Big dreams, turgid music permeate first-ever light rock fantasy camp

Who says dreams can’t come true? They did for Elaine Walton, who got to sing Whitney Houston’s “The Greatest Love Of All” to her coworkers at last weekend’s Light Rock Fantasy Camp at the Green Lake Sports Bar and Convention Center.

“I still can’t believe I’m here!” said Walton, a 38 year old assistant office manager at Big Dog’s corporate offices. “To hear Jennifer Warnes talk about the recording of ‘Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong.’ Or to have Michael McDonald tell me my song was garbage… it’s everything I’ve ever wanted, and I only had to sell my car to do it!”

Jubilant phrases like “dream come true,” “fantasy come to life” and “where’s the bathroom” were the norm throughout the four-day camp, which was created by former Christopher Cross roadie Julian “Jules” Roberts. “There are plenty of rock and roll fantasy camps, where they have the Bachman-Turner Overdrive Guy and the drummer from KISS come and show you how to rock,” Roberts said. “But we knew the adult contemporary crowd deserved the chance to try singing sugary ballads for a $5000 fee, so here we are!”

More than four dozen light-rock campers spent the weekend forming bands and writing songs (“Everybody needs one ballad and one Latin-flavored dance number,” said Roberts). They also attended workshops taught by former hitmakers, like songwriters Desmond Child and Diane Warren, and hangers-on like Lionel Richie’s cousin Leo, who claims to have inspired hits like “Dancing on the Ceiling.” “The light rock lifestyle’s not for everybody,” he told the campers during his workshop, “You have to want it more than anything else in the world. I didn’t, but my cousin did, and thank God for that!” The camp concluded with each band making their concert debuts in a “battle of the bands” at the Anderson Podiatry bandshell in Gun Shooters Federation Park.

“So who here wants to hear a little Michael Bolton?” singer Lee Jacobs asked the crowd of friends and family members at the concert. After getting little response, he tried again. “All right, how about some Manhattan Transfer?” Still facing an apathetic audience, Jacobs and his band, the Dish Washin’ Devils, tore into a passionate version of Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One,” an unfortunate choice in that every one of the six previous bands had already played the song. A frustrated Jacobs then stripped naked and began throwing chairs at special guest judge Peter Cetera, until camp staff dragged him away- an act which finally drew cheers from the crowd.

Flushed with the success of the Light Rock camp, Roberts is considering camps for other musical genres. “Why not a ‘hot country’ camp, where folks can write songs about kicking Saddam’s butt? Or an emo workshop- ‘Whining Your Way To Fame and Fortune’! There’s just so many possibilities.”

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