In our Winter/Spring 2022 issue, the Norwich Times took a look at local rock music school, Tuck’s Rock Dojo, run by Norwich resident husband and wife team Tuck and Kata Stocking. We caught up with the Dojo this summer as we ran into their students performing some radical rock at the 2023 Norwich Fair hosted by the Norwich Lion’s Club in August.

A band full of Norwich kids, Black Iris (From left Tuck, Jaden, Alex, Etienne, Juliette)

The Norwich Lion’s Club first invited the Dojo to perform about 13 years ago when a former student’s parents, Laurie and Rob Sabatelle, introduced the school to the club. Now, in their 10th or so performance at the fair, Tuck can’t say enough good things about the opportunity the Norwich Fair creates for the students to perform the craft they spend hours honing, live in front of an audience: “Norwich fair feels like home. It’s a real festive time for our bands. There is a magic to playing under the fair lights that never gets old.  The kids get to shine on stage then go and ride the Hurricane – it’s an adventure that is hard to beat.” 

Kata, who runs the administrative side of the business and was busy introducing acts and taking phenomenal photos of the students rocking out on the day of the performances, agrees. She notes how, while the students get to perform in a variety in venues, taking the stage in front of their own friends, family, and community members is something special: “For us the Norwich Fair is one of the biggest highlights of the year. We are performing with the bands in many different venues and the Norwich fair definitely is the cherry on top. The kids absolutely love it.”

Lila Bucci leads the vocals in Rockology performing at the Norwich Fair

Juliette Gemignani, 10, a Norwich student who performs vocals in the band Black Iris, agrees: “It was a great experience! I really enjoyed performing for my family and friends and with the other kids in the band.”

Juliette’s parents, Liz and Tony, were excited for the memories their daughter would make performing live at the Norwich Fair: “Of course we were super proud of her but we also felt so lucky that she was given such a great opportunity. Performing for her friends, family and community is something that will stick with her for a long time.” They reiterate that these platforms that Tuck and Kata and the Norwich community provide to express and experience music helps them build confidence. “It’s really incredible.” 

Molly Vahey , Jaden Stocking and Jesse Gitajn of Oogly Boogly

Katie Bucci of Norwich, mom of performer Lila, values the opportunity to watch her daughter perform: “Seeing Lila up there on stage, singing her heart out, being such a cool rock star, it’s almost unreal. It fills me with so much joy.” Norwich parents Katherine and Enrico Riley of drummer and guitarist Alex, 16, and guitarist and vocalist Etienne, 10, feel the same: “There is no joy quite like watching your kid embodying music.” 

Both Alex and Etienne name the fair as one of the highlight of their summer and one of the favorite things they’ve ever done. “It feels great to be able to show off the music you worked hard to perfect,” Alex says.  Etienne loves the chance to make music with her friends: “I think when you’re having fun on the stage and the audience is having fun watching the performance, it’s one of the best things you can do.”

The audience jammed to the young musicians tunes amid rowdy rides and just a stone’s throw from the Lion’s Club dunk tank. Jaden, Tuck and Kata’s ten-year-old son who is talented on multiple instruments including drums and bass, recalls being one of those audience members before taking the stage himself: “I grew up seeing kids rock out – it’s awesome to finally be up there too and rock out. I love the Norwich Fair. It has such a great energy.” 

Eti Riley and Juliette Gemignani (both Norwichians) rocking out at the Fair
Band Oogly Boogly featuring young rockers from Norwich

Kata says creating that great energy and putting together these shows “always takes a village,” noting that another community member Neil Odell, a musician himself, was helping with the sound.

This was the first year for Lila, 14, to sing at the Fair and her first chance to sing in a band by herself without a co-lead singer. “Performing at the Norwich Fair for the first time this year was a very exciting opportunity for me. Tuck, my friends, and my band (Rockology) did a great job of cheering me on and encouraging me. Tuck always makes the performance of it so fun, even when I am super nervous.” 

Fellow vocalist Juliette similarly say that while she also was nervous at first, “after it was over, I just wanted to do it again.” And luckily, with a community like Norwich that provides the town with events such as the Norwich Fair, she can!

Jaden Stocking of Norwich on the drums

To check out photos of a variety of young musicians – past and present – visit tucksrockdojo.com/gallery. You can see video of the musicians featured in this article on Tuck’s homepage.

Share: