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PGRA’s Tribute to Radiohead Jan. 16 & 17

  |   January 15, 2015  |  Comment


Full Disclosure Time: I am a Paul Green Rock Academy employee. I am also a Paul Green Rock Academy parent. It would seem easy to assume that I’m terribly biased toward Rock Academy talent, and to some degree, I probably am. But that also means that I know a good show when I hear one, because I frequently get to observe the inner workings of the process of putting one of these shows together, from helping my students with their songs (I teach voice) to hearing them play during rehearsal. You can trust me when I say that if you haven’t been to a Rock Academy show, this weekend’s Radiohead tribute is the one you need to see.

The British band fronted by Thom Yorke and best known for their shimmering, ethereal tunes that make you feel uplifted and yet also like you might want to open a vein. Radiohead’s songs are just melodic enough to lull you into thinking their music is easy. It’s not. It’s wickedly, deceptively difficult music to play. Taking on Thom Yorke’s soulful, soaring vocals is no simple feat in and of itself, a fact that I became intimately familiar with while teaching my voice students. So the big question looms: Can a plucky group of tweens and teens with only a few years experience playing their instruments pull off a show that includes songs like Planet Telex, Pyramid Song, and Paranoid Android? And even if they sound great, what about all the lights and visuals and weird visuals and noises that happen during a Radiohead concert? Will those be there? To both of those questions, I can answer with an unequivocal, absolute, resolute yes.

Look, here’s the thing: At every show, either my students or my children are up on stage, rocking it out in front of an audience, throwing all fear and doubt and self-consciousness out the window in favor of making awesome music. Obviously, I’m going to be rooting for those fearless kids, encouraging people I know to go and see what they do. I have first-hand knowledge of what it takes for the kids to put on a show. It takes weeks, sometimes months of preparation not only during weekly rehearsals, but during individual lessons and practice time outside of the school. It takes breaking down a song a few bars at time and practicing those few bars over and over and over again until it becomes impossible to screw them up…and then moving on to the next few bars and doing the same. It takes courage. Walking out in front of an audience with an instrument in hand or a mic in your face in order to make music is nerve-wracking, to say the least, or downright terrifying, to say the most. Keep in mind that these kids don’t have the benefit of liquid courage like that rest of us dabblers who need three stiff drinks in order to belt out “Don’t Stop Believin'” on karaoke night. But even more so than that, they walk out on stage and they play well. Really well.

Convinced yet? This should do it:

The PGRA Tribute to Radiohead opens Friday, January 16th with a second show on Saturday, January 17th. Doors at 6pm, show starts at 7pm at the Woodstock Playhouse, 103 Mill Hill Road, Woodstock (GMAP). Tickets available at the Playhouse.

(By the way, the Rock Academy isn’t just for kids. They also have an adult program. My husband runs it. It’s amazing and fun. More on that here.)

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