As rock n’ roll ages, it expands. It has so many genres and subgenres– I believe there are perhaps 8 MILLION different kinds of metal classifications – that “rock” seems now to be anything that doesn’t sound absolutely like what came before it. If you are NOT strict jazz, folk, Big Band, Swing, folk, classical, blues, gospel, country, pop (what on earth would you call “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?”) then you are probably Rock. The inclusion categories increase, and so do the kinds of people making rock n’ roll. At its inception, rock n’ roll and its direct and closest pal R&B were made by relatively nutty guys in their 20s, with a few equally-crazy women like Wanda Jackson thrown in, squarely aimed at the teen audience. Thought of as a harmless fad or threatening moral menace depending on who you asked, rock n’ roll was never expected to survive more that a year or two. Well. HA HA!

The original girls and guys? Some of them, of course, dropped out of rock and got REAL JOBS and some of them like poor Eddie Cochran and Buddy Holly had most unfortunate transportation issues. But…the remarkable thing was the some of them stayed. They didn’t stop playing rock n’ roll when they hit 30, then 35, then 40 and beyond. My god, Chuck Berry is close to 250 years old! Hey, it’s possible – he’s one crusty dude. He may just refuse to die.

This was unthinkable! How can old people make teenage music? New young fans and rockers kept coming in, but for the most part all the original fans also stayed, aging right along with the musicians from their youth. The music became not just simple songs for pining pimply teenagers thinking about Donna or Susie or that one that got offed by the train in that one song, but a voice for everyone, about every possible subject you could think of. Most rock songs remain solidly in the romance department, however, because young and old can always relate to that and it is the most salient to celebrate or complain about.

There is a bit of a micro-mini-trend going on in rock for the last few years – the child rock band. Of course, teenagers have always played rock n’ roll – think of the sheer awesomeness of Dave Davies’ guitar solo on “You Really Got Me,” recorded when he was just 17 years old. But as there are enough generations now to be able to say, yeah Grandpa played in (Toledo’s Very Own) Beetalz and Mom played in Die Already Dad, kids are forming bands and recording rock music younger and younger. I think this is a great thing, with only one eyebrow raising concern: is it the kids’ thing or the parents’ thing? There is nothing great at all about hipster parents pushing their kids into music so that their own coolness factor can grow exponentially. It doesn’t respect the kids, in the end.

I mean, I play my kids the music I like because I LIKE IT and I want to listen to it, not some hideous Radio Disney swill. If they like it too that’s nice, but I never expect it. If I am going through the radio channels and one of them says, “Stop! Leave that one on! I like it!” I always do, no matter what it is or how much I have to grit my teeth. I am interested in what they find interesting. You can buy kid-sized Ramones shirts now, but I’d rather they ask for it themselves, or whatever else they want to show off in 100% cotton. It's a line to walk as a parent, another one.

It should always be about what the kid is, what it unique to them, what they are thinking and feeling and wanting to play, as best as they are able. In the late 80s, I bought an LP by the band Old Skull, from Madison, Wisconsin. Old Skull was a punk band featuring brothers J.P. and Jamie Toulon, 10- and 9-years-old, respectively. Their father, Vern, was deep into the punk scene, and some wondered how much of Old Skull was Vern’s ideas filtered through his sons. I am not sure -- most elementary school kids don’t have the pointed political views that Old Skull featured, but I am open to thinking that they did indeed write their own music, as claimed:

The kids are grown now, and Vern died at age 46, reportedly homeless.

So, fast-forward 20 years from Old Skull. Here are Care Bears On Fire, all 13-year-old girls. They formed four years ago!:

Smoosh is our local famous youngster group, consisting of some very talented sisters that Couch Teen claims to be acquainted with:

I heard Tiny Masters Of Today on the radio a few times, liked them, and had no idea that they were kids. Ada (13) and Ivan (15) are a brother and sister who have received quite a lot of attention and praise and even musical collaboration from folks like David Bowie, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, drummer Russell Simins, Gibby from the Butthole Surfers, Fred Schneider of the B-52s, and Moldy Peaches’ Kimya Dawson. They have a new album out now:

The parameters and players continue to increase in rock n’ roll, and I expect someday I will hear a collaborative effort from Great-Grandma on dentures, Grandpa on knock-off Hofner bass, Mom on shred guitar, Kid on I-Wanna-Cookie-NOW whine vocals, and Fetus, on heartbeat.

The Collins Kids -- "High School Confidential"