When hosting a concert, a planner usually seeks a headlining band or solo artist known regionally or even nationally so the event can capitalize on their popularity. Burgers and Bands for Suicide Prevention followed a different model, utilizing homegrown musicians and making them all the star of the show.
Here are just some of the Severna Park musicians who helped make the 2019 Burgers and Bands a success as it raised an estimated $80,000 in cash and in-kind donations.
Composed mostly of musicians from Severna Park Middle School, Silver Soul is a six-piece blues band featuring Zane Brennan, Parijita Barstola, Bennett Terhune, Owen Blackburn, Elias Rivera and Will Crombie.
Zane explained that he met a singer through the SPMS talent show and collaborated with the drummer and bassist at Priddy Music Academy. The saxophone player was referred to the band by his dad.
A member of four bands, Zane plays guitar and drums while also contributing percussion to the SPMS band. Asked what he takes from his music idols, he said, “showmanship and a lot of licks and tricks on their instruments.”
At Burgers and Bands, Silver Soul jammed to “Mustang Sally,” “Feeling Good” and other tunes on the outdoor stage after Zane and Parijita performed as an acoustic duo inside.
When performing at Severna Park Taphouse, Zane and his bandmates were keenly aware of the cause.
“At the high school, there is a suicide problem,” said Zane, whose mother, Ann Brennan, runs Burgers and Bands. “All the schools are super competitive. We can help to show people they’re not alone. They can get help if they need it.”
Roughly a month after notching second place in the 9- to 12-year-old contest in Priddy Music Academy’s Battle of the Bands, AC/DB came to Burgers and Bands humble but confident.
Members come from Severna Park Middle School and Severn School. AC/DB is Chris McCollum on vocals, bass and keyboard; Doug Schwartz on guitar; Ben Campion on vocals and bass; and Avery Landis on drums.
Avery looks up to Alex Van Halen and former Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Doug is drawn to Jimi Hendrix. Chris cited a modern influence.
“There are probably a bunch of inspirations for me, but I gotta say Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers is probably my inspiration just because of his stage presence and he’s really outgoing.”
“Can’t Stop” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers is one of their favorite songs, as is “Hold the Line” by Todo, Schwartz explained.
“Chris is on keys and then our friend Ben plays bass and sings, so we have a lot of instruments and it all comes together well, so it’s fun to play,” Schwartz said of “Hold the Line.”
As for the event, AC/DB was pleased with crowd. “The first year, it was kind of small, low-key, like no one knew about it,” Avery said. “Last year, I feel like it would have been bigger, but it was kind of rainy, so not that many people came. This year, it’s packed. I mean, you can barely find a place to stand, let alone sit.”
What exactly is a lopsided chicken? “At first, it was a joke, but it stuck and we love it,” said Owen Blackburn.
The band features Owen (vocals, saxophone and keyboard), Cameron Blackburn (drums), Leo Havens (lead guitar and vocals), Dash Havens (rhythm guitar) and Jack Slote (bass).
All five boys live in Chartwell and have known each other since they first started attending Benfield Elementary School. Owen, Leo and Jack are in sixth grade at SPMS, and Cameron and Dash are in fifth grade at Benfield.
Burgers and Bands was their 12th gig since having their first show at Union Jacks in October 2018.
Their playlist includes “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses, “Bad to the Bone” by George Thorogood & The Destroyers, “Bad Moon Rising” by Credence Clearwater Revival, “Werewolves of London” by Warren Zevon, “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes, and more.
The boys all have future music goals. Owen, who also plays in Silver Soul, wants to write his own music and play saxophone in the all-county jazz band. Cameron wants to show off his drum solos as a famous musician with the Lopsided Chickens. Dash wants to keep having fun while playing music at Priddy Music Academy. Leo also wants to write original music and tour the country.
“I would like classic rock ‘n’ roll to come back and be the new thing,” Leo said. “I would like my music to make people feel happy and inspired.”
No matter what, they will continue growing as artists and making connections.
“My favorite thing about playing in the Lopsided Chickens is playing live,” Jack said. “We get to show our community who we really are, and I can move around and sort of dance to the music. I also like all the new and extremely talented and kind people I have met through Priddy.”
Severna Park musician George Evans kept the inside crowd clapping and singing along during Burgers and Bands. He played songs by the Foo Fighters, Goo Goo Dolls and Dave Matthews Band along with his originals “Arienne,” “Otis Rules” and “St. Patrick's Day.”
He describes his original material as “a nice mix of blues and rock with some melody; a mix of The Black Keys, the Cure and a touch of metal.”
His sound draws on his experience harkening back to his teen years as a drummer and now as a guitarist “pushing 50.”
“Music has always been a passion of mine and I’m finally living life reflecting just that,” Evans said. “Music is so important to my own wellbeing. I simply want everyone to get involved. It's an incredible facet of life.”
While he loves performing solo, he also likes playing with kids during Chartridge “pool jams” and with other musicians of any age.
“I play out almost weekly, folks see enough of me,” he said. “I love seeing a kid perform their first time, watch them overcome nerves and see their eyes widen with fun. And not just kids; many adults have done the same thing with us.”
Evans was proud to be involved with Burgers and Bands not only because the musicians had fun but also because of the event’s uplifting message.
“My goal is to help folks understand there is no shame or hiding from emotional problems,” Evans said. “We all have them. Let's talk.”