Younger and Better Than You

The Green Room

These unsung mini-ministers of groovy make the world seem like one big parking-lot party—in this case, the asphalt nook in front of Gina's Pizza parlor in Corona del Mar. The Green Room (taken from a surfer term designating the tube area inside a wave) rocked the tar so hard during last year's CDM Christmas Walk that more than $300 was tossed into the guitar case. "Last year, we found a $100 bill," says bassist Evan Harr, who sounds like a member of the Vienna Boys Choir when you hear his crystalline 12-year-old pipes cantillate "sun sun sun here we come" on the Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun."

The School of Rock-ian junior-high prodigies power through such guitar classics as Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love," The Eagles' "Hotel California," Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water" and Skynyrd's "Free Bird." You might hear the odd clam once in a while, but the unified rock & roll soul in these prepubescents rises above a missed lick.

The Dewey Finn behind the boys is Brian Barrett, guitar multistylist who puts the Dobro blues in "Three Blind Mice" and the Django sizzle in Big Band 2000. He downloads tunes from his double-fisted memory to these hand-picked hams that also include drummer/keyboardist Blake Allen, 12, the quiet one whose cool rests easy in rockland; genetically gifted guitarist/drummer Travis (Barrett's son), 12, whose riddle-me-this grin wallpapers cheeky cell phones throughout CDM High; and Alex Herrera, 13, the elder statesman who's apparently confident enough in his vocal/guitar chops to blow off rehearsals at will—though he makes up for it as a razor-tongued front man with precocious stage presence.

And yeah, the Green Room gigs go beyond the parking-lot circuit, playing philanthropic soirees, private pool parties and tennis clubs, drawing both rap-weary youth and boomers who pack $100 bills and pine for guitar heroics of an era long since past. At last year's Christmas Walk, they pulled in a crowd of 250 or so, including one listener who was so blissed-out he promised to send his video of the performance to Jay Leno. Well, did you, punk?

Green Room at Gina's Pizza, 420 Iris Ave., Corona del Mar, (949) 337-2752; www.greenroomfanclub.com. Sun., noon & 2 p.m.

 
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