Tag Archives: Jake Yarmoff

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.

Facebook Characters

After Staples Players director David Roth casts a show, he makes sure his actors understand their characters.  Last fall, for example, everyone in “Guys and Dolls” wrote biographies, describing their character’s parents, hometown, childhood, economic status and other “personal” details.

Sounds like info you’d find on Facebook? Adam Mirkine thought the same thing.

Adam Mirkine (right) directs Max Samuels. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Adam is just a 9th grader, but this spring he’s co-assistant director of “Book of Days.”  The production — which opens next week — is a challenging look at the clash between theater and religion.  “Getting each person to actually be his character is key,” Adam says.

To help the process along, Adam asked each actor to create a Facebook account for his character — including information like marital status, interests and favorites.

Now anyone on Facebook can find — and friend — people like “Boyd Middleton,” “Ruth Hoch” and “Walt Bates.”

“The script has nothing about their favorite quotations, books, music, movies and TV shows,” Adam says.  “But they know their characters so well, they fill in what they like.”

"Boyd Middleton"'s Facebook photo.

Some actors did even more.  Matt Van Gessel plays director Boyd Middleton, so he took a professional-type picture for his profile.  Jake Yarmoff’s photo of Conroy Atkins — a small-town sheriff — sports a cowboy hat.

“Sheriff Atkins” is particularly good at updating his status.  The other day he wrote:  “Conroy Atkins is alerting the residents of his hometown about the presence of a sex offender in the community.”

The fun project has helped bring the cast together, Adam says.

There’s only 1 problem:  Staples’ internet filter blocks Facebook access.  So any “Book of Days” cast member wishing to add a friend, change a relationship status or post a photo must do it at home.

(“The Book of Days” will be performed in the Staples Black Box Theater on May 13, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m., and May 16 at 3 p.m.  Tickets are available at www.StaplesPlayers.com, or at the door 30 minutes before curtain.  For more information, call 203-341-1310.)