Rockville High School rocks...literally

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Vernon - posted Tue., Mar. 22, 2011
(Left) Dustin Babcock, guitar-frontman for the Wooly Hat Gang, performs classic songs from Yes and Led Zeppelin. (Right) The crowd went crazy for all seven bands. Photos by Steve Smith.
(Left) Dustin Babcock, guitar-frontman for the Wooly Hat Gang, performs classic songs from Yes and Led Zeppelin. (Right) The crowd went crazy for all seven bands. Photos by Steve Smith.

Rockville High School really did rock on March 18, as hundreds of audience members cheered and screamed for their favorite student bands at the third annual Band Aid event.

Raising funds for scholarships, the event saw seven musical acts perform 15-minute sets.

Nick Nordlund, a student from Glastonbury High School, fronts Overcard. Their high-energy set consisted of a mix of original and cover songs.

“It felt great,” Nordlund said. “The crowd was awesome.”

He added that, although Overcard has played other shows, this was the largest, and they put some extra effort into trying to please the crowd.”

“I’ve been listening to a lot of rock,” Nordlund said, “but I’ve been trying to transition to a more pop kind of sound. In shows, though, you always want to play them loud.”

Rockville power trio, The Wooly Hat Gang (Dustin Babcock, Jacob Ott, and Austin Hills) is steeped in classic rock of the ’60s and ’70s.

“That’s really what we all listen to,” Babcock said. “It’s different from what’s going on now. When I was younger, I remember going to parties at my dad’s friends’ houses, and that’s the music that would be playing. I also have really good memories connected to it, I guess. It’s a fun-sounding kind of music.”

Alex Fowler, frontman of “The Kick,” said this year’s event was the best so far. “It’s a lot better than last year or the year before that,” he said.

The Kick’s guitarist, Peter Melough, said the crowd was more enthusiastic, but some parts of the room were better than others. “The right side is a little iffy,” he joked, “but the left side has been jumping up and down. But [seriously], it’s really awesome — really fun.”

One band in particular came together for the event, and had a certain motive behind it.

Rockville High School’s resource officer, Earl Middleton of the Vernon Police Department, assembled a group of other police musicians, and invited students he knew to front the three songs on their set. Middleton said he chose students he knew had vocal talent, but perhaps needed to be coaxed out of their shell a little.

Sgt. Kerry Reynolds played bass, Officer Scott King played the drums, and Officer Bob Wyse played guitar (as did Middleton)  while RHS students Aminah Muhammad, Jimmy Hey, and Logan LeDec took turns on the mic.

“It’s an adrenalin rush,” said LeDec. “It’s crazy, it’s just fun.” LeDec said this was her first experience singing with a band. She said she chose the song, because it was a good fit for her voice.

“I love singing,” she said.

Muhammad, who performed a hit from Kings of Leon, said she regularly speaks with Middleton, and when he asked her to sing, she said, “okay.”

“I want to be a performer,” she said, “so it was good experience—good practice.”

Hey performed a rap that he created on the spot.

“I’m known throughout the school as someone who is okay at rapping,” he said, adding that Middleton approached him about performing rock music with a rap vocal track.

“He’s a respected officer, so I said ‘why not,’” Hey said. “Turns out, the crowd liked it.”

Middleton said the most difficult part of the band was getting the officers together, who work different shifts, in order to practice. The goal, he said, is to show students that police officers are regular people.

“I have a theory about this job,” he said. “I can’t just be the officer walking the hall, and playing the hardass. It shouldn’t be done that way. They have to see another side of me. It’s difficult with 1,100 kids. I let them see me. I show up to their events, I walk up with my son — just to let them know I’m human. I don’t want them to be afraid of me. I want them to know I’m someone they can trust.”

Middleton added that he hoped the Band Aid event would help change students’ perceptions of the officers.

“They open up,” he said. “They meet these guys, and they’re going to be talking about this all next week. That’s what I want.”

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