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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Concert gives guitar students unique opportunity

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Amnesia, featuring Anthony Alex, Lucas Eckrich, Reggie Alex and Mike Wood, will play as part of a concert by Johnny Little's guitar students at the Watson Forum at 2 p.m. Sunday. Other performers include Justin Hartman, Marcus Benassi, Trenton Workman and Jeremy and Parker Black. The concert is free and open to the public.
GREENCASTLE -- As someone who's played in rock bands since he was a teenager, Johnny Little knows the last decade has been a tough time for musicians looking for live venues.

Now a guitar teacher full time, Little sees even fewer opportunities for his guitar students -- most of them teenagers. The few available live venues tend to be in bars and only seeking entertainers late at night.

"I've watched opportunities go down the toilet in the last 10 years, and I think, 'Where are these kids going to play?'" Little said. "So I'm inventing venues."

And so, several times now, Little has given his students the chance to play live shows for real audiences. The first few shows were at Alex Alleys. There was another at Robe-Ann Park.

Little then connected with friend and old bandmate Chris Newton, assistant director of DePauw's Pulliam Center for Contemporary Media, who suggested the use of the Pulliam Center's Watson Forum.

Now at 2 p.m. on Sunday, the students will have not only a live audience, but a facility with professional-quality equipment and acoustics.

"I think the cool part is it gives the students a chance to stand up in front of someone and play," Newton said. "One step past Guitar Hero is to actually get up in front of people and play it."

Not only do the kids get the chance to play, but they get a backing band from Little and some bandmates.

"The kids are so thrilled," Little said. "I always ask them if they're nervous and they say, 'Yes, but we are so excited.'"

Playing at Sunday's recital will be Justin Hartman, Marcus Benassi, Trenton Workman and Jeremy and Parker Black, a father-son duo. The show will also feature Amnesia, a four-piece band of Anthony Alex, Lucas Eckrich, Reggie Alex and Mike Wood.

While the show is being billed as a recital, Little wants there to be no mistake -- this will not be a stiff replaying of stuffy songs. The students choose their own music, running the gamut of rock, including Joe Satriani, the Who, 3 Doors Down, Lynyrd Skynyrd and John Mayer.

Besides the superior sound, the Watson Forum offers some other opportunities for this show. The venue's movie screen will be down during the performances, with photos and other images projected onto it that go along with a song's content.

Additionally, and even more importantly, the location gives Little and Newton a great chance to film the performances.

"We're going to have such great production value because of the room," Little said.

Not only are the performances being filmed, but the students have already been filmed preparing and will have exit interviews on tape. The footage will be made into a documentary to be featured on local cable access in the next month.

Little and Newton also hope to submit the completed documentary to next year's Heartland Film Festival.

"We'll see what we get at the end, but there will be enough stuff to do what we want," Newton said.

Sunday's concert is free and open to the public.

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Very Cool! John is a great teacher.

-- Posted by localman on Sat, Nov 20, 2010, at 5:51 AM

Wish we could attend the concert by aspiring musicians tomorrow at 2PM, but with such short notice already have plans.

Our step-grandson was taking lessons until he moved with family to Florida. We would have been very proud of him to see him perform.

It's a great thing that's you are doing. With a little more advance notice we will sure try to make it next time!

-- Posted by Lookout on Sat, Nov 20, 2010, at 11:49 AM

Good job Johnny and Chris. This sounds like a great experience for the kids!

-- Posted by fishersresident on Sat, Nov 20, 2010, at 3:05 PM

Chris Newton is a true pro. Glad he is involved. This puts an assured stamp of quality on the production. Oh, and thanks JL for pushing the idea and getting Chris behind you.

-- Posted by Seagullslim on Sat, Nov 20, 2010, at 3:14 PM

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