Brattleboro >> On a scale of one to 10, the excitement level is at 9,000 according to 13-year-old rock musician Sebastian Paquette about the first-ever BrattRock, the Brattleboro Youth Rock Festival set to take place on Saturday.
That kind of excitement is exactly what organizer Jamie Scanlon was going for when she first approached the families of her daughter's fellow band members, Nomad vs. Settler, about the idea. Scanlon's daughter Rei Kimura, vocals and rhythm guitar, is in the (winning) rock band who participated in the annual Battle of the Bands. While it was a great experience for the group, the stress and pressure of competition wasn't conducive to sharing ideas and connecting with other musicians, or to just plain have fun. So Scanlon thought, wouldn't it be great for young musicians to be able to gather, connect, and be inspired by one another; to have a day of workshops culminating in an evening of performances where they can showcase their talents. The other parents agreed whole heartedly. According to Scanlon, "Brattleboro is blessed to have a great music community, and it has become a hub for young music talent. We want to promote that."
She partnered with Youth Services to organize a day of events that is modeled somewhat after the Battle of the Bands, gleaning what they needed out of its format, minus the competition. A planning committee was formed consisting of volunteers ranging in age and backgrounds from high schoolers to parents, to adult musicians, and educators — who all shared ideas, while the youngest members of the committee steered the adults in the right direction as to what would work for them. Guitar player and drummer Sebastian is part of that committee, along with his 10-year-old brother and keyboardist Dorian Paquette. Sebastian, Dorian, and drummer/guitarist Gabrial Bradshaw have been members of the band Negative Space since 2014.
Both of the Paquette boys just really like playing music but are excited to hear other musicians and to learn new things in the workshops. According to Dorian, BrattRock has given them a reason to rehearse more, to become more focused on getting a set playlist together, and to let more people know about their band. They describe themselves as rock grunge, or as Sebastion playfully referred to as "grunk," and they have been inspired by bands like Real Estate, Rush, Primus and Nirvana, Radio Head and The Cure. Dorian said, "I am a little nervous, but I have performed in front of an audience a couple of times before. I'm happy to play at this event and wouldn't miss the opportunity."
Sebastian continued, "I'm really glad kids are into music, just about everyone I know, anyway, is participating."
Fourteen bands are planning to strut their stuff throughout that Saturday evening between 5 and 10 p.m. at 118 Elliot, St., Brattleboro. From Brattleboro and surrounding towns: Impending Exorcism, The Faints, Negative Space, Nomad vs.Settler, Oak Grove Blues Band, Sophie Waters, and Third Dimension. From western Massachusetts: Cape Fournier, Cosmic Duct Tape, Felixis Jinx, Kalliope Jones, Raspberry Jam, and Rool Bunk. From Hinsdale, N.H.: Zebulon Hildreth. Performer bios are available on the BrattRock Facebook page.
Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Bands will be set up inside and outside, including food vendors and an arts and crafts table set up by the River Gallery School.
Prior to their performances band members take part in a day of workshops, free to those band members performing in Saturday's concert. Young musicians have a chance to develop their skills before presenting them to the community. They have a choice of two workshops, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, held at various locations in town, where they can network, learn, and be inspired. The instructors for the workshops are all professional musicians, familiar faces in the music community who will be mentoring to mixed levels of skill and experience. The choice of workshops are: Music Theory for Drummers with instructor Kevin Parry; Discover Your Unique Voice and How to Maintain It with instructor Samirah Evans; Digital Composition, Performing and Home Recording with instructor Wyatt Andrews; Making the Most of Effect Pedals with Instructor Aaron Chesley; Women Rock – Interactive Panel Discussion, instructors June Millington and Ann Hackler, Trish Naudon-Thomas, Amelia Chalfant, Alouette Batteau, Isabelle DeHerd; Basics of Recording and Sound Engineering with instructor Matt Hall; Learning to Improvise with instructor Dan Seiden; and Creating Originals with instructor Peter Siegel.
Youth Services is sponsoring BrattRock along with the presenting sponsor Guilford Sound. Other sponsors supporting these developing musicians include Vermont Arts Council, The Vermont Community Foundation, Classic Hits 92.7 WKVT, Rouleau-Holley's Tae Kwon Do, Oak Meadow, Hilltop Montesorri School, Brattleboro Music School, and C&S Wholesale Grocers. All of the proceeds will benefit Youth Services' program.
Russell Bradbury-Carlin, executive director of Youth Services said, "BrattRock was inspired by Youth Services' Battle of the Bands. After our last Battle of the Bands in November, I kept hearing over and over, from both adults and young people, "we need more events like this!" BrattRock is a natural expansion of Battle of the Bands. Sometimes young people need their own space and their own events. BrattRock is designed to bring together young people and adults to highlight the creative talent that young people have. I am so pleased that Youth Services is involved in BrattRock and honored that is also a fundraiser for all the work we do for youth in Windham County. "
It looks promising that there will be another BrattRock next year. There is already a waiting list of bands. The committee is laying the groundwork this year and already has begun the process of attracting sponsorships to keep things going. The planning includes ongoing events through the year such as youth open mic to keep the youth encouraged.
Festivities begin at 5 p.m. on Saturday at 118 Elliot, Brattleboro. Ticket sales in advance are $8 for adults and $6 for students via brattrock.org, or $10 adults and $8 students at the door. There is a $25 cap per family, and you may pay in advance or at the door. Schedule of the line up is also on brattrock.org
Scanlon concluded by saying, "I'm happy my daughter has found music as a passion because for the rest of her life she'll have a community to connect with wherever she goes."
Contact Cicely M. Eastman at 802-254-2311 ext. 261.