Name, Age & Hometown

Rachel Blumberg, 44, Portland, Oregon

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background with music. 

I grew up in a musical household with classically trained parents. I started playing piano at age 5 and drums at age 10. My first official live performance, besides piano recitals, was playing the snare drum with the Oregon Symphony, which my parents were in. I have always played music, but as a teenager didn’t imagine it would become my career! I had other interests and pursuits. However, I played in bands for year, different kinds of music including punk, indiepop, and all sorts of undefinable styles, and eventually found myself making a living touring all over the world and recording with my band The Decemberists. From there I spent several years or so touring and recording with M.Ward and then I ended up touring and recording with many other bands such as Bright Eyes, Mirah, Jolie Holland, the Secret Drum Band, TJO, and many, many others.  I’ve had so many amazing experiences I could have never dreamed of.  And during this whole time, in the down times, I’ve also always taught drum lessons and music classes.

Are you currently playing music?

I am always playing music. Since I moved to Rhode Island, I have performed solo as Manzanita and am also working on my other project Arch Cape and will make a record with these bands this summer and am excited to tour with my own music.  I have recorded drums and vocals with the Low Anthem and am playing shows this summer with Death Vessel and Honeybunch. In the fall it looks like I’ll be going out on the road with Califone, and Death Vessel and hopefully my own projects! Also hope to keep playing with the amazing Michael Hurley who I was working with before I left Portland (if you KNOW him you KNOW him!).   And I have a few other music projects in the works with music friends in Portland/Seattle/LA and also New York.

What is your role in Girls Rock! Rhode Island?

Drum Instructor

Your favorite camp (or after school) moment?

Well, this is my first year teaching for Girls Rock Rhode Island, but as a veteran volunteer of the Rock n’ Roll Camp For Girls in Portland, Oregon (I’ve been volunteering since its first year), my favorite moments are always the showcases.  SO AMAZING. Always makes me weepy.

Why do you think people should volunteer for Girls Rock! Rhode Island?

Because it is so important that girls find their voices and also learn to support, encourage and inspire each other and music is a powerful tool for all of this. Plus I can’t wait until it is not unusual to see female musicians in bands and it is just the norm.  AND it is fun and always so inspiring/empowering to volunteer and be around so many  wonderful women and girls!