The following article was printed in the March 2016 edition of the Blues Society of Omaha's Blues Notes. Students from the BluesEd band, Voodoo VInyl, played at the Youth Showcase as part of the International Blues Challenge in January. The band members then wrote about their experiences to share with the BSO and BluesEd.
VOODOO VINYL’S BEALE STREET ADVENTURE
CARMEL - Carmel’s first impression of Beale Street was, “Cool! The lights, the people, the energy it was all so awesome! I thought about all the legendary musicians that had performed there and made all the history happen on Beale Street. It was a really memorable experience for me.”
BILLY - It was a very cool experience. The opportunity to play and see so much blues was truly amazing. I especially enjoyed being able to play right on Beale St., right in the middle of all the action.
GABI - One of the most exciting parts of my year was to be a part of the youth showcase in Memphis. Not only the opportunity to play, but being able to experience International bands playing Blues was amazing. I met new people and played with some of the most talented artists in the Blues industry.
ELYSE - This has honestly just been one of the best experiences I have ever had in my life. I may have been in the same room with my band over the span of 300 hours, but in the past 48 I’ve gotten to know them better than ever. Everyone here s so talented and kind and I’m just so grateful that Voodoo Vinyl has been given the opportunity to experience the IBC and all of the talents that engulf it.
GRAHAM - The Memphis trip was different from any other travel I have ever done. I stepped onto Beale Street and I was immediately immersed into an entirely new way of life. A community based on feeling and emotion, rather than geographical location or religious values. I’ve played blues music for a while, but I had never experienced Blues on the Beale Street level before. People came together from all over the country, and all over the world, to communicate in a mutual language that only Blues lovers will understand.
My favorite moment would probably have to be Gabi’s solo in the introductory information session and student jam. I know that people back in Omaha freak out about her incredible talent, and with good reason, but watching the international crowd go just as crazy over that talent was extremely pride-
ful to me. I know we have a lot of incredible talent within all of our band members, but going up on a world stage, against the best of the best in the entire world, and still receiving praise above and beyond the norm; that was really special. Cole also killed it in all of his Jams, as well as the others who participated.
In closing, I’d like to thank everyone who made this possible for Voodoo Vinyl as a band and as a group of individual student musicians.
First, thank you to the BluesEd Program. You put together a bunch of misfits with a taste for what middle and high school students see as “unpopular music” and gave us the opportunity to learn and grow, and succeed. You saw po-
tential in all of us, and trust me; I’ve heard stories from some of them about their “awful” auditions. Thank you for choos-
ing Voodoo Vinyl to represent this amazing program. We hope that we represented the program well.
Secondly, I would like to thank the Blues Society of Omaha, for sponsoring Voodoo Vinyl at the festival. All bands, youth or professional needed a sponsor in order to participate in the festival, and we are extremely fortunate to have an active group of people that are interested in the development of the next generation of blues musicians. We could not
have made it there without your belief in us. Your support motivates us all to be better musicians and promoters of the
Thirdly, I would like to thank our fans. Without you we are nothing but seven kids with a passion. You inspire us, you give us the opportunities, and you push us to continually get better. We hope to continue to provide the entertainment you enjoy, and all of the things we’ve taken away from the Memphis trip should improve us that much more, individually and as a whole.
Lastly, I’d like to thank the parents of every band member. Your support throughout the years has been instrumental
in the development of our talents. You paid for instruments, you paid for lessons, you drove us to and from rehearsals
and gigs; you are the ones who should be most credited with our success. Especially as a youth band, parent involvement is an extremely important dynamic to have, and one that can mess up good, talented groups. We are so fortunate to have the best parents in the world by our sides, guiding us on our path to success.
Thank you, Graham Brooks
PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE ON VOODOO VINYL’S BIG ADVENTURE TO THE IBC
Beale Street, Memphis, TN, Jan 26-30, 2016
The parents of Voodoo Vinyl band members that were fortunate enough to be able to go to Memphis for the Youth
Showcase at the International Blues Challenge had a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are very grateful to the Blues Society of Omaha and BluesEd program for the support they provided to our sons, daughters, and families. We are also most appreciative to the 21st Saloon for setting up the pre-trip gig for Voodoo Vinyl to further hone their Beale Street set. It is difficult to sum up our feelings from this amazing trip to one of the top places of musical convergence in the world, but we’ll give it a shot in the form of a “Top 10” list
(and obviously we still needed more than 10!).
#13 - Quickly realizing that the IBC event was really well organized and the environment was very safe for the youth band members.
#12 - Finding one of your favorite artists on the Beale Street Brass Note Walk of Fame (e.g., Sam & Dave, The Blues Brothers).
#11 - Two words: Ribs @ Rendezvous
#10 - Taking an afternoon break from the lively current scene on Beale Street, some toured the Gibson guitar factory, while others soaked in blues, soul, and other uniquely-Memphis history & memorabilia at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.
#9 - Hearing one of the IBC lead organizers express utmost admiration for the health of the Blues Society of Omaha and its BluesEd program!
#8 - No matter where you wandered, sensational blues music filled the air (inside and out) around this incredible gathering of extraordinary talent at the IBC!
#7 – The lead singer of Markey Blue (with whom Voodoo Vinyl played at Playing With Fire) remembered “the great horn band” from Omaha.
#6 - Meeting fun people from all over the world, finding out what band they were in, then later seeing just how extremely talented they were on stage!
#5 – Hey, we got to watch our kids jam on multiple stages on and near the one and only Beale Street!
#4 – Simply having the opportunity for the band and parents to relax, have fun, and enjoy a real bonding experience together – we’ll never forget it.
#3 - Supporting the Hector Anchondo Band, watching them set the stage of the packed Jerry Lee Lewis Café & HonkyTonk absolutely ON FIRE! Then the next evening, the whole Hector Anchondo Band was cheering on Voodoo Vinyl at the Blues City Café (and let us tell ya, “we” really rocked!).
Congrats to the Hector Anchondo Band for making it to the finals! No small achievement given there were 121 bands full of talent! Omaha rocked Memphis: BSO! BSO! BSO!
#2 – When gig time finally came, Voodoo Vinyl truly nailed their set with precision, flair, and confidence! Watching the glowing reaction from the packed crowd of fellow musicians was truly heartwarming.
And... #1 - Watching our sons and daughters have a great time with each other, strolling up and down Beale Street “band only”... priceless.
- The parents of Voodoo Vinyl
Please see a very special "Alumni Advice" column below from Khayman Winfield who is Hector Anchondo's drummer. The Hector Anchondo band was in the finals at the International Blues Challenge this past January. It is the first time any band from Nebraska has made it to the finals. Khayman's comments are absolutely golden and worth reading and re-reading by BluesEd students.
A little behind the scene comment here, Khayman had just had a severe house fire the night before I contacted him to write this column. Even though his living situation and practice facility was in complete turmoil, Khayman still took the time to write this tremendous piece of advice for our students. You are one classy human being Khayman! We wish you the best.
Name: Khayman Winfield
Band: When I started in the Youth Artist Development Project, we didn't have a band name, when it became BluesEd and we named the bands, I was in The Blues Wanderers and the other band was The Side Effects.
Years in BluesEd: I started in BluesEd before it was even BluesEd, it was the Youth Artist Development Project (2001) and there was only one band back then. 3 guitarists, me, one singer and the guy who started the program, Doug Baker, played bass. I believe I was 10 when I started and 17 when I left the program.
Any Current Music Projects: Right now, I am in the Hector Anchondo Band touring nationally.
What was your Favorite BluesEd moment: My favorite Blues Ed moment was really a collection of moments. We used to get to open Playing with Fires down on the river and I was lucky enough to get to open and share the same stage as Johnny Winter, Malford Milligan and other incredible musicians. The times we had running around Playing with Fire with members of the different bands and our friends, I will never forget! By far, some of the fondest memories of my childhood!
What advice would you give to current BluesEd students: As far as advice I would give, STICK WITH IT!!! Don't get discouraged because you play a bad show, or have a bad solo. No one plays the perfect show every show, the trick is being able to mess up and roll with it. Mistakes are going to happen, they are inevitable! How you play through it and how you show it are the things that set apart rookies from pros.
Also, don't take your time in BluesEd for granted! Every single musician and person around you, you CAN learn from. The lessons I learned in BluesEd have been INVALUABLE to me in my music career AND in life. Thanks to BluesEd, I had a HUGE jump on people who weren't in the program on understanding how to jam with people, how to play with other musicians, how to be professional on and off stage at shows (because believe it or not, people DO notice how you act off stage), how to play with dynamics and MANY other things. Always think about this, does it make the song better or does it make me sound more impressive? It should ALWAYS be about the song. What can you do to make the song better?
I cannot stress how much my time in BluesEd has helped me further my musical career beyond the program!! Pay attention when you're in workshops, even if the clinician isn't talking to you. You never know what you may be able to learn! But above all else, enjoy every second of it! You will never get this time in your life back. Enjoy every show and every practice! The memories that you're making now will fuel you through any tough times you may have in life or your musical career.
On March 6th, BluesEd held it's Kick-Off Meeting for the 2016 season with our largest group of students ever in the program. We now have 44 students in 6 performance bands and several more students in our Intern program.
Introducing our BluesEd Class of 2016!
Apologies to the few students who were missing from the BluesEd group photo: Gabi, Jeremy, Ross, Sam, Michael, Jack & Nathan.
These students are all new to BluesEd this year. Welcome to BluesEd!
We are excited to have you join us.
Students and parents had a chance to hear from BluesEd Directors about the upcoming performances & expectations for BluesEd this season. Additionally, BluesEd Clinicians, Ron Cooley and Carlos Figueroa spoke to the BluesEd students regarding their expectations this year. Ron instructed students on the importance of charting music. Carlos spoke to students on practices, performances and workshops. Hope everyone took great notes from our experienced & talented Clinicians. Our BluesEd students and parents also had a chance to hear from one of their own, Graham Brooks on Voodoo Vinyl's experience at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in January. Graham spoke from his heart about how attending the IBC was an amazing experience for him & his band. See more about Voodoo Vinyl's experience here: BluesEd blog.
Thanks to all of the BluesEd students and parents for your attendance and attention at the Kick-Off Meeting. Now, let's get this party started!
Photo credit: Paul Hawkins.
Name: Pete Fucinaro
School: Creighton Prep
Band: Far & Wide
Possible College and Major: Either the University of North Texas or Illinois with a major in Jazz Studies
How Long have you been in BluesEd: This is my second year
How long have you been playing?: I started music at age eight with guitar and picked up the sax a few years later. I've been playing sax for eight years.
Favorite BluesEd Workshop Song: I Wish...I love Stevie
Who is your favorite blues artist: I enjoy Louis Armstrong, Stevie Ray Vaughan's stuff and Billie Holiday. The biggest influences in my life come from musicians who were influenced by the blues, such as Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Sonny Stitt, Mark Turner, and Warne Marsh just to name a few.
Favorite BluesEd Moment: Playing at Jazz On The Green was extremely fun. It was a big crowd and the band had fun.
Hobbies: I love gigging. I try to play weekly around town with my own group or with one of my mentors, Matt Wallace. They give me a lot of exposure and they're just fun. I also practice a lot. Although it sounds boring, I have a lot of fun sitting in my basement practicing my saxophone. I also enjoy writing music. I'm working a lot on making my own compositions for my groups and compositions for big bands.
Thanks Pete for being our first Senior Spotlight of the 2016 Season!