The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Jazz for Ida conducts concert for New Orleans cause

Noelle Erslovas
Jazz for Ida band members after their performance.

An upbeat performance for a worthwhile cause is not something many students experience within their day-to-day school lives. But last Friday, the Jazz for Ida performance took place at lunch, sparking interest in many students. The reason behind the concert itself is an inspiring story for any music-lover with hopes of making change for the better.

 The performance raised money for a free medical clinic in New Orleans that supports musicians without health insurance. Nathan Tokunaga, a Carlmont freshman, organized the fundraiser and is genuinely passionate about this. He hopes to continue to spread the word by putting on these concerts.

Tokunaga has played the clarinet since 4th grade and shares a deep connection with his love for music and jazz itself.

I fondly remember my Carlmont Music Mentors and my first music teacher Andre Ehling, and how he guided me into selecting the clarinet,” Tokunaga said.

It has been an uphill battle for Tokunaga to play jazz clarinet since it is not considered mainstream. However, in June of this year, Tokunaga has started playing professionally at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Tokunaga’s mentor Clint Baker is an inspiration for him and an icon in New Orleans jazz.

“He is passionate about educating young people about jazz history and New Orleans jazz and is the main force behind the San Francisco Traditional Jazz Archives,” Tokunaga said.

When Tokunaga found out that musicians in New Orleans were struggling, he wanted to help as much as possible. By reaching out to his bandmates, Tokunaga put together a jazz band, hoping to make a change and spread joy together.

I’m extremely passionate about New Orleans jazz, and I want to help the people who contribute to New Orleans culture as much as I can, especially since the situation they’re in is highly unjust.

— Nathan Tokunaga

“Putting together this concert was a lot more work than I thought,” Tokunaga commented. “The easiest part was putting the band together, surprisingly. Each person that I approached agreed to play since they also believe in the cause, and we share the same vision.”

With a short time frame to prepare for this concert, the band had some help from Tokunaga’s mentor, Clint Baker, for a two-hour session for guidance for the performance and coordination from different teachers; the group had many obstacles to face for a successful concert.

“Our group prepared through vigorous practice, and we only had three times to rehearse as a group,” said Victor Madrigal, a Carlmont sophomore, “The overall experience was unique and different from what I’ve done before. It was awesome to do a fundraiser for Hurricane Ida relief and was a great way to bond with fellow musicians.” 

The group members all have their passions for being a part of Nathan’s group. Although the band members previously had little to no experience with performances, they found the event memorable.

“This was an interesting experience for me as I hadn’t played much old or New Orleans-style jazz,” said Lorenzo Wolczko, a Carlmont senior. “It’s an enjoyable kind of music to play and listen to.”

Although the final concert was an outstanding performance, challenges still arose before and after the event. Aspects such as communication with various parties, scheduling rehearsals, sound-checks, and finding a place to play were all challenges Tokunaga had to overcome before putting on the show.

The most challenging aspect for Tokunaga was raising funds for the clinic. Although his goal of $1,000 had been raised and reached, it didn’t quite meet Tokunaga’s aspirations and hopes.

“The fact is we only have 12 donors. Most of them are my family and friends, a couple of donations from my band members’ families. I also felt guilty that a couple of working musicians donated to the fundraiser because I know they don’t make the typical Bay Area income,” Tokunaga admitted.

Tokunaga expressed frustrations at the lack of action taken by the community. He had thought that the local population, which is typically incredibly active in calling out injustices and petitioning for fundraisers for social equality, would respond to the fundraiser with equal zest.

“Very often, I see that young people become indignant on social media regarding social injustice, racism, and human rights. The reason for our fundraiser is precisely social injustice, racism, and human rights. However, what I’ve seen so far is complete inaction from the local community,” said Tokunaga. 

For Tokunaga, actions speak louder than words, and a social media persona does not equal who we are in real life.

“Let’s not be indifferent and complacent. Let’s be more inquisitive, aware, learn, and act. The system is never going to be perfect for everybody, but we can all do our small part to make it better,” Tokunaga said.

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About the Contributor
Noelle Erslovas
Noelle Erslovas, Staff Writer
Noelle Erslovas is a sophomore at Carlmont High School. This is her first time involved with anything journalism-related, and she enjoys it considerably. She writes campus-based articles, which she enjoys because it allows her to branch out and interact with many of the students and faculty at Carlmont. Outside of academics, she enjoys extracurriculars like the Carlmont cheer team. Twitter: @NoelleErslovas

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Jazz for Ida conducts concert for New Orleans cause