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State College Rock Camp prepares kids for the stage

Mary Rose Valentine, 16, of the band “Blown Fuse” performs during the State College Rock Camp show on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 at Webster’s Bookstore Cafe.
Mary Rose Valentine, 16, of the band “Blown Fuse” performs during the State College Rock Camp show on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 at Webster’s Bookstore Cafe. psheehan@centredaily.com

Coffee cup clanks and low-volume chatter were replaced with hi-hat hits and guitar solos Friday night at Webster’s Bookstore Café.

Two bands from the State College Rock Camp plugged in and turned up for a performance that brought the five-day winter break camp to a close.

Camp owners Matt Price and Jeff Gibble are music teachers at Robert M. Sides Music Store on North Atherton Street, where the camp is hosted. Since Monday, the young musicians have been practicing for more than two hours per day to get ready for the big gig at Webster’s.

Price said the kids range in age from 11-16 and most of them have at least one year of musical experience.

“Usually, the kids have had some type of music lesson before they come to the camp, but they really haven’t played for an audience,” Price said. “One of the goals of the camp is to motivate young musicians to perform and not be intimidated by playing live.”

The first band of the night was “The Cheese Muffins.” The group performed four tunes. “She” by Green Day; “Lucky Man” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer; “Back to the Shack” by Weezer; and “Territorial Markings” by Nirvana. Price said the Nirvana title was altered to be more “age appropriate.”

After a quick set-break the headliner, “Blown Fuse,” took the stage. The five-piece band was fronted by 16-year-old, Mary Rose Valentine, who handled the lead-singing duties while playing violin, keyboards and mandolin throughout the set.

“The camp is great because one of the toughest things about being a young musician is finding a band to play with,” Valentine said.

The group delivered versions of “I Hate Myself For Loving You” by Joan Jett, “Brain Stew” by Green Day, “Heathens” by Twenty One Pilots and “Holiday” by Green Day.

Clark Valentine, Mary Rose’s father, said music is part of their family. He takes bass lessons along with his son Thad and he said the family’s living room is filled with various instruments.

“I hope they can grow up enjoying and making music,” Clark Valentine said. “I wanted them to experience being a part of a band and taking part in the rock camp was a great way to do it.”

After the performance, Price beamed with happiness, the pre-show nervous energy was behind him and he smiled as he said his students “did great.”

“Rock Camp is actually one of the most rewarding things I do in my professional career,” Price said. “It’s just all about the kids and cultivating a community of young musicians.”

Leon Valsechi: 814-231-4631, @leon_valsechi

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