3rd Street Blues Band, inspired by the south, learns through music
The 3rd Street Blues Band, a band of high schoolers created by the Uptown Music Collective (UMC) in 2016, traveled to Tennessee and Mississippi to compete in the International Blues Challenge’s Youth Showcase and to learn about blues music in January.
Band members include Shayne Williams, vocalist and bassist; Cade Palmatier, guitarist; Justin Warrender, guitarist; Izzy Brumbaugh, keyboardist; and Tate Berkey, drums.
Since their start, the band has grown individually through the blues, but they also have “learned a lot about working together,” said Berkey. “Communicating with each other, making sure we’re all at the top of game when it comes to a gig. There’s so many important things when it comes to a being a band that is ‘hardworking.’ “
They’ve also learned about time-management skills; they’ve been able to bring these lessons to the classroom, said Berkey, as he has been able to use these skills to get school work done more efficiently.
Another important skill the band has learned is “to always be paying attention, things change or go unexpectedly constantly when playing music and that is an important lesson I’ve applied to the rest of my life,” said Warrender.
Being in the band has inspired some of the members to pursue music as a possible career. Warrender visited the Blackbird Academy while in Nashville and is attending this fall, he said. Similarly, Berkey plans on attending a college to further his education, and will be pursuing a career in music.
Nashville, Tennessee, was the first pitstop to talk with UMC Alumni Torey Harding of Starstruck Entertainment and Morgan Myles, an up-and-coming country singer. At Starstruck Entertainment, Harding manages country singer Blake Shelton and pop singer Kelly Clarkson.
Torey Harding “knows a lot about the music industry and he is a perfect example of what happens when you work hard for what you really want,” said Williams. “Practice really does make perfect in this industry. Being early and knowing your stuff really does get you places.”
The 3rd Street Blues Band was formed under UMC for students to learn and study about blues, the masters and actively performing for audiences the old-fashioned way.
“I thought it would … be like learning phrases, musical ideas,” said Warrender. “But it turned out to be a lot more than just that. The band has helped me develop playing with real feeling.”
Berkey studies drummers like Steve Gadd, his greatest inspiration, Peter Erskine, Todd Sucherman and many more, he said. In addition to listening to some of the greats, he also looks at their “grooves.” By watching masters, “I’ll interact with the soloist, listening for certain rhythmic ideas that I can catch onto,” Berkey said.
One of the most valuable ways to learn is through hands-on experience. “Performing live with this band has helped me better myself by not being afraid to move around and feel comfortable on stage with my friends,” Brumbaugh said.
The members took to their lessons and traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, a city heavily focused on the blues, to compete in the International Blues Challenge’s Youth Showcase.
It “was like a taste of what a week being a touring musician is like and I loved every second of it,” said Palmatier. “I wasn’t sure if being a touring musician is something I wanted to do, but afterwards, it’s something I definitely want to pursue in the future.”
While in Memphis, they also visited the Rock and Soul Museum, Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Sun Studio and The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel. The Stax Museum was Berkey’s favorite museum because he got to learn about the history of funk and soul, recording musicians and old recording equipment, he said.
They performed at Rum Boogie Cafe where Miami Steve Van Zandt, guitarist for E Street Band and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, talked with them about their performance.
Van Zandt “showed me that there are some people who have made professional careers out of music who still care about the younger musicians and what they are creating,” Williams said.
Prior to the Youth Showcase, they also got to speak to Shirley King, B.B. King’s daughter and blues performer, where she shared inspiration and insight.
“Shirley King was very influential to me,” said Williams. “She told me never to let anyone greater than me or more successful than me scare away from showing the crowds what I have.”
The band traveled further south to Clarksdale, Mississippi, a favorite stop, where they visited Robert Johnson’s grave.
“We got to play at Red’s and that was such an intimate and warm place to share a love for the blues. I also got to stand at the Crossroads where Robert Johnson sold his soul. Clarksdale felt like home,” Williams said.
“Having the opportunity to go and play in Memphis and Clarksdale was something that I might not be able to do again, and I really value the feeling and experience of being able to perform in such a cool and unique place,” Berkey said.