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An Interview with Cameron Handel

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Like we always say, ChopSaver users are just plain cool!

Today we get some insight into the glamorous (and not so glamorous) life of a traveling musician. A veteran of the “marching band on a stage” phenomenon known as Blast! (http://www.blasttheshow.com/), trumpeter Cameron Handel (http://musicbycameron.com/Home.html) now spends a lot of her time these days touring around the world with Michael Bolton – that is when she’s not doing outrageous things like playing trumpet underwater!

DG – When did you first think you might want to be a professional musician?

Cameron – “I think my time with “Blast!” showed me that I could actually make a living doing what I love.”

DG – What do you see yourself doing 5 years from now?

Cameron – “I hope to have an album (or two) out and playing various jazz fests with my own group. I also hope to still be in Charleston, South Carolina taking advantage of the incredible music scene here as well, and resuming my private lesson studio. I love teaching!”

DG – You travel and perform a lot – do you have a workout regimen?

Cameron – “I definitely make sure to exercise. Vigorous traveling makes the body conducive to sickness. I’ve found that when something is going around, eating veggies, exercising, drinking water and choosing sleep over “party” is the way to go. We are in close quarters, so if one person catches something, it spreads fast!”

DG – Your job looks very glamorous- tell us about the not-so glamorous side of it!

Cameron – “This is an incredible job, and I feel very blessed to have it! There definitely is a “not-so glamorous” side though! A few things that stand out: Living out of a suitcase, sleeping through the night in a bunk on our bus, being away from my husband and dog, the loooooong drives in between some cities, airports and security, foreign foods upsetting my belly, getting stuck overnight in an airport at the end of a tour when I just want to be HOME, not being able to establish something permanent at home because I’m always in and out, missing out on the opportunity to be a maid of honor in my best friend’s wedding, etc etc. I wouldn’t change anything though!”

image002DG – What was your favorite concert venue so far?

Cameron – “The Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia. It is an old Roman amphitheater, and is just breathtaking! We are slated to perform in front of THE Coliseum in Rome in April, so that might take the cake!”

DG – The underwater shot – tell us about that!

image004Cameron – “My photographer-friend had a special camera and asked if I’d be interested in the shoot. It was one of the hardest things to do. I had to swim to the bottom of an 11-foot pool, blow air through the horn so bubbles came out, and then swim all the way back up with hardly any air left. It was a workout!

DG – What sort of things do you want to do that you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet?

Cameron – “I’ve been blessed to have traveled the world with Michael Bolton. There are a few countries I haven’t been to yet and would love to see- Thailand and New Zealand mainly. I had my first jazz show as a band leader last year and loved it. I definitely want to move more in that direction after this! I also recently got to play principle trumpet on a Pops concert and had a ball, getting back to my roots. (I was classically trained and miss playing with orchestras!)”

(Warning – trumpet geek talk ahead!)

DG – For the trumpet players out there, what is a typical practice session like?

Cameron – “My practice sessions are a lot different on the road than they are at home. I don’t bring a ton of books with me on the road, but will photocopy a few jazz standards that I want to learn, and a couple pages out of The Arban’s and Charlier. Ever since they cut the weight limit from 70 to 50 lbs, I’m very frugal with what I pack! Sometimes we will be on the bus for most of the day and I won’t get much time to play. I’ll just go in the back lounge with my mute and do a 15 minute warm-up routine that I was shown a few years ago, and I’m good to go. It involves a lot of lip bends that give me a great workout, even if that’s the only thing I get to do all day.”

DG – Who is the most influential musician you have studied or worked with?

Cameron – “I studied for two years under Fred Mills at The University of Georgia. He was a founding member of The Canadian Brass and I definitely learned a few things from him. When I was in “Blast!” and jazz was very new to me, Adam Rapa really helped me out. He is an incredible player and his approach to the trumpet is very unique. In fact, he showed me the warm-up that I talked about previously, and answered any questions I had while we were on tour.”

DG – The most influential musician you have NOT had the chance to study/work with?

Cameron – “Clark Terry!”

image006DG – How does one get a job such as playing with a major act like Michael Bolton?

Cameron – “Michael Bolton used to have an all-female horn section. I knew the saxophone player from “Blast II.” She asked me to send in some audition materials because they needed a sub for the trumpet player. I started out subbing a couple shows for the trumpet player, then subbing a couple shows for the sax- I would play her parts on flugelhorn. I’ve been a part of his band full time now for about 3 years, but the all-female section has ended. It’s just me and a male sax player.”

DG – What are the essential items for a show that you make sure to have when you pack for tour?

Cameron – “My in-ears, valve oil, black dress, and trumpet. I also always keep ChopSaver in my case. I don’t go anywhere without it. I have really dry skin and my lips get chapped easily. That takes the chap right off!”

DG – Thank you for the conversation!

Cameron – Anytime! It was my pleasure!