Sunday, June 14, 2009

How Rock and Roll will save the world

During the last week of the summer holidays, when some kids will be kicking cans or nursing Wii wounds, 50 kids between the ages of 12 and 17 (including my daughter Georgia) will be making a big noise all of their own at Calderdale's first summer school of rock - Calder Rocks.

Calder Rocks is the brain child of veteran rocker and music tutor, Brian Acton, who now lives in Calderdale after a decade of touring all over the western world.

The idea is to get 50 young musicians together and create 10 new bands for the week. Seven tutors will be giving talks, tutorials and sharing their experiences of life on and off stage. The bands will spend the week rehearsing, writing and learning some of the skills necessary to be in a band.

"This is a totally unique summer school. Yes, there are other rock schools around the country, but none that actually bring musicians together for the first time to create bands. This might be the first time these kids have had the thrill of playing in a group, and for the more experienced among them, a chance to get some real advice from seasoned musos and develop their skills. It's a kind of boot camp for bands."

The Summer school starts on the 24th of August and runs for 5 days, but the big event is the gig two days later in the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge ... the 'Sunday Service' where all the kids have a chance to rock out in front of a live audience of parents, friends and their peers.

"It's going to be an afternoon show so that everyone can attend. We hope to see friends and relatives turn up to see what happens when we take the stage. I would like to see some rock monsters come out to play! Who knows?. Maybe we'll even see the stars of the future, or make a live album!" says Brian.

The summer school costs £170, but if you feel this is a bit of a stretch, there are funding bodies who are excited about the project and who are willing to assist. More news on the website soon. Application forms are available for download at

The following has been taken from the Calder Rocks website


Calder Rocks is a five day non-residential school dedicated to rock music.

We're taking 50 kids to create 10 bands. By the fifth day you will have at least one killer tune, have done 4 performances, an interview and prepared for a gig, which will be held in the Trades Club in Hebden Bridge on the seventh day.

The week will cover a lot of ground, from wowing over classic riffs, owning the stage, making your own anthem, killer beats, the seismic power of bass, keyboard mayhem...... phew... all the way to forming your band and loving the camera... It will be an intense week, so you should be prepared to sweat and shout, unleash your inner beast and show it who's boss.

This school is not just aimed at guitarists and you DON'T have to be able to read music... this is aimed at ALL you young rockers who want to let it all out. We need drummers and bassists! If you play saxophone, apply! Keyboard players! Rappers! We really want everyone to apply so we can create something totally original...

There is nothing like this in the world.


The school will be held in Hebden Hey Scout Hostel. don't freak out, we guarantee there will be NO CAMPFIRE SONGS!

The hostel is perfect, in that it has ten small rooms for bands to jam and two great performance spaces.

Hebden Hey is situated in the lush valley just outside Hebden Bridge in Calder Valley. by the end of the summer, the valley should be a great place to hang out. You can have a look at it here.


The summer school starts on Monday 24th August and finishes on Friday 28th August 2009. Exact times have yet to be confirmed, but we're thinking 10a.m. start and finish at 4p.m. On Sunday 30th August we have booked the Trades Club where we're going to have a gig.

All bands will be invited to take part and play some of the tunes they've been working on during the week. This gives you Saturday to practise, relax, dye your hair, or do whatever else you want to before taking the stage on Sunday.

The gig will be open to the public, so bring your mates.


To apply for a place at the summer school you need to fill in the application form here.

Remember, this part of the application is solely to give us an idea of who you are and what you like. You DO NOT have to send money in at this stage.

We will try to put you into a band with musicians of similar ability, experience and style. If you can bang out a few chords, hold down a beat or scream and strut, then you should apply. Also, if you know your pentatonics and your pinched harmonics, we will get you together with someone who is of the same level.

We ask you to be honest with the information you give. You don't want to put yourself in a position where you feel awkward with the other people in your band. The questions are intended to give us a rough idea of where you're coming from, so that we can try our best to get you into a group of like-minded musicians.


Brian Acton has been a guitarist and songwriter for 20 years. He has had the pleasure of touring America and Europe and has done lots of big festival gigs, numerous recordings and lots of T.V and radio work. Now he lives in Calderdale and teaches guitar, while maintaining a thirst for learning new possibilities in music. He teaches rock guitar in Hebden Bridge at Machpelah Mill and at Calder Hill School.

Bruce Reid has been working as a professional electric and double bassist for over 14 years, touring and recording with a diverse range of bands and playing many styles of music.. rock, jazz, techno and folk. He has toured the USA, Europe, UK and Ireland playing loads of festivals and performing on radio and TV along the way.These days, Bruce is a gigging session musician in Calderdale. He teaches bass and double bass privately and at Calder High.

Mitch Oldham has been a professional drummer, percussionist and educator for nearly 20 years.He has gigged all over the world from the Albert Hall to Las Vegas, Hawaii to Australia. He now teaches drums at Todmorden High and is in demand as a session musician in Calderdale and Manchester.

Becks Roberts Started singing professionally at 16 years old. She has sung backing vocals for various artists and appeared on the Late Late Show on RTE Ireland. She works in lots of styles from rock/jazz blues to music theatre. She now performs with Becks and the Bullets, runs the Trades Club Choir and teaches privately from home.

Matt Sladen is a recording engineer / producer / songwriter who works out of Analog Rooms recording studio in Elland. Matt has been playing keyboards since he was 11 and actively playing in bands since he was 14. He now has a collection of about 25 classic synths. He has worked with some recognisable names in the music industry including Parva (who became the Kaiser Chiefs ) and The Streets.

Sarah Dale is a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist based in Todmorden. Sarah has performed all over Europe and the UK in a very wide range of styles from Rock bands to Jazz ensembles. She has a First Class Honors Music Degree from Salford University specialising in Voice and now teaches and performs vocals nationwide.


You will be pushed and encouraged. You will get to lay down some awesome riffs. You will form a band, build a sound, explore your creativity, learn from great players and perform in a crowded club.

This is a great opportunity for you to hang out with people who share your love of rock music. Use the last week of your summer to do something radical.

How Much?

The summer school costs £170.

You will have to take care of your transport, equipment and food.

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