The world of do-it-yourself music can seem foreign and daunting to those not born into it. Sure, you could mine punk and riot-grrrl zines from the 1990s, or heed the adage of “ask a punk.” But all of that can be intimidating, especially if those punks don’t look like you.
Brenda Leeds, of local rock band Old Game, and Sasha Alcott, of When Particles Collide (formerly of Maine, currently of New Hampshire), are aware of this. A few months ago, Alcott pitched Leeds on holding a workshop where attendees could learn how to book and efficiently tour in the DIY style — no labels, booking agents or managers involved. On Fri., March 23, that workshop comes to Pittsburgh.
For Alcott and Leeds, it was important that the event focus on female-identifying musicians, since there is still a perception that DIY-style touring and music is a boys’ game. It can be intimidating to ask questions about everything from tour planning to gear, if you feel like you’re not the majority in your community.
Leeds has previously organized workshops for guitar-pedal talk and experimentation for women in the Pittsburgh scene. “We were less fearful to ask each other questions, and felt more comfortable to be vulnerable or admit we didn’t know something,” explains Leeds.
The women-led touring workshop, Leeds hopes, will replicate that safe space for curiosity and education.
“[The workshop] is meant to be a space to share knowledge with each other: how to be safe on tour, how to be successful, network, be organized, socialize,” says Leeds.
Alcott, a former chemistry teacher and current full-time musician, will be leading the session and performing acoustically. Leeds will also be performing an acoustic set. Leeds has been a part of Old Game since 2014, but she began touring just over a year ago and is excited to learn more about DIY touring herself.
Speaking of Alcott and her husband, Leeds says: “Being able to hear their journey in a chronological way for the first time is exciting: How long it took them to get where they are, the energy it takes to get where they are and how they did it. They’re very creative, but they have this other side that allows them to sustain themselves full time financially.”
This will be the first workshop When Particles Collide has taught, and Alcott plans to do more. Although When Particles Collide isn’t from here, the duo decided to hold the first workshop in Pittsburgh.
“They really care about the Pittsburgh fans and friends, which is why they chose Pittsburgh,” says Leeds. “They know we have a lot of talented musicians here.”