The Nobility, a rock band from Nashville, will perform at Decatur Public Library on Friday to kick off the library’s summer program. Members will answer questions about band life and the “Inside a Rock Band” book.
Library gets LOUD
There won’t be any shushing when Nashville band rocks Decatur’s bookshelves
By Patrice Stewart
firstname.lastname@example.org · 340-2446
Libraries are supposed to be quiet places to look over books and decide which ones to check out, right?
Think again. Libraries, like newspapers and other media, are re-examining their techniques to attract young readers.
That’s why The Nobility, a rock band of 20-somethings from Nashville, will play a free concert inside Decatur Public Library on Friday at 6 p.m. (hey, that’s after closing time, so some noise should be OK).
Bring the family — especially teens and pre-teens — and join the fun designed to interest more youths in reading and libraries, Kimberly McSpadden said. The children’s librarian heard about this band that plays libraries and booked them for the beginning of the summer reading program, with some monetary help from Friends of the Library.
“I wanted to find something different that would attract some of the older kids and teens and get them involved this summer, too,” McSpadden said.
The Friends’ support also helped her book a mystery drama workshop June 22 and a magician July 12, and she plans puppet shows, bird and wildlife visits and more (see schedule), “but puppets don’t get it for the middle- and high-schoolers.”
This isn’t just any band, however.
The photos and words of The Nobility are featured on nearly every page of the children’s book “Inside a Rock Band,” published last fall by Child’s World as part of its “Girls Rock!” series.
Band member Brian Fuzzell said the writer, Deb Barnes, was referred to them for interviews about what it’s like to be in a rock band.
“Inside a Rock Band”
“We thought ‘Wow, that’s really wacky — a children’s book about us,’ and said we’d do it,” he recalled.
A photographer attended several of their rehearsals and concerts to make photos, and the book, along with their two CDs, will be for sale at the library Friday, as well as through Amazon.com.
Band life is not always as glamorous as depicted in movies and TV.
“The book explains things in a simple way for second- to fifth-graders,” said Fuzzell, a drummer. “I gave a copy to my grandparents, and they said it helped them understand what I do.”
Meanwhile, Bill Harmer, a librarian in Michigan, came up with the idea of booking rock bands into libraries and got in touch. When the book came out in September, The Nobility (formerly known as Jetpack UK) hit the road for a five-week library tour and also played plenty of schools, too.
Since fall they’ve played 30 to 40 public libraries in 25 to 30 states. He and his friends on keyboard, bass and guitar usually play at clubs and universities, “but we thought it would be a cool thing to bring our original music to places we’d never played before,” said Fuzzell.
“The reason we’ve been successful on the library tour is that we’re not dirty guys out there singing disgusting lyrics; we’re just nice, easy-to-get-along-with guys doing catchy rock-and-roll songs,” he said. “We’re not Metallica.”
As performers, they’ve found the library a totally different venue, Fuzzell said.
“We play in dark clubs usually, so you’re totally thrown off guard playing in a library that’s supposed to be a quiet place with fluorescent lights on and all these people looking at you, wondering what this is going to be about.”
Harmer, the librarian who also handles bookings for a Northern rock band, said there’s “an interesting reaction when you put a rock ’n’ roll band in a library, where you’re supposed to be quiet.”
He occasionally goes along for a concert.
“The only difference in this and a regular concert is there’s no alcohol and no smoke,” he said.
But he knows he must pick the band carefully, because not just any band will blend well with librarians and youths.
The booking librarian, who is head of adult services at Chelsea District Library, said libraries everywhere are suffering economically because of cuts in state and local funding, and some libraries will be closing their doors. Most libraries function as community centers with meeting rooms and computers to use, as well as books, CDs and DVDs to check out.
“We’ve got to make libraries relevant to young people, and these concerts are a great marketing opportunity to rebrand the library and make it a cool, relevant, exciting place to come,” Harmer said. “When they’re voting age, maybe they’ll remember that when libraries need funding.”
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