Reporting Natalie Nyhus
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Life gets busy when you grow up and some of the hobbies you had in your youth slip by the wayside. But now there’s a group that is encouraging you to take your passion off of the shelf and become the rock star you always wanted to be.
Rock Camp for Dads is giving musicians a chance to play again. It’s a camp for adults that ends with playing an actual live gig.
Don’t let the name fool you; anyone is welcome to play at Rock Camp For Dads — men, women, parents or not. All the program asks is that you have at least a year of experience with your instrument of choice.
One band formed by the program is called Grey Floyd, a Pink Floyd tribute band. They sound like they’ve played together for years, but in fact they met just four weeks before mastering the songs.
“They just kind of threw us all together, and we just made it happen,” said Stephan Haire, who is on keyboards and lead vocals.
One band member is a lawyer, another is a caterer. Some are dads, and all love music. That’s why they signed up for the program and are practicing in a former printing plant in St. Louis Park.
“Rock Camp for Dads is an unbelievable group of people who put together this camp for emerging musicians or re-emerging musicians to get out from the basement and literally come out and practice with a bunch of like-minded individuals,” said Mitch McMillen, a business director who’s been through four camps.
Founder Mike Michel runs four camps per month, each with a different musical theme.
“I called and signed up … I almost chickened out. You always have that stuff going through your head. You know, ‘I’m not good enough. It’s not going to be what I wanted.’ But it turned out beyond expectations. It’s fantastic,” said Haire.
After just four rehearsals, these bands perform at a big venue in the twin cities.
“These are venues that regular rock bands can’t get on,” said McMillen.
Places like Bunkers in Minneapolis, where Grey Floyd recently performed to a completely packed house.
“These guys actually brought their kids. And so we helped them with choreography and we helped them with putting on an actual rock ‘n’ roll performance,” said McMillen.
Performances like that are life changing he said.
“If you see them again and they come in, they have a whole new confidence. They hold their head a little higher,” said McMillen. “Yeah, swagger! They have swagger — that’s exactly what it is.”
It’s real people coming together as a real band and playing real music — giving ordinary people the chance to feel extraordinary.
Three of the Rock Camp for Dads bands will play Bunkers on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis Saturday, June 4 at 4:30 p.m. It’s an all-ages show and admission is $3. There’s also free parking available.