Welcome to the Jammies

A Spotlight for the Musicians of Tomorrow

Jeff von Kaenel

Jeff von Kaenel

Photo By Jill Wagner

Imagine you are a Sacramento-area high school musician with a calling to share your music. After years of practice and personal sacrifice, tonight is your big night. You wipe your palms and calm your nerves as you prepare to walk onto the stage of one of the country’s finest musical performance halls. This is your night to be recognized by your community and your peers, to perform in front of thousands of people at the region’s “Carnegie Hall.”

Before tonight, this would have been only a dream. Never before has there been an opportunity for Sacramento-area high school musicians to compete and perform on a world-class stage right here at home. This event is all the more remarkable at a time when declining funding for music education and looming state budget deficits are dramatically reducing the programs so vital to the development and inspiration of tomorrow’s musicians. Many young musicians find themselves in districts without the resources to provide adequate instruments to their students, much less inspiration and opportunity.

This situation parallels another, when Sacramento had many fine adult musicians, but no music scene. Twelve years ago, there were very few clubs presenting local and original live music. Conventional wisdom held that any developing musician would have to go to the Bay area for recognition and support. Against this backdrop, the Sacramento News & Review had its first annual Sacramento Area Music Awards — the Sammies. In a short period, Sacramento evolved from having virtually no music scene to having one of the most vibrant, exciting music scenes in the country for a city its size. All that was needed was a spotlight and a stage.

Now it is time to shine the spotlight on a new stage. The Sacramento News & Review, in conjunction with the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, presents the Jammies, a two-night benefit concert showcasing the Sacramento area’s best high school musicians and raising funds for music education programs in area high schools. It is our hope that, by providing a venue for recognizing the considerable gifts and accomplishments of these young musicians, we will provide the critical support these young musicians need, while raising awareness of the funding crises faced by the music programs upon which these students rely. “When we started the Sammies, Sacramento residents were blown away by the quality of local musicians,” says Jeff von Kaenel, President & CEO of the News and Review. “I believe that after hearing Sacramento’s high school musicians, Sacramento will embrace its next musical generation.”

The Jammies program celebrates both individual and group performances in a wide assortment of musical genres. For the May 31st traditional concert, featuring Classical, Jazz, and Choral Music, musicians were selected according to their participation in the Golden Empire Music Festival. For our June 6th contemporary concert, we received forty-four entries, from a wide variety of music genres: Punk, Pop, Heavy Metal, Folk, and even a group labeling itself as “Japanese Hardcore!” An advisory committee narrowed down these entries to seventeen bands. A compilation compact disk was made and sent to fourteen members of the high school Student Selection Committee. The Student Selection Committee, along with judges from the advisory committee, made the final selections. We hope you enjoy the music of the first annual Jammies award-winners!

Proceeds from the Jammies will go to the California Music Educators Association, Capitol Section, a non-profit organization that will disperse material grants to Sacramento-area public music education programs. In addition, the Sacramento News & Review has asked Sacramentans to donate their used musical instruments at several music stores. Our partners in this drive, Skip’s Music, Northridge Music Center, Kline Music, and Watermelon Music, have donated $20,000 worth of services to repair and repad these donated instruments. The refurbished instruments will be donated to needy high school music programs in the Sacramento area.

In recognition of the enormous contribution made by our music educators, we are also presenting the first annual Sacramento Area Music Educators Lifetime Achievement Award. Retired music educator Aubrey Penman is being honored at the May 31st concert with a VIP reception and the presentation of this award (see page 8). It is our hope that this award, as well as the stature of its first recipient, will underscore the essential role played by music educators who guide and inspire young musicians as they discover their calling.

The Jammies would not have been possible without the generous contribution of the Mondavi Center. This 104,000 square foot facility, with its state-of-the-art acoustic design and program of world-class performing artists, has elevated the visibility of the performing arts throughout the Sacramento region. The Mondavi Center’s main stage includes an orchestra shell that rises out onto “air casters,” and acoustic curtains that allow spaces to be tuned for a single spoken voice or for large, amplified concert performances. We are thankful for the opportunity to showcase the area’s best young musicians on the stage of one of the finest music performance halls in the country. “These kids are tomorrow’s pianists, rock bands, and symphony orchestras,” says Brian McCurdy, Director of the UC Davis Mondavi Center. “As an educational institution, we are committed to doing everything possible to help them fulfill their artistic dreams.”

The Jammies are the result of the tireless work of many dedicated individuals. However, the extraordinary efforts of Jackie Schultz, the architect of the show, merit singular attention. Jackie has shown tremendous commitment to the success of the show and we thank her for her dedication.

Ladies and Gentlemen, please join us in honoring our finest high school musicians as they wipe their palms, calm their nerves, and invite us to share tomorrow’s music.