As Portland pop quartet, the All Girl Summer Fun Band proclaimed in their aptly-titled, "Theme Song": "They're nothing big / But they're nothing small / Just four best friends that you'd like to call / With Kathy, Kim, Arirak, and Jen / When you hear their songs / You'll want to hear them again." The group began with New Mexico transplants Kim Baxter (guitar, keyboards, drums, vocals) and Ari Douangpanya (bass, drums, vocals) along with Jen Sbragia (guitar, vocals) and Kathy Foster (drums, bass, vocals). The group became a trio when Douangpanya left the band in 2006. Baxter played in the Young Astronauts, Cherry Ice Cream Smile and One Two; Sbragia with Pretty Face, Kissing Book and the Softies; and Foster with Haelah, Hutch and Kathy, Subpop's The Thermals, and one-woman band, Butterfly Transformation Service.
The foursome came into being after a Softies/Cherry Ice Cream Smile show in Portland in 1998, when Kim approached Jen with a tape of her music. Jen loved what she heard, and took the tape on tour, listening to it non-stop. After the Softies returned home, Kim and Jen made plans to hang out and play some music together. Kim then introduced Jen to a couple of like-minded souls: Kathy and Ari. That summer, Baxter asked if they would like to play music together. The answer was an enthusiastic, unequivocal yes. She described the potential results as being that of an "all girl summer fun band" and the name stuck.
The group claims a wide array of pop purveyors as influences: The Beach Boys, the Ronettes, the Shirelles, the Shangri-Las, and Heavenly to start. Personal favorites include the Ramones, the Flaming Lips, Lois, Aislers Set, and Weezer. Although Baxter and Sbragia write most of their sweet - sometimes spicy - material, everyone contributes by coming up with their own unique parts. Their first single was a four-song release on Portland's Magic Marker Records, issued on pink vinyl and featuring a cartoon-likeness of the band, drawn by Jen. Next came a split with Japanese band Photo Jenny on Little Red Wagon. Then they contributed songs to Happy Happy Birthday to Me Vol. 2 and Japanese Magazine Beikoku Ongaku's compilation CD and the Patty Duke tribute 7". Their first full-length, a self-titled effort on Olympia's K, was released in February of 2002. On it, they zip through 13 catchy, candy-coated numbers about crushes, long-distance relationships, and broken hearts. In addition to a review by Greil Marcus in Interview Magazine, the record won raves from numerous publications, including The Village Voice and The London Times.
Over the years, the band has played with a number of other independent artists, including Dub Narcotic Sound System(which counts K's Johnson among its ranks), C.O.C.O., Mates of State, Modest Mouse, and James Mercer of the Shins. Upon the release of their first long-player, they traveled around the Northwest before heading to California in March. In September of 2002, they returned to the studio to begin work on another record, followed by an East Coast tour with Johnson in late October. In April of 2003, the girls released the album they had begun working on since the previous year. 2 was another short and sweet summer pop record that expanded the band's following, but Douangpanya bowed out the following year to focus on motherhood. The other members soldiered on as a trio, and the band's third effort, Looking into It, arrived in September 2008.
In addition to small tours and recording, the All Girl Summer Fun Band has been involved with Portland's non-profit Rock and Roll Camp for Girls (a day camp for female musicians from 8-18) and contributed the song, “It's There," to the camp's 2002 self-titled compilation CD. -Kathleen C. Fennessy (Allmusic)