For the 9th year in a row, Central Minnesota kids with a musical spirit will join together in a band. Make that; several bands. The Central Minnesota School of Rock is underway this week and 60+ kids are hauling guitars, drums and keyboards to what, in most cases, is their very first gig.

Each year The Wirth Center for the Performing Arts teams with Sartell-St.Stephen Community Education to immerse kids in the experience of being in a band; from picking members, naming the band and compromising on song selection, to photo shoots, rehearsals and performances. The two-week program culminates with a huge concert at The Paramount. Each band will cover two classic rock songs, on stage, in front of a crowd. Over the last two weeks, the kids and their instructors have been rehearsing at Cavalry Community Church to prepare for the concert. Last year 650+ family, friends, and music lovers packed the house.

Photo by Keri Raiber

This year, School of Rock boasts 23 guitarists, 14 vocalists, 10 drummers, 10 bass players, 6 keyboardists, and assorted horn players. The kids, in 6th - 12th grades, have a varied amount of musical experience. But experience isn’t a major factor when an amazing team of talented instructors are on hand, as nine musical mentors listen, guide and hone the skills of young rocker hopefuls.

The instructors list is a who’s who of Central Minnesota musicians; Promoter/Producing/Music moguls Tommy and Jeff Vee, Bassist and producer Jeff Engholm, Slip Twister/Fabulous Armadillo’s frontman Paul (Stretch) Deithelm, Blimp/Stearn’s County Pachanga Society’s guitarist Mark (Hazzy) Hasbrouck, Rockhouse Production’s Producer/Engineer Thomas Cabot, and the multi-talented globe-hopping professional musician Mitch Johnson.  In addtion, several former School of Rockers have graduated to student instructor and in addition to provided much needed support to the instructors, they'll be working with the younger kids, and will perform together in their own band.

The concert is tonight, (August 8th) at 7pm in the Paramount Theatre and is open to the public. Tickets are $7.00 at the door.  Check out our next generation of rock in Central Minnesota!