Rocket Queen: Hot Hot Tweet

Soundgarden reunion rumors intensify online as the School of Rock prepares to cover it and other Northwest bands at the Croc.

Just a few hours before 2009 transitioned into 2010, former Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell unleashed a tweet heard 'round the Web: "The 12 year break is over & school is back in session. Knights of the Soundtable ride again!" A link to the band's brand-new Web site ( was included in Cornell's feed, as well as a video clip of "Get on the Snake" and a solicitation to sign up "for more information."Despite its cryptic phrasing, bloggers were quick to jump on Cornell's tweet as proof that long-standing rumors of a Soundgarden reunion should now be regarded as fact. The cell phone of Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd began blowing up on New Year's Day with queries, including one from me. Over cocktails at Hazlewood, the Ballard bar Shepherd co-owns, he was reluctant to be completely transparent about the reunion, but judging by his upbeat mood and sheepish smile, it was pretty evident that there's something afoot. In this age of proliferating '90s-band reunions, it's just a matter of time before the festival gigs are announced.One thing Shepherd had no trouble expressing clear enthusiasm for was the School of Rock's "Best of the Northwest" concert at the Crocodile this Saturday, Jan. 9. On the eve of the school's two-year anniversary, music director Ben Barnett and general manager Kris Kierulff have assigned their students the formidable task of learning some of the strongest works by local artists such as Mudhoney, the Wipers, Treepeople, Bikini Kill, the Ventures, and Unwound.When Shepherd learned that Soundgarden's "Outshined" was also on the docket, he offered some advice to pass on to the kids. "The first time I ever played Madison Square Garden, I completely train-wrecked that song," he remembers. "It was terrible, but I kept going. It's important they know that you have to just keep going, even when you screw up."When she hears this, 15-year-old bassist Megan Scherrer nods vigorously. She likes the song because it allows her to play with her younger brother Kyle, who enrolled in the school first but soon convinced her to join him. "We do really well together; we can go home and practice together," she explains.The School of Rock started with just eight students in 2008, and now claims more than a hundred. Accordingly, they've been slowly outgrowing their facilities, a labyrinth of individual rehearsal and common spaces within a mid-century building on Lake City Way. On a rainy Sunday evening, the students are hammering out their interpretation of the Gits' "Second Skin" and more complex numbers, such as Built to Spill's epic, time-change-fraught "Stop the Show."This is clearly an empowering space for both young men and women (the gender ratio is about 60/40 in favor of boys), and there is very little of the goofing around one would expect from a group of teens and preteens. In the school's downstairs space, 11-year-old Isabel Canning is belting out the lyrics to Team Dresch's "Hand Grenade" with impressive power and articulation. In the adjacent space, 15-year old Shorecrest High School student Angela Kenealy is wearing a shirt that says "Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History" and channeling Corin Tucker on the vocal line to Sleater-Kinney's "Dig Me Out.""You get to get together with a bunch of other kids who are pretty much your age and jam to awesome songs," enthuses Isabel. "You know your songs, you're feeling good, and then you perform in front of 300 or 400 people and you just feel awesome!""We try to approach things with the Johnny Cash aesthetic: Once we cover it, it's ours," adds Barnett. "We are real musicians, and these are real rock shows. Once they've played their first show, they are different kids. It's an amazing, wonderful thing to watch."

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