Every summer the Girls Rock! Des Moines program spends two weeks teach girls age 10 to 16 how to play in a rock band. This year’s camp is already full, but funding is important for any non-profit. To help defray costs of the camp, Girls Rock! Des Moines will hold its first Pedal Jam Sunday, a 5.3 mile bike ride between concerts at the Des Moines Social Club, Confluence and Mullets.
The headliner for the show is Minneapolis indie soul singer Caroline Smith. Smith doesn’t just talk the talk, she walks, er, rides the ride. Smith has built three bicycles herself.
“My bicycle is mostly my main mode of transportation when I’m in Minneapolis and the fact that it’s so conducive to that lifestyle is one of the reasons it’s my favorite city to live in,” Smith said during a phone interview. “When I can, I like to bring one of my own bikes I built, but that’s usually not possible. But if we’re in a city for a few days I usually try to rent.”
Last summer Smith drew a huge crowd as one of the free performers at the 80/35 Music Festival. Smith said she wasn’t sure what to expect, but said that her drummer, Washington, Ia-born Arlen Peiffer, was quick to tell her “’Guys, this is going to be so awesome’” when the band got the offer.
In addition to Girls Rock! Des Moines, Smith is a regular supporter of the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. She and Minneapolis rapper Lizzo released a song together last summer, “Let ‘Em Say,” benefiting the non-profit.
Smith said such projects help keep things in perspective in an industry where you’re constantly pushing yourself into the limelight.
“It kind of boils down to this: in this career you think about you all the time,” Smith said. “You’re self-employed, so you’re depending on your creativity and ego and constantly wondering ‘Are they going to like you?’ It starts to wear on you after a while. So I wanted to do something to give back and feel like my spirit was back to whole.”
It’s been about a year and a half since Smith released the career reinvigorating album “Half About Being a Woman,” which saw her move away from her previous indie rock sound, putting the focus on soul and R&B. Smith has already started writing a follow-up, but there’s still more work to be done. No matter how long it takes, Smith said she’ll continue to follow the path of her current sound.
“I have a lot of new songs, but I want the album to be jam packed of the best songs I can write. So I want to have double the number of songs I need so I can choose the best,” Smith said. “I can’t say sonically what the new album will be like, but as far as confidence and persona, the voice I have will be a constant for the rest of my career.”
Girls Rock! Des Moines Pedal Jam featuring Caroline Smith
When: 12:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Starting at Des Moines Social Club, 900 Mulberry St.
Cost: $40-$50 for bike pass and concert ticket, $30-$40 for concert only, $25 for bike pass only
Pedal Jam schedule
12:05 p.m.: Registration at Des Moines Social Club, 900 Mulberry St. with music by Hot Lady Band starting at 1 p.m.
2:30 p.m.: Women in the Round performance at Confluence, 1235 Thomas Beck Road, with Patresa Hartman, Jenny Kohls and Mary McAdams.
4 p.m.: Ramona and the Slimdudes at Mullets, 1300 S.E. First St.
5:45 p.m. Return to Des Moines Social Club for music by Girls Rock! Des Moines, Peace, Love and Stuff, Sarah and the Meanies and Caroline Smith.