RACINE — Cameron Fair, 22, has had a busy few years.
The Racine native, multi-instrumentalist and 2015 Park High School graduate has gone from playing cello in the local ensemble Young Strings to playing in front of thousands at a Chicago White Sox game and at Bastille Days in Milwaukee.
Fair, who plans to graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in 2020 with a degree in music performance, joined Betsy Ade and the Well-Known Strangers last summer around the same time he and three other Parkside students formed the Brandgás String Quartet. This summer has been a flurry of gigs and practices for him as he tries to keep life balanced between music, his day job at the Racine Country Club and his impending return to college classes.
“I’m really busy,” Fair said on Saturday afternoon at Wilson’s Coffee and Tea before heading out to a Well-Known Strangers show. He had played a concert with the band the night before and was slated for two performances with the Brandgás String Quartet just hours apart on Sunday.
Fair was a founding member of Young Strings in about 2012. The then-quartet played pop and rock covers with a classical spin at various venue around the area. When Fair went to college, he left the group, itching to play more traditional classical music.
“I wanted to pursue new things,” Fair said. “They were a good group and all, but I was getting kind of, I don’t know, tired … it was kind of hard to keep the ball rolling with that still.”
In Fair’s freshman year of college he branched out more and also began playing punk rock music on bass guitar with a few of his friends. The band never took off. He also jammed with a blues guitarist at one point and joined Parkside’s jazz band last year.
Between the quartet and Well-Known Strangers, Fair has now found a happy medium of playing both classical and rock cello. He joined Well Known Strangers after auditioning almost on a whim.
The Racine-based Well-Known Strangers, who have been well-known around southeastern Wisconsin for several years, got a boost when lead vocalist Betsy Ade, of Kenosha, made a month-long run on the talent-contest TV show “The Voice” this spring. Last month, Fair joined Ade and fellow band member Brittany Lumley at Chicago’s Guaranteed Rate Field to perform the national anthem before a White Sox game.
“That was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Fair said. “It was a little bit (nerve-wracking). I kind of zoned in, like, ‘Don’t mess up! This is the national anthem; if you mess up, things are implied.’”
But his highlight so far was playing PrideFest Milwaukee on the Miller Lite Oasis stage at the Summerfest grounds. It was a stage Fair grew up seeing famous acts on during Summerfest.
“That was just like a dream come true,” he said.
Fair said he first picked up a cello when he was 9 years old. He credits his teachers and college professors with his success. For Well-Known Strangers, he also plays piano.
To stay updated with Fair’s music career, follow the Brandgás String Quartet at www.facebook.com/pg/brandgasstringquartet or Betsy Ade and the Well-Known Strangers at www.facebook.com/wkstrangers. Fair is currently in the studio with Well-Known Strangers; the upcoming music will be his first time playing on a Well-Known Strangers record.
PHOTOS: Lincoln Park Live: Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers
Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers — a band made up of Ade on vocals, Cameron Fair on cello and piano, Brittany Lumley playing multiple instruments and backing vocals, Roger Gower Jr. on drums, John Kulas on the bass and Joe Adamek on lead guitar — played a two-hour set at the latest installment of Lincoln Park Live in Lincoln Park, 6900 18th Ave., on Tuesday, July 17.
Here are a roundup of photos of the band performing at the event.
Betsy Ade and the Well-Known Strangers, seen here performing in Lincoln Park earlier this summer, are playing at Laborfest on Monday.