Blues Jam at Blues Jam

The Urban School website states that Urban music programs and events promote the idea that “even young musicians are capable of excellence,” and Blues Jam was a “lively” example, said Devon Jeffery (‘18). While Urban has a wide array of music groups and classes to join, Abby Walker (‘18) saw a void to be filled in the Urban music scene: the jam. Walker, who is a musician herself, said she “envisioned an event that would provide this creative platform for the many Urban musicians to jam out, showcasing their passion within our supportive community.”

In the spring of her freshman year, Walker brought the idea to Clarke Weatherspoon, Dean of Equity and Inclusion (previously the 9th and 10th Grade Dean) and Blues Jam started to come to fruition. After conversations with Student Committee and teacher-musicians Dawn Jefferson, 11th and 12th Grade Dean and English teacher, and Greg Monfils, a history teacher, in the spring of 2016, Walker came to the conclusion that “our community was craving an Urban Concert for a long, long time.” Student musicians, including Gabi Gotts (‘17), Jade Barnblatt (‘18), and Jasper Nelson (‘18) supported Walker in her creation of Blues Jam. Barnblatt later became another crucial leader in putting Blues Jam together.

When asked what Blues Jam would bring to Urban, Walker said,, “I hoped it would provide Urban musicians with an opportunity to share their musical passions with the rest of the community, and provide non-musicians with a fun, musical event.” Urban musicians, from Jazz Band DJs to sibling duets, performed in the Gumption Theatre on [state the date], which, as Walker predicted, was sold out three hours after the tickets went on sale.

Bread and Roses, the organization to which proceeds from the event went, shares a mission similar to Walker’s desire to use music as a positive force. According to the organization’s website, “Bread & Roses Presents is dedicated to uplifting the human spirit by providing free, live, quality entertainment to people who live in institutions or are otherwise isolated from society.”

The future of Urban’s Blues Jam has not yet been decided, however Walker said she is anxious to start planning for next year.  According to Walker, the impressive student turnout, the eighty dollars donated to Bread and Roses, and the musical void it filled have ensured that Blues Jam will not be a one-time event. However, because the Gumption’s capacity is relatively low, Walker has generated a list of possible venues for next year. “Considering the connections to music venues within the parent community of Urban,” Walker said, “I’d love to explore using a concert venue for the event, similar to University’s student concert at Slim’s.” The possibility of hosting Blues Jam at a San Francisco concert venue is not out of the question, providing an opportunity for students to show off their musical talents in a less secluded space.