The sound of music echoed through the Serra High School auditorium on Sept. 26. Grammy and IBMA award-winning recording artist Mike Compton performed at an all-school assembly, playing Mandolin and sharing his bluegrass music roots.
Mandolin Magazine calls Compton a player with “a worldwide reputation as one of the modern masters of bluegrass mandolin...one of the most recognizable and respected mandolin voices anywhere.”
Compton is a passionate teacher and an advocate for traditional music and the mandolin. According to The New York Times, Compton is “a new bluegrass instrumental hero.”
Compton was introduced by Principal Barry Thornton, Ed.D. “This is a wonderful opportunity to have an American master in our presence,” Thornton said.
English teacher and fellow mandolin player Tom Sullivan ’81 was instrumental in bringing Compton to Serra. He said, “It is a great honor and pleasure to have a living legend share his music.”
Compton’s colleague, Heidi Herzog, explained bluegrass history throughout the concert. Compton’s performance spanned a 400-year history of bluegrass music.
“Understanding each other not just through words but with music is a crucial part of life,” Compton said.
Students clapped, stomped and cheered through each song, verifying Compton’s philosophy on music.
Sophomore Cole Bellomo commented, “It was a really good show with a lot of energy. Bluegrass music can be both happy and sad at the same time. It was different, but really entertaining.”
English teacher Chris Lowenstein agreed, “It was amazing music. Plus, it was good for the boys to learn about different music and how that music has influenced the music they listen to today.”
Bluegrass music has been a mainstay in movies, TV shows and commercials. The current Geico commercial features bluegrass, as well as the famous movies Bonnie and Clyde andO Brother Where Art Thou. The latter had prominent performances by Compton.
Serra Music Director Jay Jordan remarked that O Brother Where Art Thou is one of his favorite movies. “It was a huge privilege to have Mr. Compton at Serra,” Jordan said. “His music validates the work we do in our guitar class, and it shows the importance of keeping acoustic music alive.”
Compton attended The Old Time Music Convention in Berkeley, where he performed with his band, The Jump Steady Boys.