-founded with Bengt Alexsander 14 years ago, is returning to that idea on Sat., Feb. 29 when Action Camp holds a joint skill-share/single release show at The Smiling Moose.

“We’ve been talking about the best way to put new music out into the world,” says Jacob. “And we thought a lot about how we learned a lot over the years as a band, and how we’re constantly learning new things — that’s part of what makes being in the band interesting. And we like being a part of a community, so we thought it would be cool to do something that is a little bit more inclusive and interactive than a regular release show. [And] wouldn’t it be fun to do something tied to our name as well, but have it be music-oriented?”

The event takes place during the afternoon, as to cater to the nightlife schedule of bands and musicians. Everything kicks off with a one-hour “mix and mingle” networking session, followed by the skill-share portion, and ending with a listening party from Action Camp featuring its latest single “Dissonance,” and a few other never-before-heard tracks from the band’s upcoming album, set to drop this spring.


“We know that there are so many more people doing cool things, and we hope we can do another one of these in the future,” says Jacob. “But some of the goal this first time around was just trying to get an array of folks in the room, and make it a little more business-oriented.”

Topics for the skill-share include being ready for media coverage with Allison Kacmar Richards and Trevor Richards of music blog ofmusicandmind.com, post-rock band The Long Hunt, and Trevor Richards Photography; lighting and tech with Jamie Fadden of open mic storytelling series, We Are The Weirdos; MIDI and electronic instrumentation with producer and composer Ky Vöss; podcasting and promotion with SIKES, aka Brian Howe, host of podcast Start The Beat w/ SIKES; and social media with YouTuber Weird Paul Petroskey.

“Some of the ideas behind open mics is that you can share notes about writing and about the creative side of being a musician,” explained Jacob, “but there aren’t as many opportunities to talk about the nitty-gritty side of promotion, just generally being ready for the press and those kinds of things. And it can be hard to know who to talk to, everyone’s operating in different music circles and sometimes there’s a little competition — do you share your tips and tricks? So we thought it would be nice to make it into a friendly and welcoming place to ask those kinds of questions and to compare those experiences with each other.”

Personally, Jacob is most excited about the portion with Fadden. Along with discussing lighting and such, Jacob says Fadden is going to talk about her experience as a woman in tech. “When we’re playing a show, in a sense, we’re all on the same team, we’re all working together,” says Jacob. “So, by learning a little bit more about her experiences, maybe there’s something I can also take away in terms of what can I do when I play in a venue to be a better coworker.”


At Jacob’s past skill-share events, the general ethic has always been that no one person is more of an expert than someone else. The gatherings are a time for those with similar interests to come together and share their knowledge. But since the event on Saturday is the first Jacob has organized since college, she thought it would be a good idea to have a few leading facilitators to help open the dialogue.

“The main thing is that everyone is welcome, all experience levels, [from] novice to veteran,” says Jacob. “We can all learn something from each other and benefit from having like minds in the room.”
Action Camp Single Release and Skill-Share. 1 p.m. Sat., Feb. 29. The Smiling Moose, 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. Free. facebook.com/actioncamppgh

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