~The following first appeared in the January 31, 2012 issue of The Floyd Press.
“We’re going to look at all aspects of music production,” said Floyd Music Lab director Joe DeJarnette at the lab’s Open House Saturday evening. Housed in the trailer adjacent to the main June Bug Center building, the Floyd Music Lab is the first pilot program of Roanoke’s Music Lab at the Jefferson Center, which has been providing opportunities and resources to budding musicians for more than three years.
Open house attendees included a mix of children, teens and adults. They enjoyed refreshments, speakers, entertainment and a tour of the new lab, which features a lounge, a room for live playing and recording, and two smaller rooms for recording and mixing, along with musical instruments, such as drums and guitars.
Speaking to a room full of attendees in the June Bug Center’s Black Box Theater, DeJarnette talked about how the lab will foster the creative interface of local and regional musicians and national touring acts that perform at the Jefferson Center.
DeJarnette, who grew up in a small mountain community, north of Charlottesville, has a recording studio in Floyd and was recently a member of The Wiyos, a Vaudeville-esque roots music band that opened for Bob Dylan in 2009. He credited the music educators in his life for helping to make his music career possible, a career that has taken him all over the world, he said.
Other speakers included Cyrus Pace, executive director of the Jefferson Center, where world renowned musicians have performed and music education outreach is a focus. Pace, who is also a musician and educator, spoke about the benefits of musical exchanges between world class artists and students, citing an exchange between his Patrick Henry High School music students and Grammy award winning Esperanza Spalding, who played for the class.
Pace encouraged the community to support Music Lab programs with donations. He spoke about the role of arts education in the community. “It’s about being able to have a conversation about what discipline looks like and how you do something you believe in … We try to be a vehicle for the kind of conversation about what matters in the community,” he said.
Representing the Floyd County Public Schools, Lisa Pluska spoke briefly about the school’s support for and excitement about the program. The Jefferson Center’s artistic director, Floyd resident Dylan Locke introduced the musicians from the Jefferson Center’s Music Lab for the performance part of the evening, referring to them as examples of students who have taken full advantage of the opportunities the Music Lab offers.
The acts featured the original songs of Bukuru Celestin, a native of Burundi, East Africa, and Venezuelan American, Gabriel Morales. Both students are due to come out with full length CDs in 2013, Locke said. He described how Morales was wide open to opportunities the Music Lab provides, “having skype lessons with musicians from New York, texting with Janet Jackson’s drummer and George Benson’s drummer and all these amazing people he’s met.”
Celestin, who sings African Gospel, has been performing and collaborating with Snarky Puppy, a renowned Jazz/funk band from Brooklyn, New York that is working with Celestin on his CD recording, Locke reported.
Celestin and Morales demonstrated what the Music Lab in Roanoke makes possible and the potential of the Floyd Music Lab. They, and the musicians who accompanied them, also provided a rousing conclusion to the Open House.
Note: The Floyd Music Lab will take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3:30 to 7:00. For further information or to request an application for enrollment email: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message at 540-745-4066. Watch videos of the Floyd Music Lab open house performances HERE and HERE.