School of Rock

Swallow Hill has long been Denver's main haven for folk, roots and acoustic music. But Chad Johnson, who's been giving private drum lessons there for the past seven years, is throwing something a little heavier into the equation with Rock Academy, which he started in August. He wanted to teach people how to improvise, listen to each other, take cues from a singer and play solos in a rock setting.

Originally he planned to start two separate programs — one for teenagers and another for adults — but he ended up combining the two. To bring the two generations together on common ground, Johnson picked songs that a drummer and bass player in their fifties, a singer in his forties and three teenagers can all have fun playing.

"I tried to find something that they all could resonate with, because I know the older people didn't necessarily want to do 'Back in Black,'" Johnson says. "And the young kids didn't want to do really old, cheesy stuff."

Hear them play "Jumpin' Jack Flash," "Mustang Sally," "You Really Got Me" and Beck's "New Pollution" at 3 p.m. today at Swallow Hill's Tuft Theater; Johnson's band, Roktapus, will also perform. Swallow Hill is at 71 East Yale Avenue, and the cover is $3. The Rock Academy's next session starts November 11; visit for information.
Sun., Nov. 4, 3 p.m., 2007

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Jon Solomon writes about music and nightlife for Westword, where he's been the Clubs Editor since 2006.
Contact: Jon Solomon