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Moab Camp Gets Students Rocking

Moab’s Youth Rock Camp has more than doubled in size this year. Thirty students, aged 8 to 14, signed up; enough to form six bands. The rock camp was launched and is directed by Amy Stocks, a local musician and staffer at the teen center.

“The volunteers have really stepped up and really helped us out,” Stocks said. “We’ve got some amazing roadies. I think roadies are the answer to life’s problems.”

Once again, some of the best musicians in Moab have given a week of their time to coach promising young rock stars. They included guitarist Lisa Hathaway.

“It’s a little bit of controlled chaos. The kids actually dictate a lot of the flow of where the instruction goes, and where the performances go, trying to teach them the basics of some cord structure and timing,” Hathaway said.

Other music coaches included John Olschewski, Jeff Gutierrez and Sand Sheff.

“So what do we have in the song so far, kids? We’ve got drumming. We have bass. What are we missing? Okay, we have keyboards. We need the guitar players. Come back over here. We’re gonna start it up in layers, here we go. First the drums, then comes the bass. Then the keys. Now the guitar players, get over here,” Olschewski announced to his group of students.

“If I make a chord off of this five, that‘s what we got,” Gutierrez said to his students. “So the blues basically has three different chords. The one chord, the four chord, the five chord, and then the one chord again.”

“It was a lot easier than I thought it would be,” said one student. “The bass guitar is easy to catch on to for me.”

“Well I learned how to cooperate with other people and get to know what kind of music they like, how to manage a band, and it’s really fun,” another student chimed in.

“I play the guitar. This is actually my first time playing it,” said another student.

“So many have such great personalities, and rock and roll personalities,” Stock said. “And they soak this stuff up so quickly, you know I was working with the drummers today, and they’re picking up drumbeats that take me weeks to learn.”

“Before I ever wrote a song, I learned it. A couple of hundred of other peoples songs. And I knew those songs in my head. What do you say when you memorize something, you know it by….heart. There’s something to that. That means you’ve put your heart into it if you’ve memorized something,” Sheff said to a classroom of students. “So I went to Nashville. Anybody ever hear of Nashville? What do they do in Nashville? That’s exactly what they do there now, nothing.”

After a week of tutoring, practice and rock aerobics, each band performed an original song in a public concert on Friday night.

Originally from Wyoming, Jon Kovash has practiced journalism throughout the intermountain west. He was editor of the student paper at Denver’s Metropolitan College and an early editor at the Aspen Daily News. He served as KOTO/Telluride’s news director for fifteen years, during which time he developed and produced Thin Air, an award-winning regional radio news magazine that ran on 20 community stations in the Four Corners states. In Utah his reports have been featured on KUER/SLC and KZMU/Moab. Kovash is a senior correspondent for Mountain Gazette and plays alto sax in “Moab’s largest garage band."