Sunday, July 12, 2009

GRAMMY Camp® Open Mic Anything But Typical by Sarah Tither-Kaplan

GRAMMY Camp® 2009’s open mic night is certainly not your typical first night of camp experience. GRAMMY campers abandon old-school s’mores making, generic sing-alongs, and even mundane ghost stories for something a little more exciting - a parade of musical prodigies performing covers, original songs, and even experimenting with GRAMMY-quality jazz improvisation.

Acccomplished composers, arrangers, and musicians in their own right, the GRAMMY Camp faculty members pulled together a jazz combo warm-up act that opened the night with impeccable and spontaneous saxophone, piano, bass, and guitar solos that inspired a full house of applause and shouts of approval from GRAMMY Campers packed in USC’s Ground Zero café. One unfamiliar with the caliber of GRAMMY Camper musicianship may think that the faculty combo set the bar too high for high-schoolers to even reach. But GRAMMY Campers prove that they will not be outdone by even the most seasoned of industry professionals. Jaws dropped all over Ground Zero as Singer/Songwriter track camper Katie Gavin took the stage and played her original song “Fallen”- a song, a voice, even a stage presence reminiscent of a combination of PJ Harvey, Regina Spektor, and Adele, yet completely unique and radio ready.

GRAMMY Camp musicians, including Grahm Bailey (keyboards), Justin Klunk (saxophone), and Aaron Childs (guitar)- not at all phased by the prospect of taking the stage after the faculty jazz combo - jumped on stage and offered GRAMMY Camp a delectable jazz piece that gave even the professionals a run for their money.

The undisputed favorite performance of the night came from 14-year-old Grant Taylor. One of the youngest GRAMMY Campers of 2009, Taylor may at first glance seem like a bright-eyed young teen whose guitar is almost as big as he is — so it’s understandable Campers were pleasantly floored when Grant rocked the life into a cover of James Taylor classic “Steamroller,” singing with the howl of rock legends and shredding an acoustic guitar solo.

The bar of musicianship and performance quality at GRAMMY Camp 2009 was set, raised, and leapt over on opening night open-mic, and all before the campers’ 11 o’clock bedtime.

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