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Young musicians now have a stage of their own

CARLSBAD — Carlsbad Realtor Sarah Smylie saw her four children always singing, dancing, writing and performing little skits at home.

She also saw that there was no place where her kids could get performance experience, and knew she couldn’t afford singing, dancing, acting, or music lessons for all four.

Six weeks ago, she got together with a fellow Pacific Rim Elementary School parent, Amanda Gareis, and together, they formed Jam Kids Open Mic — an opportunity for kids to perform in front of an audience.

On March 25, over 100 kids and parents packed into the showroom of the Home AVTV & Design store in La Costa to watch 32 kids performed 22 acts. The youngest performer was 5, the oldest 16. Musicians, singers, comics and comediennes, and musical groups were given three to five minutes each. A pro-sound technician, also a Pacific Rim parent, quickly re-set the stage for each act, providing pro mics, monitors, guitar effects pedals, or back up music.

Sarah Smylie, left, and Amanda Gareis at their Jam Kids Open Mic. Photo by Ken Harrison
Sarah Smylie, left, and Amanda Gareis at their Jam Kids Open Mic. Photo by Ken Harrison

“There were experienced performers, and some that had never stood in front of an audience before,” said Smylie. “It gave them a goal, something to practice for.” Each performer received a supportive and rousting applause.

The show closed with a rock trio, Trash Landia, two girls and one boy, with their performance of Black Sabbath’s In the Void. It was their first time playing in public.  “They’ve been practicing for weeks,” said the parent of one of the fourteen year olds.

Smylie and Gareis are taking the show on the road and will be offering opportunities to other young performers. A May date in a Carlsbad park will be formally announced on Instagram @jamkidsopenmic, once sponsors are lined up to help pay for the required insurance and city permits.

But the duo isn’t stopping there. Parents and supporters of the new organization are now petitioning the Carlsbad Unified School District to add more music education in the nine school serving the city’s children.

In late summer, the group is planning an outdoor show — Kids Jam Expo, with booth spaces for young artists, painters, jewelry and clothing designers, to sell their creations, and provide a stage for public performances and dancers.

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