GRAMMY Camp® 2009’s mini-concert began on Sunday night just as singer/songwriter and former American Idol finalist Jason Castro was leaving the stage to head to the GRAMMY Camp press room. As Campers in the Music Journalism track conducted their interviews with Castro, Campers in Instrumental and Singer/Songwriter tracks got their first chance to perform songs that they had been given just a few days to learn, and only a few hours to rehearse, in front of GRAMMY Camp students and faculty.
While GRAMMY Camp instruction and master classes encourage campers to hone their skills as musicians, the mini-concert series allows campers to develop their talents as performers. Having to deal with technical difficulties during performance is a reality that anyone involved in live shows has to face. GRAMMY Camp Singer/Songwriters Jillian Grutta and Faith Hahn found it initially unnerving to have to sing without monitors during their rendition of “Leave the Pieces” by the Wreckers; however, the talented young singers remembered every artists' mantra, “The show must go on,” and infused their individual styles and energy into the piece while maintaining great chemistry with the rest of the band and each other.
Instrumental performance instructor and faculty coordinator Jason Goldman’s jazz combo played jazz classic “All Blues” from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. With many campers interested more in rock and R&B this year, Goldman encouraged musicians to “work on their jazz” in order to “make all their music sound better” and appreciate the roots of popular music today.
The surprise favorite of the night was Sheryl Crow’s “Steve McQueen,” performed by a combo led by guitar track instructor Matthew VanDoran. Vocalists on the song, Halle Charlton, Christine Jamra, and Katie Gavin were so in sync during the rehearsal process and performance that they even “accidentally” wore matching outfits. Jahaan Sweet (keyboards) and Aaron Childs (guitar) improvised solos that married funky rock and roll to the pop-country tune. Most GRAMMY Campers professed to not even listening to country music, which inspired Goldman to inform them that it’s the second highest grossing genre of music in the United States and shouldn’t be ignored in terms of career opportunity in the industry. Pleasantly surprised by the “fantastic groove” created by the combo, Goldman and the rest of GRAMMY camp clapped and danced along to the performance.
With the first performance completed, and some constructive criticism and advice from faculty, GRAMMY Camp musicians and Singer/Songrwriters are ready to start preparing for the big showcase at the end of the week.