Musical mayhem strikes schools
By JUDY SHERARD
Area elementary school students were celebrating Kansas Day all week with a Hays Arts Council presentation, "A Music Legacy for Kansas."
"We're all proud to be from Kansas," HAC Executive Director Brenda Meder said. "You need good music to have a great birthday party."
On Friday, it was Washington Elementary School students' turn to be entertained by Scenic Roots, the Concordia sister duo of Erin and Amber Rogers.
"This is school 11, and it's been so much fun to see the kids interact, and there's been favorite songs at different schools. It's really fun to see a community that really supports music," Amber Rogers said.
Many school districts are cutting the arts, and with help from the HAC, "these kids will see no less than 50 musical events by the time they're out of school," she said. "We're excited to be part of it."
The sisters grew up playing music together, and have been performing professionally doing mountain melodies, bluegrass and down-home humor for approximately five years.
"Our dad started playing a mandolin when we were babies," Erin Rogers said. "He decided he wanted to try to learn an instrument, and that was it. He was a stay-at-home dad, and that was his sanity in the evenings project -- playing the mandolin. So Amber and I grew up with it."
Amber started playing the fiddle when she was 4, and Erin the dulcimer when she was 7.
The sisters have no other siblings.
"We tell Mom and Dad that they totally should have had more kids so we could have had a bigger band," Amber Rogers said.
They travel coast-to-coast and internationally doing nearly 150 shows a year in a variety of venues.
"We put on about 60,000 miles on our van," Amber Rogers said.
Their music is acoustic roots music, with a blend of folk and bluegrass.
"Our primary influences have been bluegrass and old-time traditional music. Because of our instrumentation, we fall into folk music," Erin Rogers said.
The pair have been nominated for two Grammys, one for folk album and one for folk song, Meder said,
For the past two years, they have been developing a summer kids' camp program and adding an educational component to performances.
As part of the HAC presentation, they also performed at Lincoln, O'Loughlin, Roosevelt and Wilson Elementary schools, Holy Family Elementary School, Victoria Elementary School, Ellis Grade School and St. Mary's Grade School in Ellis, Plainville Grade School and Sacred Heart Grade School in Plainville, and Bickerdyke Elementary School -- with Simpson Elementary students -- in Russell.