Uncle Tony band members rehearse in the youth room at First Baptist Church in preparation for their upcoming appearance at the JAMMIES in Sacramento on May 13. The Davis band features, from left to right, Carson Bernard on drums, Spencer Snow on bass, Jack Davis on vocals and Jason Harris on guitar. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

Next Generation

Davis bands going to the JAMMIES

By May 2, 2011

The young members of the band Smack Jupiter are hoping the third time’s the charm when they take the stage at the JAMMIES in Sacramento later this month.

Band members, all junior high school students in Davis, may well be among the youngest performers competing in the finals of the Sacramento News and Review’s annual competition for area high school musicians. But that’s nothing new for them.

Three of the band members – Brady Corcoran, Theo Farnum and Cole Morse, all 13 – competed in the last two JAMMIES as part of the local band Hotwire. After losing one drummer and gaining another – Tyler Ramos, 15 – the band reformed as Smack Jupiter, started writing new music and now finds itself back near the top of the local music heap once more.

They will perform on Friday, May 13, at the Crest Theater, along with nine other contemporary musical acts from the Sacramento area, including another Davis band, Uncle Tony, which is fresh off its victory at the most recent Davis High Battle of the Bands.

Uncle Tony members Jason Harris, Spencer Snow and Jack Davis — all Davis High students — and Carson Bernard of Da Vinci High School, had two main goals for the year: winning the Battle of the Bands and making it to the JAMMIES. They’re two for two and now set their sights on winning the JAMMIES.

“We’re hoping the JAMMIES will bring us more into the Sacramento music scene,” Harris said.

Meanwhile, the best of local high school classical musicians will perform on Saturday, May 7, at the Mondavi Center. That JAMMIES competition will feature Davis High’s own flutist Margaux Filet as well as cellist Eunghee Cho, along with a Holmes Junior High School orchestra.

The JAMMIES were created eight years ago by the News and Review as a way to showcase the finest high school musicians in the area. Acts submit CDs or DVDs and, if they make the first cut, are invited to perform before local judges. The very best of those end up invited to the final competition.

So the fact that Corcoran, Farnum and Morse have repeatedly made it to the finals since they were in fifth grade speaks volumes for their talent.

But their age also hindered them in the last two JAMMIES: Because the winner was selected by the audience, older musicians who were able to bring a lot more friends out to the show ended up with a lot more votes.

“Our friends can’t drive,” Farnum said, “and some of their parents didn’t want to bring them.”

So band members are hoping to bring out more fans this year, and they remind folks that it’s about more than the competition: With 10 unique finalists, all performing their own music for 10 minutes each, it will simply be a great night of sound.

“People should just come hear the wide variety of music,” Corcoran said.

Added his mother Amanda: “You forget they’re all in high school when you’re listening to them. It’s a huge, untapped source of original music.”

Like Uncle Tony.

That band formed in early 2009 after drummer Bernard, guitarist Harris and bassist Snow, who played together in the youth worship band at First Baptist Church, decided to form a rock band. Vocalist Davis joined them a year later, after Harris’ dad, Steve Harris of the local band Urban Sherpas, heard Davis singing in a Davis High performance, “and that prompted us tracking down Jack,” Harris said.

Davis sings, choreographs or directs in every Davis High musical performance he can and is also a member of the Davis High Jazz Choir. DHS’ music program is well-represented in the band, in fact, with Bernard a Madrigal singer and Snow a member of the Davis High Symphony. They’ll all be making the most of those connections to get folks to the Crest next week and ensure audience votes in their favor.

Tickets are on sale now for both the classical JAMMIES on May 7 (http://www.mondaviarts.org) and the contemporary JAMMIES on May 13 (http://www.tickets.com) and are $10 in advance, $15 at the door.

Davisites will have several other opportunities to see these local talents as well. Both Uncle Tony and Smack Jupiter will perform at the Davis High Blue & White Foundation’s Concert on the Green on Saturday, May 21; Smack Jupiter also will play for the crowds at Celebrate Davis! on Thursday, May 19, in Community Park; and Uncle Tony will perform at the city’s Fourth of July festivities in Community Park.

And for the second year in a row, Smack Jupiter also has been selected by the JAMMIES to promote the event on Channel 13’s “Good Day Sacramento” at both 8 and 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 11.

— Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at [email protected] and (530) 747-8051.

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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