If you close your eyes, they sound like a solid and seasoned, if not hyperactive, blues band.
Open them and you'll see a band whose oldest member was born in 1982, just a year before their hero Stevie Ray Vaughan broke onto the scene, sparking a nationwide blues revival.
Led by the soaring guitar work of 21-year-old Jake Banaszak, this band - lower case blues - melds rock and blues like none other in Delaware.
Banaszak playing is influenced by Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix, and even though he's young, Banaszak knows he's good. Having played since he was 13, he doesn't think twice about playing a solo with a Budweiser bottle, the tip jar or even his mouth. (It's not Hendrix setting his guitar ablaze at the Monterey International Pop Festival, but you get the point.)
Banaszak, along with the band's lead singer and bassist B.J. Muntz and drummer Paul Weik, are riding high after a successful summer. Graduates of Hodgson Vocational Technical and Christiana high schools, the band members finally made the plunge as full-time musicians in May when they all quit their upstate jobs and moved to Rehoboth Beach.
They hooked up with a manager who had contacts in the Rehoboth Beach area and began booking gigs when they moved into in a double-wide trailer off Del. 1 together. The band spent the summer playing four to six nights a week in Delaware,
Maryland and surrounding areas. Living together and playing together led to a few bust-ups over the summer, but "as long as everybody shows up to the gig and we play well, everything in between doesn't matter," says Weik, 22.
All three enjoy the lifestyle of waking up late, traveling to gigs in their Chevrolet van and playing all night. It's what they love to do, but they just hope they can keep it up. "They say the first winter you go through as a full-time musician is the toughest," says Banaszak.
The band has been splitting time this winter between upstate venues like the Blue Parrot Bar & Grille in Wilmington and downstate stages like Sand Bar in Long Neck and The Big Easy in Bethany Beach. Muntz, 21, is confident they'll survive: "This is the American dream in action," he says between swigs from a beer before a recent show at Blue Parrot.
All three grew up listening to bands like Nirvana, Metallica and Stone Temple Pilots, so they are far from your grandpa's blues band. And don't be surprised if they end a show with a bluesy version of Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" or a Hendrix-ized version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower."
Banaszak's musical tastes are rooted in the blues and rock, with Muntz more into funk and Weik a jazz fan. Weik doesn't even own a single blues album and he finds himself in a blues band. "It's my dirty little secret," he says.
While in high school, the trio practiced in the cafeteria at Hodgson, where one of their teachers ran talent shows. Karen Powers, who now teaches at Christiana High School, remembers the guys when they were just 15 years old. She'd let them practice into the nighttime hours because she enjoyed them so much.
"I'd just let them jam and got my own little private concert," says Powers, who still attends their shows. "They've grown by leaps and bounds. The sound just keeps getting better and better."
In September, lower case blues released their first album, "How Bad Does It Get?" and plan to record a live album this year in an attempt to become prominent on the Delaware music scene.
"It's harder to do something different around here," Banaszak says. "We're going against the grain. We're at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to local bands around here."
Yet there aren't too many bands in Delaware playing mostly original music that can pull in enough money to make a living, even if it does mean living in a trailer.
In March, the band is heading to Austin, Texas, to play during the famed South by Southwest Music Festival, and hopes to turn some heads.
But they aren't thinking they are going to have a big break any time soon. And they aren't looking for it, either.
"That kind of stuff just happens," Banaszak says. "You can't go out there for the big-time record deal. We just want to play and take every oppurtunity we get."
Contact Ryan Cormier at 324-2863 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at www.delawareonline.com/blogs.
Young band melds rock, blues full time