Terry Moshenberg was deeply involved in a civil litigation suit against a company which had stolen one of his software programs when he sat down for dinner with his wife (former MuchMusic Veejay Erica Ehm) his brother Mitch and his brother’s wife.
During the course of the meal, Moshenberg’s sister -in-law mentioned in passing how she is involved in upwards of four amateur drama productions per year and that she ends up spending $3 –$ 4,000 per year on costumes and props to fund these plays, actually paying to perform in these productions!
“I’m one of those guys who’s always doing `idiot math’, like working out how many hamburgers that Webber’s outlet sells in Orillia during a typical summer, “ notes Moshenberg. “ So I said to my sister-in-law, `Hang on, you spend three or four thousand a year on these plays while my brother Mitch has about $30,000 worth of bass guitar gear in the basement gathering dust. We should do something like a beer hockey league for guys who jam! – and everyone around the table agreed that I should do it.”
So Moshenberg disappeared into his basement office for a year and wrote the business plan for what has become The League Of Rock. Seven years later, Moshenberg and music partner Topher Stott have just celebrated the 25th anniversary showcase of their League Of Rock program which has now in its seventh year of operation.
Initially the program was a way to escape the misery of managing his lawsuit against a company which had hijacked his mini pay-pal bank card and unceremoniously tossed Moshenberg out of his own office. “I had to go to war against those guys, I was blacklisted, no one would hire me, I survived a three-year litigation against them. Along the way I decided I couldn’t go back into that hell.”
The first meeting Moshenberg called attracted over 200 people to the Gibson Guitar Showroom in Toronto and every single pro player he called as an instructor responded to the proposal. Now seven years later, League Of Rock has connected with over 2,000 musicians. “These are just regular people who always wondered what it would be like to be in a band or a recording studio, with League Of Rock, we provide that experience,” he explained.
The League Of Rock is actually quite a simplistic operation. Four times a year, a group of aspiring musicians/vocalists pay $980 for the 10-week course and gather at a downtown location. Groups are currently operating in Toronto, Ottawa , Montreal and Hamilton plus someone bought a franchise for New Zealand.
First meeting is a `meet and great’ where the registrants are divided into bands, usually two guitarists, a bass player, a drummer, one or two lead vocalists, possibly a keyboardist and occasionally someone with a novel instrument such as a saxophone or a fiddle player.
The newly-formed groups then rehearse for four straight Wednesdays under the direction of a group of celebrity instructors which can include the likes of Ottawa’s The Cooper Brothers, Toney Springer, Jeff Jones, Five Man Electrical Band’s Les Emmerson and top producers such as Terry Brown and Garth and Jack Richardson plus international players like David Bowie’s Earl Slick and Yardbirds’ drummer Jim McCarty. These sessions are called JAB sessions (Join A Band).
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Traditionally, each group works on three songs during the first four sessions with the fifth session being staged in a club during a dark night so they can perform what they have been rehearsing in front of their instructors. Then they go back to rehearse, any problems before going back to a club during the seventh session to perform again. The eighth session applies the final touches to their numbers before session nine sees each unit going into a real recording studio to lay down tracks of their performance. For the final, 10th session, each band performs live in front of a full house, in the case of Toronto, it’s usually at the El Mocambo.
“These live sessions are really good, the house is packed full and the performances are top notch,” enthused Moshenberg. “We are getting an almost 50% renewal rate, people are having a great time, they are experiencing what it’s really like to be in a band and they are meeting life-long friends. We have uncovered a hidden musical population that’s turning into a real movement.”
Such is the buzz created by The League Of Rock that Moshenberg enthuses that a U.S reality show based on the LOR concept is currently in pre -production. Former 1988 Playmate of the Year, India Allen, who spent three years as chief marketing manager for the Kardasians, is handling the production through her Girl On Fire company. . The concept being groups of would-be musicians rehearsing under the tutelage of celebrity instructors leading up to a final concert performance for charity. Pre-production is currently underway with Moshenberg anticipating cameras will starting to role in early 2014.
And as for Moshenberg’s civil case – yes he won it when new owners of the company that stole his software, agreed to settle the matter out of court – thus ending a three year battle.