Published on May 7th, 2018 | by Nature Humphries0
Oxford Rocks: Local Youth Hold Spring Concert May 10 at The Lyric Theater
Roxford University opened its doors in 2015 with the intent of giving the youth of Oxford, Mississippi, the opportunity to learn to play in a rock ‘n’ roll band.
As part of Roxford’s curriculum, students participate in the December and spring showcases. This year’s Roxford Spring Showcase will be held at The Lyric Theater on May 10 at 7 pm. Tad Wilkes, a.k.a. Moon Pie Curtis, spoke with us about launching the university and why the showcases are so important to the students.
“Two friends of mine, Carter and Lydia Myers, had seen similar concepts when they were traveling and decided they wanted to try something like that in Oxford,” said Wilkes. “It’s an underserved opportunity. So many of the youth programs in Oxford tend to be centered around sports, which is great, but there wasn’t a place where kids could play music together.”
Wilkes had been involved from the start, but recently he took on full leadership of the school. “About a year ago, [the Meyerses] decided to move out of it now that the training wheels are off,” said Wilkes. “It’s been great. We have a lot of fun.”
The school offers lessons in guitar, piano, vocals, bass guitar, and drums. Students receive individual instruction through one-on-one lessons with some of the finest musicians in the area. Professors at Roxford University include Bill Perry Jr. (piano), Eric Deaton (guitar), Shy Perry (vocals), Nick Spiller (guitar), Newt Rayburn (bass guitar & drums), and Mike Namorato (drums). Students also have a band session with a coach every week.
Part of the fun for Wilkes is seeing the young musicians grow and become confident in their ability. “A highlight for me is when you see a little girl who has never performed in front of anyone before and has a beautiful voice stand in front of a group, as nervous as she’s ever been and on the biggest stage in Oxford other than the Ford center, and she just blows everybody away,” said Wilkes. “Seeing kids feel this exhilaration when they go out and do what they’ve been working on for months is great.”
“There will be several groups performing,” said Wilkes. “Volume, Remix, and Emery Kate Snyder will be performing as well as others. It’s a pretty big bag of classic rock with a little bit of contemporary in the mix.”
The bands all consist of Roxford University students, and while groups typically form within age brackets there is no hard rule. “We’ve got kids ranging from seven to eighteen,” said Wilkes. “We generally do it by age but we’ve got some students who have been with us for three years and decided they want to play with certain other kids because they’ve been around for a while.”
In addition to being a unique experience for the students, another benefit of the showcases is that it helps them with stage fright. “Some of our veterans, they’re not quite as nervous, but some of the kids get jittery and that’s all part of the experience,” said Wilkes. “It’s teaching them what if feels like to go on stage and put it out there for everybody.”
Another rewarding experience Wilkes has had was with a student who, through Roxford University, found his passion. “We had a student who graduated high school and is now studying music in college,” said Wilkes. “He didn’t really have any direction in what he wanted to do in life until he came to us.”
Tickets for Roxford University Spring Showcase on May 10 will be available at the door the night of the show for $10. Parents of prospective students are encouraged to bring their children. Come on out and support Oxford’s creative youth. For more information or to sign up your favorite youngster for music lessons, call 662-801-0456.