theParklander

Cougars in Training Deck: Teen Girls Play Rock Music
By Natalia Sieukaran / November, December 2012

In a world where pop idols such as Justin Bieber and One Direction rule, it can be rare to find members on the younger end of Generation Y indulging in music that gave soul to the post-Woodstock generation.

The young girls in Cougars in Training have heart that can make them this generation's versions of Stevie Nicks.

Currently attending Coral Glades High School, Allie Balducci, 17, guitar and lead vocals, Maddie Chamberlain, 16, bass and vocals, and Jennie Balducci, 15, drums and vocals, have dual roles. Students and members of the Choral Glades orchestra by day, they are an all-girl classic rock cover band by night. Their area of expertise is classic rock tunes from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Their playlist of artists includes the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Cheap Trick, among others. Performing in local gigs at restaurants in Coral Springs and Fort Lauderdale, various festivals in Broward and Palm Beach Coutnies, including Coral Springs World Fest, the girls manage to gain support from people their own age, and people age forty and older with a nostalgic appreciation of their music.

Mike Balducci, the father of Allie and Jennie, explains that, while the girls set up their equipment before a show, they get judged for being young. He says, "Once the music gets rocking, there is no longer any question about their talent."

The moment Jennie hits the drumsticks together to set the tempo, a harmony of pure rock goodness comes from the band. As Allie belts out the lyrics to Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Proud Mary," Maddie's bass keeps the song grounded, while Jennie's snare and cymbal crashing provide the heartbeat of the song.

The band's dynamics are different than those of other bands. Usually, in any musical group, there is someone who leads or dominates the vocals. While Allie is the stronger vocalist, the girls enjoy sharing the spotlight vocally, as it allows them to showcase their different personalities. In the 1980s' favorite "What I Like About You" by the Romantics, Jennie, while hitting the hi-hats and cymbals, sweetly croons, "Tell me I'm the only one, wanna come over tonight, yeah."

While Allie and Jennie have been playing together for years, Maddie became that extra oomph for the band. She not only handles the other girls' sisterly conflicts, but her bass playing style fills their sound. She is the best bassist they have had. Chemistry is important to the girls, as it drives the band forward into a future of continual improvement.

Maddie says, "We want to continue to earn respect as a quality rock band that just happens to be made up of teenage girls."

Having guts and soul are important to the girls. Allie says, "Rock and roll is truly an American invention that rates up there with the automobile and, yes, the cell phone."

While rock'n'roll may evolve, its core and purpose must be preserved. Cougars in Training does just that.




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