School of Rock presents artist showcase at Pearl Street Warehouse this weekend

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews School of Rock (Part 1)

The School of Rock is bringing talented rising musicians to perform at The Wharf.

Get ready for an artist showcase at Pearl Street Warehouse this Saturday and Sunday.

“School of Rock is more like a team sport than an individual activity, so we practice and put on a big weekend of concerts,” DC/Cleveland Park Owner Chris Cook told WTOP. “This weekend, the kids are going to be putting on Queen and Pink Floyd. … We also have a very robust adult program. They’ll be performing 2000s rock, John Mellencamp & Friends.”

Cook’s location is one of five in the immediate D.C. region, including Silver Spring, Maryland, and Vienna, Ashburn and Alexandria, Virginia, among 300 global sites.

The title, of course, comes from Richard Linklater’s film “School of Rock” (2003) starring Jack Black, but that’s not why Cook got involved. His story is much more personal.

“I have a son who had a kidney transplant about nine years ago,” Cook said. “I played sports, my ex-wife played sports, her father worked for the NFL. … We have a very sports-centric family, but we have a child who can’t play team sports unfortunately. We found School of Rock as a team-building activity for him and it literally changed our child’s life.”

How do aspiring musicians sign up to begin with?

Go onto our website and you can find the local location,” Cook said. “On the front of the website, it says to ask for a free trial lesson. When you fill that information out, it sends it to me, I reach out and get in touch … then we set up a half-hour free lesson for the student to come down, check the place out … and see if it’s something they want to participate in.”

If they think it’s a good fit, they can sign up for regular lessons and group band practices.

“We started in the beginning of October,” Cook said. “Every week they have a 45-minute private lesson teaching them the songs, so when they come to band practice, they’re prepared. … Many of our students buy their own instruments … but we have many guitars, numerous drum sets, plenty of keyboards if you don’t have the instruments at home.”

Which music genres will they learn to play?

“We have a new season starting in February,” Cook said. “The seasons we’re going to be doing are Women in Rock, Southern Rock, The Rolling Stones — that’s all for high-school age kids — then for adults, we’re doing Seven Deadly Sins and Country Rocks.”

It all builds to the live concerts, including this weekend at Pearl Street Warehouse.

“It’s fun,” Cook said. “A lot of us grew up playing air guitar in our basement or singing into a pen, wanting to be rock stars and not getting to fulfill this fantasy. We’re playing at venues you can’t buy yourself way into. … The fun is getting out there on stage with the lights on, the mics turned up and a crowd cheering you on. That’s what we provide.”

It’s equally fun for audiences sitting in the crowd and rooting them on.

“We’ve all done things in our lives where we were just beginning and it’s really scary,” Cook said. “Having a group of people out in front of you cheering you on, supporting you, even when you make a mistake, it’s really important. … You’ll see the kids sticking around for the grown-up shows and the grown-ups sticking around for the kid shows.”

Tickets cost $10 per show.

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews School of Rock (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation here.

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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