2013 Rock Academy Staff
Rock Academy - Camp Director
As a graduate of Berklee College of Music, Michael holds a Bachelors Degree in Professional Music with an emphasis in Music Education. Enrolled on scholarship, Michael graduated Cum Laude in 2007. Teaching music since 2000, he has taught privately as a Berklee College off-campus instructor, has been apart of the National Musicians Workshop staff in Chicago, IL and has taken part in the UW-Green Bay Summer Camp since 2003. Studying under acclaimed musicians Hal Crook, Ed Tomassi and Jon Damian to name a few; Michael has learned a wide range of teaching styles. Aside from teaching, Michael is an active performing artist playing lead guitar with singer/songwriter, Tim Stopulos (Tim Stop). Michael's professional career has awarded him opportunities to share the stage with such bands/artists as: Howie Day, CCR, 9 Days (Story of a Girl), Girl Talk, Khari Parker (Destiny's Child, Beyonce, Boz Scagz). Tim Stop has just released their third full-length album entitled "Songs of Separation", with Michael on lead guitar.
Currently residing in Chicago, Michael is the owner/founder of "Musicians Workshop" a Chicagoland music-learning center located in Westmont, Illinois. Michael attended the UW-Green Bay Guitar Camp as a high school student and is so honored to be with this program as the camp director.
Rock Academy - Bass Guitar/Producer
Chris was recognized in Bass Player Magazine for his bass playing on the CD release of the Chicago band "Amazing Headgear." Chris released a CD debuting his own band, "Kick the Cat," featuring his contemporary jazz compositions and bass playing. The first of KTC's 3 CDs was lauded in Bass Frontiers Magazine as "...spirited and fresh." "Bassist Clemente funks, swings, and solos with style and ease..."
As a result of KTC's debut CD, Chris became an official "Famous User," clinician and product specialists for international bass company Warwick. In 2004, Chris was the featured Artist on Warwick's website. (www.warwickbass.com). In 2008 Wil Ramirez of Ramirez Bass built the Model "CC" bass guitar, which he helped to design and develop. Clemente was a featured Guest speaker at Northeastern University for its Contemporary Music symposium 1996 and Featured Artist at Northeastern University's New Music Concert performing an original composition on Solo Electric bass.
Chris performed as a musician in Tom Cruise's break out movie "Risky Business" on Warner Bros. and performed with Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson (Dream Girls and American Idol) on the Oprah Winfrey Show, 2007. A brief list of names with whom Chris has performed includes; Umpherys McGee, Drop Q, Jon Secada, Randy Brecker, Hiram Bullock, Percy Sledge, and The Coasters. Christian Howes, Bobby Flynn, Kanye West and Jennifer Hudson as well as other numerous artists of varied styles. He has toured parts of Scandinavia and the orient. Other Chicago groups Chris has supported include: Crawl, Drop Q, Kick the Cat, Tributosaurus, Ladies of the Canyon, Willow Creek, Ravinia Music Program, Andrea Amos Project, Day Jams.
In June of 2009 he received a Masters degree in Music from DePaul University. During the school year Clemente is a teaching artist for Ravinia. He is a contributing composer for Harpo Studio and Chicago Public Radio's Vocalo.org project. In 2010 Chris Clemente and his cohorts in Crawl were commissioned to compose and perform original music with the Elmhurst Percussion Ensemble.
Rock Academy Instructor/Musician
Luke Polipnick is a Madison, WI-based guitarist who is becoming known for his genre-bending virtuosity. He is currently pursuing a Masters of Music degree in Jazz Studies at Northern Illinois University, where he is a full Graduate Teaching
Assistant, and studies guitar under the tutelage of acclaimed virtuoso FareedHaque. His approach to the guitar explores timbre, ambience, motivic development, and extended techniques. He has performed on several international music festivals such as Spark (Minneapolis), Sonic Circuits (Washington D.C.), and Sound Field (Chicago), and has toured the country as a soloist and as a sideman in situations ranging from electronica to avant jazz to reggae. While an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Polipnick was honored with the Ida M. Vreelund award, which recognizes one student each year for outstanding achievements in the college of visual and performing arts.
Rock Academy Instructor/Musician (Percussionist)
Rich Stitzel is a third generation professional musician and educator. He was trained in drums and percussion at the prestigious University of North Texas from 1990 to 1995. Rich has taught privately since 1990, as well as given master classes, clinics, and camps all over the country. He is the author of four-way independence book "Directions In Drumming," and has also put out two solo CDs of original compositions. Rich is also a teaching artist for Ravinia's "reach, teach, and play" outreach program where he visits the Chicago Public Elementary Schools and teaches jazz and classical music to K-3 grade.
Rich has always kept a very busy performing, recording, and touring career as well. He has toured all over the United States, as well as performed in Mexico, Canada, Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Sinai. He has worked with many artists in all genres including legendary soulstress Mary Wilson of the Supremes 2002, the Grammy nominated rocker Cathy Richardson (Jefferson Starship) 2004-2009, guitar genius Joel Hoekstra (Night Ranger) 2004-2009, Platinum selling and Grammy winning country superstar Miranda Lambert 2007, jazz violin whiz Christian Howes (Les Paul Trio) 2001, superstar saxman Cornelius Bumpus (Steely Dan) 2001, world music songstress Anne Harris 2004-present, transcendent folk/country artist Ernie Hendrickson, as well as a plethora of equally amazing (but less well-known) artists from all over the country, and countless world class musicians for recording and live work.
Rich is a founding member, writer, drummer, singer, actor, and artist for band/television show/cartoon/website/afterschool program "The Sparklemonkeys" as well as a founding member of Chicago groove fusion project "Crawl," improv house group "Orbium," do-it-all rhythm section "The Alliance," as well as a member of 12 piece jazz ensemble "Auraphone."
Rich's creativity, energy, knowledge, and professionalism allow him to maintain an extremely vibrant and diverse career in the music industry.
Rock Academy Instructor/Musician: Guitar, Vocals, Keyboard
In the fall of 2012, a year after the release of his debut album 'Songs of Separation', Tim Stop teamed with producer Aaron Johnson (the Fray, Colbie Caillat) to record his new EP "London". The recording follows up on the success of Tim's cover of Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel", which was spun on SiriusXM's Coffeehouse station throughout the year. Upon its release in 2013, "London" will be played on various radio stations across the country.
Tim's talents as a vocalist, guitarist, pianist and songwriter are displayed on his well-received debut album “Songs of Separation”. He's built on that album in 2012 and has big plans for 2013, including a nationwide tour.
Tim, originally from Bettendorf, IA, performs 150 - 200 times a year, including such festivals as Summerfest and River Roots Live. He's opened for such national acts as Howie Day, Girl Talk, Nine Days and the Fray. His band consists of some of Chicago's best backing musicians, including Tim Seisser on bass, Frank Alongi on drums and Michael Tahlier on lead guitar.