- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Listening to British folk singer Vashti Bunyan’s 2005 disc, “Lookaftering,” is traveling back to the past in a time machine. Although it features modern production and hip contemporary artists like Joanna Newsom, its lyrics muse on anachronisms such as “white washing” and “rows of chimney pots,” its instrumentation includes dulcimer and harmonium, and Miss Bunyan’s soprano sounds like a bird’s song echoing over the moors. One reason the album may hark back to simpler times is that, in a sense, it’s picking up where Miss Bunyan left off 35 years ago; her first and only other recording was 1970’s “Just Another Diamond Day.” After being discovered by Rolling Stones svengali Andrew Loog Oldham in the late ‘60s, the chanteuse recorded tracks for several labels, but grew increasingly disillusioned with the music industry. Her friend and fellow musician Donovan invited her to join his Isle of Skye artists’ colony, and even paid for her ticket: a horse and cart. Although he left before her arrival, her exodus inspired her mystical first full-length album two years later. She found no solace in its release, however, considering it a failure. “I failed to do what I’d set out to do, which is blur the joints between folk music and pop music. I felt very strongly about it for years,” she says. Miss Bunyan settled down to raise a family and didn’t look over her shoulder until one day in the late ‘90s, when she performed a Google search on her own name. Without her knowledge, her long-lost record had become a cult hit. Fans gave her enough faith to return to music, reissue “Diamond Day,” and deliver a new work that thrust her career in directions she’d never believed she could go before — including her first U.S. tour last year. The artist is now on her second with American folkies Vetiver, and played Carnegie Hall in New York on Feb. 2. While she doesn’t regret devoting herself to her three children, the current Edinburgh, Scotland, resident says, “I’m just so lucky that I’ve had a chance to find my dreams again. So many people don’t; they just get swamped in domestic life.” Miss Bunyan and Vetiver roll through the Rock & Roll Hotel (1353 H St. NE) tomorrow. Music starts at 9 p.m. Rock 101 School of Rock Music founder Paul Green, also a father of two, knows that maintaining a balanced diet is critical to children’s health. When he’s on the road gigging with his pupils, for example, he requires them to eat breakfast each morning; fruit and grains, he says, are a must. But in order to maintain the well-being of his chosen art form, the rocker-turned-pedagogue also recommends that his students ingest liberal doses of good, old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Metallica, Jimi Hendrix and David Bowie, for starters. Mr. Green, it seems, is on a mission to save rock music, and his preferred method is to meld children into hard-core, head-banging (and sometimes even mohawked) musicians who are ready to take the torch and run with it — all over the stage. Rather than merely teaching youngsters chords, his music instruction program lets 7- to 18-year-olds actually try on the rock star persona for size; they take private lessons, then rehearse and eventually perform in an honest-to-goodness rock tribute concert. If they’re extra lucky — and demonstrate additional promise — they might be selected for the All-Stars, a group that co-headlines shows with legends like Alice Cooper, Peter Frampton and, currently, Jon Anderson of Yes. School of Rock “puts these kids in experiences that are over their heads,” says Mr. Green, “and, for the most part, they rise to the challenge.” His unique hands-on approach grew out of his experiences teaching youth music lessons in the ‘90s while in college in Philadelphia. When he had some of his students perform Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” for a friend’s art opening in 1998, rave reviews and participant satisfaction alerted him that he was onto something big. What began as a Philadelphia storefront in 2000 has since grown to 24 locations (40 by the end of the year) from Salt Lake City to Silver Spring, and along the way, School of Rock attracted the attention of filmmaker Don Argott, who chronicled the institution in his 2005 Sundance-anointed “Rock School.” It is also widely believed that Mr. Green provided the inspiration for the 2003 Jack Black movie “School of Rock,” despite the studio’s denial. Now a resident of New York City, the instructor says he’s also learned a lot from his students over the years. “One thing is how quickly kids get jaded,” he says. “This one group got all excited for the [current shows we’re doing with] Jon Anderson. But if I’m thinking of bringing him back for another tour, they’ll be like, ‘Do we have to? Been there, done that.’ ” On Wednesday, School of Rock All-Stars and Mr. Anderson headline Falls Church’s State Theatre (www.thestatetheatre.com). The show starts at 8 p.m.

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