The minds of music students at Corpus Christi Middle School were blown away by the high energy funky brass band, My Son The Hurricane (MSTH). The band took time out of their busy concert tour to deliver their new youth workshop on Friday, April 6, 2018. Corpus Christi is attached to F.J. Brennan Catholic High School where the workshop was held inside the auditorium. The band was in town to perform a sold out show at the Dominion House Tavern (The DH) the following Saturday night.
Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board (WECDSB) teacher James Smith was impressed after seeing the band perform at Windsor’s Fork & Cork and WE Harvest Festivals last summer. Smith thought the band would definitely be inspirational to music students. James had recently met music teacher David Collins who he says is known for his ability to connect with students. “I watched the way he taught music with passion and how he was getting through to the kids in a way I had never seen,” said Smith. “The man’s dedication to providing music education to the students is truly inspiring.” Corpus Christi is heavily focused on their sports academy program with a limited focus on the music program. Collins is only at the school to teach two 40 minute classes each week. Smith saw an opportunity to bring excitement to the school’s music program by connecting Collins and the band.
Smith said, “WECDSB asks us to try and inspire our students and empower them with knowledge and skills to lead productive lives. I thought what better way to inspire a student whose interest is music, than with this band.” My Son The Hurricane with twelve band members (the number fluctuates), boasts a large diverse horn section along with conventional instruments. Smith noticed these were the same instruments students were learning. “The instruments the students were learning in Mr Collins classes were being played up on the stage by My Son The Hurricane in ways I know none of the kids could imagine. So I thought, why not reach out to Danno and see if we could make that happen.” Smith was able to connect with MSTH’s Juno nominated drummer Danno O’Shea, who is the “ringleader” of the band, with the help of Chris Mickle, festival organizer and owner of The DH.
Coincidentally, O’Shea had already been thinking about reaching out to schools with the idea of bringing MSTH to students. While the idea is new for MSTH, O’Shea is experienced with performing for schools. “ I’ve been performing in schools with CBC kids performer and Juno nominee Will Stroet for a while now,” states O’Shea. “It got me thinking that Hurricane really has something to offer to students.”
After talking with David Collins and jumping through several hoops James Smith was able to get the show set up at Corpus Christi. The band performed for the entire student body of Corpus Christi Middle School and music students and band members from F.J Brennan.
Students weren’t too sure about the band at first, “being typical 12 and 13 year olds, they weren’t sure if this music was cool or not, because it wasn’t stuff they heard on the radio. The energy and the excitement from the band finally caught on and the students were fully engaged in the performance,” said Smith.The band started out by performing four songs. Danno O’Shea then talked to students, giving them a history of the band, and introducing band members and their instruments. Four more songs were performed, followed by a question and answer session with the students.
“Mr. Collins got up on stage with the band and performed a guitar solo as well, which made the students go crazy,” explained Smith. Another highlight was the intense interest students showed during the talk / question session. “The students’ questions for the band afterward demonstrated how invested they were in the performance and their pure excitement for what they got out of it. It was really satisfying to see nearly 300 students absolutely engaged in something like this.”
O’Shea didn’t have a music program at his elementary school. He didn’t really see a trumpet until high school and believed those type of instruments were mainly for orchestra bands. “ Our goal is to show off our variety of not commonly seen or heard instruments.” explained O’Shea. “I always thought of those instruments as orchestral and never considered other uses. Especially not in a band that could tour North America and play festivals.” While touring the band usually plays on weekends and are mostly free on weekdays. “So to be able to perform for students, make a little money, inspire some students, show them some positive music and positive male and female role models it’s a really winning situation we think. The response has been overwhelming. It’s hard not to feel fulfilled after these performances. The kids are excited, the teachers are excited and our gig is done at 3pm not a.m!”
“I just hope that other schools and school boards across Canada and the United States take advantage of what My Son The Hurricane is offering. Their unique band, sound and style is something any music program can be inspired and educated by,” added Smith.
The following night My Son The Hurricane rocked a sold out show, with special guests, local band Dogtone, at the Dominion House Tavern. The band is currently on a tour with 70 shows booked in 7 states and 9 provinces, including several notable festivals such as Riverfest in Elora, and Summerfolk Fest in Owen Sound.
For more information about the band and their current tour visit: http://www.msthofficial.com
To book them for a show or school workshop email [email protected]
Photos by Kevin Blondin / Eyes On Windsor
Kevin Blondin is an aspiring photographer studying public relations at the St. Clair College Mediaplex. He is dedicated to promoting artists, entertainment and events in the Windsor-Detroit area. Kevin has recently launched Sound & City Photography which can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.