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Music Beat

July 9, 2011

Franklin grad jazzing up Seattle music scene with unique style

Imagine that you could create a musical group that was totally original and would play a blend of jazz, blues and rock, including dance and humorous routines.

While you're imagining this new group, think about allowing your musicians to play in costume and to occasionally wander into the audience for some good musical interaction. Your group won't be the standard group of musicians; instead, you'll have a mix of brass, guitars, percussion, double bass and vocals.

Since you can design anything you'd like, let's decide that the performers will be very, very good musicians, and that they will play without music, directing their entire attention on each other and their fans.

Those of you who saw the Seattle-based band "Reptet" perform at the Oneonta Theatre in May know that this pleasing musical ensemble already exists. If you'd like to hear them now, many of their performances are available on YouTube or on their website, http://reptet.com.

One of the most interesting aspects of this band is that one of its key members grew up in Franklin.

Although Reptet makes its home in Seattle, band member Samantha Boshnack grew up in Franklin and received her early musical training from our own area musicians. I spoke with Samantha, whose father is Daily Star reporter Mark Boshnack, about her memories of upstate New York and the education training she experienced here that prepared her for her career as a recording and performing artist on the West Coast.

She attended school in Franklin since second grade ,and is a 1999 graduate of Franklin Central School. Working with Franklin school music teacher Carol Smith, Boshnack started to play the trumpet in fourth grade, and she continued to work with Smith in the Franklin elementary and senior bands, as well as the jazz and marching bands. She learned to play jazz with Smith, and Smith eventually sent her for additional instruction to State University College at Oneonta trumpet professor Ben Aldridge.

She also expanded her musical experience by attending the Hartwick Music Camp, and she continued her education at Bard College with a major in music and jazz composition.

Carol Smith spoke enthusiastically about Boshnack and her band.

"Reptet is a wonderful, avant garde jazz band composed of a group of high energy and great musicians," she said.

Boshnack does trumpet and vocals, Nelson Bell plays trombone and tuba, Izaak Mills plays tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute and banjo, and John Ewing plays drums, percussion and also does vocals. During a recent East Coast tour, Reptet did an assembly program for the Franklin High School.

The band played great music and got the student audience involved with participation in the performance, including vocalization and clapping.

The concert ended with a question-and-answer session. The students asked how the band could perform with no written music. They were also very curious to learn how the band could perform without the need for a conductor. The band answered all their questions and left their student audience with the idea that Franklin students could do anything they wanted to do, if they were willing to spend the time and effort to do so.

It was exciting for Franklin students to meet a very successful role model who had started her education in Franklin under Carol Smith's guidance.

Samantha explained that she teaches music in Seattle, records albums with her band and performs extensively. She is clearly an important part of the Seattle music scene.

She said, "There's a funny thing about the music industry. If you are active in the music scene where you live, you just happen upon some people who will be very helpful to your career. All the teaching jobs I've found came from performing in one concert."

Dr. Janet Nepkie 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.

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