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Summer camp rocks

It's a familiar story: high school pals gather in someone's garage to rock out, then go on to fame and fortune.

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Mick Jagger and Keith Richards were grammar school buds; Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt formed their first band at age 14; U2's members were high school buddies back when the Edge was Dave Evans and Bono was Paul Hewson.

On Sunday, local rock fans will get a chance to see what may be the next Rolling Stones, Green Day or U2 when eight young bands from Music Matters' summer RocKamp perform their first big public gig at Richey Suncoast Theatre.

Think School of Rock … without Jack Black.

The concert is free, but you need a ticket, said Kevin Abendroth, who owns Music Matters, a combination music academy and retail store.

"We don't want people showing up and not being able to get in," he said.

RocKamp is the Abendroth's brainchild. His music academy has more than 30 teachers and 400 students from Pasco, Pinellas and Hernando counties. The students range in age from 2 months (that's a special class called Kindermusik) through 92 years, learning guitar, keyboard, percussion, voice and other instruments.

"They learn here and go home to practice alone in the bedroom," Abendroth said. "We thought we'd get them together and teach them how to be in a band."

Several weeks before the end of the last school year, he put out the word that experienced musicians ages 6 through 17 could sign up for one of eight, six-piece rock bands being formed for the summer. Each band would have one singer, one keyboardist, three guitarists (including bass), and a percussionist. Musicians could sign up for one or more RocKamp bands, first come, first served, at a cost of $240 a week.

The band would practice from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for five days, including a brief show on Fridays on the academy's small stage in front of parents and pals, do one refresher session, then do the show at Richey Suncoast.

The instructors, all veteran rock band members themselves, teach the kids how to set up their sound systems, come up with a band name, introduce themselves and their band mates to the audience, play a tune together, and then do an "outtro," which is music talk for an upbeat stage exit.

Percussionist Nick Remy, 13, who also plays bass drum for the Seven Springs Middle School band, signed up for three RocKamp bands and came up with the name for one of them: Firemelons.

"My friend was talking about watermelons and someone else was talking about fire, so I put them together — Firemelons," Nick said.

Bass player Fernando Ramos, 14, whose favorite band is Metallica, wrote the music for Firemelons' intro.

Musical tastes are eclectic: Firemelons singer Alexis Black, 13, loves Mozart, but can rock out with the best of them. Chase Toland is 13 and cites the Beatles as his favorite band. Guitarist Andres Delgado, 14, prefers pop-rock bluesman John Mayer.

But RocKamp kids' love of rock is shared.

At the Sunday concert, Firemelons will cover Loverboy's Working for the Weekend. The group November Mist will perform Tom Petty's Free Falling, and Drenched will do Green Day's Boulevard of Broken Dreams.

There are two Weezer songs: Six Pak will do Island in the Sun; Geurilla Taktics will perform Beverly Hills. Waiting on Forever (WOF) will do Avril Lavigne's My Happy Ending, Dial Tone Konfuzion will play Tommy and the Tutones' 867-5309/Jenny, and The Fly SwatterZ will do Joan Jett's anthem, I Love Rock and Roll.

RocKamp has gone over so well that Abendroth is doing a similar program when school starts, but instead of five intensive days, he's scheduling one class a week for 12 weeks, culminating with a concert.

The name for the school?

Why, RocksCool, of course.

WHAT: RocKamp Summer Concert

WHERE: Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey

WHEN: 3 p.m. Sunday

ADMISSION: Free, but tickets are required for entrance. Tickets can be picked up at Music Matters, 4112 Little Road, New Port Richey (Grand Trinity Plaza) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Summer camp rocks 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 10:32pm]
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