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November 28, 2012 (El Cajon)--Like the incessant sounds of a metronome, the clock is ticking for music students working behind the scenes on the Winter Wonder Jam -- Cuyamaca College’s answer to Lollapalooza -- set for Saturday, Dec. 7, in the performing arts theater.

Open to the public, the event will showcase five local bands rocking at the Rancho San Diego college from 7-10 p.m. This year, students in the college’s Music Industry Studies Program came up with the idea of a toy and food drive for the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and the campus food bank for needy students with families.

James Block/Cuyamaca College photograph
Curt Owen, with bassist Gabriel Fleming, performs in the
2011 Winter Wonder Jam music festival at Cuyamaca College.
Admission is $5, or free with a donation of an unwrapped toy or three cans of food.

The third annual holiday bash is an all-ages event with food, refreshments, and performances by local bands and singer-songwriters featuring a mix of music, including hard rock, punk, indie, acoustic, and alternative. The scheduled performers are Real Things Are Good, A Mayfield Affair, Spero, Josh Damigo, and Trailerpark Rockstar. The bands will be selling CDs, shirts and other merchandise in the theater lobby.

The entirely student-produced event is designed to teach students what it takes to put on a large-scale production, said Pat Setzer, head of the college’s performing arts program. Every aspect of the concert is handled by the class: auditioning bands, developing a marketing plan, creating posters and fliers, promoting the concert via social media, setting up the event, managing the stage transitions from one band to the next, and running the live sound – all under the tutelage of the faculty and staff from the Performing Arts Department.

“It’s a terrific event – the students get the excitement and experience of producing a festival, the bands get a chance to perform in a well-organized setting, and the community can spend an enjoyable evening of original music, and also, if they wish, donate to a good cause,” Setzer said.

Music Industry Studies is a transfer degree program unique locally to Cuyamaca College that focuses on the practical aspects of developing careers in the music industry. The program combines classes in music theory, literature, and performance with studies in music technology and business. The festival is the product of one of the program’s classes, the Music Industry Seminar.

The class of 18 students is broken up into teams, with each group assigned a specific task. The seminar class has so much to offer that students take it for four semesters, each time learning a new skill. During the spring, the students put on the Coyote Music Festival, an even larger outdoor event. Students interested in graphic design, art and business are also recruited to take the class. Setzer leads the seminar, along with music instructor ­­­­­­­­­­­Taylor Smith.  Instructional lab aide Steve Mazy provides technical support.

“I never thought there was so much involved in putting on an event like this,” said Belle Emami, a humanities major at San Diego State University who enrolled in the music course at Cuyamaca because of an interest in pursuing a career in concert promotions. “I feel like I am learning the tools of the trade, handling the publicity and promotions for the Winter Wonder Jam.”

Brandon Evans, a Cuyamaca College graduate now in his last year in the Music Industry Studies program at California State University, Northridge, said that working on the Winter Wonder Jam and the Coyote Music Festival reinforces the message that there are several avenues of employment in the music industry outside of performing and teaching.

“There are a lot of jobs out there in the industry that no one tells you about,” said Evans, who is also a producer and audio engineer at King’s Ransom Studio in San Diego.

For more information, including links to bands performing at the festival, go to the student-created Facebook page, For further information about the Music Industry Studies program, go to  or call (619) 660-4322

Parking is free for the event located at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in Rancho San Diego. For more information about Cuyamaca and Grossmont colleges, go to

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