Hudson, area bands compete in annual High School Rock Off

by Laura Freeman | Reporter Published:

Hudson -- Three bands with members from area high schools will compete Jan. 25 in the 2014 Tri-C High School Rock Off at the House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave, Cleveland.

The bands, Don't Think Just Go, The Framoogie Experience and Triple Miles, will compete for the first time in the annual competition. Judges will choose three bands from the 11 competing Jan. 25 to join 12 other preliminary round winners for the final competition Feb. 1.

The Don't Think Just Go band members include Claire Penney, 14, bass from Holy Family in Stow; Nikki Beckham, 15, vocals and guitar from Hudson High School; Dominic Merlitti, 14, guitar from St. Vincent/St. Mary; Ellis Beckham 14, cello from Hudson Middle School; and Andy Shafer, 15, drums from Cuyahoga Falls High School.

They have been together for one year and play pop, rock and country.

The band has performed at the Blue Rock Café and charity events, including the 2013 Rock for a Good Cause sponsored by the Fairlawn and Hudson Schools of Music, the Highland Square PorchRokr festival and the Hudson Relay for Life.

"The songs these kids write are entertaining and relatable," said Kurt Reed, director of the Fairlawn and Hudson Schools of Music and band coach. "I find myself singing along to their songs like I've known them for years. Aside from their songwriting skills, they are all extremely talented."

The Hudson School of Music, 85 S. Main St. in Hudson, will sell presale tickets until Jan. 22.

The Framoogie Experience band members are all from Hudson High School -- Ryan Sutphin, 18, vocals, tambourine, temple block synth; AJ. Mrakuzic, 17, vocals, guitar; Shelby Taylor, 16, bass; Nick Skully, 17, drums; and Kelley Tauring, 17, acoustic guitar. They have been together for six months and perform rock and alternative rock.

The Framoogie Band was initially formed by three friends when Nick Skully received a drum set for Christmas and encouraged Ryan Sutphin to buy a bass and A.J. Mrakuzic to purchase a guitar so they could play together.

The band is influenced by Jam bands -- adding improvised solos and the switching of instruments during their sets. Along with the musicians, the band brings friends and family on stage with them to juggle, paint, perform yoyo tricks and cook omelets on a hot plate, Sutphin said.

They have a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Frammoogie.

Triple Miles band members are all from Hudson High School and include Matt Diener, 15, lead guitar and lead vocals; Jason Alexander, 15, bass and backup vocals; Matt Bisbee, 16, tenor sax; Ari Basu, 16 drums; and Derek Hess, 15, rhythm guitar. Triple Miles has been together for two years and play rock and classic rock.

Other local bands, Henry and the Woods and Dead Fall, competed Jan. 18 but did not advance to the finals.

Henry and the Woods band members include Ian Palmerton, 16, drums from Kent Roosevelt High School; Aaron Leclerc, 17, guitar and vocals from Kent Roosevelt High School; and Stow Joel Confer, 18, bass and keys from Stow High School. Henry and the Woods have been together for one year and play Indie rock.

The "Dead Fall" band members include Anthony Lupica, 17, guitar from Hudson; Jake Gambatese, 17, lead vocals from Aurora; Ryan Task, 17, guitar from Aurora; Nick Barker, 16, drums from Hudson; Trent DeAnna, 17 bass from Aurora. They have been together since August.

The Tri-C High School Rock Off competition began 18 years ago and has been staged at the House of Blues since 2008, according to Frank Imhoff, organizer of Rock Off and director of Special Events for Live Nation.

The bands submitted a three-song demo and employees of the House of Blues and Live Nation chose 55 bands to compete in 2014. In the past, as many as 72 bands have competed in a year.

The 55 bands will compete in five rounds (Jan. 10 through Jan. 26) with 11 bands in each round until the top 15 are selected to compete in the final competition on Feb. 1.

The first place band will win $1,000 in cash, the high school receives $250 for its music program and the band has the opportunity to open for national act at a Live Nation concert, Imhoff said.

Bands are given 100 tickets to sell for $8 to family and friends with $1 given back to them from every ticket sold to help cover the $60 entry fee, Imhoff said. Tickets purchased online or at the House of Blues door are $10.

The House of Blues opens its doors Jan. 25 at 3 p.m.

Each band can play 20 minutes but some don't have enough music or limit songs to their best music to impress the judges. Usually 10 judges choose the top three bands in each round.

On Feb. 1 sponsors have provided plenty of giveaways, Imhoff said. The doors open at 3 p.m. and the 15 bands will compete with awards presented about 10 p.m.

More information is available at www.houseofblues.com.

Email: lfreeman@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9434

Facebook: Laura Freeman, Record Publishing

Twitter: @LauraFreeman_RP

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