When I was much younger, I hated when my parents sent me off to summer camp, but now that I am much older, I can tell you that I wait 50 weeks of the year for the first day of summer camp (and in this case, 152 weeks since our last session). The camp I am referring to is P.J. Olsson’s Rock Camp. Indeed, an opportunity that I wished I had. For years I had attended the Big Show concerts, and was blown away each time. As an educator, I would see many of these students in school, or through my association with Good Times Music. A few years ago I decided to further develop relationship with and help nurture the talents of these wonderful young musicians, thus I began volunteering with Rock Camp.
Today was the first day of camp. As each camper arrived and finished their registration paperwork, they congregated in the lobby of the Rosza Center, greeting each other and catching up with old friends. To me, it was like the beginning of the U.S.A. For Africa video for “We Are The World” – all your favorite artists gathering to make music together. Trust me when I say, these campers are some of my favorite musicians. If you come to the Big Show, August 10, at the Rosza, you’ll see what I mean – and you might just add them to your own list too.
After being introduced to staff (we’ll talk about them in a later blog), the 20 campers were divided up into 4 bands, assigned a rehearsal space, then released to start the magic. One of the first orders of business is selecting the songs they would like to perform in the Big Show. This is not always an easy task as the members of each group have divergent tastes, but a great lesson in compromise and working together. As I traveled from room to room they had their cell phones out and were sharing their choices with their bandmates. One common theme today was that many of these nominated songs had vocal range issues – but between the sheer talent of these young musicians and the guidance of the professional staff, I am sure will be a challenge met.
Later on in the day, while chatting with staff in the auditorium, I was beckoned by the voice of angels, thus I left to find the source. The trail led me to Caylin and Daryn singing an original song they wrote together, while being accompanied by Maclain. Daryn and Mclain are our two new campers this year. and both have much talent to share.
My next stop took me to the Paris Opera House – not exactly a place one would associate with teenagers attending a Rock Camp, but let’s just say, old Andrew Lloyd Weber is getting worked over. If you come to the Big Show, August 10, masks will be optional.
The third stop of the journey (pun intended), found another group working through some opera-related music as well. Inspired by one of last year’s top films, and one of the most successful music biographical films of all time…well, let’s just say this group will be giving you the “royal” treatment at the Big Show.
Finally, the last band I visited made my emotions clash – I didn’t know if I should hang out or leave. Honestly, these kids are great, just a thinly veiled hint at what you might hear them play at the Big Show. This band will also be powered up using both alternating currents and direct currents too. Oy!
Towards the end of the day, members of the staff commented that today was an amazing first day of camp. Glad I could be part of it, and thank you for letting me share today’s events with you. A special thank you to P.J. Olsson for suggesting my return to music journalism.
Written by Anthony Daniel