Photos: Matthew Glac
Though Mark Bryan is best known as the guitarist for the multi-platinum rock band Hootie and the Blowfish, he’s also chairman of Carolina Studios, a non-profit, after-school music program based in Charleston, S.C.
Four years ago Bryan was concerned that the program wasn’t reaching enough students. His friend Denis Gallagher, CEO of Student Transportation Inc., stepped in. “I figured using one of our school buses as a mobile recording studio might help out,” he recalls.
Gallagher donated a 2010 CE Series IC Bus and sent it to Austin, Texas to have more than $30,000 worth of work done. Additions included rooftop air conditioning, a generator, cabinets, a soundproof recording room, and an exterior wrap job that transformed the yellow bus into a mobile recording studio.
Bryan says they started with one school in the low-income downtown area of Charleston two years ago. They now visit 10 schools over a two-week period. “We want to see it spread all over. We’re finding that the biggest excitement is with kids in middle school,” he says. The curriculum Bryan designed doesn’t >simply allow kids on the bus so they can make believe they’re rock stars. Teams of two to four sit at four consoles with computers, where they practice with sophisticated music software and learn to lay down basic tracks.
“I’ve had some great opportunities come my way through education, and I want to see the kids in South Carolina get those same chances,” says Bryan of his education advocacy. His favorite story about Carolina Studios is about a 14-year-old inner-city girl named Jessica who wandered into the downtown studio one day. “She wanted to be a recording engineer. And now she’s in the program for engineers at South Carolina State.”