Jack Black’s shrieking and guitar shredding in School of Rock would fit in fine at Southwest High School’s Contemporary Academy of Music. CAM offers free rehearsal space and professional recording equipment, allowing students to create and manage bands, record albums, and to perform at venues around town (“Fast Times at Southwest High,” Sept. 2, 2015). The school is known for its award-winning marching band and jazz band. Some students, however, want to do more than play at halftime shows and University Interscholastic League contests.
One of Southwest’s premier groups is Black Market Garden, a rock outfit composed of current and former students: frontman Jack Bellomy, bassist Luis Moreno, and drummer Justin King.
And now, to quote Alice Cooper, school’s out for summer. What better way to kick off a vacay than by cranking up the rawk at Lola’s Saloon? On Saturday, Black Market Garden is headlining the annual show that features CAM students. Other acts include Common Royalty, Feuxdan, Skinner’s Skatellites, Figure This Out, The Mixed Breed, DJ DreamDrop with the Different Dimensional Dance crew, MC Dond’rae, and more.
At the same time, the band is releasing Bloom, its debut album of epic rock with jazz flavorings. Albums recorded at Southwest High’s CAM studio benefit from hands-on production by teacher Marco Petrilli, a former working musician from New York. He settled into Cowtown with his family in 2006 and began teaching at Southwest. The school’s marching band was the city’s first to compete in the UIL state competition in 2007 and a regular Top 5 finalist ever since. But many other musicians –– some of the untrained variety –– migrate toward the CAM program. Albums released by various bands are often embellished by other student musicians. Bloom is no different. On “Wednesday Girl,” sophomore Crystal Perez duets with Bellomy on vocals, while senior Jarius Foster plays piano and senior Isaac Berlanga contributes a guitar solo. The album includes four all-state players: Bellomy (choir); Moreno (tuba); Jarius Foster (piano); and Eddie Flores (trumpet).
Keeping tempo is King, a senior who hopes to enroll in UTA’s music program next year. The oldest rock joke in the world is: “What do you call a musician without a girlfriend? Homeless.” But King isn’t laughing. He found himself homeless for part of this school year. His father abandoned the family long ago. His mother is chronically ill and had to move to Florida to live with a relative prior to the school year. King stayed behind in Fort Worth, sharing an apartment with a couple of older guys. But one of the roommates vacated, rent didn’t get paid by mistake, and they were all evicted. A family at his church allowed him to live with them for a couple of months. Then a benefactor provided a free apartment not far from the school.
“It’s very convenient,” King said. “The apartment is a super-blessing.”
His mother didn’t want to leave him behind, but King insisted. He hoped his experience at Southwest would help him be accepted by UTA next year.
“I put my foot down, and said I want to stay in Texas,” King said. “The only thing I have going for me as far as college goes is music –– marching band, jazz band, wind ensemble, and CAM. There is so much going on at this school. It’s my only plan. I was determined to do this over everything else.”
Most bands that form at CAM dissolve after the members graduate and go their separate ways. Black Market Garden plans to stick together. The new album is easy to groove along with while displaying shades of Radiohead weirdness. The songs are sophisticated in structure and feature musical dynamics and coming-of-age poetic lyrics.
Saturday’s event will include a memorial for Fort Worth rocker and Blackhorse guitarist Gary James, who died last year. James’ grandchildren are current or former members of CAM, and they also will perform and present a donation to the music program at Southwest to help provide instruments for the next generation of Fort Worth musicians. Also, AC/DC guitarist Stevie Young has provided one of the final complete band-signed Rock or Bust tour programs. The program will be awarded to the donor who funds CAM’s purchase of the industry-standard Neumann U87 vocal mic –– the same kind former AC/DC singer Brian Johnson used on his recordings.
[box_info]Southwest Contemporary Academy of Music w/Black Market Garden
2pm Sat at Lola’s Trailer Park, 2737 W 5th St, FW. Free. All ages. 817-877-0666.[/box_info]