Maybe they’ll never be Royals, but the School of Rock is making an impression with the Boys of Summer nonetheless with live performances at Kauffman Stadium this season.
The Parkville School of Rock is shaking up the Royals’ Family Fun Days this season with live performances during home games from its house band and Little Wing program in the Outfield Experience. The House Band is made up of young musicians from the school, ranging in age from 11 to 17, with the Little Wing preschoolers involving younger fans in singing, percussion and movement activities. It all started with “Dean of Rock” Mark Ballard’s continuous search for opportunities for the students at his school. About three years ago, Ballard attended a local music showcase at Kauffman, an event held on Wednesday nights that featured small local bands. To say he was underwhelmed would be an understatement. At the time, the program was sponsored by Ink magazine, so Ballard told the Royals management and Ink exactly what he thought. “So, I emailed them and told them that the hipster band they had playing that night just wasn’t very interesting,” he said. “Apparently, it got their attention.” Soon, the School of Rock’s House Band was playing during the Royals Kidsfest games alongside Radio Disney, which ended its Kansas City run last year. “Radio Disney did a great job, and I hated to see it go, but it opened up an opportunity for us,” Ballard said. On opening weekend, the School of Rock kids performed to a crowd of about 12,000 fans, including scouts from Kansas City area Boy and Girl Scout troops — thus giving the school a built-in youth audience. “It’s been great exposure for us already, and the announcers will comment live on what the kids are playing,” Ballard said. “It’s really a great thing for us, and with this we’ve performed in every large venue in Kansas City except for Arrowhead – and we’re hoping to crack that nut this year.” The Royals management has been pleased with the school’s performances, with commentators catching on to the band’s performance of a slightly-modified version of “Royals” by New Zealand performer Lorde. The House Band’s sets include other baseball-related songs such as “Boys of Summer” by Don Henley and “Glory Days” by Bruce Springsteen. “They play this song by Gary Glitter — “Rock N Roll Part 2” — but they make it super heavy,” Ballard said. “Yeah, the baseball songs are going really well.” The School of Rock will perform at games versus high-profile teams such as the Yankees and Boston Red Sox, a perfect cap to the high school careers of a few of the house band’s members who are graduating high school this spring. “We have a couple of students who are going off to higher education than Led Zeppelin,” he said. But before they do, the House Band has a full schedule set for summer. They will open for Journey and the Steve Miller Band July 16 and Steely Dan July 19 at Starlight Theatre and play at performances of the Queen rock opera We Will Rock You and Blue Man Group during their runs at Starlight. Starlight Theatre has been a great partner to the school, Ballard said. “It’s definitely good to have people like the Royals and Starlight on your side,” he said.