Bar mitzvah kids rock out for a worthy cause

Many kids probably don’t view community service as something that also can be fun.

But two Marin County tweens have come up with a modern twist to liven up the community service component of their impending joint bar mitzvahs Sept. 13.

Miller Klitsner of Larkspur and Zev Shearn-Nance of Tiburon have put together the first KidsJam Rock-a-Thon on Sunday, June 8 to benefit Performing Stars of Marin. The event will be held at the 70-year-old, art deco-styled Lark Theater in Larkspur.

Miller and Zev — both members at Congregation Kol Shofar in Tiburon — are not only producing the event, but they’re also the bassist and drummer, respectively, in one of the 10 middle school and high school bands that will be performing at the Rock-a-Thon.

The other members of their band, the Kozgoods, guitarist/vocalist Sofia Miller and guitarist Chris Gleckman, also helped produce the event, with the kids getting some additional assistance from their parents.

Still, the goal for the kids is to take on more responsibility for putting on the event in the future.

Miller’s father, Dan Klitsner, had worked with Miller’s older brother on a similar community service project involving skateboarding — and he encouraged Miller along the same lines.

“I said [to Miller], ‘Go with your passion so you can draw other people with that passion to your cause,'” Klitsner says.

For Miller, the passion is music — so he and his friends started to plan the Rock-a-Thon.

They put the call out to young Marin County rockers and rounded up 10 bands to play at the concert. One requirement of being in the lineup was that the members of each band get sponsorships (from $10 to $250).

All the funds raised will benefit Performing Stars of Marin, a nonprofit agency providing low-income children access to arts and enrichment programs.

In addition to the Kozgoods (the band’s name is a play on “good cause”), acts on the bill include Crunchy Frog, Chasing Maya, Free Lunch and the String City Band.

“A lot of them we knew and had heard about, like Crunchy Frog and some others from different schools we went to,” says Miller, who attends Marin Horizon School in Mill Valley. He cites the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Beatles and the White Stripes among his musical influences.

“We plan for the KidsJam to be an annual event,” says co-organizer Zev, who attends Del Mar Middle School in Tiburon. “And we also hope to be in [another charity endeavor] with another kids band, Chasing Maya, who have started Kids for the Greater Good.”

Chasing Maya, a band with an average age of 11 that bills itself as “musical activists,” has already attracted the interest of Emmy-winning filmmaker David L. Brown, who has shot footage for a documentary on their socially conscious exploits. The Iraq war was the topic of their first original song.

At the Rock-a-Thon, performers will be able to win prizes based on how much money they’ve raised and how many sponsors they’ve obtained. Attendees can also become eligible for prizes by purchasing a raffle ticket for $10.

Among the prizes is one worthy of being in a Hard Rock Café: a signed Fender Squire guitar donated by former Jefferson Starship guitarist Craig Chaquico. Other prizes include several Gibson Power Tour guitars, an iPod Nano, and gift certificates to local music stores such as the Magic Flute and Bananas at Large.

“My mom knew Craig Chaquico from when she was growing up, and they went to camp together when they were our age,” says Zev, explaining how they were able to obtain several items (strings, guitar picks and CDs in addition to the signed guitar) from the veteran rocker. “They kept in touch, so we asked him.”

The Kozgoods said they are hoping that the event raises several thousand dollars, which will go toward a music lab in Marin City.

“KidsJam Rock-a-Thon” takes place at the Lark Theater, 549 Magnolia Ave., in Larkspur on Sunday, June 8, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. For more information or to purchase tickets, call (415) 902-4747 or email

[email protected].