By Wayne Laepple
For The Daily Item
TREVORTON — Michiko “Michi” Egger, a rising junior at Line Mountain High School, has had her career path marked out since she was in seventh grade.
She plans to attend the Berklee School of Music in Boston to become a professional musician.
She’s already been there. Last summer she participated in a week-long camp at Berklee and was chosen by instructors to audition for a scholarship to the prestigious school. That was before anyone realized she was only 15 and not eligible to attend.
She did well in the audition and came home to central Pennsylvania more determined than ever to go back to Boston.
“I loved it,” she said. “I can’t wait to go back.”
Egger comes by her musical talent naturally. Her dad, Dave Egger, was the drummer in the legendary David Rose Band, and when she was 5, he sat her down at the drum kit. Then it was piano at 6, guitar and clarinet at 9.
She still plays them all, though she’s recently given up clarinet and band to concentrate on her guitar.
She had been playing in a punk band she started with a friend when she went to the Sunday jazz workshop at the Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport.
“It was completely different,” she remembered. “I never heard anything like that before.” It was like a light suddenly came on for her. She discovered the fun of improvisation, which came easily to her because of her varied instrumental background. She understood how to follow a melodic line from her piano training, and she knew the importance of rhythm from drumming.
“It’s the most fun,” she said. “Now I play a lot of blues and jazz, and even some country. Trading licks with other musicians is great. You never know what they’ll throw at you.” In less than a year, Michi has become the great hope of area jazz and blues musicians. She is skilled enough to sit in with almost anyone.
She laughs delightedly as she recalls sitting in with the Blind Chitlin Kahuas recently.
“I was playing along with Chris Bovard — he’s the best guitarist around — and someone told me they couldn’t tell which of us was playing melody,” she said.
Steve Mitchell, Lewisburg drummer whose career spans over 30 years, says she is the future of jazz and blues.
“Michi can keep up with the best of them,” he said. “She knows what to do.” She has just completed her first album, a solo effort. She gives much credit to Tim Breon, her guitar teacher, who played on the album.
“I learned so much from Tim. He’s the greatest,” she said. “And now we work together sometimes.” Breon, former first chair bassist with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, played with her father in the David Rose Band.
Egger also appears with Ann Kerstetter and her All-Star band of Cronies.
“Ann says I’m the first and only ‘cronette’,” Egger laughs.
She also plays a regular Thursday night gig at Brews n Bytes in Danville with jazz guitarist Mark Tomeo, she plays with the McNett Country Band because she likes the acoustic feel of country, and she never misses the Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Bullfrog in Williamsport.
In fact, tonight the 16-year-old presides over a CD release party at the Bullfrog from 9 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free.
Her eponymous album, “Michi,” produced over several intense days at Green Valley Recordings in Hughesville, showcases her song-writing talents.
“It was great working with my dad and Tim and Barry,” she said of the recording experience. Barry Sholvin of Sunbury is her best friend and musical partner. She also gets great support from her parents. Her father is her roadie, and her mom does much of the driving.
“Michi” has received some air play on WQSU-FM and has been well-received so far.
“It’s cool,” she said. “It’s sort of unreal to hear myself on the radio.”
Tomorrow night, she will perform at the Common Ground Coffeehouse in Middleburg. The 7 p.m. show there includes an open mic session and a performance by Kenny Jenkins of Sunbury.