Live Music after Lockdown

Local guitarist preps for launch of musicians collaborative

by Chris Levister

Cameron Harris has music in his blood. Born into a musically talented family, Harris’ passion for music was ignited growing up in the mountain lake resort community of Lake Arrowhead. He cites his natural environs, early pop, rock, jazz and alt-rock musicians and playing in his high school band and choral program as influences.

Harris is a 2015 Rim of the World High School graduate and recipient of that year’s Future Generation Jazz Scholarship from the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation.

It was March 2020 and in the world of music, where he makes his living, tours were cancelled, midway through, and top-shelf festivals that bands had built their whole year around suddenly disappeared.

From reshuffling the annual Blue Jay Jazz Festival to cancelling major festivals such as Southwest (SXSW), Coachella and Lollapalooza to derailing album releases and decimating workers’ livelihoods, COVID-19 is altering the future of music recording and performance. Harris believes the next 12 months are going to be an extraordinary time for both music professionals and music-hungry fans.

Harris, who has been living in Nashville, is returning to his native Lake Arrowhead. With his band Damaged, he is prepping to launch an innovative musicians collaborative aimed at pioneering new avenues sonically and create outlets for artists from all walks of life.

“Besides creating records, we hope to also create a collective space for artists and musicians to come collaborate, record, practice, and get inspired” he said. “In times like these, community is more important than ever.”

Harris said that with so many still working from home, the time is now to not only collaborate with others in order to advance their careers, but to create music in the spirit of love, equality, and solidarity.

After high school, Harris attended the famous Nashville Blackbird Academy, Professional School of Audio, where he focused on studio and live sound engineering. He’s certified in 3D venue modeling and prediction software by L’acoustics, a state-of-the-art speaker manufacturer.
He’s toured arenas around the world providing sound design for festivals such as Musikfest, and CMA and artists such as Cheap Trick, Brantley Gilbert and Billboard breakout artist Halsey, one of pop music’s brightest stars.

He says surviving life after the shutdown means returning to the basics. For him, the pandemic has turned out to be the great equalizer.

“No one’s going to ask you if you want your dream job — you’ve got to grind for it,” Harris says. “In an increasingly competitive world, where people are being asked to continually develop new skills and technologies, a collaborative ecosystem catering to musicians, songwriters, producers, audio engineers and fans is more important than ever.

“With live shows on Facebook or Instagram, there is little difference between a new artist or a more established one. This is a time when everything is without filters,” Harris says. “You have to show what you’ve got. You don’t have access to big arenas and studios. We are all asking the same question; what is the future of live entertainment and how do you survive in a new normal?”

September 2, 2020, Cameron served as guest audio engineer for the successful launch of the Blue Jay Jazz Foundation – Rim of the World High Music Instrument Drive event held at the historic Tudor House.

“I’m optimist through the transformative power of music; this collaboration will bring about a renewed sense of community, healing and support for the arts.”

Harris is unsure of what at the future of live music will look like, but one thing is clear: the show must go on.

Photo: 2015 BJJF Scholarship Recipient Cameron Harris back making music on the mountain.