A dozen Greenwood Elementary School students rocked the community hall last Thursday night, when they put on their “History of Rock ‘n’ Roll” show, which raised $1,000 for a class trip.
“They were totally gung-ho to do it,” said the students’ teacher, Dustin Stolen, about his idea to do the themed concert.
Previously, the school has hosted a talent show to raise money for a grade 6/7 trip to Vancouver and Victoria, but this time around Stolen said that he wanted to do something more ambitious.
Stolen, who went to school in Penticton, said that his own grade 6 teacher had the idea for a history of rock show when he was a student, but his class never got to perform it.
Nonetheless, the teacher said, “I’ve always had a fond memory of that. This felt like the right time to take that risk.”
Though few of his students played instruments before the project started, Stolen said that working with local musicians Dean Herdman and Brian Atkinson (the latter used to play with Bob Marley) has motivated some of his pupils to to learn a musical instrument.
Stolen challenged his twelve students to each pick a pop or rock song iconic to a decade, ranging from 1950 to today. In their research, the teacher said, his students learned about the political issues at play in the time when their chosen tunes were spinning on the top of the charts.
Thursday’s concert started with the iconic rock riff from Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” and soon after, Elise Atkinson Pryce belted out Aretha Franklin’s “R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”
The makeshift band wove their way through the decades with songs from Queen (“We will rock you”), Madonna (Material world”) and Fleetwood Mac (“Go your own way”), before bringing it home with an encore.
“They owned that one,” said Stolen of the students’ rendition of “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. Evan Hurdman took over the drums from his father and classmates Jeremy Ellis and Brayden Goddard played guitar. The encore was the students’ favourite piece to play, they said, simply “because it’s the best.”
Stolen hopes to put on another revue show in the future with his class, except instead of the history of rock music, he’s looking at featuring songs that fit the “Canadiana” label.