Pam the Bear nominated for WAMI

Kellie Wambold

Local band Pam the Bear, which is comprised of several UW Oshkosh music students, is nominated for a Wisconsin Area Music Industry award in the category of Best New Artist. The “horn-driven rock” ska band is relatively new to the Wisconsin music scene, first appearing April 2015. “It’s weird because for the Wisconsin music scene it’s such a huge deal and we’re such a young band,” Erica Kennedy, Pam the Bear’s bassist, said. “It’s like a freshman winning some big award in sports.” Johnny Schober, Pam the Bear’s singer, trombonist and guitar player, said the nomination came as a surprise for him. “I got an email from a radio DJ at 105.7 and he said, ‘Hey can you send me some songs? You guys are nominated for a WAMI,’” Schober said. “And then three days later I got an email from the actual WAMI board saying we were nominated.” Schober said the nomination makes it feel like things Bear are happening faster than he expected for Pam the Bear. “It’s kind of crazy because it feels like it hasn’t even been a year,” Schober said. “It’s awesome and I’m excited to see how [the WAMI] pans out and what it does for us.” Baritone saxophone player Hope Larson said the nomination is a sign Pam the Bear is moving in the right direction, even if they don’t win the award. “As a band, I think it really encourages us because we are a pretty new band to the scene, but this nomination helps us believe we’re making an impact and people are enjoying what we do, so we should keep doing it,” Larson said. During Pam the Bear’s recent gig at The Varsity Club, this exposure was seen when the audience started clapping along with songs, dancing in their seats and in front of the stage and even chanting for the band to return to the stage during a set break. Schober said he is happy with how far Pam the Bear has come since last April. “This is the second or third attempt at a ska band, but this one’s lasted the longest,” Schober said. “The other ones didn’t even play a show.” Kennedy said the band works well together, pulling together a one-of-a-kind sound with their covers and original songs. “If you listen to our covers, you’re going to find that there’s not a lot of ska tunes but a lot of songs that we’ve taken and put our own horny-attitude on,” Kennedy said. Crowd members at The Varsity Club sang along with many of these covers, which fell into several genres, such as folk, pop and even a cover of Disney’s “Under the Sea.” “I like that they do covers as well as original songs so the crowd knows some of what’s going on during the show,” audience member Ashley Binder said. “What band can get away with playing Disney at a bar?” Schober said he thinks Pam the Bear’s unique heavy horn-and-rock sound sets them apart from other bands in the area. “I think we’re the only band in the area that’s doing what we’re doing,” Schober said. Those who listen to Pam the Bear notice their uniqueness as well. “They’re instrumental and have a natural sound, which is a nice change from DJs or simple four-piece bands,” audience member Maddie Frank said. Pam the Bear has a polished sound audience members notice during shows. “You can tell that they put in their time, hard work and dedication and they definitely deserve the WAMI nomination,” audience member Ben Krempasky said. Schober said the WAMI nomination has helped rejuvenate Pam the Bear’s plans for the future. “We’ve got new songs in the works and we want to have a new album out by the end of this year and keep playing shows for awesome crowds in Oshkosh and the Fox Valley,” Schober said. Pam the Bear finds out if they are the best new artist of the year during the WAMI Awards April 17.