RHINELANDER - From the outside, Jeff Santy’s house looks like a typical retiree’s dream: a view of the lake, and peace and quiet.
But Santy’s retirement dream is a little different.
“You don’t have to be a rock star to feel like one,” Santy says.
Santy helps people feel and act like rock stars. He started teaching music and bringing bands together after he retired from teaching English at Rhinelander High School in 2006.
“Sometimes the kids come to me and say, ‘Here’s four or five of my friends, we want to be in a band, we’ve got a name for the band, we’ve got matching jackets,’ and I’ll say ‘What do you play?’ and they’ll say ‘Oh no, no, that’s up to you.’”
It’s not always kids living the rock star dream.
“I’ve had a gal who was retired just a few years ago from teaching, and she said I’ve always wanted to be a drummer,” Santy says. “She was 57 years of age and when she started, she said ‘I should have started this 50 years ago.’”
Carly Reich started playing guitar and keyboard when she was 15 years old.
“My brother had put ads up all over town looking for band members and he got no responses,” Reich says.
Two years ago, Reich and her brother found Santy’s Tunesmith Academy. Santy helped them bring their band, Violet Skies, together.
“I tried taking private lessons, I tried teaching myself, and I tried playing as a group lesson,” Reich says.”I think the main thing for me was, there’s an obligation to the other people in your band to keep getting better and to keep up with what you’ve learned. So that makes me a lot less likely to slack off.”
Tunesmith Academy is fun for the bands and fun for Jeff, but how does it fit in with the quiet Lake George community?
“We got a phone call once when we were pumping the music, and I thought ‘Uh-oh, there’s the sheriff’s department calling me and saying you gotta shut this down,’” Santy says. “And yet it was someone across the lake calling with a request. They wanted to hear a certain song.”
A certain song that brings you back to a time when anything was possible.
“I think kids dream of being sports stars or rock stars,” he says. “I can’t help them with the sports star end of it, but I can help them with the music end of it.”
Violet Skies and other Tunesmith Academy bands will play this weekend at the Oneida County Fair.
STOUGHTON - Police in Stoughton are investigating a threatening letter that was sent to a black teenager, with a photo that depicted him as the victim of a lynching.
The letter had a Madison postmark but no return address. The family told the newspaper it contained a photo showing two men hanging from a tree, with a mob watching. A picture of the 18-year-old was superimposed onto one of the men.
MERRILL - When you think of movies you probably think of Hollywood, but one man from Northcentral Wisconsin is bringing his feature film to the local screen.
Wausau’s Jarrod Crooks not only makes movies, but he also stars in them.
His latest film, "Dispatched" is based off the Elvis Presley movie, “Girl Happy,” says filmmaker Jarrod Crooks. “My character Jake is sent to go watch my bosses daughter while she’s on vacation with a friend. Then an old enemy is kind of after him while he’s on vacation, so some things happen.”
Crooks made, "Dispatched" on a $5,000 budget and it’s full of romance, action, and comedy.
“My buddy would joke with me, ‘why don’t you just pick one genre man and then just go with it'," says Crooks. "I’m like because I want to make this movie how I want to make It'." "I actually like romantic comedies, I think they’re kind of fun, and I think they’re cute. I like action films because I’m a guy, and I like comedy because Jim Carey is great.”
Crooks is only 28 and has already made 4 feature films. His passion started when he was 12 years old.
“I went over to my friend’s house and he had a video camera. I was like oh we should make a movie, and at that time I was really into, “Wishbone,” says Crooks.
“We’d always remake our own literature pieces. Then I saw my first Jackie Chan movie and I’m like, alright it’s settled we’re doing action films from now on," says Crooks. “From then on it was just a love affair with the filmmaking.”
His latest film will be shown at the Cosmo Theatre in Merrill on Saturday at 5pm.
“The fact that I’m bringing it to central Wisconsin is great because this is where I grew up," says Crooks. "All my family and friends get to see it, so I’m very excited about that and you get to see yourself on the big screen what’s better than that.”
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