River City Rock Camp aims to prepare kids and teens for musicianship, no matter their skill level. This Saturday, July 16, all are invited to watch five groups of campers perform a free concert at The Granada.
Leading up to the show, campers practice about four times a month at SeedCo Studios in East Lawrence. They learn to plug in their amps, strum their guitars, and connect with others in a way that taking private lessons can’t always teach.
This year, camp director Adrian Rees approached former camper and intern Carlyn Hartsock to get involved in the gig once again. Hartsock was a camper at River City Rock Camp for several years. After that, she acted as an intern and took over the management of the camp’s social media.
Interns are a vital part of the groups. They typically fill in where they’re needed, such as for a bassist, singer, or even on the tambourine.
“(The interns are) usually pretty experienced and have been through the camp a couple times,” Hartsock said.
This summer, with 13 years of River City Rock Camp experience, Hartsock has stepped into a coaching role.
“A coach is typically somebody who’s pretty involved in the music scene, whether that’s in Lawrence or Kansas City, or in my case, someone who’s been around the camp for a long time,” Hartsock said.
Coaches should know all the drum, bass, and guitar parts for all the songs performed in order to ease the students in the learning process.
“Really, a coach is there to guide them and bring it all together,” Hartsock said.
Hartsock said the goal is to mold students to be musicians. Over the years, multiple former students have created bands from the camp. That includes Hartsock herself — she’s is in a local cover band, Kaksi, with her brother, another River City Rock Camp alum, according to her website bio.
Camper Nolan Rossini, 11, said his favorite part of being the group’s drummer is the count-off at the beginning of songs. Rossini likes playing Neil Young and The White Stripes covers.
“I like being on stage and throwing my sticks at the crowd,” Rossini said.
Emi Stone, who plays a blue guitar, added that another perk of camp is meeting new people.
Hartsock enjoys the mentorship aspect of the camp and is excited to see her campers perform on a large-scale stage.
“It’s a very welcoming environment,” Hartsock said. “We like to encourage students and empower them to be their best selves.”
The show is free to attend, and it starts at 5 p.m. Saturday at The Granada. You can check out the band lineups at this link.
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Annie Soener (she/her), a contributor to The Lawrence Times, graduated from the University of Kansas in 2020 with a degree in communications and a journalism minor. She likes writing and hanging out with her cat, Bill.
Read more of her work for the Times here.