Since 1998, a mad genius named Paul Green has been on a quest to educate the world’s youth in the ways of rock & roll. Originally teaching just a handful of students out of his Philadelphia apartment, the school now has 31 branches nationwide, together boasting over 2,500 students, and is planning for international expansion. In Green’s view, any kid, age 5-18, regardless of musical proficiency or experience, should be playing in a band with other students of varying skill levels, and onstage in front of an audience in a real rock club within months of first holding an instrument. And it’s hard to deny he gets results: two of his original students now comprise King Crimson guitar legend Adrian Belew’s backing band, and the School of Rock All-Stars – the very best players from his schools nationwide – have shared the stage with everyone from Alice Cooper to Eddie Vedder.

In association with maverick New York City promoters Rocks Off, Green is now staging a celebration of his impending global domination, to the tune of 5 stages, 8,000 people, 15 branches worth of students, and some of the biggest names in rock & punk.

For on June 23 & 24, 2007, The First Annual Paul Green School of Rock Music Festival will take place in Asbury Park, New Jersey. For the duration of the event, a square block surrounding 4th Avenue will be closed down, two outdoor stages will be erected (along with vendors, rides, port-o-lets and all the other trappings of a rock festival), and music will rock from noon till 11pm each day.

Saturday’s main stage lineup will be headlined by New Hope, Pennsylvania’s greatest musical export, Ween, in their only summer appearance within in their New York/Philadelphia-area stronghold. Recently named one of rock’s most underrated acts by no less an authority than Rolling Stone, the brothers Ween have released 13 albums over their 20+-year career, and their marathon live sets often reach three hours, crisscrossing through every imaginable genre. They’ll be joined by such other national artists as Benevento/Russo Duo – a keyboard & drums outfit from New York City, who combine indie rock composition and jazz improvisation in intriguing and often explosive ways – as well as Canadian punk experimentalists The Weakerthans, and Frank Zappa alum Mike Keneally and his band.

One of the most influential bands of all time, Bad Brains, is the exclamation point on Sunday’s incredible lineup. This will be one of their first high-profile shows since returning from retirement last year – after much coaxing from Rocks Off – to play CBGB’s closing festival. Often credited with inventing hardcore punk, the Brains will release their first album since 2002 later on this year, which was produced by longtime fan Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. It wasn’t hard to find fantastic bands positively salivating at the prospect of sharing the stage with an act as historic as Bad Brains, most notably beloved Asbury Park residents Bouncing Souls and cultishly adored Tennessean country-punk outfit Lucero. And of course the festival lineup wouldn’t be complete without King Crimson/Talking Heads/David Bowie/Brian Eno guitar legend Adrian Belew and his aforementioned School of Rock-educated rhythm section.

Additionally, right before the headliner on each day, The School of Rock All-Stars will perform a set of rock classics featuring a bona fide rock hero as a special guest: Steely Dan/Doobie Brothers guitar wizard Jeff “Skunk” Baxter on Saturday, and Living Colour/Black Rock Coalition shredder Vernon Reid on Sunday.

But wait a minute!, you say, what about the other four stages? Well, we’re glad you asked. The location of this festival was not selected arbitrarily – Asbury’s 4th Avenue boasts a long rock & roll history, featuring no fewer than three venues on one block – The Fastlane, The Baronet Theater, and the Asbury Lanes, a functioning bowling alley with a stage set up across the middle lanes, where people can bowl as the bands play! During the day those stages will host performances by the students from the various Schools of Rock around the country, as well as some great up & coming local talent. And, after the festival is done on Saturday, Bustle in Your Hedgerow – a supergroup featuring members of Ween & The Duo dedicated to exploring the music of Led Zeppelin – will take the stage at the Lanes for a late night show sure to feature plenty of special guests from the festival lineup.

Tickets are reasonably priced at $35 for Saturday, $30 for Sunday – or $60 for a two-day pass – and are available from Needless to say, children of all ages are welcome – kids under 5 are admitted free. A significant portion of the proceeds will go to benefit the Paul Green School of Rock Scholarship Fund, “giving the gift of rock since 1999.” Only 4,000 paying customers will be admitted per day, and, at that price, tickets are expected to go quickly – Ween can easily draw a crowd that big on their own, and this is one of Bad Brains’ first high-profile shows since returning from a hiatus last year. The Bustle in Your Hedgerow late night set will be separately ticketed, and is expected to sell out well in advance.

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