Managing the actual-rockband to learning-experience ratio is Jason Priest, founder of Little Rock Jams.
organized the best and most willing guitar, bass and drum students into three bands in September, and has been leading them through rehearsals twice a week since.
The rock-band-incubation will culminate Dec. 12-13 with a concert each band will perform for family, friends and schoolmates they are charged to invite through printed fliers, MySpace and Facebook pages and Twitter feeds (self-promotion being as critical to a band's success as technique and instrumentation ).
The Dec. 12 performance will be at 8 p. m., while Dec. 13 shows are scheduled for 6 and 8 p.m. Admission to Little Rock Jams
, 10720 Rodney Parham Road, will be one canned good for donation to a food drive.
Although organizers expect most of the audience to have been personally alerted by a band member, anyone with a can and curiosity about Rock School
will be admitted.
"It's almost like a recital," Priest
says of the impending Rock School graduation for his
inaugural class, "except way cooler.8, opened Little Rock Jams
using seed money he
collected in a buyout he
accepted when AT&T
took over SBC Communications
and the company was trimming staff.
The move indulged a dream of playing guitar full-time that Priest had maintained since he was a teenager growing up in southwest Little Rock, where he attended McClellan High School and cruised Geyer Springs Road with other metalheads.
They were, he
recalls, #8220,the good old days when AC / DC tickets were $ 18.
50 at Barton Coliseum."
Priest's formative years are reflected in the songs he
has enforced on Rock School students, who've puzzled over Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" and his
most unpopular choice, the Def Leppard anthem "Rock of Ages."
" There were a lot of comments about spandex and mullets, " Priest
But Priest's biggest competition — and arguably his
biggest opportunity — isn't the oeuvre of the punk-metal band Snot, whose songs some students have requested he
teach them, or the Jonas Brothers, whom younger Little Rock Jams
pupils wish to emulate. (The youngest client of Little Rock Jams proper is 7; the oldest is a 72-year-old man who decided to take up guitar in his
Instead, it becomes obvious in a certain distraction noticed immediately by another Flaming Ice Cubes guitarist as he enters the rehearsal space.
The teenager is driven by either his
mother or grandmother the more than two hours from the town of Hermitage, near El Dorado, for each rehearsal.
A paused video image projected on a wall opposite the stage holds an allure, even though it isn't why he
"That Guitar Hero over there," the boy mutters, "is very tempting.,S JOURNEY Priest acknowledges that rock-star-mimicry video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band represent more of an influence for interest in Rock School
than, say, the Jack Black film School of Rock, released back in 2003, when many current Rock School students were more interested in Finding Nemo.
"We definitely see an influx of students come from those video games," Priest
"Two years ago he
wanted to be a professional wrestler, so we're making progress.e dedicated parent following, there is likely some element of the football-dad phenomenon #8212, frustrated would-be garage rockers living vicariously through their sons. (Though Little Rock Jams
teaches a few girls, whom Priest
characterizes in the mold of singer-songwriters Jewel and Alanis Morissette, the initial class of Rock School
was all boys.
No girl students auditioned. )
Clay and his
father came to Little Rock Jams
as a duo, by enrolling in classes together.
"It was, like, a father-son thing," Clay says.
wasn't asked to be in Rock School.on might still have its day: In addition to planning Rock School 2, Priest
is considering forming Adult Rock School.
ROCK STARS, WITH LIMITS As for his
current crop of proteges, Priest
hopes the December concerts will be evaluated based on the same standards the audience would apply in deciding whether they liked any rock band.
#8220,We want people to applaud because the songs sounded good," he
says, "not because, 'Oh, y'all are kids and you're trying hard. 'd to get Rock School students, including the third band on the roster, High Voltage, to carry themselves like real rock stars, onstage posturing and all.
#8220,We're trying to get them to do the ' Thank you, Little Rock !' thing — all that," Priest
Like a long line of musicians before him, Clay has struck upon an advantage of rock stardom, even in its academic form.
"It definitely helps with your popularity," he
But there are certain distinctions between "rock star" and Rock School.
The most excessive act his
students have committed on stage is to eat pizza, Priest