Real Life Music Camp for the next generation of musicmakers

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Few Pittsburgh-area rock bands have enjoyed as much success of Rusted Root, which came together when Michael Glabicki, who grew up in Baldwin Borough, met Liz Berlin when both were University of Pittsburgh students in the late 1980s.

The 1990s saw the group open for such legends as the Grateful Dead and Santana while attracting a fan base that resulted in healthy album sales and a strong following to this day.

Ms. Berlin, a Schenley High School graduate, still enjoys touring with Rusted Root but has a variety of other interests, including one that is designed to help launch the careers of the next generation of musicians.

Her annual Real Life Music Camp will take place Monday through Aug. 9 at Mr. Smalls Recording Studio on the North Side, one of the ventures she runs with her husband, Mike Speranzo.

"I try to share a little bit of my experience and my knowledge with kids who are interested and creative, but really don't know how to start," Ms. Berlin explained. "We're looking for young musicians, any skill level, any age. The youngest we've had is 10 to 12. We've had older people, too, even adults."

The camp consists of a series of workshops that focus on the creative process while teaching participants about the music industry. During the week, they work on recording a demo compact disc and developing a press kit.

"Sometimes a whole band will come," Ms. Berlin said. "It's a really positive thing, to go through camp as a band."

Or perhaps bands will emerge from camp. Such was the case with her son, Jordan Speranzo, who formed a group called Lightning Box after interacting with fellow musicians.

Camp participants will spend four days at the studio, and the final day is at Mr. Smalls Theatre in Millvale, where everyone will have the opportunity to perform in concert.

Along with Ms. Berlin, serving as instructor for the camp will be Jason Trunzo, a Pittsburgh native known in the area for his work with the band D.O.S.E. He now lives in Florida, where he fronts a group called lushbudget.

Another guest instructor is professional skateboarder Evan Smith, who also is "a really great budding musician," Ms. Berlin said. Her husband is a former professional skateboarder, and they collaborate musically with a band called Drowning Clowns.

Members of Anti-Flag, a Pittsburgh-based band that has recorded major-label albums, often make cameo appearances as instructors.

"Whenever they're in town, they come by and teach workshops or help the kids with music," Ms. Berlin said.

She will perform with guitarist Mark Strickland on Aug. 30 at the Hard Rock Cafe in Station Square. Rusted Root is playing Sept. 1 at Hartwood Acres as part of the 14th annual Allegheny County Musical Festival.

The fee for the weeklong camp is $450 to $950 and partial scholarships are available. For more information, call 412-821-4447, extension 222, or visit

music - neigh_south

Harry Funk, freelance writer:


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