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Little Steven, Drew Carey spotlight Detroit for new Virtual RoadShow

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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Little Steven Van Zandt's Rock and Roll Forever Foundation has been teaching rock ('n' roll) for two years now.

This week he's teaching some Detroit rock 'n' roll -- and more.

Van Zandt -- guitarist in Bruce Springsteen's E Street band, a bandleader in his own right as well as an actor, record label chief and radio personality -- has created a Virtual RoadShow series that began last month in Cleveland and on Thursday, Aug. 6, will focus on Detroit. He'll be joined by co-host Drew Carey, Alice Cooper, Motown star Martha Reeves, the MC5's Wayne Kramer and others in discussing the area's musical history and global impact.

The episode takes place at 8 p.m. and is free, with registration via TeachRock.org/Roadshow.

"The concept is that we 'stop' in a town or a city and a region and we let that place dictate the content and use it as a framework," explains TeachRock's Bill Carbone. "Steven reaches out to his friends and we make a roadshow that recognizes the breadth of the place and looks at how the arts shaped each one.

"The Detroit RoadShow is really exciting because it has such great rock -- and Motown, which you've got to have."

The RoadShow -- which will feature both live and pre-recorded material -- is an outgrowth of the Foundation and its successful TeachRock initiative. The program provides K-12 teachers with no-cost resources, including lesson plans and support materials, to use music as a learning topic in its own right as well as in the context of historic events.

There's also a science component related to the technology of creating music.

"We've written the most advanced music history curriculum in the world," Van Zandt says. "We're writing new lessons all the time, and it's been extremely successful for a lot of reasons. It's a completely unique methodology for teaching that fits in with this generation. It's a different way to engage kids, and the teachers are loving it."

Van Zandt has also used concerts by his band, the Disciples of Soul, as an opportunity to promote TeachRock via workshops, as well as to host teachers for a free night of music. The program has registered more than 40,000 teachers so far, from all 50 states.

"The RoadShow gives us a chance to, in a really fun way, share what we do for education," Carbone adds. Since the pandemic shut down schools in March, TeachRock has also created more than 80 "distant learning packs," which became popular for virtual classrooms.

"April and May were the busiest months of web traffic we ever had," Carbone says. "The Grammys have been using them as well. New York used them in more than 100 public schools. Right now, in anticipation for fall, we're getting ready to get back at it and refine them a little so they're ready for however school is being taught this fall."

Steven Van Zandt's TeachRock Virtual Roadshow -- featuring Alice Cooper, Martha Reeves, Wayne Kramer and others -- takes place at 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6. Free, with registration via TeachRock.org/Roadshow

Web Site: www.TeachRock.org/RoadShow

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