By John Rice
There's a rising young band opening for The Redmonds on Aug. 21 at Groovin' in the Grove. They call themselves 24/7 because they rock out whenever they can. The six members range in age from 7 to 16, making them the youngest band to ever perform at the summer concert series. They are promising a solid set, including a surprise new song.
The band started two years ago, as a group of kids learning the ukulele on a front porch. The original members included Cassidy Brown, 11; Ginny Redmond, 10; and Oliver Hosfield, 7. Oliver may be the youngest of the bunch but he's been the most influential. He came up with the band's name and composed their first original song, "I Like to Rock."
The trio recruited other kids who like to rock, including Jack Amberg, 13, on lead guitar; Lizzie Kowalski 16, on alto and baritone sax; and Maggie Redmond on bass. Mike Redmond is the band's director. He brings structure, discipline and passion to their weekly rehearsals. They also practice before playing venues like FitzGerald's, The Park and the Forest Park Public Library.
Some of these have been paying gigs, with the band members blowing the proceeds at the Dollar Store. When asked how they wanted their green room stocked prior to taking the stage, they specified Rainbow Gummies, Mountain Dew and Pixie Sticks. Their set currently consists of six songs, featuring such rockers as "Riptide," "Feel it Still," and "Hey Jude."
The band's sweet vocals are supplied by Maggie and Cassidy. Jack is a powerhouse on guitar and Lizzie's baritone sax forms a rock solid foundation with Ginny on drums. The members admit, though, that the band's age gap can make the music challenging. Their songs have to be tailored to musicians who have very different skill levels. But everyone in 24/7 is working hard to improve.
In one year, Cassidy has progressed from plunking away at a ukulele to strumming a guitar while she sings. Mike likens her to a "mini-Joni Mitchell." Jack practices his guitar for three hours a day. He also moonlights with the group led by his father, the Back of the Hand Band. Lizzie takes lessons on sax, while band members learn clarinet, trombone and trumpet at school.
Apart from their growing musical maturity, playing in 24/7 has helped the members in other ways. Performing in front of crowds has given them confidence and poise. Their courage is on display every time they take the stage. They are also inspiring their classmates to learn music.
Mike provides a safe environment, where they can play music out of joy, rather than fear. The band members feed off each other's energy. They have also been inspired by their parents. Jack's dad, John, has been teaching him chords since he was 10. Ginny and Maggie grew up watching their parents perform. Singing in public is part of their DNA.
The band wants to progress past playing pop songs to more sophisticated material. Lizzie, for example, loves jazz and uses her alto sax to improvise. Oliver continues to be the band's creative force while rocking out on ukulele.
So come hear the sounds of 24/7 and don't forget the Rainbow Gummies.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries. Jrice1038@aol.com