It’s Friday night at Evolution Rock School, off Baltimore Street in Hagerstown, which means only one thing — it’s time to rock.
With a foot-stompin’ drumline keeping tempo, lead singer Josh Geblein bangs his head and pumps his fist in the air. Evolution Rock House Band is wailing on “Rockin’ in the Free World.”
Band members are practicing for their upcoming show, the Summer Concert Cookout Bash on Saturday, Aug. 18, at Doub’s Woods Park’s Arts Pavilion, in Hagerstown’s South End. The house band will be one of eight Evolution Rock School bands scheduled to perform from noon to 3 p.m.
Cindie Figgatt, who along with husband Chris owns Evolution Rock School, said the event is a celebration of the school’s one-year anniversary.
Figgatt said the Evolution Rock School is a performance-based music school, accepting students ages 5 to adult. Instruction is provided in guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, vocals in a range of music genres.
“Students can take anything from lessons all the way to a performance package, which would include a private lesson and they get to actually rehearse and perform with the band,” she said.
Lessons are held for 30 minutes weekly with a private instructor and rehearsals are once a week per band. At the end of each season, which are three months in length, students have the chance to perform onstage in front of friends, family and other guests.
Being a rock star-in-training isn’t cheap, so Figgatt said proceeds from the food vendors at the park — which will feature hamburgers, Italian sausages and hotdogs — “will go toward much-needed equipment for the school to help the students continue their learning.”
The concert itself is free and open to the public.
Figgatt said the students perform at a high caliber.
“These kids are very dedicated, they love music — you see it when they perform,” she said. “Music is dwindling in our schools and this is a great avenue for them to express themselves artistically. You would be shocked by these kids and how talented they are.”
Josh, 14, of Hagerstown, will be a freshman this fall at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in downtown Hagerstown. He said he joined because he’s always been a good singer, but neither he nor his parents, Susy and Dan, knew what the next step could be for him.
After a visit to the school, Josh said he was hooked. This is his third season.
Josh said he likes being up onstage.
“It’s kind of an adrenaline rush,” he said. “I used to be nervous, but now I’m not anymore since I’ve been doing it for so long. It’s really fun because you’re with all your band members and you feel comfortable. Once you get on stage you’re a little bit nervous, but once you start singing and letting it all out, it just totally goes away.”
Through his lessons at the school, Josh said the best piece of advice has been “always stick with your voice; don’t try to match someone else’s. Be you, and stick with the voice that you have.”
Singing backup vocals on the Neil Young song was Rowan Lewis, 14, of Greencastle, Pa.
Rowan, who heads to classes this fall at Greencastle-Antrim High School, said she’s been singing most of her life, and has been playing keyboard and piano since she was about 5 years old.
After moving to Greencastle, Rowan said she heard about the school and asked her parents, Keri and Rick, if she could join the school.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity to be in a band, play with other kids,” she said. “I thought it would be really fun and that turned out to be true.”
Stage presence comes naturally to Rowan, especially when she’s singing.
“I think it’s fun being up there being able to sing for everyone who are coming to see our band,” she said. “I think it’s really fun for people to hear what I sound like.”
Rowan said they’ve been practicing once a week for nearly two months in preparation for the Summer Concert Cookout Bash.
“I think the concerts are the most important part for all the kids,” she said. “I think they really enjoy playing for their parents, families and friends.”
If you go ...
WHAT: Summer Concert Cookout Bash
WHEN: noon to 3 p.m.
WHERE: Doub’s Woods Park’s Arts Pavilion, 1231 Maryland Ave., Hagerstown
COST: Free admission; charges for food.
CONTACT: Call 301-733-1850 or go to www.evolutionrockschool.com.
MORE: Eight Evolution Rock School student bands will perform to raise money for equipment.