ACM@UCO Rocks Bricktown
7 p.m.-midnight Thursday
Downtown Oklahoma City
On Thursday, the Academy of Contemporary Music will close out its first set in true rock 'n' roll fashion: with the reverberation of amplified guitars and a flurry of crashing cymbals.
More than 40 student-led performances are slated to stage at eight Bricktown locations, including clubs, bars and restaurants like Maker's Straight Up, Tapwerks and Bricktown Live. The concerts are both a showcase of musicians tied to ACM@UCO, and a celebration marking the end of the school's first academic year.
Many of the acts performing formed at the school throughout the academic year and are comprised of students only, while other bands were established independently with an ACM student and other nonstudent musicians, said the school's Business Development Center manager, Derek Brown.
Other students on the school's production and sound engineering path will work behind the scenes by setting up audio equipment, managing stages and running mixing boards, Brown said.
The first ACM showcase, which closed out the fall semester, was geared toward students' families and friends, said the school's CEO, Scott Booker. When plans began for a second student-led performance to cap the spring semester, he said it quickly became clear that a single venue wouldn't be big enough.
When the school's COO, Susan Wortham, suggested spreading the concerts among several Bricktown venues, "Derek and I both immediately thought, 'That's a great idea,'" Booker said.
ACM will host several workshops and seminars throughout the summer, largely "fun" programs and one-off sessions for students, but its real coursework won't resume again in earnest until the fall. Booker said he and other school administrators spend much of the break on a search for more instructors to teach new courses and study "paths" that have been added to next year's curriculum.
New this fall is a music business course and a keyboard performance path " additions that Booker said are likely to help double the ACM's student body.
"Instead of 200 kids wandering around Bricktown, there's going to be 400, which is phenomenal," he said.
Performance is key to ACM's coursework, Booker said, as most students are required to take part in smaller, weekly showcases organized by the school. Larger, more full-scale public concerts are important, too, said Booker and Brown, who noted that ACM students and bands played to "near-capacity" crowds during a showcase at last month's Norman Music Festival.
Student-led concerts and showcases will continue next year and likely grow in size and frequency to match the growing institution, Booker said. And despite the fickle nature of both the music industry and first-year college students, ACM seems have already inspired some real-world commitment to careers in rock 'n' roll.
"We have a great retention rate. We're keeping a higher percentage than most universities do with their freshmen," Booker said. "These kids are dedicated and want to be here and part of this." "Joe Wertz
photo Unmarked Cars.