Rock and roller personas come out at Dayjams camp

Rock and roller personas come out at Dayjams camp

One look at the smile beneath the eye makeup and Mohawk on Dylan Hagmans face, it was apparent the 13-year-old was in his element as one of the guitarists in Chaos Out of Order, a rock band born out of the Dayjams music day camp at St. Stephens and St. Agnes in Alexandria.

When he left home that morning, the faux-hawk hairdo, the eye make-up and the heavy metal attitude werent part of Dylans plan, but he went through a metamorphosis once the guitars came out and a girl approached him in the hallway. Was this part of the plan when his parents signed him up for this week long summer camp?

They havent seen it yet, Dylan said before going on stage to hammer out a Can of Chaos, in front of family and friends on the concert day, July 13. On stage, somehow Dylan ended up flat on his back, jamming on his guitar during the songs finale, confessing afterwards that was on purpose, I had a whole can of Monster energy drink.

That was just one act in a day full of rock performances from 11 bands of 9 to15-year-olds that were  nonexistent the previous week. This was the ninth year of the Dayjams rock music camp, designed to give children a taste of what its like to be a rock star, according to information released by camp organizers. One week of the rock and roll stardom set the parents back $540 or more if their children wanted more weeks jamming. This was the first of three summer sessions of Dayjams.

No experience necessary, yet
Bands ranged from the gnarly look of Chaos, to a mellow approach by the Thunderbirds playing Rock Punk led by lead vocalist Gabriela Walker. When I wrote it, I was thinking of Avril Lavigne, admitting that the song doesnt really make sense, she said. The stage show is all part of the fun though. I try to yell it, she said. The yelling part is a common thread of all the bands.

At Dayjams, musical experience is not required, except on horn players, who are required to have two years experience. Many young musicians return year after year. John and Tammy McClure from Annandale were in the audience to see their son Devin playing drums for the Love My Band Band. Hes been jacked-up all week about this for a while, said John McClure. Cindy Smith was in the audience for the second year in a row watching her son Tyler Garza, 11, play the keyboard. They made T-shirts this year, but they werent quite as raucous as last years. Last year they had the skull on his T-shirt. I wasnt too wild about that, Smith said.

West Potomac alumna Danica Priest was a counselor who is studying music at Virginia Commonwealth University. She witnesses the transformation over the week. Its amazing how all parts of the songs came together, she said.

What plays on the stereo at home has an influence on the youths musical tastes too. Adrian Brody, known as The Shredder, to his band mates, has some 1960s influences. I know the song Purple Haze, he said, before playing a few chords of the Jimi Hendrix song. He can play behind his head, added Coby Benheim, 11. Thats how nicknames such as The Shredder come to be. Marilyn Williams was in watching her son Sean play the guitar. She admitted to playing a lot of Eric Clapton, Bob Seger and Led Zeppelin around the house. We played Stairway to Heaven a lot, she said. All the bands wrote and played their own songs.

Each year the camp gets more popular, said camp organizer Scott Siegfried, whos been behind the Alexandria camp for eight of the last nine years.