In this week's Around Town column, read about a local girl making good in the music industry and an app challenge for youth.
BLUEGRASS ACCOLADES ... Bluegrass musician Molly Tuttle is gaining notoriety with three nominations announced Wednesday in the International Bluegrass Music Awards. The multi-instrumentalist who picked up the guitar at 8 years old and banjo at 10 years old grew up with a musical family that practiced out of their living room in Palo Alto's Midtown neighborhood. Her early performances were with a band made up of her father, Jack Tuttle (who taught students at Gryphon Stringed Instruments for more than 30 years), two younger siblings and a friend. When she spoke to the Weekly in 2010, she explained how she had to avoid her head voice and switch registers to sing in a characteristic bluegrass style to propel her voice, similar to yodeling. "The vocal cords slap together -- I had to practice a lot," she said. She started performing at 11 years old and recorded her first album "The Old Apple," two years later, according to a biography on her website. She has performed at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco and appeared on the radio program "A Prairie Home Companion." Molly Tuttle is one of five finalists in three categories: Emerging Artist of the Year, Female Vocalist of the Year and Instrumental Performer of the Year - Guitar. The winners will be announced during the World of Bluegrass weekend festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, at the end of September. "I remember going to the awards shows when I was just learning how to sing and play guitar and getting to see so many of my biggest heroes there," she wrote on her Facebook page. "This is truly a dream come true!"
TAPPING INTO STEM ... High school students looking for motivation to design an online application can enter in the third annual Congressional App Challenge, a competition Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, launched in partnership with Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia. The contest that opened Wednesday is looking for young minds to create an app that promotes the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The winning students from each Congressional district will have their work displayed at a U.S. Capitol exhibit. "The next decade is estimated to create approximately 8.5 million STEM job opportunities, but during that same time it is also estimated that the U.S. will face a shortage of 1 million STEM graduates," Eshoo said in a press release. "The Congressional App Challenge seeks to address this disparity by encouraging students to create their own app and pursue an education in STEM fields." Applicants have to produce a YouTube or Vimeo video that explains their submission. A panel of judges from the academic, software and entrepreneurial fields will select the winning app. The deadline for entries is Nov. 1. More information can be found online at CongressionalAppChallenge.us.