Students will perform music as part of Articipate’s annual Sunfest

More than 50 local middle school and high school students who study music at Articipate’s Rok Skool and play with the Salida Middle School jazz band will perform live at the third annual youth music festival, SunFest, at Riverside Park May 26.
SunFest is held annually near the last day of school and is sponsored by Articipate. Rok Skool founder Trevor “Bones” Davis spoke recently about SunFest. “I organized the event because I wanted kids to have something to do on the last day of school other than what I used to do as a kid,” he laughed.
Finding time to interview Davis can be a challenge around his days jam-packed with giving music lessons. Davis and his wife, Jill, founded nonprofit Articipate in response to their concerns about the defunding of arts in public schools; the community has responded enthusiastically through committed and consistent participation in Articipate programming.
Now in its fifth year, Rok Skool classes provide local youth the opportunity to learn acoustic and electric stringed instruments, percussion and brass outside of a traditional school setting.
In addition to Davis, Fabulous Boogienauts’ trumpet player Kerry Walsh also teaches at the school. “She’s really stepped up the game with our horn players, and it’s really exciting to see kids coming out of their shells,” Davis said.
Alan Mueller, a Rok Skool participant and Salida High School sophomore, performs with the band BAM. Mueller came on board this year as a Rok Skool instructor, teaching bass and guitar. Adding a student as a teacher and mentor is something Davis wanted to do for years, and Mueller was the first student to come out of Rok Skool suited for the role, Davis said. BAM, incorporating Mueller, Brooke Beasley and Mitchell Tanner, typically plays at SunFest, but will instead appear during Bluegrass on the Arkansas the following day at Riverside Park. “They’ve graduated from SunFest; they were offered a spot at the bluegrass festival,” Davis clarified, with a hint of satisfaction for the band’s accomplishment in his voice.
New this year, the school’s junior varsity program has split into two separate groups to practice and perform: Rogue is made up of four boys; and Missmatch is comprised of five girls. “This all happened because one day all the girls came in wearing mismatched socks at rehearsal,” Davis explained.
The crowd that gathers on picnic blankets and lawn chairs at SunFest 2017 will be treated to a wide variety of music genres performed by the students, including covers of pop, funk and rock as well as a few singer-song-
writer originals. Show highlights will include numerous Rok Skool students who are honing new musical talents, such as saxophonist Mia McCormick singing lead on a number of songs, percussionist Carlos Barrientos playing bass and Reilly Stack switching out his guitar for drums. Salida Middle School band teacher André Wilkins will direct the jazz performance. For the finale, the entire Rok Skool will band together on stage for a special rendition of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.”
SunFest is free and will run from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, May 26. The Eddy Out Grille food truck will be on site; beer, wine, whiskey and margaritas will also be for sale.
For more information or to support Articipate’s scholarship fund, visit articipate.net.