Part 1, Auditions: I like our new method -- all kids in the big room, instead of segregating by instrumentation. Some of the kids auditioned together, as duos, trios, and ensembles. And they generously applauded one another after each performance, like a show. Such an exciting way to kick things off. Plus we got a couple of extra non-rock instruments -- flute and cello -- which always spices things up.
Part 2, My Group: 7 Boys (no girls, which surprises, because girls have been increasingly the majority in my newcomer group.)
Fiery energy and strong opinions -- 3 of them drummers -- and they all know each other. (I'm doomed.)
While we were settling in, Benjamin peered over my shoulder at my preliminary notes: "'Pinball Wizard!'" he shouted. "We're gonna do 'Pinball Wizard!'"
'Well," I started to say, "Wait a minute, it's just an idea..."
But by then, all 7 boys were hollering, "Awesome! 'Pinballl Wizard!'"
Okay, I guess we are definitely doing "Pinball Wizard," no matter how hard it is.
I gently explained that it's a difficult song, and we may have to simplify, so that we can pull it off. For example, I continued, we'll just do quarter notes on the piano..... blah, blah, blah..... At which point, I was interrupted by one of the twins (either Rob or Nick): "Let's not simplify it too much; 'cause it's those fast guitar strums that make the words sound good." Ha! That smart guy is right!
Part 3, Cowbell Assignment: Each band must highlight cowbell for one song. Our choice came about by virtue of Camp newcomer Keyan -- our third drummer -- in front of whom I placed a pair of Congas, and said, "Give those a try." He proceeded to embrace them as though he grew up in Central America. We all stopped in our tracks, stunned. ... "Okay," I said, "Santana! We are gonna play Santana, and you're gonna be the percussion guy."
"But I don't really wanna play these," he said.
Everybody chimed in at once: "What?! But you're awesome at it."
"They hurt my hands," he said. (That is a true thing. Congas hurt.)
"I'll get you some golf gloves," I said.
"Okay," he said.
Part 4, The Guest Speaker: John Mambira & Ratie WaFincho from Bongo Love -- originally from Zimbabwe, now touring zig zags across the USA. The kids were mesmerized. They asked so many questions, that the performers had time for only two songs. Here are excerpts. (And I was impressed at the way the kids jumped into to the rhythm clapped out by Ratie.)