The heat is on. Four surviving bands in the second annual Classic Rock-a-Thon will vie for adoration and prizes at 8 p.m. Friday, May 9 at the Old Fire House Teen Center, (OFH) 16510 NE 79th St. All ages are welcome. Admission is $6.
The First Line, Missing Richard, The Rain Dogs and Shotty are competing for 15 hours of recording/mixing time at the revamped OFH Studio, mastering at Synergy Productions, CDs with artwork from Streamline Multimedia, as well as gift certificates/gear from Pacific Music of Redmond, Mills Music of Redmond, Guitar Centers of Seattle and Kirkland, Seattle Drum School, Emerald City Guitars and Bellevue’s Donn Bennett Drum Studio.
Here’s a crash course on the fearless finalists:
• THE FIRST LINE consists of drummer Jake Linde (a 17-year-old senior at Garfield High School in Seattle) guitarist Joey Shaw (18, also a Garfield senior) and bass player Tyler Morgan (an 18-year-old graduate of Nova High School in Seattle).
They’ve performed at Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival, Museum of History and Industry, Fisherman’s Restaurant and elsewhere across the lake, then “heard about the (Rock-a-Thon) from the EMP and it sounded like our cup of tea,” said Morgan.
They felt they got a good response with all the songs they played at their previous round in the Rock-a-Thon. “It was a really supportive audience and we could see our own energy reflected in the crowd,” said Shaw.
Linde said they were pleasantly surprised by the support from the other bands and their fans. “It was a competitive environment, but not hostile at all,” he noted.
The First Line didn’t tell us what they’d play at the final round of the Rock-a-Thon but they’ve been known to cover Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Guess Who.
• MISSING RICHARD includes guitarist/vocalist Alessa Peters (an 18-year-old senior at Holy Names Academy), bass player Heather Newstrom (18, a senior at Holy Names) and drummer/vocalist Chelsea Rauch (17, a senior at Holy Names).
They’ve played the OFH, Ground Zero in Bellevue and other schools in the Seattle area and tried to get into last year’s Classic Rock-a-Thon but didn’t make it. “We really wanted to show that girls can get involved with the local music scene just like the boys can,” Rauch commented.
At their previous round of the Rock-a-Thon, “People seemed to like the last song that we played, ‘Gigantic’ by the Pixies … because it’s such a laid back song, but has a great energy to it,” she continued. “I was surprised that people seemed to like ‘Walk Like an Egyptian,’ just because when I think of classic rock, I normally think of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, The Clash, etc. Most bands chose to do songs that are different than the pop-rock feel of The Bangles.”
As for what Missing Richard will play at the final round of the Rock-a-Thon, “You’ll just have to come and see!,” said Rauch.
• THE RAIN DOGS are lead vocalist Charlie Crawford (a 21-year-old junior, majoring in history at University of Washington), rhythm guitarist/back-up vocalist Ian Davidson (19, a sophomore at Seattle Central, transferring to Chico State for music production), lead guitarist Greg Mintz (21, a UW junior studying geography), bass guitarist/back-up vocalist Jesse Willard (21, UW junior in political science) and drummer/back-up vocalist Travis Curry (20, UW junior in political science).
They were also finalists in last year’s Rock-a-Thon and Willard said, “The main thing we learned this year was that we needed to prepare for the show much sooner. … This year, we have been practicing every chance we get — so much, in fact, that our girlfriends are complaining and our friends claim that we have been kidnapped because they never see us.”
So far, this year, “I Fought the Law and the Law Won” and “What’d I Say” were the most conventional rock songs performed by The Rain Dogs, but the song that drew the biggest response was “Beat It.”
Willard speculated, “One, everybody knows the song. Two, it was a surprise to hear it at a classic rock show. And three, Michael Jackson knows how to rock.”
In general, said Willard, “classic rock is still relevant to teens and college students because the quality of the music is so great. Even songs that are kind of silly, like ‘Beat It,’ are still very dynamic and have some interesting music behind them. I think people of all ages listen to the great songs of the past, especially when contemporary music fails to measure up.”
The Rain Dogs considered playing “The Weight” by The Band for the final round of the Rock-a-Thon but they thought The First Line did such a great rendition that maybe they’ll go a funkier route, they said.
• SHOTTY features bass player Jeff Fairbanks (an 18-year-old senior at Redmond High School), guitarist/vocalist Guy Keltner (20, UW sophomore in business/marketing) Garrett Radke (18, a senior at Juanita High School) on keyboards, saxophone and vocals, drummer/percussionist Miles Frank (17, a senior at Juanita) and guitarist/lead vocalist Pat Birney (21, “who writes music, records all of our stuff and spends the majority of his day doing band-related activities”).
Shotty won the first annual Classic Rock-a-Thon in 2007 but almost didn’t bother to enter. Keltner explained, “I applied on a whim and when we got in, we had double-booked Shotty and also had a show at Western Washington University in Bellingham on the same night as the semi-finals. So I played both shows. The rest of Shotty went to Bellingham to set up and Garrett and I — Garrett was not in the band at the time — rounded up a few close musician friends a week prior to the show and we put together an awesome set. After we won the finals, we were pretty surprised, but the show was kind of the birth of Shotty as we know it today.”
Of songs performed at this year’s Rock-a-Thon, “Soul Sacrifice” by Santana “brought down the house and it doesn’t even have lyrics,” said Keltner. “It’s just an awesome instrumental piece. Miles, our drummer, made the suggestion to play it and we gave it a shot. Once Pat got the conga part down, it became this infectious tune that we’ve played at every show since. People can’t get enough of it and I have no idea why. Maybe it’s exotic to people living in Seattle where they don’t see a lot of salsa or Latin-influenced music.”
They’re keeping their set list for the finals under wraps. “Let’s just say that Shotty is seriously planning on topping our performance … and we’ll have plenty more tricks coming from left field,” Keltner concluded.