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It's Only Rock-and-Roll
By Janice L. Kaplan
Thursday, July 27, 2000

Teacher Bobby Manriquez shows Ben Bachrach the proper hand positions on his guitar. (Yoni Brook - for The Washington Post)
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The electric guitars get louder as the lead singer clutches her microphone, closes her eyes, moves her hips and sings: "If I could only get away for a day to a place for only me to stay."

A new hit by Britney Spears? Nope. It's Gina Carroll of Gaithersburg. You may not have heard of her yet, but now that she's spent a week at Dayjams rock-and-roll summer camp, who knows? She could be making her way up the charts faster than you can say Backstreet Boys.

Earlier this month, 10-year-old Gina performed the song she wrote with Air Force 7, one of the bands formed at Dayjams. In the basement of a Bethesda church, Gina was backed up by musicians Tarek Barger, 11, on guitar; Joseph Green, 9, on drums; Jake Feldman, 12, on drums; Greg Martin, 10, on guitar; and Jeremy Goodman, 12, on keyboard.

Dayjams--with locations in Bethesda, Alexandria and Baltimore as well as other parts of the country--is for boys and girls who dream of being rock stars. In just one week, participants form a band, design a T-shirt and poster, write a song, record a CD and perform in a live concert.

Some kids who attend the camp have never played an instrument. Others have years of experience and know how to read music. Everyone gets instruction in an instrument.

By Wednesday of the five-day camp, members of Air Force 7 are rehearsing Gina's song. It happens to be the band's only song. For her part, Gina has looked not to MTV for inspiration, but to her 15-year-old cousin Jennifer Vivion, who takes dance lessons. "She told me to move around so the crowd is interested, and to move my hips and look like I'm having a lot of fun," says Gina.

Surrounded by lots of equipment like mixing boards and amplifiers, the musicians break to discuss how to improve their performance. Jeremy, the keyboard player, expresses concern that Greg's guitar playing is drowning out his big finish. "Don't do anything fancy," Greg warns him. Gina suggests that Joseph's drumming is throwing off her singing. Joseph, the youngest in the group, says he can't help it. The problem is he can't reach all the drums.

Help arrives in the form of Bobby Manriquez, a camp counselor and professional guitarist. Manriquez suggests Joseph move the chair closer to the drum kit and then helps Greg and Jeremy work through their differences. Soon they're ready to take it from the top.

"One, two, one, two, ready go," says Greg, as they run through the song again.

"I can run but I can't hide because I feel so bad inside," sings Gina, as she tries out her cousin's moves. On the fourth go-round, the band nails it with a finish that pleases even Jeremy and Greg.

"Cool, totally cool," says Manriquez.

"That rocked," adds Jeremy.

2000 The Washington Post Company