Jammies aren’t just for sleeping

What are the chances an aspiring student-musician of high-school age might play the prestigious Mondavi Center at UC Davis? Starting in late spring, much better.

If you’re the kind of person who reads the ads in this publication, you probably noticed an ad for something called the Jammies, with the tagline “the next generation of Sammies.” Or, maybe you didn’t.

If you’re high-school age, and the idea of going on American Idol and getting a new one ripped by that bilious limey Simon Cowell sounds like a really lame idea—and besides, you don’t do karaoke renditions of Whitney, Butterfly Dogwhistle or light-in-the-loafers Orlando boy-band songs because you’re a serious musician—you might want to give the Jammies a look.

The program will take place over two nights: “traditional” repertoire on Friday, May 31, and “contemporary” on Saturday, June 6. The reason they won’t be taking place on the same night is that there are certain technical requirements involved with the Barbara K. and W. Turrentine Jackson Hall, the Mondavi Center’s main, 1,800-seat hall. Such typically non-amplified curricular staples as classical, band and choral music need different acoustic setups than the more amplified contemporary pop-music forms; the hall’s immense proscenium arch must be moved, for example, and it isn’t something that can be done during an intermission.

Interested in submitting? If you’re in a band, at least 75 percent of its members need to be enrolled in high school, and no members can be older than 21. Send a CD, VHS tape or audiocassette containing two songs, with a total time of less than eight minutes. For solo performers, send one song, in the same formats, and keep it to less than five minutes. Also, send in a biography and an 8-by-10-inch glossy photograph (or a JPEG, GIF or TIF of 150 DPI or higher). The deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, March 28, and the address is: I Jam, Sacramento News & Review, 1015 20th Street, Sacramento, CA 95814. Finalists will be notified by April 21.

Among the genres to be featured are rock, hip-hop, R&B, jazz, country, folk and bluegrass. There also will be competitions for male and female vocalists, DJ-turntablists, beatboxers and instrumentalists. A separate competition featuring high-school handlers directing ensembles of tap-dancing dogs, suggested by this writer, was rejected out of hand by both UC Davis and SN&R, the two presenters of the Jammies event.

Proceeds from the Jammies will benefit area high schools’ music-education programs, which are threatened by the currently dire state of public-school budgets. It is hoped that the young performers at the Jammies will shock audiences into recognizing that brilliance doesn’t spring out of a vacuum. It needs to be nurtured.