Festival supports youth musicians

Brattleboro Youth Rock Festival announces lineup for 2017; advance tickets available online

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BRATTLEBORO — “If I had to choose one word to describe the overall goal and vision of BrattRock, it would be "connection." Those are the words of the Jaimie Scanlon, the chief organizer of the young people’s musical festival, which will be celebrating its second birthday this Saturday, Sept. 23.

Scanlon’s initial “connection” to the celebration is a simple one: her daughter Rei.

“The main inspiration for organizing the event came from being the parent of a young musician, and seeing the positive effects of involvement in music for her and for young people in general” Scanlon explained in a recent email. “For Rei, who plays in the band Nomad vs. Settler, it's been a great outlet and a form of self-expression and has helped her build confidence and connections with others, both kids and adults, in the community”

A few years back, when Rei started getting more serious about her music and expressing an interest in playing with others, it was a challenge to find other local musicians around her age who were into playing rock.

“With great organizations like the Brattleboro Music Center and the Vermont Jazz Center, Brattleboro has a lot to offer for youth who are interested in classical, traditional, and jazz genres, but … there weren't many opportunities around here for kids with a more rock sensibility.” So Scanlon took matter into her own hands by seeking out lots and lots of connections. Then, organically, from many hands BrattRock was born.

“Last year we gathered a great group of musicians, parents, and music educators to plan an event with a goal of bringing local young musicians together to facilitate those connections, give them a chance to take away some new skills, and perform for an audience and enjoy watching each other perform in a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere.”

Scanlon also managed to connect to organizations willing to support the project, such as Youth Services, Vermont Arts Council, Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, Guilford Sound, Vermont Jazz Center, Hilltop Montessori, Oak Meadow, WKVT, WRSI, The Brattleboro Retreat, and 118 Elliot.

Another people connection was David Ross, who also happened to have an aspiring rocker daughter named Elsa at who now plays bass in the group Third Dimension. Ross recalled his involvement with BrattRock, “My family became involved with BrattRock last year, and I was asked to help with event logistics. Elsa picked up the bass guitar a year or so earlier, and had been taking lessons, but was primarily practicing alone. When she discovered the newly formed BrattRock organization it gave her a goal: form a band, and be ready to perform for the inaugural event last September.”

That very first BrattRock festival was an eye opener for Ross and for all those in attendance. “Quite frankly I didn't expect the level of talent, the depth of preparation, the dedication of these musicians. Everyone I've talked to who attended last year is planning to be there this year. What would I like to see happen this year? When I'm talking to my friends, music lovers, encouraging them to attend this year, I find myself telling them "these bands aren't good for "youth" bands, these bands are good."

For Jaimie Scanlon, that inaugural event surpassed all of her expectations, in particular the process of bringing all those connections together. “Beyond the fact that the first year of the event was a huge success all-around, the process of getting there was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

BrattRock's success is thanks to our having the best, most generous, committed people on our planning committee, including a lot of young people who are both musicians and non-musicians. I think it's rare and special that a group of young people and adults get to really collaborate and work toward a common goal.”

Of course, Scanlon is anticipating an even bigger and better BrattRock 2.0. “With last year's experience under our belts, we've expanded the event to include more bands and performers from a wider geographic area.

We hope everyone who can will come out on Saturday to support and celebrate these talented and dedicated young artists.” The Second Annual BrattRock, will take place at 118 Elliot St. Brattleboro on Saturday, Sept, 23. Doors open at 4 p/m. $8 students, $10 adults. Tickets at brattrock.brownpapertickets.com


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