Local kids rock for a cause

Pictured, from left, are the OOPA band members, Oliver Renneker (guitar), Owen Renneker (drums), Peyton Long (vocalist), and Ava Hoagland (guitar). (Sean McGowan photo)

Pictured, from left, are the OOPA band members, Oliver Renneker (guitar), Owen Renneker (drums), Peyton Long (vocalist), and Ava Hoagland (guitar). (Sean McGowan photo)

What happens when four goofy young kids come together to rock?

In the case of Peyton Long, 9, Ava Hoagland, 9, Owen Renneker, 10, and Oliver Renneker, 13, the band OOPA is formed.

“We were at the country club and brainstorming names,” Peyton said. “And one of the dads was like, ‘What are the initials of the band?’ And we came up with OOPA.”

Peyton performs as the lead singer. She and the rest of the group sat in the Republic-Times office last Thursday, giggling and acting silly while occasionally answering this reporter’s questions.

Ava, of Waterloo, plays guitar, Owen plays the drums and Oliver also plays the guitar. The band started in May.

Since then, the group has played five gigs total, Ava’s mom Trisha Hoagland said. One of those gigs was at the recent Halloween Hi-Jinks event in Columbia.

“Whenever we get together, it’s really fun,” Owen said. “We always meet new people.”

“Sometimes there’s food,” Ava added.

Peyton, who loves to break into spontaneous song, said the band provides a great opportunity to “let loose.”

“This is where I could let loose and really, truly do it,” she said.

“I like playing my guitar because without this (band) I wouldn’t be able to play my guitar,” Oliver said.

The band’s slogan is “Kids Rockin’ for Kids” and demonstrates its mission to donate a portion of concert proceeds to kids in need. Trisha said the band has not raised enough money at this time to make a donation or to decide what children’s charity to give to.

“It makes me feel good inside,” Ava said of the chance to raise money for a good cause.

Ava’s father, John Hoagland, said the band was born when he was approached through Thrivent Financial, the non-profit for which he is employed, about putting together a group to do a Beatles cover show in Prairietown.

The four kids happened to go to the same School of Rock in St. Louis and came together to form the band. From there, John said, the parents are the reason the band has stayed alive.

“I think it’s just the really supportive parents,” he said. “They’re really good at finding places for them to play.”

The band’s upcoming performances include the Waterloo Christmas Walk that takes place Nov. 26-27 in downtown Waterloo and a concert at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 19 at the Kaskaskia River House in New Athens.
OOPA also received an invitation to co-host the X105.1 morning show with Shawn Quinn, but Trisha said she has not decided at this time whether the band will accept the invite. Trisha books performances, orders merchandise and staffs the merchandise table.

“They’ve coined me ‘the momager,’” she said.

“Momager!” the kids shouted in unison.

John said he serves as the band’s coach, helping the kids improve their skills. He also teaches them to stay positive when they make a mistake — a lesson he learned from playing his trumpet in a band.

“We had great gigs, but it was never perfect,” he said. “So, I’m trying to teach them if you mess up, who cares? It’s in the past.”

Owen and Oliver’s dad, Kenny Renneker, is the equipment manager, loading and unloading instruments from the truck for each performance and setting up the stage. Peyton’s mother, Renee Long, maintains the Facebook page. Kenny’s wife Becki and Renee’s husband Doug also serve the band in any way they can.

For more information on the band and how to book OOPA for a performance, email oopaest16@gmail.com or go to facebook.com/oopa2016/.

“I’m just super proud of all of them,” John said. “These kids practice all the time. It’s a joy to work with them.”

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