Local talent rocks concert
Date: Thursday, July 23, 2009
Photos by Jennifer Fike
Brandon Stroup keeps the beat for his band Tremor.
By Jennifer Fike
Converse abounded Friday night at Princeton’s Community Park, as nearly 75 people, mostly teens, gathered to tap toes to the beat at an outdoor concert featuring five local bands and two solo artists.
Reece McLean and Jacob Denny kicked off the evening, each performing solo before Tremor took the stage. Tremor is a band comprised of Andy Rhodes, Brandon and Br
ett Stroup, along with two new members, Dalton Rice and Jeremy Edelhauser, who had only a day to learn the songs before performing Friday.
“You’ve got a wicked voice,” Josh Brown, a youth leader from Fellowship Pointe, said to Edelhauser as the band cleared the concrete slab of a stage for New Blume, a duet comprised of Nick Largent and James. The pair presented a softer side of rock, before Obediah Jr., McLean, Denny and Kenny Failes once again rocked the crowd with a set of heavy-hitting numbers.
Each band and artist had their own sound, ranging from acoustic sets to ska, and their own dedicated fan base as well. The groupies consisted largely of friends, with a few family members thrown in for good measure. Along with the energetic teens, younger siblings and even the parents seemed to enjoy the amped up, informal affair.
“It’s kinda fun,” Janice Stroup said of watching her sons perform with Tremor. “It’s neat to see all the kinds of bands they have here,” she said.
She said she also enjoyed seeing the talent the musicians possess.
Also in awe of the musical gifts of the local teens and 20-somethings was Pat Tomek, mom to One Short’s lead singer and guitarist, Blake Gunter. One Short, a five-member ska band, took the stage around dusk.
Though she did not indicate whether ska music, which her son described as a cross between reggae and punk, was her favorite genre, Tomek seemed to be having fun snapping photos of her son and his bandmates. Their trumpet and trombone-driven beats had many of those gathered up dancing.
Tomek also said she was grateful that the concert gave young people in Princeton something positive to do on a Friday night.
“I think it’s cool ’cause it keeps the kids out of trouble,” she said. “And they have fun. I think it’s a good environment for them to be in.”
Gunter agreed that it is nice to have a chance to “bring people together,” and to show them a good time without alcohol or drugs.
“It is fun for the bands to get to play, but it is also nice that everybody gets together to chill back and play some music,” he said.
The environment created at Friday night’s show included a slew of guitar cases, Sonic cups and a lone lit palm tree that appeared later in the evening. The tree is a signature stage prop of the final band, Hazelwood, comprised of Josh Raymond, Pete Stepan, Mark Hawley and Chase Spruiell.
Hazelwood’s lead singer, Spruiell was one of the organizers of the evening’s events and also one of the founders of the loosely strung-together concert series.
Along with Hazelwood’s drummer Raymond, Spruiell started the park shows in 2007 as a way to bring together a larger group
“There’s really nowhere else to play,” Spruiell said.
The band has hosted concerts at homes, but that does not allow enough space for multiple bands and listeners, he explained.
“At the park you can pretty much have unlimited amounts of bands and pretty much as many people as you want,” he said.
Over the years, other bands have taken the lead in planning the concerts. Eventually, the concerts just took off, Spruiell said.
Though no one could remember exactly how many have been hosted since 2007, One Short band members guessed it was the “20th-ish show.”
“We’ve done a lot of these,” Gunter said, “some successful, most of them not.”
He and Jacob Hutcheson, One Short’s drummer, laughed as they briefly reviewed the history of the park concerts, while their fellow band members Johnny Beckham, Alex Mathews and Jake Boldman prepared to play.
Some of the concerts have been more like practices, Hutcheson said with a chuckle. Still, the overall giddiness of the band members seemed to indicate the guys were not sweating it out in the spotlight (the sun) because they were looking for instant fame.
Instead each of the 20 plus performers seemed to possess a genuine love for their craft and for sharing their music with anyone willing to listen. Almost all of the songs were original pieces written and performed by the local talent, though a few bands sneaked some popular covers into the mix.
And the crowd seemed happy to have a place to hear music close to home.
Amongst the crowd comprised largely of Princeton residents were a few out-of-town guests from Kansas who drove in for the
Bailey Myers and three of her friends drove six hours from Humboldt, Kan., to attend the concert and to visit with friends who not coincidentally are members of Hazelwood.
“We don’t have anything like this,” Myers said of her hometown, population 2,500.
“It’s crazy,” she said. “Really fun.”
When asked if she could see a concert being held in Humboldt, Myers laughed. “Our musical ability is limited to like two people,” she said. “We were really impressed with what they were able to do,” she said of the bands. “It was really good.”
Though not as outgoing as Myers and her friends, Thomas Kilgore and Noah Boyce, both from Princeton, said they too were glad to have something to do.
The concert was a good way to hang out with friends, Kilgore said.
By the time Hazelwood was ready “on stage,” the sun had already gone down. A few park lights and the 7-foot-tall plastic palm tree cast a soft glow on the four-person band, and without fanfare or any fancy introductions the group played their original numbers while family members clapped and a few dedicated fans (friends) sung along.
Then, with just as much informality, the band thanked everyone for coming out, packed up and the crowd slowly vacated the park.
Concert goers listen from the bleachers surrounding the basketball court as Obediah Jr. plays their set.
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