Garage band dreams get boost in Bountiful
Many of our young and old, sitting alone in the garage or basement, picking the guitar or plinking the piano, would love nothing better than to get out of their home studios and work live with other musicians.
But there always seems to be something that gets in the way. Maybe you are just a kid, and haven't met other like-minded musicians. Maybe you are a parent, and Little League and church obligations take up the time you might use to ferret out others who like to play the style of music you do. A college student certainly doesn't have much time to fool with going out on auditions.
Steve Auerbach and his new nonprofit organization want to help you make those dreams a reality, by providing an opportunity for the meeting of musical minds.
MusicGarage.org is the brainchild of Auerbach, who founded Utah's branch of the School of Rock. He has also worked extensively as a record and concert producer, musician and musical educator. He left School of Rock in 2008, and since then has developed his own musical performance program in conjunction with the Park City and Salt Lake school districts' community education departments.
This new program, which launched in March and started working with its first class of kids in July, has produced concerts, workshops and musical summer camps for area schoolchildren ages 13 to 18. The kids in the program, who performed Monday in Park City, continue with a second show this evening at the Bountiful/Davis Art Center. A third concert is Saturday evening in Salt Lake City.
Tonight's event in Bountiful will showcase a new performance and recording facility in the Bountiful/Davis Art Center, and will help launch a MusicGarage program for Weber and Davis county students and adults.
"The show at Bountiful/Davis Art Center is the final section of a sort of final exam of the kids in Park City and Salt Lake," said Auerbach. "This is part of the curriculum of their session. And the new facility is fantastic. We're pleased to showcase that with this program, and hope to round up students to work out of it for their own session early next year."
Auerbach is best known in the area for managing and teaching at the Utah School of Rock from 2005 to 2008. (He also oversaw and developed schools in Colorado and Texas.) During his tenure at the Utah school, he produced more than 200 School of Rock concerts.
But one of the drawbacks, he says, was having children age out of the program -- they had to leave at 18. Also, the tuition costs were insurmountable for some families. Thus, when the School of Rock downsized staff, eliminating Auerbach's position at the end of last year, Auerbach decided to begin his own not-for-profit recital program.
"When I looked at programs in the community already, they are running at least $200 a month, even up to $350 a month. And most families, especially now, can't afford that. Plus, what I was doing before competed with private teachers in the community, teachers who could not offer the performance options we did.
"So the model that I came up with was to accommodate both that cost factor and actually facilitate the private teachers in the community, by offering a recital service of sorts to their students, at a cost of about $10 an hour."
With this program, Auerbach does not have to hire teachers, or worry that teachers won't refer their students to him. In fact, youth students are required to be taking some kind of private lesson to attend MusicGarage. Thus, he hopes for a sort of symbiotic relationship with the teaching industry.
"What we are looking at is a community-based plug-in service for performance opportunities," he said.
For his Northern Utah outreach, Auerbach is partnering with Jane Joy, director of the Joy Foundation. The foundation works with youth in correctional facilities to enrich their lives through music. Along with providing grants and donations to other nonprofits, the foundation helped build the facilities at the Bountiful/Davis center.
Auerbach and Joy met when he answered an ad to teach the youth in her program recording techniques. Auerbach said they ended up being kindred spirits.
"It all happened quite serendipitously," said Auerbach. "And lo and behold, they have a beautiful facility in the lower level of the arts center -- glass-windowed recording area, a 50-seat stadium-seating-style theater, an isolation room, and a venue with a digital projector, with ProTools and a mixing board. It is a fantastic facility, just waiting for us."
As for the adults, Auerbach's goal is to get amateurs together and performing.
"Look, the audition process is a pain in the neck, and finding musicians with similar technical ability is like fishing," he said. "You cast out and try to find the right people, but it is hard to do. Musicians playing in the basement don't really have a place to play in public. Well, we provide the facility, the venue, and they just need to chip in $10 per hour to keep the lights on and the rent paid. Then each week, we'll have a two-hour window of guided rehearsals, where we can rehearse and I can coach."
In addition to coaching by Auerbach, the enterprise has a future commitment from area professionals. That includes Kate MacLeod leading a Celtic music workshop, John Flanders for folk music, and Michael Lucarelli for classical guitar.
Auerbach's best hope is to have musicians making connections in an initial workshop and taking it into specialized groups from there.
"Then with the next session, maybe two people who hit it off can both sign up for a blues session, or whatever. They don't have to commit forever, but instead can constantly keep meeting new people and trying them out. Hopefully, the program will end up being a band incubator."
Auerbach hopes the Bountiful facility workshops can begin the second week of February. After that, enrollment will be open as students come along, with prorated rates as needed.
Cost will be $200 for a 10-week session, plus a $25 performance fee to cover the "final exam" concert, compensating staff needed for that event for both adult and teen participants. A $100 deposit will be required upon sign-up.
"The idea of these open-house shows this week is to create a desire and get some waiting lists going," said Auerbach. "We are not looking for anything grandiose at first. The way I see it is this -- if I've got four people, I've got a band. And if a new person comes along, we'll work them in.
"It is not a money thing -- it is more like, let's make some music happen here and now."
l WHAT: MusicGarage Holiday Tour Open House
l WHEN: 7 p.m. today
l WHERE: Bountiful/Davis Art Center, 745 S. Main St., Bountiful
l ADMISSION: Free. Information, www.musicgarage.org.
l ADDITIONAL PERFORMANCES: 7 p.m. Saturday, Utah Arts Alliance, 2191 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City. Free.