The Reel includes Curtis Van Winkle (electric guitar, background vocals), Kevin Balzer (electric guitar, background vocals), Cameron Stymeist (acoustic guitar, lead vocals), Christian Midthun (drums, cajon) and Jacob Ricketts (bass), left to right. The El Dorado County-based band recently won a Skype worldwide band competition. Courtesy photo


The Reel deal

By From page B1 | July 25, 2012

Making music is more than simply an appearance on stage, a lot of fans and popularity, according to the members of The Reel, a band with local roots that recently won the “Say it with Skype” worldwide band competition.

“We’re living out our purpose through out music,” said Placerville native and lead singer Cameron Stymeist. “Through that, (we want to) inspire others to live out their purposes.”

The Reel includes Stymeist (acoustic guitar, lead vocals), Kevin Balzer (electric guitar, background vocals), Curtis Van Winkle (electric guitar, background vocals), Christian Midthun (drums, cajon) and Jacob Ricketts (bass).

Stymeist entered the band in the competition on the last day of the deadline to enter.

“We saw a tweet from (the band) One Republic,” said Stymeist. One Republic’s Ryan Tedder, along with Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy and Black Cards and Matt Pinfield of MTV were the celebrity judges for the competition, judging for vocal ability, screen presence and originality.

“Cameron frantically gathered the band before practice and said, ‘We have to film this video!’” recalled Van Winkle.

The band recorded a video of themselves playing an acoustic version of “Made for You,” a song Stymeist wrote for his wife, which also won the West Coast Songwriter’s International Song Competition in 2011.

More than 1,000 bands worldwide entered the competition, so The Reel members said they were surprised to learn a few days after the submission that their entry had made it to the top five.

The judges soon announced The Reel as the “House Band for the Say it With Skype Competition,” a  honor that included an hour-long career mentoring session with the three celebrity judges.

The Reel also recorded their original, pop-infused version of “Happy Birthday” for the new “Say it with Skype” group video greeting app, which allows Skype users to personalize video greetings to send to friends or loved ones through the program.

As their popularity rises, The Reel continues to support non-profit organizations and play at benefit events. Recently, the group traveled to the American Embassy School in Delhi, India, where they encouraged children to “use their art for a cause,” raising money to fight sex trafficking. They also played a concert for the prisoners at San Quentin Prison, and they continue to support Courage To Be You — the Sacramento based organization that runs a safe-house for women who have been rescued from sex trafficking. The band was able to talk with and share stories with some of the women at the Courage House.

“(We’re) excited to see their futures,” said Stymeist, who is also the worship director at Green Valley Community Church.

New music is in the future for this up-and-coming band. Stymeist continues to write songs and the band is preparing to record a new album. The band is also eager to continue to play for causes.

“A practical side of it is giving people an outlet to channel their passions,” said Van Winkle. “Longterm, I hope we’re making a difference, using our music for projects at events to raise money. We want to inspire people to reach out and do something greater than themselves.”

He added, “We’re very appreciative towards this community. People have been very receptive to what we do.”

“It’s hard to do what you do if you don’t have people that believe in you,” Stymeist agreed.

The Reel will host a “Help Find Linnea Lomax” concert on Aug. 5 at Cold Springs Community Church. More information about this event will be posted on the band’s website or facebook page at Their music is available on iTunes for download and can also be found on Youtube.

Megan Donnelly

Discussion | 1 comment

  • Jon MeyerJuly 26, 2012 - 11:17 am

    Megan - great job (as always) enjoyed reading your feature story on The Reel!



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