The Cat’s Pajamas entertains UWO

Kellie Wambold

The Cat’s Pajamas, an a cappella group of five, entertained all ages during their Students for Music-coordinated performance at UW Oshkosh on Feb. 26. As part of their Music in the Schools tour, The Cat’s Pajamas were part of the UWO music department’s Chamber Art Series. The Cat’s Pajamas was created in 2005, and has been featured on “America’s Got Talent” and NBC’s “The Sing-Off.” Along with touring [among] schools, the group performs on cruise lines. Brian Skinner, founder of The Cat’s Pajamas and the group’s bassist, said the group enjoys performing at schools because it gives the band a chance to give back. “It’s pretty rewarding performing for high schools and colleges because that’s where we all got our start in music,” Skinner said. Skinner said the group likes the atmosphere schools provide when they perform. “At colleges there’s a fresh energy we don’t get on our usual cruise tours,” Skinner said. “It gives us an energy you can hear in our sound.” Skinner said he was particularly excited to perform at UWO because he wanted to redeem himself from his last performance, which was in 1996 with his heavy metal band, Front Line. “I was a junior in high school and I think our band outnumbered the audience,” Skinner said. Students for Music Vice President Erica Kennedy said The Cat’s Pajamas was the first vocal group part of the Chamber Art Series this year. “They are an a cappella group who primarily stick[s] to pop tunes, even if [the singers] aren’t from our generation, while the rest of our groups play primarily classical music,” Kennedy said. Skinner said even though the group focuses on Top 40 hits, they like to use a number of genres to influence their sound. “We reinvent songs,” Skinner said. “I like to add Motown to a lot of what we do.” In years past, Students for Music has brought in barbershop quartets to fill this slot in the series, but decided to change it up this year. “This time around we found a group with more mainstream appeal compared to typical barbershop groups,” Students for Music President Thomas Campbell said. Kennedy said another reason for bringing The Cat’s Pajamas to campus was to put a younger sound into the Chamber Art Series. “They’re a fun group and are younger so I think students will be able to relate to them well,” Kennedy said. Music student Gabrielle Hass said it was not just college students who enjoyed The Cat’s Pajamas. “There were some younger people in the audience, like high school and middle school, who seemed to get a huge kick out of it,” Hass said. Hass said she saw this during the performance as The Cat’s Pajamas encouraged audience participation and even pulled a woman on stage during a love medley. “They focus very heavily on showmanship, with a lot of banter between songs,” Hass said. Skinner said the most rewarding part of performing, 0is the people he meets on tour. “We really enjoy meeting people who enjoy our music,” Skinner said. “Music is a great way to connect with people.” Even after the show, Hass said the singers were still reaching out to the audience. “They named this little seven-year-old girl an honorary member and it was adorable,” Hass said. UWO music student Ryan Lindley said The Cat’s Pajamas loves to support students pursuing music. “Over the years they have raised over $95,000 for music education,” Lindley said. Lindley said this is what sets The Cat’s Pajamas apart from other musical groups. “Their uniqueness comes from their work and support of music education rather than the fame and fortune,” Lindley said. Overall, Skinner said the group’s goal is to make music an important part of young people’s lives. “We’re trying to inspire students of all ages to keep music in their lives,” Skinner said.