Rock and Rolling into a new year

Decatur is known for its quirkiness. The 4-square-mile town has a festival for almost everything, ranging from books to beer. Therefore, it’s fitting that Decatur High School also indulges in the unusual.

Jennifer Gonzalez, a teacher at Decatur, has been working with Rock and Roll Revue for a while.

“I think I have been doing it for six or seven years”, Gonzalez said, “But I have no idea when Rock and Roll Revue was started. It’s like this big myth. It’s existed forever.”

When she started, she had some big shoes to fill. She immediately got to work, editing some things and creating a more organized system.

“It’s always been student-run,” Gonzalez said, “but it started with just groups of friends who were in bands.”

Some of the things she has changed are time limit, MCs and new sound equipment.

“The show would last a really long time because there were no time limits on anything,” Gonzalez said, “So it would be like ‘oh my god this band is never going to stop playing.’”

Each year, Gonzalez strives to include as many kinds of people as she can.

“One of the whole things we are trying to do is get a diverse group of people together who don’t know each other,” Gonzalez said. “That’s part of the benefit is so you meet people you wouldn’t normally meet.”

Junior Camille Beitler joined Rock and Roll Revue last year.

“It was one of the best things I did in all of my high school experience,” Beitler said.

After playing guitar for her band last year, she was promoted to bandleader.

“In my situation, after the auditions happened they decided they wanted four bands, so Mrs. Gonzalez called me and was like ‘Hey, do you wanna be a bandleader?’ and I was like ‘Yeah,’” Beitler said.

The audition process is intense and stressful, but there is always a level of joy.

The poster for last year’s bands. After Rock and Roll Revue, they all went to Waffle House to celebrate their success.

“Kids come in and audition for band leaders that were picked the year before,” Gonzalez said. ”Everybody auditions individually and then we select the tier of talent we have, and then we decide how many bands.”

For band leaders, the hardest part of the process is choosing a diverse range of people.

“Picking people is stressful; you’re not supposed to pick friends. It’s a very fast process,” Beitler said.

Gonzalez agrees.

“They try really hard to make for equal bands,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes it makes it hard. When you’re trying to make a band or a group, you’re not necessarily looking for the ‘best.’ It’s more ‘I’m looking for this flavor or this sound.’”

Although the process for this year has just started, Gonzalez is already looking forward to the performance.

“For me, seeing kids in their element is incredible,” Gonzalez said. “That’s their thing, I teach them in a classroom and that’s a box with barely a window and that’s probably not the thing for most kids. But seeing them out on stage, they light up.”

Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons