The dirty little secret to "The Girls' Guide to Rocking" -- a book by music scribe Jessica Hopper, ostensibly for teen girls -- is that as a grown-up man or woman, you will learn something from every single page of this guide. Even if you've logged hard time in a studio and can tell the difference in tone between a Melody Maker and a Rickenbacker -- or hell, how to plug in your amp -- you might not know that Cheap Trick's Rick Nielsen plays a mind-blowing five-neck checkerboard Hamer guitar. Or you may have simply forgotten. "The Girls' Guide to Rocking" is a sweet little trip back to the basics that'll reinvigorate your life-long crush on music -- the lore, the technique, the post-show stop at a diner after seeing Cat Power or PJ Harvey for the first time.
Hopper is perhaps best known for her Da Capo anthologized essay, "Emo: Where the Girls Aren't," a feisty bit of feminist J'accuse, but the Chicago-based writer is equally comfortable in the big sister role -- cool but all heart. On the cover, the book states it'll teach "how to start a band, book gigs and get rolling to rock stardom." And that's part of the fun of flipping through the bright pages, many of them with fetching illustrations in black and lime green. Whether you're a band virgin who vicariously lives through her heroes or an old hand who starts a band for every life stage, all fantasies are encouraged. Even in inarguable, indie-mom instructions like "do not book a tour that takes you through the mountains in the middle of winter," there is a hint of the adventure and mission of rock and roll. And let's not forget the swagger; as the former touring bassist definitively points out, swagger ain't a dude thing -- it's a rock thing.
Hopper will be stopping by our fair city Wednesday to put on the literary equivalent of a bang-up show. After she reads from her guide, the nearly all-female punk band Mika Miko will take to the stage -- at the San-Mo Public Library, not the Smell -- and will no doubt blow some hardcovers off of their crumbly old pages. Rip it up, ladies!
-- Margaret Wappler
Jessica Hopper and Mika Miko at the Santa Monica Public Library, Martin Luther King Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Blvd., Santa Monica. 2 p.m. Wednesday. Free. (310) 458-8600. Also, Hopper will read at Skylight Books, 1818 N. Vermont Ave., Los Feliz. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Free. (323) 660-1175.
Photos: Handout art of Jessica Hopper (left) and Mika Miko