When she left Watson Lake, she was heading to college on Vancouver Island.
Now, eight years later, 27-year-old Sara Skelton’s in Hollywood, California, drumming with the all girl AC/DC tribute band, Whole Lotta Rosies.
“I didn’t really choose to play drums,” said Skelton from Hollywood.
“They chose me.”
She started playing when she was 12, and played on and off through high school.
“I had a couple after-school jam bands in Watson Lake,” she said.
“We played rock.”
And Skelton is still rocking.
Dressed in school uniforms that would make many private school principals blush, Whole Lotta Rosies played for American troops stationed abroad in the fall.
“Our first show was in Germany, and we played for 5,000 people,” said Skelton.
After returning to Hollywood for a show, the band flew to Korea for seven more gigs.
Playing on American army bases was strange, said Skelton, who’d travelled to Korea in the past.
“You don’t really see a lot of local culture — it was all very American.”
The troops loved the concerts; they don’t get much entertainment, she said.
“But it was really sad — they’re all so young and a lot of them are being deported to Iraq.”
Back in Hollywood, Skelton has just graduated from the Musicians Institute’s percussion program.
“I’ve done nothing but drum for the last year and a half,” she said.
It’s one of the only schools in the world that’s geared towards careers in commercial rock, rather than jazz or classical.
“Although you get some jazz and classical training too.”
It’s a very hands-on program with an emphasis on playing rather than theory, she said.
No longer a student, Skelton is applying for an artist’s visa in order to remain in the United States.
“I’m in a couple of bands right now,” she said.
“And I want to stay here as long as I can.”
Besides the AC/DC tribute band, Skelton plays with an all girl Aerosmith cover band aptly named Ladysmith.
She’s also looking for a band focusing on original songs.
“I’ve had lots of offers, but I’m waiting for the right one,” she said.
Skelton is returning to Watson Lake in August for her 10-year high school reunion.
“It’s always a bit of culture shock coming home,” she said. “Everything slows down, and you don’t have to worry about the traffic.”
Over the years, Watson Lake has become more of a ghost town, she said.
“There’s no more mines, or mills — no jobs.”
Before heading to Hollywood, Skelton returned to Watson Lake to save money for school.
“I worked lots of jobs,” she said. “I was a waitress, a bartender and I worked for the city.”
Skelton was also president of the Watson Lake Music Festival.
“I brought up the Swollen Members,” she said.
Music promotion comes easily to Skelton, who earned a degree in media studies while on Vancouver Island.
And when she’s not drumming, she helps up and coming bands with radio promotion.
This summer Whole Lotta Rosies will be playing at a demolition derby in Montana and in Salt Lake City.