Aaron O’Keefe’s Middle School Rock Ensembles Will Make You Want to Quit Music



Not to make assumptions, but if you’re a Nashville musician (and that means most of you) or a fan of Nashville music (which means some of you), you’re no stranger to what I call Music City Exceptionalism — the belief that every note evaporated from the local talent pool is blessed like holy water and becoming of heavy-handed, hyperbolic sanctimony. It’s the prevailing consensus that not only does our musical shit not stink (contemporary country excluded, of course), but that our shit’s an incomparably awesome, fragrance-of-roses-trumping bouquet of musically scatological wonder to be snuffled up and wheezed through the nostrils from atop a magical velvet beanbag perched on a rhinestone-encrusted pedestal resting upon the Ryman stage.

Yeah, we’ve arguably got some kick-ass shit happening around here. But what nobody can deny is that — with a surplus of pro-gear, pro-attitude stage and studio rats — Nashville certainly has the best cover bands in the world. Guilty Pleasures, My So-Called Band, The Long Players, Mayhem and the rest. But hot damn if they can hold a candle to the precocious wunderkinds under the tutelage of Ohio middle school music teacher Aaron O’Keefe — students of the Buckeye State’s Loveland, Maineville and Lebanon Music academies who recently traveled to Nashville’s Tracking Room to school our session vets with impressively executed covers of some pretty fucking hard songs.

Check out O’Keefe’s Kiddos’ cover of alt-prog standard-bearers’ Tool’s answer to Rush’s “2112,” “46 and 2” (above). Not only does the boy behind the skins nail Tool dude Danny Carey’s ejaculatory avalanche of dizzying tom-tom flourishes, he does it with far fewer tom toms. And the singer handles Tool singer Maynard James Keenan’s angsty caterwauling without sounding like an irate customer service caller.
Seriously, the not-totally-heartless among you will love it. (But let’s all hope these kids don’t go so deep into the shit that they grow up to be the kind of “people” who would consider going to this.)

Now, before you let these kids grind your local pride down to a fine powder, find hope in the news that they might soon have some fresh-faced Nashville rivals, at least in the audio engineering department.

Recently, Music City resident rock producer and former Scene People Issue profile subject Nick Raskulinecz — whose credits include Foo Fighters, Rush, Coheed and Cambria and Queens of the Stone Age — took a team of students under his wing as a guest mentor at Nashville’s renowned Blackbird Studio. There, he taught students at The Blackbird Academy — a “post-secondary Professional School for Audio,” according to a press release — a thing or two proper mic placement, how to get great drum sounds and other wonky studio tricks, which is totally rad.

But did anyone teach those youngsters how to slay Iron Maiden’s “Number of the Beast”? Because holy fucking shit, watch this:

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