CVIndependent

Fri08142020

Last updateMon, 20 Apr 2020 1pm

The Academy of Musical Performance, also known as AMP, is a music-education program for Coachella Valley students in grades six through 12. Since 2015, AMP has held after-school programs and summer camps, with local musicians teaching students about the basics of learning instruments, stage performance, songwriting and many other facets of music—all of which rely on the ability of people to get together.

So how does a program in which students learn by forming bands and performing continue at a time when we all have to stay home? Will Sturgeon, the executive director of AMP, explained how he, his fellow mentors and their students found a way.

“We’re currently still running our spring band program, which is ending in the coming weeks,” Sturgeon said. “I’ve been deep in trying to finish that and get the grants that we need to get us through this difficult time. It’s been a unique challenge trying to finish the band programming without having people in the same room together. How are we going to have some sort of final showcase so that the session doesn’t end in a fart?”

Each AMP session has ended with live performing showcases—some of which, I must say, were pretty fantastic. That, of course, won’t be possible this spring.

“So what we’ve been doing is drawing on some business-course lessons from AMP’s Rockin’ On program, which is our band-entrepreneurship program, and we are also working on our first-ever AMP album,” Sturgeon said. “We found a collaborative recording software that we are remotely teaching the kids to use, which had been something we had been wanting to do for a while. In mid-May, we’ll release that album in place of our usual final showcase for this session.”

The ability to record one’s own music is a useful skill in this current age of DIY music—pandemic or not—and the release of this album will give the young musicians an immediate platform they will be able to capitalize on when the COVID-19 scare is gone.

Meanwhile, AMP is offering online education using some of the same lessons used in the face-to-face sessions—and even looking at broadening its mission.

“We’re offering one-on-one instruction over video chat, and taking private students and pairing them with a teacher,” Sturgeon said. “We’d love to offer some more enrichment to our students and to our community, so we’re also going to be working on offering panels eventually. We have been wanting to start this for a while, and we were just getting ready to launch these (online) programs, and it was a perfect opportunity to give these virtual lessons out. People have a lot more time and may want to take up learning a new skill, and we want to be where people go to learn music and be in a music community.”

Courtney Chambers, an AMP teacher and veteran of the local music scene, said that while the shelter-in-place order has forced them to change the way they teach, it’s also made them change some of what they teach—and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

“We have been teaching the students about social-media marketing, as well as promotional content, and how to practice efficiently and challenge yourself with new music and techniques,” Chambers said. “Our biggest project has been teaching them how to record and collaborate remotely with an online DAW (digital audio workstation) called Soundtrap. It’s been great to use this quarantine as an opportunity to touch on things we don’t normally have the time to in our regular sessions. I’m hoping that when we are able to resume band sessions in person, we can figure out a way to incorporate these into our regular format.”

Josiah Ivy, a current AMP student, said the program has helped him “a ton” to become the musician he wants to be.

“I joined my first AMP camp session after about a year of playing bass, and it was really my first experience playing in a band setting,” he said. “After that, I signed up and auditioned for the following AMP fall session, where I got a chance to really grow with a single group of musicians and learn how to be part of a band—on more than just a surface level. During that session, I was also invited to join a band separate from AMP that has worked out really well for me. If I hadn’t been invited by a friend to join AMP, I wouldn’t have been driven to improve so much at my musicianship.”

Ivy admitted he was unsure how the move to online lessons would work out.

“I was a bit skeptical of the online lessons at first, as I had joined to play with a band and already was recording music for personal projects,” Ivy said. “That said, I think that the focus on recording and collaboration has been really helpful for me and my bandmates, as it has gotten some of us more familiar with the software side of music and recording, as well as learning how to communicate politely and efficiently with each other to keep each other accountable on collaborative projects that take more than one day.

“The lessons have helped me learn to adapt to different types of software and learn to troubleshoot common problems for different software and different types of recording hardware. I’m really proud of the stuff my band has recorded so far, and I’m excited to wrap up what we’re working on—and hear what all of the other bands contribute.”

While the format of AMP’s future sessions remains up in the air, Sturgeon said he’s optimistic about the academy’s future.

“We run a big summer camp and are planning to still move forward with it as of now,” Sturgeon said. “We will adjust to any changes that will need to be made, but are still planning to have summer camp and our next AMP session in the fall. We are very lucky to have a lot of support from our community and board, who have done a great job of fundraising, to a point where we are not worried about AMP shutting down anytime soon. We are just focusing on how to provide types of programming that align with our mission in a time where people aren’t allowed to get together.”

Sturgeon said people will like what they hear from the current batch of students.

“Watch out for the AMP album in mid-May,” Sturgeon said. “I’m hoping to get some of our AMP-lumni bands on the record along with our current bands, and show off what we can do digitally versus on a stage.”

For more information on the Academy of Musical Performance, visit www.ampcv.org.

Courtney Chambers is no average singer/songwriter. She is one of the desert’s most veteran musicians; her first release came in 2001. She was recently featured on a KCOD documentary series showcasing the great women musicians of the valley, and her music has been used in many different television shows and movies. Her next show will be on Friday, Sept. 6, at Desert Fox Bar in Palm Desert. For a complete itinerary, visit courtneychambers.net. Chambers recently answered the Lucky 13; here are her answers.

What was the first concert you attended?

The Beach Boys, when I was 8 years old at a fair in Texas.

What was the first album you owned?

Huey Lewis and the News’ Sports (1983), a gift from my dad for Christmas

What bands are you listening to right now?

I’ve been pretty inspired by current pop these days: Sidetripp, Mandy Brooke, Taylor Swift, Kasey Musgraves, Ariana Grande, Mr. Carmack, Eevaan Tre, Demi Lovato, Tove Lo, and always … Led Zeppelin.

What artist, genre or musical trend does everyone love, but you don’t get?

Ha ha, I’m probably going to get hung for this, but I don’t get the obsession over Ed Sheeran. I think he is insanely talented, but his music, for the most part, just doesn’t move me.

What musical act, current or defunct, would you most like to see perform live?

Led Zeppelin.

What’s your favorite musical guilty pleasure?

For sure, I have to say right now, Taylor Swift … but it’s a revolving door for me.

What’s your favorite music venue?

To perform: Spotlight 29. To attend: Hollywood Bowl.

What’s the one song lyric you can’t get out of your head?

I love these questions! I wake up every morning with a different random song stuck in my head, but the sax intro to “Careless Whisper” is what really haunts me.

What band or artist changed your life? How?

Wow. Sarah McLachlan. She was the first female musician I heard doing what I wanted to do musically. She was making music that affected me in every way: sonically, lyrics-wise, (and her) emotive deliverance. It was the first time I thought that I can do this. I used to make drives to the beach at 19 listening to Fumbling Towards Ecstasy. It's still, to this day, one of my favorites, and one of the most powerful records I've ever heard.

You have one question to ask one musician. What’s the question, and who are you asking?

Brian Wilson: “When do feel you had the best musical ideas, stoned or sober?”

What song would you like played at your funeral?

“Fumbling Towards Ecstasy,” Sarah McLachlan: “and if I shed a tear, I won’t cage it. I won’t fear love, and if I feel rage, I won’t deny it. I won’t fear love.”

Figurative gun to your head, what is your favorite album of all time?

Dang. Now that is a tough one. Well, I've been gushing most of this interview about Fumbling Towards Ecstasy, Sarah McLachlan.

What song should everyone listen to right now?

“Space Cowboy,” Kacey Musgraves. (Scroll down to hear it!)

Published in The Lucky 13

Summer is upon us—officially, even, as of the night of June 20. Why don’t you beat the heat and enjoy a great show or two?

Agua Caliente Casino Report Spa’s June schedule is a little light, but there are a couple of things worth mentioning (beyond a sold-out Moody Blues show on Saturday, June 3). At 7 p.m., Saturday, June 17, you’ll need to get your shout-outs to your “shorty in lockdown” ready, because the Art LaBoe Summer Love Jam will return. All joking aside, there’s some great music on the lineup this year. Funk legend ZAPP is one of the acts worth going to see, as the group has been sampled by several hip-hop artists, including Dr. Dre. Tickets are $45 to $65. If you never got to see Pink Floyd play a live show, you missed out, since the members have stated there will be no reunion—ever. But at 9 p.m., Friday, June 30, you can experience Pink Floyd’s music set to lasers at Paramount’s Laser Spectacular. Some of these laser shows with Pink Floyd’s music can be pretty cool—plus it beats sitting at home watching Netflix. Tickets are $20 to $30. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has just one big show in June—but it’s huge. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, get ready for some serious laughs, because Chris Rock will be stopping by. Chris Rock has been incredible to watch over the years, given how well he always reflects the times in his stand-up routine. I still love the bit he did about Lil’ Jon and rap music, which has become one of his best-known standup moments. Tickets are $89 to $149. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Spotlight 29’s entertainment slate for June is also a little light, but there is one thing you won’t want to miss (aside from the Ziggy Marley show, which you can read about on Friday, June 2, here at CVIndependent.com): At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 24, Los Chicos del 512 will be performing a tribute to Selena. The group will perform all of Selena’s music that you know and love. Tickets are $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort and Spa has several great events on the calendar. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, Marlon Wayans will bring the funny; tickets are $23 to $29. Be sure to check out my interview with him here. That same night, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 2, power-pop band The Romantics (upper right) will perform. This is a show you should see if you’re a true rock ’n’ roll fan. The Romantics had a couple of big hit songs: “What I Like About You” and “Talking In Your Sleep.” The band’s lineup once included Blondie drummer Clem Burke; he’s no longer with the band, but three original members are! Tickets are $20. Keeping with the ’80s theme, at 10 p.m., Friday, June 16, new-wave band The Motels will be appearing. The Motels had one or two hits in the ’80s and then faded away, before re-forming in 1998. Martha Davis still fronts the band—and still believes in the music. Tickets are $20. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace will be the place to go this summer for great live music—and the venue’s June calendar is packed. Read my interview with the Tijuana Panthers here; the band will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, and tickets are $15. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 9, Mick Rhodes and the Hard Eight will take the stage. Rhodes was once the front man of the Los Angeles punk band Human Therapy, and now performs in this spectacular alt-country band. If you can’t make it to the show, at least check out the band on the streaming services. I can almost guarantee you’ll like it. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 10, New Orleans R&B/country band The Deslondes will be returning to Pappy and Harriet’s. The band’s New Orleans sound is timeless; The Deslondes really do have something going for themselves. After seeing the group perform at Stagecoach, I can tell you it’s a fun band to watch. Tickets are $15. At 9 p.m., Saturday, June 24, psychedelic rock band The Black Lips will be returning. The band’s shows are often pretty insane. While they’ve behaved themselves at Pappy and Harriet’s the last couple of times, they’ve been known to get naked, vomit, set things on fire and so on. War Drum front man Jack Kohler once told me a story about how when he worked for the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, he was told to deliver shaving cream to the band’s hotel room—and found the band shaving a group of women from head to toe. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Purple Room has some familiar names returning in June. At 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday, June 2 and 3, America’s favorite dragapella group, The Kinsey Sicks, will be performing the Things You Shouldn’t Say show. Tickets are $30 to $45. At 8 p.m., Saturday, June 17, The Buddy Holly Review will do its thing. As a fan of Buddy Holly, I’ve been interested in this show; I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun. Tickets are $25 to $35. At 8 p.m., Friday, June 30, there will be a benefit for the American Cancer Society featuring Debby Holiday (below). Debby Holiday is a star on the rise with two hit singles, “Never Give Up” and “Key to Your Soul.” Tickets are $25 to $35. Michael Holmes’ Purple Room, 1900 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-322-4422; www.purpleroompalmsprings.com.

The Hood Bar and Pizza has a couple of events, starring local bands, that are worth your consideration. At 9 p.m., Friday, June 2, there will be a metal show with Drop Mob, Perishment, Instigator and In the Name of the Dead. Considering how long as Drop Mob has been around, it’s good to see the band finally being noticed. Admission is free. At 9 p.m., Thursday, June 8, Courtney Chambers, Caxton, and 5th Town will take the stage. This should be a fun show; all of the bands are female-fronted—and rather talented. Admission is free. The Hood Bar and Pizza, 74360 Highway 111, Palm Desert; 760-636-5220; www.facebook.com/thehoodbar.

Published in Previews