These young musicians can check one off their bucket list
By Allison Engel
Chase Kroesche leads Morgan St. Jean, center, and Michael Arrom across Santa Monica Boulevard en route to the senior showcase at the legendary Troubadour on March 6. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Camila Mora, a junior vocalist, applies lipstick in the Troubadour “green room” (its walls are actually purple). (USC Photo/David Sprague)
A crowd gathers outside of the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Seniors Skyler Garn and Katie Stump recognize friends arriving on Santa Monica Boulevard before the showcase at the Troubadour. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Guitarist and songwriter Alex Rosenbloom, left, and bass player Mackin Carroll, right, join other performers in the Troubadour’s dressing room. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Singer Chase Kroesche performs under the often-photographed Troubadour neon sign. Emily Rosenfield plays bass at right. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Singer-songwriter Abby Litman performs the original song “Gone With the Wind.” Liv Slingerland, a 2015 Popular Music graduate, joins her on guitar. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Thornton students played the same stage that has hosted Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and other legends. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
The Senior Showcase drew a full house to the famed Troubadour. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Rocking out are (left to right) Rowdy Kanarek on guitar, Carter Couron on drums, Sidharth Gupta on guitar, Sean Alexander on bass (partially hidden from view) and Evan Fuhrer on the keyboard. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Singer Brooke Randol is accompanied by guitarist Jonny Sim, left, bass player Brian Jones, right, and drummer India Pascucci. (USC Photo/David Sprague)
Some musicians go their whole lives without playing the Troubadour, the legendary West Hollywood hall of rock. But seniors in the USC Thornton Popular Music program have done it already.
On March 6, the roughly two dozen musicians graduating this spring performed original music on the same stage where Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, the Byrds, Elton John, Carole King and hundreds of others have played.
The club was packed with friends, family and other well-wishers. The iconic marquee on Santa Monica Boulevard spelled out “Troubadour Presents USC Thornton Popular Music Senior Showcase.” And the musicians displayed not a hint of nerves.
“I am more excited than nervous,” said guitarist and composer Jonny Sim before the afternoon sound check. “We’ve been rehearsing very steadily the last couple of weeks and we’re ready.”
Sim said he came to hear bands at the Troubadour when he was in high school in La Cañada Flintridge. “And now I’m playing at the place where I saw them.”
The first two female drummers in the program, Tiffany Tarampi and India Pascucci, were backstage marveling at where they found themselves.
“I definitely didn’t think I’d be able to play in a place with this much history,” said Tarampi.
“I agree 100 percent,” said Pascucci. “It’s notorious.”
“It’s a really special moment for everyone,” said bassist Nikki Brisson. “It’s a huge sendoff for us.” Brisson first visited the Troubadour when she was a freshman, attending the inaugural Troubadour Senior Showcase for the first Popular Music class.
She, like most of her classmates, appeared in more than one band in the showcase. Many of the student musicians are proficient on several instruments, and all move easily between musical genres and band styles. Fifteen individuals or bands took the stage, all playing original material they wrote and composed.
The sets included singer-songwriters such as Skyler Garn and Abby Litman, hard rocking groups such as GoodKids and genre stretching groups such as Small Shelter, which added a classical string trio of USC students from other majors: Eunghee Cho on cello, and Christine Min and Kij Baeg on violin.
Nathan Fertig, a graduate of the program last year, was there to cheer on his fellow musicians who were carrying on the Troubadour tradition. The singer-songwriter said the experience of playing there was unforgettable.
“You feel elevated to the place where your idols played,” he said. “It is so cool that USC brings us here.”
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