Music Students Brought Punk Jams and DIY Attitude to Pasadena JamFest 2018

Published : Saturday, May 5, 2018 | 5:29 AM

Eliot Arts Magnet Academy is developing the next generation of rock stars thanks to its popular rock band program, which has created The Fusion.

Fusion has played from New York to the Sunset Strip and will make an appearance at No Future Cafe this weekend for Pasadena JamFest 2018.

The annual Pasadena JamFest is an opportunity for local Little Kids Rock Modern Band students to gain invaluable stage experience and to come together at the end of the school year to perform for and with each other.

“Normally, we go to the Sunset Strip, so it’s nice to have a show closer to home,” said Robert Moya, Art & Modern Band teacher at Eliot.

“JamFest allows our kids and other kids from PUSD to showcase the music they have been working on during the school year and to gain self-esteem and self-confidence by performing in front of an audience off their parents, friends and peers. Every kid should be able to feel like a rock star in school, so they can be a rock star in life,” added Moya.

Moya has led the rock band program for the past four years and says it is one of the more popular programs the school has to offer.

Inspired by his teenage years as self-proclaimed punk rocker playing virtually every instrument in bands that needed one, Moya’s mission is to give kids musical tools to create and craft songs and have fun while doing it.

One of the bands that will be performing this weekend, The Fusion, was flown out last fall to open for Bonnie Raitt and Elvis Costello at Little Kids Rock annual benefit in New York City.

“It’s been nice for me to keep the practice up, to not lose that and just to share my knowledge and experience and it’s been great. When I say they’re current rockers, they’re very confident, they’ve played many non-school shows and events throughout the city,” said Moya, who doesn’t call his students rock stars in the making.

“They’re current rock stars,” he notes.

Studies show that kids who have access to music education do better in school and in life, according to a press release.

Little Kids Rock’s “Modern Band” leads music education into the 21st century and teaches kids the popular musical styles of the past 60 years, from Rock and Hip Hop, to Country and R&B, among other genres, and focuses on improvisation, composition, and getting kids to make music immediately.

The program is part of a burgeoning national movement to put students at the center of their learning experience and keep arts and music programs thriving, and complements existing music electives such as jazz band, choral ensembles, marching band, and orchestra. Kids are given immediate access to the music that inspires them, from Beyonce to Taylor Swift, Blink 182, Drake and AC/DC, helping to keep them inspired in school and better equipped to reach their academic goals.

Since 2008, Little Kids Rock has partnered with Pasadena Unified School District to bring music education to the kids. Currently, more than 1,500 students in over 10 district schools benefit from this free program.

“They’re serious about becoming good at their craft. I have guitarists who came in at the beginning of the school year just knowing a few notes and now they’re playing these shredding guitar solos, that’s really amazing,” explained Moya.

Moya also encourages the beloved do-it-yourself attitude many successful bands are known to exhibit in order to chase their musical dreams no matter the obstacle.

“I love the DIY work ethic and I hope to model that and I think the kids could jump on,” said Moya. “I have a student that always makes a flyer for a show that we have. The old-school cut and paste way with Sharpies.”

The Fusion will play many hits and crowd favorites including “Testify” by Rage Against the Machine, “Starlight” by Muse, and “Creep” by Radiohead.

Hundreds of local students will get to be rock stars for a day at Little Kids Rock’s 2018 Pasadena JamFest where the young rockstars will celebrate another year of inclusive, youth-centered, culturally responsive music education supported by national non-profit Little Kids Rock.

Pasadena JamFest 2018 kicks off Sunday from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at No Future Cafe, 1500 E. Walnut St.

The event is open to the public and no tickets are required.

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