The finals for the 2012 School Jam USA competition were underway. While the day’s busy schedule (and the crowd that had gathered) allowed only a brief window of time to grab some video, what I have here will give you a feel for the exceptional level of talent of the participants and the enthusiasm of the crowd (several hundred or better). This was the 4th year for the teen band competition which ran from August 1st to October 26th with the eight finalists performing on the stage in Downtown Disney during the annual NAMM show. The finalists, and their local school’s music programs, receive a cash prize to use to purchase new gear and instruments from local NAMM Member music stores. The grand prize includes a trip to play at the original SchoolJam festival in Frankfurt, Germany, a private music video recording session on the John Lennon Educational Bus, $1,000 toward the purchase of new gear and $5,000 for the winner’s school music program.

To get to the finals, the bands first had to pass muster with a panel of music professionals and the public.  Throughout November 2012, participating bands’ submissions were posted on, and online voting was open to everyone.

By the time I got to NAMM, over 200K votes had been cast and the field had been trimmed to the final eight:
Beyond Doubt – Louisville, KY
Cheating Daylight – Vacaville, CA
Ergo We Play  – Knoxville, TN
Fools and Sages – Los Angeles, CA
Harlem Shuffle – Salt Lake City, UT
Premium Blend – San Diego, CA
Romance of Thieves – San Francisco, CA
Synergy – Springfield, UT

Here’s the video shot during a brief moment I was able to shoulder my way through the standing room only (there were no seats) crowd to get close enough to the stage. This band is Romance Of Thieves from San Francisco, and as good as this group is, they didn’t make the final three… which testifies to the level of talent these bands bring to the table. Visually, this is what it is. Fortunately, the audio quality is acceptable. Oh, that scrolling lettering in the background is from an electronic sign on a building behind the stage.



And the winner is….
For ERGO WE PLAY it turned out to be a case of 2nd time’s a charm as the 2011/2012 third place winners took home the top prize. The judges agreed that since their previous appearance, the quartet had improved substantially, practicing and rehearsing relentlessly and gigging almost very week. They’ve even been getting airplay on Knoxville’s ‘94.3 The X’. The band’s lineup includes: Alex Zimmermann (lead vocals, guitar and keyboard, Sam Travis (bass and backup vocals), Tommy Blackburn (drums and backup vocals), lead guitar player Thomas Detchemendy.  The band represents Farragut High School and brought home $5,000 for their school, which lead singer Alex Zimmerman says will go toward a new sound system.

The Mile by Ergo We Play –



Cheating Daylight (2) and Harlem Shuffle (3) rounded out the top 3 bands.

As we were unable to get a watchable video of EWP’s performance, we’re looking for someone who did to post here. If you were at the event on January 26th 2013 at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, and got a half-way decent video of the show, please send a link to your video to

If your band is interested in entering a future competition, hone your chops and check out the SchoolJamUSA Web Site for entry instructions, rules, regs and all that fun stuff.

Originally posted 2013-02-12 13:45:07.