Senior Spotlight: Johnnie Gilmore
by Faith Pang on Friday, June 6th, 2014
Among the talented and dedicated musicians at Milton, Johnnie Gilmore is certainly one who stands out. With his mastery of multiple instruments, this integral member of Milton’s Performing Arts department shines in both jazz classes and his own band, Centre St.
Upon arriving at this school as a young boy, Johnnie started in the Middle School Jazz Combo on the piano in 6th grade. According to his jazz teacher, Mr. Sinicrope, “Johnnie has grown significantly, both musically and in the height department. Music means a great deal to him, and his commitment to playing and learning is most evident.” Throughout his seven years at Milton, Johnnie has steadily improves his skills on the electric bass guitar. Recently, he has tried some styles and techniques devised by the great bassist and five-time Grammy winner Victor Wooten. Mr. Sinicrope mentioned, “A highlight for Johnnie has to be a comment Victor Wooten made to fellow clinicians when he heard Johnnie play at a Jazz Education Conference in Dallas last January. Victor said ‘I hope he’ll teach me that!’ upon hearing Johnnie play a tasty musical idea.”
In his free time, Johnnie plays music with his current band, Centre St., which features brothers Sam Rochelle (III) on drums and Adam Rochelle ‘13 on the keyboard along with other students from around the greater Boston area. Johnnie’s current success in the band belies his rocky start with the group. According to Johnnie, he got “really lucky” when Adam’s old band split up. In need for a new bass player, they couldn’t think of anyone else who could and would play, so they chose him through a process of elimination. What started as a last-minute stand-in evolved into something much greater. The band members love Johnnie, a love that Johnnie heartily reciprocates with all the time and effort that he puts in to the band. He has quickly gone from being known as the “replacement” to co-writing songs and soloing bass parts at the gigs. “Working off of each other,” Johnnie remarked, “has influenced all our music tastes a great deal. It has also made me so much better as a musician just to play with those three other guys… they’re incredible.”
Johnnie has also been instrumental in organizing and performing at Beatnik, Milton’s own open-mic night. The event runs many times throughout the year, and the dedication that Johnnie provides produces an incredible night of music that many attend. Milton has been truly fortunate to have had such an amazing musician. After “listening very patiently to every single one of Mr. Sinicrope’s jokes” for countless years, Johnnie is both emotionally and physically ready to start a new musical journey that will surely make his community proud.
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