Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 27th
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Almost Famous

almost chaosLocal students compete to raise money for their school’s music program

It’s not every day that a 13-year-old Santa Cruzan earns $35,000 for his school’s music department. But that’s exactly what Jose Picazo did two years ago, and what he hopes to accomplish again in this year’s SchoolJam USA battle of the bands contest.

The now 15-year-old Picazo has entered the competition with his band, Almost Chaos. Out of 5,000 original entrants, Almost Chaos made it as one of only 110 semifinalists. The ranking is decided by a combination of public votes and scores awarded by a panel of judges. Thanks to their fans and supporters, the band is currently in 15th place. The top eight entrants will win prize money for their schools and advance to a battle of the bands in Anaheim.

Almost Chaos came together when the then 11-year old Picazo took a music class called “Be in your own Band,” offered by Santa Cruz Parks and Recreation. It was during these sessions that the young Picazo met Derek Mather, the band’s guitarist, and Mack Hesson, the band’s drummer. The boys began playing together outside of class and with the addition of Liam Gillespie on bass, Almost Chaos was formed.

Almost Chaos is well practiced at raising money. Aside from the SchoolJam competition, they’ve performed for a number of charitable organizations, including Jacob’s Heart, a foundation that raises money for children afflicted with cancer.

“A big part of being in the band, for me, is helping charities,” says Picazo. “That’s really important to me. It feels good to help.”

Despite his young age, Picazo is a passionate musician with high hopes for the band’s future. As high schools students, they’ve been able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for their community and the sky is the limit, as far as Picazo is concerned.

“Hopefully, in the next couple of years we can get signed,” he says. “We can get big…hopefully.”

Public voting will be open until Wednesday, Nov 30. To see a list of the competing bands and cast your vote, visit



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