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Springsteen guitarist brings classic R&B, continuing education to Pittsburgh with TeachRock Tour

Patrick Varine
| Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, 2:24 p.m.

Little Steven Van Zandt, longtime guitarist with Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, is bringing his own solo band, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul, to Pittsburgh.

And he wants to take local teachers to the School of Rock.

Van Zandt’s “Teacher Appreciation Tour” will come to the Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall on Oct. 24. But before the show, the Rock and Roll Forever Foundation team will host a professional development session for local teachers, part of Van Zandt’s nonprofit TeachRock initiative .

TeachRock is a standards-aligned arts integration curriculum that uses the history of popular music and culture to help children learn all subjects, with lesson plans developed by experienced educators and top experts in the field. It is offered at no cost, and has been endorsed by organizations like PBC, Scholastic Inc., the National Association for Music Education and the National Council for the Social Studies.

Lesson plans run the musical gamut from “The Music That Shaped America,” which is based around the archived collection of American music drawn from Alan Lomax’s field recordings, to “Sun City,” which explores musicians’ reaction to South African apartheid, to a group of core lessons that explore the birth of rock music and track its progression through the years along with its cultural and social importance.

“[Little Steven’s] TeachRock program brings an essential curriculum of music and culture into school and makes it available at no cost to educators,” Springsteen said as he inducted Van Zandt into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in May 2018. “In a time of cutbacks in arts funding, Steve’s programs are keeping kids engaged in the arts, and in school — this is his greatest legacy.”

Van Zandt is a fixture in American rock music. After helping create the “Jersey Shore” sound with the Asbury Jukes he became a founding member of Springsteen’s E Street Band, and went on to become a successful solo artist in his own right recording and performing solo with his band Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. In 2001 he founded “Little Steven’s Underground Garage,” now an internationally syndicated radio show.

In 2017 he released his first new album in more than 15 years, “Soulfire,” returning to his rhythm-and-blues roots and earning a place on Rolling Stone’s “Best Albums of 2017” list.

Outside of musical pop culture, he is best known for his portrayal of Jersey gangster Silvio Dante on HBO’s “The Sopranos.”

Local educators who attend the TeachRock workshop will receive a complimentary ticket to the concert. To sign up for a workshop, visit TeachRock.org .

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, pvarine@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

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