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Courtesy of Nelson Smither
Sully Smither (left) and Alex Gross play in January at The Drowsy Poet in Lynchburg.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Alex Gross and Sully Smither may be too young to drive, but this indie-rock music duo, known as the band Harbor, is going places.
This summer alone, Gross, 15, and Smither, 16, are planning to play nearly four dozen venues around the region, including an appearance at Floyd Fest 12 in July.
“Personally, we have expectations that are really, really high because it’s a big show,” said Gross.
Smither plays guitar and piano and sings lead vocals ; Gross sings harmony vocals and plays bass guitar and drums.
The duo met a couple of years back at a school sing at Staunton River High School, where they’re both students. Not long after , they began playing together and got involved in the Music Lab at Jefferson Center in Roanoke.
The Music Lab serves students primarily in sixth through 12th grade , and through its curriculum aims to teach them all aspects of the music business .
According to Jefferson Center’s website, “We are developing a new model for molding the lives of youth as they grow not only as musicians, engineers, and performers, but as contributing members of our society, knowledgeable consumers, and engaged citizens. Music performance, recording arts, and music business are all built into our intentionally designed curriculum.”
Dylan Locke, Jefferson Center’s artistic director, recalls when he first heard Harbor perform.
“We had a listening party where all the students had to bring a song or two and play them for the other students,” said Locke. “When I heard Harbor, I was blown away by the sound and the writing.”
At Locke’s urging, Harbor auditioned for a chance at performing at Floyd Fest.
“They performed very well,” said Locke. “I like their sound, and I think they are writing some great songs, so it was an easy choice for me and the other judges.”
While both Gross and Smither are songwriters in their own right, most of the songs that Harbor plays are originals written by Smither.
“I believe more in Sully’s writing than in mine,” said Gross.
“With a lot of [the songs], it’s an expression of emotion and an expression of feeling,” said Smither . “I get a lot of reactions about the lyrics and how a song flows.”
Earlier this month, Harbor began recording its first album with about 12-15 songs in the Music Lab studio. Recording is expected to take two to three days a week for about five weeks.
“The process to getting time in the studio is tedious,” said Gross.
After a short break, Harbor’s next live performance is tentatively scheduled for April 12 at The Anchor in Huddleston. Each performance is a great opportunity to hone and perfect their sound, the duo said.
When asked where they pictured themselves in five years, Gross and Smither paused. College might be an option or maybe the Musicians Institute in California, said Gross.
“Regardless of where we are though, we want to be playing music,” he added.
For now, Gross and Smither said they are excited about playing Floyd Fest, as well as the other performances Smither’s father, Nelson, has scheduled for them in the next several months. Gigs are booked around the lake, in Lynchburg at The Blue Dahlia, and as far north as Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
“We’re going to be pretty busy over the next few months,” said Smither.
To see the band’s performance schedule and to hear some of their songs, visit www.theharborband.com.
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