One of the local bands playing at this weekend’s Tri-C Jazz Fest is having a big year -- all while finishing their sophomore year of high school. For this week’s Shuffle, we meet Cleveland School of The Arts students Alana Amore, Jasmine Sims and Kevin Pace of the band Montage.
Bass player Jasmine Sims' family dining room in East Cleveland has been transformed into a practice space. There's a drum set, amps and a microphone facing the living room for a small audience.
These 16-year-olds who formed a band in middle school practice in front of their parents, who are their managers. It's helped vault them on to some of Cleveland's biggest stages this summer.
An eclectic sound
The band says the name Montage comes from “our different styles and backgrounds -- rock, pop, blues and funk.”
In January, the trio of high school students entered the Tri-C High School Rock Off, which included 41 bands that competed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Montage finished second.
“We were so hyped. It was fun but it was so tiring,” Pace says. “It’s helped us gather a fan base, especially with our peers,” Amore says.
Since then, they've played at the House of Blues and have dates booked at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Edgewater Live.
On July 18, Montage plays its biggest gig to date -- the Vans Warped Tour. Their performance at the Tri-C High School Rock Off earned them a slot during the tour's Cleveland date.
“We’re trying to bring in a little more diversity and we’re also excited to play in front of different kinds of people and larger crowds."
"Basically, this interaction between us and this little slice of the world is what we’re excited about.”
Songwriting and recording an album
The band started taking shape when the three began working on original songs, instead of just performing covers.
“Jasmine’s sister asked when we were going to start writing our own music," Pace says. "We literally started writing right after that conversation," Amore says.
The band spent a couple days a week the last several months of their sophomore of high school recording as part of the Boys & Girls Club's Notes for Notes program.
“We learned how to record our own album. We re-recorded things and found things we didn’t like. It was a very long and tiring process but we’re pretty happy with the product," Amore says.
It’s expected to be out next month.
Where does Montage go next?
"Everywhere," Sims says. But, if all else fails, "We would like to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston. But we're kind of rolling with the punches."