Janesville teachers bring musical prowess to stage

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Gazette staff
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

JANESVILLE—Spending hours in front of a classroom gives teachers experience in playing to tough crowds.

But even after class is over, some teachers continue to tap that talent. They play music in coffeehouses, bars and restaurants—often for audiences who are a bit more appreciative than the classroom crowds.

Janesville residents will get to meet some of those teachers at Rock the School House, a teacher talent show Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Janesville Performing Arts Center.

They'll meet Chris Kohn, who leads a class of fifth-graders at Harrison Elementary School and leads a band, The Two-Ton Heavy Thing.

They'll also meet Evan Riley, a teacher at Jefferson and Kennedy elementary schools by day and a singer/guitarist in the Evan Riley Band by night.

“I love teaching music because it is truly a universal language,” Riley said in a news release. “It gives all students an outlet to be creative and expressive.”

Saturday's lineup features 11 working and retired teachers. Proceeds from the talent show help support educational programs such as Washington Seminar, Global Youth Summit and Badger State events.

The acts include:

—The Evan Riley Band, an original folk/rock/pop band. Featuring Evan Riley, guitar/vocals; Marie Pauls, violin; Michael Mood, bass; Jamie Sercombe, trumpet, and Todd Thompson, drums.

—Vocalists Brian Knutson of Washington and Jackson elementary schools and Jan Knutson of Parker High School. Laurie Mitchell will play piano.

—The Conway Family Band, featuring guitarist Bill Conway of Parker High School and his children: Richie on guitar/vocals, Charlie on bass and Lee on drums.

—Seth Matuszak, cello soloist. Matuszak is orchestra director at Edison and Franklin middle schools and Adams and Madison elementary schools.

—Steve Pease & Swing Fish, a swing band featuring pianist/trumpeter Steve Pease, Edison's academic learning coach. Other members are Gerry Lehr, bass; Dave Viemeister, drums/trumpet; Julie Sewell, vocals/percussion; John Schultz, trombone, and Dave Lennox, tuba. Lennox and Viemeister are retired Janesville band directors.

—Trygve Danielson, folk guitarist and retired Parker High School teacher.

—Kyle Elsbernd, an acoustic guitarist and teacher in the Craig High School English Department.

—Chris Kohn & The Two-Ton Heavy Thing, a band that blends acoustic rock, funk, jazz and soul. Other band members performing are Jesse Korleski and Tony Farrell.

At the end of the night, the entire cast will perform “I'll Make The Difference” by Moses Hogan.

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