Yep: Jammies, part two

Paul McCartney is pushing 64. His creative prime, it can be argued, occurred when he was a lot younger.

In fact, creativity is a state of being that can strike musicians when they are quite young. Unfortunately, outside of some over-publicized karaoke contests on the Fox television network, there isn’t a plethora of opportunities for young music-makers out there.

A local weekly paper (full disclosure: this one) produced an event called the Jammies, two separate nights featuring high-school-age musicians, at the Mondavi Center at the University of California, Davis. The first night, May 31, was covered in this space last week. Friday, June 6, was the second night of the series; it featured the kind of repertoire not usually seen at the Mondavi.

Aside from a few technical glitches—a couple of bands commenced playing, and their guitars were nearly silent on the opening tunes, which meant the singers were wailing over a bad mix of bass and drums—it was a pretty good show with three strong highlights.

The old-school portion of the show, as in pre-Elvis, featured two vocal ensembles: the Starmakers from Sacramento High School and the Folsom High School Jazz Choir, both of which embraced a Swingle Singers aesthetic. Sharing the same bill with several rock bands—Mixed Signals, 8 Brown Eyes, Audiotribe, Felixcat and GoOsEr—wasn’t a bad idea. And the Natomas Charter School group No Bands Land was like watching the kids from Fame updated; one of that group’s singers—Adrian Bourgeois, the son of Brent Bourgeois of the 1980s band Bourgeois-Tagg—has a marvelous set of pipes.

The show was staged by alternating between a raised and lowered curtain; bands using the backline setup played with the curtain up; in between, performers with simpler requirements played in front of the lowered curtain. Three of those acts were the best of the night.

Featured early on in the program was singer Brenda Malvini; her skittering vocals and acoustic-guitar style may have owed a decent-sized debt to Ani DiFranco, but she pulled it off quite admirably. After the intermission, the acoustic-guitar duo Fairman & Nelson played two instrumentals that fell somewhere between Leo Kottke and an unplugged jam-band like Phish; again, quite good. But the evening’s biggest crowd response went to beatbox artist Leejay Abucayan from Natomas Charter School, who turned vocal tricks, circular breathing and rhythmic grunts and puffs into weirdly entertaining shtick.

Two well-known local musicians showed up and spoke between performances. Cake trumpeter Vincent DiFiore brought his horn and played a beautiful rendition of the theme from The Godfather. Tesla bassist Brian Wheat, however, did not regale the crowd with a solo.

Though the house wasn’t packed, it was a good-sized audience. Next year, who knows?