ZACC Rock Camp: Preparing the Next Generation for Sonic Expression

Throughout the year at the Top Hat, groups of young rockers get the chance to showcase their skills they’ve learned while attending one of the ZACC Rock Camps.

Zootown Arts Community Center, or ZACC for short, is a non profit arts organization here in Missoula. As part of their mission to deliver arts education to all ages, they host a multitude of camps, one being the Rock Camp. Camps during the summer are 1 week long running 8 hours while camps during the school year run about 1 hour per day for 6 weeks. Either way, the goal is the same.

Campers, usually between the ages of 7 and 13,  are given a variety of instruments to try. ZACC instructors such as Lukas Phelan help campers decide which one best fits them. Once campers find the right one, they begin to receive instrument instruction, and form a band with other campers who together write an original song. Eventually, the band gets their chance to shine with a bookending performance at the Top Hat on Family Friendly Friday.

This past Friday, on May 11th, four different bands took the stage at the Top Hat.

First up was Masquerade, who’s members were appropriately dawning sparkling masks, which they eventually took off to reveal their true identities. The band consisted of Ella (bass/vocals), Allyssa (guitar/vocals) and P.J. (drums), who also happened to be celebrating his birthday. They played a punk infused song titled “Dream Crusher,” followed by “Lego,” which was about… well, Legos of course! The band also had their own merchandise: a CD and sticker combo available for $5.

Next up was a solo performance from Phoenix Marshall, who’s been in ZACC Rock Camps for several years. It was easy to tell. The young lady was a skillful singer, songwriter, and guitar player.

The third band, Syren, was an all boy trio with plenty of attitude. Case, Jengo, and Felix performed a funky instrumental encouraging the audience to dance and also played a hard edged, bitter tinged “love” song.

The last band to perform was Carpool, a talented teen rock band out of Missoula’s Hellgate Highschool. Lead vocalist and guitarist Erin Szalda-Petree is actually one of the ZACC Camp instructors, and understandably so. She and her bandmates¬†Jack Catmull (bass) Ally Fradkin (sax/keys) and Llwyn Clark-Gaynor (drums) are more than capable musicians. They have a bright future ahead of them, so don’t be surprised if you see them back at the Top Hat for another performance.

The next ZACC Rock Camp performance will take place at the Top Hat on June 15th, featuring all new bands with a fresh catalog of original songs.

To view our upcoming dinner shows, including Jazz Night, Acoustic Avenue, and Family Friendly Friday, you can visit our Tunes & Taste page here.