August 19, 2014
The kids were totally rockin’ the Sunset Strip and belting out pop star anthems at The House of Blues in Los Angeles the weekend of May 1-2.
STAR Education’s RockSTAR afterschool program for elementary school kids was holding its 9th annual Battle of the Bands at the iconic club, and it was LOUD in there! Bands with names like The Wacky Watermelons, Rubber Bands, Wicked Crickets and Super Bone Breakers played covers of songs like “Roar” (Katy Perry), “Applause” (Lady Gaga), “Blitzkreig Bop” (The Ramones) and “Back In Black” (AC/DC) during the two day event. Bands playing original songs (yes, original, written by the kids!) included the Pacific Pallisades band Skull Stars with “Rock It To The Top”, the Richland School band Unbreakable with “Epic Impossible”, the Kester School band The Nightmare Kids with “More Than A Dream”, and the Broadway School band Babba Kookoo Cheenies with “Choo Choo Bumpy”. The determination and focus of all of the bands was impressive, and we saw performances from a few mega-talented kids who are definitely on their way to being the pop stars of tomorrow.
RockSTAR’s non-profit program was founded nine years ago, based on the fundamental missions of creating and inspiring young musicians, and bringing music back into schools that have had their own music programs reduced or eliminated altogether due to budget cuts. The program began with only six elementary schools, and in less than a decade it has grown to the point of reaching kids in more than 100 different schools throughout Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, New York City and Nashville.
RockSTAR also sponsors a Winter Rockfest, held at various other venues, including famous Sunset Strip clubs The Roxy, the Viper Room and the Key Club, as well as Avalon in the heart of Hollywood. What a great experience for the kids to perform at these clubs! The kids in the program start as early as first grade learning to sing lead or background vocals or to play an instrument — guitar, bass, drums or keyboard. Every performance by every band in the program is presented 100% live with no pre-recorded elements of any kind. The results are not always perfect, but we’ve got to give the kids, especially those only six or seven years old, props for having the courage to step out onto the stage and play or sing for sometimes hundreds of fans. Their confidence, and the smiles on their faces as they perform, are something to see.
Among the many pop and rock stars that lend their support to the RockSTAR program (i.e., the members of the RockSTAR “galaxy”) are Britney Spears, Linkin Park, Sammy Haggar, Rick Springfield, Chris Isaak, Rod Stewart, Green Day, Colbie Caillat, Adam Lambert, Gene Simmons and Gavin DeGraw. There are also many dedicated guitar-bass-drums teachers and vocal coaches who work with the kids one-on-one, to teach them to play and sing, and additional support is given by the program directors at the many different schools and the parents who pay for participation in the program and provide instruments in their homes so the kids can practice more than the one hour per week allotted for band rehearsals. We appreciate the contributions of this galaxy of supporters for everything they do to keep this excellent and worthwhile program running.
Here’s a link to a complete list of the bands participating in the May 1-2, 2014 House of Blues Battle-of-the-Bands event, as well as the Los Angeles schools they represent and the songs they performed:
And for more info on STAR Education’s RockSTAR program: http://www.rockstarmusiceducation.org
You can also follow RockStar on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RockSTARMusicEducation
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