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Americana Project students attend Oregon song academy

This past weekend, four Americana Project students, along with their teacher, were blessed with the opportunity to attend the Americana Song Academy for Youth held in Sisters, Ore.

Bob Hemenger, the Pagosa Springs High School Americana Project teacher, brought Laith Scherer (senior), Zoe Fulco (senior), Brandon Clark (junior), and Daisy Jones (freshmen) to spend the weekend learning about the craft of songwriting, performing and music collaboration.

They arrived to Sisters, an eccentric small town where the Americana Project originated, just in time to each perform before the illustrious Red Molly started off the weekend with an incredible performance. First, they were greeted by Brad Tisdale and introduced to the Sisters High School Americana students.

All of the Pagosa Springs students agree that the Sisters Americana students and community members were some of the kindest, most welcoming people they had met.

Daisy Jones said, “They all had warm-hearted spirits. It felt like I knew most of them my whole life.”

Elize van der Laan and her gracious family hosted all four students in their home.

The Song camp started on Friday night, continuing all day Saturday, leading up to a performances on Saturday night by campers, and saying final goodbyes on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday was filled with a colorful variety of workshops including“The Power Behind Music,” “27 Tips to Overcome Writers Block,” “Learn Slide Guitar” and many song circles.

On Saturday night the students, as well as instructors, had the privilege to perform in front of everyone at the camp. Every song ended with a comforting round of applause, representing the embracing attitude of the entire weekend.

Camp ended with a reflection on the events of weekend and the power of bringing people together through music.

“The Song Academy, for me, was a revolution of the way I look at music,” said Laith Scherer.

Daisy Jones said, “The camp expanded my knowledge on how to write music by giving me the chance to play with amazing musicians, and learn from them.”

Brandon Clark stated,“Getting the experience to be able to share my music and listen to others music was my favorite part of the Song Academy. It made me realize how grateful I am to have this program.”

Zoe Fulco said, “The entire experience was life-changing. The Song Academy and people were unbelievably inspiring.”

Bob Heminger stated, “I was very proud of the way these four students represented Pagosa, and our program. From the second we arrived, they made instant friends. The creative process started instantly and continued throughout the entire event. I am very grateful to the all of the people that made in happen.”

Bob, Laith, Zoe, Brandon and Daisy would like to thank Mark DeVoti, David Hamiltion and the school board for supporting this unique opportunity.

Another big thank you goes to Cris Converse for providing some of the trip’s funding in honor of her deceased brother’s love for music. A thank you goes to Brad Tisdale for his inspiration and guidance in helping to develop this program here in Pagosa.

The Pagosa Springs High School Americana Project is looking forward to doing a concert with some of the Sisters Americana Students next year in Pagosa Springs.

The Americana Project invites you to attend the Sarah Siskind and Travis Book concert on March 28. The show begins at 7 p.m. and will be at held at the high school auditorium. Tickets are $10 at the door. Students from the Americana Project class will be opening the show.

Also, March 29 will be the second annual Americana Project Art fund-raiser. The theme is, “A Portal Into Music” and will feature windowpane art contributed by local artists. Last year’s fund-raiser was a lot fun and raised enough money to build a recording studio in the high school band room and support our guest artist series.

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