Written by Daniel Park ‘21
Motorco Music Hall on Saturday, March 1 was filled with cheering, music and even more cheering. Durham Academy’s resident band, In The Pocket, charged up the crowd with their signature style of rock and jazz.
They began with opening numbers from singers Lana Kalfas, Yaakov Huba and Alayah Tedder. Their musical talent was obvious from their command of the stage and the mic, with a panache only to be described as daring and awe-inspiring. With a wide variety of songs from Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” to Chicago’s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”, and even “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire, the concert showcased not just the skills of individual musicians, but their incredible coordination as an ensemble.
Despite the near effortless appearance that the group displayed on Saturday night, this performance has been a long time coming. Percussionists Jack Tendler and Griffin Edwards describe their experience preparing for this show, noting that they had been practicing for about “two months” and spending “50 minutes every day” during school alone to prepare. Of course, as it got closer to performance night, they rehearsed at school from 5 to 9 p.m., and on the performance day, it would “basically be the entire time grinding.”
According to Tendler and Edwards, the rest of the group consists of “a lot of people.” The group features seven seniors: Spencer Adler, Blake Byerly, Charlie Dvergsten, Yaakov Huba, Tigey Jewell-Alibhai, Lana Kalfas, Raksha Ramanan, and Davi Sapiro-Gheiler. There are also eight underclassmen, including juniors Sarah Clark, Alayah Tedder, Tate Eppinger, Jack Tendler and Annie Brooks, and sophomores Matthew Chang, Griffin Edwards and Matt Schwartz. Finally, from the faculty, there’s Michael Meyer and Trevor Hoyt. This group gathered a panoply of gifted musicians and singers and turned them into a rock and jazz machine.
The crowd seemed to only know how to cheer and scream in the wake of every single song. Those cheers only got louder and more enthusiastic as the ensemble was joined by Django Haskins, a professional singer and guitarist for the band The Old Ceremony. Haskins describes his experience working with ITP as “lovely and memorable,” recounting that they were “delightful, friendly, and of course, talented.” Even though they were somehow able to cram 21 people on a stage usually meant for five, he says that they “had so much great energy that it lifted the music to a new place.”
Haskins’ music, a style even he admits is hard to pin down, would better be described by the artists he draws inspiration from, such as Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits, Paul Simon, Thelonious Monk, Tom Petty, Astor Piazzolla, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Serge Gainsbourg, Big Star, Frank Sinatra, The Replacements and the Beatles—just off the top of his head. Having watched ITP play on multiple occasions, Haskins was invited to play by Mr. Meyer through their mutual love of music, and soon the gears were turning.
As the front man for The Old Ceremony, Haskins’ job is to “be entertaining, keep the show moving and deliver the songs as authentically as [he] can.” He was undoubtedly able to accomplish that feat during his performance that night.
Despite all this, the ones who truly shined during this entire performance were the students. Their never-ending enthusiasm, stirred by the cheering audience, brought home an ineffable performance. Solos such as Tigey Jewell-Alibhai’s run on the piano or Annie Brooks and Tate Eppinger’s mastery of the violin were astounding.
ITP’s next performance is on April 5, a night worth looking forward to. With nearly half of the group departing for college next year, this performance will surely end with a bang.