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Rhythm, Roots and education

By Jim Conrad
Published On: Sep 14 2012 04:41:48 PM CDT
uncluelucius
BRISTOL, Va. -

What may be the best show of the weekend didn't happen on any Rhythm & Roots stage downtown, and it happened before any of the shows began for this year's festival.

It was in an auditorium full of elementary students with music provided by one of the bands performing this weekend.

It's a way to entertain and educate kids about music and Bristol's roots.

"Put your hands together and welcome everybody's favorite uncle, Uncle Lucius," announced one of the hundreds of elementary students gathered for a special concert. With that, the Austin, Texas band played for a different audience than they're used to.

It wasn't in some Texas roadhouse instead, a school house. "There are similarities. Both a little ruckus, the potential for rowdiness I might imagine, but coming from a different motivation," laughed keyboardist John Grossman.

The motivation was education for an auditorium filled with elementary students.

It's something the folks with Rhythm & Roots have wanted to do for years. "It really helps when our school system gets together and says, hey, wouldn't it be nice if we did a concert for the elementary kids, talk about the music, have them participate," elementary principal and Rhythm & Roots board member Mike Braswell said.

And participate they did, as the fifth graders, the class of 2020, sang an old Carter Family tune for the band.

"It's good for them to get the experience of live music, going to concerts, getting to experience the live music because they don't get that experience that often," elementary music teacher Garrett Van Engen said.

And it shows them where music might lead them later in life.

Band members told us they got interested in music because a teacher encouraged them to. "It's like a huge honor to try to return that favor that, that gift that somebody gave to you," Grossman said.

From the looks of things its looks as if the band hit all the right notes with the kids.