Dan Ehl of The Kalona News recently wrote this fantastic article on our Weekend Warriors program! We'd like to thank him for letting us publish it here. To read the article on The Kalona News website, click HERE!
School of Rock
by Dan Ehl (The Kalona News)
Doug Ducey says he has never seen the School of Rock comedy starring Jack Black. It’s difficult to believe since the movie is also about teaching youngsters how to rock – though Ducey had permission from parents Jan and Larry Knebel of Kalona before 14-year-old son Eric hit the stage.
“Rock Steady’ is a 6-week summer program sponsored by West Music Company and Ducey is the music store’s community outreach coordinator and program originator and instructor.
During the 3-hour sessions, says Ducey, the kids rehearse songs and learn how to play rock with other musicians – and what to look for in potential band mates, how to promote themselves and find places to play. Just the kind of things Eric says he wanted to learn.
Eric wasn’t born with a guitar in his hands, but he has been playing since kindergarten. Larry says his son just naturally took to classic rock because it offers more guitar riffs than most of today’s music.
“I don’t know of many who play other instruments around here,” said Eric of why the program was also appealing to him – it connected him with four other kids to form “Grace Under Fire.” Their ages range from 12 to 15.
What is different about this year’s group of youngsters, Ducey said, is that after the program ended, the band did not. They continued to rehearse independently after the end of the program and their debut performance Aug. 5. They went on to perform at a house party in Swisher on Aug. 25. Their selection of music includes songs by Deep Purple, Sheryl Crow, Green Day, White Stripes, the Foo Fighters, Adele and Melissa Etheridge.
Eric says practicing among the five has slowed since school, but all the band members stay in touch. They are hoping to find future gigs and play at some of the Kalona celebrations.
Eric still keeps his guitar pickin’ fingers active by sitting in with the Weekend Warriors, another program through West Music Company in Coralville. It is mainly made up of members Ducey describes as baby boomers who “once played in high school or college and then had to grow up.” Eric is good enough on the guitar, Ducey added, that the old codgers invited him to sit in with them. They will be playing at The Mill Oct. 28.
Ducey is not one of the one-time garage musicians who then had to grow up. The Mystic native has continued playing in bands and is currently in The Vibracats, formerly known as Not a Clue. The four members occasionally play at the Riverside Casino and Golf Resort’s show lounge.
As of now Eric isn’t quitting his daytime job for the band since he doesn’t have one. But as Edgar Winters sang, Eric plans to “Keep Playin’ That Rock and Roll.”