[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Inside
Weather
Santa Clarita CA
Mostly cloudy
Mostly cloudy
62°F
 
Calendar
Today in
S.C.V. History
October 20
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]


Six local students spent more than eight hours inside the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a rolling state-of-the-art audio/video recording studio parked for the day in the Santa Clarita Sports Complex lot, collaborating on writing an original song called “California Calling” from scratch, then recording it and shooting a promo video to end the session.

The students — Leilani Avlia, 14 (Valencia High School), her sister Elisabeth Avila, 19 (College of the Canyons); Matt Molloy, 16 (West Ranch); Gregory Rosenberg, 17 (West Ranch); Brianna Riddle, 17 (West Ranch); and Matt’s sister Melinda Molloy, 13 (Castaic Middle School) — got a hands-on lesson Monday in the basic creative process behind every great recording, including the ones by the legendary John Lennon.

The six are either related, know or are acquainted with each other, but this was the first time any of them collaborated on writing a piece of music.

“I think I really would like to do more with this when I get older, so this was a great experience for me, to know how it feels,” Melinda Molloy said at the end of the day.

Producing the session was the Lennon Bus’s three-man band of gypsies — multi-skilled writers, musicians, engineers and videographers Kyle Baudour, Hans Ages and Ryan L’Esperance — who criss-cross America 10 months out of the year conducting sessions like these.

“The bus’s purpose is to try to carry on John Lennon’s legacy, which is, art-wise, trying to bring art and music education to people all across the country,” Baudour said. “There’s so many different music programs and art programs being cut across the country. The bus is a way to give back to different communities and different schools across the country.”

“We travel all across the continental United States,” Boudour said. “This year alone, we’ve been back and forth on the East Coast a few times at least. We’ve been to New Orleans, Texas, New York — you name it, we’ve been there.”

Based in California, the Lennon Bus has been on the road for more than a decade, Baudour said. “This is actually our 15th birthday right now.”

The bus and its crew are funded and operated through a 501c3 nonprofit organization.

“Everything on the bus is donated and given to us by our different sponsors,” Baudour said. “Everything from our Sony cameras to our Gibson guitars, it’s all given to us and free of cost, so we’re able to carry out this mission and allow students across the country to use this gear that you’d see in any real recording studio.”

A fixture at the annual winter NAMM (National Association of Music Merchandisers) convention in Anaheim each January, the Lennon Bus was officially christened there in 2008 by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono. In the years since his murder on Dec. 8, 1980, Ono has devoted considerable time and energy to finding and partnering to create creative ways to honor her late husband’s legacy, and keep it alive and thriving for future generations.

“It’s through Yoko, who comes out every now and then, that we’re able to carry on John’s legacy,” Baudour said.

“At a time when music education in the schools is facing tough funding challenges, the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus has been a rolling testament to the enduring, positive power of music-making,” Ono said in a statement. “(The bus) is precisely the kind of project that John Lennon would have loved. I support this project 100 percent for that very reason.”

The Lennon Bus stops in locations by special request. In this case, Donna Avila, who happens to work for the city of Santa Clarita, thought it might be a good experience for her daughters and other local students. So Avila visited lennonbus.org/request, filled out an online form, and the organizers who put together the bus’s itinerary added Santa Clarita to a schedule of Southern California stops. The visit came nine days before what would have been Lennon’s 72nd birthday on Oct. 9.

 

Producer Kyle Baudour

The Session

In the Sports Complex lot Monday, the day’s schedule was roughly this:

7:30 a.m.: Bus arrived and crew set up

7:45 a.m.: Crew ate breakfast

9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.: Recording session with the six students

Noon: Lunch

6:15 p.m.: Session wrapped; bus loaded-out and hit the road soon after.

 

When the students boarded the bus at 9 a.m., they had a fairly good idea who John Lennon was.

“He was very hippie-ish. It was all about love, and in the center was equality and being the best person you could be,” Riddle said. “And in a lot of ways, it was inspirational…I think his song ‘Imagine,’ which is probably his most famous song, is really like who he was. He found ways to spread the love and the peace and tried to make the world more unified.”

“I think he was calling on us to change the world,” Rosenberg said.

But the group had little idea their extra-classroom education that day would be a songwriting/recording/video session on the Lennon Bus.

They marvelled at how every square inch of the bus’s interior is neatly jammed with recording studio gear, digital musical instruments, computer drives, and storage. From front to back, you see the entrance and driver’s seat, then the center recording and video area, which doubles as a lounge. The next section back has a computerized mixing console on the left and a keyboard and full set of digital drums on the right. Keep walking and open the soundproofed sliding glass door, and you to go into the isolation booth at the rear of the bus.

“It was crazy,” said Elisabeth Avila.

“‘We’re writing a song? OK, guys!'” said Melinda Molloy, who actually sings and has played guitar for about two years, and wrote the music.

“You don’t necessarily trust your musical inclination to write a song sometimes, but it’s kind of cool to see how, if you actually trust yourself to do it,” said Riddle, an actor, not a musician, she added.

Rosenberg said he was an actor, too. “I can do musical theater, but I’ve never written a song before.”

The vibe was upbeat from the start of the session.

“(Melinda) got on the guitar and started strumming up some chords…” Riddle said.

“We were talking,” said Melinda Molloy. “‘Is it going to be a sad, slow song, or a happy, upbeat song?’ They all said, ‘Happy!’ So I’m trying to think of happy chords, happy strums, and something just clicked…so we went along with it.”

“When we had the guitar chords, everything kind of found its spot and fit in really nice and neat,” Riddle said.

“Especially your keyboards,” Rosenberg said to Riddle.

“I was really excited, actually, to work in a professional studio with a professional drum kit,” said Matt Molloy. “That was really awesome.”

“It all went really well,” his sister said.

While brainstorming ideas for lyrics to go with the music track they recorded, Elisabeth and Leilani Avila noticed Gregory was sitting alone, looking like he felt excluded, and it sparked the idea for the song.

“At first, we were going to sing a song about rainbows and unicorns, but no one really liked that idea, except for (Rosenberg),” Melinda Molloy said.

Elisabeth and Leilani Avila and Rosenberg developed a storyline, and buffed out the lyrics using iPads provided by the Lennon bus producers.

Along the way, the six named themselves Any Other Name, a phrase from Shakespeare’s “Romeo & Juliet” (as in, “…a rose by any other name…”), and the song became “California Calling.”

“It’s about this guy who lives in New Mexico, and he wants to be a star, but he sucks at guitar and no one likes him,” Rosenberg said.

“Then he gets a chance, he gets money to actually go to California, and then he’s awesome in California, and everyone loves him,” Leilani Avila said.

“In the chorus, it says he wants to be in the (Rock ‘n’ Roll) Hall of Fame,” Melinda Molloy said. “So, at the end of the song, he gets to be in the Hall of Fame. That’s pretty much his goal.”

She said she’d like to do the same someday. “That would be really a great honor.”

“Yeah, that would be pretty cool,” Matt Molloy agreed.

Last came the vocals; Elisabeth Avila sang lead, Melinda Molloy sang backup, and Rosenberg sang the bridge in the vocal booth as engineer Hans Ages captured the digital files.

Working with Baudour, Ages and L’Esperance “was really exciting,” Riddle said.

“They really liked you,” Rosenberg said to her.

“You sit there and you think, these musically inclined people — instead of going out and trying to be the most famous rock stars they can, they volunteer their time to come and teach kids about music and to help spread it,” Riddle said. “And it teaches there’s so much to it, it’s so complex and it’s a beautiful thing, it’s really awe-(inspiring). It’s astonishing that they give their time to teach us how to do it.”

“You can tell they really love the creative process of it,” Elisabeth Avila said. “They get really excited about it. Like, ‘Hey, what do you want to do?’ And as soon as somebody gets something, ‘Oh, dude, dude, check this out!’ They get really excited about the process and creating a song and a video, all in one day.”

Melinda Molloy wound up spending the most time in the isolation booth, laying down vocals and guitar.

“I had to do guitar once and redo it over again, so there’s a lot of time and effort that goes into it,” she said. “But really, it’s just a lot of fun. And they really do enjoy working with us. It doesn’t get frustrating.”

“It’s nice to see how patient they are with us, ’cause none of us are patient,” Riddle said. “We’re not prodigies by any means.”

“They definitely gave us a lot of control,” Rosenberg said.

Elisabeth Avila and Melinda Molloy sing for the music video, as Leilani Avila holds up an iPad displaying the lyrics, and Hans Ager mans the camera.

That control extends beyond the day’s session.

“We don’t own any of the rights, or at least any of the copyrighted rights, to the songs — they’re owned by the students,” Baudour said. “But we do upload them to our YouTube channel, youtube.com/johnlennonbus, and post them on our Facebook wall, facebook.com/lennonbus, so the entire world can actually see all of the different student projects we’ve created over the past 15 years.”

The SCV students certainly gained a new appreciation of what goes into producing the music they hear on the radio or on their iPods.

“So many (popular) bands — how long did it take them to get it so perfect, so it sounds so cool?” Melinda Molloy asked. Now, she has a clue.

That’s exactly what he and his crew set out to do, Baudour said. “We hope that the students leave here with a newfound respect and enhancement of their creativity, understanding maybe a little bit more about the recording process, about the writing process and about the music video-making process, that they really take something away from this that can be applicable not just to their musical and video lives, but to actually their artistic, creative everyday lives.”

Next stops for the Lennon Bus: Long Beach and San Diego.

And check out the Lennon Bus website this weekend for the audio and video of “California Calling'” by Any Other Name, fresh outta the Santa Clarita Valley.

The author was the original writer/producer of “The Lost Lennon Tapes” radio series for Westwood One, February 1988-June 1990.

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.

1 Comment

  1. I already know 3. I am looking for a personal talent to help me guide in my guitar lessons. Since Our last communication I connected with Nils Loren He has all the Guidance + support I need. You have to admit Nils is a gifted man who has worked hard to be the best. In my view he is right with Beck who with-out a doubt the greatest guitar player of our time. Not taking anything away from all the other greats. Thank you..

Leave a Comment


ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT LINKS
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
Want unique gifts and a shopping experience unlike any other?
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
Maryama, a band led by CalArts alumna Maryama Mirbagheri (Music MFA 17), was recently nominated for a 2017 Hollywood Music in Media Award in the World Music category.
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
The College of the Canyons Art Gallery will showcase the work of Los Angeles-based painter Sheldon Figoten in a one-person exhibition of new paintings, “Light Fields,” opening Saturday, Oct. 28.
Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
The Santa Clarita Artists Association held its 28th Annual Art Classic fine arts competition at William S. Hart Park's Hart Hall in Newhall on October 14.
Tuesday, Oct 17, 2017
CalArts Center for New Performance (CNP), the professional producing arm of California Institute of the Arts, opens Fantômas: Revenge of the Image at Wuzhen Theatre Festival in Wuzhen, China, on Oct. 19.
Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1873 - Santa Barbara lawyers Charles Fernald and J.T. Richards purchase Rancho San Francisco for $33,000 (75 cents an acre) in a sheriff's sale [story]
CHESTERFIELD, MO — NewGround, a St. Louis-based experiential design-build firm, recently teamed up with Logix Federal Credit Union to work on a large scale facility project, a new corporate headquarters building for the full-service credit union in the Burbank, California area.
Valencia Will Soon be Home to Logix Federal Credit Union Headquarters
The CSUN women's volleyball team (10-9, 4-3 Big West) opens the second half of the Big West season this week as the Matadors head up the coast this week for road tests at No. 23 Cal Poly (17-2, 7-0 Big West) and UC Santa Barbara (4-15, 3-4 Big West). CSUN, coming off a tough five-set loss to Hawai'i at home, is 3-4 in seven road matches this season but has won two of three Big West road contests.
Matadors Volleyball Testing Their Skills on the Road
No. 5 College of the Canyons defeated L.A. Mission College 3-0 on Wednesday to earn its eighth consecutive match and fifth straight sweep. Set scores were 25-15, 25-11, and 25-20.
Cougars Volleyball Earns Fifth Straight Sweep
CSUN Women's Soccer (7-4-5, 3-1-1 BWC) looks to move up in the Big West standings this week as it hosts UC Irvine on Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
Matadors Get Ready for Big West Matchups
Behind Julio Rubio's goal in the 11th minute CSUN defeated UC Riverside 1-0 in Big West Conference men's soccer action Wednesday night.
Matadors Lone Goal Enough to Hold Off UC Riverside
Northridge, CA – CSUN Athletics officially opened its new satellite athletic training facility on Thursday at an event featuring Athletic Director Dr. Brandon Martin, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Steven Grech, student-athletes, coaches, staff and campus partners.
Matadors Student-Athletes Welcome New Training Facility
Want unique gifts and a shopping experience unlike any other?
Nov. 18-19: City’s Annual Two-Day Fine Craft Show
City officials gathered Wednesday for the Grand Opening of "Three Oaks," the first 100 percent affordable family development in Santa Clarita.
Affordable Housing Comes to Santa Clarita
The Gibbon Conservation Center will celebrate Halloween for the first time on Saturday, Oct. 28 from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 28: Gibbon Conservation Center Celebrates First Halloween
California State University, Northridge is partnering with the California State University Entertainment Alliance to host a morning of workshops designed to offer students and members of the public advice on building successful careers in the entertainment industry.
Oct. 23: CSUN Workshop; Succeeding in Entertainment Industry
Spotlight Arts Center, a local non-profit that provides free performing and visual arts classes to children in the Santa Clarita Valley, will hold its Fall Festival, Sunday, Oct. 22 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Oct. 22: Fall Festival Spotlight Arts Center
The College of the Canyons Athletics department is inviting all players, coaches and cheerleaders associated with a Santa Clarita Valley youth sports league or cheer organization to attend Saturday's Cougar football game free of charge.
Oct. 21: SCV Youth Teams Invited to Free COC Football Game
College of the Canyons freshmen Joanna Roecker and Cassandra Lee both turned in scores of 79 to lead the Cougars to a second place team finish at the Western State Conference (WSC) event hosted by Glendale College at Brookside Golf Course on Monday.
COC Falls Short at WSC Glendale
Beginning Monday, October 23, 2017, the city of Santa Clarita will increase the frequency of street sweeping throughout all areas of the City.
Oct. 23: City Begins Increased Street Sweeping Frequency
In a battle for Western State Conference, East Division supremacy, it was College of the Canyons that came out on top Tuesday night, as the Cougars scored two second half goals to secure a 2-0 win against visiting Antelope Valley College. Justine Hoeft and Jennifer Roney collected goals for the Cougars (11-2, 2-0).
COC Secures Win Against AVC With Two Second-Half Goals
The upcoming 10-year anniversary of the Buckweed Fires offers Santa Clarita residents a reminder of the ever-present fire danger in Los Angeles County, as blazes ravage the northern half of the state, as well.
County, City Officials Reflect on 10-Year Anniversary of Buckweed Fires
Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station, with help from a Smartphone GPS system, were able to locate a lost hiker Wednesday night at Towsley Canyon.
Smartphone GPS Locates Lost Towsley Canyon Hiker
Dreamation Craft Guild will be hosting a boutique at Canyon High School, Nov. 18, from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. to benefit the family of John Phippen, the Santa Clarita resident who was killed in the Las Vegas shooting.
Nov. 18: Holiday Marketplace Benefiting John Phippen Family
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – To ensure drivers, passengers, and children are properly restrained while traveling California’s roadways, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) has partnered with the California Office of Traffic Safety on a new traffic safety campaign entitled, “California Restraint Safety Education And Training” (CARSEAT).
CHP’s New Traffic Safety Campaign Focuses on Saving Lives, Reducing Injuries
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Speed and aggressive driving, the main causes of traffic collisions in California, will be the focus of a year-long education and enforcement campaign by the California Highway Patrol (CHP) that started Oct. 1, 2017.
CHP Grant Aims to Reduce Fatalities, Traffic Injuries; Addresses Street Racing
1945 - Acton Hotel, est. 1890, burns down; arson is suspected [story]
The fall 2017 Star Party at College of the Canyons' Canyon Country campus on Friday, Oct. 27 will focus on the pathways to space exploration that exist for star-gazers who are captivated by the many mysteries of the universe.
Oct. 27: Star Party at COC Canyon Country Campus
Determined to transform the deeply troubled Los Angeles County Probation Department, the Board of Supervisors Tuesday voted unanimously to consider an independent entity that would provide guidance, oversight and accountability.
Supes Consider Entity for Probation Reform Guidance, Oversight, Accountability
Alexia Cina of Canyon Country was arrested Wednesday in connection with the death of a mother of six children in a head-on crash on Golden Valley Road on October 6.
Woman Charged with Manslaughter, DUI in Death of Mother of 6
The 22nd annual Santa Clarita Marathon is scheduled for Sunday, November 5, 2017, following the Santa Clarita Health and Fitness Expo on Saturday.
Nov. 4-5: 22nd Annual Santa Clarita Marathon Events
The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped to a 3-0 lead in the best of seven series following Tuesday night’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the NLCS at Wrigley Field.
Dodgers Out to Sweep Cubs in NLCS Game 4
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's 2017 Medal of Valor Awards were held Tuesday in Los Angeles, and SCV Sheriff's Station Deputy Dmitry Barkon was recognized for his bravery and heroic actions.
SCV Sheriff’s Deputy Dmitry Barkon Earns Medal of Valor
Now is the time for all good college-bound high school seniors to join the 'Race to Submit' applications for FAFSA and CADAA grants to help cover college expenses.
High School Seniors: ‘Race to Submit’ is on for 2018 College Financial Aid
Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies interrupted a smash-and-grab burglary on The Old Road early Friday morning, arresting one suspect and seeking two alleged accomplices still at large.
SCV Deputies Catch Window-Smash Burglars in the Act
Pukúu Cultural Community Services, founded in 1971 by members of the local Fernandeno-Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, will host its 13th Annual scholarship gala fundraiser, "Night with the Stars," in Sunland on Saturday, November 4 starting at 6 p.m.
Nov. 4: Local Tribe Honors 3, Celebrates Native American Heritage Month
California's Attorney General today filed a motion to compel the federal government to follow the law and pay the subsidies that millions of Americans rely on to lower the out-of-pocket costs in their insurance plans.
California AG Fights to Keep ACA Cost-Sharing Subsidies
Santa Clarita business owners are encouraged to take the city's broadband feasibility study online survey and participate in the next phase of the study -- in-person focus groups scheduled for October 30.
Oct. 30: Focus Groups in Next Phase of City Broadband Study
The $17 billion "California WaterFix" project reached a tipping point Tuesday after a Silicon Valley water district voted against Gov. Jerry Brown’s approach in favor of a less expensive, scaled-back version.
Silicon Valley Water Board Wants Delta Tunnels Downsized