Tag Archives: Dustin Lowman

Jake Bernard’s “City Of Love”

Jake Yarmoff is a singer/songwriter. So it’s not surprising that he cites Alice Lipson as a major influence. At Staples High School — from which he graduated in 2010 — the choral teacher helped him hone his smooth sound.

But he also was mentored by English instructor Julia McNamee. “She woke me up my last 2 years there, ” Yarmoff — who now goes by the easier-to-remember name Jake Bernard — says. “She taught me to be harder on myself, and made me the writer I am.”

Jake Bernard

Jake Bernard

Even math teacher Lenny Klein made an impact. “His policy of total honesty and great sense of humor were so important,” Bernard says. “He’s all about taking your work seriously — but not yourself.”

With that background, it’s not too surprising that at Penn State the aspiring entertainer majored in … finance. And minored in sociology.

He interned with Vanguard after junior year, then joined the investment firm full-time in financial sales at its Philadelphia headquarters. Bernard calls Vanguard “a great company, and a fantastic experience.” But he left 8 months ago.

“I knew I had somewhere else to be,” he says simply.

That “somewhere else” was metaphorical — not physical. He remained in Philly, and dedicated himself to his musical craft.

“My goal in my career is to have a positive impact — to inspire and give ‘wow’ moments, like other musicians have for me,” Bernard says.

“I want to make people smile, laugh and be their full selves. Ever since I was little, in every interaction with people — even outside of music — that’s been my aim.”

So Bernard wrote songs. He played. And he’s been in the studio, recording a series of singles he’ll release over the coming months.

Right now, “City of Love” is getting a lot of attention. And love.

It’s a 2-way street. Bernard has come to appreciate Philadelphia — a place that, growing up in Westport, he never really thought of — for its small-town-in-a-big-city vibe.

It took several months to get the tune right. But it — and a music video that shows Bernard singing and playing in some of Philadelphia’s most iconic spots (yes, of course including the “Rocky” steps!) — is a catchy, compelling love song to his adopted city.

Bernard knows that — musically speaking — the City of (Brotherly) Love is not in the same league as New York, Los Angeles, Nashville or Austin. It does have a lively hip hop, rap and jazz scene.

But the “beach pop” genre that Bernard specializes in (think Jason Mraz, and Fairfield’s own John Mayer) is wide open. He hopes to fill it.

Jake Bernard, in the city he loves.

Jake Bernard, in the city he loves.

Yet he retains his Westport roots. He recently performed at Toquet Hall with Alan Southworth — a friend since orchestra at Coleytown Elementary School — and Dustin Lowman, another Staples grad on the fast musical track. Bernard has also played alongside Staples alum Drew Angus.

Jake Yarmoff loves Westport. Jake Bernard loves Philadelphia.

And both places love both Jakes right back.

Dustin Lowman’s Ship Comes in

In a world filled with young Westporters who dream of business school, summer i-bank internships and Wall Street careers, Dustin Lowman stands apart.

He’s a Middlebury College graduate — not unusual in this town — but he’s forged a distinctly different path. Dustin is a guitar-playing singer-songwriter, and he’s ready to make music his career.

If that sounds a bit Bob Dylan-esque, there’s a reason. Dustin has been a Dylan disciple since his mother borrowed CDs from the Westport Library. He evokes the early-’60s Dylan in his writing, playing and voice.

Dustin Lowman

Dustin Lowman

Still, Dustin Lowman is distinctly his own man. And a very talented and confident one too.

Much of that confidence stems from his upbringing here. It began with trumpet at Kings Highway Elementary School, then continued at Coleytown Middle, and band and orchestra at Staples.

Julia McNamee — his teacher for 7th grade workshop, 9th grade English Honors and 11th grade AP English — stressed creativity every day, from class discussions to essay topics. Dustin’s junior research paper was on Woodstock.

“Indulging the farthest corners of your mind” was crucial to him as a teenager, Dustin says.

Also important: Mike Zito and Jim Honeycutt’s Media Lab at Staples. They helped him record, and as a senior in 2011 let him and Noah Weingart make a full-length film.

“They gave us a lot of rope,” Dustin recalls. “We absolutely relished indulging our creative sides.”

The Dressing Room was another important influence. Dustin sang at that now-closed restaurant with older musicians like Michael Mugrage and Tor Newcomer.

He performed Dylan and Springsteen covers, and original numbers too.

The audience nurtured him. “I really felt they were saying, ‘Music is what you’re supposed to be doing,'” Dustin notes.

Dustin Lowman 'Folk Songs'He recorded his newest album — called, simply, “Folk Songs” — in his mother’s Westport home, as she prepared to move. That provided some of the poignancy an artist needs.

He designed the front cover from beach glass he collected with his mother at Compo Beach, over the course of his childhood. That too helped ground him, and his music.

All 9 songs are originals. All are compelling — particularly if you like Dylan, channeled through someone born decades after his folk-rock years.

The album dropped on Monday. It’s on Soundcloud, and other online outlets like Spotify (which Dylan definitely did not have, back in the day).

Dustin Lowman moves to Nashville next week. He hopes to make his mark on the music world.

It’s a different path from many of his Westport and Middlebury friends. Bob Dylan would be very proud.

(To hear Dustin Lowman’s “Folk Songs,” click here. “You can pay for it if you want,” he says. PS: You should!)

The Wayside: You Heard Them Here First

Back in his “Highway 61” days, Bob Dylan could have written “Searching for My Twin.”

But he didn’t. Dustin Lowman did.

The lyrics, voice, intonation, guitar, harmonica, rhythm — all evoke Dylan, when he played Greenwich Village coffeehouses in the early 1960s.

In 2012 Dustin does Main Street, right here in Westport.

But he’s not alone.

The Wayside (from left): Dustin Lowman, Danny Fishman, Devin Lowman, Sam Weiser. (Photo/Eric Essagof)

Longtime friend and fellow guitarist Danny Fishman, drummer/brother Devon Lowman and violinist/bassist/musical genius Sam Weiser join him, forming The Wayside.

Remember the name.

The folk-rock — really, folk-to-rock — group is tearing up the area.

They’re all over Facebook and YouTube, too.

It took more than 40 years for Dylan to do that.

Dustin Lowman (Photo/Gabe Schindler)

The Wayside goes way back. Dustin and Danny were friends at age 7. They played on the same Little League team (the Huskies), but gave up baseball for music.

By 8th grade at Coleytown Middle School, Dustin was writing poetic lyrics — a nod to his musical hero, Dylan.

Dustin and Danny — he’s more of a John Mayer fan — went to the National Guitar Workshop together. Their playing and songwriting attracted attention from the likes of Livingston Taylor.

But the Wayside didn’t come together until a couple of years ago, when Devon and Sam joined. Sam’s crazy-good fiddle-style violin playing adds a special twist on folk-y, introspective-type numbers; he switches to bass for more rock-y stuff. Danny and Dustin write most of the material. The other 2 guys grab it, and make each song their own.

Danny Fishman (Photo/Gabe Schindler)

Their 1st gig was the 2010 EcoFest. Their tight, crisp, mature-beyond-their-years sound and clever lyrics drew immediate attention (and comparisons to not only Dylan and John Mayer, but the Avett Brothers and The Tallest Man on Earth).

In Dylan’s early days, the Wayside would have played local clubs, attracted attention from promoters, signed with a label, cut a 45, been heard on radio stations, hit the big time, gathered groupies and gone on from there.

But the music industry has changed. There are fewer venues, no 45s or radio stations. Groupies are looking for the next Mark Zuckerberg.

So the Wayside does things the new way. They play for free on places like Main Street. They make EPs. Their music is on ReverbNation. Their Facebook fan page draws plenty of attention. They’ve got a YouTube channel.

They’ve also got a manager — Staples grad Michael Mugrage (who toured with Orleans and Ronnie Spector, and worked with James Brown and Bruce Hornsby).

The Wayside not only plays smart; they are smart. Dustin is a rising sophomore at Middlebury College. After a year at Vassar, Danny is transferring to Tufts. Sam is entering his first year at the New England Conservatory, while Devon has one more year at Staples.

They’re not sure what’s ahead after college. But they love what they do; they love playing with each other. They’re heartened by their very enthusiastic fans (including Tommy Byrne, who made guitars for Steely Dan).

Keep your eyes — and especially your ears — open for The Wayside. Catch their raw videos on YouTube, and like them on Facebook.

And check them out on a Main Street near you. It may not be Bleecker Street, but everyone starts somewhere.

(Click below for 3 Wayside YouTube videos.)

Jeremy And Dustin Say: “Teach Here!”

This past spring, Staples students Jeremy Dreyfuss and Dustin Lowman were casting about for an interesting end-of-the-year senior internship.

Media production teacher Jim Honeycutt wanted something real, authentic and important for them.

Meanwhile, superintendent of schools Elliott Landon and director of human resources Marge Cion needed a video to show job candidates — potential teachers — what the Westport school district is all about.

It sounded like a great idea.  But it turned out nothing like what the educators expected.

Whew.

“I originally thought it would be a recruitment-type thing — very factual, not real personal,” Dr. Landon says.

That’s not what Jeremy and Dustin had in mind.

The longtime friends decided to revisit their old schools, and talk to former teachers.

They took their video camera to King’s Highway Elementary  School and Coleytown Middle.  There — and of course at Staples — they conducted interviews and shot film.  They researched the schools and town, added special footage, and produced a professional-looking video that gives anyone considering teaching here a unique teenage/inside view of the system.

Which, now that the Westport educators think about it, is entirely the point.

“This really makes a memorable impression,” Dr. Landon notes.  “Their personal insights and affection for the district really come across strongly.  It’s very creative and different.”

In the video, Jeremy and Dustin say that they continue to visit former teachers.  They add, “some of our deepest connections” were made in school.

They filmed a wide variety of teachers:  men and women of different ages, backgrounds and subject matters.

The seniors asked questions like “How did you end up in Westport?”  And, “What do kept you here?”

The answers — delivered in each teacher’s personal style — include concepts like “the environment,” “the experiences,” “the challenge,” “being in the forefront” and “learning from colleagues.”

And — over and over and over again — “the kids.”

Dr. Landon proudly posted the video on the district website’s human resources page.

Before clicking “play,” prospective teachers learn that students here are empowered to use their creativity.

Once they watch the 12-minute video, potential applicants are even more impressed.

“If someone is looking for an environment in which kids themselves say they had a fabulous experience — they loved their teachers, learned a lot and grew here — that will have a real positive impact on the type of people we’re trying to attract,” Dr. Landon says.

Who will then influence the next generations of Dustin Lowmans and Jeremy Dreyfusses, who in turn…