Posts in Students
Get to know a Royal!
Olivia Pereryra.png

It’s “Get To Know A Royal” Day!

Olivia Pereyra 
Age 17
Royal since January 2017
Vocals and Guitar

How is the Royals program different than other programs at RiverCity? 
Being in Royals is different because it’s smaller and it feels like a full band, where we all have to communicate, work together, set up and break down the equipment, plan for shows, pick set lists, and all sorts of other things. Being in Royals there’s a dynamic between every bandmate and you really have to blend and listen to each other to get things done. So overall this program teaches you communication skills to a higher degree than other programs at RiverCity.

How has playing music and performing helped you beyond the stage?
I’ve always been a confident kid as far as public speaking, but it took some time to feel just as confident singing in front of a crowd. Now it’s no big deal with so many shows I’ve done and hope to continue. Royals was the validation I needed to realize I have a talent and gave me the drive to share it with the world.

What’s your strategy for learning and nailing so many songs?
Practice, practice, practice!!! Every time you just even listen to a song it’s helping you. I make a playlist and just play on repeat till I’m (almost) sick of the song and by that point even if on accident, I have the song memorized. And a pro tip I have is to learn the song as soon as it’s casted so you don’t have to stress out about memorizing lyrics before you go on stage. Being prepared and aware is the best thing you can do to feel comfortable with any song thrown at ya.

If you were to describe the Royals in one sentence, what would it be? 
Patience and practice is the key to being successful in Royals.

What things are you involved in beyond the Royals?
I’m an active member of my school’s Speech and Debate and have been for the past three years. I also am a Girl Scout and Adventure Scout and have been since I think 2nd grade (it’s been too long to count). I’m also a member of Sprague High School’s French National Honor Society, and on top of it all I’m graduating this year!! So I’m always on my toes and doing something in the community.

The RiverCity Royals performance group is an audition-only program for advanced students ages 14-20. The Royals represent RiverCity at numerous community and private events throughout the year. The group is directed by Jarred Venti, bass teacher and music director at RiverCity Rock Star Academy, and musician with several local bands, including Sleep Millennium. Next open audition for the Royals for guitar, bass, drums, keys and vocals will be Monday, September 10th. Contact RiverCity Rock Star Academy for more information or questions about the Royals or the upcoming open audition.

 

Student of the Week - Grace DeBlase!
Grace .png

The student of the week is...
Grace DeBlase!
Sophomore at West Salem High School
RiverCity Rockers
Guitar
Started at RiverCity Rock Star Academy in the April of 2017

When did you start playing music and why? 
I started playing music when I was about 7-years-old. I loved the sound of the guitar and I grew up with my dad and brother playing music.

What is your favorite song you've ever played at RiverCity? 
My favorite song I’ve played at RiverCity would have to be ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ by Third Eye Blind, because I love the song and the people I was playing the song with.

What do you like about RiverCity? 
I like how it’s given me the chance to strengthen my musical abilities, while making really great friendships with the other students.

What are your favorite bands/artists right now? 
My favorite band is AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

What things do you like to do when you’re not at RiverCity? 
When I’m not at RiverCity I enjoy cheerleading (I’m on the varsity team at West Salem HS).

 

Get to know a Royal!
Hunter.png

It's “Get To Know A Royal” Day!

Hunter Winnen
Age 20
Royal since January 2017

When did you start playing music and what made you start playing more seriously (as part of a ‘band’ at RC)?
I didn’t start playing music until the summer between my junior and senior year of high school (so it’s never too late to start playing music!). I took an introductory guitar class at Chemeketa Community College and after the first class, I went out and bought my first electric guitar. I started playing more seriously when I joined RiverCity. Knowing my music for shows was important to me and being in that environment helped me realize my goals of being a musician.

What’s your favorite thing about being in the Royals? And the least favorite thing?
My favorite thing about the Royals is probably the experience. Since joining the Royals, I’ve played venues I’d never thought I’d play. And I’ve learned so many new things. I can now help run shows, break-down and set-up without asking questions, which is an incredible feeling. I think my least favorite thing about being part of the Royals is trying to work around everyone’s availability for shows (and extra rehearsals, if needed). Everyone has a lot of other things going on outside of the Royals (like jobs, school activities, other bands they’re in) and sometimes it can be hard to work around all of that. Somehow though, we make it work!

You’re sometimes referred to as the ‘cheerleader’ in the group and the other Royals and Jarred really appreciate your positive attitude and just having a great time playing music. Would you agree and how does that make you feel?
I believe having fun playing music and loving what you’re doing should really be the root of anything you do. If you’re not enjoying your hobby, what’s the point of doing it? I think it’s pretty cool that having fun and being happy is what I’m known for!

Jarred Venti, the Royals Music Director, is involved in Salem’s music scene as a performer in several bands, including Sleep Millennium, and is a highly respected musician. Tell us about your experience working Jarred.
Working with Jarred has been fantastic. I’ve heard a lot of great things around Salem about him and I’ve come to learn they are ALL true. I’m incredibly fortunate to get the opportunity to work with someone like him in this industry! The things Jarred has taught me I will never forget.

What advice would you give someone that is thinking about auditioning for the Royals?
KNOW YOUR MUSIC. It’s a real audition! I practiced for at least three weeks before my audition and that was almost not enough for me!! Pay close attention to every detail you hear and practice as much as you can!

What things are you involved in beyond the Royals?
Outside of the Royals, I also work for RiverCity as an intern and get a chance to shadow the teachers to learn everything about setting up shows, lighting, and sound. I’m also a barista at a coffeehouse in South Salem. In my free time, I work on computers, practice my music, bike ride and I like to take things apart and learn how they work. It’s been a really busy summer this year!

The Royals performance group is an audition-only program for advanced students ages 14-20. The Royals represent RiverCity at numerous community and private events throughout the year. The next open audition for the Royals for guitar, bass, drums, keys and vocals will be Monday, September 10th. Contact RiverCity Rock Star Academy for more information or questions about the Royals or the upcoming open audition.

 

Student of the Week - Rosie Pearson
Rosie Pearson.png

The student of the week is...
Rosie Pearson
4th Grader at Homeschool
RiverCity Young Rockers and Summer Rock Star Camper
Vocals and Drums
Started at RiverCity Rock Star Academy in January 2018

When did you start playing music and why? 
I started when I was around 6-years-old because I love the sound and it’s really fun.

What is your favorite song you've ever played at RiverCity? 
My favorite song that I’ve performed is ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ by Foster the People.

What do you like about RiverCity? 
There are lessons for every age and I love being in Young Rockers.

What are your favorite bands/artists? 
Meghan Trainor and Jimmy Eat World.

What things do you like to do when you’re not at RiverCity? 
Being with my friends and learning new songs!

Get to know a Royal!
Spencer Hughes.png

It's “Get To Know A Royal” Day!

Spencer Hughes
Age 18
Royal since September 2016
Guitar, Vocals and Drums

How is the Royals program different than other programs at RiverCity? 
The Royals are a tight knit group that works at a level of musicianship and proficiency you would see in a professional group. It gives you a chance to master your instrument by putting you in concert situations quite frequently, rather than the other programs which typically have two performances in a 3-month period. Compared to our Royals group which have performed at 12 community shows just since the beginning of June. Also, the bandmates in the Royals are all friends and we know each other and how we work together very well.

You’ve been with RiverCity (as a Rocker and Royal) since the music school started. How has your music playing, view of music and/or performing as a musician changed or progressed? 
At the very beginning, I was this nervous kid that was alright at the guitar, nothing special but I could learn my songs just fine. As the years have gone by, my playing has improved immensely and so has my confidence on stage. With no less than two to three concerts every month (sometimes more), the nerves of performing are essentially gone. Sure, if there's a song on the set list I'm not completely ready on, I'll tense up but if I'm ready for a show, I'm comfortable on stage.

What’s your favorite thing about being in the Royals? 
My favorite thing about the Royals is how talented the rest of the group is. I don't have to worry about if the others learned their songs or not, because they're on top of it 100% of the time.

What’s your favorite song you've ever performed at RiverCity? 
‘Master of Puppets’ by Metallica, only because I called out my Metallica hater friend at the concert when we played it and then proceeded to shred through it. It was fantastic.

What advice would you give to a first-time musician? 
Don't stop practicing. If you want to get better at your instrument, you have to practice as much as you can. You don't need lessons to get better, but only if you can practice good habits on your own (although one-on-one lessons are a very good thing also). Put your mind to it and try your hardest, and you'll see the results.

What plans do you have after finishing with the Royals?
Starting in September, I'm moving to Portland to attend Portland State University as a Music Education major and a member of the PSU Chamber Choir. I'm also currently working on a hard rock instrumental album called "Six Feet Over" (which I just finished recording) and it should be available to the public in a few weeks.

The Royals performance group is an audition-only program for advanced students ages 14-20. The Royals represent RiverCity at numerous community and private events throughout the year. The group is directed by Jarred Venti, bass teacher and music director at RiverCity Rock Star Academy, and musician with several local bands, including Sleep Millennium. Next open audition for the Royals for guitar, bass, drums, keys and vocals will be Monday, September 10th. Contact RiverCity Rock Star Academy for more information or questions about the Royals or the upcoming open audition.

 

Student of the Week - Katie Croco
Student of the week - Katie crouch

Katie Croco
7th Grader at Seven Oak Middle School
RiverCity Rockers Mix-Tape (previously Rockers Punk, Rockers Monsters of Rock, and Rock Star Camper)
Drums
Started at RiverCity Rock Star Academy in the Summer of 2017

When did you start playing music and why? 
My dad signed me up for rock camp at RiverCity and at first, I wasn’t super pumped to attend, but then I walked in and met the super cool staff!

What is your favorite song you've ever played at RiverCity? 
Two of my favorite songs that I’ve gotten to drum on are ‘England Belongs to Me’ by Cock Sparrer and ‘TNT’ by AC/DC.

What do you like about RiverCity? 
I like the staff. They’re super funny! 

What are your favorite bands/artists right now? 
I don’t really have a favorite band, I just listen to a lot of different music.

What things do you like to do when you’re not at RiverCity? 
I like to draw, play video games, hanging out with my friends, and playing with my cats and dogs!

Student of the Week - Charlie Knauss!
Charlie.png

Charlie Knauss Electronshadows O-o!!
RiverCity Renegades
Vocals, Keys and Bass
Started at RiverCity Rock Star Academy in September 2017

When did you start playing music and what was/is your influence for playing music? 
I can't really remember when I first started trying to play music, but I did spend four years in band as a kid and several people I grew up with became working musicians so I was always around it. I think my biggest influence growing up was that almost everyone in my family played at least one instrument. I remember from the time I was little my mom and grandma saying I should learn piano or guitar.

Tell us about your musical journey?
My musical journey has been slow and wandering, seeming derailed at times but I can't remember many times that I wasn't trying to at least learn the vocals for some song...a few years ago I got started singing karaoke and it quickly opened me back up to the idea of performing at some level and eventually lead me here, to RiverCity Rock Star Academy.

What is your favorite song you've played at RiverCity?
Hard choice because I've had so much fun performing in the Renegades, but I think even though it was a one off for me it has to be AC/DC’s ‘Livewire’, after that ‘Born on the Bayou’ by CCR and then ‘Possum Kingdom’ by the Toadies.

What bands or artists are you listening to right now?
Rush is my all-time favorite band followed closely by Jethro Tull. Too many others to list.

What is your ‘day job’ (besides a Rock Star at RiverCity)? 
I don't really have a 'day job' but I have a number of things I'm involved in, mostly centered around my church.

Student of the Week - Chris Carman!
Chris Carman.png

Chris Carman!!! 
RiverCity Renegades
Drums
Started at RiverCity Rock Star Academy in April 2017

When did you start playing music and what was/is your influence for playing music? 
I started playing drums approximately 14 months ago at RiverCity Rock Star Academy. I have been an athlete all my life but after four knee operations, I have had to reinvent myself a little. Also, I work as a civil engineer designing a portion of the state highways and bridges. There aren’t a lot of expressive people in my field. Do you know the difference between an introverted engineer and an extroverted engineer? An extroverted engineer will look at your shoes when he is talking to you instead of his own.😉 I wanted to meet people outside my profession. And being able to sit down while playing music makes it an even better fit for me.

Tell us about your musical journey? 
The first song that ever turned my world from black and white to color was ‘Bennie and the Jets’ by Elton John. I was blown away. In those days, Elvis was still the King, The Beatles had broken up four years earlier and Led Zeppelin IV entranced me. I loved the grittiness of the opening chords to ‘Honky Tonk Women’ by the Rolling Stones. David Bowie’s ‘Fame’ was scary and made me afraid. My first concert was Ted Nugent in 1977 and KISS in the same year. I was enthralled with KISS for about two years until 1978 when the Stones ‘Miss You’ was all over the radio. I have been a Stones fan since. I have been a music fan all my life, but drums are my first in experience playing music.

What is your favorite song you've played at RiverCity? 
‘Some Kind of Wonderful’ by Grand Funk Railroad. I liked playing the quick, double beat on the high hat.

What are your favorite bands or artists right now? 
Led Zeppelin, John Hiatt, Beth Orton, Counting Crowes.

What is your ‘day job’ (besides a Rock Star at RiverCity)? 
I design culverts (adding rocks to simulate nature) underneath Oregon’s highways to make them fish passable. I also design treatment facilities to remove pollutants from storm-water runoff from the highways and also design ponds to temporarily store highway run-off and prevent downstream flooding.

Student of the Week - Hank Harris!
Hank Harris.png

The student of the week is... 
Hank Harris!!!
RiverCity Renegades
Vocals, Guitar and More Cowbell (Percussionist) 
Started at RiverCity Rock Star Academy in September 2017

When did you start playing music and what was/is your influence for playing music? 
The Recorder in the 3rd Grade. Inspiration at the time was to make noise. I started again in September 2017 when joining RiverCity Rock Star Academy. My inspiration now is to try to feel like Elvis for a nano second then drop the mic and exit stage left.

Tell us about your musical journey? 
Well, as you know, it all started in 3rd grade...I’ve always loved music. I grew up with the music of Elvis, The Kingston Trio, and Duane Eddy and His Twangy Guitar. I sang and played air guitar all the time. I day dreamed about being a rock star, even after a family member heard me singing and suggested "I wouldn't quit your day job." I didnt have a day job, so i kept day dreaming and singing, but never took it further until - fast forward to present day. My beautiful bride Lorri joined "The River City Rock Star Academy Renegades" crew. I watched as she and her sister Lisa, who are otherwise known as "The Twisted Sisters", play instruments, sing and become rock stars. I kept thinking how this Renegade thing seemed like the perfect way to reinvest in my rock star day dreams. I had a fever, and "the only prescription is more cowbell!" Lorri encouraged me to take a turn, and i joined the Renegades in the Fall of 2017. I still have my day job, but I'm having a good time at my night gig.

What is your favorite song you've played at RiverCity? 
‘Hound Dog’ by Elvis and ‘Livewire’ by AC/DC.

What are your favorite bands or artists right now? 
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Iration, Scorpions, Lou Reed, AC/DC, and Chris Stapleton.

What is your ‘day job’ (besides a Rock Star at RiverCity)? 
I'm a manager with the State of Oregon.

PC Benma Photo