In a world of high unemployment, budget cuts in every sector and school closures, it’s refreshing to see a school program that, not only teaches students valuable life skills and providing them with a sense of accomplishment, but funds itself.
Woodshop Rocks is a program created by an unassuming man by the name of Duane Calkins. Calkins teaches a woodshop class at Buljan Middle School in Roseville, Calif., but this is no ordinary woodshop class. It’s a woodshop class that, dare I say, rocks. You see his students learn how to build their very own guitars from start to finish.
Taking about six months to build, students are able to learn a number of skills, over and above woodworking. Skills they take into their adult life. Along the way, they will not only learn how to craft their guitar out of wood, but learn the electronics within the guitar as well as install the electronics, including soldering the pieces together, but more importantly, how it all comes together.
As you enter Calkins classroom it appears to be a normal everyday woodshop. Upon closer inspection you start to see the beginnings of guitars around the room, with some in their final stages and others in the beginning stage.
Calkins, a quiet soft spoken man, lights up at the opportunity to talk about his program. Entering its 15th year, students have custom built over 4,000 guitars and helped numerous local and national artists.
The program got its start when one of Calkins students came up and asked him if he could build a guitar for his woodshop project. Not knowing the difference between a fret and a humbucker, the two set out together to build the first guitar – The rest, as they say, is history.
People have taken notice. Eighteen schools across the country have mirrored Calkins program. One school was without woodshop classes for nine years, but reopened their woodshop class to start this successful and, more importantly, self-funded program.
According to Calkins, at least 80 percent of his students go on to learn how to play guitar. Many students have gone on to build their own business around the guitar, doing repairs, building in their garage, or starting recording studios. One student went on to build surfboards.
Woodshop Rocks has built guitars for local bands like Road 88, Billy Goats Gruff, Voodoo Fuzzbox, Grenade Jumper, and so many more. Nationally recognized artists include James Hatfield of Metallica, Avenged Seven Fold, Sammy Hagar, Sublime and Bo Bice.
Woodshop Rocks also hands out guitars to the winner of the Bass Master Classic, and yes, the guitar is in the shape of a fish, a bass to be exact. This year the award went to Brent Chapman for winning Toyota Bass master Angler of the Year. In fact, avid fisherman and country music star Brad Paisley was on the receiving end of one of those bass guitars, and according to reports he’s got it prominently displayed at his home.
I was lucky enough to be there on the day that Calkins and his students presented a custom made guitar to local country music singer Madison Hudson. Hudson had not seen the guitar until the big reveal and was ecstatic with how it turned out. Prior to seeing the guitar, the 15-year-old Hudson performed a couple of songs along with Scott Prentice, guitarist with band Road 88.
Past student, Britanny Brazil, who helped design Bo Bice’s guitar also played a part in designing Madison’s.
It was the first time I had heard Hudson sing unplugged and was quite impressed with her powerful vocals. She’s one to keep an eye on as she develops into a country star.
Calkins is still emotional even after 4,000 guitars, as he teared up watching Hudson appreciate her newly made custom guitar.
Calkins has provided thousands of kids with the opportunity to learn life skills by building something they can appreciate and grow from. Music speaks to us all and now there are thousands of adults out there who continue to share the love of music and art all because of Woodshop Rocks.
Show your support for this wonderful program by going over to their website and purchasing one of their customer designed t-shirts or hoodies!
It was a magical night at Toby Keith’s Bar & Grill in Folsom, California as singer, songwriter Rachel Steele and country band Road 88 were joined by the venerable rocker Jeff Keith, lead singer for the rock band Tesla.
Keith joined forces with Steele and her band to celebrate the release of his new CD “Jeff Keith and Country Music Friends.” The Album is the result of a side project Keith’s been working on with friends Kent Goodson and Pat Boone from The George Jones band. Pat Boone is not the really old guy who likes to drink milk, but the not-so-really old guy who likes country music.
When Steele was halfway through her set Keith, donning a cowboy hat and blue jacket, jumped up onstage singing several songs from his new album. As if that wasn’t enough to get everyone on their feet, Tesla’s Troy Luckketta (drums) and Frank Hannon (guitar), who were there in support of Keith, joined him to perform Tesla’s hit “Signs,” followed by a fantastic rendition of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” Only Brian Wheat (bass) and Dave Rude (guitar) were missing from Tesla.
Road 88’s guitarist Billy Haggard and Hannon brought the house down with a killer battle of guitars, with Hannon finishing off the battle playing the guitar using a beer bottle up and down the neck of the guitar.
It gave more than a few people the goosies!
Road 88’s members include Scott Prentice (guitar, vocals), Billy Haggard (guitar), Charlie McGimsey (drums), Todd Prout (bass), Paul Southerland (lap/pedal steel, dobro) and Maggie Keith (backup vocals).
So how did Keith get mixed up in all things country?
Apparently Goodson and Boone met Keith after a Tesla concert in Canada and the next thing you know, the three of them are paddling around in a pontoon boat somewhere in the middle of Nashville, slamming down sasparillas, and singing country songs – go figure.
The album is solidly in the country genre with song titles like “Same Ol’ Cowboy,” Oklahoma Bound,” and my favorite “Oh Hell.” You can read the complete review here.
Keith also wants to assure all of his Tesla fans that he’s not quitting his day job – or would that be his night job? He remains with Tesla and they are currently planning out their 2013 schedule, including the Monster of Rock Cruise in March.
The Placer County 10-35 Foundation’s Thunder in November charity drive took over Thunder Valley Casino’s Pano Hall on Saturday as the Chris Gardner Band, Road 88 and special guest Jeff Keith performed to a charitable crowd.
The Placer County 10-35 Foundation was created in 2011 as a non-profit charity designed to assist the men & women of Placer County law enforcement. The Foundation is a fraternal & benevolent association chartered to assist Placer County peace officers in times of great personal and organizational tragedy.
10-35 is part of law enforcement’s 10-code which means officer needs assistance.
Road 88 opened the show with lead singer Rachel Steele belting out Gretchen Wilson’s “All Jacked Up” and Emmylou Harris’ “One More Bottle of Wine.”
Joining founding members Rachel Steele (vocals) and Scott Prentice (guitar/vocals) were Billy Haggard (guitar), Charlie McGimsey (drums), Todd Prout (bass), Paul Southerland (lap/pedal steel, dobro) and Maggie Keith (backup vocals).
Road 88 was flawless in their delivery as one would expect from a band that was voted #1 in the Best Local Band category for the second year in a row on KCRA’s A-List.
Towards the end of their set Steele brought Tesla’s lead singer Jeff Keith on stage to sing a country song.
Yes pardner you heard right! Jeff Keith comes strutting out looking cuter than a junebug in a jumpsuit, donning, of all things, a cowboy hat. Y’all wouldn’t have believe it.
After some wild applause and a collective gasp from the audience, Keith went on to explain that he was still with Tesla and all was good with the band, but he was pursuing a lifelong dream of singing country music. His new CD Jeff Keith and Country Music Friends, is due out on November 9th, featuring Kent Goodson and Pat Boone from The George Jones band.
With his best country voice, Keith went on to sing George Jones’ “Grand Tour,” as the crowd cheered him on.
As one would have expected, Keith’s chops were flawless and, surprisingly, he sounded like a genuine country star. Who’d have thunk it!
Stay tuned for a complete review of his new album.
In between sets Jim Hudson with the Placer County 10-35 foundation announced the winners of their silent auction for an autographed guitar signed by REO Speedwagon (Katie was the winner), and an autographed guitar signed by Road 88 and Jeff Keith(Diana was the winner). Katie insisted that she get a picture after the show with Chris Gardner and her newly acquired guitar.
The Chris Gardner Band kicked their set off with Alabama’s “Mountain Music” and Luke Bryan’s “Rain is a Good Thing,” as droves of people made their way to the dance floor.
Lead singer Chris Gardner was joined by Dwight Hogan (bass), Aaron Shively (lead guitar), Joey Gonzales (drums), Nikko Vargas (rhythm guitar), and Shawn Holiday (keyboard).
While Road 88 had a solid set, the Chris Gardner Band was able to pack the dance floor as they continued playing “Something Like That” and “Dixieland Delight.”
This was a fun and successful event. Expect to see Thunder in November II next year!
For more information on Placer County 10-35 please visit them at http://www.placer1035foundation.org
Y’all don’t forget to checkout Jeff Keith’s alter ego at Jeff Keith Country!
Big & Rich brought their country music tour, Xtreme Music: The Tour, to Thunder Valley Casino and Resort Friday night. Playing to a full house, the crew was engaging and extremely entertaining. Playing with Big & Rich were, of course, Big Kenny and John Rich, with special guests Gretchen Wilson and Cowboy Troy.
This kicked off a weekend full of concerts out at Thunder Valley Casino with Ramon Ayala playing Saturday, and KC & The Sunshine Band on Sunday.
Opening the concert was local heroes, Road 88 ““ you just gotta love the name. The band was named Best Local Band in Sacramento by KCRA’s A-list. Having been together for only a couple of years they already have hit the charts in Europe with their original song “Not Gonna Happen.” Expect to see some big things from these guys and gals in the near future.
Lead singer Rachel Steele sounded awesome as did the rest of the crew consisting of Scott Prentice (Lead vocals and rhythm guitar), David Phelps (lead vocals and guitar), Sherry Eidhammer (Vocals), Joe Anderson (Drums), and Joe Irwin (Bass).
Talk about working a crowd. People were standing their entire set and people who were just milling around waiting for Big & Rich started filing in to watch and listen as they performed. When they left the stage it was obvious the audience wanted more, as did I.
Just make sure you get out and see them before they skyrocket to fame (if they haven’t already)!
As the stage lit up in a dazzling array of bright lights, color beams, and strobes, Big Kenny and John Rich came out with their latest hit single “Fake I.D.”
The Muzik Mafia, as they like to refer to themselves, share an eight-piece band on a custom stage that includes a fully functional bar as the centerpiece. The music never stopped as Big & Rich, Gretchen, and Cowboy Troy performed hit after hit ““ the convenience of having one band do it all.
I know they were going for that local bar feel, but this reminded me more of a circus with all the different colored lights going off and the rotation of artists throughout the night. John Rich started out in a red shirt and when Cowboy Troy showed up he also had a red shirt, adding to the circus feel. That’s not to say it was a bad thing, it was simply great.
It was a nice touch when, after thanking all the military personnel in the crowd, including past, present and future, they brought a couple of individuals who are currently serving in the military up onstage. Major Sargent Surita A. Rorie and Technical Sargent Eric Grant had Gretchen playing bartender and telling her guests to belly-up to the bar for a shot of their favorite drink as a toast to their dedication and commitment. Not sure, but I think they both went for the Jack Daniels.
Probably the funniest part of the show was when John Rich was telling the audience about his adventures in town. Turns out he took a ride in one of Thunder Valley’s limousines and ended up at our local Wal-Mart. He became fascinated with a jar of Cheese Balls. Funny thing is, I knew exactly what he was talking about since I was there earlier that day too. They are really large cheese balls in a very large clear plastic jar. Wal-Mart has them in stock for Halloween. I didn’t buy them, because god forbid, if I were to bring anything in our house with artificial anything in it. I guess Rich doesn’t have that problem at his house since he bought at least one and brought it with him onstage. He had all the band members sign the jar and then tossed it to one lucky fan.
It was a really fun night out at Thunder Valley Casino and Resort ““ as usual.
Next up for Thunder Valley this weekend is Ramon Ayala!
|Big & Rich Set-list:Fake ID
Here For the Party
Comin to Your City
I Got Your Country Right Here
Angel From Montgomery
Lost in This Moment
8th of November
Work Hard, Play Harder
Chicken With a Train
All Jacked Up
Save a Horse, Ride a CowboyEncore
Ballad of Big and Rich
|Road 88 Set List:Little White Church
Drive (Road 88)
Not Gonna Happen (Road 88)