News Column

Rock 'n' roll camp week culminates in concert

July 10, 2014

By Valerie Wells, Herald & Review, Decatur, Ill.

July 10--DECATUR -- There's only one way to learn three songs to performance quality in three days.

"Binge playing," said Giovanni Incarnato, a lead guitar player at the Decatur Park District's First Gig Rock 'n' Roll Band Camp this week.

The camp takes kids of all ability levels and groups them into bands, working with them over the course of a week to get them ready for a performance at noon Saturday, July 12, in Eisenhower High School's auditorium.

A couple of the drummers, said instructor Guido Esteves, had never played a full drum kit before camp. One had played snare drum in music classes at school. Several guitar and bass players were beginners, while others were more accomplished.

"We take kids and put them into bands, and we kind of compress the whole rock band experience into a week," Esteves said. "They learn songs, they write their own songs, they record a song, they do a photo shoot and make T-shirts with the screen printer, and on Saturday they do a show. And after the show, we put them at a long table and they sell their merch and sign their autographs."

Instructors are all working musicians, many of them full-time working musicians, mostly from Danville and Champaign, and guest instructors are all local to Decatur, he said.

One group worked on a song by Weezer on Wednesday and lead vocalist Aleena Taylor, going into eighth grade at Argenta-Oreana Middle School this fall, was getting drowned out by the band.

"It's gotta be loud, even if it's wrong," said Amy Mitchell, one of the vocal coaches.

Aleena said she loves singing, especially with a band, and the camp was a perfect fit for her.

"Music is my passion," she said.

Brenden Wilson took up drums at Johns Hill Magnet School, where music teacher Tom Miller started a rock band class last year when too few kids were interested in jazz band, so rock band camp was a natural for him, too, he said.

Kaley Nidiffer surprised her band mates and instructors when she channeled Adele while doing an impressive cover of "Rolling in the Deep," cementing her position as lead singer. Kaley said she's learning stage presence and working with a group during her week at band camp.

"My mom told me about it, after she heard about it," Kaley said. "It's just a good experience, because it's a 'first gig,' you know, and I hope I can take it on later in my life and get together later on with these guys after it's over and make some more music together."|(217) 421-7982


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Source: Herald & Review (Decatur, IL)

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