Rock 101 Coming to Shames JCC New Event Space  

Moderated by Louis P. Masur, Rock 101 will be a deep dive into the stories of 10 songs that had a major impact on world culture and history. Photo provided by Thoughtful Productions

Shames JCC on The Hudson will be hosting Rock 101: The Music And Stories of Ten Classic Songs on Sunday, Sept. 15.  

Moderated by Louis P. Masur, distinguished professor of American Studies and History at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Rock 101 will take place at the brand-new JCC event space known as The Ark. 

The Ark opened officially on June 3, but Rock 101 will be one its first headlining events.  

“Our ambition is for The Ark to become the social and cultural hub of Westchester County,” said Jamie Weiss-Yagoda, senior director of community outreach and communications at Shames JCC.  

“We are thrilled to have Rock 101 as one of the kickoff events for [The Ark]. This event exemplifies what we hope this space is; one where people can join in and learn, is interactive, educational, entertaining, and can lift the spirits of those in attendance,” she said. 

‘Our ambition is for The Ark to become the social and cultural hub of Westchester County.’ – Jamie Weiss-Yagoda. Photo provided by Shames JCC

While Rock 101 will be a deep dive into the stories of 10 songs that had a major impact on world culture and history, no live performances of these songs will occur. There will, however, be extensive video and audio versions of each one. Masur sees the event as one which will both entertain and educate at the same time, through the lens of some of the songs that most event attendees know intimately.  

“The show came out of this idea that I’m both a historian and a rock‘n’roll fan,” said Masur. “I’m a firm believer that rock n roll has changed my life; I open the show saying that this music has made me feel alive and fueled my dreams of escape.”  

Rock 101 is the brainchild of Steven Schragis, founder of Thoughtful Productions. Schragis previously founded One Day University, which allowed intellectually curious “adult students” to go back to college for just one day. Before that, he was the director of the Learning Annex, publisher/founder of Citadel Press, and publishing director/co-founder of Spy magazine. Since then, he’s been working to create new and expanded events, all focused in the entertainment area.  

As part of this process, he’s been in contact with several local entertainment groups, such as theaters, performing arts centers, and JCCs.  

With the opening of The Ark, he saw a perfect match.  

“The idea of Rock 101 is to position the event as more exciting things coming to The Ark,” Schragis said. “This is the first show booked there for the fall season, which sends out a message that The Ark is looking for more interesting events as well.”  

Ideal for both history buffs and music lovers, Rock 101 will take The Ark back generations, as the music being discussed generally falls in the period of the 1950s-1990s.  

Masur adds that he’s asked his students at Rutgers to name the song that’s most important in their life. Whether it be rock’n’roll or another genre, those involved with this event share a common theme: Music plays a prominent role in their life in some capacity.  

Aside from Rock 101, The Ark has a full calendar of events in store. The space will bring people together in a community center to learn, discuss, educate, and have an experience that comes with being part of a community. 

Other upcoming events The Ark will host include movie nights for kids, comedians, small community theater companies and food drives.  

Weiss-Yagoda notes that what makes The Ark even more enticing is its ability to function as a multi-purpose space. It can host lectures, bring in an older adult demographic, and can host events with more of an intellectual edge.  

“This allows us to elevate talents and celebrate folks right here in the community,” she added. 

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About the Author: Alex Horowitz