Northwest NEWS

June 18, 2001

Features

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Teen programs beat summer blahs

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior staff reporter
   Woodinville High School seniors Jasen, Kristian, Murray and Mitch didn't argue or debate the spontaneous suggestion.They mutually agreed to name their band, "Units of Mass Production." They concluded they should have a band name right around the time they planned to try out for the school's talent show.
   Jasen Samford explained, "We missed the talent show auditions but decided on a name that year." He went on to explain that the band had remained nameless until that time. "Mitch, Kristian and I formed the band in our sophomore year. We got together and we jammed a couple of times."
   Later, Murray joined them. This year, Units of Mass Production competed with six other bands in Woodinville High's Battle of the Bands. Teachers, students and a representative from Guitar Center took part in the judging. Samford's Units of Mass Production won. Since then, the band has had gigs at several parties and was hired to play at the Kirkland Teen Center.
   On July 27, the band will play for "Skatapolooza," an event held at the Kingsgate Ice Arena from 10 p.m. to midnight the last Friday of June, July and August.
   The band will also take part in the DeYoung Summer Concert series and will perform Aug. 26 at the city's ball fields. "Our music is somewhat hard to classify. For the most part it's instrumental," said Samford and added that their music could be described as "melodic" also.Units of Mass Production has performed at the Open Mic sessions sponsored by Woodinville Parks and Recreation.
   "It's a great opportunity for local bands to get heard," said Samford. The Open Mic sessions will be held this summer on July 20 and Aug. 17 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Sorenson Gym. Local teen bands, such as Second Hand Joke, Vats of Blood and the Grace of Chaos, have participated in past Open Mic events.
   According to Teen Coordinator Cole Caplan, "It's a chance to come out and listen to local teen talent. We have anywhere from 90 to 115 participants." Breaking the numbers down, Caplan clarified, "Paid participation (those who come to listen to the bands) has averaged 90-95, but including bands and volunteers (also teens) the events draw around 100-115."
   The average age range of participants is 15 to 17, but the 13 to 20-age range and adults as well are welcome. As far as Jasen Samford is concerned, Open Mic and the other teen programs sponsored by the Woodinville Parks Department have been an asset for local teens.
   "I think [the programs] are great. It's absolutely wonderful," he said. There were summers in the past when Samford walked around town with nothing to do. But now, through Open Mic and Skatapolooza, he and his band have opportunities to perform for their peers. Samford will not be bored this summer.
   "It's a lot of fun to be able to go out and do something rather than sit at home," he said. Guitarist Murray Bartholomew and bassist Mitch Bell accompany Samford on drums and lead singer Kristian Gerrard, who also plays guitar.
   The group has cut several CDs, their latest, "A Conversation of Answers Without Questions."
   Woodinville High students Sarah Frazier and Brian Hansen are featured on this release as well. "We've actually released two CDs. There's a third one in the works," said Samford.
   The band will have their CDs on sale at their August concert. The idea for a Skatapolooza or an Open Mic event began with a teen planning committee. Teens get together regularly to discuss the programs they'd like to participate in. Caplan said he looks at the information the teens suggest.
   "I try to incorporate those ideas as soon as possible and not put them on the back burner." Caplan said that the planning committee is a good way for teens to exchange information with him. He mentioned that the idea of Open Mic began with several teens stating that they'd like something to do on Friday nights.
   Not all of the summer teen programs have a music theme. On Aug. 3, teens will get the chance to demonstrate literary and dramatic talents at the Poetry Slam in the Sorenson Gym from 7 to 10 pm. The details of the event are still evolving, but the main concept will be to highlight the poetry teens have penned.
   "Poetry slams are essentially dramatic readings," said Caplan. "Being dramatic is the theme," he added.
   The Girls' Volleyball Camp is another teen event planned for this summer. Sixth through ninth grade girls will meet at Leota Junior High from July 9 through 12 for some fun and knowledge about the sport. "It's an opportunity for that age group to keep those skills up and get ready for the coming year," said Caplan.
   For more information on any of these upcoming events, contact Cole Caplan at (425) 398-9327 or visit the web site www.ci.woodinville.wa.us and click on Parks and Recreation, then go to teen programs.