Experience Music announces Phuncle Sam/Infinite Vortex collaboration at Pisgah Brewery May 22

Experience Music, a local organization which facilitates the tutelage of young musicians in the Asheville area, has announced a joint show with local legends Phuncle Sam on Friday, May 22 at Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain, NC. The event will feature Infinite Vortex, a six-piece rock n’ roll band made up of Experience Music’s Spring session participants, as the opening act for Phuncle Sam, with collaborations between the two bands onstage during the show.

“Phuncle Sam is excited about the Experience Music program” says Cassana Monje, vocalist for the Grateful Dead-centric local fixture on the Asheville music scene. “They brought together a varied group of talented kids who quickly turned in to a cohesive and stylish band. We have enjoyed working with the instructors and kids [and look] forward to having them share the stage with us.”

Phuncle Sam served as mentors for Infinite Vortex throughout the Spring session, offering hands-on advice during the ten week program, which began in March. Working with EM’s regular instructors, Phuncle Sam has helped to guide participants through the process of forming a band and creating original music in a cohesive, supportive environment.

Speaking about the program, Phuncle Sam’s JD Smith says that “it’s quite innovative to be exposing kids to different styles of music. You can learn a lot by preparing for an audience.” He commends the instructors for their efforts in guiding the students, while allowing the young musicians to pick the material and direction their band took over the course of the program.

Xpress covered the launch of the inaugural session of Experience Music in a March 5 article on the program. Applicants must audition for the chance to be enrolled in each session, where they are separated into two groups, based on skill level and age.

Participants in the Experience Music program feel that it has helped to teach them the ins and outs of the music world, as well as how to work with other musicians in a collaborative setting.

“We worked on a couple cover songs at first,” says Jackson Lee, the 11 year-old lead guitarist for Infinite Vortex. “Then we worked on some original songs, which were pretty innovative for me, to see the teamwork between all the people. I feel like I’ve become friends with many of the people there.”

Lee says that his band will join Phuncle Sam onstage for a cover of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Franklin’s Tower’. “The guitar player of Phuncle Sam taught me a couple scales to use for the solo in the song.”

“The Experience has been a great opportunity for me to learn and develop characteristics like patience, leadership and collaboration,” adds Nikki Forbes, who handles vocals and plays guitar for Infinite Vortex. Forbes lauds the opportunity to receive tips from “real musicians” and the chance to play with like-minded peers who share his passion.

Infinite Vortex hopes to continue to work together after the end of their session. According to Lee, they are working on crafting original songs, and are looking into launching a kickstarter campaign for their band, though he adds that “the future is kind of blurry.”

Founded in October of 2014, Experience Music seeks to create “real-life” connections among young musicians and provide feedback from experienced local bands and artists. The program receives support from several local businesses, including Prestige Subaru and Riverlink.

Speaking to the importance of such programs, Anthony Pelle, Director of Marketing for Prestige Subaru, says “Experience Music connects young, aspiring musicians with a group of like-minded peers, while also providing them with valuable tools and resources to help them grow as musicians, gain real world experience, and develop a greater understanding of the music industry as a whole. Prestige Subaru is proud to support the inspiring work and vision of Experience Music within our renowned musical community of Asheville.”

Chuck Lee, one of Experience Music’s founders, says that the program is currently accepting applications for its summer session, which will focus on “genre-specific programs such as Americana, bluegrass, funk, and experimental rock.” They are seeking intermediate-to-advance-skilled youth musicians, who are dedicated to their craft and interested in growing as a performer and collaborator, according to Lee.

The program is open to musicians aged nine to sixteen, with the size of each band determined by genre, skill level of musicians, and the number of participants in each session.

As far as current students like Lee are concerned, Experience Music has been a valuable journey on multiple levels. “Experience music lives up to its name: You experience music. But you don’t just do that by yourself, you experience it with others. You end up making relationships between multiple people, and you get to play with the band.”

Information on the Infinite Vortex/Phuncle Sam show at Pisgah Brewery can be found at experiencemusicavl.com or pisgahbrewing.com. Youth musicians interested in enrolling in Experience Music’s summer sessions are encouraged to contact Chuck Lee at (828)-230-4510 or send an email to experiencemusicavl@gmail.com. Information on the program and how to enroll online can also be found at experiencemusicavl.com.

About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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