January 6, 2005
Desert Mountain High School is expecting another Paper Jam on Friday night.
Fix it? No one would dare tamper with something that has been an integral part of the school’s culture for five years.
Paper Jam is a band of five Desert Mountain faculty members, including principal Brian Corte, who have entertained students with songs from the 1960s during the school’s annual Rock Revelation, which starts at 7 p.m. Friday, and other functions. Eight other bands will take the auditorium stage to compete — "American Idol" style — for a spot in "Wolfstock," a three-day community music event in March organized by Desert Mountain.
Paper Jam members are Corte, 35, drums; Jim Roehr, 52, of the theater department, lead vocalist and rhythm guitar; Steve Speisman, 53, special-education English teacher, lead guitar; theater art director Randy Messersmith, 44, bass guitar; and choir and orchestra teacher Wayne Tarter, 48, keyboards and singing harmony. Messersmith will miss Friday’s performance. Steve Irvin, 36, husband of band director Michelle Irvin but not a faculty member, will play bass guitar.
Talk about a fab five. The group — started by Messersmith and Speisman — originally called itself Green Eggs & Yam, but changed its name to pay homage to frequently malfunctioning copy machines at the school.
"They were looking for some live music for an assembly," Messersmith said. "We thought it would be fun for the kids to see their teachers perform. Our first song was ‘Mustang Sally.’ It just kind of grew from there."
It grew to the point that female teachers and administrators formed the Jamettes, backup vocalists and dancers, for some performances. Friday, the band will jam sans accompaniment.
"It’s a bunch of us who used to rock ’n’ roll and still have it in us," Roehr said. "The kids get a chance to see us in a different light. We’re playing our rock music, but it really isn’t that much different from theirs. We like to play loud, jump around on stage and have a good time." "We’re amateurs, but we’re pretty good," Speisman said. "We come together to show kids we’re not as old as they think we are. (Rock Revelation) is the only event that cuts across stereotypes in the school. There will be music for everyone."
Senior Patrick Foley, who has been in several bands, likes what he sees and hears from Paper Jam.
"They’re phenomenal," he said. "They definitely show they’re having fun and rocking out. They have some serious moves."
Speisman played clubs in New York during the 1960s. Roehr is a professional musician. They and their band mates hope to draw at least 1,000. Proceeds will go to the school’s student government.
Rock Revelation When: 7 to 10 p.m. Friday Where: Desert Mountain High School, 12575 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale Tickets: $6 students, $8 adults Information: (480) 484-7000