Tuesday, August 5, 2014

LET THERE BE ROCK: On Tour With The RockNRoll Chorus (Pt. III)

LET THERE BE ROCK!
On Tour With The 
RockNRoll Chorus (Pt. III)
__________________________

There I was, snatched 
from the jaws of semi-
retirement — back on a 
tour bus, experiencing
the sights, sounds and 
(often disturbing) smells 
of a hard-working rock 
band on the road.
__________________________

"Eww, gross! It smells like feet in here!" The female cast member clearly was directing the honest and (extremely) insightful observation toward her male colleagues as she sashayed through the dressing room just prior to The RockNRoll Chorus taking the stage in Orlando, Florida.

"Uh, how do you know it's us?" her fellow performer replied, in typical teenage, guy-like fashion.

"Because girls smell like angels!" she fired back, adjusting her form-fitting black stage ensemble and tossing her freshly-sprayed coif, while simultaneously executing a fabulously dramatic exit.

THE ROCKNROLL CHORUS: 
Live onstage in Orlando, Florida - 2014
The brainchild of high school music teacher and visionary, Joe Cantaffa, the New Jersey-based RockNRoll Chorus was first launched back in 2007 as a homegrown experimental project in which aspiring teens personally could experience working and performing in the professional entertainment world. Since then, this unique rock-a-capella troupe has grown in industry stature and public popularity. And the group's once local level summer performance schedule now has morphed into mammoth-scale national tours.

Manning his constant post from atop the
tour bus dashboard, "Cuddletaffa" has
been the official RNRC mascot since 2013.
"Being a classically trained singer, 
I never got the chance to let go and 
just perform. But because of The 
RockNRoll Chorus, I'm able to let 
my inner rock star break free."
-Becca Hoffman (RockNRoll Chorus cast member)

I enjoyed a quality Starbucks experience, discussing 
creative writing and storytelling with  RNRC cast 
member Nicole Tamburri while on tour in 2014.
"The RockNRoll chorus has helped 
me a lot with my confidence. I've 
always been shy, but now I feel so 
much more comfortable communicating 
and sharing my feelings with others."
-Ethan Greenberg (RockNRoll Chorus cast member)

A DYNAMIC DUO:
Jules D'Aiello and Natalie Lorenzo
There never was a dull moment. From the hilarious nightly backstage exchanges to the high-energy onstage performances to the countless behind-the-scenes tales (including my own personal blood-spewing hotel room mishap), the 2014 RockNRoll Chorus summer tour was as professional, authentic and action-packed as any I'd ever experienced. In fact, it was the perfect recipe for a top-rated reality TV show — a script that wrote itself — nearly two dozen spirited teenage performers and half a dozen (very) patient industry veterans, all traveling together on a bus — across the country, from city to city, from concert to concert. Let the games begin! 

Becca "Blue" Levin onstage in Orlando
But be sure that despite the undeniably contagious, youthful fun factor, this was a legit, major tour. And it was all business, at all times. Sorta.

Group founder and acting Production Manager, Joe Cantaffa, could be found spending much of  his time (on and off the bus) working the phones — setting up various press ops and addressing last-minute schedule changes. I recall staying up 'til 4AM one night with Joe while he sat in his hotel room with an acoustic guitar — whittling out new original song bits that sounded as if they'd been ripped straight from the Frampton Comes Alive playbook. Until that night, I never fully realized his amazing songwriting talent. Rock on, "Cantaff!"

Courtney Jess Ober onstage in Savannah
For her part, Tour Manager Mary Huhmann was focused, dedicated and 100% hands-on. While on the bus, en route from the hotel to that night's venue, she'd pass out set lists to the cast and discuss various aspects of the evening's concert. Even I was privy to "day sheet" emails apprising cast and crew of the next day's itinerary.

But what I found particularly noteworthy was the connection between the cast and tour vocal coach, Malcolm Couden. With an impeccable career that includes a 12-year stint with the Metropolitan Opera, Malcolm now serves as the Director of Choirs at New Jersey's Bergenfield High School. To sit and watch Malcolm lead the RNRC troupe through pre-show vocal warm-ups truly was inspiring. The level of professionalism and grace that he carries is world-class. Had I been fortunate enough to receive training and guidance from this man when I was in high school, my personal career accomplishments would be considerably more impressive today.

JONATHAN SELTZER:
A bright young man with a bright future
BREAKFAST WITH THE BOYS IN THE BAND:
Renzo, Hudson, Jonathan and Joey
A MIGHTY FRONTLINE:
Ethan Greenberg, Renzo Espinosa and Ben Frost
The tour that began some time ago with the RNRC performing alongside the likes of such rock legends as Lou Gramm, culminated on August 3rd when the group played with Jefferson Airplane at B.B. King's in New York City. A tremendous accomplishment and a tremendous success story, to be sure. And if these young performers remain focused, dedicated and — humble (as I expect they will), any one of them could become the next P!nk or Constantine Maroulis. 

ON TOUR WITH THE ROCKNROLL CHORUS:
Another day. Another city. Another show.
The RockNRoll Chorus cast with special
friends near Tampa, Florida -2014
In contrast to my past experiences (when I'd count down the days until I got to go home), the time that I spent on tour with The RockNRoll Chorus was downright magical. In fact, I could easily have stayed on the road with this tour forever. #letsdoitagain2015

-Christopher Long
(August 2014)
_________________________________

Check out my entire 
RockNRoll Chorus 
tour series:
PART III
_________________________________


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