Ocean Springs student jazz band enjoys national spotlight - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Ocean Springs student jazz band enjoys national spotlight


Six Ocean Springs band members got a chance to "jazz" things up on national television Wednesday night. Their student band made an appearance on a reality TV show on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Four seniors and two juniors at Ocean Springs High School make up "Swingshine." The friends formed the jazz band when they were at Ocean Springs Middle School.

Swingshine has performed all over South Mississippi and the tips the band collects at each gig are donated to various causes.

"We get to make other people happy by playing music, something that we love. It's just awesome," said Cody Freeman, a senior at Ocean Springs High.

Freeman plays the trombone.

Sebastian Hrabak plays guitar.

John Janikowski plays tenor saxophone.

Wes Rodberg plays the piano and trumpet.

Jarrett Taylor plays the drums and Austin Jones plays bass guitar.

The teens never dreamed that their band would one day play on a national stage. In 2011, producers of the Oprah Winfrey Network saw their performance on YouTube. They invited the band to appear on a reality TV show on OWN called "Super Saver Showdown."

"We were all super excited!" said Freeman. "I mean, it's national TV. That's pretty cool! It was just really shocking to get that kind of opportunity."

The show features two people who compete to see who can throw the best party with the least amount of money. "Swingshine" agreed to play for free for a contestant in Vancleave. The band taped the segment in December of 2011.

"It was really fun. It was a good experience," said Jones. "It was really something different than playing on stage, because there were so many camera men and lights and people."

The band was asked to play some Mardi Gras tunes.

"They had a Mardi Gras-themed party, and we just wanted to add a little New Orleansy, Southerny jazz feeling to the party," said Freeman.

The episode featuring "Swingshine" aired Wednesday at 7:00 PM. The band mates did not get to see the show before it aired. They were just thrilled about getting national exposure for their band and their mission.

"I think it's going to get people really psyched about who we are and what we're about and what we do for people in the community. It's really good," said Jones.

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