Living the Rock and Roll Fantasy


NEW YORK, March 3, 2007 — -- They came from the suburbs and big cities to play music with rock and roll icons.

More than 50 accountants, lawyers and stay-at-home moms are leaving behind their normal lives to pursue the dreams of their youth at rock and roll fantasy camp in New York City.

Alan Jenkins took a week off work to play the drums.

"Everybody has to grow up and get a real job, but music has always been my passion," he says.

Before this, Nikki Steingold, a stay-at-home mom from Northern Virginia, only sang alone in her shower or in the car.

"I've never done this before," she says. " I don't ever get up and sing."

But at fantasy camp, she's on stage in front of more than 100 people belting out Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll."

The crowd of fellow campers and professional rock and rollers cheers on the 40-something-year-old Steingold. Everyone in the room is having fun, and after successfully making it through her first few lines, Steingold relaxes and enjoys herself too.

Seated before her is a panel of judges who know what it takes to make it in the music business. At one time, they played for bands including The Allman Brothers, Kiss, Guns n' Roses and The Monkees.

Bruce Kulick, who was a lead guitarist for 12 years for Kiss, says he wants campers to get something out of it.

"If anyone's not paying attention, it's boot camp. I yell and scream and blow the whistle kind of thing," he says with a laugh.

After the campers perform on stage, the judges assign each novice to a team led by a professional. The teams split off and head to recording studios to practice. At the end of the week, each group will record a song. And for the big finale, they compete against one another before a live audience.

In the five years since David Fishof founded the camp, hundreds of people have paid nearly $9,000 dollars to skip their day jobs. In 2003, White House press secretary Tony Snow signed up to play his saxophone.

Of course, no one leaves camp intending to become a real rock star, but for one week they can live the life of a musician, minus the groupies.

Simon Kirke of Bad Company, who frequently works as a camp counselor, explains, "What they get is a tiny glimpse into what we as rock and rollers have been doing. They get to live 24/7 the life style of a musician. Rehearsal halls, recording, writing songs, the whole nine yards."

And for the professional musicians, it's a chance to share their expertise with novices while reliving a bit of their heyday.

Peter Tork of the Monkees says, "The best part is having fun and knocking around and having people that you admire and respect recognize you."

Camper Mark Province is here celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary. Knowing Province once dreamed of becoming a rock singer, his wife surprised him with the gift and has accompanied him from their home in Oklahoma City.

For Province, his chosen profession has been worth it, "This is the fantasy that I'm living right here, but I'm also pretty decent as a stockbroker, too. I've got to keep a day job, let me tell you," he laughs.

After doing a noble job of singing Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World," Province smiles, tips his cowboy hat and says, "There's no other place we'd rather be right now. I'm the luckiest guy in the world."