After a tough year that (among other things) saw them lose their good friend Grant Hart, Minnesota music luminary Lori Barbero and acclaimed St. Paul visual artist Chris Larson are kicking off 2018 with positive aspirations: to open a rehearsal and studio space in St. Paul that caters exclusively to girls.

The two local luminaries have started a GoFundMe campaign for the project – still unnamed, because that's one of the many things they want the young participants (ages 6 to 15) to take on themselves.

"It'll be all about empowering these girls," said Barbero, drummer for pioneering punk trio Babes in Toyland, who likened the project to "more like recess" than a formal music school. "We want it to be really fun for them, and not just something their parents are pushing them to do, or the kind of place where they're told what's right or wrong when it comes to making music."

The idea actually started before Hart's death in September, and it is not formally tied to the foundation for women artists being started in the Hüsker Dü co-leader's name. But it could have informal ties.

Among them: One of Hart's old amplifiers is among the meager assortment of musical equipment so far assembled for the space. That amp was among the personal possessions that wound up at Larson's big studio space in east St. Paul after Hart's house in South St. Paul burned to the ground, all of which led to Larson's 2016 exhibit at Walker Art Center, "Land Speed Record."

A room inside Larson's studio complex will house the rock 'n' roll incubator, located along a busy part of Suburban Avenue -- not the kind of dark industrial area where bands' rehearsal spaces often are found, Barbero pointed out (a safer option for the girls).

Larson's collaborator in the space, Corey Avery, is also a woman musician who will be heavily involved in the project. Among their objectives is to have the girls learn the basics, write their own songs and record 7-inches, which Barbero will produce.

But first, getting more equipment is one of the primary objectives of the GoFundMe campaign, whose fundraising goal is to drum up $20,000 by Feb. 14. Find it at