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‘Rock the Nest’ returns to Arlington
ARLINGTON — After its absence last year, Arlington High School’s “Rock the Nest” concert returned this year with two rock bands that brought together AHS students and alumni.
The stage of the Linda M. Byrnes Performing Arts Center hosted bands Sound Puppets and Dandy Lion on June 1, with many members of those bands applying lessons they’d learned in the AHS Jazzmine program under director Lyle Forde, who’s retiring at the end of this school year.
Andrew Algard graduated from AHS in 2009, but when his brother asked him if he could assemble a band for a local battle of the bands in the spring of last year, Algard thought of Ben Tapper, a fellow guitarist who graduated from AHS in 2010.
“After three months, we hadn’t done anything, so the week before the battle of the bands, we just busted out the sickest songs we could,” Algard said of the genesis of Sound Puppets. “We sounded so good we won second place, even with a substitute drummer and only four days of practice, so if we actually worked at it we knew we could be something.”
The five-member Jazzmine alumni band is rounded out by AHS sophomores Jesse Driscoll, also on guitar, and Landon Tapper on drums, with graduate Jacob Wikan playing the electric keyboard well enough to deliver rousing renditions of both “The Office” theme song and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” during the June 1 show. Algard entertained his audience by admitting how many of his songs had been inspired by girls he’d known.
“It’s either nice songs about girls, or angry songs about girls,” Landon Tapper said.
“Or depressed songs about girls,” Wikan laughed.
Although Sound Puppets has performed close to a dozen times in the past year, only half of those appearances have included the band’s full lineup. After “Rock the Nest,” they returned to Arlington High School on June 4 to play at the Arlington Relay For Life to support the American Cancer Society. All four of his bandmates agreed with Landon Tapper that music education, and Forde’s instruction in particular, changed their own lives for the better.
“I’d probably be into bad stuff if it wasn’t for Jazzmine,” Tapper said. “With Jazzmine, though, that just doesn’t fly. Mr. Forde is an amazing leader who’s usually right, even if you don’t like it,” he laughed.
AHS senior and guitarist David Murray is the only Jazzmine student in the four-member Dandy Lion, but his bandmates likewise agreed on the transformative impact of music.
“It’s given me an outlet for self-expression,” said fellow Dandy Lion guitarist Dillon Decker, who graduated from AHS last year. “I’ve been playing guitar for half my life, so it’s become a part of me.”
AHS Class of 2009 graduate Kyle Smith, who played both an electric keyboard and a trumpet during Dandy Lion’s eclectic set, explained that the band’s current lineup has been together for the past two years. As a sophomore in college, this was his first time back with his bandmates in a while, and he marked the occasion by singing a ditty they’d written just hours before, reading the lyrics off scratch paper as he sang them.
“We want to make sure everyone’s perspectives are represented here,” AHS ASB advisor Ben Ballew said. “This is an inclusive event that’s a fantastic opportunity to celebrate students who are voicing a lot of experiences and ideas that you might not see as much in the mainstream media.”