Teens 4 Tunes Event Helps the MAMA’s Cause for Youth Music
Last weekend, the Madison Area Music Association held their third annual Teens for Tunes event at the High Noon Saloon.. If you are not familiar with the Madison Area Music Association (MAMA), they are a non-profit organization that supports music education throughout Dane County. Teens for Tunes, is the very essence of the MAMA’s mission and it highlights several area teens that are already quite accomplished in their own right.
For the past few years, local radio personality Gabby Parsons form 105.5 Triple M has graciously given her time to host the event. It is her love of supporting kids in music that makes Parsons the perfect host.
The event is comprised of musicians in various stages of their young careers. Several already have albums completed or in the works. In my book, THAT is pretty darned impressive!
Isabel Bernauer, a junior at Middleton High School took the stage and just started singing before Gabby Parsons even had a chance to introduce her. Bernhauer quickly caught the attention of the crowd when she began singing ZeZe Ward’s, “Put the Gun Down” with a force and style that made you think Ward herself was on stage. Her set was engaging and rich with emotion, hard to believe that was her first ever performance outside of the school setting! It was not surprising to learn that Bernauer got a callback from The Voice last season. That girl should keep on singing because her star is just beginning to shine.
Next on stage, was Kiley Penn also a junior and attends Madison West High School. Penn sang three songs and played ukulele. Her voice is strong and her music is catchy. Not only that, she also has a very good stage presence that really transcends to the audience. Penn is an alumnus of the ever popular Girls Rock Camp program, has participated in Beth Kille’s Chick Singer Night and plays out around Madison. Her album, Heart on my Sleeve, debuted in January 2014.
“Music is forever; music should grow and mature with you, following you right on up until you die.”
Our first band of the afternoon then took the stage, a group of four young guys from Madison and surrounding area high schools, all freshmen. Take the King definitely showed us they were quite skilled at their instruments and played an impressive half-hour set of original music with a power-punk sound. The band is comprised of Charles Donovan on guitar and vocals, Jens Shager also on guitar and vocals, Van Tetzner on bass (this guy did the power stance like a pro!) and Galen Austin on drums. What is great is that two of the members, Donovan and Shager are also good friends and have been playing together for several of their young years. This band is newly formed and was born of the music mentoring program Rock Workshop, which is run by the Madison Music Foundry. Take the King will competing for their first time in the statewide Launchpad competition in April.
Sarah Corbin next took the stage and she is only a freshman at Youth Initiative High School. Corbin brings a confidence and soul-rattling passion to her music that makes you think she must be much older. Her style and attitude remind me of singers like Alanis Morissette and Avril Lavigne. Her album ironically is called 13 going on 25 and it debuted in 2013. Corbin is a sweetheart on and off stage and also has participated in Girl’s Rock Camp for several years, she definitely has star quality.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
Modern Mod comprised of area high school seniors then took the stage with an energetic burst and engaged the audience with their very upbeat, original music. The band has a unique chemistry made up of three girls and two guys. The three girls: Lead singer, Emily Massey, (her father is Madison’s own Michael Massey, an accomplished singer and songwriter), Alivia Kleinfeldt drops some hot bass and vocals and Ronnie Clarke is a very fine drummer (youth MAMA award in 2013) and vocalist. Maxamillian Werner plays lead guitar and Cal Pocernich on rhythm guitar round out this group. It is not often you find a band with this type of ratio. The three-part harmonies were stunning and the throwback style of music appeals to all ages. Modern Mod has been playing out for several years all over Wisconsin and Illinois and are about to release their first album in April, it is entitled Tunnels and will be available on iTunes and some local record stores.
The last of the teens for this event was the already well established, Gabe Burdulis. He is a senior at Madison West and this guy spends just about as much time playing shows as he does going to school! Burdulis, formerly of the band The Daze, won the state Launchpad competition in 2012 as well as MAMA Youth Guitarist and Vocalist awards in two different years. Burdulis has a unique style and sound and even though he is only one person standing on stage, he fills up the room. His stage presence and exceptional song styling rock your socks right off. Burdulis released his first album last year and it is called, The Land of Make Believe.
The event had two adult acts that rounded out the show, Midas Bison and Catch Kid. Both were extremely talented and original. They were the leaders of the pack and showed the kids what they can aspire to with hard work and dedication to their music. Not only was their music crisp and engaging, they also had impressive light shows that added an additional level of excitement for the crowd. At one point, Catch Kid had a few audience members play musical chairs to their music. I found that clever and a perfect way to keep the audience engaged.
One of the most interesting and intriguing part of the entire afternoon was the level of support that these young musicians gave to one another. If they were not performing, they were front and center stage, cheering on whichever band was on and moving to the music. I don’t know if this was a learned behavior or something that one musician simply understands about another that it must feel good to have people standing there resonating their energies to you so you can in turn pour them back out to the crowd. However this process works, I truly admire these kids for knowing and wanting to be a part of the experience.
This was one fantastic celebration of Madison’s future musicians. None of this would have been possible without these kids having some form of music education. Firstly, the parents are awesome to let their children pursue their interests in music and fostering that desire. We are certainly fortunate in Madison to have so many amazing music education programs available to kids around the city. But let’s not forget how quickly funding can disappear so I ask you to be mindful of this and consider donating to these programs so that all children can have the opportunity to shine just as these kids did at Teens for Tunes!
Until next time,