Local teens share passion for music

Matt DeYoung • Aug 22, 2016 at 9:00 AM

While Walk the Beat drew an eclectic mix of musical acts from across the Midwest, some of the most entertaining acts came from right here in Grand Haven.

One such group was a collection of five local teens who teamed up to form the Prospective Jazz Combo.

The combo consists of up to 10 different musicians, depending on who can make it on any given day. On Saturday, five band members attended Walk the Beat – Ty Pancy on the bass, Dan Parrish playing trombone, Evan Schippers on the drums, Alain Sullivan playing the saxophone and keyboardist Quinn Blakeney.

Parrish, who is studying jazz at Michigan State University, organized the group for Saturday’s Walk the Beat.

“I got this group together because one of my friends who’s also playing down the street told me about it,” Parrish said. “I thought it would be fun to get a combo together and play. Money, exposure, fame – all of those things, plus it’s a good time to play with these guys. Whenever we get a chance to play, we try to take advantage of it.”

Band members said they’re always trying to promote themselves. Pancy said his advantage over many more seasoned musicians – he works for cheap.

“I’m good enough to sit in with bands, but I don’t live on my own so I don’t charge as much,” he said with a laugh. “I also have my own band, book my own gigs. Networking skills are so important.”

As is typical for a gathering of college students, there was a bit of improv going on – Pancy typically plays saxophone, but on Saturday, he changed things up and tried his hand at the bass guitar.

“I got the call and they said they needed a bass player, so I grabbed a buddy of mine’s bass and here I am,” he said. “I’ve been playing bass for about a week now. I picked it up pretty easy. Way way back in the day, I played guitar, so it was all about getting muscle memory back, remembering where the notes are.”

Saturday’s deluge certainly put a damper on the performance.

“Electrically speaking, we have a piano and a bass player, so we have to keep them dry,” Schippers said. “If they get to wet, they’re not going to work. When it comes to acoustic instruments, a saxophone, brass, drums, theoretically, they can still play in the rain.”

The Prospective Jazz Combo was set up in front of Stu’s House at 609 Washington Ave. There wasn’t much of a crowd for their first one-hour act from 2-3 p.m., but by the time things dried up, their 4-5 show attracted many more spectators, which helped bring their music to life.

“So much of the music we play is improvised,” Pancy added. “So it really depends on the energy of the crowd. If there’s low energy, it’s just not going to be as much fun. But we play through it.”

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