Top of the Morning, April 17, 2014
They go by a catchy name, play a mean violin and like to celebrate with popsicles and a game of "Capture the Flag."
Introducing the Bow-Dacious String Band, a group of area kids who will knock your socks off if you catch them in concert. Your next chance is 6 p.m. Friday when they open Allerton's annual concert series at the Barn Dance.
Here's more with the help of Robin Kearton of the Community Center for the Arts (C4A), who founded BDSB in 2003.
The musicians range from ages 6 to 18 and use guitars, violins, cellos, ukuleles and accordions to wow crowds with tunes from Beethoven to the Beatles. Occasionally they sing, too.
"Anyone who can play 'Twinkle Twinkle' at a decent level without stopping is eligible to join," she said. "Other than that you have to be willing to perform and try new things, and be prepared to be part of a band."
Urbana High student Nathan Poulosky is an original member and now counts three younger siblings as bandmates.
"Eleven years later we're still going strong with 35-40 members at any given time," she said.
It's not their first time performing in a barn. And the unusual setting won't intimidate them. The BDSB once played while riding the carousel at Market Place Mall in Champaign.
"Sometimes they (get nervous), but generally not so you'd notice," she said.
Kearton and fellow C4A teacher Chris Petterson coordinate the performances. Kind of.
"It's not exactly a democracy, but the kids have a big say in what we do," she said. "When we have a gig the kids make up the set list and I have final approval. I nag them if they play out of tune and do what I can to inspire them to play with good energy."
Among program highlights: Shows at the Ellnora Guitar Festival at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts and the Great Performers of Illinois festival at Chicago's Millennium Park.
"Other highlights seem less glamorous, but are just as important," she said. "I love it when someone takes a solo at a gig for the first time, or if a more experienced band member helps a newcomer without being asked."