Michael Deeds: Give a deserving kid the chance to rock, grow

August 11, 2013 

When the music teachers at Boise Rock School offered their first weeklong camp for at-risk youth and refugees in 2012, they weren’t entirely prepared for five Nepalese teenagers who appeared.

These kids spoke little to no English. They knew next to nothing about American music and culture. School co-founder Ryan Peck remembers noticing the teens trying desperately to fit in — a quest made apparent by their not-always-hip fashion choices.

“They wanted so hard to be cool, but they don’t really know what’s cool,” he says.

Versatile musician and teacher Thomas Paul got creative while leading that group. There was no handing these kids a guitar and teaching them a standard Led Zeppelin lick.

“I guess there’s these sort of traditional Nepalese chants,” Peck explains. “And they made them into rock songs!

“These kids actually kept attending. We let them come for free pretty much the whole year.”

This sort of gratifying experience is what makes the faculty at Boise Rock School, 1404 W. Idaho St., excited and proud to offer a second camp from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Aug. 19-23. It’s open to any kid who otherwise would not be able to afford it.

Students are chosen through nominations emailed to info@boiserockschool.com with the subject heading “Free Camp.” Include the student’s name, age and instrument choice, along with a brief description of why the student should attend “an awesome week of rocking,” as Peck puts it.

Students should be between the ages of 6 and 18 and can have any level of music experience — from total beginner to virtual expert.

The camp has a limit of 32 students but wound up with 36 last year.

“We’ll probably end up with close to 40,” Peck admits, “which just ends up a little bonkers.”

The free camp is a lot of extra work. Refugees often do not have transportation, so the Rock School teachers drive a van around picking them up.

“We’re bustin’ our butt,” Peck says. “But it’s really rad. And it’s great for us.”

This type of program is more important than ever now that the Treasure Valley has just one “rock school” for kids. School of Rock, a franchise in Eagle, recently closed.

Boise Rock School, which opened in 2007, has evolved into a diverse creativity center. Peck says that card-carrying “rock” music performances are now a minority among the styles created by students.

“Now it’s like kids writing original music, kids recording music. And maybe the music is like synth-pop or folk or whatever.

“I guess the rock attitude is still there,” he says, “but there’s not as many kids doing straight-up AC/DC.”

Online: BoiseRockSchool.com.

WHAT HAPPENED TO NORTHWEST CHILIFEST?

You know that cushion-vibrating noise caused by ingesting too many beans? So far, that’s the soundtrack to Northwest ChiliFest, which was hyped at Boisechilifest.com all the way up to the day it was supposed to start: Aug. 8.

Until the website suddenly was updated, information there said it was happening Aug. 8-10, 2013, at Meridian’s Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park, including “50 amateur chili enthusiasts competing for cash prizes totalling $10,000,” along with concerts by ’80s hair band Warrant and country singer Collin Raye. (Newsflash: Warrant frontman Jani Lane died of alcohol poisoning in 2011.)

ChiliFest was cooked up by one of the players behind last month’s much-maligned Northwest RibFest, which got tossed out of Kleiner Park and wound up taking place at the Idaho Center Amphitheater in Nampa.

“The organizers of (Northwest ChiliFest) pulled their permit after the City Council denied the temporary-use permit for RibFest,” explained city of Meridian Communications Manager Natalie Podgorski via email.

But wait! Northwest ChiliFest still might be simmering. The website now says the event has been “postponed” and that “new details will be available soon.”

I’m told that the Idaho Center Amphitheater has penciled in Oct. 4-5 as “hold dates” for a rescheduled ChiliFest, so we’ll see what happens.

Pass the Beano.

LOCAL SPORTS RADIO

Thinking man’s local sports talk radio? In the Boise market? Could it happen?

On Aug. 5, KTIK 93.1 FM added a new local show to its weekday lineup.

“Bob and Murph” — hosted by Boise State play-by-play announcer Bob Behler and Idaho Statesman sports columnist Brian Murphy — airs from 1 to 3 p.m. With “Idaho Sports Talk with Caves and Prater” running from 3 to 6 p.m., it makes for a five-hour block of local sports-talk radio.

While Caves and Prater often choose to take a “Dumb & Dumber” route of listener jabs and Caves cackles, Behler and Murphy have a more analytic, straightfaced approach.

“We’re trying to be ‘sports’ ‘talk,’ ” Murphy says, emphasizing the two words. “No shtick, no games. Issue of the day. What sports fans want to talk about.”

CONCERT, EVENT UPDATES

• A tour supporting the long-running Fox TV series “So You Think You Can Dance” is headed to Boise for the first time.

The 42-city trek, celebrating the show’s 10th season, will stop at Taco Bell Arena on Monday, Nov. 18.

The performance will feature the Top 10 finalists of 2013: Aaron Turner, Amy Yakima, “Fik-Shun,” Hayley Erbert, Jasmine Harper, Jenna Johnson, Makenzie Dustman, Nico Greetham, Paul Karmiryan and Tucker Knox.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. event go on sale at 10 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, at BoiseStateTickets.com for $29.50, $42.50 and $55.

• West Coast Fest, headlined by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, was abruptly rescheduled two days before the event.

The concert, slated to occur Aug. 10 at the Revolution Center in Garden City, will now take place Oct. 19.

IN SCENE AUG. 16

• Craft beer is showing up increasingly not just in cans, but in unusual cans.

• The Western Idaho Fair is right around the corner. We have the scoop on the hottest events and newest midway rides.

• Boise Philharmonic’s Picnic at the Pops series leads off with “Latin Fever.”

Michael Deeds’ column runs Fridays in Scene and Sundays in Life. Email: mdeeds@idahostatesman.com. Twitter: @IDS_Deeds

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