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Text by Betsy Bannerman
Photos by Pamela Gerard
For some kids, music lessons are boring, and practice is torture. Period. But for others the sounds, the rhythms, and the discipline of music are a joy. And performing with others is a thrill. Here are some Noe Valley teens who've formed rock bands. They've been practicing, they've been writing, and their mentors think they've got the chops to make waves on the local indy music scene.
Curiously Strong gelled just three years ago at Live Oak School, but the all-girl rock band has already performed at the JCC, Great American Music Hall, and Yoshi's. They enjoy listening to everything from Jimi Hendrix to Jimmy Eat World ("as long as the song actually has a point to get across," says Clare Wlodarczyk, 14). Their repertoire ranges from the '60s hit "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" to current faves like Fastball's "The Way." How'd they get hooked on playing? "You get an energy inside you that is so inspiring," says Brenna Stanton, 14. Thirteen-year-old singer-guitarist Alissa Goldberg adds, "I like hearing what's inside my head out of my head, so others can hear it, too." Olivia Evans, also 13, plans to play an instrument "always--like when grownups come to parties and bring their guitar or something.... Maybe I should switch from piano and drums--I don't want to be carrying them to parties!" CURIOUSLY STRONG, left to right: Clare Wlodarczyk, bass guitar, vocals; Olivia Evans, keyboard, drums, vocals; Brenna Stanton, keyboard, vocals; Alissa Goldberg, guitar, vocals.
[Image removed by request.] ROT, left to right: Alex Rowson, drums; Julian LoGiudici, guitar. Rot plays "doom metal, death metal, and black metal," but Julian LoGiudici, who co-founded the band with drummer Alex Rowson, says the music is not as scary as it sounds. "Doom is just really slow and heavy. And awesome," says the 16-year-old guitarist. "And 'shredding' on guitar is the greatest feeling in the world!" Alex, also 16, agrees: "When you get a real good and loud band along with you, you can just feel the power of rock run through your whole body!" The duo formed Rot this summer, and they've already started recording. "We're overdubbing all the parts, being as there are only two of us," says Julian. Both teens have musicians in the family (Julian's dad is guitarist/teacher John LoGiudici). At home, Julian listens to "riff-oriented doom and classic rock," while Alex grooves on "punk, death metal, industrial dance, some weird stuff, and rockin' music like the Stooges and Guitar Wolf." Both want to continue playing as adults. "But I don't want to be poor, you know," laughs Alex.
The five young rockers in Mercury have been friends since kindergarten and bandmates since fifth grade, playing annually in Live Oak School talent shows and last spring at Fattoosh Restaurant on Church Street. Musician/teacher Patti Cobb is their coach; and they rehearse weekly in her 25th Street basement, regularly switching instruments ("They have an amazingly fertile cross-pollination!" laughs Cobb). The band members, all 12, are close and committed to their music. "I like being good at something that's really hard to learn," says Spencer McEvoy. Songwriter Nicky Jones adds, "There's joy in creating a good composition, and it's fun to hear my voice and our instruments come together." Do they see the band as a career? "I like the challenge, but it's kind of nerve-racking to perform," says Haley Davis. Maritte O'Gallagher agrees: "I think I want to stick to music as a hobby and maybe become a vet." Danielle Goldberg, who with Haley thought up the band's name, also has things figured out. "I want to be an unfamous musician--because the famous ones don't have any privacy!"
MERCURY, left to right: Haley Davis, keyboard, tambourine, drums, vocals; Nicky Jones, bass guitar, vocals; Danielle Goldberg, guitar, drums, vocals; Spencer McEvoy, guitar; Maritte O'Gallagher, drums, keyboards, and vocals.