Mr. Berger and Mr. Blumenthal's Soulful Groove

Mr. Berger and Mr. Blumenthal's Band

Francesca Chirco, Everly Kessler, and Chloe Butler

Staff Writers

Teaching isn’t the only passion for social studies teacher Jordan Berger and band teacher Dan Blumenthal. When the final bell rings at Jamesville-DeWitt High School, they head onto center stage in their lives as musicians. The pair plays together in the band Sundrop Rise who performs at various venues around Syracuse. Sundrop Rise specializes in soulful groove music and they write and perform their own original songs.  

Mr. Berger and Mr. Blumenthal have been in the band together for three years and their common love for music allowed them to become more than just co-workers. Sundrop Rise officially started when the original members met their keyboard player at a festival for musicians and artists at Creek Walk in Downtown Syracuse. Then, three years ago, Mr. Berger started teaching at J-DHS where he met Mr. Blumenthal, who was the missing fifth piece for Sundrop Rise. Ever since, the band has been complete and they have gained popularity not only in the Syracuse community but also among J-D students and staff.

In the band, Mr. Berger plays the rhythm guitar and is a background vocalist while Mr. Blumenthal plays the saxophone and occasionally the trumpet. Other band members include Tyler Dattmore who is the percussionist and lead vocalist, Mitchell Berger who is the lead guitarist, and Nate McCabe who plays the keyboard. The members all come from different backgrounds, but their common goal of making and sharing their music allowed them to come together as Sundrop Rise.

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The band’s music covers a variety of topics, expressing meaningful and impactful messages through each song. Some of the topics covered are inclusion and justice for the environment and others as shown in their songs such as “Family Tree,” “The Journey,” and “Fountain of Youth.” “What I love the most is the bigger messages people get from the music,” said Mr. Berger.

As Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Berger’s students learn of their band, they have shown interest in supporting them and some have even seen the band perform. A group of seniors including Catherine Cargian and Nico Modesti went to see Sundrop Rise perform at Dinosaur Barbeque this past January. The students were either in Mr. Berger’s economics class or take band with Mr. Blumenthal. The students really enjoyed watching their teachers play and feel that the experience was worth while. “It was really cool to see my teachers out of their element doing something they love,” said Modesti. The group found themselves pleasantly surprised by how good the band was and agree that they would go to another performance.“I thought they were a lot better than I had anticipated,” said Cargian.

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Being in a band for Mr. Berger and Mr. Blumenthal is an outlet where they can express themselves through music with others who share and understand their passion. “I love the comradery of being with other people and the struggles and challenges that we go through together,” said Mr. Berger. For Mr. Blumenthal, he especially loves how the band is his outlet to showcase his own talents, which is a nice change of pace from teaching students how to hone theirs. They also agree that the thrill of performing, captivating, and moving an audience are the most beneficial aspects of being a musician. “To see how excited people are from our playing and to see their reactions is amazing,” said Mr. Berger.

Mr. Blumenthal comes from a significant background of music, as both of his parents were musicians and music teachers. So, from a young age he has been involved in and exposed to music. It was his parents’ guidance and influence that helped him to realize his passion for music and goal of becoming a music teacher. He attended Fayetteville Manlius High School and later went on to the University of Michigan where he majored in Music Education and minored in Violin and Saxophone studies. He did his masters degree part-time at Syracuse University while also teaching at J-D.

Although Mr. Berger wasn’t exposed to music growing up, he found his love for music in college at SUNY Geneseo after attending East Syracuse Minoa High School. There, he studied history and also found time to teach himself to play the guitar. By earning his masters at Nazareth College, he was moving closer to his goal of becoming a teacher. He also explored his musical talent by participating in a music project with his brother and a close friend. This is was the beginning of their music careers and the beginning of what would later become Sundrop Rise.

Check out Sundrop Rise during J-D Day and on SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/sundroprise!