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Little Kids Rock Students
Sit in on BonTaj Soundcheck

BonTaj Roulet Recollection

Picture this scenario: You’re 11 years old, from Jersey City, and can’t afford a guitar. Your teacher brings you and six classmates to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC), a jewel of a theater in the middle of Newark, to meet blues legends Bonnie Raitt and Taj Mahal. You pull out the brand-new, custom Fender® acoustic guitar that was just gifted to you and relinquish it to Taj, who tunes it, plays a funky riff, and hands it back. All you can do is look at your friend with wide eyes and say, “Taj Mahal just played my guitar!”

That is the sentiment that could be seen on the face of one of the seven fortunate students from P.S. 29 who received an exclusive pre-concert performance from the two rockstars at the show’s soundcheck. The duo is in the middle of a tour called BonTaj Roulet, which is raising funds and awareness for various charities. 

Bonnie’s guitar sizzled while Taj blew the blues on his harp. Her fiery red hair and smooth singing complimented his cool straw hat and booming, raspy voice. They came down off the stage after introducing their bands and answered questions from the aspiring rock ‘n’ rollers.

“These are some of the best questions I’ve ever been asked,” Taj said as he looked at Bonnie, who nodded in agreement. “Do you want to take this one?”

“Sure,” she responded, and explained to the children that, yes, she does sometimes get homesick while touring, and no, she didn’t get to where she is without putting in hours upon hours of hard work. 

Bonnie and Taj continued to provide answers and anecdotes to the kids, who clutched the new acoustic guitars with which Little Kids Rock surprised them. They were amazed to find out that they were the first people in the world to own the ESC-80 educational model Fender® acoustic guitar, which was custom-made for Little Kids Rock.

In the lobby, with their new guitars in hand and a camera pointed their way, the Little Kids Rock guitar class from Jersey City huddled around Taj, who emitted an aura of cool, and Bonnie, whose flowing, red hair with the signature white stripe was the picture’s centerpiece.

Several fans snapped pictures from outside, reminding Bonnie and Taj that their scheduled performance was rapidly approaching, and they had yet to eat dinner. However, they told the kids to line up so that they could each get an individual photo with the pair before they left to perform for several thousand fans.

“Keep playing,” Bonnie said as she headed backstage. “You’ll get here one day.”