Three Westlake teens earn spots on rock music tour

Evan Nickels, Jake Cohen and Dan Hyland of Westlake practice for the upcoming School of Rock AllStars Tour. The Cleveland performance is July 8 at Brothers Lounge.

Three Westlake teenagers, all students at Rocky River’s School of Rock, will perform July 3-10 at rock venues throughout the Midwest alongside professional bands and with the franchise’s most talented young musicians hailing from surrounding states. Students landing a spot on School of Rock’s AllStars Tour represent the top tier talent coming out of the national music program.

Westlake teens making the LOVE HOPE STRENGTH AllStars Tour include Westlake High School students Jake Cohen, 17, and Dan Hyland, 16, and recent St. Ignatius graduate Evan Nickels, 18.

Nickels, an AllStars veteran who practices guitar 15 hours a week, says, “I’m looking forward to the shows and seeing all the other musicians again.” Newcomer Hyland added, “I’m looking forward to the experience of playing with people I don’t know.”

Cohen likes the professionalism. “We get there, and we literally have two days of rehearsal. There is instantaneous camaraderie. We’re like a big family of 25 kids. It’s easy to connect and build a rapport with the other people on the tour. Everyone has worked so hard for this opportunity – and they are so stoked for it.”

Cleveland School of Rock Music Director Tommy Rich agrees. “When the students are here, they don’t get to play with kids on that level. It’s really a thrill to go to other locations to play with kids who are like you. It’s a very small population of teenagers who are that deep into rock 'n' roll,” said Rich.

Cleveland students comprise about 20 percent of musicians selected for the 2012 Midwest Tour. Kids that made the cut endured a difficult audition process that began last February with live auditions in front of local celebrity musicians. Tour hopefuls then submitted audition tapes to Chicago’s corporate headquarters and waited two months for results.

The 2012 AllStars Tour kicks off with two days of intensive rehearsals at Chicago School of Rock. Students also prep on their own prior to the 10-day bus tour which stops at the Ribfest in Naperville, Ill., on July 3; Summerfest in Milwaukee, Wis., July 4-6; Brothers Lounge in Cleveland on July 8; and concludes at Warped Tour – one of the biggest live music festivals in the world which will also feature the Beach Boys and Iron Maiden – in Noblesville, Ind., on July 10.

The AllStars Tour will include music selections from The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, King Crimson, Carole King, Beastie Boys, the Pretenders and Cleveland’s the Dead Boys.

Rocky River School of Rock General Manager Louie Novotny explains, “The benefit of participating in the AllStars Tour is that it really shows students what the life of a professional musician is like. They’re asked to do a job at a high level in a short amount of time – it gives students a lot of life skills on how to be responsible away from home.”

To purchase tickets for the July 8 AllStars performance at Brothers Lounge in Cleveland, call 440-333-7625. Tickets are $10.

Anne Kerka

Anne Kerka

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Volume 4, Issue 13, Posted 9:56 AM, 06.26.2012