Three Girl Scouts from Montesano in pursuit of their music badges got a real opportunity Saturday to check out instruments, play them and then learn what it’s like to be in a band.
The fun day couldn’t have happened without the community support from Wil Russoul, of Make Music Aberdeen (MMA), Chuck Meskimen, a volunteer for MMA, and Ron Harless and Joe Backus, owners of Guitar Galactica — 204 S. K St., in Aberdeen.
They also got to go on a short tour of the upstairs of the Side One Studios building, which Russoul said couldn’t have happened without the blessing of the building owners Lee and Dani Bacon.
While the girls took a huge step to earning their music badge, they don’t have them yet. Next, they need to learn about and listen to pop music from around the world, according to their troop leaders Cayla Quinton and Trish King.
Russoul, a professional songwriter for many years, liked spending time with the Scouts and showing them the ropes.
“I still believe the number one thing we can do is invest in youth, that’s the first thing,” Russoul said after the recording session. “If I can introduce music, especially songwriting, especially organically where it can come from them and they can be happy and proud of it, that’s very important to me.”
That’s exactly what he did Saturday afternoon as 10-year-old Ainsley King, 11-year-old Caelin Quinton and 10-year-old Elaine McElroy — the three Scouts — and 7-year-old Zoe Quinton, a Brownie, were treated like VIPs.
It was an enjoyable few hours for Russoul, Meskimen, Cayla and Trish, as they escorted the girls through Guitar Galactica and then a portion of the upstairs of the Side One Studios building.
The first stop was to check out the guitars at Guitar Galactica — where the respectful, yet energetic girls were allowed to grab any guitar they wanted.
Harless said it was fun to see the girls take interest in the guitars.
“We love it,” Harless said. “We’re all about getting kids into music.”
Some people might question allowing 7- through 11-year-old children to be able to touch instruments, but the shop owners weren’t of that mindset.
“I don’t want to be one of those places where you feel you can’t touch something,” Harless said. “We want to be an inviting place.”
While the girls had a great time inside the store, the best part of the day was going upstairs to Russoul’s office, where they learned a bit about writing a song as part of a band.
Introducing The Invisible Cat Band
Russoul might have led the entire band, but Ainsley was a co-leader. She directed her bandmates, Caelin, Elaine and Zoe, who isn’t a Girl Scout yet, as they all added to the lyrics and harmonized with the word “Meow,” throughout. The Quinton girls’ mother Cayla and Ainsley’s mother Trish assisted. Trish jotted down the lyrics on a nearby whiteboard and Cayla served as the band’s photographer and videographer.
The ideas were flowing inside Russoul’s office. The girls chipped in with lyrics, the song title “Potato Bird,” the harmonization of the famous feline sound “Meow,” and they sung it with Russoul, who came up with the melody and played the acoustic guitar. The creativity shared inside the room was exactly what Russoul was hoping for. Landing on an idea quickly helped the process quite a bit.
“One person comes up with an idea and then we all contribute to it,” Russoul said to the girls about a key to writing a song as a group.
The lyrics made for a lot of laughter. Here’s a sample of the lyrics:
“So I heard a sound and it sounded like something I’d never heard — Meow,
It sounded like a little cat, but must’ve been a potato bird — Meow.”
“The joy of songwriting,” Russoul said to everybody in the room.
“You’ve never written a song about potato birds before?” Cayla asked Russoul at one point.
One of the chief songwriters, McElroy, called the song “one of the weirdest,” she had ever heard.
And then they included the Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Taylor Swift as a lyric.
“Oh, so we’re bringing Taylor Swift into this,” Cayla said with a smile.
Well, of course. The girls are “Swifties”, after all.
Thoughts from the scouts
“(I had) a lot of fun,” Ainsley said before she provided what part of the day was the most fun. “Probably writing a song and having fun with my friends.”
Ainsley enjoyed Guitar Galactica, especially for the variety of instruments, including the ukuleles. She said she also thought Harless and Backus were “fun.” And she loved Harless’ impromptu show.
“It was awesome that he did that for us,” said Ainsley, who’s also a fan of rock and metal music. Her favorite band is Tool. Her favorite Tool song is “The Pot.”
Ainsley was also grateful to Russoul for “letting us all do this.”
“We played guitar and we wrote a song, which was pretty fun,” Caelin said, before adding the guitars, which were “pretty fun,” were “probably” her favorite part.
Caelin said her favorite guitar had Hello Kitty emblazoned on it. She said she also thought Guitar Galactica was “pretty cool,” and that Harless’ performance — a few riffs from a couple different songs — was “pretty good.”
Caelin also enjoyed the songwriting process. She said that was “really fun.”
Caelin’s favorite part was naming the song “Potato Bird.” And like Ainsley, Caelin liked writing with Russoul.
“He’s just really fun,” Caelin said.
Elaine’s favorite parts of the day was “probably getting to learn how to play the bass and guitar more.”
Elaine currently plays the bass, but she’s going to start learning the trumpet.
Elaine shared her favorite songs are by Olivia Rodrigo, who is also a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter.
Elaine likes how Guitar Galactica is “unique.” She called Harless and Backus “cool,” and about Harless’ performance? “Wow.”
Zoe’s favorite parts were “playing guitar, doing the meows in the song and looking at guitars.” Zoe’s favorite guitar was a smaller wooden guitar. Zoe complimented the guitar store.
“I’d say I really liked the big TV that was like slow-motion, that was really cool,” Zoe said. “I like that there were guitars in every place they could fit guitars, everywhere.”
Zoe said she also thought Harless’ performance was “funny” and that working with Russoul was “really fun.”
Currently, Zoe’s favorite song is Swift’s “Love Story”.
Trish had great things to say about the day’s events.
“It was incredible to be able to see the girls playing the guitars down below in the store,” Trish said. “The excitement in their voices and in the air, and then to watch them write the song with the creativity, and coming together and doing a project together is just awesome.”
Trish said the song was hilarious. She loved watching the girls’ creativity.
“Just their ideas are amazing,” Trish said. “They built off each other and it was just a lot of fun.”
Trish enjoyed touring the building and seeing what the Bacons have done to it.
“The building’s amazing,” Trish said. “It’s just incredible to see what has happened in here. I can remember years ago coming in when it was Goldberg’s. Just (seeing) the changes, it’s crazy. It’s beautiful. And I had no idea what all was in here and what’s happening kind of behind the scenes, so-to-say.”
And here’s what Russoul had to say about the writing process, which only took about 20 minutes.
“Today was a good example of a lot of collaboration, plus taking it a step up where we took it seriously, copyrighted it, credited it, then published it and then performed it, there’s a lot of layers” Russoul said. “I think what’s fun too is even though those were younger kids, when you co-write, it’s much bigger and much more alive sometimes than by yourself.”
Contact Reporter Matthew N. Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org.