The capital city music scene is thriving. Over the last decade, the downtown bar scene and plentiful local venues have bred musicians now flourishing on a larger scale. Reggae rockers Joey Harkum — whose band Pasadena honors his home town — and Brandon Hardesty — who inspired Bumpin Uglies — went from strumming on the docks and breaking into open mikes to selling out local venues and touring coast to coast. They’ve headlined festivals like Silopanna and Bay Funk and still play weeknight solo acoustic gigs at downtown Annapolis bars.
As the summer of 2016 winds down, the next generation of local rockers — Jocelyn Faro & the Ragazzi, Loose Ties and Little Bird — is breaking bigger, playing July’s Bay Funk Festival and taking their acts around the Chesapeake and beyond.
Starting this weekend, you can catch local performances by these talented 20-somethings.
Jocelyn Faro and The Ragazzi
Even if you haven’t seen 21-year-old Jocelyn Faro around Annapolis, where she’s been singing in bars since she was 17, you might recognize her from the last season of American Idol, where she made it to Hollywood. The singer pairs a warm smile and quirky anecdotes with a soulful, sultry voice.
Jocelyn Faro made it to Hollywood on last season’s American Idol.
“It was definitely intimidating because I was younger than everyone pretty much everywhere that I went, which made me nervous about the songs I picked and if everyone would like them,” Faro says. “I think I had to build a thicker skin and just really learn to be confident with what I was doing — fake it till you make it, you know? I mean, I’m still awkward as hell and occasionally get nervous, but I think I’ve come to appreciate it now, and I just incorporate it into my shows.”
When she’s not playing songs from her 2014 EP, Between the Lines, Farro covers pop artists like Justin Bieber, Ed Sheeran and Maroon 5. She channels Amy Winehouse in an acoustic rendition of The Zutons’ Valerie powerful enough to silence the rowdiest bar. This summer Faro plays The Greene Turtle in Pasadena, Annapolis and Gambrills on Saturday nights through Sept. 10.
Faro doesn’t always go solo. After performing with her best guy friends for a few months and introducing them as “my guys” in 2014, Faro is now officially accompanied by The Raggazi (guys in Italian). The band consists of Faro’s boyfriend Christopher Windebank, 20, on guitar, Cooper Flynn, 20, on drums and Andrew Vasilchenko, 21, on bass.
The Ragazzi joined Faro at the EuphonX show at Middletons in Annapolis on Aug. 14 and plays Joey Harkum of Pasadena’s album release party at Baltimore Soundstage on Sept. 9. The band released a self-titled EP in February (iTunes: $3.96).
Even after American Idol, Faro and her guys still consider any gig a success. “Something about playing music with friends and having fun makes us content with where we are,” says Flynn.
After getting off work at a job that required fancy attire, Aaron Hawkins and Ryan Brannon, both 24, made it a ritual to loosen their ties and jam out on their guitars. In 2014, they were joined by Dorian Delph, 24, on keys and bass and Bob Clemens, 27, on drums. That after-work jam became Loose Ties.
An after-work jam became the band Loose Ties for Aaron Hawkins, Dorian Delph, Bob Clemens and Ryan Brannon.
The band now has regular weekend gigs at Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis and Savage. They’ll also be playing Rams Head Roadhouse on Aug. 27, Sam’s on the Waterfront on Sept. 4 and the Anne Arundel County Fair on Sept. 17 and 18.
All childhood friends, they hail from Annapolis, Crownsville and Millersville, but their sound is straight from the beach. The quartet plays a mix of covers ranging from Sublime and Jason Mraz to R Kelly’s Ignition remix.
After two years of perfecting their sound through live performances, Loose Ties releases its first full-length CD in October. It also features lap steel from fellow Annapolis performer Gingerwolf.
“We’ve put a ton of hard work into this album and we’re super stoked to share it with the world,” says singer and guitarist Aaron Hawkins. “The new album is old originals done right. We’ve focused on taking the songs everyone has heard us play at shows and are really solidifying them as well as putting a new creative spin on them.”
As Lothian-based surf rock band, Little Bird goes through its changes, rapid musical success remains constant.
Little Bird’s James Rubush, left, and Jay Hurtt, middle, went from selling CDs at their high school pep rallies to touring the East Coast and the Virgin Islands.
Twenty-one-year-olds Jay Hurtt and James Rubush went from selling CDs at their high school pep rallies to touring the East Coast and the Virgin Islands and headlining local festivals like Bayfunk, Silopanna and Eastport-a-Rockin’ in just a few years. After moving to Charleston, S.C., last year they’ve been trying out different drummers and bass players. But as Hurtt says, “The music is still playing, so we’re excited about being excited.” They’ll play Pickles Pub in Ocean City on Aug. 27 as part of their fall tour, with more dates likely in College Park and Salisbury.
In the past Little Bird has covered pop artists like Kanye West, Adele and Foster the People. But as the band has matured, they’ve found their own groovy, earthy sound, sticking mostly to original songs from their two studio albums and on-stage jam sessions.
Hurtt’s raspy, smoky voice blends with Rubush’s funky-rock guitar sounds, as he switches from singing to guitar jamming to the occasional bluesy harmonica. They’re still putting out their best sound, even with rotating band members.
“Usually we’ll get maybe one or two rehearsals. But if we don’t we just go up there, and if I have a new original we’ll tell the key and they’ll let me take it off and then just follow along. They usually have an iPhone recording of it, so they aren’t completely lost,” says Hurtt. “It’s a very spontaneous show, which makes it exciting for everyone.”