Monday, June 18, 2012

In the news

Kids rockin' at musical camp
Youngsters write, play, sing on Hi-Tone stage

By Jody Callahan
Monday, June 18, 2012

The merchandise table held the first clue that this wasn't your typical rock show: They were selling baby clothes.

Then the first band took the stage, and there was the second clue: None of the performers was even out of middle school yet.

This was Rock 'N' Romp Camp, the culmination of a weeklong immersion in performing music for 50 area kids.

Sunday afternoon at Midtown's Hi-Tone Cafe, eight bands filled with young boys and girls got on stage to perform one song each.

They'd spent each morning of the previous week learning the rudiments of singing and playing guitar, bass, keyboards and drums.

In the afternoon, they grouped into bands to write and rehearse the songs they would perform.

And they clearly had a terrific time doing it, if the band names were anything to go by: Elvis Pretzels, Disco Dancing Demons and The Flamin' Skullz.

Or the song titles: "Woman of Mystery," "Metalhed" and "Complete Darkness."

Or the lyrics, like these from the Skullz: "I was found in the alley/Born in a trash can/I live alone/My best friend is the trash man."

"I learned how to play two bass lines in different songs," said 9-year-old Lucy Davis, singer in the Demons. "I learned to play the bass lines in 'Green Onions' and 'Eye of the Tiger.'"

This is the second year of rock camp, sponsored by the local Rock 'N' Romp group. Last year, 45 kids took part. This year, 100 kids from first through eighth grades signed up, necessitating two different weeks of camp.

Tuition for each kid was $200, which was used, in part, to pay local musicians to staff the camp.

The hope is that the kids will have enough fun that they'll keep playing and singing, maybe even forming their own bands in the years to come.

"The kids get a chance to play everything in a rock band," organizer Kate Crowder said. "We saw a giant increase in kids taking drum lessons or guitar lessons from these musicians. And some bands stayed together all year and practiced."

After the performances, organizers and parents cheered mightily as most of the kids walked off the stage with smiles.

Except Janie Matthews, keyboardist in the Elvis Pretzels (she also gave them their name), who was perhaps taking the performance a bit too seriously.

"It was just really awful. I don't know what happened. When I played the ending, no one stopped," the 10-year-old said, still hiding her face several minutes later. "We failed but we tried."

Then there was this from 7-year-old Ruby Elliotte, who rocked a "Hello Kitty" porkpie hat while playing keyboards in the Skullz.

What was the best part of your show, Ruby?

"My keyboard solo."

-- Jody Callahan: (901) 529-6531