MINTURN – Djembes, congas, bongos, maracas, tambourines and parts of a dismantled drum kit fill Mr. Hayes’ otherwise empty Minturn Middle School classroom. The bell rings. Footsteps pound the concrete floors in the hallway outside. Students run in eagerly to grab their instruments before the next bell rings, and the sound of excited drumming begins to resonate in the air, louder and louder still. Mr. Hayes eyes light up, and so do the children’s. One group of kids from the sixth-grade performing arts class practices reciting the poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll as they drum, while others tighten their beats in small drum circles. The students are studying rhythm through percussion, Mr. Hayes explains. “Playing the drums is the most fun thing to learn because you can make it simple or complex,” says 12-year-old Pancho Martinez. The sixth-graders are getting ready to perform at Loaded Joe’s Reloaded, an open mic night specifically for students. The coffeehouse, behind Pazzo’s Pizzeria in Avon, hosted the first youth open mic night in April. And it is back Thursday by popular demand.Pancho and his classmates Chris Duran, M.J. Ouynette and Josh Harkay say they will perform a punk-inspired drum ballad.
“I like really fast beats,” Josh says, “I always liked playing the drums and playing instruments.” Meghann Gutierrez, 12, plans to read a poem she wrote called “Life,” inspired by her uncle who suffered from brain damage.”It’s about living life to your fullest,” she says. “I just think people should be grateful for what they have. Live as if it’s your last day.”Rylee McMillin, 11, plans to share one of her many odes to her favorite animal – horses.”When I’m bored, I write poems. I don’t know why. I have this whole stack like this big,” she says motioning with her hands. “They’re all about horses.” Hayes, who developed the performing arts elective when the middle school lost its music program due to inadequate funding, also helped spearhead the open mic night. The idea blossomed from a conversation he was having with friend Jodi Link one evening at the coffeehouse. When they heard Loaded Joe’s might host a poetry night, they immediately began trying to figure kids into the equation.
“Too often what they’re learning stays within the classroom walls,” Hayes says. “They need to get out there just to make it real, to have a genuine product, because that’s what writers and painters and artists do. Learning is full-time. And I think we have to get creative. We don’t have endless resources and we have to find ways of bringing the arts to the kids.”When Link and Hayes brought the idea to Loaded Joe’s owner Kent Beidel, it was exactly the kind of community feel he was hoping to support.”Jodi grew up in the valley. Her comment to me was kids growing up in the valley don’t have a lot of opportunity to do positive and recreational things, and they wind up doing other things,” says Beidel. I am a local so we are a locally owned and operated coffee store and part of my business philosophy is to support the locals and the local’s economy. So why not support this type of community event. What a different learning environment, too, in a public setting.” Christy Voelker, a science teacher at Eagle Valley is encouraging students at the high school to come share their work as well. A former teacher in inner-city Denver, Voelker believes the kids get gratification for their work when they share it with others and get to see people’s reactions outside of the classroom. But, Hayes says, kids aren’t the only people learning.
“There are so many ways that kids can express themselves,” he says. “I also think there are so many ways that we miss who they are. If the kids go to Loaded Joe’s the kids can become the teachers. There may be some messages that come out.”Call Loaded Joe’s at 748-1480 for more information.===========ReloadedYouth open mic night6-9 p.m. Thursday
Loaded Joe’s in Avon===========Staff Writer Laura A. Ball can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 619, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado
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VAIL — The lift operator in the maze at Vail Village’s Gondola One tilts his head back and hollers: “Masks up please!”