Musical Muse: Two Local Guys Are Making It Really Big
By Rochelle Karina
One crisp night in late December, quietly, and without much fanfare, two very talented young men, who grew up as friends in Shipleys Choice, took to the stage at Brian Boru and entertained the crowd with a Holiday Hullaboru.
This wasnt just some local band, mind you. Dru DeCaro and Brad Wray have been friends and neighbors most of their lives. These days theyre both on the road playing with the likes of Edwin McCain and Miquel - opening for Usher and appearing on Jimmy Kimmel and Letterman. Talent, hard work and perseverance have paid off.
Drus dad, Jeff DeCaro, shares the story of four-year-old Brad knocking on his door and asking if there were any boys to play with. The families supported their friendship and their musical interests.
Cindy was the saint who let it all go down in her basement when we were less than harmonious. Our families were all very supportive, but Cindy was amazing, recalls Dru of Brads mom, Cindy Wray.
I remember lugging band equipment, recalls Drus sister, Tricia. It was a lot of fun watching them play and grow. Seeing what goes into the creative side of music. You never realize how much work goes into writing lyrics and music.
They started at the Little Red Schoolhouse in preschool, then, before you knew it, they graduated together from SPHS, explains Cindy Wray.
DeCaro and Wray were always musical, even while playing high school sports. In their senior year at SPHS, they played in Rock n Roll Revival but college took them in different directions. They stayed in touch and whenever life took them home to Severna Park music happened.
We got the chance to ask them a few questions:
Question: What was it like growing up in Severna Park, and what got you into music?
Brad: My parents encouraged me to play the piano, so I did from age 5 to 11. Then my friends started getting guitars, so, of course, I wanted one. I was lucky enough to grow up on the same street as a few other ambitious and talented individuals like Andrew DeCaro and Patrick and Stephen Deitz. I havent stopped playing guitar since.
Dru: Growing up in Severna Park was brilliant, we were close enough to Baltimore and D.C. to get our hands on the urgency and artistry of city life, yet removed enough to feel supported by a close-knit community and family. Both of these experiences come out in my playing, I think. Brad and I both started playing and singing around the same time. We were 10, in school together, the neighbors up the street got guitars, we got guitars, and it became the thing to do after school, the thing to do on the weekend, it was pretty much that and skateboarding.
Question: You both played sports, which ones, were you any good, and how did you balance your interest in music with sports?
Brad: Green Hornets football, baseball, basketball - I couldnt get enough. Music and guitar happened at home; sports happened outside. I was blessed with the best of both worlds in Severna Park.
Dru: Brad and I both played football, lacrosse and basketball, often on the same team. The athletic thing is such a big part of the Severna Park lifestyle, and we were really into it too. We took it very seriously. I think I always knew my real passion was the creative thing though. Being on a team and being in shape and getting into that competitive space is still a huge part of what I do professionally with music.
Question: Who are your primary musical influences?
Brad: Growing up in Severna Pak, it was Pearl Jam. They were the first. Then, it was on to Edwin McCain (obviously), and bands like Guster, Rockwell Church, and Vertical Horizon. I used to be embarrassed to admit this next one - John Mayer. I really respect his song writing. Continuum is one of my favorite albums of all time.
Dru: Prince, Rage Against the Machine, 311, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Mos Def, George Clinton, Beatles, Michael Jackson, the list is longer than this publication can fit
Question: Over the years, what bands or groups have you played with?
Brad: Most notable for me is Edwin McCain. My friend Kyle Obenour gained a connection to Edwins manager somehow and set up a meeting between us two backstage at American University in D.C. We played some of Edwins tunes and some of my own. Receiving compliments from Edwin McCain was one of the most humbling experiences of my life.
Dru: In recent months I have played with Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Lil Jon, Erykah Badu, Warren G, Paul Wall, Miguel, and Chrisette Michele, among others. I have been fortunate enough this past fall and winter to be on tour with Miguel opening up for Usher and Trey Songz all across the country. I have played in a sold-out arena in every major city and we have radio support in most if not all of those markets.
Question: Looking back, who were the most influential people in your life, who really inspired you to greatness?
Brad: The Zahn, Deitz, Keuhne, Wells, and Borden families were the most influential folks in the area. They took amazing care of my family through my fathers struggle with ALS (Lou Gehrigs disease). My most influential music teacher was Phil Vendemmia, my chorus instructor at SPHS. He conned me and two other musicians (Tim Hutchinson and Kent Warren, now members of Fools and Horses) into being the Severna Park chorus band. Next thing you know, we were singing in the chorus.
Dru: My first mentor was Rick Jewer, my guitar teacher at Music and Arts in Park Plaza, who I studied with all through high school. I have had many teachers since, but he was the first and remains one of the most memorable and influential. Other than that, my folks are my biggest inspiration, they dont pursue music in the least, but they do what they do better than anybody. They share their love of life and community with anybody who is close enough to feel it. My goal has always been to make them proud and repay them for any number of investments theyve made in me and my sisters, both financially and emotionally.
Question: How does the future look to you, what do you see for yourself?
Brad: I will always play music, but I want to do more than that. I want to get into international business where I can be part of a company that advances the economic state and well-being of an under-developed country - economical logistics. I understand music can be highly influential, but music doesnt solve problems. Music helps us understand problems, but analysis, planning, and action solve problems.
Dru: For the foreseeable future, I will be on tour, on the move, supporting Miguels new record, releasing John Wests new record, and a few other projects that are still under wraps. In the past month Ive played sold out nights at Madison Square Garden, played live on Jimmy Kimmel and on Dave Letterman. I am incredibly fortunate and surely practice and pray every day that the trend keeps my career on the upward climb. I look forward to touring the eastern hemisphere this year and recording on some great records. No matter what, I have become accustomed to chasing my dreams at any cost and doing so while staying healthy, youthful and with a positive attitude. I am convinced that outlook will get me wherever it is I feel like going.