Storyteller Bill Jamerson Bill Jamerson knows a good story when he hears one. For over a decade, the Escanaba, Michigan based historian and songwriter has been sharing stories about America's past with his History through Song programs and school assemblies in a 12-state region across the Upper Midwest. He developed a love of history at an early age inspired by his grandfather's stories about life in the lumberjack camps and living through The Great Depression.
Jamerson attended the University of Michigan and was in the advertising business for 15 years when he decided to change direction in his career. In 1992 he wrote and produced his first major documentary for Michigan Public Television, Camp Forgotten - The Civilian Conservation Corps in Michigan, which aired on 58 PBS stations nationwide. He went on to produce ten other films on Michigan history including Grand Rapids furniture making, Mexican Farmworkers, General Motors, Herbert Dow the chemical pioneer and a history of winter sports in Michigan.
In 2002 Jamerson began presenting live programs about the Civilian Conservation Corps, lumberjack and iron mining history in schools, libraries and other venues. His programs included original songs played with his guitar. Most of the songs are based on stories collected from people with first-hand knowledge. The programs often include short video clips from his PBS films.
Today, Jamerson presents his live programs across the Upper Midwest at a wide variety of venues. He has visited dozens of CCC built state parks and often refers to them in his talks depending on the state he is in. He has also visited many museums, including lumberjack, iron mining and CCC museums which provide him with a wide body of knowledge to draw up on in his talks. Jamerson's presentation has been described as a cross between Woody Guthrie and Garrison Keillor. It's the oral tradition of sharing cultural and ethnic traditions with humor, storytelling, and song. The telling of these stories is more than preserving the past; they are a reminder of who we are, and how we got to where we are. And in this way, the stories are as important as they are entertaining.
The Copper Cats The RJJ House band responsible for the extraordinary music at show! The band performs original music, period music, jazz standards and other selections from the Great American Songbook. They're also responsible for musical accompaniment for our sketches and readings. They're at EVERY show and they don't disappoint! These exceptional musicians are listed below.
Jerry Younce - guitar (RJJ- Music Director) Younce, a professional guitarist, has performed Jazz, Rock, Top 40, and Country music in show bands and various musical groups during his 30+ year career as a musician. When not performing at The Red Jacket Jamboree, he performs with his son in Younce Guitar Duo, an acoustic improvisational collaboration inspired by jazz, fusion, and world music. Born and raised in Detroit, he started his professional career performing in Jazz bands around the city. He has called northern Michigan home for the past 30 years. View video of Younce Guitar Duo.
Carrie Biolo – Percussion Fifth generation Marquette native, Carrie Biolo, currently tours as the percussionist with the legendary Wayne Newton. Biolo performs on timpani, mallets, congas, bongos and accessories, providing a charismatic rhythmic backdrop to Newton’s classic Vegas style show. A world-class percussionist who brings highly experimental sound, rhythm and movement into her work, Biolo has toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe and Japan. She has recorded over 25 CD’s and her music compositions can be heard on Ira Glass’ This American Life, and Chicago and Boston Public Radio. Biolo teaches World Music at Northern Michigan University, is the Band Assistant at Marquette Senior High School, facilitates a bi-monthly drum circle with members of Lake Superior Hospice’s Adult Day Services and is the founder of the Percussive Attack Camp in Marquette.
Bill Carrothers - piano A native Minnesotan, Carrothers now makes his home in Michigan's Copper Country. He is an acclaimed jazz pianist and composer who has been featured in top ten lists published by Jazz Magazine, Le Monde, and JAZZIZ Magazine. Down Beat called him "a probing, intelligent player" with "a beautiful touch and a wide stylistic range" who "never sounds less than a musician who thinks on his feet and channels emotions freely." Carrothers was awarded the Grand Prix du Disque for Jazz in 2004 and was nominated for the Les Victoires du Jazz (French Grammy Award equivalent) in 2005 and 2011. When not performing, Carrothers is a lecturer of music at Lawrence University (bio)
Harry South - bass Harry South began performing music in Flint, MI at the age of 14. After a few years of playing electric bass in rock bands his ear was drawn to the sound of the upright bass. Upon arriving in Marquette, MI in 2007 he began study upright bass in earnest. Harry enrolled in the music education program at Northern Michigan University and graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2013. In college he studied classical styles and supplemented his income by playing gigs and teaching music lessons. Harry student taught under esteemed orchestra director, Janis Peterson, and remains involved in Marquette's orchestras. He has a successful private lesson studio and directs an after school strings program for 4th and 5th graders in the Marquette public schools. Harry has maintained several weekly gigs since 2013 and frequently plays with singer/songwriter, Michael Waite. Harry's future plans are to continuing honing his teaching and playing skills in Michigan's beautiful Upper Peninsula.