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The Big Gig: Mingus students form rock band, to play at Thunder Valley Rally


The Mingus Union High School rock band is scheduled to play at Thunder Valley Rally on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood. (Vyto Starinskas/Kudos)

The Mingus Union High School rock band is scheduled to play at Thunder Valley Rally on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood. (Vyto Starinskas/Kudos)


Originally Published: September 14, 2021 2:46 p.m.

They may not be on the cover of Rolling Stone, but the Mingus Union High School rock band is following in the footsteps of superstar alumni as George Thorogood, Kenny Wayne Shepard and Leon Russell to play at the annual Thunder Valley Rally on Friday, Sept. 17.

The students have been practicing hard for their big gig, which begins at 4 p.m. They will even be graded on their performance.

Emily Meyer, the band director at MUHS, said it will be her 18-member Rock 2 class that will be playing the annual rally in Riverfront Park. She also teaches Rock 1, with 30 students, jazz band and regular band. The rock classes are extremely popular, she said, and Rock 2 includes four drummers.

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The Mingus Union High School rock band is scheduled to play at Thunder Valley Rally on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood. (Emily Meyer/Courtesy)

“It is tough” since she has no other teachers assisting her other than the choir teacher.

Meyer started the first rock band program when she came to Mingus five years ago with 10 kids. There were 25 kids in the entire music program and now there are 100.

The students in the Thunder Valley Rally show are sophomores through seniors, Meyer said.

“They are so excited,” she said. The rock bands only got to play one show at the school last year because of COVID. “I think they are going to be nervous, but we are prepping for that too.”

It’s not going to be a detriment, it’s going to be an enhancement to the performance, she said of any butterflies.

“The most fun about doing the show is that there is a professional sound person,” Meyer said. “It’s a real professional gig.”

The students get graded higher if they prepare well, and do their best as a performer. Performances are 40% of their grades.

The kids will play a 45-minute set and they have picked eight classic rock hits including Psycho Killer, Time by Pink Floyd, It Smells Like Teen Spirit, the Jimi Hendrix version of Red House, Immigrant Song, a mix of Kinks and Van Halen songs.

Email Vyto Starinskas at vstarinskas@verdenews.com, or call 928-634-2241, ext. 6031.