Singer Katie Ross and Henry Howard, youth director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, perform a song during a jam session Thursday evening at the church. The creative incubator of the weekly Jam Sesh, a youth group at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, has cultivated the musical and songwriting talents of about seven regular attendees.
Steamboat youth group Jam Sesh turns out 2nd album
The last six months of the Jam Sesh youth group's songwriting and collaboration is celebrated in the album “Colorful,” released Friday. The group will hold a CD release party at 6 p.m. Thursday in Little Toots Park.
Steamboat Springs The jam session began when Steamboat Springs High School senior Garrett Pugh began to softly sing and strum his guitar among a nest of wires and amplifiers.
He read the words to the somber country song off a sheet of loose-leaf paper, lit by the yellowish afternoon glow coming through the old church’s stained glass windows.
When he first started, the other musicians in the room were buzzing. Pugh lulled them into silence.
“That’s brand new, I just finished it last night,” he said when he finished.
The creative incubator of the weekly Jam Sesh, a youth group at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, has cultivated the musical and songwriting talents of about seven regular attendees.
The last six months of songwriting and collaboration is celebrated in the album “Colorful” that the group released Friday. They will hold a CD release party at 6 p.m. Thursday in Little Toots Park.
Available online at jamsesh.bandcamp.com and in local stores, “Colorful” tells the unique stories of a diverse group of students through song.
Henry Howard, youth director at St. Paul’s and a dedicated musician, recorded and mastered the album and enlisted the talents of several other local musicians to add to its sound.
He launched the group in 2010 to offer a comfortable, carefree environment of expression. The group put out their first CD last May.
“That language of music allows for a lot of communication that can be difficult to express for a 17-year-old,” Howard said. “Once you come into that musical environment, you can see where kids are, you can see the expression of their face.
“I know that everybody has a voice and a heart song, and we’ll play worship sometimes, but my desire is to nurture the song of each kid’s heart.”
The group comprises guitarists, vocalists, percussionists and even brass players, who communicate with one another through chord progressions and lyrics.
They talk about their aspirations — like Pugh’s dreams of Nashville — and bare their souls to one another through the songs they write.
Cole Zander is a quiet, dark-haired guitarist who is partial to the guitar tone of U2’s The Edge. Howard helped Zander write his first song, which the group played Thursday.
“I thought it turned out pretty good,” he said, though he humbly added that Howard was much better at coming up with lyrics.
His father, Darren Zander, was playing saxophone with the group Thursday.
“He loves it,” Darren Zander said. “It’s probably the highlight of his week. His mother and I are both musicians, and we would have loved something like this.”
A few members of the group, like singer Katie Ross, Pugh and pianist Kelly Ernst, will be going off to college soon, and they said they will miss the weekly gatherings and the opportunity to play and record their own music.
Jam Sesh “takes something that everyone can relate to and gives us an opportunity to share it with people we know really well and people we don’t know really well,” Ernst said. “It shows me really the power of music.”