STERLING — Students at Sterling Middle School celebrated music Friday. Flobots, a Denver-based alternative hip-hop group, visited the school to talk to students about the importance of music and sharing songs.
The band, which will close out the Pedal The Plains entertainment in Sterling today, is in town thanks to a new pilot program launched by Colorado Creative Industries. A new piece to the CCI music strategy, Detour “creates a model of music touring as a community-based sustainable and creatively rewarding practice,” according to a CCI release. “Detour will develop a sustainable touring model for musicians that connect communities through song-sharing and engagement.”
Sterling is one of 15 communities taking part in the inaugural Detour, which kicked off Sept. 2 in Pueblo. Flobots is participating in a series of workshops, concerts, festivals and community jams in appearances across the state, culminating with the PTP concert tonight.
At SMS, band members Jamie “Jonny 5” Laurie, emcee and vocals, and Stephen “Brer Rabbit” Brackett, emcee and vocals, spoke about how curiosity led them to become friends and led their band to go on Detour, and encouraged the students to have their own curiosity.
“If we’re curious there’s a lot we can learn,” Laurie said.
The Flobots band members were joined by another group, 2MX2, a Latin, alternative hip-hop band. Both worked with groups of students, asking them to think about songs that have been important to them in their life and helping them learn songs that they could share with the rest of their classmates.
Laurie spoke to the students about the importance of speaking up and expressing themselves, telling them that if they only speak up or express themselves when no one else is around, “it means we’re not really expressing ourselves; we’re not really creating a community.”
He talked about how important it is to create community and celebrate community: “groups of friends, groups of new friends, people who don’t know each other yet being curious enough to say, ‘hey, what’s your name? What are you interested in?'”
The band discussed different ways to use singing: in a group, on a road trip, on camping trips, in class, as a form of prayer.
“The reason we wanted you guys to find some songs that you could sing together is because we think it’s an important skill. We think it’s important that we find times and ways to sing together and we hope you will do it more, because it can be very powerful when we sing together,” Laurie said.
Students were encouraged to share songs they know, that others might not, with others at their school.
During a question and answer period, the band talked about why they decided to do the Detour, because regular tours got kind of boring, because they would do their shows and that was it.
“When we get to the Detour we get to do shows and we get to come and see you all,” Brackett said, noting that they get to go to a lot of different places that they wouldn’t normally go. “So, even as we are being the band, we are learning how to do even more when we’re touring.”
Female band members answered a question about being in a band with mostly men.
They told the students it doesn’t matter if they’re a woman or a man; everyone in the group is a musician and everyone is singing the same song. Students were encouraged not to let the fact they are female or male hold them back from doing something.
Laurie also talked about how both the Flobots and 2MX2 believe in making the world a better place and encouraged the students to believe that to.
“We hope that you believe in that too, that every day the actions that you’re taking, that you can actually make the world better around you,” he said.
Flobots will be giving another workshop today from noon to 1:30 p.m., at Northeastern Junior College, in the basement of Hays Student Center. It is free and open to the public and rumor has it some of the musicians/singers that show up will get to join the band on stage during their free concert, 7 to 9 p.m., on the Pedal The Plains stage, located on Third Avenue between Main and Ash streets.
Callie Jones: 970-526-9286, email@example.com