Uptown Music Collective celebrates women in rock

Uptown Music Collective, 144 W. Third St., will kick off its season by honoring two of the most iconic women of rock ‘n’ roll. Music lovers will have two opportunities to see “Women of Rock: The Music of Heart & Pat Benatar” 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 at the Community Arts Center, 220 W. Fourth St. The performance will feature the nonprofit music school’s renowned stable of young female vocalists paying tribute to these legendary voices.

“The first Heart record was a favorite of mine growing up and I have always enjoyed their music, especially their earliest work,” said Dave Brumbaugh, the school’s founder and executive director. “That early music was particularly lush, with highly crafted arrangements, interesting guitar parts and soul-penetrating lead vocals by Ann Wilson, who I consider to be one of the premier rock and roll singers of all time.”

Pat Benatar also stomped onto the stage at about the time Brumbaugh was discovering music, as well.

“Her music, while simpler, was much more straight up rock and roll filled with attitude. I was attracted to her passionate voice, and take no prisoners attitude,” he said.

Ticket holders will enjoy chart-topping songs “Hit Me with Your Best Shot,” “Love is a Battlefield,” “We Belong,” “Barracuda,” “Magic Man,” and “Crazy on You,” among others.

Lead vocalists include Isabella Cole and Shayne Williams, first chair vocalists, as well as Alexis Carnevale, Emily LaCerra, Chloe Taylor, Cece Lutz, Laura Rider, Leah Batman, Kenni Powell, and Aurora Beagle — “all powerful singers … I can’t wait to see and hear them tear up these songs on stage,” Brumbaugh said.

Aside from a few backing vocal parts, male students will be rocking the instruments alongside their female instrumentalists and vocalists.

“All of our male vocalists this year are also multi-instrumentalists, as are many of our female vocalists,” he said. “This gives them the opportunity to be on stage frequently throughout all of our performances.”

According Brumbaugh, the programs at UMC have grown tremendously over the years and an important area of that growth has been the steady increase of young women. Once unintentionally more of a “boy’s club,” the male/female ration for the school now has reached 50/50.

“The ladies have asserted their opinions in all things and this great performance will be the latest result of the voices being heard,” Brumbaugh said.

Unfortunately, he added, the classic rock genre that the shows pay tribute to is male-dominated. In an effort to remain fair, he tries to choose themes that include or at least tend to sit in an appropriate vocal range for a large group of talented female voices.

In 2012, the school presented “Jagged Little Pill: Two Decades of Women in Rock” to balance the number of female/male lead roles in the season due to the students choosing Pink Floyd’s male-oriented “The Wall” as their spring show. The performance, Brumbaugh said, featured a lot of the music of the ’90s, which was considered the decade where women really broke through in the music business.

In order to participate in the school’s Special Performance Group 1 — the unit that plans, rehearses and carries out these shows – all of the students must be continually taking lessons, classes and workshops. Encouraging students to, at all times, be aware of their growth, while continuing to give them as many high-impact musical experiences in front of an audience keeps participants in tip-top shape. This year’s SPG1 group has been working together weekly since auditions were finished up in late August. In order to make the cut, Brumbaugh said that, aside from a stellar audition, students were required to be at the intermediate level or higher and must have taken part in the Tech Monkey Program for at least a year. This program was created as part of the performance program to train students on how to stage tech the shows.

“It gives new and particularly our younger students a way of immediately getting involved in the performances and the organization, without waiting the years that it takes to learn to play an instrument at a high enough level to pass the audition,” Brumbaugh said. “Without the tech monkeys, our shows would be extremely difficult to pull off. They assist with every transition. They run the spotlights, tune the guitars, change broken strings, run out and fix tangled cables, microphone stands, and help guitar players switch guitars.”

The show is being produced by Collective senior Nate Schreffler and is directed by seniors Chloe Taylor and Emily LaCerra. Students Alexis Carnevale, Cade Palmatier, David Chubirka, David Montis, Enso Tran, Isabella Cole, Izzy Brumbaugh, and Tate Berkey, all of whom are a part of the leadership committee, have helped with show preparations, as well.

The performance season for Uptown Music Collective runs from the fall show, which typically takes place in November, through late April to early May. Within that season, Brumbaugh said as many as five major performances may be carried out, which are intended to be performed in larger venues. Fans can expect to enjoy numerous Christmas performances and a student showcase in December, and Brumbaugh said he is very excited to be taking the Third Street Blues Band to Memphis in January to take part in the International Blues Challenge.

Tickets for “Women of Rock: The Music of Heart & Pat Benatar,” are available at caclive.com. For more information, call 570-329-0888 or find the Collective on Facebook.