Three bands set for 'jailhouse rock'

Nevada State Prison inmate bands will do a little "jailhouse rock" in the lower prison yard 1-4 p.m. on Independence Day.

The inmates are off-campus students of Western Nevada Community College enrolled in a two-credit band class.

"Because of good behavior, we're giving them a few more things to do instead of just being warehoused out here," said Warden Michael Budge.

He didn't want to use the word "reward," but said he was cutting the inmates some slack because there have been fewer "incidents" lately.

"I have had virtually zero overtime, and my incidents are down. We're trying to use programs to enhance security. Programs like this are kind of like dangling a carrot -- if they abuse it, they lose it."

Three inmate bands will perform -- Downtime, Starfish and Wrathchild.

Professional blues musician Bobby Joe Holman is their instructor. He will emcee the concert and join Wrathchild on stage Friday.

"We're going to do a couple blues numbers -- a little shuffle and then a slow blues," he said Wednesday before heading out to rehearse with the band.

He's impressed with their skill and professionalism.

"These cats can play, man. They could perform professionally."

The musicians provide their own instruments. Holman, who performs in the area with his band Blues Groove, is taking care of the the sound system. The stage was built by the inmates, with design assistance from the WNCC Performing Arts program.

After the concert, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Vietnam Veterans Association inmate organizations will host a barbecue.

Hamburgers, hot dogs and the fixings were paid for by the veterans and NAACP members, Budge said, with money from hobby craft sales and other fund-raisers.

Holman said he was teaching part-time at WNCC when he was asked about the prison.

"I was teaching guitar when (Associate Warden of Programs James) Baca asked me to come in and listen to them play," he said.

Baca said the band program is similar to those in art and stone sculpture at the prison in recent years.

"We try to get them involved in something positive, something that requires discipline and allows them to develop skills. They can then use those skills to give something back to the community," he said.

Since Holman volunteered to work with the inmates, the program has taken off, he said.

"This thing has kinda just taken on a life of its own."

The show is not open to the public.

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I walked into the Brewery Arts Center's old church Performance Hall a little late for the Argenta Trio Sunday afternoon.

The trio is comprised of University of Nevada, Reno, faculty members Phillip Ruder on violin, John Lenz on cello and James Winn on piano.

The music was so deeply stirring, I closed my eyes and absorbed it. Described in the original press release as "like a conversation between three interesting people," the music rolled along, climbing and plummeting down -- finally washing ashore calmly like a wrecked ship after a storm.

Ruder gave a couple tender plucks on his strings as punctuation on the piece, and I opened my eyes, expecting an explosive applause. Strangely, the Carson City crowd sat like silent mannequins.

I asked Diversions editor Sam Bauman what was up, and he explained the break was not the end of a song but the end of a movement.

"You never clap between movements," he explained.

The performance was part of a series of classical and jazz concerts. Up next is sax man Lew Tabackin and his crew, including Boris Kozlov and Mark Taylor. They recently completed three tours of Japan. Hear them at the Performance Hall on July 27 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $15 general and $12 for members and seniors. Call the BAC for more details at 883-1976.

Call Karl Horeis at 881-1219.


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