Promoters of the Bakersfield Comic Con slated for Nov. 18 and 19 at the Kern County Fairgrounds don’t just want you to go to the event. They want you to Go-Go’s.
Kathy Valentine and Gina Schock – members of the most popular all-female group in rock ‘n’ roll history – are scheduled to be at the event. Valentine played bass with the Go-Go’s while Schock was the drummer. They join a long list of celebrity guests scheduled to attend that includes Lori Petty, Jerry Mathers, Andrew Gray, Nadji Jeter and Andrey Ivchenko.
Schock has become a veteran of conventions having attended six or seven while Valentine is relatively new to the world. Both express great delight in how much they love getting to meet fans.
“We just have the best time. We enjoy meeting people,” Valentine says. She particularly likes how they will sit next to each other at the conventions, playing Go-Go’s music.
The fans they meet are all ages as new generations continue to find their music. Schock loves the idea that parents are introducing their children to the music of the group.
Schock enjoys getting to have a personal connection with the fans rather than only being able to see them from the stage. She has found the close encounters has created a whole new level of appreciation for the fans because they all have stories of how the music of the Go-Go’s impacted their lives or how the fact an all-female band defied the odds in the ‘80s when they kept being told no one would listen to a group comprised of only women. Their success has been an inspiration to many.
Schock also has seen how her being in that rare group of female drummers has been an inspiration. For her, playing the drums was simply the fact that it was the instrument that felt the most natural to play.
“I have heard from so many young girls who were told by their teachers that drums were not an instrument to play. Play guitar. Play flute. But not drums. A lot of women will tell me they were discouraged to learn drums,” Schock says. “For me, I have never thought about any of that stuff. I never took music classes in school. I was just moved by the music I loved.
“I tried many different instruments, but I settled with drums because I didn’t have to take lessons.”
It wasn’t easy for the members of the Go-Go’s to meet directly with their fans as their popularity skyrocketed not long after they formed in Los Angeles in 1978 emerging from the punk rock scene. Their debut album – Beauty and the Beat – was released in 1981. Among their long list of hits are “Vacation,” “Head Over Heels” and “We Got the Beat.” Their massive success earned them induction into the 2021 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
Valentine says, “Many years before we were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, our rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame was hearing from people time and time again for decades. We were living proof to a lot of people that going after your dreams was not such a crazy thing to do.”
The Go-Go’s never played in Bakersfield but Valentine has visited the city over the years because she is a big Buck Owens fan. Part of that comes from growing up and learning to play guitar in Austin, TX, where she was exposed to a wide variety of musicians and musical styles.
The pair will be at tables on the convention floor to meet with fans and to see their autographs. They are also scheduled to be part of a panel discussion at 2 p.m. on Saturday. That’s when fans can ask questions about the history of the Go-Go’s.
A question they most often get asked is where they will be playing next. That’s a hard inquiry to answer as the band has gotten together at various times over the years to perform. They had a two-year tour planned when the pandemic shut everything down.
Along with the celebrities and vendors, fans can dress as their favorite comic book, fantasy, game, cartoon or fictional character for the 14th Annual Costume Contest. Registration is at 1 p.m. in Building 2. There will be a division for adults and children.
The convention will be held in Buildings 2 and 3 at the facility located at 1142 South P St. Gates open at 10 a.m. each day and close at 5 p.m. Admission is $12 for those 13 and older for individual days and $18 for a two-day pass. Tickets purchased in advance at the website bakersfieldcomiccon.com are $10 for each day and $16 for the two-day ticket. Those 12 and under get in free. Parking is $5.