This year’s annual Mountain Affair was one of the best shows yet. The acts ranged from organ solos to social justice raps and were original pieces written by the performers themselves. The night was hosted by the hilarious Megan Hulse and Cobi Boykin, and judged by Michael Kendall, starter of East Lake Expression Engine and owner of Ro-Co.co, Mary Catherine Schimpf, long time performer and theatre director at CCS, and Chris Slaten, “Son of Laughter” and English teacher at CCS.
First up was Will Friesen with a rare, non-musical performance act—juggling. His jaw-dropping routine was made better by his ability to juggle on beat and his freshly shaven head.
Next was Manhasset, starring several Mountain Affair veterans. With Prescott Davis on the piano, AJ Lowe’s smooth voice, Amelia Hammon’s floating harmonies, and Tuna, Lidia, and Caleb as support, they knocked their upbeat yet reflective piece out of the water.
The Janes, second place winners from last year’s Mountain Affair, followed Manhasset’s performance. Led by Sammie Brown, Sage Belz, and Laura Davis, and starring Jessen Groenendyk and Alec Burris, The Janes’ song “Hold Fast” sent the crowd a message of hope as their jazzy, sultry sound blew the crowd away. Starting on a three-part, a capella chord isn’t easy, but neither is writing a jazz piece. All I’m saying is that I want a Janes T-shirt before you all graduate.
Next was Ann Marie Granberry and Chapman Whitted who tried out as rivals, but eventually combined to form the dynamic duo Terebinth. Prior to the show, Ann Marie said that her song was about the Native American reservation that she and her family live on in Yakima, WA. Specifically, the song was about the suffering of that community as a whole and the relation we all have within our physical and emotional scars. In the chorus of the song, Chapman and Ann Marie belted through their simple folky harmonies: “The scars tell our story / one of pain and shame and glory.” Terebinth proudly took second place this year.
The first dancer of the night was Emma Caines, another veteran of Mountain Affair. Emma wowed the crowd with her sassy contemporary jazz piece to “In this World” by Moby. She beautifully conveyed these lyrics by the elements of hip hop and ballet that she intertwined throughout her dance.
To start out the second half of the show was this year’s winner and people’s choice, Quintessence: Nabil Ince, James Taylor, Alex Cullen, Caryn Jones, and Jameson Snuggs. To say that this piece was incredible would be an understatement. Nabil, or Seaux Chill, who released this with his new album “I Heard God Laughing,” reminded me that his song was about having pride in a home, but ultimately longing for our eternal home. The different definitions he revealed about his home and his life in this piece were challenging to say the least.
His piece reinforced what has been discussed the past few weeks by Jamar Tisby and Propaganda. To hear the song again or for the first time, check out Seaux Chill’s album on SoundCloud.
Although it would seem to be a daunting task to follow such a dramatic act such as Quintessence, the group Water on Mars did a great job. Brittany Stout wrote this song about her grandmother missing her late husband. The memories and joys of their marriage were scripted beautifully by Brittany and the rest of her band.
Megan Gienapp, third place winner of the night, gave a tear-jerking, awe-inspiring contemporary ballet dance to “Spiegel im Spiegel” by Arvo Pärt. Megan’s piece was about a dancer’s last performance. Megan revealed her own love for dance and experience as a performer through the piece, and at the end as she transitioned from walking like a ballerina to walking like a pedestrian.
Sarah Lyons opened up to the crowd in her piece “An Honest and Earnest Man.” Her classic voice accompanied her timeless piano ballad well and evoked honesty from the viewers.
The dynamic duo Ordinary Outliers gave an outstanding final performance to wrap up the night. Caylin Walsingham and Elsie Matsuda finished the evening with a song combining guitar and organ. Caylin conveyed her own experiences of giving her all to someone with nothing in return, making this song relatable and emotional.
The Beatles tribute as a finale ended the night for the 2015 performers, after which last year’s winners Lume took the stage for an encore performance.
Congratulations to Quintessence, Terebinth, and Megan Gienapp for your victories, and thank you to the rest of the performers for an outstanding night.