Making music that counts

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A little more than a year ago, Demopolis High School senior Kenneth Mays had reached a deciding point in his life. Frustrated with classes and of the legal age, he considered dropping out of school and getting his GED instead of a high school diploma.

Now, Mays has been accepted to the University of West Alabama and is considering pursuing nursing. His transformation is due in no small part to the role of one of his talents: playing guitar.

After taking lessons at the middle school, Mays began honing his skills on lead guitar while fostering an &8220;eclectic&8221; range of musical tastes. But just playing in the comfort of his home or with friends wasn&8217;t enough for him.

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This is when he and friend William Henson approached first-year DHS English and creative writing teacher Jay Russell about forming a band. Russell had played drums for the last five years and was willing to take a chance on the young group.

But before picking up his sticks and heading into a musical project with them, Russell made one condition: they would have to maintain their grades.

For Henson, who graduated from DHS last year, the condition was easily attainable. But for Mays, who had struggled in school, Russell&8217;s challenge was just the motivation he needed to get his academics back on track.

With the addition of bass player Drew Tucker, Demopolis&8217; own Solid Revolution was born. With only two weeks before their first gig at Christmas on the River, Russell said they put in close to 20 hours to get ready for their performance.

After their first performance, the gigs continued on. Solid Revolution played area clubs, the Linden Country Club, the Sucarnochee Review and even had a private engagement in Decatur. They progressed from learning classic favorites to writing their own songs before taking a hiatus in 2007.

But that was not the last to be heard of the group.

Shortly before the DHS prom Saturday, principal Dr. Isaac Espy approached Russell about doing a comeback performance at the school&8217;s biggest social event of the year. Although original member William Henson had graduated, the remains of Solid Revolution joined with Espy, Collins Espy and Kenneth Upshaw to perform at the prom.

With only two practices behind them, the group performed to a welcoming audience. Their selections again were intended to include songs everyone could sing and dance to.

As for another reunion performance, Russell said he is taking some time to enjoy being newly married. But if the occasion ever presents itself, he said he would definitely be willing to play again.