City Slang: School's In

Eddie Baranek is well known around town for his work with the Sights, not to mention KO & the Knockouts, Shotgun Wedding, Spitting Nickels and more. He’s a talented multi-instrumentalist, a bad-ass front man, and a super-sweet guy to top it all. It’s enough to make you throw up, right?

Well, as if that’s not enough, Baranek is imparting his years of wisdom at the School of Rock in Rochester. All joking aside, it’s an incredible thing that he and his staff are doing and, on Saturday night, the New Way crowd in Ferndale was treated to a set by a band of Baranek’s adult students.

The group, calling itself Group Therapy (pictured above left and bottom center), played a mixture of original compositions and covers, including rowdy renditions of the Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Loving” and Deep Purple’s “Highway Star”. As each song passed, the applause at the end grew louder and, by the time they finished, there were girls dancing at the front.

Naturally, they were a little rough around the edges. They have, after all, only played a few shows. But they dealt with any issues that arose swiftly and moved on. Obviously delighted to be living out their rock ’n’ roll fantasies, the enthusiasm from the band members was overwhelming. As Baranek told City Slang, “They just want to get up there and play. These are the kind of people I want to hang out with.”

The band, consisting of Jean Wharton (vocals, guitar), Mark Newport (vocals, guitar), Mike Stankard (guitar), Steve Mendelson (bass), Paul Olivieri (drums), Mark "Franchise" Frankhouse (vocals, drums), Julian Teachworth (guitar), Dale Smigelski (guitar), started two years ago according to Baranek (pictured right). “This current line-up has been intact for about a year now. They come to our school thinking they're just going to learn a few ZZ Top riffs in private lessons, but a few months later they're singing their heart out to some rock 'n' roll gem. It's very cool for me to see the passion in the older students (having come from what can be a jaded rock scene). It's refreshing to work with musicians who just want to play music and are passionate about it. It gets me every time.

The School of Rock is located at 415 Walnut Blvd., Rochester, MI 48307. Phone number is 248-726-9787. For more information, click here. There’s really no need to be a bedroom rock star any longer.

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