Each of us came to realise, in different ways, what a pandemic lockdown would look like and how it would affect us, and each with our own vivid memories. Anna Texier, founder of Powerjam, a not-for-profit youth band project in Twickenham, recollects, “My daughter was still going to school and there weren’t many reported UK Covid-19 cases at the time. Then, suddenly, eight of the ten summer festivals our bands were due to perform at, and had been rehearsing hard for, were cancelled or postponed, one right after another – stages at Strawberry Hill Music Day, St Margaret’s Fair, Hanwell Hootie, The Basement Door and Eel Pie Record’s High Tide Festival. That’s when it really hit me what lockdown would mean for us.”
A unique award-winning music project and charity for ages 11-18, Powerjam helps young musicians to form bands and then rehearses, mentors, records, manages, markets and books them for regular public gigs: an all-in-one deal that many pro adult bands would envy. Anna is a volunteer, originally from LA, who, after UC Berkeley, worked for over a decade in the music industry in Tokyo, as both an FM Radio DJ and singer- songwriter in a band. She explains, “Being in an active band can be a steep learning curve at any age – it’s why so many great bands break up! But it’s such a cool way to learn about accountability, how to work closely and creatively with others – and you naturally gain confidence both on and off stage; something that will help teens throughout their lives.”
Anna runs Powerjam with gigging musicians Andrei Sora, an Oxford graduate with a doctorate in Musicology, and Luis Chico, a music teacher at a local Twickenham school. Now in its 5th year, Powerjam is mentor, manager, producer, fundraiser and, according to Anna, “even roadie” to several rock and pop bands whose talent and entertainment value at events, despite their ages, is undeniable. After watching a pre-lockdown gig of band ‘Junkbird’, local Twickenham legend Dave Ambrose, who once signed Blondie and Radiohead, approached the band and said he thought their original song “Patience” was “hit song” material. Fortunately, Powerjam had just finished recording several bands’ songs before the lockdown, and their singles, EPs and an LP are being released on all streaming platforms over the next few months, a source of excitement for these local young bands who have lost their summer gigs.
Powerjam is also now offering highly personalised online sessions for local young musicians, that focus on skill building, songwriting, music production, and more. “The music industry has been hit extremely hard, but social distancing doesn’t mean bands have to stop creating, connecting, and improving – we just have to go about it differently. If anything, they can use this time to prepare for future stages!”
Follow Powerjam at: http://www.instagram.com/Powerjam_band_project https://www.youtube.com/powerjambandproject http://www.facebook.com/PowerjambandprojectEnquiries: firstname.lastname@example.org Photograph, Twickenham Green performance by Powerjam