Local attorney attends Rock’n’Roll Fantasy Camp

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 9, 2006

By Geri McShane, massistant editor

Jamie Kyllo wasn’t having the best week.

His secretary was out of the office the first two days, then he spent Wednesday through Friday on a grand jury considering first-degree murder charges. On Friday, went to a noon lunch meeting and picked up the mail.

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It was then his luck changed.

&8220;I was sitting in the office with the lights turned off, doing as little was possible,&8221; Kyllo recalled. &8220;At about 3 p.m., the DHL gal walked in and handed me the envelope with the news that I had won the Rock’n’Roll Fantasy Camp through the &8216;Bass Player’ magazine contest.&8221;

One would never guess, looking at Kyllo, an attorney in a business suit, legal papers stacked on the top of his desk, that he enters every contest relating to music that comes along.

&8220;It didn’t fully register with me until I reached the VP at &8216;Bass Player’ by phone. Yep, it was real, I had won,&8221; Kyllo said.

It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Kyllo, since the camp itself costs $8,500, but as the contest winner, he’d only have to pay for his transportation and hotel to the camp, which was held Feb. 16 to Feb. 20 in Hollywood, Calif.

Kyllo actually decided he wanted to be in a band back in 1967, when The Beatles were still going strong. &8220;Pop music was vital and strong,&8221; he said.

He’d had a few years of violin before he bought a beginner bass and an amplifier. &8220;I took a few lessons, but unless you play with others, it doesn’t really do much,&8221; he said.

He bought a red Guild Starfire bass in 1968. &8220;That’s been my mainstay ever since,&8221; Kyllo said.

He and his friends, who used the name &8220;The Ivory Tower,&8221; played around southcentral Minnesota and northern Iowa before they were 21.

&8220;We hoped what we were playing was really deep and memorable,&8221; Kyllo said of the name.

But he moved on to other things, and hadn’t played much since.

So when the news about winning the contest arrived Kyllo said, &8220;How could I not pay plane fare and hotel?&8221;

According to its Web site, the Rock’n’Roll Fantasy Camp is the ultimate music experience. It’s a one-of-a-kind event that brings music lovers of all levels together with professional rock’n’roll stars &045;&160;and that brings those music lovers the unforgettable opportunity to move from the spectator stands to the stage, sharing the limelight with living legends.

Participants lived the rock’n’roll lifestyle day in and day out, learning or perfecting their knowledge of an instrument, practicing and jamming with band mates and learning the ins and outs of the music business &045;&160;all in the company of some of music’s stars.

Those 108 campers had to &8220;audition&8221; for counselors at the camp, and were put into bands of seven or eight members.

Most had seven or eight members per band, two drummers and three or guitarists. &8220;They were short on bass players,&8221; he said.

Kyllo was put into a band counseled by Mark Slaughter, founding member of the band, &8220;Slaughter.&8221;

Other band members had varied backgrounds: an MIT graduate, a stockbroker, a microbiologist, a cardiologist and a professor of surgery, to name a few.

&8220;Some of them had been there three or four times,&8221; Kyllo said of fellow campers. &8220;Some were not experienced, and others were very experienced.

&8220;My problem is I hadn’t played a lot with anybody in a while. The drummer hadn’t played live music in a while,&8221; he added.

One of their first tasks was to choose a name for the band. They chose &8220;Cheney’s Got a Gun.&8221;

Then they got to work. There be a contest to write an original song.

&8220;The performance was to be held on Sunday night, after a rock impressions contest,&8221; he said. &8220;We decided to try our hands at writing a song. Some of the guitarists had some riffs and some chord progressions we adapted. Words came out of various people. Pride was at work, but also, the counselor of the band that won the song contest got a cash bonus of $2,500. Mark Slaughter was amazing to watch as the creative wheels spun in his head.

&8220;We had an intro, verses, pre-chorus, chorus, a half-time section and a real rock’n’roll ending,&8221; Kyllo said. &8220;We had lyrics about a life of fantasy and reality. We spent a lot of time working on the song.&8221; (The song that won was actually a novelty song about Oprah Winfrey.)

&8220;Cheney’s Got a Gun&8221; would perform &8220;Saturday Night’s All Right for Fight&8221; at The House of Blues in Hollywood. Each camper received a plaque certifying he or she had played on stage with Roger Daltrey, Cheap Trick and Neal Schon at The House of Blues.

In all, Kyllo said it was a lot of work, but very enjoyable.

&8220;I got some confidence and learned I can do it,&8221; he said. &8220;You’ve got to put the effort in and things start clicking.

&8220;It was just an amazing experience to see these talented people at work. I was driven. I had to hold up my end,&8221; he said.

Some of the members of

&8220;Cheney’s Got a Gun&8221; plan a reunion during a camp in New York in August. They all have stayed in contact.

Some people were quite surprised by the fact that the local attorney attended the camp.

&8220;Some people know I used to play and others know I play at First Lutheran (in the contemporary group there). Others have no idea and say, &8216;What’s that?’&8221; he said.

&8220;Now I want to go back,&8221; Kyllo said.