Community Papers

FACE TO FACE: Guitar Marty gets kids rockin'

Marty Hatelid, aka “Guitar Marty,” in his Ladner music studio. - Robert Mangelsdorf
Marty Hatelid, aka “Guitar Marty,” in his Ladner music studio.
— image credit: Robert Mangelsdorf

For those about to rock, Marty Hatlelid salutes you. Otherwise known as “Guitar Marty,” Hatlelid has been showing South Delta teens the rock n’ roll ropes for close to eight years at his annual Summer Rock Camp.

In Hatelid’s Ladner music studio, groups of three to six kids at a time, ranging from nine to 17 years old, come to learn how to sing, strum, slap, and drum.

It’s a real life School of Rock, and having played in bands for more than 30 years, Hatelid is uniquely qualified.

Hatlelid grew up in Yorkton, Saskatchewan and attended the University of Saskatchewan’s classical music program, albeit briefly.

“The program was so square I couldn’t handle it,” he says. So he packed up headed west to Grant McEwan University’s jazz program in Edmonton. Hatlelid then began touring much of Western Canada with various cover bands in the late 1970s, but Vancouver’s burgeoning punk and new wave scene, with bands like Pointed Sticks and the Modernettes, drew him to the West Coast.

He’s been here ever since, working in every aspect of the music business, from festival productions and live show management, to music equipment sales.

But by 2005, Hatlelid says he had had enough of the rat race and wanted to get back to his musical roots, and teach.

“I’d always had students, so my wife said, why don’t you do this full-time?” he recalls. “We’d both be much happier.”

Within two months, his classes were completely full.

Video games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero have inspired a whole new generation of kids to pick up guitars and fall in love with rock n’ roll, Hatlelid says. The camp teaches them everything from technique, to ear training, to the dynamics of working in a group together.

“Even little things like understanding how to wrap your cables,” he says.

Most of the graduates of Hatlelid’s program continue on playing, something he says is gratifying to see.

“A few of the guys even come down to the Legion to jam on Thursdays,” he says.

For those that don’t continue on to rock stardom, Hatlelid says they learn valuable social skills, as well as improved self confidence.

His most recent crop of grads will be performing at the Ladner Community Centre on Nov. 3. In the meantime, Guitar Marty, himself, will be performing at the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall as part of the Breezeway Music Series on August 3, along with Pat Gurr.

Hatlelid is expanding his program to include adults after a number of parents expressed interest in dusting off the guitar and kicking out the jams.

“They can come down, work on some songs together and have an adult beverage,” he says.

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