What they are doing now.

Ben Murphy

Ben Murphy

Since attending Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues Camp and studying with Joe at an early age, I have:

  • Toured nationally five times
  • Performed at the Bern Jazz Festival in Switzerland
  • Performed at such venues as Jazz at Lincoln Center and Webster Hall
  • Composed works of music for bands of all shapes and sizes- ranging from rock trios to free jazz ensembles to string quartet and orchestra.

Studying at and outside of the camp with Joe and the other teachers, including Dustin Sargent, Mike Cady, and Micki Gonzalez was the perfect learning opportunity for a young musician, emphasizing performance experience and collaboration with peers.

After moving to New York to attend the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, I found that most of my peers in New York were missing something invaluable I had gotten from Joe and the other teachers at camp- real world music experience. The kind of experience that only comes from hauling gear out to gigs, performing with experienced professionals, or performing songs on stage as you learn them. Most students had only had teachers that would sit with them in a practice room and run scales- but never a teacher who would invite them onstage at one of their own shows to hear and feel what it is like to play with a band of seasoned pros.

Chicago Joe Jones’ camp is not a typical learning experience- it is a unique and fulfilling peek into the life of a professional musician, centering on invaluable real world performance and rehearsal experience. The focus on working with a group of peers, on creating an engaging and dynamic set of music, and on performing in a variety of situations elevates Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues Camp beyond the call of ordinary music education- it is an essential experience for any young musician hoping to find their way into the professional music world.

Jordan Gonzalez

Jordan Gonzalez

I began playing in my first band at age 11. At 13, Chicago Joe invited me to apprentice in his own band and I played with them 4 or nights a week for 3 to 4 years. I was a “charter camper” at CJRBC, and have also been a junior counselor there for five years. Since graduating from CJRBC I have:

  • Played with a number of nationally recognized musicians such as Derrick St. Holmes, Charlie Wooton, Will Scruggs, Sean Costello, Barry Richman, Grant Green, Jr., Liberty DiVito, Yonrico Scott.
  • Written and performed songs for the Atlanta-based band, The Solar Bears, recorded two CDs, toured the East Coast
  • Produced and written the songs for a solo CD
  • Playing as the Jordan González Band in New Orleans
  • Playing with the Charlie Wooton Project in New Orleans
  • Performed live on radio in Atlanta, New Orleans and London, England
  • Honors student and Classics major at Tulane University
  • Summer freshman intern at the Emory Transplant Surgery Center, 2011
  • Been inspired

Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues camp offers a unique performance approach to music education, and it helps one to develop skills that improve a number of vocations—not just those related music. One of the most important lessons I learned while studying with Joe and the staff at CJRBC was that talent in any form is something that must be developed through practice, dedication, and an inspiring atmosphere. While the discipline to practice one’s instrument and the dedication it takes to improve oneself are somewhat internal qualities, the instructors at CJRBC help one to develop the confidence it takes to keep pushing when the going gets tough—an essential asset not only in the music industry, but also in life. As a young teenager, I found it difficult to go on stage and perform given how uncertain I was with my own talents. Since studying with Joe, I’ve had the courage to get on stage and perform at a high level and to be confident enough to play songs “on the fly” with total strangers. Such an in depth approach to performance allows one to develop a degree of musicianship that allows one to adapt to almost any setting. I consider my music education with Joe the most valuable use of my time since my beginning in the music industry.

Julian Bridges

Julian Bridges
  • Accepted into the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris for fall semester of junior year.
  • Session drummer for J. Cole’s opening band at Hill auditorium
  • Won the national Snare drum competition 2012
  • Was offered the Scott and Ingantious Scholarship at Loyola University in NO
  • Was offered the Steinhardt Award at NYU
  • Was offered the largest musical scholarship at University of Texas at Austin as well as offered in state tuition waiver
  • Offered scholarship to University of Michigan’s School of Music Theater and Dance/ one of only a handful of students in UMich history, allowed to double major in both jazz and symphonic percussion.
  • awarded the Louis B Armstrong award for excellence in jazz his senior year in high school
  • awarded the Gladys Cook Scholarship for excellence in academics.

Chicago Joe's Rock and Blues camp gave me an outlet to practice and perform with other musicians in a setting that pushed me, challenged me and taught me many styles of music I would not have been exposed to otherwise. This nurtured my ability to perform and love for performing with other musicians. Not only was the camp constantly fun, it also caused me to push my boundaries as a drummer, and has taught me many lessons about drumming that I still hold dear today. I helped start the band “Just A Second” and performed with them frequently. The band won the Atlanta Youth Blues Challenge and traveled to Memphis to showcase at the International Blues Challenge in 2011. I also benefitted from the weekly jams during the year and the monthly shows. Truly, for a student musician, CJRBC is the best possible experience.

Shannon Kirk

Shannon Kirk

Shannon Kirk, attended Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues camp 2006-2009
Since attending Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues Camp and studied with Chicago
Joe, Michael Cady, and Dustin Sargent, I have

  • Played with many blues legends and toured the east coast up to Washington D.C.
  • Joined the band “Mudcat” and recorded three CDs
  • Won the Atlanta Blues Challenge Youth Division in 2010 with “Just a Second”
  • Played in the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra, Emory Youth Symphony
  • Youth Orchestra, and Georgia All-State Orchestra
  • Became a Junior Counselor at Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues CampBegan studying Fisheries & wildlife and Plant Pathology at the University of Georgia
  • Became an amateur boxer and got a job teaching self-defense and kickboxing at UGA

I first attended Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues Camp in 2006, 2 days after moving to Atlanta. Not only was I incredibly inexperienced at electric bass and
performing, but I was incredibly introverted. That first week opened me up and
gave me new friends, new confidence, and a new form of expression. Chicago
Joe gave me my first gigs shortly after that. After playing at one of the Second
Sunday shows, I got a call from blues harmonica legend Joe “Lee” Bush. This
was the beginning of my musical career. After that, I got together with two other
campers, Austin Green and Julian Bridges. We formed the band “Just a Second”
and Chicago Joe helped us win the Atlanta Blues Challenge. I also became the
bass player for Mudcat, who claims he remembered seeing me years before
when I attended camp.

Not only did Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues Camp start my musical career, but it
also helped shape me into the person I am today. It allowed me to open up, find
my passion, and gain and sense of self-confidence. The encouraging and
experienced staff genuinely cares for the kids and can help them grow as both
musicians and people. Chicago Joe’s is more than just a camp; It is a life
changing experience and I recommend it to anyone.

Zack Falls

Zack Falls

Since leaving camp:

  • Received a nomination for the Peace Corp
  • Began working at a wildlife rehab center
  • Graduating with a BA in Psychology in May
  • Began to study jazz drums
  • Began to teach drum lessons
  • Joined a reggae band who plans to tour nationwide this Fall

On a personal level, Chicago Joes’s Rock N’ Blues Camp taught me how to be a versatile and adaptive musician, now able to play all kinds of genres will all different types of musicians. Becoming adaptive means being able to do the most with your music throughout the rest of your life, and that may be the most valuable privilege of all. Working at the camp allowed me to have a strong, direct, and positive impact on Atlanta’s music scene. The camp employs the most honest, creative, intellig.ent musicians in the area and is actively breeding the next generation of young artists; put simply, it is an extremely beautiful thing to be a part of.

Drew Hart

Drew Hart
  • Student at University of Georgia, majoring in Mass Media Arts and Music Business, minoring in Music.
  • Bass player for bands The Solar Bears, Night & Day, Juice Box, and others.
  • Toured the Southeast with The Solar Bears and others.
  • Played with groups ranging from folk to soul to jazz.
  • Host of a monthly jazz/funk jam in Athens GA.
  • Studio session work, including full length albums with several bands and freelance.

"CJRBC gave me invaluable experience working in a band with other musicians. It taught me the do's and dont's of gigging and being a professional musician. It was also a great networking opportunity. I still play with a number of musicians I met at the camp, including The Solar Bears, Joey Ziegler, Alex Lotito, Austin Green, Shannon Kirk, Drew Vocelka, and many others. Camp also helped me develop fundamentals in music theory, bass technique, stage presence, live sound, singing harmonies, song writing, and much more. I’m glad the camp is still going strong, it definitely had an awesome impact! Thanks!"

Jackie Howard

Jackie Howard
  • Attending American University in Washington DC with a Double major of Vocal Performance and Economics.
  • Participated in quite a few solo performances on stage there and will being singing three performances this April.
  • Accepted into the Siena Music Festival Opera Performance Studio in Italy, where I will be singing, on stage, as a lead role in one of the three Operas that are being directed by Andrew Chown and David Gately. Also participating in master classes with Neil Rosenshein and Renata Scotto.

"As far as how the camp helped me, I honestly don't think I would be where I am today without Joe and you. You both helped me discover my passion for singing, schooled me in performing, and helped me get over any stage fright I might have had. Though different disciplines, I developed the skilled at the Rock and Blues camp that are absolutely essential in my music career and I can't thank you enough!"

Austin Green

Austin Green

Since attending camp for the first time my sophomore year in high school and studying with Joe for several years, I:

  • Graduated with honors from Lakeside High School
  • Currently spend summers as a guitar instructor for CJRBC
  • Secured a position as house guitar player for all camp related events
  • Traveled to Memphis, TN for the International Blues Challenge Youth Showcase for camp band “Just A Second’s” victory in the Atlanta Blues Challenge youth division (2010)
  • Currently attend University of Georgia pursuing a degree in Pre-Med Psychology
  • Currently study in the UGA Music Business program
  • Have played in and around Atlanta extensively, with local greats and aspiring musicians alike, including camp-graduate band “The Solar Bears”
  • Currently involved in a Solo Acoustic project around Atlanta and Athens, having played at several venues including Eddie’s Attic and Eddie Owen’s Red Clay Theatre

While I haven’t always taken the conventional approach to the structure and persistence of my musical education, CJRBC has provided me the most unique opportunity at real world experience. As a musician, I tend to favor application over idealization. Camp provides the perfect outlet for such a mindset. While there is no shortage of “music theory” on tap from the knowledgable staff, what I found most important was the emphasis on “doing.” Camp teaches you how to find your way around a performance, a band, and especially a stage, even if you always don’t know exactly where you stand.

Traveling away from Atlanta into Athens, there is no shortage of aspiring musicians. However, I find myself with a unique advantage from my experiences at camp. While some will find their first stages in the “real world,” us camp kids have already taken those baby steps. Rather than focusing on the logistics of performance, I can now move into bettering myself musically. As an aspiring professional, this is incredibly important to my success.

Camp can provide an incredible experience for some, and invaluable life experience for others. The environment is relaxed, and the people are great. The worst thing you can get from CJRBC is a few callouses on your fingers!

Sean Simmons

Sean Simmons
  • Graduated from Carver School of The Arts, top 10 % of 2011 class, perfect attendance for ALL four years of high school.
  • Honor student, received a score of 1500 or better on the SAT.
  • Scholarships and acceptances from Miles College, University of West Georgia, Tennessee State University, Alabama State University, Alabama A&M University, Albany State University, and Bethune-Cookman University.
  • Recipient of the Ann & Tom Cousins Scholarship and the 100 Black Men of Atlanta Scholarship.
  • Studying at The University of West Georgia as an Art Education/Graphic Design/Animation major. Hoping to pursue a career in digital media production.
  • Lead guitarist of Helios Rainfall for three years.

"I had a wonderful time learning from Ms. G and Chicago Joe, and everyone else at camp., I am currently building a new band at the university and hope to one day enter the "big leagues" and rock out loud on stage in front of millions."

Anna Zuver

Anna Zuver
  • Freshman at UGA and pursuing an Athletic Training degree.
  • Singing with vocal jazz group Classic City Jazz
  • Racing with the UGA Cycling team, in 2nd place overall, and have had my first win.

Special Stuff I've done since beginning camp:

  • Selected for the Senior Women's Chorus at All State.
  • Paid to sing (for the first time) in a choir on Christmas Eve.
  • Inspired with enough confidence to compose my first few pieces and write my first song.
  • Went on air at WRFG 89.3 with 'The Blues Team,' Bill and Pat, to sing and talk about my camp experiences.
  • Performed with Chicago Joe and friends at the WRFG 89.3 Blues Barbeque.

What I've gained from camp:

My first year of camp, in 2008, I came as a keyboardist who had never consciously heard blues before. This was the summer after 7th grade where I had just learned about the likes of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, and the Stones, and where I had gotten my first 'real' album - Stadium Arcadium. I was more or less a band 'noob' who had been singing in choirs my whole life and had been classically trained in piano. I had been pressured by peers to not 'be that girl that goes and just sings' so I went as a keyboardist...of course the moment I saw my singer doing her thing up front, I knew that's what I really wanted to be doing. I came home from camp that day and told my dad that I was definitely going to do lead vocals next year, and when could we sign up! Ever since that moment, I started looking forward to camp every year.

FRIENDS! I've developed so many friendships and connections that can be found nowhere else. It's pretty cool to play my iTunes around my non-camp friends and nonchalantly say, "Oh yeah. That's my friends' band," as they gawk at the professionalism and talent on the recoding. Now going to camp and to jams is like a family reunion every time - it really is like a big family that anyone can be a part of.

MUSICAL GROWTH! The amount of growth that every kid experiences from the moment they step in the door of CJRBC to even the end of the week is remarkable. I see it with every kid, including myself. When I first came in, I had only ever sung in chorus and by myself YouTube karaoke style. I had no idea what a basic blues pattern was and could never come in at the right place - always fearful about messing up. Fortunately, with the most helpful and encouraging staff and group of campers, blues is second nature to me, and I've sung everything - jazz, blues, rock, reggae...they even got me to do Linkin Park.

CONFIDENCE! LEADERSHIP! I learned quickly that being in a band, and especially being a singer, people tend to look to you for a lot of guidance. It takes a ton of leadership and confidence in your abilities to be able to lead a group of people from start to finish in a song. Again, fortunately, half of the job description of a CJRBC staff/junior staff member is to push you out of your comfort zone, and help you to realize that you can do something you thought impossible. It's hard to give examples of these kinds of things, but it is something that is clear to see in every single person that comes through camp - it's as though on Friday everyone is a little louder and standing up a little straighter.

What CJRBC offers is the incredible experience to work and play with talented professionals and super talented peers. With the combination of camp, weekly jams, and structured monthly shows, there are so many playing opportunities that continue the learning from the summer. You're not learning how to stand around on a stage and sing a note or strum a guitar. You're learning how to perform. That's something you don't get anywhere else. I've sent Mz. G a really long-winded statement that doesn't even cover half of it - most of what I've gained I can't put into words...you really can just see it in every single kid. I love CJRBC!

Joey Ziegler

Joey Ziegler

Chicago Joe's Rock and Blues Camp quite literally began my music career. It taught me to put the music first and always be ready to compromise my beliefs for others. I also learned that in order to play good music, I had to mean it. While at camp I began what I believe to be life-long friendships with several other musicians. I played with the band Highway throughout high school and into my first year at college. Highway continues to perform when all of the members are in Atlanta at the same time.

Since leaving the passionate environment of Camp I have:

  • Drummed on several professional recordings
  • Toured the Southeast and Colorado
  • Played for crowds of hundreds of people
  • Met life-changing people
  • Enrolled in a renowned music school, The Lamont School of Music at University of Denver, where I am now a sophomore.

Avery Sebben

Avery Sebben

I started taking guitar lessons from Chicago Joe at the age of 13. With a mouth full of braces and an acoustic that was bigger than I was, I declared I would only play guitar, and that I didn’t want to sing. That quickly changed. Joe encouraged me to sing, and in the summer of 2006, I entered Chicago Joe’s Rock and Blues Camp as a guitar player and a vocalist. Somewhere along the way, I incorporated bass into my bag of tricks, and it quickly became my primary instrument.

CJRBC provided a learning experience that I could not have received elsewhere. I learned not only how to play with a group of people, but also learned the valuable skills of patience and communication. I feel I quickly learned how to adapt on stage, playing songs I had never even heard before. I soon realized this was a major advantage I had over other musicians. Being a part of this community has also given me the following opportunities:

  • To work as a professional with musicians such as Chicago Joe Jones and Andrew Black.
  • To play benefits such as The Chicken Raid, the Sean Costello Benefit, and several WRFG sponsored events.
  • To enter as a youth band in the Atlanta Blues Challenge.

I feel the most important thing I gained from becoming a part of the CJRBC community was a second family. After several years of participating in this tight-knit group, I have formed strong relationships with almost everyone I have come across. In fact, this bond was so strong that I never actually left CJRBC. After turning 18, surpassing the age limit, I began working as a junior counselor, and 3 years later, they still haven’t been able to get rid of me. [editorial comment: we’re glad of that!]

I now attend Georgia College and State University as an English Literature major. School consumes the majority of my time, but I still play occasional gigs on weekends. I am fortunate enough to still attend Joe’s weekly kid’s jam, and being able to take everything I have learned from CJRBC and passing it on to younger generations has been an amazing experience.