Rock 'n' roll might well be called the religion of modern society. Its birth in the 20th century has spawned generations of followers who turn faithfully to its rhythms and words for wisdom on life, self and the cosmos. The sound is unavoidable, the influence immeasurable.
On Saturday at The Met, Spokane's public radio station KPBX will sponsor a kids' concert dedicated to the legacy of rock 'n' roll. The title of the concert, "The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll Part II: Songs of Change and Protest," is indicative of its aim.
"We want to give kids a look at where rock 'n' roll has come from," says Kathy Sackett, special events coordinator for KPBX and producer of the kids' concert. "It's not just love songs, but music that did make change in people's lives."
The event will feature music by the Panics, Linda Parman, the Working Spliffs and Steve Simmons.
In addition to sharing his own talents as a folk singer, Simmons will host the concert, giving kids a look into the development of various genres and sounds.
"Putting music in historical context starts important discussion about where it's been and where it's going," says Sackett.
Beginning with the folk genre and Linda Parman, the concert will move through the electric folk rock/psychedelic sound with the Panics and into the reggae era with the Working Spliffs, whose performance will culminate with the edgy, revolutionary riffs of punk rock.
"In historical perspective, punk rock is an important genre," says Steve Jackson of the Working Spliffs. "One, kids still listen to that stuff, and they know it now, since Nirvana broke in 1990. And two, when this music first came out back in '79, it was really a reaction against corporate rock by kids feeling alienated by the music they were hearing on the radio."
Jackson plays guitar for the Working Spliffs, a local band comprised of himself, his wife Laurie, Dave Held and Jeff Omeron. The band claims a reggae and roots-rock sound and compares itself to a harder version of the Grateful Dead. The Spliffs will play various songs at the concert, including "Get Up Stand Up," by Bob Marley, "Garage Land," by early Clash, and other tunes by the Sex Pistols and the Ramones.
"Rock and roll is about music for young people -- it's fun and rebellious, a response to the overproduced bands they can't relate to," says Jackson. "It's like the Clash song about garage bands: the idea that anybody can play guitar -- you don't have to be Eric Clapton -- and have fun doing it."
The Working Spliffs will also perform Bob Marley's "Lively Up Yourself," a song that deals with the need to claim control of your own life. Marley's themes of human rights, as well as social and personal change, will help illuminate the "protest and change" aspect of the concert.
Free to the public, the KPBX series features 11 different concerts a year that focus on a wide spectrum of music.
"The concerts are meant to be something that's fun, educational and entertaining," says Sackett. "It's a positive activity for families -- bringing their kids out to experience the music together. One of our goals is to build an audience for the future for the arts, and we're helping do that by exposing kids to all kinds of music."
The concert, while directed toward a younger crowd and its postmodern connection to rock music, will inevitably deal with the relationship to parents and the generations whose youth in some way fell in sync with the initial revolution of rock 'n' roll.
"Who knows, maybe the concert will help kids look at their parents in a new light," says Jackson. "Plus, this kind of rock won't die, at least in our generation."
"Rock 'n' roll in particular seems to be a rather dominant musical era," says Sackett. "I know a lot of kids whose favorite music is from the '60s, and their parents are still playing it. It's music that's still very much alive."
& & & lt;i & "The Roots of Rock 'n' Roll Part II: Songs of Protest and Change" begins at 2 pm, Saturday, Nov. 18, at The Met, 901 W. Sprague. Free. Call: 328-5729. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &