Our music classes had the good fortune to invite legendary producer T-Bone Burnett to the Fort Worth ISD Contemporary Academy of Music (FWISD CAM) at Southwest H.S. during the Lone Star International Film Festival. Our Students played jazz, classical, and folk blues, and we asked questions during Burnett's interview. He shared a scoop from his discussions 6 months ago with Steve Jobs about a matrix-like revolution of music experience coming soon with internet 2.0-- in-the-cloud tele-presence and artist holographs. Truly amazing (film fest panels soon to be uploaded by SHS media tech vid crew). T-Bone grew up in Fort Worth and said he would like to visit our FWISD CAM studio (looking forward to new studio construction by end of year). He'll get to hear sophomore drummer Joshua Foster, just awarded 1st chair in state! and junior Torrean Johnson, just awarded 6th in state for tenor sax (regional tapes proudly recorded in our humble Southwest "submarine" studio). They are just now forming a new trio for our CAM class. Look forward to exciting new original compositions and recordings. They played with junior rapper Dylan Stovall as "D$" at the film fest red carpet opening along with "The Orchestrators" rock power trio. Guitarist/Vocalist Jack Bellomy and guitarist Luis Moreno performed at the film fest yesterday and today-- a sophomore and freshman duo which I believe have the potential to carry the Fort Worth folk blues torch first carried by T-Bone when he backed Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Review. Yes, a tall order, but the equally vertically gifted new ramblin' Jack managed to sing an impromptu news of the day from a USA Today paper spread out on the floor! In the lush reverb of the downtown library atrium, senior Marissa Palacios, Jack, and freshman Bessie Darnell sounded heavenly on Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah (thanks to choir teacher Kelly Winstead). The future of Fort Worth ISD music looks and sounds as colorful as a super nova.
p.s. Here's link to T-Bone's film fest panel last year, a FW music history lesson and more: http://vimeo.com/18028142 , part 1 of 4.
3 Rowdy Raider bands performed live, interviewed, and debuted a new recording as featured artists on KTCU FM88.7 "The Good Show". Podcast of show & photo link coming soon.
Rockin' the band hall 3/11/2010 2:08:07 PM By Jordan Weber
Besides allowing Mr. Petrilli a way to “share the joy” of rock music with his students, the class also gives students an opportunity to hone their musical skills and develop their musical ability. Junior Brad Slayter, who was commissioned by Media Tech director Tim Hood to help produce some tracks, thinks the class will provide him with much needed experience in the music production industry.
“I would like to be a music producer,” he says. “This is a good start.”
Besides being an important break for some students, many students just enjoy the class itself.
“It gives me something to look forward to,” says Senior Devean Blake, who sings and plays guitar and drums. “Music is my release, definitely.”
Mr. Petrilli hopes for more students to join so that the program can grow, but he’s only looking for students with some level of experience.
“I’m not looking for students who don’t know how to play. This isn’t guitar lessons,” he says. “I want students who are at the level to form ensembles. I need students with a basic command of their instruments.”
Mr. Petrilli believes that this group is only the beginning of the program.
“There’s some talent that still hasn’t turned up yet,” he says.
As the band breaks away from “Superstition” with a twinkling flourish of cymbals, several other students begin to assemble to watch the jam session. They seem excited, with their cell phones and cameras being pulled from their purses and pockets and held in the air. One student seems particularly interested.
“Can you play that again so I can record that on my phone?” she asks.
And the music starts again slowly, with the systematic drum beat and the resonant guitar. The first notes of the iconic Beatles tune, “Come Together,” sound throughout the band hall, bouncing off the walls and shaking the abandoned marimbas and gongs that lay at the other end of the room. And indeed, the group comes together as their instruments and individual talents meld as one.
Kasey Norris contributed to this report.
Rockin' the band hall 3/11/2010 2:08:07 PM By Jordan Weber
As 7th period begins, there is chaos in a former storage closet hidden among the science labs along the central 400 hall. Students slip in and out of the recording studios and awkward corridors and dart into the hallway, dragging amps, guitars and microphone stands behind them. And in the corner of the blank room, math teacher Marco Petrilli leans over a computer, fiddling with his playlist with the focus of a teacher in charge of 10 manic high school students.
“We’re multitasking, we’re recording, we’re writing,” he says. And then, as if he suddenly realized the genius of the piece that he’s playing (which he confides he was working on until 4 in the morning the previous night), he says, “I love this part right here.”
Mr. Petrilli is in the midst of teaching his new class, a music course that combines elements of production, songwriting and composition with an electric-rock band sound, which he confesses is his brainchild. He got the idea at the end of last year, when the outbreak of swine flu swept the district, and an optional-attendance day was particularly slow.
“At the end of math class, I had students come up and play. I had set up drums and a guitar in my room,” he says. “And my jaw dropped at the talent. It was a spontaneous combustion of talent.”
With the inspiration of his student’s raw, and untapped, talent, Mr. Petrilli approached the school about the class, and began to recruit students. And many students said they were more than ready to play.
“I really enjoy music but I couldn’t be in the (marching) band because I don’t play those kinds of instruments,” says Senior Ava Moreno, who sings, plays keyboard and writes for the band. Ava finds Mr. Petrilli’s class an alternative for those who can’t play trumpet or flute, but still want to contribute to Southwest’s music scene.
But at the moment, the music scene consists of simple guitar strumming and the occasional crash of drums cymbals. Since leaving the classroom with their instruments and equipment in tow, the students have settled in their usual corner in the band hall. Standing about, leaning on walls and slackly holding their long-necked guitars and drumsticks, the students look hardly energized to “rock-out.” But Mr. Petrilli, in his usual frenzied optimism, can hear music in the random notes.
“Things are going to get a little bit funkadelic,” he says.
With Mr. Petrilli’s sound encouragement, the group begins to pull together. Senior Kevin Marchabeyoglu methodically beats on the orange drum set with balancing rhythm. Senior Robert Baker begins to strike the keyboard. Reminiscent of both The Beatles and Sly and the Family Stone, they work together in a funk-inspired melody. Suddenly Senior Patrick Hunter breaks into a soulful, deep-throated guitar chord, and the familiarity of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” is heard. Smiles from both students and Mr. Petrilli indicate the joy in finding this sound.
And Mr. Petrilli knows music. He is a member of the alternative duo, artbreak, along with his college friend and roommate, renowned book-jacket designer Chip Kidd. Mr. Petrilli and Mr. Kidd formed the band in New York, and even though Mr. Petrilli now lives here, he and Kidd continue to work and play the occasional show in New York. The band, which sounds like a throwback to an early 90s college-radio R.E.M sound complete with extensive lyrics and mellow, intelligent vocals, has quite a different sound than his current project with his students, but Mr. Petrilli enjoys witnessing the young talent he has under his charge.
“I see so much potential. It’s really special and the potential is tremendous,” Mr. Petrilli says. “It’s a compelling situation.”