Americana Project students travel to Oregon


By Kevin Crow, Bethany Burnett, Zakk Brown and Dayze Jones

Special to The PREVIEW


Four students and teacher Bob Hemenger from the Pagosa Springs Americana project recently took the trip of a lifetime to the Song Academy for Youth in Sisters, Ore.

Seniors Kevin Crow and Bethany Burnett, as well as junior Zakk Brown and sophomore Dayze Jones, were selected to join the Americana Project students from Sisters High School, as well as other students from the central Oregon area.

The trip started with a tour of the Breedlove Guitar factory, where the students witnessed the process of creating the Breedlove guitars. They also were given the opportunity to play a guitar worth $10,000, played by Michael Jackson’s guitarist only the week before.

Then, each student opened the show for the Nathaniel Talbot quartet with original songs at a local venue called The Belfry.

Jones said,“It was a great experience playing for an artist like Nathaniel and his band.  We learned so much from them.”

On Friday, the group sat in on a Sisters High School Americana project Master class led by the Nathaniel Talbot Quartet. They learned many new aspects about songwriting and song structure.

According to  Crow, “The Quartet had a unique style that encouraged song creativity, including finger picking styles and chord phrasing,” helping him in his own songwriting.

The camp began Friday March 8, with student introductions through music, instructor performances, and group “jam” circles.

The following day was full of workshops teaching guitar technique, stage presence and lyrical song writing.

“I found the workshops to be beneficial on every level of songwriting and performing,” said Burnett.

That evening, the students each performed an original song on stage for one another as well as others in the community. The support displayed by each student was not only felt by the artist but by the audience as well, creating a comfortable and enjoyable environment.

The last day of the camp began with community song sessions, led by instructors as well as students, which was soon followed by a quick lunch and good-byes.

“I felt like I had known them (other students) for years; we were instant friends,” said Brown. “Leaving was difficult and I can’t wait to go back.”

The “Colorado Kids” then headed to the airport to make the long trek home once again, all having fond memories in their minds and a constant song on their lips.

Thanks to the school board and high school administration for allowing us to go again this year.  A very special thanks to Brad Tisdel (Creative Educational Resources LLC) and the Sisters Folk Festival for the scholarship that covered our tuition and food.