Band shows that reading rocks

Jetpack UK performs at Eldersburg library to promote a children's book

October 29, 2006|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,Sun Reporter

From crooning love ballads to screaming rock songs, Sean Williams, an uncanny John Lennon look-alike, backed by three band members, belted out a 45-minute rock concert unlike anything the Eldersburg library has seen.

Jetpack UK's concert, in what is supposed to be a very quiet place, vibrated the library walls and had children holding their ears.

"Libraries are not just for story time anymore," said Nadine Rosendale, adult services supervisor at Eldersburg. "We want to step out of the box and offer different things ... something to get people of all ages to the library."

The concert Monday night was part of the Nashville, Tenn.-based band's library and elementary school tour to promote a new children's book about them.

Inside a Rock Band by Deb Barnes is part of a series of books she has written for elementary school children "about careers that are off the beaten path," Williams said.

"She called the local entertainment editor in Nashville and asked for a wholesome band to write about," Williams said.

Barnes visited the group at home, went to a concert and talked to them about different aspects of being in a rock band, keyboardist/guitarist Stephen Jerkins, 29, told the crowd.

The 32-page hardback, with color photos of the band, delves into the "job" of being a rocker at an elementary-school-age level.

"She did a great job of explaining what we do," said drummer Brian Fuzzell, 29.

Though some songs have titles like Destroy Your Hideout, "Our music isn't going to corrupt any young minds," said Williams, 30. In fact, Destroy Your Hideout "is not about blowing up something like in GI Joe, but it's about breaking down personal walls."

When writing a song, Williams said he seeks "to write something that is not really passed over but makes someone stop for a minute and say that song is fun, powerful or moving."

The small crowd of parents and children, from toddlers to pre-teens, as well as librarians, moved along with the mostly fast-paced, energetic tunes, as well as the love song, Worth Your While.

Between songs, the band talked to the audience, introducing themselves, explaining how they got together, what they do and how the book was written.

Though not nationally known, "We are a real band ... we're not famous, but it's more than a hobby," said David Dewese, 32.

"I play the bass guitar, the low notes," Dewese said. "I have to pay attention to the drummer because we keep the song moving along. Brian, the drummer, carries the beat for us and makes sure it's loud. Sean writes all the songs and sings lead and plays guitar. Stephen plays guitar and keyboards and sings harmony."

Williams apologized for the loudness, telling the youngsters, "You'll like it better when you're teenagers."

Some of the children already play instruments. Hadley Mueller, 7, of Eldersburg "plays the guitar and is always telling me she wants to be in a band," said her mother, Kara Mueller.

"I'd like to be in a rock band, but I think it'd be kind of hard," said Alex Overcashier, 9, of Eldersburg. His brother, Grant, 11, just enjoyed listening.

The band sang songs from its new album, as well as tunes from its last CD, The Art of Building a Moat. Then they took questions from the audience.

One point of curiosity was the band's name -- Jetpack UK, since the men are not from Great Britain, though much of their inspiration, and sound, comes from the Beatles and other British Invasion bands of the 1960s.

The band started out simply as Jetpack until a California band with the same name the started sending "strongly worded e-mails," Dewese said. So the Nashville group did what 1960s-era bands, especially the British groups, did to distinguish themselves -- they added the UK to their name.

After the concert, parents, kids and librarians crowded around a table holding CDs, posters, buttons and books.

Sophie Freedman, 5, of Ellicott City, made sure all the band members signed her book. "We really enjoyed it," said her mother, Stacey Freedman.

ellie.baublitz@baltsun.com

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