San Diego Teen Band ‘Jazz Avenue’ Named ‘Best Teen Band in the USA' in Third Annual SchoolJam USA Competition
A crowd of nearly 500 gathered at Downtown Disney District on Saturday, Jan. 21, for NAMM’s third annual SchoolJam USA, a national teen battle of the bands that rewards aspiring musicians and their respective school music education programs with more than $50,000 in cash and prizes. The event, produced by National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), took place during the world-famous NAMM Show held at the nearby Anaheim Convention Center.
Competing against seven other finalist bands from across the U.S., San Diego ensemble, Jazz Avenue, took first place for the coveted title of “Best Teen Band in the USA,” $5,000 for their school music education program, $1,000 toward the purchase of new band gear, a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Bus, and a grand-prize trip of a lifetime to perform at the 2012 SchoolJam Germany finals in Frankfurt this March.
Describing how the band felt about sweeping the competition, saxophonist John Avery responded, “It’s beastly. All the bands were so good. It’s just ridiculously amazing that we won.”
The troupe’s music teacher, Tamara Paige, of San Diego’s School of Creative and Performing Arts (SDSCPA), was on hand to share in their win, commenting that the $5,000 prize will go a long way in the strengthening their music education program.
"Ranging from Jazz Fusion to Indie Rock to Hip Hop, this year produced the most diverse group of SchoolJam USA bands yet," said Joe Lamond, president and CEO of NAMM. "It’s abundantly clear that regardless of genre, kids are as passionate as ever about playing music and keeping school music programs alive, and NAMM is committed to offering avenues, such as SchoolJam USA, that provide teens with an outlet to express their musical creativity."
The event was hosted by teen pop sensation Greyson Chance and former “American Idol” contestant Shaun Barrowes. The Diamond Bar Marquis Show Choir joined Barrowes to open the evening with his latest single, “Live for Music,” while later in the evening Chance performed hits “Hold On ‘Til the Night” and “Waiting Outside the Lines” from his 2011 debut album Hold On ‘Til the Night.
Of the more than 100 hopeful musical groups that applied to compete this year, eight talented teen bands hailing from cities across the U.S. made it to the finals event. Nearly 200,000 votes were cast for the bands during the four-week, open online voting period, resulting in nearly 1.5 million page views to www.schooljamusa.com.
Jazz Avenue was awarded the winning title by a panel of judges including: Disney talent casting director Stan Freese, Irwin Kornfeld of InTune Partners and Westchester Media, Menzie Pittman from Contemporary Music Center, and Michael Smith of Peavey Electronics Company.
Second and third place runners-up included: damsel band The Hi-Tops from Jeffersonville, Ind., and Ergo We Play from Knoxville, Tenn., respectively. In addition, specific individuals and bands were recognized for their talents in the following "Best Of" categories:
- Best Bass: Bayley Whitlow, The Hi-Tops
- Best Percussion: Chris Petty, Squash
- Best Guitar: Josh Vasquez, Jazz Avenue
- Judges Prize: John Avery, Jazz Avenue
- Best Keyboard: Alec Jackson, Squash
- Best Vocals: Alex Zimmerman, Ergo We Play
- Prizes for the "Best Of" awards were provided by NAMM Members JamHub, Inc., Peavey Electronics Corporation, Future Sonics, Kelly Concepts, ZT Amplifiers, Control One, Gruv, Inc., Mighty Bright, and Yamaha Corporation of America. Additionally, a "Fan Favorite" award was presented to The Hi-Tops, which received more than 385 text message votes for that category during the live finals competition.
SchoolJam is an established music initiative, originally developed by MM MusikMedia Germany to promote popular and rock music in schools throughout Germany. The program has provided thousands of music-loving young adults with the opportunity to perform and network with their peers, increasing their love for playing music and encouraging them to become active musicians.
The National Association of Music Merchants, commonly called NAMM in reference to the organization's popular NAMM trade shows, is the not-for-profit association that unifies, leads and strengthens the $17 billion global musical instruments and products industry. NAMM is the sponsor of the Wanna Play? campaign, a public awareness initiative designed to get more people connected with the proven benefits of playing music. For more information about Wanna Play, please visit www.wannaplaymusic.com. For more information about NAMM, please visit www.namm.org.