Justin Lawson believes you’re never too young to rock, and that philosophy has kept “Making the Band” going for six years. July 20’s annual show at the American Legion — the culmination of several months of band classes — will feature 11 young bands strutting their stuff.
Lawson liked the 2003 Jack Black movie “School of Rock” — he remembers thinking “That song’s not that easy to play” — but it wasn’t the inspiration for “Making the Band” when he started it in 2008. A longtime one-on-one music teacher, he saw a niche that needed to be filled in Sedalia: Full band lessons.
“There weren’t many opportunities for kids to do this and get started early,” Lawson said on Saturday after band practice at his studio in the old Walz Country Cookin’ restaurant north of Sedalia. “So I decided to get this going, to get them started. And who knows where they’ll be a few years from now?”
Lawson saw in his individual lessons that students “had the potential to (be in a band), but didn’t know how. So I give them a push in that direction.”
Lawson starts them even younger than Black’s “School of Rock” character did. The drummer of 10 & Under, Jacob Plummer, is 7, while his three bandmates are 10. All four members of Rock, Paper, Scissors are 9.
“Justin’s awesome,” said Kelli Schilb, the mother of Rock, Paper, Scissors bass player Brigette Schilb. “These kids love music and they want to play, and I think it’s great that they’re starting so young. (Brigette) has picked it up really fast, and I attribute that to Justin working with her so well.”
Brigette picked up her brother’s old bass for the first time in May, and on July 20, she’ll take the stage for the first time.
It’ll also be the first show for 10 & Under, which had a hard time finding a lead singer for a while. Now the four band members trade off singing, which Lawson said is “absolutely” the scariest thing for musicians, regardless of their age.
“But once they started to sing, they loved it and couldn’t wait for their turn,” Lawson said. “They’re all kind of shy, but that brings them out of their shell a little bit and they have fun with it. Now they’re ready to do it every time.”
In the band class, Lawson also requires each student to write a song. Although the younger bands will tend toward covers on July 20, some originals will be peppered in.
Colby Townlain, 10 & Under’s bass player, wrote “Thunder in the Sky.”
“One day I was bored, so I decided to write a song,” Colby said. “The song’s about how you’re mad at something, and then something you love makes you stop and not be mad anymore.”
Lawson also teaches the non-music aspect of music. At the Legion show, the young musicians will sign autographs and sell CDs that were recorded in Lawson’s studio.
Tragedy in Ruins lead guitarist Geoffrey Hammond, 20, has been in six different bands in the six years of “Making the Band,” and he especially appreciates the off-stage aspect of the event.
“It’s grown from a concert of 50 people to hundreds of people coming through the door,” Hammond said. “Our name gets spread; there are lots of sponsors. The first year, we didn’t do recordings or radio interviews; it was just T-shirts and the show. Now, afterward, (Lawson is) getting you other places to play around Sedalia.”
Hammond said the autographs and CD hawking “definitely gets you a feel for if you were to make it big.”
Maybe the most fun part of “Making the Band” is naming the band. Destiny Sawyer, Nate Grissom and Aiden Hopkins were throwing around ideas one day when their parents came up with Rock, Paper, Scissors. But since they added Brigette, they are thinking of modifying the name.
Although Kelli Schilb said the name is definitely Rock, Paper, Scissors, the kids aren’t so sure.
“For our entry, we’re probably going to upgrade the name to Rock, Paper, Scissors, Shoot,” Aiden said. “I would be the rock.”
“He’s Rock, I’m Paper, and Nate would be Scissors,” Destiny said.
“And Brigette is Shoot,” Aiden said. “But I think Brigette wants to be Lizard.”
Nate said he is ready with a name if the band adds a fifth member: “Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.”
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “Making the Band”
WHEN: Noon to 11 p.m. July 20
WHERE: American Legion Post 642, 2016 W. Main St., Sedalia
WEBSITE: “MakingBandMo” on Facebook
Schedule of bands:
Noon — Farren Bankovich
1 p.m. — Golgotha
2 p.m. — Return to Sender
3 p.m. — Tragedy in Ruins
4 p.m. — Four Corners
5 p.m. — 10 & Under
6 p.m. — Rock, Paper, Scissors
7 p.m. — Gate 3
8 p.m. — Vandal? Vandal!
9 p.m. — Prometheus Fire-God
10 p.m. — Unseen Hatred