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Businessman opening rock academy for SD club kids

By Dirk Lammers

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 9 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

The Brennan Rock & Roll Academy, shown in this photo from Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Sioux Falls, S.D., will offer kids in the Boys & Girls Clubs the opportunity to learn rock instruments, perform and record. The venture started by Dollar Loan Center majority owner Chuck Brennan kicks off with a ceremony and concert planned for Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Dirk Lammers, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Karen Fogas sees scores of kids with natural musical talent coming into the Boys & Girls Clubs, but the organization has lacked an organized music program to help them develop into rock 'n' roll performers.

That's about to change, thanks to a former Sioux Falls club member turned successful businessman.

Chuck Baldwin, majority owner of Dollar Loan Center, is opening a 6,000-sq.-foot rock 'n' roll academy in the South Dakota city that will be open exclusively to the area's 250 Boys & Girls Clubs members.

"What kid, especially what young man, has not in his heart of hearts wanted to be a rock 'n' roll star?" asked Fogas, chief executive of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire. "It's an amazing opportunity."

Brennan said academy students will learn to sing or play guitar, bass, keyboards and drums and have full access to rehearsal rooms, a recording studio and a miniature performance area.

"These kids will be able to have a little performance in front of their peers or parents, record it and send everybody home with an MP3 or CD," Brennan said.

Brennan was a Boys & Girls Clubs member who grew up less than a mile from the academy location.

Fogas said it's amazing to see someone who has been touched by something in the community come back and want to help.

"That's what's so cool," she said. "He benefitted, now he's benefitting similar types of kids."

Brennan, who lives in Las Vegas but travels back to South Dakota twice per quarter, said he never found his groove with a musical instrument, but that didn't stop him from pursuing his love. He got into the concert production and management side of the industry and began managing bands in Sioux Falls when he was 18.

He's tapping many of those musical contacts to make the Brennan Rock & Roll Academy a reality.

Rock legend Alice Cooper will be at Wednesday's kickoff celebration, and Warrant founder Joey Allen and Pearl Drums have committed to donating five high-end drum sets, Brennan said.

Kory Van Sickle, lead singer and founder of Sioux Falls-based Kory and the Fireflies, will lead the academy's operations.

Brennan said he's looking for additional volunteers with musical talent.

"I'm going to reach out to everybody I know in the business," he said. "We need hundreds of instruments donated and we need hours donated and money donated, all that stuff."

Brennan said he's kicking in an initial $100,000 to complete the build out and to buy instruments, and he's committed to paying the rent for 20 years to cover the space in the 11th Street location owned by him and his partners.

He expects the academy to be up and running within four to five months.

Fogas said the kids can't wait.

"They're so excited," she said.

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