School of Rock: Rock 'n Roll Fantasy Camp

A woman over 40 attends rock and roll fantasy camp

By Katherine Lanpher

Everyone leaves the studio but Bill McDonald, 54, another one of our guitarists. In Vancouver, he’s a maxillofacial surgeon who spends his days repairing jaws. We are quietly packing up when he turns to me and says, "I’m happy."
I know what he means. The experience of doing nothing for four days but make music is transformative. At some point, our group coalesced into an actual band, and I now feel a gushing affection for these men. I used to think of rock ‘n’ roll as an exclusive boys’ club — as obnoxious as a men’s-only golf course and as silly as a tree house with a "no girlz allowed" sign. That world still exists, but I haven’t seen it here.
I don’t want to go home.
That night, the House of Blues is sold out. Daltrey is warming up the crowd, a mix of rock fans and relatives of campers, letting them know that things will be a little loose. "If we rehearse, then it becomes too much like a show," he says. "This is not a real show. It’s a fucking fantasy!"
The night unspools like a film: Imagine a high school talent contest staged by Fellini. A stockbroker plays hot harmonica. Zander gets down on one knee to sing "I Want You to Want Me" to a female camper. I get bruises on my knees when I slide across the floor for the finish of "The Kids Are Alright." When I go to the bar, I see Joaquin Phoenix and a man who looks just like Prince. Then I realize it is Prince.
A few weeks later, I’m on the phone with Beattie, and we are bonding. Real life, we agree, pales in comparison with those music-filled days. But so many fantasies came true — Karen Yadvish Beeson played guitar with Rick Nielsen, Karen Adams-Dimery sang with her idol, and Beattie proved that she could still sing.
And me? I realized a fantasy I didn’t even know I had.
Originally published in MORE magazine, July/August 2007.

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