Rock Camp members take stage at Common Ground
Although actor Jack Black wasn’t in attendance to share a timely AC/DC lyric, the School of Rock was in session Friday at the Common Ground Music Festival.
Through a partnership with MSU’s Community Music School, or MSU CMS, and under the direction of Grand Rapids-based rock band, The Outer Vibe, more than 50 students took part in Rock Camp, a weeklong summer program for students ages 12-19.
“We found that it’s really for anybody starting a band. You’re going to be searching through the dark quite a bit for how to be a band,” said Nick Hosford, guitarist of the Outer Vibe.
“We’re trying to create a curriculum so people can have a big jump-start on that.”
The first Rock Camp took place in July 2009 at the MSU CMS, 841 Timberlane St., and has since spread to another separate location at the St. Cecilia Music Center in Grand Rapids. Due to its increasing popularity, The Outer Vibe runs several camps throughout the year, including summer camps, weekly classes and workshops.
Campers are split into separate bands and taught various aspects of band life from booking shows to writing songs to marketing themselves, Hosford said. At the conclusion of the week, the campers and their bands get to put their musical skills on display before a large crowd of fans and family at Common Ground in Lansing.
“We would get together and work on our songs, but they also had an aspect of what it’s like to be in a band,” said Eric Locker, a 14-year-old Owosso, Mich., resident and lead singer of Voltage.
“(The Outer Vibe) told us that picking our songs wasn’t the most important part of a band. The most important part of the camp was learning what it’s like.”
Each band took to the stage with a different musical style over a two-song performance, playing songs ranging from Nirvana to the Beatles and Green Day, among others.
For Monica McCurdy, a 15-year-old Bath, Mich., resident and lead singer of Rock Camp band Team Canada, playing Common Ground was a great opportunity for young people interested in music. McCurdy — who admits her favorite musicians are Katy Perry and Justin Bieber — and her band commanded the stage with “Gives You Hell” by the All-American Rejects and finished with the Rolling Stones’ 1965 hit “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
“I usually get nervous right before I go on, but then once I step on stage, everything is fine,” McCurdy said.
“This is the easiest way to get a gig: Just sign up, and it’s already set up at Common Ground.”
The show also gave fans a taste of what the kids had to offer after a week of rehearsing at Rock Camp.
Even though Perry, Mich., resident Sam Lopez said he didn’t have a child performing in the show on Friday night, watching the kids display their talents on stage keeps him coming back to Common Ground each year.
“I’m back every year they’re here without a doubt,” Lopez said. “Whoever is playing wherever — it’s impressive to see the kids play.”