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October 26, 2013

Hairstylist finds balance through playing cello

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The Daily Star

---- — Catch 22 is a successful American ska/punk band that has released several albums and has a record deal with the Chicago-based label Victory Records. Although the band has its roots in New Jersey, founding member Ryan Eldred has friends with whom he produces recordings in Walton. During one of Eldred’s visits to Walton, he met Ann Jones, a home-schooled native of Walton, an enthusiastic cellist and successful professional hairstylist.

I spoke with Ann about her musical experiences with Eldred and several of his bands. She said she has been asked to play cello and compose music for a new band created by Eldred, Free The Press.

She explained that when Eldred learned she played the cello, he invited her to listen to some of his recordings and worked with her to create a line she might play on future recordings. Those recordings have yet to be released, but she’ll be given credit for any of her work that is used.

Other members of FTP include Eldred and Walton percussionist Benjamin Ray. FTP has made several recordings in a Walton studio with producer Brad Northrup, and since Northrup also produces rapper Johnny Spanish, Ann has been able to add her cello performance to the Johnny Spanish recording, “Bed of Roses.”

Free the Press has recorded its own album and expects to release it soon on djtunes, a multinational online music store. Ann’s favorite track from the new album is “Walking on Air.”

I asked Ann some of the questions I ask all young people who have never seen a record contract.

“Will you have a share of ownership of the song? What royalty splits have you been offered? Will you get credit as a co-writer?”

Ann smiled and said it was a bit early to be asking these questions.

I wondered how a local musician had learned the musical skills necessary to make professional recordings.

Ann said her parents had encouraged all their children to study music. Ann has played the cello for 14 years, starting her study when she was 8 years old. She took lessons with Julian Wilcox, a local teacher who is a wonderful performer and has trained many successful cellists. Ann also played in the Walton High School orchestra under the very competent leadership of public school music teacher Carol Erlandson, and Ann was fortunate to have the additional experience of performing in the Little Delaware Youth Ensemble, working with Julie Signitzer.

I asked her about the experience of being home-schooled. She said she loved it. It was fun, and she had learned a lot.

She made an easy transition into public school for her last two years of high school to be eligible for BOCES training in cosmetology. As a graduate of that program, she is delighted to have found employment in the JCPenney Hair Salon.

I asked, “Since you’re happy to work in a professional hair salon, do you think you’ll still be playing the cello during the next five years?”

She answered quickly, saying “I’ll still be playing cello as long as I’m alive. It balances my life.”

I asked, “Have you ever thought about writing your own music and lyrics?”

Ann seemed surprised and said, “Ryan has already asked me to write music and I’ve thought about it, but I would have to be influenced by someone. I have never had the inspiration to write. I’ve never had the feeling to try to get my point across. I simply love to play. I’d like being part of music.”

She continued to explain her philosophy. “If you want to gain anything, you’ll gain it out of music. It helps you. It makes you feel like your body is working out, processing different sounds. It’s complete self-control. If you want to learn self-control, pick up an instrument.”

Ann Jones has learned that music is important to her essential well-being. She has created the life she wants, and she has earned her good fortune.

Dr. Janet Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText ColorNepkie is a member of the music industry faculty in the music department of the State University College at Oneonta. Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/musicbeat.