Talent from Twelve to Twenty|
A Prairie Home Companion announces its second annual teen talent contest!
Almost 300 entries flooded in from all over the country, and we gathered together in our basement to listen to them all, with new pens and big cups of coffee. The kids we've selected are incredible, and we can't wait for you to meet them. Here's who we'll have with us:
Drew Nugent was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and claims Blue Bell as his hometown. Growing up he always loved music and initially played the violin. His interests soon turned to the piano and he started playing tunes by ear. His piano teacher, Joe Benedict, has been a wonderful guide in teaching the how-to while still allowing Drew to cultivate his own style. Drew’s initial musical interest was in ragtime and Scott Joplin; however, he became hooked on Louis Armstrong after watching the Ken Burns PBS jazz documentary, and bought his first trumpet soon after. Ever since, Drew has been playing old jazz classics on the piano and trumpet. He has been greatly influenced by Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, James P. Johnson, Earl Hines and many other old jazz greats. He attended high school at Hill Top Preparatory in Rosemont, Pennsylvania where his passion for playing was further cultivated by a supportive faculty and staff. Drew is also a member of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Center Square, Pennsylvania, where he played with his high school Dixieland band in a “covered dish” fund raising event. Currently, Drew is a first-year music performance major at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. He is involved with the jazz, concert, and marching bands under the guidance of music professors Dr. Stephen Clickard and Dr. Terri Oxley. Outside of his music, Drew’s interests lie in Civil War re-enacting with his father; he enjoys playing violin by the campfire. He also enjoys collecting old 78 jazz recordings. Drew hopes to pursue a career in jazz performance.
Andrew Fenner lives in Columbia, Maryland. He began studying guitar at age seven and picked up piano a few years later. He started composing for the piano at nine years of age. Andrew has performed Mozart and Bach but now prefers to compose and perform original music. His influences include The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, and Elton John. He is also interested in math, and is employed part-time as a math tutor at Howard Community College, where he has been taking courses since age fourteen. Andrew is an independent high school student with The Learning Community International and will graduate this May. He hopes to study engineering at the University of Maryland in the fall. In addition, Andrew is a self-taught juggler and has become proficient at five clubs and seven balls. He entertains others with his juggling at family gatherings and churches.
Lilly Wolfson grew up in Clifton Park, New York, and is currently a junior at Stanford University, majoring in Music Science & Technology and Public Policy. She began playing piano at age six and wrote her first song at age eight. Lilly started singing in third grade and wrote her first song for piano and voice at age 12. She has worked as an accompanist for a summer theater camp and as a dinner-hour pianist for Sargo’s Restaurant at the Saratoga National Golf Club. She has also taught beginner piano lessons. During her senior year of high school, Lilly completed her first CD project, titled "Waiting for Someday." It included 10 songs that she had written and performed, with the least recent written at age 14. Lilly is working on a second, untitled CD, which will include 11 new songs. She also wrote music for and performed on a song called "You are An Angel on Earth," which is being sold in stores in the capital region of New York to raise money for research on ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Ben Walden and Travis Hasko-Young are two friends from Moscow, Idaho; they play harmonica and guitar together. Ben has always loved all types of music, and started playing the harmonica at the age of six, as he traveled in an RV on a family vacation from Duluth, Minnesota to Madison, Wisconsin. He has composed many songs, the first being “I Like Elephants” at age five. More recently, he has been composing jazz tunes. In 2003, Ben took second place in the adult diatonic division and first place in the "Crowd Pleaser" category in a harmonica festival in Yellowpine, Idaho, and placed first in the woodwind category of the junior division of the 2004 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, held right in Moscow. Ben is also interested in musical theater, and performed the title role in the Moscow Community Theater’s production of "Oliver" when he was nine years old. Ben has donated his musical skills to church events, has taught harmonica lessons, and has studied the history of blues and the lives of blues performers. He recently recorded a CD with his father, and has his own Web site at www.benwalden.com. Outside of music, Ben enjoys reading, geography, and writing poetry and stories.
Stage Fright Remedy is a folk-pop duo from Niles, Michigan, made up of siblings Rachel and Taylor Clark. Rachel is a sophomore at Western Michigan University and Taylor is a junior at Niles High School. They grew up surrounded by music Taylor started playing the Djembe, an African hand drum, with his father's band when he was 12 and Rachel ran sound on occasion. As the years progressed, they became interested in songwriting, and now compose and perform their own material, blending modern acoustic rock with traditional folk music. They named their duo Stage Fright Remedy at the suggestion of another musician who observed that Taylor was Rachel's remedy for her stage fright. They play at clubs and coffee houses throughout the Midwest area, and were recently featured on the independent music websites purevolume.com and garageband.com. During the week that they spent on purevolume.com's front page, their MP3s received over 40,000 hits. They have received email from all over the country requesting CDs and wanting to know when they are going to be on tour. They have a website at www.stagefrightremedy.com.
The Lovell Sisters Band, of Calhoun, GA, is a country/bluegrass group made up of Jessica Lovell (violin/lead vocals), Megan Lovell (dobro), Rebecca Lovell (mandolin), Joshua Miller (banjo/guitar), and Jess Holloway (bass). Jessica is currently a junior pre-medical student at Shorter College in Rome, Georgia. She began studying classical violin at age five, and became interested in bluegrass music after being asked to play at a local folk festival. Jessica feels that the Americana/bluegrass genre is the perfect vehicle to combine string acoustical and vocal interests. Megan Lovell is an independent high school student with the University of Arizona, and has studied classical violin and piano for more than 10 years. After hearing Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes, she largely abandoned these instruments to pursue a passionate interest in the resophonic guitar. Rebecca Lovell is also an independent high school student with the University of Arizona, and has studied classical violin and piano for more than 10 years, but, like her sisters, she has strayed from the classical fold to become a mandolin player. She loves anything Chris Thile has played, is currently playing, or will play. Rebecca is feverishly preparing for the national mandolin contest which is to be held at Winfield, Kansas this fall. The three sisters have sung and played together for more than 10 years, and have been involved with the Americana genre for about a year. They have started to write and record original music, and together with the other members of their band, plan to release a CD this spring. When they're not practicing or studying, they raise and show Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Josh Miller is a history major at a college in Spring City, Tennessee. He has played piano since age six, and also plays guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Jess Holloway also lives in Spring City, Tennessee, and is the most recent addition to the lineup. He is an accomplished bassist, having played extensively with many bluegrass bands. The Lovell Sisters Band is on the web at www.lovellsistersband.com.
Be sure to join us on February 19.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).