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Rock 'n' roll middle school

Four teenagers find their stairway to heaven playing the classics in their band, the Green Room. And as if that isn't cool enough, they're also getting paid for it.

November 27, 2006|By Amanda Pennington

Members of the rock band the Green Room are attracting fans, getting invited to play gigs and making hundreds of dollars at some shows — all before they're old enough to drive or even take a high school music class.

But for Blake Allen, Travis Barrett, Evan Harr and Alex Herrera, it's not about their age. It's about the music they play.

The boys must have old souls. All are 12 except Alex, who is 13, but a large part of their repertoire comes from decades when even some of their parents were barely old enough to get into it.

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"We really like the Beatles and classic rock," said Travis, a seventh-grader at Corona del Mar Middle School. Except for Blake, who attends Pegasus School in Huntington Beach, all the boys go to school on the Corona del Mar campus.

But this is not another extracurricular activity, and they aren't a novelty band at gigs. These kids get paid to play, and play they will on Sunday at Gina's Pizza during the Corona del Mar Christmas Walk.

At last year's event, the kids walked away with more than $500 in tips, but it isn't all easy. The four boys all play more than one sport and rehearsal often conflicts with birthday party schedules, said Brian Barrett, Travis' dad and the band's artistic director.

The boys rehearse at least once a week, more when a show is coming up, and they each try to get in one lesson for their respective instruments during the week.

Blake plays drums and keyboards, Travis plays guitar, Evan plays bass, and Alex is the lead singer and plays guitar.

Travis is the veteran musician, having started on a baritone ukulele when he was 5 years old. But each boy has taken to their instrument like a pro. Evan began playing his bass in the fourth grade. The other boys caught up fast.

They've played school talent shows, where they got their start, and private parties. They've played Harbor View School open houses, which Brian Barrett's band used to play.

"Within one year they stole my gig," he joked Saturday.

Inspired by classic rock bands and by the Jack Black flick "School of Rock," the boys get excited before they play every gig.

They're modest about their talents but said they look forward to watching people get up and dance and sing during their sets.

But for the parents, it's not just music lessons they're trying to teach their kids.

"We want them to charge a little," Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, Travis' mom, said. "They're still learning the art and the business side of it."

If the boys stay serious, she said, they want them to be well equipped to make smart business decisions.

The boys' next goal is to lay down some tracks in a studio, something the Barretts are trying to work out. "We want to make records," said Alex, who is in eighth grade.

For now, the kids will stick to balancing sports, school and music till they can make it big, while their parents try to keep them and their amps grounded.

For more information about the band, go to www.greenroomfanclub.com.

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