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The Jamming Station Story

EMPOWERING YOUNG PEOPLE THROUGH MUSIC

Jamming Station is a hub where artists can connect and grow creatively through crafting ideas, making music and performing. Exciting projects support young people to strengthen their voice and expression, helping them to step up in their lives with greater confidence and resilience. Whatever the ability or background, we offer young people the opportunity to develop core skills, gain valuable experience and find the inspiration to reach high in their lives. The organisation is founded on the understanding that engaging in music can be transformative and empowering, can inspire social change and create a culture of respect for individuals and communities.

HOW IT ALL STARTED

Having two drummers in the family Jacqui Perks was accustomed to noise! But it was only when her son kept bringing home a gang of friends who crammed themselves into a very small attic room to ‘rehearse’ that Jacqui realised that there was nowhere in Totnes for kids to get together outside of school to chill and make some music.

So she set her mind to find somewhere that she could hire. Along with Lee Friese-Greene and later Beth Coombes they loaded up their cars every week with drum kit and amps and hired the local Youth Club. It soon became evident that they needed some decent PA and new instruments so in 2013, thanks to the Big Lottery, they went shopping and hired a bigger venue.

Eight years on and Jamming Station has grown into a highly respected youth music project which provides a valuable platform of regular sessions in towns, community centres, skate parks and local venues.

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Meet the team

Jacqui

JACQUI  PERKS

Jacqui Perks, the daughter of Italian and Irish immigrants, is the Founder and Co-Director of Jamming Station. She was born in Liverpool in the ’60’s. Her father’s love of Country music, in particular Johnny Cash, still influences her passion for close harmony work and a song that tells a story. 

In her early 20's she graduated from Dartington College of Arts and spent the next ten years searching, like many, for that elusive 'deal' gigging in various bands and later, as a solo artist, across the London venues such as the Rock Garden, Powerhouse and Mean Fiddler.

She moved back down to the South West to raise her family feeding them on a healthy diet of Joni Michell, Bob Marley, Alison Krauss, U2, Bonnie Raitt, Norah Jones, Blondie, Talking heads and Soul music. They in turn have nourished her on Kanye West, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Grohl, St. Vincent, Christine and the Queens and Billie Eilish. Songwriting continues to be her main joy working solo on crafting "beautifully miserable songs" and co-writing with those who can challenge her obsession with a 6/8 rhythm and an A minor scale. 

Jamming Station has been her unexpected offspring growing out of the need of her 12 year son needing to make some big noise on his drums with his mates. She feels blessed to have nurtured the project with her fellow director Beth. She continues to find young people inspiring and is passionate about helping them break ground, stepping out of their comfort zones to take creative risks, discover their own voice and to accept imperfections. 

 

 


BETH  COOMBES

Beth Coombes is a Music Leader, coach and musician. She is Co-Director of Jamming Station.
Beth has been teaching piano and vocal skills for twelve years, helping her students to compose, sing in harmony and perform their favourite music.

Beth was inspired to start playing piano at the age of seven. She worked with the Suzuki Method and all the grades, and started writing basic compositions. Her teenage years were vibrant yet tough as she faced challenges with breakdown in the family bullying at school and living in a part of the city where there was racism, drugs, violence and a lack of safety particularly for young women. Life would been amazing for her as a teenager had she been in a supportive musical environment with people her age. This has given her the impetus to support and empower young people to grow confidence in themselves and their expression.

Beth joined the Jamming Station platform soon after it had begun to continue to support young musicians as a collective and give them the opportunity to thrive. Her areas of work are: Leadership, strategy, partnerships, finances, monitoring/evaluation, safeguarding, content creation and 1:1 and group support. 

Inspired by folk, blues, gospel, fusion and classical music she loves fireside singing, has performed with many artists and has toured England and Scotland with a musical theatre company.

 

Beth

Cara

Cara Walker

 

Cara Walker is the Project Manager for Jamming Station, coming from a background in Film and TV Production she is well versed in the creative industries.

Cara moved to Totnes at the age of 11 and spent her teenage years growing up here. She well remembers the limited “cool” options for young people and a strong feeling that young people were not really welcomed in the town. She is thrilled to be part of one of the organisations in Totnes working hard to change that and give creative, constructive and positive outlets to the young people in this town.

Cara has always had musical leanings, growing up playing the flute, guitar and singing in choirs. Her plan was to be a rock star but life took her down the filmmaking road instead. Cara studied a Foundation Diploma in Lens Based Media at Exeter College followed by a degree in Contemporary Media Practice at the University of Westminster in London. Remaining in London after graduation, Cara worked freelance in film and for the Directors Guild of Great Britain. Finally fed up of being hemmed in by the M25, Cara returned to the countryside and Totnes in 2009. Cara finally moved away from the fast paced environment of TV production in 2020 to join Jamming Station.

Although a punk at heart, Cara has a love for all musical genres and loves watching live music.

 


Bambi 

 

Amber 'Bambi' Higginson is a music leader at Jamming Station, and from a young age she has performed within musical theatre, dance and drama.

Music has been Bambi's one permanent source of expression and communication. She has used song-writing and composition to explore and understand herself and her emotions, events in her life and the world around her. 

Returning as a young mentor to Jamming Station has been a full circle for Bambi. Knowing how transformative Jamming Station was for her as a teen, she is incredibly proud to hold that space for young people. Jamming Station has supported her musical journey since she was young and as a founding member, she have seen JS grow into a thriving and supportive community for young people to play music and learn together.

 

Bambi

Anna

Anna Ling 

 

Anna Ling is our choir leader at Jamming Station, and has been involved in the world of community choirs for most of her life. She started her first choir over 10 years ago and has continued to work with choirs and at events, camp and festivals. She has trained as a Choir Leader with the Natural Voice Network, and has taught at the NVN annual gathering, and has an Open University qualification in facilitation, as well as training in facilitation at Embercombe.

She has a degree in Ethnomusicology, and is has trained in Bulgarian and Classical Indian singing, and is a working singer-songwriter. She has worked with the teens at Voice Camp and at Earthsong, and organised weekend music taster sessions for young people at SOAS, where they got to try out many instruments like gamalan, beatboxing and the West African kora. She also works as a 1-1 vocal technique teacher.

"I see singing as both the most accessible, and deepest way of making music with others. When we sing together we learn how to work as a group, not being too loud or too quiet, and it creates a bond. It's also great fun!"

 


        

Jamming Station In A Nut Shell

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Stored in our present at home at Totnes Civic Hall, we have an Allen and Heath desk and full PA system set up on stage each week. For the technically minded, Andy our tech guy is always keen to guide members through setting up and using the system each session so they can practice the craft of stage management.

 

  • We have a full rock drum kit as well as a set of Cajóns and range of percussion.
  • There are a variety of guitars available for members to try, including both an electric and a bass guitar, an acoustic 12-string and a small classical guitar.
  • We even have a semi-acoustic ukulele!
  • We have a range of amplifiers, a small selection of effect and loops pedals
  • There is a five octave Yamaha keyboard.
  • We also have a drum kit available for members to try out at home, and it is always possible for other instruments and equipment to be loaned to members for half a term or so.

 

Of course we encourage members to bring their own instruments when they can and to remember to include capos, straps, plectrums etc although we do also keep a small supply of these too!

Highlights recorded throughout a typical year include new songs written and new instruments taken up.
Regular participants of Jamming Station have also greatly improved their musical ability by:

  • Playing music as part of a group
  • More inspired to make music at home, practicing and developing own ideas
  • In-session informal music tutoring
  • Regular performance dates to aim for
  • Performing to small and larger audiences
  • Peer support and mentoring
  • Initiating and leading with own ideas
  • Improved improvisation skills
  • Technical experience in stage and PA setup
  • Singing in 2, 3 and 4-part harmonies
  • Support and strength with the voice
  • Learning by ear
  • Combining jazz, classical and popular musical instruments and styles within an ensemble
The best 3 quid i've ever spent...

"That was the best 3 quid I've ever spent in the Barrel House', and 'I love how the adults are invited into a youth music night, instead of the other way round"
Lizzy, audience member from Totnes

Brilliant!!

"It was brilliant. People really enjoyed seeing the young musicians performing and then having the chance to perform on the Barrel House Ballroom stage. I hope these evenings will continue to happen" Mike, audience member, Ashburton.

Interested?

If you are between 13 and 25 and want to take part in Jamming Station we would love to hear from you.
If you're a little older and want to support Jamming Station we would love to hear from you too!