Jillian Weiss has arrived. Not just to the community, but to a few conclusions as well.
After getting a business degree and working in sales for a time, she realized she wanted something else. And so she came here.
“My parents live here," she said. "I was looking for a change of pace and lifestyle, to refocus.”
The details weren’t totally clear but, “I knew I wanted to work with kids and music was my passion," she said.
Having grown up around the music scene, and being a musician and performer in her own right, she decided to follow her passion by addressing a need in our youths’ lives for music. Thus began Rock 'n Roll Congress.
“My substitute teaching helped me realize the need for music in the community. The kids weren’t getting enough music outside of school and enough unstructured fun music. Basically the Rock 'n Roll Congress is my project, and it takes music in order to reach and inspire our kids and community.
"My vision for the community is a lot bigger than that. I want it to span out into local sustainable food, gardening, overall health. Healthy individual, healthy planet, healthy community. This is where we start right here, having fun playing music.”
There were eight high school students attending Tuesday’s after school jam session February 26.
One young man had come up from the middle school just to check things out. Students Brook Calvert, Nanea Carroll, Bonnie Ellis, Patrick Grove, Matt Miller, Reuben Patterson, Ian Turner and Ben Vasion set up. Weiss and Patrick Carrico, a member of staff and a volunteer, joined in as the music began.
“This is our fourth meeting. We are all learning together, which is really cool. Patrick can play anything, it is so much fun to watch him play with the kids,” said Weiss.
After setting up, the usual cacophony of instruments and voices tuning filled the room until they turned their attention to their first song, the Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop.
Matt Miller tried to move the group into an eighties classic by the Scorpions, Rock You Like a Hurricane, but alas, no one knew the words. They moved on to a Nirvana tune and then broke up to work on things separately and prepare for the Open Mic the following evening.
“We finally have something like this at school. It’s really awesome that Jillian is doing this,” said student and singer, Nanea Carroll.
“We have the jam sessions once a week every Tuesday," Weiss said. "We are starting to do a choir on Thursdays, like a hip hop choir. I’ll be visiting the middle school on Wednesdays. That just started, not sure what we’ll be doing yet. I’ll be doing individual lessons on Monday. I’m a busy lady.”
Carrico is grateful to Darla Mead for the use of the band room. Weiss wants people to know, “This is all volunteer. We need more instruments. A lot of these are borrowed from the Oasis Tavern…and my friends. I load up this huge van and bring them all here Tuesday.”
Weiss has also found an outlet for her personal passions.
“I’ve always wanted to have a band," she said. "I never found people I could play with. There is an abundance of people here. I have no idea how that worked out. This is a business degree and sales jobs and wishing I could do my music. It’s all come together, business and music. Now I get to pass it on to these guys and help them reach their dreams. We have an open mic at the Pioneer Church. (see article in this issue). That is our first event. They are really excited about playing there. It’s going to be awesome.”
Awesome might be a bit of an understatement.
Wahkiakum High School students and staff have come together in the Rock'n Roll Congress to provide encouragement of young musicians. Jamming at a session last week were, l-r, Brook Calvert, Ben Vasion, Matt Miller, Patrick Grove, organizer Jillian Weiss, Parker Patching and Bonnie Ellis.