No one feeling blue with the return of the Night of Blues

Aanika Sawhney

On March 3, the Covered Eating Area (CEA) was transformed by student musicians, the Music Boosters and parent volunteers into a bright atmosphere filled with instruments, voices and dancing. Applause erupted throughout the room at the end of each song and cheering for friends and family, laughter and celebration continued into the night. 

Freshman jazz guitarist Annabel Lawson enjoyed the night on and off the stage. In her first year of jazz band Lawson has practiced after school all year – even dedicating time during lunches and smart periods – in a mixed grade level group. The culmination of their work was the Night of Blues.  

“I felt like I’m finally a part of something. I honestly feel really honored to play with such great musicians,” Lawson said. 

Learning from music director John Mattern, Lawson grew as a musician in his class. The two parts of Jazz Band include the horns and rhythm section. In the Night of Blues, Lawson noted the “complexity” and “music theory” involved in her role as a jazz guitarist and she embraces the “challenge.”

After a three year hiatus due to COVID-19, the music program came together to revitalize the annual Night of Blues. As one of the most popular Redwood events in the past, students, parents and staff gather from 7 to 10 p.m. to listen to a 30 song set. Timeless hits ranging from James Brown’s “I Feel Good,”  to Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” reached a wide range of audience members, from students to parents. The performance highlighted talent from Advanced and Intermediate Performance Workshop (APW and IPW), Jazz Band and Symphonic Band Horns. 

Junior Ian Krumwiede, a member of the APW class, has also developed his skills as a pianist. Playing percussion in the first song, Krumwiede transitioned to the bongos in “I Feel Good.”

“The first song was definitely a little nerve-wracking, but once you get in touch with the audience and you see their vibe, it’s a lot more exciting and you’re just happy to be up there and a lot more confident. Overall, the more songs that I played I got more confident, and it was a lot of fun to play with my friends and have my friends in the crowd and supporting [me],” Krumwiede said. 

Exclaiming “music is food for the soul,” Director of Music John Mattern proudly speaks during his final Night of Blues.

As the founder of the annual Night of Blues, John Mattern celebrated his final music direction of the event this year. With much anticipation leading up to the performance, a special sentiment around all of this year’s musicians’ first Night of Blues with Mattern and his last overall Night of Blues with Redwood lit up the room. 

“I think it’s really cool because Mattern [understands] all of our levels. He’ll give you advice based on where we are at and what we need to improve on specifically,” Lawson said. 

Senior Julia Ginsburg has been a vocalist in the music program for all four years of her high school career. Following the preparation for what would have been her first Night of Blues, it was canceled due to the  COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It feels super fulfilling now to be able to finally perform and close out my senior year, something that I was so excited to do as a freshman,” Ginsburg said.

Lawson appreciated her first year with Mattern and looks forward to her future development as a musician at Redwood. 

“I remember the conversation he gave to us about being a mediocre band versus being the greatest band we can be, and how there’s so much more than just practicing that goes into that, including [the need for] musicianship, [staying] with the time and [being] focused.  I remember how passionately he spoke about it and how it moved me,” Lawson said. 


Natalie Silverman, Ally Woodruff and Daphne Hale sing “Don't You Worry Bout A Thing.”

“Dancing in the Moonlight,” students swing dance under the red luminance.


Rachelle Belanger and Mila Mincy sing “Blue Skies.”


As the music starts, the crowd rhythmically claps to “Something's Got A Hold On Me.”


Julia Ginsburg sings “Respect” by Aretha Franklin.