For the last seven years Justin Lawson has been working with youth helping them fine-tune their musical abilities, and again this year he will present Making the Band in a 13 hour rock n’ roll performance Saturday at Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que.
“Making the Band — Sedalia, Mo. 2014 Rock n’ Roll Recital Show” has been in the making since January when Lawson began teaching students how to form a band. This will be the first time the bands have played at Dickie Doo. In previous years they have played at the Liberty Center Association for the Arts and American Legion Post 642, Lawson said.
“The program usually starts in January and it runs through July,” he said. “I teach kids how to play together, write songs, make CDs. I’ve got four groups this year and in three of the groups all the kids are 11 years or younger, Monkey Business, Limit 55 and DNKL.”
In another group Lawson has mentored, Gods among Titans, ages range from 13 to 18.
“They don’t have to take private lessons to be in the program,” Lawson said. “As long as they sing or play any kind of instrument.”
Lawson said there is a monthly fee for putting together each band. He teaches in the old Walz Country Cafe building on north U.S. Highway 65 and this year he has worked with 15 area youths in the program.
“I’ve had the building for four years now,” he said. “I have it set up for band practice as well as recording booths. I had them play for Herofest three or four weeks ago to just kind of warm them up. They practice strictly for this event (Making the Band).”
Playing styles vary from group to group, often surprising Lawson.
“There are pieces they’ve written along with at least one cover,” he said. “But there is at least three or four original songs per band. (The bands) all turned out really well this year, and I’m always really surprised at what styles they pick or how it comes out by the time the process is done. And it’s the thing that the kids step up and do — what they normally wouldn’t do. They get out of their comfort zone. There’s a second grader singing in (DNKL). I’m really surprised at how they all put it together and how they get it done — it’s pretty cool.”
Students this year also include girls in the band.
“It’s very interesting in (Monkey Business), there’s a boy and a girl and in Limit 55 it’s all boys,” he said. “And DNKL they are all girls except the drummer who’s a boy. And then Gods among Titans they are all boys except for the drummer who’s a girl. I think it’s great.”
Through the years Lawson has noticed younger children becoming involved with the program and with music in general.
“In the first five years it was mostly 14 to 18-year-olds,” he said. “And in teaching private lessons I have kids as young as 3 years old that start, and years ago it wouldn’t have been.”
Lawson gives private lessons at Wilken Music Co., in downtown Sedalia, where he teaches 13 different instruments.
“Music is my life,” he said. “I don’t think I could do anything else.”
Last year Making the Band performed a Christmas show at the American Legion with proceeds raised from the show going to help families in need for the holiday.
“We adopted 10 families last year for Christmas and gave them dinner and clothes and toys,” Lawson said. “That way the kids could see what it’s like to give back to the community. We had a silent auction and we had bands … I’m going to try to do that every year.”
Although the groups Lawson has worked with this year are all rock, he said there will be a total of 12 different bands playing music from folk to heavy metal.
“Any kind of music you can think of,” he said. “We even have a band (I4Got) that used to live in Windsor, but they live in Texas now and they’re doing a bus tour. And actually three of them are kids in that group too. And some of the other groups have kids that I’ve taught over the years (Ocean’s Atlas).”
Many of the 12 bands playing Saturday are from the Sedalia area, but also Malta Bend and Marshall.
“It starts at noon and goes until one in the morning,” Lawson said. “So there’s 13 hours of music. They’ll all have an hour set.”
As for the groups he’s worked with, Lawson said the music needs to be for a general audience.
“As long as it’s family friendly, I let them have their freedom to do what they want,” Lawson said. “They don’t have any stipulations as long as they stay within the family friendly boundaries. It’s a way for them to express themselves and have a good time.”
Some of the adult groups playing at the event this year include Prometheus-Fire God, Sons of the Fallen and Danger Cardigan, an indie-rock group.
Lawson, who has been teaching music for 15 years, will play in two of the bands — Livery Other Friday and Unseen Hatred.
The event will also feature an instrument raffle for a guitar, a keyboard and a junior drum set. Raffle tickets cost $1 per ticket or six tickets for $5. Participants do not have to be present to win. Lawson said all money raised from the raffle will go toward Making the Band.
Students in the Making the Band program will also have CDs for sale at the event, costing $3 for a two-song demo. The students will get to keep the money from the sale, Lawson said.
Through the years Lawson said he has seen the community become more involved with the program.
“Which is great,” he added. “Now they don’t care what kind of music it is, where as before if it was this ‘kind’ of music than they wanted to stay away from it. Now they don’t care because it’s supporting the community, and supporting the kids, and supporting local music as well.”
Sponsors for the event include Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que, Brink Entertainment, Wilson, Toellner and Associates LLC, Wilkin Music Co., Stone Laser Imaging, Ohio Hair Company, 92.5 Bob FM, Airesistible Inflatable Rentals, and Think and Learn Big.
“It’s a good time, and on average there’s about 300 people that come through,” Lawson added.
“Making the Band — Sedalia, Mo. 2014 Rock n’ Roll Recital Show” is free and will run from noon to 1 a.m. Saturday, July 19 at Dickie Doo Bar-B-Que, 4860 S. Limit Ave. For more information call Lawson at 221-0959 or visit facebook.com/makingbandmo.