Arts and Entertainment

Semifinalists set for Rockathon

Eight semifinalists are ready to rock the casbah at the Old Fire House (OFH) Teen Center’s third annual Classic Rockathon, at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, April 17-18. Admission is $5 per night, all ages are welcome and proceeds will benefit the OFH.

The lineup for April 17 is Redmond-based Universal Soul, Bo Tree from Sammamish, Silverfield from Bellevue and Flame Broiled Face, made up of students from The Paul Green School of Rock in Seattle.

Onstage April 18 are Manic Highway, whose members are from Redmond and Kirkland, Chaos Theory from Bellevue, Master Mahan from Renton and Odan from Sultan.

Each band will perform three to four songs originally recorded between 1950 and 1990. They’ll be judged on creativity, musicianship and crowd response and four finalists will be announced at the close of the show on April 18.

On Friday, May 8, those four bands will face off. Music industry professionals will choose the winners. Prizes include recording studio time, musical instruments and other tools of the trade.

What ear candy awaits audiences this year? Expect some surprises.

Universal Soul is a hip-hop group, but names Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and The Who among its influences.

“I’d also add KRS1 and Nas,” said spokesperson Greg Rocha, “but those are definitely among the big ones.”

Rocha, a 17-year-old Redmond High School (RHS) student, said he watched the Rockathon the past couple of years and wanted to participate but didn’t find the right band mates until about a year ago.

DJ Fuke (Eric Fure), 16, also goes to RHS and Eugene Beliy, 18 is an RHS alum, now at University of Washington. Rocha and Beliy are Universal Soul’s “lyrical engineers” and Fure is the DJ/producer.

“We’re at the stage where we’re ready to express ourselves and really go outside the box,” said Rocha. “We’ll come with some of what our roots are and some of how classic rock is defined by society.”

Rocha cited Run DMC’s collaboration with Aerosmith (the re-make of “Walk This Way”) or anything by the Beastie Boys as classic rock with a hip-hop twist.

But Universal Soul is also deeply inspired by Pink Floyd and The Who, “the style they brought to the table at their time, things like ‘The Wall’ and ‘Dark Side of the Moon,’ being able to tell stories through music, make it deep and conceptual,” Rocha raved.

What strengths or weaknesses will Universal Soul bring to the Rockathon?

Rocha commented, “We don’t yet have a large fan base, because we try to do things outside of the box, not necessarily what people think of as hip-hop, but I think a lot of fellow musicians will be there to see what we do. And we will bring it 110 percent.”

Manic Highway spokesperson and bass player Paddy Moran is 17, lives in Kirkland and attends Cascadia Community College. His band mates from Redmond are vocalist Ronan Delisle, 16, who attends Inglemoor High School (IHS); guitarist/drummer Robbie Weed, 16, from IHS; and guitarist/drummer Mike Beswetherick 17, from IHS. Guest performer/keyboardist Cynthia Chiou, 17, goes to IHS and lives in Kenmore.

“Our style is a combination of rock, funk, alternative, blues, jazz ... we try to incorporate a lot of styles,” said Moran. “Our influences right now include Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The Allman Brothers Band and Pink Floyd. We also love The Cars.”

This is Manic Highway’s third year in the Rockathon, because “we simply want to keep the greatest music ever created alive and thriving,” he added.

“All of us are very musically connected with each other because we have been friends for four or five years now. We have been playing classic rock since we started performing a few years ago. We also have quite an amazing group of fans who will surely come out to the semifinals.”

The Old Fire House is located at 16510 NE 79th St. in Redmond. For more information, call (425) 556-2341.

Watch the next Redmond Reporter ( for details on the rest of the semifinalists in the Classic Rockathon.

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