Edge, Music

Frost group American Music Ensemble performs for first time at Okeechobee Fest

Songwriter Mel Bryant (senior), guitarist Aaron Hicks (senior) and keyboardist Sam Bierman (junior). Photo courtesy Colin McKinley

Moog and bass shook the tin-can stage at the Frost School American Music Ensemble’s first time performing at Okeechobee Fest. This past Friday, the group of nine performers and songwriters from the Bruce Hornsby Creative American Music program woke up Chobeewobee Village with fresh pop, rock and R&B originals. From Mel Bryant’s emotive ballad “Bridges,” to Carter Vail’s twangy “Bojangle,” AME’s set list was the ride one might expect from a curated group of the country’s best music students.

“The show went great. We drew in crowds. People, musicians, approached us,” said junior Anh Le, one of AME’s writers. “Every time we do something like this, it inspires me to get better at songwriting and practice more to better my confidence.”

As the band’s second festival this semester (and ever), Okeechobee offered AME unparalleled exposure. The band had only played campus shows in the past, but this semester, it has stormed the Florida scene. After its jazz community debut at Ground Up Festival, AME performed for Okeechobee’s international crowd of rock, rap and EDM fans. In this swell of 30,000 potential connections, some approached the band’s director, Frost professor Daniel Strange, with gigs in mind.

“There were quite a few people coming up to me who were very interested in who the group was and how it was put together,” Strange said. “A few people wanted our cards. They were like, ‘I want to book you guys, you were fantastic. I want to fly you to my university; I want to fly you to this party I’m having.’ This may suddenly open up opportunities for paid work for the students, as well as showcase the students at new venues, whether educational or professional.”

The musicians, too, are keen on AME’s advancing reputation. Those who have been with the group several years, like guitarist Conor McCarthy, build hope for their own successes by watching the band grow.

“The reputation has grown so much,” McCarthy said. “The name has a brand and association to it. When it comes to the seniors who are graduating, we all intend to move forward with our careers, whether performing, songwriting or composing, using the knowledge we gained in AME.”

AME is no college jam band. With its melodic, pop-bending sound and engrossing showmanship, it’s no doubt the band’s broken into the national scene. To see the group for yourself, catch the whole crew — songwriters Will Newman, Anh Le, Carter Vail and Mel Bryant, guitarists Aaron Hicks and Conor McCarthy, bassist Sara Keden, drummer Garrett Fracol, keyboardist Sam Bierman, sound engineer Amanda Abate and director Daniel Strange — at 8 p.m. April 21 during CAMFest in Clarke Recital Hall.

March 9, 2017

Reporters

Haley Walker


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Wednesday: ▪ The Canes find themselves in the mix for a couple o ...

It was May 2015, and the Miami Herald was reporting for a feature on high school football players ab ...

Deidrick Stanley had his eye on the Miami Hurricanes long before his hometown school finally offered ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday: ▪ UM has only two Rivals.com five-star recruits on the ...

Even five months ago, it would’ve been hard to picture Jaylan Knighton winding up with the Miami Hur ...

The 2019 NFL draft begins tonight from Nashville, Tennessee, and continues through Saturday with sev ...

The final concrete slabs for the 25 interconnected buildings of the newly named Lakeside Village are ...

A former UM professor started a company dedicated to publishing books on African-American culture, h ...

A group of School of Architecture students visited the Caribbean nation to learn about the historic ...

Faculty with the Miller School of Medicine and Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science w ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team won ACC Player of the Year for the seco ...

Sophomore Adria Soriano Barrera earned second team accolades for the second straight season, while f ...

Miami and adidas today unveiled the first-ever baseball jerseys made from Parley Ocean Plastic. ...

Michael Amditis tied a career-high with three hits and a homer to help the #24 Canes sweep FIU. ...

Miami earns sixth seed in Cle Elum Regional, hosted by the University of Washington. ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.