photos by Samantha Cisneros and Olivia Marklein

Austin, Texas has been the self proclaimed live music capital of the world since 2000, but it started inspiring young artists way before then.  From giant festivals such as Austin City Limits (ACL), South by Southwest (SXSW), and even The Fun Fun Fun Fest, to popular tour stops going by the names of Emo’s, Stubb’s,  and The Frank Erwin Center; there is no shortage of places to see artists perform your favorite songs live.   Plus, the number of bars in the downtown area that offer live venues for smaller bands and individuals is always increasing, helping those hometown names get the recognition they need to eventually sell out entire stadiums.

A few individuals of Dripping Springs High School have latched onto that dream and decided to help out others who have that same dream, or maybe they just want to show off to their friends.  Whatever the case is, The Jam is lunch time entertainment in the form of live music.  Led and created by Assistant Principal Michael Norton, with the help of junior Pyeatt Hitchcock, junior Foster Joyce, sophomore Maya Diaz, freshman Jacob Misko, and senior Michael Thorton, it’s had quite the kick off.

“The Jam is a music thing that we’re organizing during the Friday lunches on the outside patio in the courtyard.  It’s about giving kids the opportunity to play their instruments and interact with their peers while doing so,” Misko said.

And it has become just that, with their first production on Feb. 3 and then one happening on Feb. 17 and more in the future, they have more than enough acts to show everyone.

“It is an opportunity for students to both appreciate live music and for students to perform, because I think that putting a performance base in a high school and having that be accessible to students, so that they’re given a performance opportunity will really be helpful to students that are trying to further that into a career or just as an interest,” Diaz said. “It is similar to the talent show except it happens every week so definitely more people are gonna be able to perform, but as for what it is right now it’s basically just a weekly performance.”

The Jam committee members are all fully committed to their jobs, and have the same goal, to help give the students of DSHS a chance to get themselves out there into the music world, as best as they can.

“Being on the committee, I am simply helping organize it and make sure we have sign ups set up and auditions, just keep it running smoothly,” Misko said.

Most of them have been brought onto the team because teachers recommended them to Mr. Norton based on their passion for creating, performing, or producing music.

“I know a lot of people, so I ask people to play and then I also do a lot of audio engineering so I control the majority of the volumes.  If there’s some wonky sounds coming from the speakers, I go up there and try to adjust them as best as possible,” Hitchcock said.

Senior Michael Thornton happens to be in a band that had the chance to perform with his band mates.

“I’ve been playing music and the piano for 8 years now and what got me started with a band was I started with my church first, and people suggested I play in a group,” Thornton said. “The band got together because their dad actually said, ‘Hey y’all should be in a band. That would be kind of cool,’ so we did, and then we made it more consistent and started doing gigs and stuff, so it’s just been really fun.”

You can check out his band, Left on Red, occasionally on Fridays, and they even landed a few gig offers from performing here, so you can also see them elsewhere. They were just one of the performers that Friday with other students playing the banjo, testing out guitar solos, and covering popular songs.  

Sophomore Maya Diaz also took advantage of this opportunity and showed everyone something she’s been working on.

“I’ve always been pretty musical, just singing around the house as a kid. But in the last year or so I’ve been learning guitar which has helped me because I write songs, so I do that, and that’s what kind of got me into it,” Diaz said.

Originally Diaz was pretty worried about how people would react to her performance, and to others, but she was gladly proven wrong.

“I could not believe how many people were there. At one point I turned and was like, ‘This whole place is full. What happened?’” Diaz said. “It was such an amazing experience with everyone there and just seeing the energy and the way people received it, I did not expect it. I expected to people to be a little more cynical, but everyone was totally cool! It was really weird, but it was so awesome.”

For anyone looking to audition for an upcoming spot, there’s no need to overthink anything, just come play or sing some of your best chords.

“The audition is simply a check off, ‘Yes, you’re good’, and there was a few of the performers that we told, ‘Hey you need to work on things,’ but for the most part, the majority of the students that were there [to watch], they don’t know whether somebody’s off key or not,” Norton said.  “The performers do, and they beat themselves up, but nobody else does.  And on the flip side, you get to eat lunch and listen to music, which is kind of cool.”

The responses to the performances have been phenomenal, and more kids have come out to watch each time.

“It’s amazing. I mean, it really is.  And just this last [performance], it was awesome to see the amount of students that came out,” Norton said. “It’s providing these kids with the opportunity to play in front of people, to get used to performing in front of an audience.”

There are guys standing in the walkway right outside of the cafeteria listening in, girls dancing in the middle of the courtyard, and students everywhere genuinely cheering on their peers and friends.

“Usually people talking about school things are all like, ‘Ugh school is lame,’ but school is not lame, and they see that when they see The Jam, because they’ll see their friends up there playing music and not only are their friends playing music, they’re playing really good music,” Hitchcock said.

The Jam isn’t going away anytime soon, so make sure to look forward to live music on Fridays from your favorite Dripping Springs locals, and maybe you’ll even find yourself up there performing too like Jacob Misko:

“You know starting this off, maintaining it throughout the years, I think this is going to be a really worthwhile thing.”

Written by Giselle Galletti, Staff Writer