Whitehorse band Speed Control performs with students on July 14, 2017. PHOTO BY DAN FOX
By DAN FOX
Whitehorse band Speed Control – comprised of Ian March and brothers Graeme and Jody Peters – will once more be leading Rawk Camp for Skagway’s youth from July 23-27.
Speed Control has been holding Rawk Camps for almost seven years, Graeme Peters said.
Graeme Peters had been teaching a rock school in Whitehorse when a friend asked if Speed Control would venture north to teach music in a small town north of Yukon’s capital.
“So I rounded up a bunch of instruments and we drove up there, and we had 13 boys in this rock camp,” Graeme Peters said. “It was awesome, we taught them “TNT” and “Back in Black” and in like three days they knew about four or five different songs, and I was like ‘hey, we could take this on the road.’”
It started as a way to make extra revenue while the band was on tour, but Graeme Peters said it became so fun that Speed Control began going all over Canada and the United States to hold Rawk Camps.
“It varies from year to year, usually we do about 10 Rawk Camps per year, usually about six or seven in the summer and then three or four in the winter months,” Graeme Peters said.
The “Rawk Camp” name came around when Graeme Peters was teaching kindergarten.
“We were learning spelling, and one of the kids wrote ‘rawk ‘n’ roll’ like that,” Graeme Peters said. “And I was like, that’s awesome, and I just took it from there.”
Sometimes their workshops only last a couple of days, so Graeme Peters said it’s great the Rawk Camp in Skagway runs a little longer.
Graeme Peters said both he and his younger brother Jody Peters used to teach elementary school, and that it is nice to be able to pick up the teaching role once more.
“As well as getting to know the different kids and their different personalities, and watching them succeed in music and become friends in a band,” Graeme Peters said. “It [brings] a whole bunch of joy to not only them but to me as well, it kind of warms my heart.”
The best payoff is during the Rawk Camp’s concert, where the students “give it all they’ve got” and play for their parents and the community.
This year’s concert will be held at Dedman Stage on July 27 at 4 p.m.
Teaching the riffs of rock ‘n’ roll to youngsters has an interesting set of challenges, Graeme Peters said.
Some students work to overcome stage shyness, and others – especially the smaller children – may struggle to even hold a guitar for long periods of time.
Instilling confidence in the young rock stars is key, however.
“It’s kind of hard that way, but once we get going…a lot of kids will be like, ‘I can’t play that, I’ve never played that before,’” Graeme Peters said. “We’re like, ‘well that’s why we’re going to teach you.’
“Just getting them to believe in themselves is the first hurdle, but as soon they start hearing the music happen, it’s like, ‘right on.’”
In addition to the July 27 Rawk Camp performance, Speed Control will also play the Skagway Brew Company at 7 p.m. on July 26. They will also be opening for the Sam Roberts Band on July 25 in Whitehorse.
“Speed Control, we just like to play music and have a good time, and we believe in education at the same time,” Graeme Peters said.