Burroughs High students' acoustic concert will showcase 'purity of the voice and instruments'

Burroughs High students' acoustic concert will showcase 'purity of the voice and instruments'
John Burroughs High singers rehearse a songin the musical "Xanadu," part of the "Burroughs on Broadway" production, in this file photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. Soloists from the school's Vocal Music Assn. will perform acoustic songs Jan. 21 at the Colony Theatre in Burbank. (Tim Berger / Burbank Leader)

Paul McCartney, Nirvana, A Tribe Called Quest and many other musical artists have all performed acoustic versions of their songs and soon several soloists from John Burroughs High School's Vocal Music Assn. will join their ranks.

On Jan. 21, the music association will host its first "Pop Show Unplugged" concert, in which all the songs will be performed with acoustic instruments, just like many of the classic episodes of "MTV Unplugged."

It is also the first time that the association has put on a musical event at the Colony Theatre.

"Our patrons will enjoy the more intimate setting," vocal director Brendan Jennings said. "Our theater at Burroughs is gigantic and seats around 1,250 people. [The Colony Theatre] is about 268, so it's considerably smaller and fits with the show."

Barbara Beckley, president of the Colony Theatre, said that she was excited when John Burroughs approached her about having the acoustic performance at her theater. She, too, believes that the performances and the venue will complement one another.

"It's amazing how good these kids are," she said. "It's going to be completely without additional electronics or amplification. It's just the purity of the voice and instruments. The theater has great acoustics, so this is going to be a wonderful marriage of show and house, and we're thrilled to have them."

Jennings said there has been a growing number of students in his program who are more than just talented singers and stage performers. Many of them, he said, know how to play guitar or several instruments and are not afraid to take a popular song and create an acoustic cover of it.

"Many of them are aspiring singers and songwriters, so they're heavily influenced by the very acoustic cover artists," Jennings said. "It's the kind of music that you can play in your bedroom or living room. And that's what we want this concert to feel like."

The Vocal Music Assn. is still putting on its annual "Pop Show" in early March. However, Jennings said that this unplugged version gives those who would much rather perform a more stripped-down version of a song a chance at doing so.

"I think there's a backlash to that kind of over-autotuned, over-produced sound," he said. "But there's also kids that just have different musical tastes and that's what we're trying to feature."

To purchase tickets to "Pop Show Unplugged," visit jbhsvma.com.


Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio