Though a typical summer night in Brookfield’s Kiwanis Park may bring crowds of parents and kids for a Little League baseball game, don’t be surprised if you hear rock ‘n’ roll emanating from the garage in the parking lot of the village hall next door.

Here, you can find teens rehearsing and rocking out to the tunes of Nirvana or the Red Hot Chili Peppers with the Brookfield Recreation Department’s Rec Garage Band program. 

The program began last month, and is held every Wednesday night from 6 to 8 p.m. through July 17. It’s intended for 12- to 17-year-olds to hone their instrumental chops. No registration is required.

Recreation Director Stevie Ferrari said the Recreation Department lacked teen services and organized Rec Garage Band to let young musicians meet other musicians, practice with their bands or learn some new music skills. 

“It does lead up to the potential to form bands and get a little refined in skills for our July 21 Battle of the Bands event,” Ferrari said. 

A Sound Education, the music store on Ogden Avenue, has provided a variety of equipment, including a drum set, two guitar amplifiers, one bass amplifier, two microphones and a full PA system. 

Owner Mike Doerr said he jumped to the opportunity when Ferrari approached him to assist with the program. He also helps any musicians looking for guidance during the session. 

“It makes me completely happy. I love playing and if I can do it with younger musicians then it’s even better,” Doerr said. “It’s a good opportunity for all skill levels to come here and figure out where they’re at and what they need to work on for the next time.”

Within minutes of last week’s session starting, guitar riffs and cymbal crashes fill the garage. Once a rhythm is established, the jam session begins. According to Doerr, musicians coming together is a positive experience.

“A jam session is just a collaboration of different musicians, musicians who have favorite bands, favorite music they play,” Doerr said. “They get together and kind of feel each other out.”

First-timer Jack Quilty, of Riverside, a student at L.J. Hauser Junior High, said he enjoyed playing with other musicians during the session. He’s been playing guitar for only four months but is enthusiastic to try his favorite songs. If he’s not playing guitar, he’s on the drums and even attempts singing. 

The guitarist sitting opposite him, Neil Kinnan of Riverside, has been coming every week to Rec Garage Band from its beginning. He also plays trumpet in the Riverside-Brookfield High School marching band and said he’s been playing guitar for five years. 

The two enjoy soloing while trying to mimic the rock bands they like. They said the more people who come to jam the better, and that it would be nice to have a keyboardist, bass player, singer and, maybe, a saxophone player for fun. 

With Kinnan on guitar, Quilty on guitar and vocals and Doerr helping out by hopping on the drums, the trio finds its way to playing Pink Floyd’s song “Time,” and, for a second, it seems like the world famous English band is jamming inside the village’s garage.

Odd Fellows offer scholarship to pay rec fees

With the summer in full swing and the need to keep kids busy and safe, a new scholarship administered through the Brookfield Recreation Department is helping families looking to keep their kids occupied — even if they can't afford recreation fees. 

The Families in Financial Need Scholarship program was initiated by Palacky Lodge No. 630 of the Independent Order of the Odd Fellows. The Odd Fellows, an international fraternal organization, aims to assist families and organizations in need. 

Stevie Ferrari, director of the Brookfield Recreation Department, said three families' fees were paid for the department's Summer Camp, which is held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week. 

The weekly registration fees for Summer Camp cost $120, and this is the first scholarship that has ever been offered for the program. 

"Oftentimes, when families are in financial distress, recreation is the first thing that goes," Ferrari said. "Recreation, we feel, is a very important part of everybody's lives, so we want to make sure that while it may not be primarily affordable in the household, they can still participate in some way."

According to Jeff Hamerman, the Noble Grand – a presidential equivalent – of Palacky Lodge No. 630, the Odd Fellows were looking to honor longtime member Ruth Mrizek, who died last December. 

The lodge honored her late husband John R. Mrizek, another longtime lodge member, by collecting money for its Kids R Essential Program. Hamerman said Ruth would have loved a scholarship involving kids, and helping families looking to enroll children in recreation programs was a fitting way to direct a donation.

Visitors are welcome to attend the Odd Fellows' general meetings at 8 p.m. on Thursdays at 9234 Broadway Ave.

Anthony Landahl