Saturday's Show Gets Some Great Press in The Montclair Times

School house rock rocks on Saturday for Montclair kids

April 2, 2009

By George Wirt
of the Montclair Times

Alma Schneider believes in music in a big way.

And so does the small army of Montclair-based professional musicians, vocalists, music industry insiders, volunteers and parents whom she has helped bring together in a group that proudly calls itself Parents Who Rock (PWR).

"Music was such an incredibly important part of my life and my development and in my family’s development," Schneider explained as she rushed through a series of last-minute preparations for very unusual fundraiser this Saturday night.

"I know how important it is in the development of children, especially in the preteen years," she said. "It’s so important to have a creative outlet and to compose music and just express yourself through music.

"I just can’t imagine not having music in the schools."

Inspired by the way music has touched and helped shape and guide their lives, the more than 100 musicians and volunteers who make up PWR are on a mission to raise $50,000 this spring and make sure kids have that creative outlet.

Working with the Montclair Fund for Educational Excellence and the Montclair Board of Education, PWR plans to use the funds to buy instruments for the local public schools and to train the teachers who will be working with a future generation of musicians.

Their efforts will come to a dramatic climax 7 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at 67 Church St. when the PWR takes to the stage with a very special event dubbed "Rockin’ for Music in Our Schools."

Schneider said PWR has engineered a collusion of great live rock performances with an auction of one-of-a-kind rock memorabilia they hope will produce a "big bang" that will give birth to a whole new universe of musical opportunities for Montclair school kids.

"We started planning for this back last summer when I sat down with friends at Nishuane pool and talked about the idea," Schneider said.

The planning and organizing has been nonstop ever since. There has even been a slew of smaller "opening acts" like house parties, kids recitals, backyard concerts, the launch and sale of PWR’s "Let ’em Play" CD of live shows and house party gigs, and even Christmas caroling
"We had individuals in the dead of winter at Christmas time singing carols on Church Street when it was 15 degrees, with a guitar case open to collect money," Schneider said.

To date, all of those efforts have generated more than $12,000. PWR hopes a night of great live music Saturday will put them over the top.

"I’ve been telling people all year if you’re going to one fundraiser this year, save your money for this event because it’s going to be something to remember," Schneider said.

Among the groups headlining the show will be The Bloomingfields with Brendan Mee on bass, John Packel on drums, David Rieth on guitar and vocals, Janet Donofrio on vocals and Andy Day on guitar.

Schneider will step into the spotlight herself with her group Alma and the No Rehearsals featuring John Paul Uva on guitar, Miguel Rodriguez on drums, Doug Andrews on bass and Alma doing the vocals.

Like the rest of PWR, Schneider’s set will include an eclectic mix of music drawing on Beyonce, Johnny Cash and Patti Griffin.

For the rock history buffs and collectors of rare memorabilia there is a chance to bid on Keith Richards’ guitar pics, drum sticks autographed by Ringo Starr and cymbals signed by Phil Collins.

There will be guitar lessons, songwriting lessons, and voice lessons, as well as guitars, including a Gibson Melody Maker, a Fender Stratocaster, and Spector Electric, plus gig bags, amps and effects systems.

The auction item list also includes a free Music for Aardvarks session and compilation CDs, rock concert tickets, South Orange Performing Arts Center tickets, and an i-Pod Shuffle. There’s even cocktail party package featuring hors d’oeuvres for 10, cocktail fixings and your very own in-home Parents Who Rock musical performance.

Schneider said there are even special prizes for the nonmusical. They can win a Bobbi Brown makeup party for six, tickets to "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart," and a custom-designed evening dress from sketches through fittings to finished dress.

The list goes on with interior design consultations to blackjack lessons to Pilates classes to a lunch at and a tour of The New York Times. The list of prizes is available on Parents Who Rock’s Web site at

"This is going to be the rockingest social event of the season by far," Schneider promised.

Contact George Wirt at

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