Sleepy Bones Allison
Young Blues Guitarist

Above: College Hill Arts Festival, June 20, 2014

Fun Events in Cedar Falls, June 2014

I've had lots of fun the last few weeks with numerous musical events taking place in Cedar Falls.

2014 Summer Jazz Camp

In the second, third, and fourth weeks of June, I was at a jazz camp organized by Mike Michalicek (Mr. Checker), keyboardist and vocalist of the band Checker and The Bluetones. I had a blast! The camp, which focused on big band styles, was Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week. There were two groups, one for kids finishing 4th, 5th, and 6th grades, and one for kids finishing 7th-12th grades. I was at this camp last year, and even though I'm going into seventh grade, I was put in the older group, thanks in part to the fact that there were four guitarists in the younger group. My sister was also in the upper group of the camp. There were also teachers helping out the different sections. I was helped by UNI's Bob Dunn, the guitar teacher at the camp.

I also played two of my songs ("Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Blue Slip Blues") with the teachers backing me between bands at our performance. It was a great experience playing with them.

The final performance was Friday, June 27th. We had lucked out and not gotten rain for most of the concert. However, when our group was about to start our last song, the rain came pouring down, so we didn't play it. It was still extremely fun, and my guitar is fine (though my music is unusable).

Overall, I had a very good time at the 2014 Summer Jazz Camp.

UNI Jazz Combo Camp

In the third week of June, I was at a Jazz Combo Camp at the University of Northern Iowa. It was an all day camp meant for high school students, but I was allowed to be there because I knew the guitar teacher, Bob Dunn. (I knew him from the 2013 Summer Jazz Camp.) I missed the second week of Summer Jazz because of this camp, but it was worth it. Because I was underage, I didn't have to stay all night and sleep in the dorms. It was a very instructional camp.

I was the only guitarist at the camp, so I was in Mr. Dunn's combo. We named ourselves “Ubiquitous Voicing.” We had two saxophonists, a trombonist, a trumpet player, and a drummer, plus Mr. Dunn was playing bass and Zach, a student counselor, played keyboard for our group. Everyone in the group was fantastic. We played five songs, but could only play two for each concert, so we had to cut one.

In addition to three hours of combo practice each day, we also had master class lessons, ear training class, and theory class. I was in Mr. Dunn's group for everything except ear training class. Each evening, there was a concert and a jam session, but those were late, so I didn't go to them.

The concerts were on Thursday, June 19th, and Friday, June 20th. There was an evening concert on the 19th and morning concert on the 20th. Every group played two songs at each concert. It was a lot of fun! You can find our group's final concert here.

In summary, I had fun at the UNI Jazz Combo Camp.

College Hill Arts Festival

On Friday, June 20th, after the UNI combo camp final concert, I had a performance at the College Hill Arts Festival, or CHAF. It was an extremely fun performance, and there was a pretty big turnout. I had to leave Russell Hall right after the combo camp concert to get to other side of campus for this performance.

The performance went really well! I played an hour-long set. It was nice to recognize a lot of family and friends in the audience. I have two of the songs from the performance on YouTube. You can find those here and here.

Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival 2014

June 4, 2014--Catching Up!

Early Year Events

It's been a busy year! This is a collection of fun events that took place earlier this year.


Davenport Music: Fun at Winter Blues Camp

From December 30th to January 4th, I was at a blues camp in Davenport. I had an extremely good time. The blues camp took place every afternoon, with the exception of January 1st, and I went home for New Year's Eve and Day. The camp is for kids ages 8-18. The kids there were divided into four groups. The groups practiced at the same time, and at other times, everyone was together watching speakers. There were speakers about various blues instruments.

The band that I was in named ourselves the “Little Big Band.” We practiced and played six songs. On January 4th at noon, all four groups performed at the Redstone Room. It was really fun! After the performance, the Winter Blues All Stars were announced. The Winter Blues All Stars are a select few kids from the camp that are chosen to play performances together, even though the camp is over. They also play at the Mississippi Valley Blues Festival. I couldn't be in the All Stars because I live too far away, but I had a blast at the camp.


Cherokee Music: Fun at the Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival

On the third weekend of January, I was at the 2014 Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival. I had been at the festival's jam session each of the previous two years, but this year was a little different. Not only did I play at the jam session, but on Friday, my family and I had an hour-long act, opening for Daylight Again, a Crosby, Stills and Nash tribute band. Our opening act was a lot of fun! The Texas Flood I played at the concert is now on my youtube channel (jabluesfan). After the concert, we got to see some of Daylight Again's concert, and they were absolutely incredible.


The next day, I played at the jam session. The host band for it was Abby Normal, a rock cover band. Once Abby Normal finished playing their act, I was one of the people in the group that jammed next. It was very fun! I played a little bit later at the jam, also. Overall, I had an amazing amount of fun at this year's Cherokee Jazz and Blues Festival.


Davenport Music: Fun with the Winter Blues All Stars

On the second weekend of March, I sat in with the Winter Blues All Stars of Davenport. They were the opening act for Anthony Gomes. The Winter Blues All Stars are a great group of kids ages 12-19 that play music. The All Stars are chosen every year out of the kids that have participated at the most recent blues camp. The camps are around New Year's. I went to this year's camp. I had a blast, but the All Stars are local kids, so I couldn't be one of the All Stars. However, the All Stars were nice enough to let me sit in with them.


This was the first time I've sat in with the Winter Blues All Stars. I practiced with them in the afternoon, and later, I played with them as they opened for Anthony Gomes. It was really fun! Our act was roughly 45 minutes, and it was in the Redstone Room of Davenport's downtown music building, the River Music Experience. After we performed, Anthony Gomes started his set. It was amazing! However, it was somewhat late, so I had to leave after he played a couple of songs.


Ames music: Fun Watching the Experience Hendrix Concert

On the third Saturday of March, I got to see a concert on the Experience Hendrix Tour. The tour is a bunch of the world's best guitarists performing Jimi Hendrix songs. The musicians included Chris Layton (on drums), Eric Johnson, Doyle Bramhall III, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Buddy Guy. It was an absolutely phenomenal and inspirational concert.


The four-hour-long concert took place in Stephen's Auditorium, the main auditorium at Iowa State University. I got there at about 6:45, roughly 45 minutes before the concert started. In the time before the concert, I got an Experience Hendrix T-shirt! Once the concert started, I was immediately amazed by how good the players are. Even though it was really late by the end of the concert, I was still paying close attention to the concert. It's safe to say that the Experience Hendrix concert is by far the most amazing concert I've seen live.